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Reasaon Alert: Policy, Rhetoric and the Arizona Tragedy

The nation's political tone, Sarah Palin and the policies that may come out of the shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona

January 13, 2011

- The Perils of Letting Armed Lunatics Drive Public Policy

- The Extreme Rhetoric About Extreme Rhetoric

- Palin Doesn't Deserve Any Blame, But Hasn't Been Presidential Either

- Republicans Have Often Outspent Democrats

- Reason Invites You to Our DC School Choice Reception

The Perils of Letting Armed Lunatics Drive Public Policy

"After the shocking attack-which killed six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green, and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)-there was no shortage of knee-jerk proposals for preventing future outbursts of senseless violence. Most of them would sacrifice Americans' freedom in a vain attempt to protect us from armed lunatics...There is no reliable way of predicting which tiny percentage of the country's many oddballs and malcontents will convert weird ideas into homicidal actions. That reality may be scary, but it is not nearly as scary as a legal regime that strips citizens of their Second Amendment rights based on the opinions they express. Even worse is a legal regime that imprisons eccentrics on the off chance that they will commit murder someday." - Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum examines some of the laws being proposed in the aftermath of the Arizona tragedy.
Jacob Sullum: Looking for Loughners
Jacob Sullum: David Frum on Jared Loughner's Reefer Madness
 

The Extreme Rhetoric About Extreme Rhetoric "...this debate about the 'tone' of American politics is ideologically unidirectional, designed not to elevate debate but to vilify a political enemy. The call for calm-with its frequent invocations of Tea Party 'fascism'-is stupid partisan politics dressed up as incoherent moral politics."  - Reason magazine's Michael Moynihan Michael Moynihan: The Assassin Who Would Save America from the Extreme Right
 

Palin Doesn't Deserve Any Blame, But Hasn't Been Presidential Either
Reason magazine's Nick Gillespie writes, "It is strange that we need to keep mentioning that there's zero connection between [former Gov. Sarah] Palin, her infamous 'target' map, and the alleged shooter Loughner. Or that even if there were, it makes no sense to posit a causal connection between banal, ubiquitous political metaphors ('targeting' opponents, 'killing' legislation, etc.) and the act of a madman. What is it about the U.S. that we constantly invoke the cliché that hard cases make bad law and then sprint to make policy in the wake of sui generis calamities? It's a bad impulse whose results can be experienced every time we board a plane. Having said all that, if Sarah Palin is interested in becoming president someday, or even returning for a second season of reality TV, her response to patently stupid and offensive accusations hasn't exactly been Churchillian, either. She pulled her target map, had spokespeople say it didn't have targets on it in the first place, and then released a pretty lame audio clip via Glenn Beck's radio show. Her Facebook reply isn't going to win her any friends among the growing ranks of independents, either...One of the things that excited people about Sarah Palin was her apparent authenticity, her down-to-earthiness, her experience of working, living, dreaming, and achieving far from the conventional centers of power in American society. In a political age characterized by the telegenic intimacy of the 24-hour news channel, Palin seemed perfectly in synch with the sort of unmediated access viewers and voters crave. And only the most insulated chumps in the opinionating business (read: most of them) were put off by her insistence that when she graduated college she got a job, not a passport and a backpack. But since her bravura entrance onto the national stage, virtually every interaction she has had with her public has been so tightly stage-managed and scripted that her main selling point has been swathed and suffocated in layers and layers of distance from anything approaching a real-time response to the world she lives in. When she resigned her governorship long before her first term was up, she signaled that she wasn't so interested in being an actual legislator. Fair enough, and who can blame her? But she's now getting to the point where she's signaling that she is incapable of giving even her most sympathetic audience what it wants from her. Which means there's one less interesting character on the public stage and her future, even as an entertainer, is dimmer than it once seemed."
Nick Gillespie: 57% of Americans Think "Tone" of Politics Had Nothing to do with Tucson Shooting
 

More on the Arizona Shootings  

Matt Welch: L.A. Times - "Loughner's ramblings appear rooted in far right"

Ronald Bailey: Just Your Typical Would-Be Assassin

Peter Suderman: The Blame Game

Steve Chapman: Why Gun Control (Still) Won't Work

David Harsanyi: Political Rhetoric Is Not the Problem

Reason.tv: 5 Rules for Coping with Tragedy
 

Republicans Have Often Outspent Democrats
Reason magazine columnist Veronique de Rugy writes, "After two years of absolute Democratic power, many voters hope that the Republicans will restore fiscal sanity to Washington. But a look at the GOP's track record and campaign promises should give us pause. Historically, Republicans have often been worse spenders than Democrats. Since 1962, they controlled the White House during six of the 10 largest annual percentage increases in real discretionary outlays (see Figure 1). Discretionary spending is the part of the budget that is appropriated every year, as opposed to mandatory spending, which is on autopilot and can only be changed by altering the law behind the programs. For three of the 10 years with the biggest increases in discretionary spending, Republicans controlled Congress as well as the White House. Figure 2 shows, in inflation-adjusted figures, how much each modern full-term president added to his predecessor's final budget (or to his own, if he was re-elected). By this measurement, Republican George W. Bush outspent everyone. His apologists claim he had no choice but to expand military spending to combat terrorism at home and abroad. But even if you accept that argument, the president also increased domestic spending by massive amounts, including a giant new prescription-drug entitlement, the No Child Left Behind education law, and subsidy-soaked farm and transportation bills. Republican representatives and senators, many of whom were re-elected in 2010, share the blame for these measures: During the first half of 2001 and the 2003-07 period, the GOP maintained full control of both the White House and Congress."
Video: Nick Gillespie and Judge Napolitano on the GOP's Spending
John Stossel: Don't Count on the GOP to Shrink the Size of Government
Tim Cavanaugh: Big Trouble in the Lone Star State
Tim Cavanaugh: Cal Budget - Even With Steep Cuts, Your Kids Will Still Meditate In School
 

Reason Invites You to Our DC School Choice Reception
You are cordially invited to join Reason for a great evening of discussion and videos in celebration of National School Choice Week which will take place across the nation January 23-29, 2011. Reason's Nick Gillespie and Lisa Snell will host a panel discussion on the future of school choice in America.  Hear from and meet those on the front lines of this critical issue.  In addition to the evening's program, the event offers an excellent opportunity to speak informally with leading school choice advocates such as former Arizona school superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan; Democratic strategist Joe Trippi; Foundation for Educational Choice President Rob Enlow; New Jersey-based reformer Derrell Bradford; D.C. school choice pioneer Virginia Walden Ford; and many others. The event will also debut Reason's latest videos on school choice, including interviews with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Green Dot Public Schools Founder Steve Barr, and a host of education reformers who are radically transforming public education. Join us for drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and great conversation about the future of American education.
Thursday, January 20 6:00 pm to  9:30 pm
Reason's Washington, DC Office
1747 Connecticut Ave NW
(Metro: Red line to Dupont Circle, use North exit)
Please RSVP by January 18 to Mary Toledo at 800-582-2245 or mary.toledo@reason.org.  

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