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Reason Alert: Ron Paul, Traffic Congestion

May 25, 2007

Ron Paul vs. Rudy Giuliani
"The reaction to the showdown between Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the second GOP presidential primary debate has been striking. Paul suggested that the recent history of U.S. foreign policy endeavors overseas may have had something to do with terrorists' willingness to come to America, live here for several months, then give their lives to kill as many Americans as possible. Perhaps, Paul suggested, the 15-year presence of the U.S. military forces in Muslim countries may have motivated them. For that, Giuliani excoriated him, calling it an 'extraordinary statement,' adding, 'I don't think I've heard that before.' Let's be blunt. Giuliani was either lying, or he hasn't cracked a book in six years. The 'blowback' theory isn't some fringe idea common only to crazy Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists. It doesn't suggest that we 'deserved' the Sept. 11 attacks, nor does it suggest we shouldn't have retaliated against the people who waged them. It's a well-established theory accepted among most foreign policy scholars that states, simply, that actions have consequences." - In his FoxNews.com column, Reason's Radley Balko examines how and why people who were very wrong about the war continue "mocking the people who were right."
» David Weigel: The Ron Paul Paradox
» Cathy Young: Who's Afraid of Ron Paul?

Democrats Fear Congestion Relief, Threaten States
Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) recently issued a letter warning states against using public-private partnerships to solve their massive traffic problems and actually threatening to "undo" state toll road deals that the congressmen deem inappropriate. Reason Foundation policy analysts Robert Poole and Peter Samuel call the letter "an outrageous threat and abuse of power." Poole, who has advised the last four presidential administrations, and Samuel write, "The federal government should be trying to help states improve mobility for their citizens and keep local and state economies growing. Instead of threatening to 'undo' much-needed state projects, Oberstar and DeFazio would be well-served to ask states, 'How can we help?' Public-private partnerships certainly offer states, taxpayers, and commuters a lot more than two congressmen butting into state business."
» Sam Staley: Congressional Leaders Flunk Transportation Policy 101
» How Traffic Jams Are Made in City Hall

Liberal Lebanon: Worth Saving, or the Hell With It?
With the latest round of violence going on around him, Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion page editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, writes, "...what is under threat today is Lebanon's liberal future. And that future is threatened mainly by Syria, which never accepted its forced withdrawal from Lebanon in 2003, after the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. The fighting in the north, the bomb blasts, and the political crisis are almost certainly the direct results of Syrian policy, despite what Damascus and its proliferating promoters are saying in Washington, as they try to peddle the idea that Syria holds a key to stability in Iraq. The explicit or implicit message of many of those worthies is that the U.S. is better off dealing with Syria over Iraq, even if it means surrendering to the Syrian regime 'influence' in Lebanon. However, the Syrians don't 'do' influence. What they understand is unquestioned domination." Young goes on to explain why Lebanon's liberalism should be taken seriously and why the U.S. must not abandon Lebanon as Syria and Hezbollah make their move.

Crackbrained Crack Crackdown
In his nationally syndicated column Reason's Jacob Sullum details why it is time to do away with mandatory drug sentencing: "In 1986 Congress established a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for first-time trafficking offenses involving at least five grams of crack, equivalent to as few as 10 doses. That's the same as the penalty for 500 grams or more of cocaine powder, which amounts to thousands of doses. Likewise, Congress made the penalty for 50 or more grams of crack the same as the penalty for 5,000 grams of cocaine powder: a 10-year mandatory minimum...The extraordinarily harsh treatment of crack offenders reflected the belief that smokable cocaine was much worse than snortable cocaine—100 times as bad, to judge by the cutoff quantities Congress chose. According to conventional wisdom, crack was especially dangerous because it caused violence, immediate addiction, and crippling birth defects. All of these premises turned out to be wrong...The lack of justification for the legal distinction between crack and cocaine powder is especially troubling when you consider the racially skewed impact of the sentencing gap. Crack offenders in the federal system are overwhelmingly black, while cocaine powder offenders are mostly white or Hispanic. That does not mean supporters of the crack crackdown (many of whom were black) had racist motives. But the perception that blacks have been targeted for especially harsh treatment cannot be ignored by anyone who cares about equality before the law, especially since there is no rational basis for this de facto discrimination."
» Sullum: Religious Exemptions from Drug Prohibition

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