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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 14, 2010 11:00am-12:00pm EST

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a book. i labored a way. i was not a busy guy then, but i found the time in four years to take the lectures as starting points and write more about many issues i found interesting. the process ended up being good. it was just, you know, it was hard on me at times, but i'm very glad now that i was given this contract which i signed without fully appreciating its implications. >> the book is called the art and politickings of science. the author has been talking with us. thank you very much. >> thank you. ..
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>> i, i really, you know, i have this thing on my show called the duck of the day, and i know my producers are rolling on c-span, and they're going to get me with the duck of the day. i don't know who the best person is right now, but here's my answer: i'm not worried about that yet. i know everyone wants, the next, you know, the next reagan to walk in the room, the next figure, you know, who's going to lead us out of the darkness. i'm not worried about it. i truly believe, and i've been in how many cities? fifteen cities now in just a little over a week and a half. i am thrilled about what i'm seeing from the ground. it's going to happen the way it's supposed to happen. i have great faith. i have this cross on everybody knows i wear.
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[applause] i have great faith. that, you know, we're not, we're not an accident, this country. this whole thing didn't happen because of just some series of coincidences that we had these brilliant men who came together at the constitutional convention and, you know, did this magic. it's not magic. we have a destiny to fulfill, and i believe, again, if citizens are engaged -- and it means more than going to speeches. i mean, i'm glad you all came, believe me. it would have been embarrassing if it were just raymond and randy here, a few other people -- [laughter] i'm excited you're here. but what you do when you leave here is what matters. what i'm saying to you is, it's happening. people are organizing in ways they haven't, and let me just say, mr. president, i'm high-fiving you on the community organizing thing because we're coipg it now -- doing it now.
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[applause] >> to watch this program in its entirety, go to booktv.org. simply type the title or the author's name at the top left of the screen and click search. >> political satirist p.j. o'rourke presents his thoughts on the current state of politics in be america. the author questions the government's fiscal discipline and weighs in be on numerous other political issues induing health care reform, the recent financial crisis, climate change, no child left behind and campaign finance reform. the event, hosted by the cato constitute in washington, d.c., is 50 minutes.>> >> my good friend and the h.l. mencken research fellow at cato, patrick j. o'rourke. [applause] >> well, thank you all for come ogg out -- coming out, and i appreciate it. i know that some of you probably
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felt like you should be home laying down with a cold compress on yourpr head after president obama's 1 p.m. press conferencet certainly let me with a headache. we lost that election last night. you know? kn and i don't say that just r because republicans didn't take the senate, you know, or -- we lost that election because almost every political contest yesterday was won by a politician. [laughter]uple in a couple of cases, angry nute won which is an improvement over politicians -- [laughter] but it's really, it's just not good enough. i will not be satisfied untild every seat in the house and senate is filled by a regular person, a regular person who,, quite reasonably, hates being b there. i want government to be like
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jury duty. and not jury duty for some exciting crime like the o.j. simpson murder, you know?now? i want government to be like jury duty foenr a long, boring, complex, confusing trial concerning tax law. in fact, let me suggest indicting our federal tax code just for starts.od which is nothing but fraud. i want government to be dull, a dull and onerous responsibility like attending a parent/teacher conference, you know?now something that to be undertaken with weary reluctance becauseec good citizenshipau requires it, you know? i want every congressman, every senator, every president, every supreme court justice to be wishing, longing, begging to goo back to his or her real job in the real life.
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i want them hoping and pleading toin be allowed to return to thr private interests and personal e avocations. i want them yearning to beo be sitting in front of the tv with a beer watching ed crane lose money on his world series bets, you know? [laughter] i want our elected officials to say that they intend to spend s more time with their families and mean it. [laughter] mean it, you know? we will know when we have won an election. we will know when we have won an election when every single candidate who's voted into office begins his or her victore speech by saying, oh, shit. [laughter] no. now, i'm working on a, in this new book, on a new theory of political science.ad and instead of basing my theoryo
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on the work of deep political thinkers such as tom stewart mill and ed crane, i'm basing my theory on a dumb game played at all-night giggle sessions in girls' boarding schools. my wife told me about this. the game's called kill/screw/marry. what happens is is that the girls pick three men, and they go around the room, and every girl has to decide which one of the three she would kill, which one she'd screw and which one she would settle down for life and raise a family, right?w, i i think the example my wife gave when she was telling me about this, her example was conan o'brien, david letterman, jay leno. the girls could kill conan likew nbc did, screw letterman -- all the other interns did -- and rig marry jay leno, right?ughi and i'm laughing.uck but then it struck me, kill/screw/marry, that's m politics.
