At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
DNA database bill should be deep-sixed
6:00 am February 8, 2010, by Bob Barr
A few years back, I hosted a nationally-syndicated radio program, modestly called “Bob Barr’s Laws of the Universe.” One of the laws most frequently cited during the three years I hosted the weekly show, was Law Number Three: “No matter how much information government has, it always wants more.” This came to mind recently as I read of a piece of legislation introduced in the Georgia General Assembly by Rep. Rob Teilhet, a Democrat from Smyrna and a candidate for state Attorney General.
Teilhet’s bill, HB 1033, would vastly expand the size of the DNA database already maintained by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, by empowering the state to take a DNA sample from any person who is arrested for any felony. I suspect many laypersons will wildly cheer such legislation, as yet another way to “get tough” on criminals and prevent crime. I am sure candidate Teilhet hopes the voters will perceive his legislation in such light.
It is, however, more than a little troubling that …
Stoking the fears of terrorism
6:00 am February 5, 2010, by Bob Barr
Earlier this week, the government’s top officials responsible for managing America’s foreign intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, testified on Capitol Hill. While much of the information CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and FBI Director Robert Mueller provided the Senate in the public portion of their testimony was valuable and informative, it was not all thus.
In a transparent display of theatrics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked the three administration officials if another “attempted attack” on the US was likely in the near future. If the witnesses answered that such an “attempt” was unlikely, they would be accused of offering a false sense of security to the country. A vague answer would land them in hot water for not appearing to know that which they are paid to find out. A definitive “yes” would add to the oft-times irrational fear that many of those in the …
Obama-GOP “rumble” was good — but only as a first step
6:00 am February 3, 2010, by Bob Barr
Last Friday’s rare — if not unprecedented — question and answer session between President Barack Obama and the Republican House caucus, offered a true glimpse of the President’s debating skills (excellent) and of the Republicans’ ability to present coherent, particularly economic, positions in a reasonable way. Since the session was televised live, everyone clearly played to the camera, and the substance offered by both sides was often obscured by sound-bite piled on sound-bite. Still, the session left this former member of the House Republican caucus yearning for more.
One hopes the president will follow up this first foray deep into “enemy territory” with a series of visits to both the House and the Senate caucuses (of both parties); and under rules that allow for both public and private sessions. There needs to be some limits imposed on the length of both questions and answers, but time also perhaps for at least limited follow up. Whether the Republicans and the …
Americans say “NO” to medical database
6:00 am February 1, 2010, by Bob Barr
In his state of the union address last week, President Barack Obama continued to hammer at the so-called “healthcare crisis” the country faces. While the president’s tone was tempered a bit as a result of the fallout from the recent Senate race in Massachusetts, he continues to push for a major overhaul of healthcare in America. Obama’s version of “reform” includes, of course, a significantly enhanced role for the federal government. Integral to this restructuring would be a massive, national healthcare information database.
Before accelerating the move in this direction, the president needs to do himself what he admonishes the country and the Republicans in the Congress to do – Listen. If Obama did stop and listen to the views of American citizens regarding a massive, national healthcare information database, he would not receive a meek reply. He would instead hear a loud and clear, “NO.”
A recent survey conducted by the respected and nonpartisan Ponemon Institute …
Obama insults Supreme Court with uncivil remarks
2:22 pm January 28, 2010, by Bob Barr
Democrat partisans largely cheered President Barack Obama’s state of the union speech Wednesday night; Republican die-hards pretty much panned it. Most Americans probably tuned out the far-too-long speech. The media analyzed it six ways to Sunday because, well — because that’s just what they do.
As with most such speeches in recent years by Republican and Democratic presidents alike, Obama’s first state of the union address was nothing more than a laundry list of sound bites and self-congratulatory remarks crammed into the ceremonial box of a “state of the union address.”
