Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This Weed is Ripe for Satire

In a bold new step that will surely turn the corner on the decades-old (and 1% successful) drug war, the ONDCP has put up some anti-drug videos on YouTube to educate/discourage teens from using drugs.

The over/under on the time it will take before some hilarious spoof videos of these spots also appear on YouTube is currently set at 3.5 minutes.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pouting Over It

There are many allowances for interrogation under the Geneva Conventions, but President Bush has recently turned up his nose at making any kind of compromise that would achieve worthy objectives in the war against terrorism (please, let's drop this whole War on "Terror" business) while remaining legal and moral. He's giving people the false choice between his way or not at all, like these are the only options. This reminds me of the stupid "choice" given by my 5th grade teacher: "my way or the highway", and is aptly pointed out by Matt Yglesias:

Bush wants to order intelligence agencies to violate all the country's traditions and several of its laws in order that they might torture people. To that end, he's willing to say that if he can't torture people he just won't interrogate them at all.

Tim Lee also makes a couple of important points:

Here, he's fighting tooth and nail to prevent Congress from second-guessing his decision to torture suspected terrorists. The only principle that seems to be operating in both cases is the principle of unbridled executive power. He appears to believe that when he makes a decision, Congress has a duty to defer to his judgment. Fortunately, that's not the way our Constitution works.
As near as I can tell, what the president has done is flout the law, get caught, and then declare that if Congress doesn't retroactively ratify his illegal behavior, he'll be forced to set the terrorists free. This is simply reprehensible.

As near as I can tell, the president is acting like a spoiled brat who doesn't like the way the rules of the game don't allow him to play however he damn well feels like it, so he's going to take his ball and go home. Well, fuck him.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Required Viewing

OK, I'll apologize for the infrequent posting lately. A few things have been getting in my way for the past week or so: 1) the start of the school year, always a busy time with plenty of distractions, 2) a vague lack of interest in current events...I've been much more relaxed since I've been back from the summer, and I think part of it might be that I've been spending less time frantically searching the internet for something in the news that will offend me enough to write a post on it (this is definitely a positive development...and if it leads to fewer posts, so be it), and 3) Season 1 of "Lost". Oh man, it's so good. I'm completely addicted.

But today I came across this video of Milton Friedman being interviewed in 1975 on PBS about limited government. This was the year before Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economics. It's awesome. A transcript is available here, but here's a part that I really liked:

HEFFNER: Yes, but it interests me that you just said that mankind is selfish and greedy. And that has always been the battle cry of those who have said; therefore, we must impose controls upon them.
FRIEDMAN: Therefore, we have to put power into the hands of other selfish and greedy men. Now I want to apologize for what I said. The great bulk of mankind. There are always conspicuous exceptions, not everybody. And also for each person there is an exception. People are selfish and greedy in one aspect of their activity. They are unselfish and generous in another.
HEFFNER: No, I understand that, but -­
FRIEDMAN: I don't mean to be making a -­
HEFFNER: I understand, but again that is the philosophic basis of the argument that government must step in.
FRIEDMAN: But it's a false argument, because it assumes somehow that government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly was trying to develop?

Indeed. An even ignoring the obvious opportunities for corruption that accompany power, what makes people believe that the government (run by people) will be any better at avoiding errors than people themselves?

So I have two recommendations for you today: watch this 28 minute video and you'll have a better understand of where I'm coming from, philosophically (but from from an economic perspective), with regard to my beliefs in limited government. Then, if you missed it when it was on TV and haven't watched it on DVD yet, go get Season 1 of "Lost". Believe me, it's fantastic.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's 2006! Where Are the Flying Cars?

Awesomely, the answer to that classic question is right here.