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that's how we pick the president of t the united states. take as example 1992 presidential election. george h.w. bush, bill clinton, roz perot. we kill roz perot, you know? we can hardly avoid a screw from bill clinton, and be we marry kindly old george h.w. bush., th now, of course, the outcome ofea the game is not always a foregone conclusion. in the case of the 2000l presidential election, america was pretty much evenly divided about whether to screw george w. or get screwed by al goreink although i think we all agreed on killing ralph nader. i won't venture any more examples from recent elections for fear of attracting attention from the secret service hard as that sometimes seems to be in the obama white house. to [laughter] anyway, kill/screw/marry, it just got me thinking. the game works on parts of government, too, you know? kill the postal service, get in, bed with fema housing, marry hou
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armed forces. marry social security and health care reform kills us. i mean, kill/screw/marry. great tool of political analysis because in a free and democratie country politics is a sort of a three-legged stool, you know? a politics is balanced upon a tripod of power, freedom and responsibility, kill/screw/marry. and we live in a free and democratic country. a little less democratic than it was before last night which ise fine with me. also kill/screw/marry is a great tool of political analysis because we're so passionatenal about our politics. and how do passionate affairs end?rs in a passion usually, in a crime of passion sometimes.mes. and occasionally they turn into stable, permanent legal arrangements which is to say the endless peevish quarrel known as marriage. so how do we approach the
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political institutions of our free and democratic country? do we overthrow them with violence? do we screw around cheating on them while they screw around cheating on us, or do we try to build something that isat i lasting -- and boring -- worthy and annoying, marvelouslysame virtuous and at the same time dreadfully stifling. a marriage. kill/screw/marry. now, when i first began to think about politics when mastedons and nixon roamed the earth, i buzz obsessed with freedom, the screw part kill/screw/marry. i had a messy idea of freedom, drinking bong water, but i had a tidy idea that freedom was the central issue of politics. now, i loved politics.liti many young people do. kids can spot a means of gain without merit, you know?meri this this, this may be the
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reason that professional politicians retain a certain youthful zest.as ted kennedy was the boyo right down to his last aged disease-wracked moment. i was wrong about the lovable nature of politics, but i was sure i was right about the preeminent place freedom shouldt have in a political system. but there are lots of definitions of free.ty-s thirty-six definitions of free in webster's third internationaa dictionary.ty o plenty of people arein f theoretically in favor of freedom. we are all but overrun with theoretical allies and freedom's cause. we have got collaborators in the fight for freedom that we don'tn even want. wan i mean,t. the proletarians have nothing to lose but theirbu chains. it's the second to the last sec sentence of the communist manifesto, and there's a creepyi echo of it inst the refrain of. chris: to haverson's me and
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bobby mcgee.rist mao announced letting 100 flowers blossom and the 100 schools thought contend to the policy.of half a million people died in that definition of freedom. and we should probably keep in mind that the original definition of the word free in english is not in bondage. the most meaningful thing about freedom is that mankind has aenn sickening history of slavery. hr now, here in america we have freedom because we have rights. but the same way we can get mixed up about freedom, we can get mixed up about our rights. there are two kinds of rights. political scientists call them positive rights and negative rights. sometimes we call them opportunities and privileges. i call them get out of here rights and gimme rights. politicians are always telling us about our gimme rights, g especially the politician we've got in the white house right now. as in gimme some health carenow.
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insurance, you know? but, you know, our bill ofyou rights doesn't mention any gimme rights. our bill of rights is all about our freedom to say i have got god, guns and a big, damn mouth and if jury finds me guilty, the judge will go my bail, you knowf now, this is a get out of here right, our right to be left alone, our freedom of interference, usually from the b government, but also from our neighbors when they warrant ustr to goai back in the trailer. politicians don't like billmy -- they only like gimme rights, they do not like get out of here rights. o they don't like them because for one thing all legislators are being invited to get out of here, you know?of and for another thing, strictfo adherence to get out of heret rights would leave little scopee for legislation, something that legislators dearly love to do. gimme rights, much more politically alluring.ng and this is how we find
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ourselves tempted withou the rit to education, the right to housing, right to a living wageo to oil spill beach clean-up, high-speed internet access, three french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in this a pear tree. politicians show no signs ofo even knowing the difference between get out of here anderen gimme rights. and blinded by the dazzle of anything that makes them popular, they honestly may notya be able to tell. but there is evidence that a confusion about these rights was originally presented to the public with malice aforee thought.houg president franklin roosevelt's four freedoms appear to be at first glance as natural, as well-matched, as tidy of composition as those normanro rockwell illustrations for them, freedom from want, freedom from fear.tice but notice how the beggar -- number three, freedom from want -- has slipped in among the
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more respectable members of thee freedom family. want what, we ask. saying, as roosevelt did, that we look forward to a worldd founded upon four essential human freedoms and that one of these freedoms is freedom from want, this was not an expression of generosity from roosevelt. declarations like freedom from want are never expressions of generosity. there were six million jews in europe who wanted nothing but a safe place to go and where was roosevelt there? when rights consist of special privileges and positive benefits, rights kill freedom. wrong rights are the source of abusive political power.l it's years before i realized, it's years after i first gotst g interested in politics before i realized the central issue ofra poll tibs is power -- politics is power, not freedom. kill, not screw. only an idiot wouldn't have seen this, and i was one.
