Mark Kleiman's last two posts have been great. Monday's reviewed the race for L.A. mayor, which I enjoyed mostly because I don't read many bloggers who talk about politics on the sub-Federal level. I'd like to find some blogs with in depth discussions of New York City politics, but the only issues I ever see discussed are the West Side Stadium, the MTA, and Education. Those can't be the only issues in New York City politics. Also, I never see the first two discussed in a particularly substantive manner. I'm pretty sure there is no substance to the West Side Stadium stuff, since it's pure rent-seeking. But I'd certainly be interested in an in-depth look at transportation policy vis-a-vis the MTA.

But it's his most recent post that I expect will soon be getting quite a bit of attention. In it, he discusses how the Democrats can retaliate if the Republicans use their "Nuclear Option." Briefly, the nuclear option for the Republicans is to change the Senate cloture rules for ending a filibuster of a judicial nominee. This would allow the Senate to pass all of Bush's judicial nominee's on a party-line vote, and the change can be made by a simple majority and the approval of Vice-President Cheney. While many people have discussed ways the Democrats can retaliate by severely hampering the ability of the Senate to do anything, Mark has a modest proposal (except he actually uses the term "modest proposal" to describe it, which creates some doubt that it may be a satire) for how the Democrats should respond.

He wants to utilize California's initiative system to change the way Representatives are elected in California. In particular, he wants them elected by party slate. In order to avoid certain legal/constitutional problems with not having representatives divided up by discrete districts, there would be district level primaries with a Democrat and a Republican winner for each district. Then, the state as a whole would vote for either the Dem or Repub slate, which in current California would certainly be the Democrats, despite their Republican governor.

This left me wondering: What is the game theoretic term for "Move that only makes sense if it is the last move so that your opponent cannot retaliate?" Actually, I'm not sure that having every state adopt this system would be a net negative for the Democrats. The recent election indicates that there are more states right now which are over 50% Republican than there are states which are over 50% Democrat. But that doesn't mean there are more Representatives from such states, since the Senators count for a disproportionate number of electoral votes in the small states. So it turns out the number of Representatives from states which voted for W. in the 2004 election is: 224, while there are 211 reps from Kerry states. This would be better for Democrats than the current 232-201 balance but is quite likely to pose new obstacles for becoming the majority again in the near future. The numbers don't sum up because of a vacant seat and one independent.