Tuesday, September 30, 2008

AFR screening of Do As I Say

I'll be attending AFR's screening of Nick Tucker's Do As I Say in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, October 2. It's the world premiere of what should be an excellent film. You can purchase tickets here.

A reversal of parties

There has been an obvious trend of politicians at least paying lip service to the idea of pushing policies, not partisanship, but has anyone noticed a virtual shift of ideological positions from the two parties?

Consider the issue of the legalization of marijuana. Many local governments legislate to decriminalize it, but the official federal law is that there is no legitimate medical use for marijuana. The United States federal government actually holds a patent for medical marijuana, but they don't let that contradiction get in the way of any sane policy. The so-called Republican position is to crack down on marijuana, but this directly clashes with what should be a deeper ideological philosophy, states' rights.

Rarely do governments legislate for more freedom, but the state of California effectively decriminalized marijuana with California Proposition 215 and California Senate Bill 420. In spite of this, the federal government still carries on Nixon's poisonous legacy of raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Charlie Lynch was found guilty on all counts in August, and is scheduled to be sentenced next week. If this is appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court, Scalia would need to employ the most convoluted and intellectually dishonest legal reasoning to confuse himself enough to justify his flagrant inconsistency. On the other side of it, Democratic philosophy holds that big government is a cure for social ills like tobacco consumption, and yet the left advocates for the legalization of marijuana. How is it desirable to socially engineer people away from tobacco, but alright to let them use marijuana? The inconsistency from the Democrats is just as mind-boggling as the inconsistency from the Republicans.

Now we have left-wingers who preach the virtues of socialism as a political ideal, and they hate those capitalist corporations, but when those corporations fail, they want to throw taxpayer money at them to prop them up! At least the Republicans in Congress had the sense enough to oppose the bailouts yesterday, but there's still a troublesomely high amount of support for the bailouts from the conservative buzz, on the grounds that some financial institutions are too big to fail, or that even though big government caused the problems, big government is needed to fix it. Of course, it's no surprise that there would be plenty of conservative support for the bailouts. Why would a party that's so irrational regarding social freedom and religiosity take any such rational approach to free markets? The Republicans have no philosophy at all, just a mishmash of horrible ideas.

Both of the parties are aquaria of cognitive dissonance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The problem with the conversation about drugs

Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive drug that has become popular for recreational use in the last few years. If you search on YouTube for "salvia" you can find lots of entertaining videos of people tripping on it. The drug produces intense hallucinations that last for about a few minutes. There are apparently no long term effects or any other detrimental health effects.

When people discuss the drug with people who have never heard of it, the first thing they mention is that it's legal to own and use. Of course, as it has grown in popularity, politicians have sought to criminalize it. Assuming that it's legal though, and in most places in the United States, it still is, there is something desperately wrong with the conversation. It seems people are conveying this mentality that hallucinogens should be illegal by default, that salvia is so astounding and special because it's legal, as if it's somehow natural that these drugs used recreationally are meant to be illegal. How did this happen? Why is this so entrenched now in American culture that it is considered proper, or at least expected, that governments will criminalize these drugs? Now is the time to raise our consciousnesses. Banning recreational drugs is not a natural state of affairs. This is a recent phenomenon.

On a related night, last night on Real Time with Bill Maher, Ralph Nader expressed his contempt for Obama and Biden. Nader brought up that Biden was one of the architects of the war on drugs, summing up how insane our policy is. Our government don't throw alcoholics in jail, but happily destroys the lives of drug addicts.

I trust McCain would be for more of the kind of nonsense that threatens Charlie Lynch, and I had hoped that Obama might stop this poisonous war on drugs, but I wasn't aware of Biden's evil. Now, I'm not sure that electing Obama would matter at all. The debate last night provided more evidence that this election is only going to end badly, with authoritarians who want to control your life.

The Dark Bailout

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The frightening absurdity of Palin

Sam Harris has written an excellent scathing critique of Sarah Palin in Newsweek.

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

On a related note, the McCain campaign was worried that her inexperience might put her at a disadvantage in a debate with Biden.

If you're not absolutely terrified of McCain and Palin winning this election, you are wrong in your sentiment.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michelle Obama / Jill Biden rally at UVA

I shot a video documenting the buzz around the rally that happened yesterday where Michelle Obama and Jill Biden addressed UVA and Charlottesville.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Play-by-play recapitulation of Turek-Hitchens debate

Nicole Gugliucci is a guest blogger at Life Without Faith, recapping the debate that occurred at VCU on Tuesday, between Frank Turek and Christopher Hitchens.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blumenfeld's blogging stint over

Jon Blumenfeld is done blogging. It was great while it lasted.