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i wasn't alone. liberals, moderates, even some conservatives considered this sweeping gimme rights created by half a century of social welfare programs to be extensions of freedom in the opportunity right sense. people were being given the opportunity to, you know, not starve to death. and that's not a purely evil way of looking at things. and not all the social welfare programs were bad. but the electorate, the the candidates and me failed to properly scrutinize social welfareoc programs. it's not that we failed toms examine whether the programs were needed or unneeded or well or poorly run.n. what we failed to look at was the enormous power being taken from people and given to politics.. we let freedom be turned into power. f off and die, the politicianspo told us. politicians are careless about promising gimme rights, they are
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cynical about delivering them. and gimme rights, in turn, are absurdly expandable. the government gives me the right to get married. this indicates i have a right to a good marriage, otherwise why bother giving that right to me? now, my marriage is made a lot better by my children's right to daycare so the brats aren't in my face all day, you know? being deprived of their right to a nurturing developmentalnmen environment.chil every child has the right to ail happy childhood, so i have theto right to happy children. richer children are happier. give me some of angelina jolie's. [laughter] the expense of all these rights makes politicians happy. they get to do the spending. even get out of here rights aren't free. they entail a military, a constabulary, a judiciary and a considerable expenditure of patience by our neighbors when they want us to sober up and put the gun down and go back in the trailer. but gimme rights require no end
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of money, and money is the least of their cost. every, every one of such rightsv means the transfer of good andof services from one group ofof citizens to another. now, the first group of citizens loses those goods and services, but all citizens lose the power that must be given to a political authority to enforcerc that transfer. and we didn't -- we didn't want to -- understand that power. and this is particularly true of people my age, of the baby boom. and it was obvious in the way we reacted when politicians attempted to use their power to limit our freedom by drafting us into the war in vietnam. we fought the establishment by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns, you know?irc this pathetic bunch. we're a pathetic bunch, and itdi didn't start with beatles, marijuana and the pill. recall the coonskin cap?
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[laughter]chil i wore mine to school. children of previous eras maykin have won coonskin caps, but the. had to eat the raccoons first. baby boom's reluctance to pay attention to the real issues of power resulted from the factower that we had some. freedom is power, you know?om and when it came to freedom, we were full of it. we were the first middle class majority generation in history.s we had all the varieties of freedom that affluence providesl plus we had the other varietiess of freedom provided by thethe relaxation of religioustion conviction, sexual morality, et kit and good taste. the institutions that enforce prudence and restraint, they had been through a world war, prohibition, depression, anotheh world war and elvis. they were tired. and we were allowed to fall under the power of our freedoms, and we powered through them. sixty years on we are still at it letting not age, satiety,
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tedium or erectile dysfunctionyu stand in our way, you know? and yet always at our back wear hear this nagging thought that with power comes responsibility. kill/screw/marriage. and we don't want that. i mean, has there ever been a generation, civilization, natiov more determined to evade responsibility? well, yes, probably there has. the ancient romans, sliced open animals and be rummaged in theim kidneys and livers to trying to avoid owning up to the consequences of empire and toga parties.ties the greeks were forever running off to hear the irresponsiblepos babble of the oracle of delphi, the larry king of rage -- [laughter] maybe the egyptians had an oprah barge on the nile where deceased pharoahs could fall to pieces and promise to become better mummies, you know? nonetheless, the baby boom has an impressive record ofecor blame-shifting, duty-shirking,
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unaccountability and refusal to admit guilt or, better, to readily confess to every kind of guilt and then announce that we have moved on. a gigantic national not-my-fault project has been undertaken with heroic amounts of time, effort and money devoted to psychology, psychotherapy, sociology, sociopaths, social work, social sciences, scientology, science, chemistry, the brain, brain chemistry, share tone anyone uptick reinhibitors, inhibitions, sex, sex therapy, talk radio, talk radio personalities, personality disorders, drugs, drug-free school zones, internet diction, pms, iq, dna, evolution,ion, divorce, no-fault car insurance, the democratic party andte diagnosis ofnt attention deficit disorder in small boys. [laughter] when i started thinking about politics 40 some years ago, ihae shouldn't have been thinking
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mainly about freedom and power, about screwing and killing. i should have been thinking about that march downld the chuh aisle responsibility. it is, of course, too late now. i'm a child of my era.ra. and speaking of that era, here are three slogans from three 1960s posters that never, ever existed. sr. hood is responsible -- sisterhood is responsible. black responsibility. respond to the people. respond to the people. i'm trying to imagine me and my bratty friends o out there on the barricades with our fists raised yelling, responsibility to the people, you know?? now, it is our great good fortune that we, as libertarians, have a way out of that kill/screw/marry game of politics. because we have realized that true freedom, true power and true responsibility are individual matters. we know that the greatest source of our freedom, our power and our responsibility is, quite
