Fellowship of Punditry

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Cul Heath

Mick Arran

Jeffrey Barbose

Inspector Lohmann

Eric M. Fink

Michael Lane

Rep. Mark B. Cohen

The Fellowship is accepting new members. Inquire within.

The Sages

  • David Weinberger
  • Jon Lebkowsky
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  • Rebecca MacKinnon
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    Distinguished Colleagues

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  • The American Street
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  • Into the Blogosphere
  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.


    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Sunday, May 30, 2004

    5/30 Thomas Friedman- "A Tilt Theory of History"

    By Nick

    Read Full ArticleThe New York Times's Thomas Friedman made an unusual argument in this weeks Sunday Edition:

    "I have a "Tilt Theory of History." The Tilt Theory states that countries and cultures do not change by sudden transformations. They change when, by wise diplomacy and leadership, you take a country, a culture or a region that has been tilted in the wrong direction and tilt it in the right direction, so that the process of gradual internal transformation can take place over a generation.

    I believe that history will judge George Bush 41, Mikhail Gorbachev, Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand very kindly for the way they collectively took the Soviet Empire, which was tilted in the wrong direction for so long, and tilted it in the right direction, with barely a shot fired. That was one of the great achievements of the 20th century."

    This claim is somewhat naive; The soviet union did not merely "tilt", it collapsed. Friedman makes it sound as though Thatcher, Bush, and Gorbachev worked together to "tilt" the soviet union in the right direction. Rather, it was the people who lived under the Iron curtain who pushed the USSR over; Gorbachev surprised the world by respecting their wishes.

    Friedman continues with his definition of a 'good tilt':
    a country where there is enough free market, enough rule of law, enough free press, speech and exchange of ideas that the true agent of change in history — which is something that takes nine months and 21 years to develop, i.e. a generation — can grow up, plan its future and realize its potential.

    What is enough? Does Putin's plebiscites and totalitarian tendencies constitute 'enough' tilt? Moreover, it's magical thinking to claim a generation simply grows up and then begins to 'plan its future and realize its potential'.

    On Iraq, Friedman uses these arguments to support this claim:
    "Our hope should be that Iraqis back into democracy, back into that third choice — not as a result of reading our Bill of Rights but by reading their own situation and deciding that a pragmatic, power-sharing compromise among themselves is better than endless violence. Democracy will take root in Iraq through realism, not idealism."

    "I think this is a good time for sober realism, which means focusing on what is possible in Iraq, and what is the minimum we want from Iraq, not on what we would ideally like in Iraq," notes Michael Mandelbaum.
    Friedman thus concludes: "We need to rebalance our policy. We still have a chance to do in Iraq the only thing that was always the only thing possible — tilt it in a better direction — so over a generation Iraqis can transform and liberate themselves, if they want."

    I agree that we need to rebalance our policy into one of sober realism. Yet, as long as we naively pat ourselves on the back for spreading democracy, this will not occur. The truth is that Democracy has historically been the most fragile form of government- the people must see it as fully legitimate. Perhaps our first step would be to apologize to the Iraqi people- for not finishing Saddam the first time, for making them suffer through 13 years of sanctions, and then for underestimating the chaos that would be left in the wake. The Iraqi people have never had an authority apologize for the suffering the've endured. Small acts of sincerity might go a long way. Hell, we've never tried it, and it couldn't make things worse. It's better than dreaming that a magical 'tilt' will occur.

    posted by Nick at 5/30/2004 10:44:00 AM |

    Comments: Post a Comment

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    "Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik

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