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
  • Jay Rosen
  • Rebecca MacKinnon
  • Nova Spivack
  • Dan Gillmor
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  • Lawerence Lessig
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  • Jeff Jarvis
  • Joi Ito
  • The Titans

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  • Jim Hightower
  • Wonkette
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  • Eschaton
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    Distinguished Colleagues

  • Tom Burka
  • The American Street
  • wood s lot
  • Rox Populi
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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.

    Saturday, June 26, 2004

    Reforming our ailing House of Representatives

    By Nick

    Our founding fathers intended the House of Representatives to be the voice of the people. The aim of the following three-part proposal is to restore that intention. To begin, we must increase the number of seats within the House of Representatives.

    As the reader is undoubtably aware, the number of seats within the House of Representatives has been frozen at 435. Contrary to popular belief, that number seats is not prescribed by our constitution, but by a 93-year-old statute. The congress of 1911 passed the statute to counter “the dilution of the quality of our representation.” Before 1911, our House of Representatives had grown in accordance with our population. Within the historical context, this statute was necessary. The 1911 congress was trying to curb the influence of the corrupt “bosses” who were using the masses of fresh immigrants to gain political power. However, given our current challenges, we’d be wise to repeal this statute. The House of Representative’s 435 seats cannot adequately represent a population of 250,000,000 Americans. For every seat in the House, there are 535,000 separate voices.

    Neither Jefferson, nor Madison would have approved a 1/535,000 ratio of representation. The writers of our constitution compromised by setting the ceiling of our first legislature at one seat per 33,000 citizens. They reasoned that a higher ceiling would create an elite and corrupt legislature. Case in point, our first legislature had 106 seats; had the compromise set the ceiling to today’s ratio, the House of Representatives of 1789 would have contained only six seats.

    Moreover, America’s 1/535,000 ratio of representation is the worst in the first world. Germany’s 603 seats in the Brundenstag allow a ratio of 1/135,000. The 577 seats in France’s National Assembly create a ratio of 1/107,000. The British House of Common’s 651 seats grant their citizens a ratio of 1/90,000.

    Of course, if restored our current 1/535,000 ratio to the original 1/33,000 ratio, than we’d curse ourselves with a mob-like legislature of 9,000 seats. Predictably, a legislature of that size would create more problems than solutions. A more effective solution would be to simply double the house to 870 seats. However, merely adding seats would be neither sufficient nor practical. The former consideration leads us to the second part of the proposal.

    Instead of creating new districts for the 435 additional representatives, we would simply add a second representatives to every district. Currently, we elect our representatives with a winner-takes-all-system. In contrast to a winner-takes-all system, there would be two representatives: one for the majority and another for the minority. Instead of two representatives with two votes, these two representatives would split one vote. Thus, if a candidate wins 51% of the popular vote they will receive 51% of the district’s vote in congress. This system would effectively end the practice of gerrymandering. More importantly, it would reinvigorate and balance our electoral process.

    The other reform is ending the practice of one district-one vote. Instead, the weight of every vote would be dependent on how many registered voters participated in the congressional election. Thus, every district would have the potential to have a full vote. However, if only 38 percent the citizens within a district participate in a congressional election, than the two elected representatives will have to split 38/100 of their district’s possible vote. In such a system, not a single citizen would be able to say, “My vote doesn’t matter.”

    At first glance, this proposal appears radical. However, it is quite in-line with our tradition of democracy, and federalism. The over-arching philosophy behind this proposal is that a vote represents the voice of citizens. Adding seats to the house will double the responsiveness of a representative to the wishes of their constituents. Furthermore, the additional representatives insure that the voice of the minority isn’t silenced by the mere fact that a partisan majority’s candidate won 51% of the popular vote. Congressional candidates will be encouraged to reach out to as many diverse groups of as possible. This is in contrast to our current system, which allows candidates to win by using wedge issues to encourage groups whose vote they can control, while making the rest apathetic. In the proposed system, a strategy designed to make voters apathetic or polarized will result in less power for the representatives and the citizens of the district.

    Perhaps the greatest strength of this proposal is its realistic approach towards people and power. Since the power of a representative’s vote is dependent on how many people participate, citizens will feel a greater obligation to each other to participate. Rather than merely encouraging citizens to “rock the vote”, the proposed system will make it clear that the entire community will suffer if they don’t vote. While latter has always been true, this proposed system will make it clear in concrete terms. Non-voting will no longer be a default to the winner of an election. Instead, a non-voter will default their entire community’s power over national affairs. Best of all, it avoids the institution of fines for non-voting, like the mandatory participation laws in Australia. Instead, it exploits the natural power of social pressure when an entire community’s voice is at stake.

    Moreover, the splitting of a vote between two candidates will fundamentally alter American politics for the better. An effective campaign strategy would have to attempt to build as many bridges between diverse interests as possible. Candidates would not only be rewarded for capturing the imagination of the voters in their district; they’d be punished for concentrating on divisive issues like abortion or gun control. While activists would cringe at the loss of attention towards those problems, our ailing democracy would breath a sigh of relief. James Madison noted the dangers of “wedge issues”:

    The most common cause of this instability was a majority of the citizens who, for whatever reason, attempted to impose their will upon the rest of the society and in the process deprived them of their rights.

    To be continued…
    Note: Please, if anyone has any insight, disagrees or could lead me to similar ideas I'd appreciate it. This idea is still in a rough draft phase.

    posted by Nick at 6/26/2004 09:59:00 PM |

    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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