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simply, the free market. economic freedom is the freedom we exercise most often and to the greatest extent.is freedom of speech is important. if you have anything to say, i check the internet. nobody does. a freedom of belief is important if you believe in anything. i've watched reality tv, i can't believe it. freedom of assembly is important.rtan if you have an assembly to go to the way we do. but most people go to the mall, and at the mall they exercise economic freedom. we have the cow of economic freedom. do we take the cow to market ant trade her for the magic beans of bailout and stimulus? when we climb that magic beanstalk, we're going to find a giant government at the top, yon know? now, are wear going to be as luy as jack and the beanstalk was? see, i'm not sure that jacky himself was that lucky with his? giant killing, you know? jack the giant curl, that's jack's version, you know? j
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my guess is that jack spent years being investigated by giant subcommittees, you know? [laughter] and now jack's paying a giant h tax on his beanstalk bonus with his salary being determined by a compensation committee that isit 40 feette tall, you know? free market, it's not a creed o an ideology that we libertarian want americans to take on faith. no. the free market is simply a measurement.t the free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. that's all the free market does. the free market is a bathroom scale. we may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we cannot pass a law making ourselves weigh 145 and president obama thinks we can. free market gives us only one piece of information, but it is important information.form we ignore it at our peril the way the leaders of the old soviet bloc did. they lost the cold war not becauser of troops or tanks or
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star wars missile shields. they lost the cold war becauseae of bulgarian blue jeans. the free market was attemptingto to inform the kremlin that bulgarian blue jeanses didn't fit. they were ugly and ill made. nobody wanted them at any price. people wouldn't wear bulgariann blue jeans. literally not to save their lives. but the kremlin didn't listen, and the berlin wall came down. there is, however, just one problem with escaping from the kill/screw/marry of politics. if our nation becomes a libertarian nation, in this will deprive politics of all of it tools and instruments. if we succeed in getting people to quit killing, stop screwing around and start taking the troughs they've plighted in if life seriously, there will be no room left for politics.
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so how will politics be able to give us our rights to threes ou french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree?g how will politics be able to make things fair? now, this may be a valid concern, but i am immune to it. i am immune to it because i have a 12-year-old daughter, and that is all i hear; that's not fair.t that's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair. all my friends have an ipad, it's not fair. you let my little sister do such and such, it's not fair. one day i just snapped, and i said to her, honey, you're cute. that's not fair. you're smart, that's not fair. your family is pretty well off, that's not fair. you were born in the unitedrn i states of america, that's not fair. darling, you had better get down on your knees and pray to god that things don't start getting
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fair for you.. [laughter] anyway, that's everything i know. but if anybody has a question, i'll make up some other stuff. t i see a question right, right back there. >> thank you. >> and there's a microphone for with which you can ask your question. >> it's good to see you again here, and i wanted to thank youi again for the opportunity to speak with you on your last book that came out about the cars.>> >> you're very welcome. >> are i see some of the central themes that are being repeated here tonight. were you in the any way involved in the civil rights movement? obviously, you were too young to be fully involved in it, but in retrospect how do you feel about what happened during the '60s versus what we have now? >> oh, yeah.volv i mean, i wasn't involved in ths civil rights movement like being a freedom rider or anything, bus
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i was an avid supporter. i was a leftist at the time, an i think it's one red badge ofthe courage that the left can w present us with,it is that they were out front.th maybe not for the beste of motives always, but nonetheless, theyro were out front on the ci. rights question. and it is always to be borne in mind, you know, that one thing that sets us apart from some people in the the conservative movement is our belief in rule of law and our belief in the equality of people, more precisely our belief in the equality of everyone before the law. i mean, everyone must be equal before the law. that's actually even more important than whether the law l is good, is that we all be -- most important thing is that we be equal before the law and that we have some measure of input as to what that law can be. what it is. and that existence of law, the
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equality before the law, the input into the law, these are the things that actually create the necessity, the logical necessity for democracy. and this is really at the core of our beliefs.e and there are, you know, there are people who are on our side on many issues who are not as firm, alas, as i think we are about that.t sir. >> mr. o'rourke, i remember you spoke in this auditorium at the beginning of the iraq war, and you said you were in favor of it. do you still feel the same way about it? this. >> no. my, you know, to use what cain said, you know, when my you information changes, my opinion changes, you know, what do you do? [laughter] i have considerable more reservations about the iraq war now than i had then. we only knew what we knew, and, you know, people right up the
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food chain to mohamed el barty, you know, over at the u.n.e we believed there were weapons of mass destruction.at r that wasn't why i was in favor of the iraq war, i had been in the gulf war, i had covered the gulf war, i had seen what saddam hussein did to kuwait and the people of cue kuwait, and i feld this was a very, very bad man, and i felt the fundamental question was is he a bad man,, o does he do bad things, does he have the resources to do more bad things, and that was three yeses and you're out, you know? so i was in favor of the iraqaq war. however, i was also in baghdad. about two days after baghdad fell. i arrived in baghdad, and, you know, we violated the power rule. we broke it, but we failed to fi buy it. there was no water, the water system was not operating, there was no electricity. but, i mean, no water, i mean, that just says it all. is a desert country.
