Friday, June 27, 2008

Barr Attacks Obama for Being More Libertarian on Immigration

An excerpt from the Bob Barr mailer posted below: "During my time in Congress, I was a strong advocate of border security. For four years in a row, I voted to authorize the use of the military to assist in border control efforts." The entire thing is posted on Third Party Watch.

This guy claims to be a libertarian?

Contrast Barr's militarize-the-border approach to the Libertarian Party's stance on the issue: "We can spend billions more to beef up border patrols. We can erect hundreds of miles of ugly fence slicing through private property along the Rio Grande. We can raid more discount stores and chicken-processing plants from coast to coast. We can require all Americans to carry a national ID card and seek approval from a government computer before starting a new job.

"Or we can change our immigration law to more closely conform to how millions of normal people actually live.

"Crossing an international border to support your family and pursue dreams of a better life is not an inherently criminal act like rape or robbery. If it were, then most of us descend from criminals."

Barr's letter (I've trimmed it a bit for space):

John McCain and Barack Obama Plan To Bring Back “COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

From The Desk of Rep. Bob Barr

Dear Friend and Fellow American,

We’re facing a “new” crisis: BORDER SECURITY.

But really, this is the same crisis we faced last year at this time, when Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy tried to push their “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill on us—supported by Senator Barack Obama!

The American people were able to STOP the McCain-Kennedy bill—but will we be able to stop PRESIDENT McCain (or PRESIDENT Obama) from pushing it through again?

We need to send a strong message to both the Republicans AND the Democrats, to let them know that WE MEAN BUSINESS when it comes to securing the border!

A lack of border security allows foreign criminals, carriers of communicable diseases, terrorists and other potential threats to enter the country unchecked. We must be aggressive in securing our borders while also fighting the big-government “nanny state” that seeks to coddle even those capable of providing for their own personal prosperity.


We don’t need McCain’s OR Obama’s “comprehensive immigration reform” bills. What we DO need is to secure our borders NOW. The fact is, our government doesn’t HAVE an immigration policy right now—one day they want to build a fence, the next day they want to build a “virtual” fence. It changes daily, and it’s ineffective. What we need is simple: Let’s go back to how we USED to do it, when we had a REAL border. If people want to enter America, we require them to come through a checkpoint, check that their health is not dangerous to our citizens, and that they have a legitimate ID.


During my time in Congress, I was a strong advocate of border security. For four years in a row, I voted to authorize the use of the military to assist in border control efforts. Our overworked, understaffed Border Patrol Agents need all the help they can get, and I voted to send them that help in preventing the entry of terrorists and criminals into the United States.

Don’t the voters in America deserve the chance to vote for a candidate that will secure our border?


I believe that you share my concern about our dangerous lack of border security. I believe that you agree that this is a national security crisis. And I believe that, like me, you want to send a strong message to the politicians who have been pandering to the supporters of compromised security for too long now. The best way to do that today is by helping to get me on every state ballot, so that I can challenge the Washington “status quo” on illegal immigration and border security. CLICK HERE to donate now.

I’m not asking you to vote for me right now. I’m just asking you to help me send a strong message to BOTH the Republicans and Democrats, that the American people are sick and tired of politicians playing games with the national security of the United States.

Help me to turn things around in this presidential campaign, and put the focus back where it should be—on America.


Bob Barr
Presidential Nominee
United States Libertarian Party

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Resolution 580

I give you my word right now: If Barack Obama supports Senate Resolution 580, I will shut down this web site and cease to support him in any way.

Resolution 580, for those of you who are not familiar, is a non-binding measure that has gotten little media attention. But it is a big deal. The resolution calls for sanctions and a U.S. naval blockade against Iran - tantamount to a declaration of war. It is being heavily pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Does anyone doubt that if George W. Bush decided that he wanted to start a war with Iran before he left office, this resolution would be all the justification he would need? reports that the House of Representatives version of 580, Resolution 362, will likely come up for a vote next week.

From The Iran Nuclear Watch Web site writes, “According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to ‘pass like a hot knife through butter’ before the end of June on what is called suspension – meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate. It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is non-controversial.”

