Happy Birthday to Robert Romanus, 58. Yes, he also was in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Hey, regulars: I'm taking a long weekend, so I won't be around tomorrow. I probably will post the regular weekend material anyway ... haven't quite decided yet. But this will be the last good stuff for a bit:

1. I highly recommend a terrific explanation of federal government deficit and debt, from economist Henry Aaron.

2. Seth Masket and Michael Miller have research on money and polarization; they've been working this question for a while, and their finding is that campaign financing doesn't have an effect on polarization one way or another.

3. Ross Douthat on reform conservatives and foreign policy. The main thing I'm looking for is what Douthat supplies here (and consistently): the realization and the willingness to say forcefully and publicly that the Iraq War was a colossal disaster for the U.S.

4. Ed Kilgore on Republican nihilism. In my view, Senate Democrats forfeited the high ground when they decided to parade around a constitutional amendment on campaign finance.

5. And I share Kevin Drum's skepticism about recent claims that government failure is increasing, although I haven't read the underlying report.

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To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net