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there was no water in baghdad.e millions of people and no water. there was no electricity, the sewage system was going to pieces, there was no food, there was no provision for medicalal care. we had just, we had taken large chunks out of this city, done a lot of damage in taking over w this city, and we were providing no aid whatsoever to the people of the city. they were not initially thatat unhappy to see us.. i walked around without a guarda withoutr a weapon. i walked around baghdad by myself. you know, i got a few ugly looks, i got some waves and smiles, i got some, you know, like, you know, i'm not sure looks. but i never felt myself to be in danger. and it wasn't until the people of iraq fully realized that these weird alien creatures whor had arrived in our country all dressed up like, you know, like the soldiers in star wars hadn't
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broughtha anything with them, ye know? this hadn't brought anyativ alternative. they were, they were plenty glad to be rid of saddam hussein and of the parasitic and vicious members of the baath party. so, you know, that aftermath to the iraq war modified my feelini in retrospect, modified myct feeling of support for the iraq war. probably if i were a smarter person or a more diligent persou or if i'd done due diligence, as they say in business, i would have realized we were going into iraq so poorly prepared. p not so poorly prepared from our point o of view, but so poorly prepared from the point of view of the iraqi people. so -- sir. >> follow up on your -- how do you reconcile that -- >> [inaudible] >> just to follow up on your, what you just said, how do youjt reconcile that with yourconc analysis previously about the gimme rights versus get out ofbt here rights? it seems like, you know,f
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providing the iraqis with electricity, providing them with water, all that otherh nation-building infrastructureth stuff seems to fall on the side of gimme rights rather than get out of heresi rights.hts >> well, you're right, you'rel, correct. i mean, that certainly does, you know? and if we had invaded america, d but we didn't, you know? [laughter] if our government had invaded us, and i suppose some would say they had in a way, you know?th they would be under a certain obligation to provide for ourur welfare. i speak of it only really, i mean, i speak of it partly from a humanitarian point of view.an, i simply, you know, i didn'tw, i want like the suffering that i saw. but i also speak of it as a pragmatic point of view. if you're going to invadeu another country, you know, nood matter how good your reasons mas be, and let's say for argument's sake that the reasons were much better than they they, in fact,, nazi germany level of reasons.
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you still if you want that, that invasion and that occupation to be a success, if you want toha have your way, you want qui thgermans to quit -- germans to quit being nazis, you know, you baathists to be out ofan power and don't want anybody bad to come in and fill that powernt vacuum, then it is incumbent you upon you just from a practical point of view to bring someg so goodies in your easter basket, you know? sir. >> i was struck in yourur presentation that, obviously, io the day after an election it's fun to think about our elected officials, but as i recalled in your book "parliament of whores," when you got to the ene of the book, it was all of us and everything that we thought now had become our right. and it seems to me that there's sort of a question of, okay, if you have a house of, quote,
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representatives and we're all out trying to hang on to what we like, what would you expect the house of representatives to do? >> yeah! no, i mean, the fault of bad government from the president right on down is squarely on our shoulders as american citizens. we elected these people, you know?u and we elected these peopleese because gimme rights are quite q enticing. they really are. was why, and that's why t the final sentence of "parliament of whores" is the whores are us. we do control -- this is a democracy, we control this country, and we have beene aw willing to give away a lot of our freedoms in return for what we perceived as being benefits.s one of the things that fascinates me about the tea is party movement is is that this is a grass roots movement going around asking for less from g government, you know? this has come up -- this has noo come down from the elites, thiso hats come up from theme bottom.-
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has come up from the bottom. we're being our own sarkozys with this. we are going to ourselves and, saying, no, no, you can't retiro at 28.ent you can't have the government c pay 165% of your college c tuition. you cannot have all of these benefits without there being enormous cost to our individuale freedom and, of course, cost to our economy, all sorts of. blowback from this. and so that's why, you know, is the, is the, is the tea party movement a perfect thing? ofin course not. it's a big tree. big trees attract squirrels. i mean, there are some people out there, you know what i mean? christine o'donnell, i am not a witch, you know?ot a this i was a little amazed at that. on the other hand, i thought t o myself as hillary clinton ever cleared that up? [laughter] come on, let's be fair. no, i think it's quiteink extraordinary. in fact, i was talking to a group, i don't know, like anary couple months back about that, answering a question about the tea party movement. and i said when in the history of american populist movements
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has there been a populist movement that wanted less from the government? populist movements always want some positive benefit from the government. now, sometimes they are morey than entitled to that positive benefit. civil rights movement was a populist movement, the benefit that they wanted from governmenr was equality before the law.re t they wanted the law to be enforced.rced and, but it was u nonetheless, they were asking the government to do something, and the fact that they were right, it was good, you know? we've also had plenty of populist movements where we've had xenophobic populist moments, the agrarian pop lists -- populists who wanted, basically, free mortgages, they wanted the bubble that we just wenth, y through, you know? theyow were agitating for a sort of mortgage bubble back in the 19th century. so we've had all sorts of populist movements, but they've always been asking the government for something. and here for the first time we have a populist movement that's
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asking the government for less. now, are they perfectly cogent about that, are they always sure just what less they want? you know, are they completely clear about how we would roll back the size and scope ofck t government? well, no.ernm they're not because they're amateurs. they're regular people, and thit is a new thing, you know? this this is only, like, about 22 months old. but i'm still impressed.sed. so i was talking to this group about that and saying, you know, show me in the history ofst movement a populist movement that hasn't wanted something from government, and somebody at the back of the room said the whiskey rebellion.[l i said,au well, i was in favor f that too. [laughter] back there. >> hello. thanks for being here. >> you're welcome. >> i perceive rightly or wrongly that there's kind of this hole in libertarian thought in that for all this freedom that libertarians kind of want there to be for me as an individual, t
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but there's no room for the responsibility that you talk about, and there's no groundingg or reference point in the social contract. i think some social conservatives would like it to be religion, and the establishment clause or lack thereof. you know, kind of puts limits on that. where's the morality -- -- >> no, i actually think that most people who are serious in their libertarian thinking are pretty good on theresp responsibility issue. which has been summed up as you have the right to do anything you want, and you also have the obligation to take the consequences, you know?, yo this i mean, i think we're pretty square on that. if i had an argument with libertarian im, my argument with libertarianism would not be ab any gaition of responsibility, it would be a sometimesicat relentless application of logic to politics.