Preventing war with Iran is the issue in this election. Do you want gas prices to stop rising? Do you want taxes not to go up? Do you want the economy to recover? Do you want some of the civil liberties that Bush has taken away to come back? All of these things will be impossible if the U.S. goes to war with Iran ( has even more reasons that this war would be disastrous, if you need them).

According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies: "An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in Bushehr, Arak, and Natanz, could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran's international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. Such an event is more likely to embolden and expand Iran's nuclear aspirations and capabilities in the long term."

I haven't seen anything in the media about Obama's position on Resolution 580. The resolution has 19 cosponsors, Democrats and Republicans, and thankfully Obama is not one of them (neither is John McCain, surprisingly). But after his sorry performance before AIPAC earlier this month, I am a bit wary. I called and emailed Obama's Senate office today inquiring about his position on the resolution, but I haven't gotten a response yet. I'll let you all know if I hear back. Don't let me down, Barack.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Wayne Allyn Root Nuttiness

Here's an interview of everyone's favorite vice presidential candidate opining on Ron Paul ("I think he's a little weak when it comes to the War on Terror") and France ("I usually hate France"). (via Lew Rockwell)

And please check out this great Las Vegas Sun profile, in which Root shares his opinions on kids who are bullied ("You get bullied day and night if you’re weak.” - I am not taking this out of context. Root really does appear to look down on kids who are bullied), takes a seemingly un-libertarian position on campaign contributions (calling them "bribes"), insinuates that Barack Obama did not graduate from college (there are records confirming that he did) and insults New Orleans hurricane victims for good measure (“Their mouths were open and their hands were out and they were praying for Mama Bird to throw something in there.”)

I'm not saying that Root isn't a libertarian. But I am saying that from everything I've seen, heard and read of him, he's a grade-A asshole.

The Cuban Embargo is Cracking

The EU is lifting its sanctions on Cuba. Will the U.S. follow? If John McCain is president, no way. If Barack Obama is elected, good chance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ron Paul Does Not Want You to Cast a Write-In Vote for Him

Just in case you were considering it. Whole story at Reason.

(via Third Party Watch)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wayne Allyn Root's Book: Millionaire Republican

I've never heard of Publishers Weekly giving a bad review to a book, so I guess Millionaire Republican, written by Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root, was a real stinker. The review:

"Root, author of The Zen of Gambling, has made millions as a television sports-betting handicapper. This chest-thumping political screed-cum motivational tract systematizes that accomplishment into 'The 18 Republican Secrets of Mega-Wealth and Unlimited Success'-a hodgepodge of self-help nostrums about positive thinking, clean living and the centrality of salesmanship to all human achievement, with a smattering of financial opportunism. (Secret #3 is 'Own Real Estate in International Tax Havens.')

"But Root also aspires to public office, so he devotes most of the book to partisan vitriol. Republicans, he asserts, are 'daring risk-takers' whose 'ambition, drive, vision, courage, confidence and commitment' prompts them to start businesses and enter the 'Investor Class.' Democrats, deluded by 'corrupt, soulless' liberals, prefer a '"safe" (but mediocre) paycheck' to the challenge of entrepreneurship and therefore lead 'lives of despair...working in jobs they hate for bosses they despise...dependent on Big Brother' and are reduced to 'complaining, whining, attending protests' and taxing Republicans.

"Throughout, the author seethes with class resentment against the even wealthier 'spoiled-brat trust-fund crowd,' who supposedly advocate high taxes on the rich to keep others from becoming rich. Root is rarely coherent or engaging; the book feels like an infomercial harangue interspersed with the sort of off-the-wall rant you would expect if you asked your bookie for his political philosophy. In it, one can make out the tenets of contemporary casino capitalism: the risk-taking investor is the hero of the economy, wage labor is a dead-end for suckers and the millionaire is the champion of the little guy against the elitists. Never mind liberal democrats; Republicans themselves may cringe at this ugly, fatuous rendering of their world-view."

Even putting aside Root's comically fanatical devotion to the Republican Party, how many Libertarians would really feel comfortable voting for someone so angry and so obnoxious?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Habeas Corpus

First, a little history lesson.

