In a poll released in early February, 56 percent of voters said they had paid some or a great deal of attention to the Supreme Court's Jan. 21 decision in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. If true, this complex election-law case would rank among the handful of decisions -- Brown v. Board, Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore -- of which there is broad public awareness. President Barack Obama's charge that the Court had "reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests" in his State of the Union address gave the story a little drama, especially when Justice Samuel Alito was spotted expressing vigorous objection.
The budget reconciliation process, Ezra Kleinpoints out, "has been the key to getting anything done for at least 20 years." He's right, of course (and how I miss those long afternoons talking to Ezra about things like budget reconciliation!).
There’s a certain kind of essay that can be infuriating even when its main argument is correct. One such was retiring Sen. Evan Bayh’s op-ed in TheNew York Times this weekend. Congress is broken. Needs filibuster reform. Public financing of campaigns. Senators should eat lunch together more often.
Michele Bachmann speaks at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
As the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) overtook Washington this past week, the cheering for Dick Cheney, the sessions promoting "nullification" (the concept that states can opt out of federal laws, last heard from John C. Calhoun in the 1830s), and the angry rants about ACORN and homosexuality were a reminder that the idea that there is a "conservatism" that is measured, responsible, decent, and worthy of the word is a bit of a myth. As the historian Kevin Mattson showed in his 2008 book, Rebels All!, modern conservatism even in the era when William F.
Discussions of money in politics are usually steeped in watery metaphors: The Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision will "open the floodgates" of corporate money, we're told, which will "drown" or "swamp" the voice of ordinary citizens. Skeptics of campaign finance regulation warn that, like damming a river, it will only divert the flow to other channels.