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and politics, you know, michael oakshot made this argument, i think, very forcefully if you can get through his prose which is very difficult, but he made this argument quite forcefully e pack at the end of the '0s, beginning of of the '50s that politics is not a ration endeavor.n politics is simply how we get along with each other in a groue that either we've landed in or we've selected to be in. it is simply a way of people getting along with each other and that we tend to thinkthin especially because we have that wonderful example of ourwond founding fathers and the founding documents and so on, we have a tendency as americans to think that politics has a beginning and that -- and and oakshot pointed out that, no, politics does not have a beginning, that the social contract is a kind ofal intellectual construct that c we've made. when was it exactly that man apes, you know, came down from
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the trees before they could talk and agreed on how many grunts you get and how many grunts i i get on the social contract? no, this has e evolved organically, and oakshot alsotht made the point there's no tellology and politics does not have an object. it does not have a purpose. i mean, it's up to us to give it its object and purpose. it as, as an organic matter of human behavior, politics hass h neither a beginning nor an end nor a purpose.im it's simply thepl way that peopt get along, manage to get, arrange their affairs with otheh people. and sometimes we as libertarians have a tendency to ask for a more logical construction of politics than humans are probably actually capable of.caa you know?
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let's see, sir. try to -- trying to predict where the microphone will go. let's send it down here next, okay?ame' >> my name's terence, i'm. unaffiliated. mr. o'rourke, my question is what would you hope for and what would you expect from a president sarah palin? >> ooh. [laughter] what would i hope for and what would i expect from a president sarah palin. you know, i would hope that she wouldn't try and think things through. [laughter] talk about applications of reason, because i don't think she's real strong in thatn th department. i'm not sure that i am at, you know, greatly at variance with sarah palin's, with most of her values, you know? but i think that she is, you know, it's politics assh showmanship.i i mean, as a politician i think she'shi got a great career comig in talk radio, you know?w?
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and i hope not in the white house, you know? it is, you know, it really takes a -- the view that i think is probably, you know, the views of politics and the views of pol economics that are represented in this room are demanding views of politics, demanding views of economics. they, they're fact-based, they're not fanciful.t we're not people who are creating fairy castles, political fairy castles in the air. nonetheless, the political positionit that we want to selle people is not an easy sale. it means standing up in if front of people and saying, i can give you less. i can give you -- it means telling the truth to people.itic imagine a politician who told the truth to people. imagine a politician who stood up and said, no, i can't fix
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public education. because the problem isn't lack of funding, the problem isn't overcrowding in the classrooms,o it's not lack of computer -- equipment, it's not theot teachers' union.om the problem is your damn kids. i [laughter] you know? imagine a politician who said something like that, you know? and we tend to go to the peoplem and tell 'em the truth, and it's uncomfortable, you know?co it's easier to tellmf a lie.ier so you need minute very able and skilled, and that was what we prized about ronald reagan.hind were we behind ronald reagan ev 100% about everything, was he never wrong, were there times when ronald reagan was not as active as he could have been orr lazy or even political and cynical? sure. but he had that capacity to explain to people why we had to face facts, why we had to do fa things, you know, why we couldn't have pie in the sky, why he couldn't promise ridiculous things that couldn't be delivered. and i just don't see sarah palin having that kind of intellectuaa
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throw weight. we've learned now and, you knoww we used to make fun of ronaldnad ray reagan for not being veryeno smart, and it's not true. k he had a tremendous gift for explanation, and he had the kind of good humor and good grace tof make this work. and i'm not seeing any of thisu tough from sarah palin, youyou know? i'd love to be proved wrong,en maybe she'siu a hidden genius. i've not seen it so far. sir. >> thanks. i'm fascinated by the use of humor to actually make a difference, and like you i went to miami university in oxford,rd ohio. >> oh. how's your liver? [laughter] liver transplants, it's big in the alumni news. there's a whole section devoted. [laughter] >> the example i would give you is political correctness has run amok there, and you were a redskin, now they're the redre
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hawks.>> >> yeah. >> something like that was a losing battle, a never, never nv really to be fought by anyone. can humor make a difference ina that, and can it make a difference to advancingn libertarian ideas?imes really? this. >> sometimes i think it can.i me i mean, it depends upon the thi situation. there are some things you're,t obviously, going to get in trouble making fun of. katrina, you know, that's not going to work, you know? [laughter] i gave in to it myself a coupleu times, you know, and you reallyt don't get very far with that, you know?d, y we won't go there. [laughter]r] yeah.ah i was going to give an example, and i just decided i'd get g myself in more trouble. but, yeah, of course you can do it. as a matter of fact, we were doing it with the miami, miami university named after the miami indian tribe has been called time out of mind the teams have been called the redskins. and that back beginning in the '60s when i was there and for, like, 20 years that argument went on. people began to take umbrage.
