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April 27, 2009


"If we're going to be undemocratic, we should at least favor the states that represent the real American economy and culture."

I meant to also say that I'm not impressed by arguments that some states represent "the real America," or "real Americans," or "real American culture," no matter who makes them on behalf of which states.

Whoops, you're right, Slarti, CaseyL referenced that same number. In that case, enjoy this musical number by the late Miles Davis:


It is nice to have someone speak up to explain the American system of government to those who actually think that absolute democracy spanning the entire United States would give any result other than mob rule.

Did you read my comment at all? First of all, there's no reason to think that abolishing the Senate and adopting a national popular vote for President will lead to mob rule. That's just absurd. The Senate and electoral college give power not minorities in general but to a very specific set of minorities. Note that the Senate and EC were not particularly helpful during the civil rights struggle. If you're looking for government institutions that prevent mob rule by protecting minority rights in principled manners, then look to the courts. Abolishing the Senate and EC will not abolish the courts.

The founders certainly knew this and, even with the many flaws of the times in terms of representation, wrote our constitution in the spirit of federalism. As I recall, there was significant debate regarding federal government versus national government and the federal form prevailed. One major component was changed during the first major progressive movement period when the 17th amendment to the constitution was approved.

The founders had never created a government before. Usually, when a committee of people does something that none of them have ever done before, they do a pretty bad job. Not the worst job in the world and not a completely irredeemable job, but not certainly not the best job. One of their failures manifested in the civil war: the constitution as a power sharing arrangement failed so completely that violence threatened to destroy the nation.

Since it is clear that you know and understand these things and why they exists, it makes me wonder how and where those who have these notions of absolute democracy learn them.

See, I don't have any notions of absolute democracy. You have refused to engage with the comments I've actually made. Why is that? Are your arguments really that weak?

Rather than continually expressing their dismay that there is not an exact one-person, one-vote system in place for the nation, why not learn that there is a provision in the constitution for amending it and work to do that.

I think your major failure is your belief that a desire to eliminate harmful countermajoritarian institutions is exactly the same as a desire to abolish every single countermajoritarian institution. That belief is simply nutty.

Slarti, I shouldn't have wrote that bit about projection. I'm sorry. I do get a little frustrated with the apparently common notion that dkos is an ideological cesspool no different from redstate which I occasionally see espoused here, but that is no excuse for accusing you.

GOP Congressman Henselring was just telling me, on a C-Span replay of today's budget conference committee meeting, that "no nation has ever borrowed or taxed its way to prosperity."

Would somebody remind me how World War 2 was financed by the nation known to history as the USA? Would somebody remind me whether or not all that borrowing and taxing led to any sort of prosperity?

I'm looking at you, my right honorable conservative friends whose personal character I hold in the highest respect.


The founders had never created a government before.

That's not entirely true. Before producing the Constitution, many had earlier been involved in framing the Articles of Confederation or in devising their various state constitutions.

The founders might not have foreseen the huge disparities in citizens per state and it might have influenced them (although that is speculation on my part).
I think it would be possible to remedy some of the problems without throwing the whole system into the dumpster, like splitting the top population states as far as the senate is concerned (e.g. make a Northern California and a Southern California with two senators each without creating an official 51st state) or increasing the senate to let's say 120 members with 20 seats newly apportioned after each census.
I also think that 4 to 5 parties are better than 2 (above that it gets inconvenient again) and that 'winner takes all even without actual majority' is a loser.
I guess in the US this would lead to a congress looking like:
1) Social Liberal Party
2) Centrist Liberal Party
3) Moderate Conservative and Libertarian Party
4) Fringe Conservative Party
5) The Left (including parts of the original Green Party, the rest would join the Social Liberals).
On the topic of the flu I think that this is not stimulus but good housekeeping and should be treated as such (although to the GOP it would make no difference).

Whoops, you're right, Slarti, CaseyL referenced that same number. In that case, enjoy this musical number by the late Miles Davis:

Thanks, Phil! That was two of the nicest things you've ever done for me, all in one comment.


Are you more of a Coltrane fan or a Davis fan? I'm more of a sax guy, myself. I have much, much regard for (just for instance) Paul Desmond.

Thanks, again. I wish I could put into words how deep is my appreciation for masterfully played music.

On the off-chance you haven't seen this yet: Song to John, performed by Stanley Clarke, Al Dimeola, and Jean-Luc Ponty. I think I prefer the version with Chick Corea on piano in place of the violin, but this one is interesting too. I love this piece.

Slarti, I shouldn't have wrote that bit about projection. I'm sorry. I do get a little frustrated with the apparently common notion that dkos is an ideological cesspool no different from redstate which I occasionally see espoused here, but that is no excuse for accusing you.

Thanks, Turbulence. You might not think I appreciate it, but I really do.

This, right here, is just one reason that I deeply, deeply disagree with those who think we should set aside our civility rules.

I'm still at a point in my jazz listening where it takes me some effort to really get Coltrane sometimes -- I really do fall victim to the "too many notes" fallacy. I think listening to the various versions of, say, "Mr. P.C." on the Live Trane set help me suss out what it is he was doing.

But Miles, I can listen to any time, from nearly any era, from "Cookin'" to "On The Corner" and beyond. (Why don't more hip hop artists and producers acknowledge their sonic debt to Miles and Teo Macero, dammit?)

Frankly, if forced at gunpoint to choose, I might just panic and say Mingus. Something about his charts and his choice of collaborators just really connects with me.

No one asked for a vote, and I realize it isn't a voting matter, but for the record, I too value the civility rules.

Civility rules are nice in the abstract, but in practice . . . well, they're not evenly applied, for one thing. For another, what some people find offensive - often grossly so - others will sneer at as being either an example of someone too quick to take offense, or too delicate of sensibility.

I really take exception to people deriding my thought-out beliefs as 'feelings' for example, as in "You feel X is 'unfair'(and the sentiment does you credit), but that's not reason enough to alter X." Uh, no, I think X is non-optimal as well as being self-contradictory - and here is my evidence. Big difference. Point this out enough times while the offenders behaviour alters not a particle, and you begin to think the slight is intentional.

Which civility rules precisely? There are different sets of arguments about different aspects of the civility rules, but lumping all of them together to argue against all of them based on the weaknesses of the weakest is bad form. Put it another way: there is at least one weapon system purchased by the DOD that is incredibly expensive and completely worthless. Surely we can all agree that this would not justify defunding the DOD entirely, right?

There are a few different civility rules: (1) the one banning profanity, (2) the one banning abuse, and (3) the informal one banning group characterizations ('all conservatives eat babies'). I'm against the profanity rule because I think it is pointless and I don't think the work filter excuse should be used unless there are several people right now complaining about it as opposed to some guy many years ago. But I have no problems with (2) and (3).

"BTW, off-topic: The FOX network has given word that they will not air Obama's 100 days press conference on Wednesday. They're going to air the regularly-scheduled episode of "Lie to Me"* instead. Did any of the nets ever refuse to air a GWB press conference or presidential address?

"*Oh, the irony."

Oh, what poor sports.

And dumb: I reckon Obama would score better ratings than "Lie to Me," whatever that is.


Isn't breaking the civility rules like the Supreme's stance on pornography -- you know it when you see it?

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