Bob Barr’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article

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by Bob Barr
as published in The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Monday, August 03, 2009

So far, in what has become a mini-drama involving a white cop, a black professor and a president of the United States, we have had a racial confrontation, an arrest, a release, a presidential gaffe, a presidential back-track, a presidential invitation to quaff a brewski, a staged meeting at the White House and a promise of more meetings to come.

The saga involving Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley has been elevated to the status of a Rose Garden summit. Still, the attention devoted to the event’s racial angle has obscured the real importance of the incident.

The degree to which race played a role in the confrontation at Gates’ house will likely never be truly known to anyone other than the key participants themselves. What clearly did factor into the unfortunate encounter was the notion that, in the post-9/11 world, citizens must be prepared to explain themselves to the police and prove to the satisfaction of the authorities who they are under virtually any circumstance – even within the walls of their own house.

Airline passengers are now required to prove who they are to the satisfaction of government authorities in order to board for a journey they have paid for. Anyone trying to enter a building housing a government office has to show “proper identification” to gain entry. These and many other manifestations of government control have nothing to do with the legitimate effort to prevent weapons or explosives from being brought onto public conveyances or into government buildings. Legitimate exercises of government power are being employed more and more to control behavior and limit individual freedom.

The pattern is emerging that for the government to fulfill its self-delegated responsibility to keep us safe, its agents can demand to know who we are and what we are doing at all times.

Our British sovereigns demanded the same subservience of colonists in pre-independence America. Fortunately, our forefathers correctly viewed such plenary and arbitrary power as incompatible with fundamental liberty. They codified this principle in the Fourth Amendment; adopted as part of our Constitution when the Bill of Rights became effective in 1791. Since then, it has been axiomatic that citizens should not be subject to unreasonable searches or seizures – the government cannot take your belongings or arrest you, absent a good reason.

Of course, since that day 218 years ago, federal, state and local governments have constantly probed for ways in which to reclaim the power over the citizenry expressly taken from them in the Constitution. Understandably, a degree of tension always has accompanied efforts to define that balance between individual freedom and government control. Still, the sanctity of one’s person and home to be free from unreasonable and arbitrary demands by the police for access or explanation has largely remained a cornerstone of our society.

Efforts by the government beginning in the late 1960s to prosecute the “war” against drugs opened the door to a much-expanded sphere of control, within which the citizen’s ability to withstand government access to their private lives was greatly reduced. Court decisions in recent years had restored a degree of that lost privacy and curtailed at least some excesses of government power.

Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks eight years ago slammed the door on the re-emerging notion that there are limits to government snooping and control over the individual.

What occurred on Gates’ porch was but the latest example of government controlling a citizen (regardless of race) based on the flimsiest of evidence, and of the power to arrest anyone, anytime who does not meekly submit to such control. Until we start questioning those premises, we will not have begun to address something much more important than racial prejudice.

39 thoughts on “Bob Barr’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article

  1. Jen

    Correct! But it doesn’t end there because it’s already been taken one step further. On 7/29/09, Fox News reported that an H1N1 pandemic is ready to be called-waiting only for the signature of Defense Secretary Gates. When that happens, things will really get out of control as FEMA will be taking over, with the assistance of our own military, stationed throughout our country. FEMA has some kind of supernatural powers that make our Constitution virtually null and void-add that to that a military presence within our cities and towns-and what do you think will happen? This is a ruse designed to put fear in American citizens, place them in isolation and take away their guns, renedering all- virtually powerless and at the mercy of the powers that be. It’s already in the planning stages , now it’s up to We The People to make sure it doesn’t materialize.

    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.-Thomas Jefferson

  2. Mark

    Jen,

    Sorry, you’ve mistakenly attributed that quote to TJ. Please be sure to verify before posting. Thanks much.

