Archive for January, 2006

Time To Decriminalize Marijuana?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Mark Kleiman suggests decriminalization of marijuana. Kleiman proposes that marijuana should be allowed to be grown, possessed, used and given away but not be allowed to be sold.

It would be illegal to sell cannabis or to exchange it for anything of value, but not to grow it, possess it, use it, or give it away. I don’t imagine that the law would effectively prevent sales, any more than anti-gambling laws suppress private poker games. The goal would be to prevent marketing.

My bet would be that, in the short-to-medium run such a policy would have only slight impacts on use, mostly in the form of leading some users who now cease marijuana use as they enter the workforce to continue smoking. Longer-term, I’d expect some, probably modest, growth in use due to decreased social stigma and employment risk; how much of that growth in use would be among people who then got into trouble with the drug is harder to guess. Overall, a pretty small price to pay for eliminating a big illicit market and several hundred thousands of arrests for using, and tens of thousands of prison and jail terms for dealing, per year.

Kleiman argues against the sale because he is aftaid it will be marketed towards children,i.e. Joe Camel. Legalization would be better than decriminalization but would clearly be an improvement over our situation of drug prohibition.

Kanye West =Jesus?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006


Kanye West is pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone as Jesus. This is supposed to be shocking but it takes a lot to shock now and this is not entirely unexpected from Kanye.

This is not entirely unexpected from a rapper. Part of the hip-hop ethos involves a large degree of bravado and boasting; no bigger boasts exists than comparing oneself to Jesus. There are several examples in hip-hop of rappers who have compared themselves to Jesus:

Nas has compared himself to Jesus on several occasions. Nas titled one album God’s Son.
Nas also had an album titled Street’s Disciple.
KRS-ONE has compared himself to god on different occasions.
Tupac is pictured as Jesus on the cover of his Makaveli album as Jesus hanging from the cross.
Mase recently released a mixtape where he is pictured as Jesus similair to the Kanye West cover but here Mase as Jesus has a big gold chain.

Kanye is not the first rapper to compare himself to Jesus. I think the more interesting part of the Rolling Stone story is that he is addicted to porn.

Cam’ron and Jay-Z Engaged in Beef

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Cam’ron has tried to start a beef with Jay-Z over about the last week. Cam re-released the track from this summer that called out Jay-Z for being a biter on Kay Slay’s Sirius radio show. Cam’ron has also released a track dissing Jay-Z.

As of yet Jay-Z has not released a response to Cam’ron’s diss. Jay-Z told BET he wasn’t going to respond because he doesn’t respond to children.

Why is this really happening? –> Cam’ron has a new album coming out and is trying to get some free publicity. From Cam’ron’s press release run by allhiphop.com:

iplomat Records CEO Cam’ron will hold a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 25 to discuss the current feud his record aimed at Def Jam president Jay-Z, his new album and upcoming movie.

Members of his Diplomats Crew, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, JR Writer, and Hell Rell will also be joining Cam’ron.

At the press conference, Cam’ron will reveal his reasons for speaking out against Jay-Z on his track, “Gotta Love It.”

“The last straw was that station down the dial [Power 105 and] he supposed to ["declare war"], where he is supposed to be dissing everybody he had a problem with,” he recently told Miss Jones, DJ Envy and the Hot 97 morning show. “So you know leading up to the concert, I got Dame calling me like, ‘He’s trying to get old footage of you of when you and Jim got jumped and he’s trying to find Jim’s Catholic school pictures.’ So leading up to this concert, we had to get on point, you dig? I don’t know whatever he was looking for, you ain’t gonna find it.”

The Harlem-bred rapper will also discuss the future plans of his popular crew, The Diplomats.

Cam’ron was shot last October in Washington DC after attending a nightclub during Howard University’s homecoming.

On the track “Gotta Love It,” Cam’ron implies his assailants were supporters of Roc-A-Fella Records.

During the press conference, Cam’ron will show clips of his upcoming film, “Killa Season.” “Killa Season” marks the rapper’s directorial debut and is slated for an April release.

The Diplomat CEO will also preview tracks from his highly anticipated upcoming album, also titled Killa Season.

UPDATE: In today’s USA Today, Jay-Zsays Cam is just doing this for press coverage:

“But I know what that’s all about. He has an album coming (Killa Season), and how else is he going to get mentioned in USA Today or other publications?”.

