Saturday, May 20, 2006

Make Them Eat Their Words

Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart regularly uses a very simple and effective rhetorical trick. They play a clip of a public figure making a statement, followed by a clip of the same person completely contradicting himself. After such an undeniable unveiling of hypocracy, Jon Stewart only has to flash his winning smirk to drive the dagger home. Easy, right? Effective, yes?

So why don't mainstream television news shows do it? I have never heard of cable or network news trying this trick. Is it another example of the mainstream press not wanting to be too rude? The press is supposed to be rude! It's supposed to reveal lies, malfeasance and hypocracy. Jon Stewart recently used this trick on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Now Rumsfeld would never appear on the Daily Show, but he would appear on NBC's Meet the Press. Imagine if Tim Russert played for Rummy clips of him saying, "I didn't say we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were" and then "We know where the WMD's are" on the air. Yes it would make awkward television, but it would also make government more accountable, which should always be a chief aim of the press.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Colbert rising

Stephen Colbert recently delivered an expert, methodical flaying of the pretentions of both the Bush Administration and the Washington press corps right to the president's face at the annual White House correspondant's dinner. It was something to see. Then the mainstream media proved one of Colbert's chief points by blacking out the story, only referencing the self-depracating bit at the dinner where Bush gave a presentation along with a Bush-impersonator.

Here's another tidbit about Colbert's speech that the media is dutifully ignoring. I noticed that the Colbert video actually has been topping the iTunes audibook rankings, surpassing even the audiobook version of Dan Brown's record-breaking blockbuster the Da Vinci Code. This is even more remarkable for the fact that it's beating Da Vinci even right up to the premiere of its wildly-hyped movie. What's more, it's even climbing to the top of the "Top Albums" list of all audio downloads. As of now, it's #2 under the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new album.

Embarrassingly, my fellow libertarian bloggers have also seemed to have ignored the Colbert speech. Given that Bush has been a libertarian nightmare, I do not understand why this is so.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Silly parents, don't you realize we know better?

At Wired News we have another example of what happens when customers are thought of a recipients of a public service. New York City parents overwhelmingly want their kids to be able to take cell phones to school for reasons of convenience and, primarily, safety. But the mayor and school officials are responding with an categorical "no." Cell phones would be too much a distraction, they say, and we can't have the little monsters taking phone-camera pictures of each other in locker room.

A customer base almost has universally proclaimed to a service provider, "We want a service that is like X." In any consumer-based, competitive industry their demands would have immediately been satisfied, or the service provider would have gone out of business as their client base is drawn off my more amenable companies. But in the nanny-state, tin-eared, bureaucratic world of public service, a universal demand is met by a smug "Sorry, we know better."

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