MAD DOG BILL
My friend and former colleague Jacob Sullum, the coolest and most rational person ever to appear on television, went on "The O'Reilly Factor" the other night to talk about his new book, Saying Yes. I haven't yet read the book (which is no reason for you not to buy it), but I know what it's about. Jacob essentially argues for treating all drugs the we treat alcohol--acknowledging that human beings have a natural desire to alter their consciousness and that taking drugs can be either responsible or not responsible, depending on the user's behavior. Being a model of journalistic temperance as well as other forms, he makes this argument using lots of scientific research as well as interviews with drug users.
Needless to say, Bill O'Reilly doesn't like that argument. More to the point, he didn't actually let Jacob make it. Contrary to his image as some kind of conservative ideologue, O'Reilly is just a long-winded cab driver with a TV show and no real interest in policy, ideas, or facts. (At one point he declared that the government statistics everyone in the drug policy world relies on, regardless of their policy preferences, are "just your opinion.) Now Sam Smith of The Progressive Review has used Jacob's appearance to produce a Mathematical Model of Bill O'Reilly, graphing exactly how many words each person got to say. "In the first mathematical analysis of Bill O'Reilly ever done, the Review has incontrovertibly proved what was previously believed only anecdotally: O'Reilly is a bully and a jerk," he writes. Take a look. (Thanks to Mike Snell for the tip.)
Speaking of Jacob, he has a good op-ed in today's NYT, explaining why the new anti-Rave act is likely to result in more fatalities. Jacob would never make this point, but this law, a gift to the nation from Joe Biden and Pat Leahy, is the sort of thing that explains why libertarians who engage in politics lean toward the Republican party. We all know the problems of the social right, but Democrats are largely useless, and often awful, on the issues where their supposed respect for tolerance and civil liberties might make a difference.