Ron Paul Says Don’t Blame The Lobbyists

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Congressman Ron Paul says the problem is not a culture of corruption but a culture of government. From Ron Paul’s latest column:

New Rules, Same Game
by Ron Paul

Last week I mailed each of my congressional colleagues a copy of a speech outlining my views on the lobbying and ethics scandals engulfing Washington. I’m afraid many of them won’t like my conclusion: to reduce corruption in government, we must make government less powerful– and hence less interesting to lobbyists.

I find it hard to believe that changing the congressional ethics rules or placing new restrictions on lobbyists will do much good. After all, we already have laws against bribery, theft, and fraud. We already have ethics rules in Congress. We already have campaign finance reform. We already require campaigns and lobbyists to register with the federal government and disclose expenditures. We already require federal employees, including the president and members of congress, to take an oath of office. None of it is working, so why should we think more rules, regulations, or laws will change anything?

Lobbying, whether we like it or not, is constitutionally protected. The First amendment unequivocally recognizes the right of Americans to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” We can’t deal with corruption in government by ignoring the Constitution.

I don’t believe the problem is corrupt lobbyists or even corrupt politicians per se. The fundamental problem, in my view, is the very culture of Washington. Our political system has become nothing more than a means of distributing government largesse, through tax dollars confiscated from the American people– always in the name democracy. The federal budget is so enormous that it loses all meaning. What’s another million or so for some pet project, in an annual budget of $2.4 trillion? No one questions the principle that a majority electorate should be allowed to rule the country, dictate rights, and redistribute wealth.

It’s no wonder a system of runaway lobbying and special interests has developed. When we consider the enormous entitlement and welfare system in place, and couple that with a military-industrial complex that feeds off perpetual war and encourages an interventionist foreign policy, the possibilities for corruption are endless. We shouldn’t wonder why there is such a powerful motivation to learn the tricks of the lobbying trade– and why former members of Congress and their aides become such high priced commodities.

The dependency on government generated by welfarism and warfarism, made possible by our shift from a republican to a democratic system of government, is the real scandal of the ages. If we merely tinker with current attitudes about the role of the federal government in our lives, it won’t do much to solve the ethics crisis. True reform is impossible without addressing the immorality of wealth redistribution.

After all, criminals by definition ignore laws; unethical people ignore the rules of ethics. Changing the rules or the players is merely a band-aid if we don’t change the nature of the game itself.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Shooting The Dog

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Radley Balko has a post on the propensity of cops to shoot the dog of the suspect among botched drug raids. Here is a small quote:

When the target of the raid and the dog’s owner proves to be innocent, a low-level pissant offender, or a medical marijuana patient (and there are multiple examples of all three), there’s generally no apology or compensation from the police department for needlessly pumping the famiily dog full of lead. What’s worse, most courts the monetary value on the loss of a pet at zero. So should the neighborhood SWAT team erroneously break into your house and kill your dog, you can forget about a lawsuit.

Nas to Sign to Def Jam Records

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

It has been anounced that Nas will sign to the Def Jam record label which is run by his rival Jay-Z. This anouncement is not entirely suprising after the October 2005 Power 105 concert which ended with Nas and Jay-Z performing on stage together ending a longtime feud. Some details on the business deal from The New York Times:

The long-rumored deal sets the stage for Nas to join the artist roster of Def Jam Recordings, the rap label where Jay-Z became president last year in an unusual executive shuffle. But the two stars’ personal cease-fire also evolved into an unconventional treaty of sorts between their competing record labels.

As part of the deal, Nas’s longtime record company, Sony Music, and Def Jam will split the profits – or any loss – from his next two albums, the sources said. Def Jam is expected to lay out the cost of producing and marketing the recordings, and to divide the profits after recovering its expenses. The two music companies will jointly plan and oversee the albums’ marketing campaigns.

The agreement pays Nas about $3 million, including a recording budget, for each of the first two albums, and provides for two additional albums with Def Jam, the sources said. Sony also retains the right to release a Nas greatest hits album, they added.

Representatives from Def Jam and Sony declined to comment.

