Lightning Round: Shockingly, Rich People Are a "Special Interest Group" too.

  • Ezra Klein is right that the significance of the Koch prank call to Scott Walker is that certain interest groups have the governor's ear, any time, all the time. But the issue here is how "special" became a pejorative way of describing what is a dominant feature of our political system. As always, you have to ask yourself what the interest group wants and whether it benefits the powerful or powerless.
  • The upshot of David Leonhardt's column on the German response to the Great Recession is that policy can be focused on economic growth or it can be focused on unemployment, but "austerity" does nothing to address either. I think it's possible to do a bit of both, as long as you're willing -- gasp! -- to deficit spend, but it's clear the window to enact that sort of policy expired long ago, and the Obama administration is hoping to parlay meager economic growth into a recovery, while wishing all those unemployed people will just quietly fade away.
  • So we're only a month and change into Tea Party governance and already we're hearing calls about "overreach" from newly elected Republicans. Now, if "overreach" generally means something radically outside the political mainstream, then what Republicans are proposing is a mixed bag. Eliminating collective bargaining rights for state employees who don't vote Republican is intensely cynical and partisan, but calling it "overreach" confers some magical public-opinion veto power over something that is ultimately going to be decided by the tenacity of partisans on both sides. 
  • Remainders: I guess the Creation Museum was afraid they might use a drinking fountain or a toilet seat; hey, someone at The Corner actually wrote something reasonable about the political context of the Wisconsin strikes; perhaps the penalty for this proposed "prove you had a miscarriage or face felony offense" law could be an old-fashioned, old-world stoning; and please, please, please let Rick Santorum be the Republican presidential candidate. I could use several months of sustained humor at his expense.