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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Obama's Macaca Moment

June 21, 2007

Obama's Macaca Moment
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's campaign recently distributed a memo criticizing Sen. Hillary Clinton's financial ties to India. Obama has apologized, but Reason magazine's Kerry Howley wasn't impressed: "So is Clinton in bed with the enemy? It all depends on whether you consider trading partners enemies. The trader-as-traitor boasts a proud pedigree; a history extending from lawbreaking anti-mercantilists to John Kerry’s 'Benedict Arnold CEOs.' And the juxtaposition of trade and treason has never made less sense. Offshoring will enrich some and hurt others in the short term, but the two groups will not be distinguished by the citizenships they claim. To whip up hysteria about outsourcing is to pit American against American; the Americans who benefit from lower prices, increased productivity, and job creation, against those whose jobs are lost to more efficient producers...This is an ugly, antagonistic vision of peaceful cooperation and the endless churning it effects. It plays into in-group/out-group atavism, eschewing the counterintuitive truth (an audaciously hopeful truth!) of gains from trade for the lazy fiction of a zero-sum game. It’s a cheap shot. And when a candidate who promises to rebuild alliances with the rest of the world characterizes mutually beneficial trade relationships as violence; when his campaign casts investment in allies as a failure of fealty; you’ve got to wonder what his actual diplomacy is going to look like."

When Middle East Democracy Disappoints
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum says the Bush administration's "support for democracy is conditional" and examines Bush's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "In November 2003, when he announced his 'forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East,' President Bush declared that 'the only path to independence and dignity and progress' for the Palestinians is 'the path of democracy.' He added that 'the consistent and impartial rule of law' is one of the 'essential principles common to every successful society.' Less than four years later, the Bush administration is backing the illegal removal of a democratically elected Palestinian government. This turnaround, along with the administration's continued solicitude toward authoritarian allies such as Egypt and Pakistan, shows Bush was either insincere or mistaken in promising that the U.S. would no longer have to choose between promoting democracy and promoting its interests."

Price Gouging as Public Policy
Congress is posturing about outlawing "price gouging" at the gas pump. But Reason magazine's award-winning science correspondent Ronald Bailey has a better plan, a dare for the Democrats: "If the Democratic majority in the Senate was truly sincere about weaning us from foreign oil and making us drive alcohol-fueled hybrid cars, live in more insulated buildings, and use more energy efficient appliances and lighting, they have the power to enact a simple and easy way to do it. They can 'gouge' us themselves. That is, Congress can set a high price for carbon emissions on fossil fuels—either through taxes or through a cap-and-trade market—boosting the price of gasoline and electricity so much that Americans would be forced to buy all those wonderful energy efficient products that the Senators think we should want. Why, if Congress gouged us enough, demand for gasoline would fall so much we wouldn't need any new refineries; we could probably even shut some down."

Paris: The Sacrificial Heiress
"No one will ever mistake Paris Hilton for an innocent. But they will re-admit her to her old haunts, and oh, how they'll give her money. This woman has already become a celebrity without doing anything worth celebrating, a sex symbol without exuding any sex appeal, a world-famous criminal without committing a notable crime. Now she can be a scapegoat who never gets sacrificed: the victim of a barbaric ritual who emerges somehow with everything she wants." - Reason magazine's Jesse Walker is confident Paris Hilton will land on her feet when she gets out of the slammer.

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