In 12th century England, free men began demanding a check on the rights of the authorities to arbitrarily arrest whoever they wanted. No one back then questioned the power to arrest people arbitrarily, but it was considered too much for someone to be arrested without explanation. In 1305 the term habeas corpus - Latin for "we command that you have the body" - appeared when King Edward I formally recognized this right. But it wasn't for another three centuries that the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 formally codified it. In 1772 this act was used by a man named Somersett who held in slavery to successfully sue for his freedom. "The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it," wrote the court. America's Founding Fathers carried this old English right over into their new nation, writing in the Sixth Amendment that a defendant "be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation."

While both England and the United States have occasionally suspended or ignored habeas corpus, it has more or less endured for eight centuries because the idea that the government can jail a person without even telling them what crime they are accused of is offensive to basic human sensibilities - the basic desire of all people to be free.

This week habeas corpus suffered both a setback and a victory. In the U.K., the birth place of habeas corpus, Parliament voted to allow the government to hold people for 42 days without charge. The movie In the Name of the Father tells the story of the Guildford Four: U.K. citizens who were imprisoned without charge for 28 days - the previous limit - during which time they were tortured into confessing to IRA bombings that they did not commit.

In this country, the news was more positive. The Supreme Court ruled that the government can not indefinitely imprison terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay without charging them with a crime and giving them the opportunity to try to prove their innocence. John McCain blasted the ruling, calling it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." (Yahoo news has a list of other Supreme Court decisions that might make McCain think twice about calling this one "one of the worst") And, of course, conservatives in Congress are already trying to get around it.

Barack Obama, who voted against both the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act that the court partially overruled in this case, has taken the politically inexpedient but principled path of defending the basic rights of everyone, even accused terrorists, to know the charges against them.

"We are going to live up to our ideals when it comes to rule of law," said Obama, who, as a constitutional law professor, knows a thing or two about the fundamental rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country. "John McCain thinks the Supreme Court was wrong," Obama said. "I think the Supreme Court was right."

John McCain Does Not Use a Computer

You read that right. The man who bristles any time someone implies he's too old to be president hasn't made the technological leap into the 1980s. See the video at Mother Jones. Add to this George W. Bush's admission that he doesn't use email and Sen. Ted Stevens' description of the internet as a "series of tubes" and you wonder if the Republicans have a fundamental problem with technology. Maybe that has something to do with why - as Adam Thierer points out - the Republican revolution of 1994 had big promises for freeing up the internet, but failed in spectacular fashion to deliver.

Among the Republicans' accomplishments:
- Increased internet and media censorship
- Forced access provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
- Creation of the e-rate program
- Prohibitions on internet gambling
- High-definition television spectrum giveaway
- Growth of the Federal Communications Commission

Update: Here's McCain aide Mark Soohoo trying to defend his boss's tech rep at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. (via The Politico)

"You don’t actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country," Soohoo says.

"You actually do," former Edwards blogger Tracy Russo responds, suggesting he try to explain Twitter to his grandmother and then ask her how that applies to governing.

"John McCain is aware of the Internet," says Soohoo. "This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Deja Vu: Ron Paul Suspends His Campaign

Maybe I'm not seeing the subtle distinctions, but what, exactly, is the difference between Ron Paul's announcement in March that he can't win the Republican nomination and will stop campaigning, and Ron Paul's announcement today that he's suspending his campaign? Notice that Paul still hasn't officially dropped out of the race, though he hasn't held any campaign events in months. Not that this has stopped him from taking more than 10% of the vote in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon and Idaho even after John McCain wrapped up the nomination.

Paul plans to transfer the energy his campaign generated to his new Campaign for Liberty, an organization for activism and education. That's probably for the best. Ron Paul is a lot better at raising important issues and building a movement than at winning votes in a national campaign. No word yet on whether he'll endorse Bob Barr - or anyone else. Reason confirms that he won't be endorsing John McCain - a big duh on that one, despite the work of some delusional McCain supporters.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I am Disappointed

First things first - congratulations Barack Obama. I look forward to voting for you in November, and I look forward even more to the work you will do come January to end the war, restore our civil liberties and bring honesty, transparency and new thinking to the federal government.