There was, however, one part of the president’s 70-minute speech that is deserving of serious opprobrium; and this has nothing to do with partisanship. In a truly unprecedented display of incivility, Obama in his speech explicitly criticized a particular, recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and then called on the Congress to pass legislation overturning the decision. He did this …
Air America’s competition will be missed
6:00 am January 27, 2010, by Bob Barr
The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts will duke it out in Miami on February 7th for the NFL championship. Each of these two teams had to battle its way to the pinnacle of the sports world to reach the Super Bowl. Regardless of whether one roots for the Saints or the Colts, or for neither team, we should all cheer the spirit and practice of competition embodied in the process by which each of these teams secured its place in the championship game. As legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne noted many decades ago – in sports as well as in business, competition is good. Competition builds not just character, but unlocks the very possibility for success in virtually any endeavor; including broadcasting.
While many conservatives are cheering the demise last week of the liberal-oriented Air America network, their glee is short-sighted and misplaced. Many of those conservative broadcast pundits who mouth words extolling competition generally, seem to …
Touchy-feely Ft. Hood Report won’t help protect anyone
6:00 am January 25, 2010, by Bob Barr
The report issued earlier this month by the Department of Defense blue-ribbon panel tasked with assessing the November 5, 2009 mass shooting at Ft. Hood, is — or ought to be – an embarrassment to our government. If this report is used as the basis for developing policies and programs to prevent future such incidents, then we’ve failed before we’ve even begun.
The first thing that strikes the reader of this report is the cover itself; which, in a sense, says it all. The cover does not depict a military scenario that might illustrate a military response to an armed threat against a military installation or personnel. Nor is it a straight-forward, official-looking report cover as found on most government documents. It is instead a touchy-feely picture of two hands grasping each other’s wrists, vaguely similar to the stylized logo depicting two clasped hands used by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. We “protect the force” against a crazed mass murderer by joining hands and …
High Court blasts hole through McCain-Feingold campaign law
6:00 am January 22, 2010, by Bob Barr
In a clear, straight-forward and constitutionally-based opinion , the US Supreme Court yesterday struck down a major portion of the 2002 “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act” (more commonly referred to by the names of its two primary sponsors in the Senate, “McCain-Feingold”). The 5-4 majority opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, voided the law’s ban on corporations paying for “electioneering communications,” such as movies, newspaper ads, and the like, that support or oppose candidates.
The plaintiff in this historic case was the Washington, DC-based, grass-roots advocacy organization, Citizens United, which in early 2008 was prepared to spend its corporate money to advertise and distribute a movie critical of then-primary presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Hillary: The Movie). Because it feared the government would bring criminal charges against it if it actually spent money for this purpose (which the government is empowered to do under McCain-Feingold), …
Top 10 reasons the Dems lost in Massachusetts
6:00 am January 20, 2010, by Bob Barr
10. Obama – who believed his own rhetoric that the country was ready for the change he hoped for.
9. Obama – who, like Newt Gingrich after the ‘94 election and George W. Bush after the ‘04 election, came to believe that just because the voters voted them in meant they had been given a carte blanche to do whatever they wanted.
8. Obama – who forgot that when all the dust of an election settles down, Americans favor incremental change rather than sudden, quantum leaps.
7. Obama – who views politics in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and elsewhere through the lens of Chicago politics as practiced by Rahm Emanuel.
6. Obama – who forgot that an incumbent president with sinking poll numbers should not make an eleventh-hour, high profile visit to boost a candidate with sagging poll numbers herself.
5. Obama – who forgot that Independent voters pay attention.
4. Obama – who sloughed off the Tea Party movement as a fringe element that had no impact on elections.
Keep the IRS out of healthcare
6:00 am January 18, 2010, by Bob Barr
The Internal Revenue Service is an agency of the federal government like no other. The IRS is more powerful than the Department of Justice; it is bigger than the governments of many small countries; it is able to strike fear in the hearts of the most self-assured and upright citizen with a single phone call; and if the Congress has its way, it will become even bigger and more powerful. Under both versions of the health care legislation passed late last year by the House of Representatives and the Senate (totaling some 4,000 pages), the IRS will grow in size, budget and control. It will become in many respects, the new gatekeeper for health insurance.
Considering that the IRS admitted in its most recent annual report to the Congress that it already is overwhelmed in its ability to respond to issues and questions raised by American taxpayers, it is indeed a troubling prospect that this single government agency would be empowered to decide if a family is maintaining the …