Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I was in Cub Scouts, and we were on a father-son campout at a local youth camp.
Some of us boys went fishing while the fathers lounged nearby. I caught a fish but it had swallowed the hook. We asked what to do and one of the fathers said "Cut it." Nothing more, just "Cut it."


We went over to the diving platform.
I took out my rather dull scout knife and proceded to perform surgery on the fish to get my hook out. Well, this took a while (dull knife) and eventually the cluster of boys drew the attention of the fathers. One sauntered over, saw what we were doing and said, basically "what the hell are you doing?!"

I said "you said to cut it out". He shook his head, grabbed the fish, jerked the hook out and threw the fish into the lake.

True story.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Republic or Democracy

The following is a reprint of an article found here.

It raises some points about our government and about the need for the Electoral College that I had never considered, nor been taught (or forgot). Its not surprising that people are confused about republics and democracies. I had a total of ONE government class, for one semester, in high school.

Are We A Republic Or A Democracy?
by Walter E. Williams

We often hear the claim that our nation is a democracy. That wasn't the vision of the founders. They saw democracy as another form of tyranny. If we've become a democracy, I guarantee you that the founders would be deeply disappointed by our betrayal of their vision. The founders intended, and laid out the ground rules, for our nation to be a republic.

The word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution -- two most fundamental documents of our nation. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Moreover, let's ask ourselves: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or does it say to "the republic for which it stands"? Or do we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"?

So what's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.

In recognition that it's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.
Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy? James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, " ... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos." In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III.
The framers gave us a Constitution that is replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One that has come in for recent criticism and calls for its elimination is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections large, heavily populated states couldn't democratically run roughshod over small, sparsely populated states.

Here's my question. Do Americans share the republican values laid out by our founders, and is it simply a matter of our being unschooled about the differences between a republic and a democracy? Or is it a matter of preference and we now want the kind of tyranny feared by the founders where Congress can do anything it can muster a majority vote to do? I fear it's the latter.

Walter E. Williams
January 3, 2005

Monday, January 03, 2005

I looked at the national weather service page for Columbus this morning. Looks like they are in for a lot of rain until mid-week! I recall the many floods that come in winter and spring. They really amazed me.

S, I, and the girls are all getting back into our routines. U is still doing well with potty training. We are going to wait a little while for preschool - maybe until its time for kindergarten, although it sort of depends on how Nana & 'Buelo are doing. U doesn't really like going any more.

We went to the Wildlife Museum yesterday afternoon. We had a good time. I realised that the reason I can keep going back there again and again without getting bored is that I don't ever get to read or really study the exhibits! I can read maybe two paragraphs before we're off and running. The zoo and the wildlife museum are definitely the top two attractions for the girls. They don't like the Desert Museum much. Too much walking between animals. They start to get bored and distracted.

S and I were very happy to get all our decorations down so quickly. This is the first year that I didn't procrastinate so long that Sonya had to do it without me. :) We got some furniture for the girls room - a dresser and wardrobe. We were in desparate need of someplace to put all there clothes. We are going to put our queen mattress in their room and let them sleep together. We tried it last night in the twin bed, and it worked out well. They didn't wake each other up as I feared. We've got a lot of clothes that they can't were anymore, but its all jumbled up together. Our big tasks this year are organizing and saving money.

S and I went to the Violent Femmes concert Thursday night. It was a lot of fun! A band that was popular with our generation when we were in high school. The band members are about 4 or 5 years older than me. They got started when they were in high school. They are very talented, playing many instruments beyond what you'd expect from contemporary musicians (acoustic bass guitar, violin, Japanese flute, stand-up bass). I was generally in awe. I've developed a fondness for bass playing, since I've been with S (she plays bass). I didn't think I liked them that much - I didn't seek out there music when I was in high school or college, but as they played I realized that I knew most of the songs. We were right up in front of the stage - quite an experience.
I realized that my photoblog so far is kind of confusing and without direction. I'm going to open it up a bit, posting text as well as photos. I'm not sure what direction its going to go in, but right now, I think just an outlet for my thoughts - in text and pictures.