Here's a rundown on what's going on with Matt Welch and my new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America (coming soon in Nook format and currently burning up the Amazon Kindle charts at #20 in Politics).
Last night, I appeared on C-SPAN's Q&A show for an hour, during which the channel's founder Brian Lamb grilled me like a lobster tail on everything from my opinion on John Boehner (low) to baseball guru Bill James (high) to my choice in sideburns and shirts. Watch it now:
Over at RealClearReligion, Mark Judge praises Matt and me for our treatment of the liberatory dimension of pop music:
It's a good thing that libertarians are writing about rock and roll, because both the right and the left don't seem to get it. In The Declaration of Independents, Gillespie and Welch cite some truly embarrassing things conservatives have said about pop music.
Here is William F. Buckley, writing in September 1964 (right around the day of my birth): "Let me say it, as evidence of my final measure of devotion to the truth. The Beatles are not merely awful, I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than they are so unbelievably horrible , so appallingly unmusical , so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowed heads of antimusic, even as impostor popes went down in history as 'anti-popes.'"...
Yet rock and rollers and the critics who write about them like to think of themselves as rebels, as long as they are rebelling against Michele Bachmann's America. This can lead to the strange phenomenon of right-wing fans who sometimes grasp the message in the life-affirming energy of the music more than the artist himself. Witness Tom Petty threatening legal action against Bachmann's use of his song "American Girl."
In The Declaration of Independents, Welch and Gillespie note an incredible irony. In October 1989, a month before the Berlin Wall was torn down, rock and roll and hippie icon Neil Young released the album Freedom. Young meant the title ironically. The title track was about how the world was collapsing with Reagan-inspired greed and violence. But when the album was received in Central Europe, the newly free young masses took to it without irony.
This is the kind of thing that irritates left-wing rock writers, who enforce a humorless orthodoxy on the music. You are only allowed to enjoy it as a kind of clenched rebellious posture. The truth is, most rock critics, and not a few rock and rollers, could easily find themselves on the side of the Communists that the Plastic People of the Universe were revolting against.
This weekend, Matt and I are headlining Reason Day at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas (it's not too late to come on out!). Join us and rub shoulders with the likes of Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, PayPal visionary Peter Thiel, Fox Business' Judge Andrew Napolitano, iconoclastic Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Steve Forbes - along with 2,000 folks interested in free minds and free markets. Reason Day (Saturday, July 16) will feature a multimedia book talk by Matt and me plus a signing, and a slew of panels featuring great policy analysts from Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website. Go here for more information.
And for those of you in the DC area, please come on by to our July 19 event at legendary bookstore Politics & Prose. True story: Last week, I happened to be browsing the store when who should walk in but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. I ambled over to her, gave her a copy of Declaration and suggested she read it immediately. She read the jacket copy and carried it around with her (along with some greeting cards she'd picked up and - I'm making this part up - what looked to be either a copy of The 4-Hour Body or Fear of Flying). Did she buy our book, much less read it? I've got no idea (I went next door to Comet Pizza to meet some friends for dinner) but if she suddenly comes out in favor of disbanding TSA, chances are strong she did.