Reason

BOOK REVIEW: The United States of Paranoia

 A Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories are only believed by people on the fringe of American politics? Not so says Reason’s Jesse Walker in his latest book: The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. Walker argues quite the opposite in his opening chapter: “The Paranoid Style is American Politics”:

By the time this book is over, I should hope it will be clear that when I say virtually everyone is capable of paranoid thinking, I really do mean virtually everyone, including you, me, and the founding fathers. As the sixties scare about the radical Right demonstrates, it is even possible to be paranoid about paranoids. (p. 24)

For those who are hoping that this is another book in which the author’s goal is to prove or disprove any particular conspiracy theory, Walker makes is clear that this is not what this book is about (for the most part). He also makes a point to acknowledge that some conspiracies have been proven true (ex: Watergate among these, see Chapter 7 for more examples), “At the very moment you are reading this, someone somewhere is probably trying to bribe a politician. The world is filled with plots both petty and grand…” (p.21).  Instead telling the reader what to believe, Walker tells a history about what people have believed on this continent from colonial times to now and how these beliefs have shaped the political debate and very the culture itself.

Rand Paul goes to Washington

While laid up in bed last week recovering from surgery, my coworkers sent me a care package that included Sen. Rand Paul’s new book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get past the first few pages. But Matt Welch brings us this passage from the book of Sen. Paul slamming George W. Bush:

Imagine this-what if there had never been a President George W. Bush, and when Bill Clinton left office he was immediately replaced with Barack Obama. Now imagine Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did-doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq war-the whole works. To make matters worse, imagine that for a portion of that time, the Democrats actually controlled all three branches of government. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It’s hard to imagine this being the case, given the grief Bill Clinton got from Republicans, even though his big government agenda was less ambitious than Bush’s. Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure.

For conservatives, there was no excuse for this.

Welch also notes:

Paul goes on to say stuff like “any self-described conservative who ‘misses’ the last president and his version of the Republican Party should probably quit subscribing to that label,” and “if judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush.”

Wow. Agreed.

GOP rolls out Pledge to America, mixed reaction among conservatives

House Republicans officially rolled out the Pledge to America (PDF embedded at the bottom of the page or you can download here) yesterday morning at a lumber company in Sterling, Virginia:

The agenda is reminiscent of “The Contract with America” that House Republicans announced on the steps of the Capitol in 1994. That manifesto helped them win control of the House during the second year of Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency.

While short on specifics, the new Republican plan calls for $100 billion in annual savings by scaling back federal spending to 2008 levels — with exceptions for the elderly and U.S. troops — and ending government control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Republican House leaders also vowed to stop “job killing tax hikes” and allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.
[…]
Under pressure from the conservative Tea Party movement to slash the size and cost of government, the Republicans promised to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the healthcare system and eliminate unspent funds from his $814 billion economic stimulus program.

The reaction among Democrats has been predictable as they again try to bring up George W. Bush, a strategy that hasn’t worked thus far:

Watch Reason’s absolutely amazing response to the call for a disastrous minimum wage increase

So, last week, Funny or Die released a video featuring actress Kristen Bell as a Mary Poppins who is struggling to work as a nanny on a $7.25 hourly wage. Basically, it’s a nearly 3-minute video making the case for President Barack Obama’s $10.10 minimum wage increase.

“Just a $3 increase can make a living wage,” Bell, star of Disney’s hit animated flick Frozen, sings to the tune of “A Spoonful of Sugar” from the 1964 film, Mary Poppins. “It makes a living wage. It makes a living wage.”

Well, Reason TV respond with its own Mary Poppins-style short. In the video, Remy, a comedian who frequently works with Reason on videos that parody current events and policy in hilarious videos and equally funny songs, plays a chimney-sweeper who explains the unintended consequences of a minimum wage increase.

“Just 3 pages of Econ. And perhaps your mind will change. When free people arrange
Voluntary exchange,” Remy says. “Just 3 pages of Econ. With this talk of ‘living wage,’ tell me, what do you folks pay?”

Watch the video below:

Hey, Republicans, you need to pay attention to this: Millennials really dig candidates with libertarian leanings

I Stand With Rand

Republicans are trying to figure out how to connect with Millennials — young voters between the ages of 18 and 34 — to break the stranglehold that President Barack Obama and Democrats on them. Well, polling data released late last week by Reason-Rupe offers some great insight into the sort of candidate can win this coveted voting block over:

A majority—53 percent—of millennials say they would support a candidate who described him or herself as socially liberal and economically conservative, 16 percent were unsure, and 31 percent would oppose such a candidate.