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and so the miami tribe who through no doing of their own l live in oklahoma nowi and not ohio, but nonetheless, the miami tribe maintains a relationship i with miami university, and any, any kid from the miami tribe whs wants to go to college has a free ride at miami university. at any rate, we went to the chief of the miami tribe andnd said, well, how do you feel about this?is? he said, he could care less, you know? what because does he care what the team is called? but on went the argument.and and it wasn't effective, but at the time i remember puttingd, m forward, my friends and i put forward that, look, if we're not going to be the redskins, we'veh got to go the whole way and be, like, the dust bunnies. or be, you know, the fluffy little flower petals orsome something truly -- but, you know, reagan, reagan really, you know, just had this -- and ii will go back to katrina for oneo moment because when katrina
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happened, i remember the words from reagan. the ten most frightening words e in the english language are i'm from the federal government, an i'm here to help. [laughter] you know?now now it's say no more. so, yes, you know, i think that it has to be used with some caution, but i think it is -- i hope it's a useful tool. otherwise i'm out of work. wo >> two more questions. >> two more questions. man in the blue shirt, suspenders. right on the corner there. >> thank you, sir. your wit does make politics pol light for the rest of us, but after 40 years of fighting this fight on behalf of our ideals -- your ideals, do you get frustrated? this does a humorist like yourself get grumpy?. this. oh, >> oh, yeah. no, i hate politics. forty years of writing about politics, and i realized, you know, that i'm having about as much fun as a grizzly bear getting a bikini wax, you know?x no, i do not like politics.cs. and i don't just hate bad
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politics, i hate all politics. it's just like, the other thing. is i even hate democracy. i know we have to have it, you know, it's a logical outgrowth of equality before the law and influence on those laws, but think about, like, applying politics to every aspect of your life. think about decidingh what's fo dinner by family secret ballot, you know? i've got three kids and three dogs. we would be having flute loops and spoiled meat. loo think if our clothing were selected by the voting process, you know?you by the majority of shoppers, and that would be teenage girls, right? would be the majority ofers. shoppers. dick cheney would have spent twh terms as vice president with hie midriff exposed, you know, if clothing were chosen by the democratic process. i do think that one of the roles of libertarianism is to act as a sort of room deoderizer keep thp stink of politic out of home, school and office, you know? including the doctor's office.fi one more.
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sir. >> hello. what prospects do you see for the future of libertarianism in the younger generations like millennials like me? >> well, you know, i think thati libertarianism has always had ao sort of proposition 19 appeal to the young, you know? and it was interesting to me that proposition 19 didn't passs in california, and i think it was a case of they're toking up before they went in the voting booth, you know? [laughter] getting in there all ready to pass proposition 19 and going, wow, did you ever really look at a ballot? [laughter] writing on it and little boxes.e yeah. so i always thought, you know, when you're voting on that, wait until after you vote, you know, until -- no, i think that, you know, that libertarianism -- ike think like me when i was young,h
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i think the main consideration of kids is freedom. and one of the things we have to realize about kids is the extent to which they have lived, grown up in a collective environment. i mean, kids in their weird sort of way are natural little marxists, you know? there's that from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, where'st the one place that actuallyac happens, that actually works?th the family, right? so, i mean, kids come out of this sort of commie family thing, you know?? [laughter] and they go to these, you know, often very left-wing teachers at school. itft is regimented, you know, it is a collective enterprise, you know, and they're given all the sorts of bologna, they do sort of mandatory volunteer work that they have to do, you know, and there's a lot of talk about, you know, it's not about whether you win or lose, it's how you play,u
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the game when it's, obviously, whether you win or lose. and then they go off to college, and they get this, like, freedom, you know, to get naked and responsibility, yeah, to turn the music down after 3 rahm, you know? t 3 a.m. and they're living this life where their only possessions are, like, their computer, you know, and their stereo speakers, you know, and maybe a car. and so it's very, very easy to be a leftist when you're in youe late teens and your early 20s. and i think that, you know, the libertarian ideas about freedom, let's maybe hold off on explaining to them the possibility part. [laughter]ey'l they'll -- responsibility part. but libertarian ideas aboutn freedom can be thebe kind of wee in. it certainly was one of the things that when the left with whom i identified in the 1960s because the left was anti-war, because the left was anti-racism, because the left
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was for free waterbeds and bong for everybody, you know, of course i identified with it, but when they started to get scary when the weather underground came in and started blowingowin stuff up, when bill ayers -- our president's friend, you know,up, began really acting up, i started to go, wait, i didn't sign on for this. on i signed on for the bongs and the waterbeds, you know? i began to see this totalitarian side to the left, and i thinke that was the beginning of my journey away from that was -- and so, yes, i think libertarianism has a greatial potential appeal, has a greatpel appeal now and even largerr potential appeal.pote [applause] thank you. >> p.j. o'rourke is the author of over a dozen books including "parliament of whores," "give war a chance," "and driving like