  3. Robert Milnes

    I’ve been thinking about the ability of rightists like Bann Bob Barr/W.A.R. et al particularly Ron Paul to get the nominations & campaigns & party positions which influence everything in the “wrong” i.e. rightist direction. & the recent anarchist/minarchist debate here at IPR. I have a proposal which may seem draconian but just might solve that problem. In my opinion a “Peer Group Egibility Committee” or whatever delegates prefer to call it, should be formed. This committee should be empowered by party bylaws to exercise judgement by consensus as to whether an LP member is a “rightist” or not. If so, that person should be barred from LP positions and ballots and the presidential ticket. This is a formulation that allows a “big tent” membership but discourages the rightist movement from overwhelming the more genuine libertarian/minarchist/anarchist ideal. Another way of putting it could be the reformers can join the LP but can not use it to influence the libertarian movement from more genuine “purist” positions or support non- libertarian, particularly Republican or paleo-conservative, candidates. I would be interested in Milsted’s opinion on this.

  4. volvoice

    Sounds like Mr. Root should have listened to ‘The Master’s’ take on this issue before issuing one of his own. Good job Bob!

  5. Nate

    Something quite decent from Bob Barr: well written, nicely put, all in all deserves a pat on the back, imho.

  6. Mik Robertson

    My understanding of constitutions is they are not what takes power away from government, it is what grants them the authority to operate. Other than that it was a great piece.

  7. Richard Winger

    I especially like the part of Bob Barr’s piece about identifying oneself before going into many government buildings. When I visit the clerk of the 9th circuit, first I must pass through a metal detector, with an X-ray for my backpack, and I must also show my drivers license. But the guards never make a note of my name. What is the point of showing my drivers license? Same drill for going into the state building, or the federal building, or City Hall (except City Hall doesn’t ask for my drivers license).

    When I visited the Puerto Rico capitol and watched the legislature in session, no one made me go thru an X-ray machine or a metal detector. I wonder if anyone has surveyed all 50 state capitols to see if any states let people in with the X-ray, metal detector business.

  8. Robert Milnes

    Oh, isn’t the neopaleo-conservative so reasonable? & so concerned about Constitutional rights? & isn’t he such a good writer? When I come to a full stop at a stop sign or red light or provide I.D. to a trained professional police officer as provided by SCOTUS rulings, am I meekly submitting to unreasonable state authority? I don’t think so. When police monitor a surveillance camera over public domain or screen people entering public facilities or utilities or government buildings, not personal residences or businesses, is that unreasonable? I don’t think so. Tell the truth, Bob. You & Ron Paul are more of a menace to society than the average cop on the beat.

  9. paulie

    My understanding of constitutions is they are not what takes power away from government, it is what grants them the authority to operate.

    Regimes found excuses for their existence prior to constitutions. The purpose of constitutions is to limit government.

  10. jayeye

    I have never understood the difference between Libertarian and Republican. When one gets pissed off at the Republican party they switch to Libertarian as if they will not vote Republican all of the time anyway. What is the difference?

    Bob Barr has some good ideas and actually states facts closer to what the authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights for our country meant but he will still be a Republican through and through.

    What we really need as a third party option is a party that is so anti-Democrat and anti-Republican that the People can tell the difference.

    Any member of either party, Dem or Rep, is tainted and cannot be trusted to be a representative of The People. Therefore if any of them get re-elected, which most likely they will because The People don’t know what to do any longer. WE have lost control of our government and must take it back at all costs.

    We are going to suffer during the transition but we have to vote all of these crooks out of office and get a new Congress in place quickly. Any incumbent returning will be fighting for their lives and cheating at every opportunity so we must force them out in 2010 and 2012.

    Otherwise get ready for more of the same in the next few decades.

  11. paulie

    I have never understood the difference between Libertarian and Republican.

    I’ve never understood the similarity.

  12. Steven R Linnabary

    I have never understood the difference between Libertarian and Republican.

    Except for republicans opposition to free elections, raising taxes with their “taxation without hesitation” mantra, irresponsible wars and homo-erotic torture, maybe there isn’t that much difference.

    PEACE

  13. Fed Up

    You people lose track of the subject real fast don’t you? How did all of this go from a stupid altercation that normally would have hit the local media only to comments about ‘homo-erotic torture’? It was a well written piece and was shocked to find out it came from Bob Barr. Isn’t there an unwritten rule that you comment about the original article? You guys have jobs?

  14. Thirds

    A little off the topic, but does this site still cover the Whigs? They’ve been showing up in a lot of regular media recently.
    Here are a few that they cite, although I’ve seen a bunch more out there over last few weeks.

