Who exactly is calling the shots these days? We have an absurd situation in the Senate where a Republican minority is able to thwart a sizeable Democratic majority by threatening to filibuster. But they are not made to actually carry out their threat and, for a lot of people who aren’t into the arcane workings of our legislative bodies, the administration and the Democrats are made to appear ineffectual and weak. Over in Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, the country’s ostensible leader, announces that by 2014 he thinks his forces will be able to carry on without our assistance. Really.

For starters the next time there’s some doubt about whether ‘the votes are there’ on some issue or piece of legislation, the minority should be required to filibuster for real. When unemployment benefits are stalled because they aren’t paid for but unpaid-for tax cuts that add to the deficit are okay according to Republican leaders, there should be a clear and consistent debate not a muffled roar by the majority. The logic and justifications of conservative philosophy should be forced into the open; nothing is gained by letting the matter drag on using the indirect method – – most people don’t get it.