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crazy." for more information visit pjwit o'rourke.com.j >> richard roads, winner of the pulitzer prize and his new book, the twilight of the bombs: recent challenges, new dangers and the prospect for a world without nuclear weapons. realistically speaking, is theri a prospect for no nuclearcle weapons on the planet? >> oh, i think so.th they've cost us $50 billion ao year. president obama has announced i5 is official u.s. policy that wef move towards zero, so it's justw a matter of working out some ofa the security relationships that are standing in the way.t >> with regard to working out those relationships, will we be able to come to an agreement with country like north korea t and iran who seem to be on the path to making their own nuclear weapons?do. >> they do partly because that'y the only way they feel they can defend themselves against major nuclear powers like the unitedth states. but each of them has security--
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needs. if we can find a way to satisfyi those, north korea would like very much to be an ally of the unite.h k they've been saying that now for more than 40 years.w [laughter] in fact, they'd like us to builf them some nuclear power plantste to replace the electricity we destroyed with bombing during the korean war. >> in the book you talk about iraq's secret bomb program under saddam hussein. s how did the story of this bomb program grow, and even if theyo didn't have any bombs or we haven't found any bombs so far? >> you know, we went into thatw fist gulf war arguing that they did have a bomb program which w did not know at the time.no but afterwards when inspectors from the united nations and then international atomic energyer agency went in, they found a huge effort to enrich uranium to make material for a bomb. and they cleaned all that out, and so did the iraqis. they were tired of having our people walk around their country, so they blew up alla their stuff, but they didn't
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keep records. and so when the second bush came along with an interest in resolving that and settling that country down and getting rid of sa cam -- saddam, there wasn't any proof they hadn't reconstituted their program. ity was fully cleaned up by 199g >> you talk, also, in the book about the scramble for what was left over of the soviet nuclear arsenal. talk to us about that.l >> it wasn't so much the arsenal which los alamos directer said to me they have serial numbers just as our bombs do, and they know where their bombs are. but it was the material you useo to make the bomb, the uranium and plutonium that was kind ofh scattered at labs all overe russia because the whole country had been a prison camp. there was no way to get the stuff out.ay when the walls came down, then they were like us with porous border, and we went in and spenh a lot of money to help them begin to put all their material under lock and key. we're still, sam nunn, thet former senator estimates thatfo
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about 60% of those nuclear materials are now carefully guarded and accounted for.g so the job still remains to be finished, but we've made a good start.w >> earlier today you hade' a ay,sentation at the national book festival.on tell us a little bit about that, question ande answer period what was most, foremost on the minds of the people what were asking youds questions there? w >> i really went through my newl book, "the twilight of the bombs," and talked about some of the serious issues, but also"t some of the amazing kind of copd and robbers stories that came out of inspecting iraq after the first gulf war. but ultimately what i talkedecti about was this very serious question of can we get rid oftel nucleary weapons? and i think the questions, thert was the usual question today, what about iran, as if a country that has yet not figured out hoa to build a bomb is as much a threat to the world as a majoris power like the united stateshr which has at least 1200, 2,000, maybe 5,000 bombs still in our,0
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arsenal. you know, we tend to think we're the good guys, and that makes it okay.e t but it's a basic imbalance in the world that we maintain large nuclear narls but say otherr countries can't.th so that was the kind of issue it discussed in talking about how we get to zero.we >> the book, "the twilight of the bombs: recent challenges, new dangers and the prospectsb for ao world without nuclear weapons." its author, richard rhodes. ♪ >> coming up next, booktv presents "after words," an hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week u.s. presidential biographer nigel hamilton discusses his new book "american caesars," about the the u.s. presidents since -- 12 u.s. presidents since world war ii. the award-winning author of the two-school yule biography, bill
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clinton, examines eachman's path to the white house and his particular strengths and weaknesses. he also takes a close look at the more challenging issues of each administration and the fashion in which the president tackled them. he speaks with fellow historian and author richard norton smith. >> host: nigel hamilton, author of "american caesars." you have spent a lifetime thinking about and practicing the art of biography. this book is, among other things, maybe a group biography of the last 12 american presidents. what do you think a biographer owes his summit? subject? >> guest: i think the first thing he owes is truth. also i think he owes -- or she -- a degree of curiosity. i think it's fatal for the biographer to go into a project

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