It’s no secret that we have a problem. The American political
system is a bit secretive, quite inefficient and wastes a good
amount of our resources. Such is the nature of gigantic
Like any problem, to solve it we must first quantify or count
it. With large groups of people involved, any such quantification
must be very accurate and very easy to understand at a glance.
This notion is nearly synonymous with a concept that David
Stephenson refers to as transparent government, or “using Web 2.0 apps … to allow informed debate on policy
alternatives, to find convergences (possible synergies—and wasteful
overlaps), and to allow people with particular interests and/or
expertise to contribute to issues.”
Thanks to the evolution of the web and internet applications,
we’ll soon take a big leap in our ability to simulate super-complex
political systems (especially if they are computer-dependent). Two
fundamental, yet eminently do-able, steps remain to be taken:
1) make the majority of government information
2) put emerging semantic web applications to work crunching this
Change will swiftly follow if we can accurately and neatly
organize political relationship trees, decision patterns and
funding flows into a digestible “graph” that anyone can easily
re-sort and view a million different ways from a billion different
Now that the 2008 U.S. presidential election has been settled it’s time to turn our attention to not just the next four years, but also the next 2 months. During this span the White House and Vice President’s Mansion will be non-stop flurry of activity. Documents will be stored, or shredded. New executive orders and signing statements will be generated. And presidential pardons and commutations will be awarded.
To date, George W. Bush has issued 157 pardons and commuted 6 people, including the infamous Scooter Libby. This already places him ahead of nine U.S. Presidents, mostly single-termers, on the list, but well behind Ulysses S. Grant (1332) and war-time leaders such as Harry Truman (2044), Woodrow Wilson (2480), and the all-time leader FDR (3687).
So how many pardons will W. award when all is said and done? It seems very likely that he will exceed his predecessor, Bill Clinton’s 456. But is it possible that he will eclipse FDR’s mammoth total? Judging by the way this administration has danced with the law (for good or for ill), is such a final flourish all that unthinkable?
Edit: Thanks to Will for pointing out that Grant was not in fact a war-time President, though he did serve as general during the Civil War.
If you think there’ve been dramatic changes in the world and in technology over the last ten years, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The race is on, and if you watched the Olympics, you know China’s going for the gold. – Mark Warner, last night at the DNC
The accelerating change meme finally hit the national stage last night at the Democratic National Convention when former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who earned his fortune in the cell phone industry, framed the current Presidential contest as a “race for the future” that “won’t be won with yesterday’s ideas”.
This marks the first time in recent memory that any candidate for national office, barring of course Future Blogger favorite Jack Uldrich , who incidentally has been calling for high profile politicians to start debating the future , has directly appealed to voters on a national level by articulating the fundamental concept of accelerating change that most everyone on this site takes for granted.
I had been biting my nails during and after the primaries, hoping that the future, science and punctuated change would at last become election issues. And now I am relieved that this meme has finally infected enough minds to enter the popular debate. Whether you’re a transhumanist, singularitarian, trans-systemist, neo-luddite, or anything else inbetween, it’s essential that we as a society begin to tackle the reality of runaway techno-info-social change, first by acknowledging its existence, if we are to control our collective destiny in any meaningful way.
Now, I’m not sure that Warner or Obama will be able to deliver on promises to begin building “100 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid vehicles right here – with American technology and with American workers” in two years time, but it’s certainly not impossible. Such future-forward initiatives must be spearheaded by the likes of Presidential candidates like Obama and McCain lest another 4 years of opportunities pass us by as we journey deeper into the acceleration era.
Photo credit Mark Warner, CC 2.0 license.