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Reason Alert: Libertarian Convention, McCain's Health

May 23, 2008

Libertarian Party Convention Coverage
Reason magazine's David Weigel is in Denver covering the Libertarian Party's convention this weekend, you can find his work at Reason.com. You can watch Weigel talk Libertarian Party politics on C-Span tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also listen to Weigel discuss the Libertarian race on NPR here. Earlier this week, Libertarian Party presidential candidates Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, and Wayne Allyn Root took part in a forum on the "Future of Libertarian Politics" at Reason Foundation's Washington, D.C. office. You can watch part of that panel discussion here or read about it (Washington Post, Newsweek, ABC, CQ).

McCain's Clean Bill of Health
Reason magazine editor Matt Welch, author of the book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick, writes: "A couple of meta-media items did jump out at me from the Associated Press' clean bill of health: 'Given McCain's fair skin and history of sunburns, mostly from the 5 1/2 years he was held outdoors while in Vietnamese prison camps, he has a 5 percent to 8 percent chance of developing a fifth melanoma, Lessin calculated.' First I ever heard of that explanation. The traditional story ? told in McCain's own books, and all the biographies of him ? is that he fried his skin to a crisp on his first congressional campaign in Arizona, walking door to door in his carpetbagged district for 27 hours a day, wearing out shoes and failing to heed Baz Luhrmann's advice. I initially mocked David Brock and Paul Waldman for complaining about the media constantly bringing up McCain's Vietnam experience apropos of nothing, but in this case their critique might be justified. Then there's this, 'His likely Democratic rival, Barack Obama, will be 47 in August. Obama, lean and agile and a frequent basketball player, says he has quit smoking. Neither he nor Democratic opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton has released health records.' Only one point here: Did you know that John McCain was a smoker until around age 45? It almost never gets mentioned."

McCain Treating Iran Like the Old Soviet Union
At Reason.com Steve Chapman writes, "At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious - that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did - John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Fort Knox for a sack of magic beans. 'Such a statement betrays the depth of Sen. Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment,' exclaimed McCain. 'These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess.' But if Iran is the Soviet Union, I'm Shaquille O'Neal. There is nothing reckless in soberly distinguishing large threats from small ones, and there is something foolhardy in grossly exaggerating the strength of your enemies. As military powers go, Iran is a pipsqueak. It has no nuclear weapons. It has a pitiful air force. Its navy is really just a coast guard. It spends less on defense than Singapore or Sweden. Our military budget is 145 times bigger than Iran's...there is no reasoning with McCain and his allies, who yearn for the simple clarity of the Cold War. If we don't have an enemy on the mammoth scale of the Soviet Union, they will take a pint-sized one, inflate it beyond recognition and pretend that military confrontation is the only way to deal with it. That was how we got into the war in Iraq and how, under a McCain presidency, we are liable to end up in a war in Iran. If he's looking for reckless judgment, he should look in the mirror."
» Matt Welch: McCain's Phony Plan for Withdrawal From Iraq

Leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has received a $12.8 billion offer to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years. While the state legislature contemplates approving the deal, Reason Foundation's Leonard Gilroy says investing the upfront payment could generate over $1 billion a year for new transportation projects. Gilroy writes, "Pennsylvania is at a critical point. There's not enough money today to properly maintain the system in place. The state needs $1.7 billion in new revenues every year to adequately maintain and improve the road and transit system. When you throw in growth expected over the next two decades, you have a funding crisis. In a 2006 study University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor David Hartgen found that Pennsylvania needs to add 4,450 new lane-miles at a total cost of $26 billion, in today's dollars, by the year 2030 to prevent traffic congestion from significantly worsening. Only five states have greater road needs. Any way you slice it, the Turnpike lease would contribute far more to meeting the Commonwealth's transportation needs than Act 44."
» Study: PA Turnpike Is One of Most Inefficient Toll Roads



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