Today's filibuster update

In two parts. First, a useful Wikipedia chart showing how recent and a-historical the current Senate practice of filibusters for everything really is. The blue line, on the top, is the significant one: it is a gauge of how often bills or nominations were subjected to the need for a "supermajority" vote, rather than a regular Constitutional majority. The goldish line, on the bottom, indicates how often the supermajority prevailed -- how often they "broke the filibuster." As a reminder, there is nothing in the Constitution about this practice. (Supermajorities for certain situations, like impeachment or ratifying treaties or passing Constitutional Amendments, yes; as a general practice, no.) Click on graph for larger view.

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Also, my On the Media interview on this topic, with Bob Garfield, here. (Previously about filibusters here and passim. Very good omnibus piece by Tim Noah in Slate, here. To round things out, yesterday's All Things Considered discussion with Guy Raz, though not about filibusters, here.)
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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