As byroncrawford points out it may hard for even Jay-Z to boost Nas to platinum status now:

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. Hopefully, the album will turn out well, but I wonder what the commercial prospects for something like this would be now, a good ten years past Nas’ commercial peak and five years even since his still only marginally interesting beef with Jay. Are Sony and Def Jam kidding themselves?

Here is the video of Jay-Z and Nas performing together back in October:

Pelosi Complains About Not Enough Being Done On Homeland Security

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

As part of a statement today Nancy Pelosi attacked the Bush administration for failing to act on Homeland Security:

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today in response to President Bush’s speech on the war on terror at Kansas State University:

“President Bush missed a critical opportunity today to explain why, more than four years after the 9/11 attacks, the American people are not as safe as they should be.

“The 9/11 Commission’s final report card indicted the continued failure by the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress to meet the security needs of our nation and make Americans safer.

“Security gaps at our ports, our nuclear power plants and chemical production facilities, in our first responder communications, and airline cargo have long been identified. President Bush and Republican Congressional leaders say that closing these gaps are a priority, but they do not take even the most basic steps necessary to correct obvious problems in emergency preparedness.

Protecting nuclear plants and chemical factories should not be viewed as exclusively as legitimate homeland security concerns. These facilities could adequately be protected at the state and local level. There is no reason to justify the federal government devoting resources to protect these facilities.

IHS Seminars

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

If you are a college student interested in internships, I strongly advise you take advatage of the following IHS programs:

Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program

The Koch Summer Fellow Program is an intensive eight-week paid summer internship program that offers free-market policy experience and professional training. This year’s program has added the field of nonprofit management to its lineup of Washington, D.C. opportunities, as well as positions at State Policy Network organizations for those who want to work on policy at the state level. Stipend, career workshops, furnished housing, and travel reimbursement provided. For more information, please visit the program website at www.TheIHS.org/intern.

Deadline: January 31, 2006

IHS Journalism Internships

The 10-week paid IHS Journalism Internship Program is an excellent opportunity for students interested in a career in journalism. Interns spend the summer reporting for a daily paper (instead of making coffee and copies) and leave with a portfolio of clips. The internship program provides a general stipend, housing allowance, mentoring from successful journalists, and travel reimbursement. More information is available on the program website at www.TheIHS.org/journalism.

Deadline: January 31, 2006

If you meet the eligibility requirements for one of these internships we strongly encourage you to apply. We also encourage you to pass this information along to students in your personal and professional network, and to your readership. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at cwilcox1@gmu.edu

Lil Wayne relationship with Baby

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Tom Briehan has an interview on his blog with Lil’ Wayne. I was a little confused by Lil Wayne’s reference to Baby as his father but it makes sense after reading this part of an interview with Lil Wayne at ThePUBReport.com:

TL: Now going along with that, it seems like it’s a lot of rappers that claim allegiance to a crew. But when it comes to Baby, you seem to take that real seriously. He says “My son Weezy” in his songs. You say “Baby, my father”. Why is the relationship so deep with you and Baby and why are y’all so tight like that?

LW: The same incident you just asked me about with my real father…the day that happened to ‘em…Baby was around the corner to pick me up and told me to never look back.

TL: Okay.

LW: That’s why I call ‘em my father ’cause the day I lost my father I didn’t lose my father. You know?

TL: Right. ‘Cause Baby was right there.

LW: Right there. The same day dude.

TL: Now how old were you then?

LW: Fourteen.

Plus Here is the video of Lil Wayne’s recent performance of “Shooter” from The Tonight Show:

Wilson Pickett Has Died of A Heart Attack

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Wilson Pickett has died of a heart attack. From The Chicago Sun-Times:

The premiere crossover soul singer of the 1960s died of a heart attack Thursday near his home in Ashburn, Va. He was 64.

Mr. Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” made the top 25 of the Billboard pop charts in 1965, followed by “634-5789,” “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Mustang Sally” in 1966.

Mr. Pickett was audacious enough to cover The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” and the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude,” which featured Duane Allman on guitar. However, his most pristine recording was a teardrop reading of Bobby Womack’s “I’m in Love.” Womack played guitar behind Mr. Pickett in 1967.

The passion in his vocals mirrored his personality. In a 1986 conversation before an oldies show with The Kingsmen and Three Dog Night at Holiday Star Theatre in Merrillville, Ind., Mr. Pickett complained to me about not getting enough work.