Positively fifth street

What caught my eye in tomorrow’s New York Times Sunday Book Review was the review of a book whose title alludes to a great Bob Dylan song. The review is interesting and the book must give the reader a heckuva (first-person) ride through the 2000 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas: “‘Postively Fifth Street’: Poker with the pros.”
Tomorrow’s Washington Post Book World reviews a book that chronicles the comedians of the sixties — some “seriously funny” (the title of the book) guys (mostly). The review is “Biting wits.”
On a seriously serious note, the guys at RealClearPolitics have posted a review from tomorrow’s Times Sunday Book Review of Fareed Zakaria’s new book on the problem with democracy: “‘The Future of Freedom’: Overdoing democracy.” Niall Ferguson’s review is interesting in alluding to the critique of democracy by the classic Greek writers (the review quotes Herodotus).
But neither Ferguson’s review nor the book itself (at least in Ferguson’s account) shows any awareness that it was precisely the founders’ knowledge of history and awareness of the classic critique that led them to draft a Constitution establishing a republican form of government with limited powers and anti-democratic protection of individual rights.
The real story of “overdoing democracy” includes in part the plebiscitary democracy sought by the progressives, but also includes the progressives’ substitution of the rule by “expert” administrative bodies in place of the constitutional protection of individual rights by a government of limited powers. According to the review, Zakaria calls for more of the latter to cure the ills of the former. I call for restoration of the pre-New Deal, pre-progressive Constitution to cure the ills created by undoing the Constitution.


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