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Reason Alert: Convention Coverage

  • Reason Magazine’s Convention Coverage
  • Obama’s Backdrop Will Prompt More Celebrity Attacks
  • Hillary Almost Made Me Cry
  • Bob Barr Is No Ron Paul
  • Computer Glitch Causes Long Air Travel Delays
  • California Closer to Passing Global Warming Law to Reduce Driving
  • New at, and

Reason Magazine’s Convention Coverage
Several of Reason magazine’s journalists are covering this week’s Democratic National Convention and will also attend next week’s Republican National Convention. You can find Reason’s coverage of both conventions here.

Obama’s Backdrop Will Prompt More Celebrity Attacks
From Denver, Reason magazine’s David Weigel writes, “Greek columns? Behind your presidential nominee as he accepts the nomination? Not flags? Not, I don’t know, tractors or something? I know Obama has looked grand before capitols and monuments before (Springfield, Berlin, San Antonio), but 1)’hubris’ and ‘presumption’ are the only attacks on the man that have stuck and 2) There is a bluntness here that I respect. Both McCain and Obama are running for Caesar. I get that. But part of the game of running for Caesar has always been pretending you don’t want it, that the proles need you, and you’re one of them. Our imperial trappings are less cornball than this: Motorcades, armies of secret service, go down the list. I have to wonder which campaign Obama is watching: the one where he’s as popular as he was in early 2008, or the one where Republicans are taunting him like a caged animal for stuff-just-like-this, and where his lead isn’t just gone in the (mostly meaningless) national polls but fading in the (meaningful as all hell) state polls. His only hope is that McCain gives his stirring address in song atop a scale model of the Hanoi Hilton. I find this unlikely.”

Hillary Almost Made Me Cry
Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch, also in Denver, writes, “…for a moment there tonight at the Pepsi Center, as the rockin’ pre-speech montage to Hillary was showing on the video screens (‘Are You Gonna Go My Way?’ Inspired!) … my eyes welled up with something suspiciously close to a non-crocodile tear. I’ve never hated Hillary-at least until this year, anyway-but I’ve also never understood for one second why anyone found her to be an especially smart or interesting human being. As in most things political, this has put me squarely in some micro-minority, of the studiously Hillary-indifferent. And so it was with some surprise that I found myself borderline weepy at seeing pictures of lil’ Hill juxtaposed with Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl.’ After 16 years of a power couple who really did shape these United States, providing essential flavors and colors of the decade I love most, there was the poignant feeling that, senatorial job or no, the Clinton Era was finally coming to a close. Not a sad thing, surely, but kind of moving, in some cry-during-the-Oscars-when-they-show-the-dead-people kind of way. But then, thank God, Hillary started talking. Consider the just monstrous condescension of this passage: ‘When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you – the American people, your lives, and your children’s futures. […] You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and … you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine.’ Is there a word in the English language for massive egocentrism cloaked in paeans to you, the little people? Can we just call it Hillarity or Hillderdash from now on? Whatever the diagnosis, telltale symptoms include serial anecdotes of the single mother Iraqi soldier eating dog food because of the pharmaceutical windfalls, and exaggerated tales whose sole purpose is to remind us that She was listening, and She cared.”

Meanwhile, Weigel was not impressed with Sen. Clinton’s speech: “Chalk me down as a skeptic of Hillary’s Big Speech…maybe the only way Clinton could make the case to her diehards was to grit her teeth and leave the impression that Obama was a fine second choice, not someone she fully supports. That’s how they feel. Hell, it’s how half of John McCain supporters feel about their guy. The only national political combatant I’ve seen who convincingly tells his former supporters that the winner was the better man is Mitt Romney, and no one else needs to be like Mitt Romney.” Editor Nick Gillespie concludes, “I’d say that Sen. Clinton has had the best performance so far, by a wide margin, both in terms of attacking John McCain and the Republicans head-on and defining a nauseatingly comprehensive set of plans for raising taxes, getting mad at companies for ‘shipping job overseas,’ and pushing universal health care (or more accurately, even more expensive and less effective health care).”

Bob Barr Is No Ron Paul
Reason’s David Weigel goes searching for Bob Barr in Denver: “I arrived in Denver from Reno, after reporting on the evolution of the Ron Paul movement and the progress of the Bob Barr campaign. My conclusion: Don’t expect much. Most Paul voters there find Barr unacceptable, Barr’s organization is basically non-existent, and Republicans don’t worry about Barr taking votes unless McCain embarks on a two month ‘piss off, libertarians’ campaign. I mean, more than he already is…Even the farcical Ralph Nader campaign has more going on here than Barr’s campaign. Sure, they’ve been reduced to giving away tickets to tonight’s ‘Super Rally ’08 w/ Special Mystery Guests.’ But by gum, they’ve got a super rally. Barr’s basically invisible here.”

Computer Glitch Causes Long Air Travel Delays
Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole writes, “Yesterday’s major outage at one of two FAA facilities that processes flight plans is yet another example of an air traffic control system that has aged beyond its useful life. Yes, the FAA promises to replace that particular ‘decades-old’ system soon. But merely replacing components-while necessary in the short term-misses the point. Today’s ATC system is built on a 1950s paradigm or concept of operations. Because it is so imprecise, it must create huge buffer space around each plane, wasting valuable airspace. All communications between ATC and planes go by voice-on frequencies that are jammed and relaying numbers that can be mis-heard. It is hugely labor-intensive, when software could accomplish many routine tasks in keeping planes safely separated. In short, we need 21st-century ATC, and we need it soon. But a cumbersome civil-service bureaucracy, funded in dribs and drabs by annual congressional appropriations, is more likely to impede that transition than to facilitate it. Fixing air traffic control requires major organizational and funding reform, as has already been done in Australia, Canada, and most of Europe. Sadly, Congress has ignored such reform ideas in its endlessly-delayed efforts at FAA reauthorization, now nearly a year overdue.”
» Reason’s Air Traffic Research and Commentary

California Closer to Passing Global Warming Law to Reduce Driving
Reason Foundation’s Sam Staley writes, “The state government has decided Californians are going to drive less, whether they like it or not. Want to buy a Prius or insulate your home as your contribution to lowering carbon emissions? Sorry, but that’s not doing enough for the government’s tastes. California wants politicians and planners to have a bigger say in where you live, shop and work so that they can make sure you don’t drive that Prius too far…Senate Bill 375 is the state’s latest far-reaching piece of legislation intended to help to meet one objective: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020. To cut emissions, the government will take a more active role in where you live, how you get there, and what kind of home you live in. While this legislation thankfully stripped away specific regional targets that would have been far more draconian, the core governing values underlying California’s approach should sound alarms in and out of the state. Analysis prepared by the California Senate notes the legislative intent of the bill is to integrate housing planning with regional transportation planning. Regional planners are supposed to determine housing needs and use statistical modeling to ‘allocate housing units within the region consistent with the development pattern included in the SCS [sustainable communities strategy].’ A sustainable communities strategy is planning jargon for reducing carbon dioxide. It’s the only criterion that counts in SB 375. Neighborhoods could become mired in crime, failing infrastructure, and poor schools, but if they reduce carbon dioxide emissions they would be considered sustainable and conform to the SCS. This is Sacramento’s idea of ‘smart growth.'”
» Staley’s Book: The Road More Traveled