Interestingly, besides libertarians, liberal millennials are the most supportive of a libertarian-leaning candidate by a margin of 60 to 27 percent. Conservative millennials are most opposed (43% to 48% opposed).

A libertarian-leaning candidate would appeal to both Democratic and Republican voters. For instance, 60 percent of Hillary Clinton voters, 61 percent of Rand Paul voters, 71 percent of Chris Christie voters, and 56 percent of those who approve of President Obama all say they would support a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate.
[…]
The fact that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate mainly attracts liberals over conservatives indicates that social issues rather than economics largely drive millennials’ political judgments. It also suggests millennials are more socially liberal than they are economically liberal.

Drug policy debate should focus on federalism

Ted Cruz

In a speech last month at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued that, rather than ignoring certain laws, President Barack Obama should go to Congress to start “a real conversation” about federal drug policy.

“You could have hearings. You could look at the problem. You could discuss commonsense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn’t happen. This president didn’t do that,” said Cruz. “He just said, ‘The laws say one thing’—and mind you, these are criminal laws; these are laws that say if you do X, Y, and Z, you will go to prison. The president announced, ‘No, you won’t.’”

ReasonTV recently chatted with Cruz about the administration’s enforcement of federal drug laws. The firebrand conservative insists that President Obama should enforce federal drug laws, regardless of whether he agrees with them, arguing that ignoring laws passed by Congress sets “a very dangerous precedent.”

“The Obama administration’s approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is going to stop enforcing certain drug laws,” Cruz told ReasonTV. “Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone — it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome — because the idea that the president simply says criminal laws that are on the books, we’re going to ignore [them]. That is a very dangerous precedent.”

The real casualty of the shutdown? Rationality

Government Shutdown -- Mt. Rushmore

Make no mistake folks, this so-called “shutdown” is impacting real people.  I get that.  Several friends of mine are sitting at home rather than working.  However, even they have to admit that the impact on their life is somewhat temporary, even if the government didn’t pay them for the time they are sitting at home.

Unfortunately, this shutdown has set a new low for rationality from alleged adults.

Much ado has made about the Republican Party’s refusal thus far to pass a “clean” continuing resolution.  Some have even talked about how the Senate already has, and all the House has to do is vote on it.  Of course, since funding measures must start in the House, a Senate originated CR would be illegal.

While there are valid complaints regarding the Republicans, they’re not alone.

For example, let’s take a look at this friendly picture.

Shutdown

This is taken from NASA.gov, NASA’s official website.  I was clued into this being there this past weekend when someone on Facebook mentioned that they tried to access the site to help their child with a school report.  Not being one to take someone’s word for this, I looked myself and captured this.  NASA.gov redirects this notice.  This same notice shows up at Data.gov, a popular source for information about the United States government.  Even the Amber Alert website is down!

However, the EPA’s website, doesn’t have any such notice.  Neither does Ready.gov, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Defense.gov is also clear.

George Will’s Libertarian Evolution: Q&A on Obama, Syria, & the Power of Choice

See Video

Nick Gillespie and Reason TV chat with George Will, a conservative journalist, about his transformation to libertarianism.

What is Libertarian Populism?

See Video

Via Reason Magazine on YouTube, Nick Gillespie chats with Ben Domenech, Tim Carney, and Jesse Walker about “libertarian populism” and the potential appeal it could have to Americans who are tired of cronyism and big government.

It’s time to reform Social Security

Social Security

In a new video from Reason TV, Nick Gillespie explains that it’s time for Congress to get serious about Social Security reform.

Gillespie cites three strong reasons to tackle this problem now. First, Social Security is financially broke and will the surpluses it has amassed will be gone by 2033. That point was recently driven home by a report from the program’s trustees showing $23.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Secondly, Gillespie explains that Social Security is a bad investment because Americans will receive less in benefits than they pay in taxes. And lastly, Americans don’t have any control over their contributions, which is especially unfair to younger workers. This means that they can’t invest their money in retirement account that better suits their needs, nor can they leave what they’ve put in the system to their loved ones.

Check out the two-minute video below:

 


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