    AUG 2009
    Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)

    “The party’s platform includes practicing fiscal responsibility, developing practical sources of alternative energy, increasing public and private support for education and scientific research and advocating for veterans.”
    AUG 2009
    Mountain View Telegraph (NM)

    “…one of the country’s up-and-coming political parties, the Modern Whig Party.”
    AUG 2009
    Phoenix New Times

    “The Modern Whig Party’s basically a hybrid of traditional GOP and Democratic Party values, and hopes to draw voters who jump back and forth between the two major parties — especially on issues like fiscal responsibility, strong national defense, and social progression.”
    AUG 2009
    Eyewitness News 4

    The Modern Whig Party was featured on New Mexico’s local NBC affiliate.
    JUL 2009
    Albuquerque Journal

    “New Mexico’s newest political party just goes to show that you can’t keep a good name down. Expect the Whig Party in New Mexico to take on political corruption, argue for a balanced budget…”
    JUL 2009
    WFLA 100.7 FM

    Florida WhigParty Congressional candidate Paul McKain was a guest on the Morning Show of “Tallahassee’s Talk Radio” where a lengthy discussion of his candidacy and party ensued.
    JUL 2009
    WikiNews

    “The Modern Whig Party (has) enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past year; from just 3,000 members last summer to 30,000 now.”
    JUL 2009
    VoterRadio.com

    Les Merritt from the Foundation of Ethics and Public Service featured the Modern Whig Party in a segment on the “rebirth of the Whigs.”

  15. Donald R. Lake

    Just like the [so called] Libertarians For A Better Veterans Home and Unity08 and the Moderate Party, I have been contacted and then left hanging in California. It is official with the Whigs? Stay tuned ……

    The Moderate Party has officially stopped its west coast efforts. The whigs? Probably so ………

    I would take the earlier posting as an unethical subjective partisan hit piece instead of a sincere objective inquiry.

  16. Thirds

    Looks like the Whigs are doing rather well out west. I’m not sure how this can be construed as a “hit piece” when it’s a question on a site that covers libertarians, greens and others and I was just asking about another third party that has been covered by the media quite a few times over the past few weeks. Looking at the archives, this site did cover the whigs in the past but has seemed to ignore them while the regular media seems to be paying pretty good attention for a new outfit.

  17. Donald R. Lake

    Hope you are right. I long for more action from the center ……….

    Altho I am VERY disappointed with the lack of improvement or positioning of alternative folk in general in P2008, I wish them well.

  18. Happy Birthday Mike Lebowitz

    Michael J. Lebowitz (born August 21, 1977 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an international journalist, as well as a Washington, D.C., attorney and expert in the field of military law and Military Expression, [Lake: as well as the current national chair of Modern Whig Party].

    Along with being an advocate for veterans’ issues, he is known to be at the forefront of First Amendment issues pertaining to the military.

    In 2005-2006, he served in Iraq with the elite Pathfinder Company of the 101st Airborne Division. After returning home from Iraq, he began publicly advocating on behalf of military families and veterans.

    Lebowitz continues to serve as a JAG officer in the National Guard. In addition, he lectures at top universities and serves as an attorney at the Washington, DC law firm of Greenberg & Lieberman where he practices military law, along with media law and intellectual property.

    Mike Lebowitz is regarded as a top attorney in the field of military law and specializes in military free speech.

  19. paulie

    Most Republicans do not support legalization of drugs and prostitution, complete freedom to do as one pleases with one’s own body, an end to all corporate welfare, and no foreign wars.

    All true. Additionally, all rhetoric aside, Republicans do tend to favor lots of taxes and spending in practice.

  20. paulie

    republicans opposition to free elections, raising taxes with their “taxation without hesitation” mantra, irresponsible wars and homo-erotic torture

    More good points.

  21. paulie

    Additionally, all rhetoric aside, Republicans do tend to favor lots of taxes and spending in practice.

    As well as victim disarmament and border fascism.

  22. paulie

    It was a well written piece and was shocked to find out it came from Bob Barr.

    The last couple of articles, at the very least, have been good.

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