marketing

Rebranding the Filibuster

So, the senate is broken. Long gone are the days of Jimmy Stewart valiantly seizing the floor of the Senate to oppose corruption in Mr. Smith goes to washington. The fact of the matter is that the filibuster is a bad rule, it has always been a bad rule, and it is time for it to die. The House of Representatives gets by just fine without a filibuster. The history of the filibuster is rife with abuses, such as Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats famously reading the contents of a DC phone book into the congressional record in order to block civil rights legislation aimed at ending Jim Crow. Rachel Maddow thinks that what the campaign to kill the filibuster really needs is a rebranding. I tend to agree. It's a complex parliamentary rule that the Senate can change if it wants to quite easily, but nobody really understands it and it sounds weird.

I think the British have the right idea here. Their parliament can use what's called a "guillotine motion" to cut off a debate when opponents to legislation that will pass an up or down vote resort to the kind of delaying tactics currently being abused by the Republicans in the US Senate. Rather than talking about ending the filibuster, it's time we gave the Senate a sharper guillotine to cut of the heads of Republican obstruction tactics.

Go vote for my suggestion here:

http://msnbc.newsvine.com/_question/2010/02/12/3888141-the-filibuster-challenge?pc=20&sp=2620#c12346439

Middle-Aged White Women

At the BEA panel on Granta's new fiction issue, Sherman Alexie voiced the following observation: "All of us are writing for college-educated middle-aged white women".

Well, I know I'M not writing for college-educated middle-aged white women, and I think that the writers I tend to like aren't either (at least, I'm certainly not a middle-aged white woman). And if literary fiction in general, or Granta in specific is aimed at that demo, then that may explain why the so many lit fic writers I've been finding recently haven't been doing anything for me. We need more writers like Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem and David Mitchell to keep us guys reading.

(And while I liked Sherman Alexie's Diary of a Part-Time Indian, it wasn't the kind of book that made me want to read his entire backlog, you know?)