Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Faith in Democracy?

To The Capital Times Voice of the People:

I wish to expand upon a comment made by John Kaufman in his essay "Thomas Jefferson is unconstitutional". He wrote: "Our Constitution is a progressive document, a brilliant example of placing faith in democratic ideals ...".

And, as a historical statement, that's quite accurate. Prior to the American Revolution, governments had always been top-down affairs, with the common people being ruled ("for their own good", it was always claimed) from on high, by kings, warlords, plutocrats, and self-proclaimed "agents of god". Even the vaunted democracies of ancient Athens involved a tiny fraction of the population — the "best free men" of the city, presumably the intellectual elite — making decisions for everyone else.

When Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, et alii followed the direction so brilliantly laid out by Thomas Paine in Common Sense, they were indeed embarking on a leap of faith. They believed without evidence (which is what faith entails) that the common people could rule themselves. The Founders needed faith, because what they were proposing had never been tested before. It might work in theory, but nobody had tried it in practice.

Today, in 2010, we no longer need to say we have "faith in democracy". We have a 234-year track record to go on. Indeed, the American Experiment has been copied, emulated, and tweaked all around the globe. Today we can say, with assurance based on history, not that we have faith in democracy, but that we have confidence.

Not that that democracy is without its problems, as Paine himself foresaw. But the fundamental rule of analysis is to always ask "Compared to what?". I like Winston Churchill's answer: "Democracy is the worst possible form of government — except for all the others that have ever been tried."

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I hold the highest title within my country’s capacity to bestow upon anybody. I am a citizen.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Obama and Tax Cuts

What the hell is with this guy?
He has reason on his side.
He has justice on his side.
He has public opinion on his side.
He has the economists on his side.
He has the power of the presidency on his side.
He has time on his side.
And yet he VOLUNTARILY rolls over and pisses it all away for ... what?

Pearl Harbor Day, indeed, complete with stab in the back.

I still hold out hope that Russ Feingold, the last poor man in the US Senate, will go out swinging and finally put the filibuster to some GOOD use.