My joy over Obama's victory was tempered today, however, after I read about his remarks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Obama had a chance today to tell the AIPAC crowd some truths that they don't want to hear - that the U.S. shouldn't support the building of West Bank settlements, for example - the same way he told Cuban-Americans last month that he would ease the embargo.

Instead, Obama used his speech to promise that the U.S. will join in any war that threatens Israel, needlessly antagonized the Palestinians by saying that Israel shouldn't divide Jerusalem and took a bellicose posture against Iran that would make George Bush proud. I'd like to hope that this is all just political posturing (not that that's alright), but I'm just not sure.

The only solace I take from Obama's speech today is that it wasn't nearly as bad as John McCain's AIPAC speech. Sigh.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Drudge for Obama?

There's an interesting story in The Politico today about self-proclaimed libertarian Matt Drudge skewing his coverage against John McCain and in favor of Barack Obama. Is this enough evidence to add Drudge to my list of links to libertarian blogs that have had good things to say about Obama? Sure.

McCain Hires Michael "Near Dictatorial" Goldfarb

From Reason:
John McCain just hired the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb to be his number-two communications guy. Glenn Greenwald points out that this isn't a particularly encouraging sign when it comes to reining in executive power. Goldfarb has written (falsely, by any reasonable reading of the Constitution, Federalist Papers, or diaries of the Constitutional Convention) that the founders believed the president should have "near dictatorial" powers when it comes to war and foreign policy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Five Reasons This Libertarian Prefers Barack Obama Over Bob Barr

1. Obama is consistent. I believe Barr when he says that he's against the war, but Barr voted for the war in 2002, and continued to support it for several years, even when it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the Iraqis didn't consider the war a "liberation." As far as I can tell, Barr didn't start denouncing the war until earlier this year (if there's an earlier citation of him speaking out against the war, please let me know). He's also switched positions on the Patriot Act, war on drugs, gay marriage and several other issues. This change of heart would be easier to accept if it hadn't come less than two years before Barr launched his presidential campaign. Obama has always been against the war and the Patriot Act.

2. Federalism isn't always enough. In a perfect libertarian world, Bob Barr's discomfort with gay marriage and illegal drugs wouldn't matter because he wants these issues delegated to the states. But today's political reality, issues like these manifest themselves in small ways at the federal level. Would a president Barr allow a man married to another man to get on his husband's federal employee health care plan? Would he work to repeal the law that denies federal student loans to people with drug convictions? What about the current ban on performing abortions on overseas military bases - would Barr work to repeal it? Better to have a president who actually believes in liberty on these social issues than one who wants to try to pass them off to the states.

3. It's not just your positions on the issues, it's the issues you highlight. Barr has made taxes and spending his signature issues. Don't get me wrong, these are important issues. But I believe that for anyone concerned about the size and scope of the federal government, the most important things a president can do is end this disastrous war and reverse the damage George Bush has done to our civil liberties. These are issues Obama talks about at every opportunity. I know that Barr says he's against the war, but if it's important to him, why do I never hear him mention the subject? The contrast between Barr and Ron Paul on the war issue is glaring.

4. Obama is a genuinely decent person. He gave up his chance at a big payday to work as a community organizer. He came clean about his youthful drug use even though it could have cost him his political career. He only recently paid off his student loans. Contrast this to the way Barr has lived his life: Thrice-married, his second wife accused him of cheating on her with the woman who later became his third wife. He also encouraged his second wife to have an abortion, while publicly working to restrict the rights of other women to get abortions. According to second wife Gail Barr: "In September of 1985, I was helping out as a secretary in Bob' s law office. He had me call to make luncheon arrangements with the woman he later married." Classy.

5. Obama can win. I know that voting for someone because they are electable is heresy among many libertarians. "Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil," this crowd will say. But Obama isn't evil. If he's elected, I predict that he'll move in a non-libertarian direction on some issues, and a libertarian direction on others. And I believe that the net effect will be more liberty. That's something I can be proud to vote for.

Bonus reason: Barr is hardly the perfect libertarian. He's against all immigration (legal and illegal), against a woman's right to choose and in favor of a national sales tax.