Thursday, April 10, 2008

The sordid life of Bob Barr.

The more I watch the Libertarian Party the more disgusted I become. I first got involved in 1978. I even brought myself to run for office a few times. I pounded the bloody sidewalks getting the signatures to put the party on the ballot. I worked in campaign headquarters. I distributed literature to thousands and thousands of homes, door to door, for candidates. I donated money and held office within the party. I wish I could take it all back.

I wish I could get back every cent and every hour and all the effort and leave the party in the state it would be without my effort. Worse, I am ashamed that I ever supported the Libertarian Party. Sure, at one time, it was libertarian. But now it is the home of every power-hungry would-be politician who is simply too weird, too extreme or too insane for one of the major parties.

Let me remind you what libertarianism meant for a very long time. It meant that one was for free markets. Economic freedom was very important. It was anti-tax and anti-regulation. But economics was one part of individual freedom and individual rights.

It also meant social freedom. It meant the right of people to do something dumb like taking drugs or going to church. It meant the right to read books without government interference. It meant equality for people before the law -- no infringement of rights because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc. Libertarians were proud advocates of full equality of rights for gays and lesbians. Libertarians would legalize prostitution, home schooling, and “obscene” literature. We didn’t scapegoat immigrants but defended them -- whether they had “permission slips” from the hall monitors in government or not.

And libertarians would support a foreign policy of peace, free trade, no entangling alliances, and no foreign interventionism. Those were the three basic pillars of libertarian thinking.

We recognized that now and then conservatives got some issues right. But we didn’t fool ourselves into thinking they were “allies” or comrades. They were wrong more than they were right. Ditto for the Left. They might want to decriminalize drugs but they’d regulate medicine to death. They were right on some things and wrong on others.

In recent years a band of failed conservatives have infiltrated libertarianism with Right-wing views which they have pushed as a substitute for former libertarian principles. Some of them hated foreigners, they were allies of Pat Buchanan and his ilk of bigots. They started pushing the crap that stopping immigration is the libertarian thing to do. They’d cozy up to the League of the South and other racist organizations.

Some of these “new libertarians” were viciously and openly antigay. I don’t mean they simply thought it was sinful for someone to be gay. One such “libertarian” said on his campaign web site that the Congress has the responsibility to “hate homosexuals”. Other fake libertarians have joined in the anti-immigrant bashing by pushing for walls on the borders, beefing up the number of armed federal thugs and confiscating billions in more in taxes to go after evil foreigners. One such fraudulent libertarian got elected to his city council and proposed legislation to allow the city government to confiscate the private businesses of anyone who hires individuals not approved by the state. If they hire an “illegal” they can lose their property. Even theft is no longer theft when it comes to these “new” libertarians.

Yet, each and every one of these bigots might be good on some issue. But so what!!!! It doesn’t matter if they are good on some issue if they are utterly evil on another issue of great importance.

I don’t think every “deviation” from libertarianism is as serious as every other alleged deviation. I can understand different strategies for getting from a government controlled society to a free one. I don’t think educational tax credits or school vouchers or other incremental plans are evil. I wouldn’t be horrified if someone says that we should end the war on drugs and regulate it the same way as alcohol. It is a step in the right direction and I’d work to deregulate alcohol.

But it is one thing to propose steps we should take to increase freedom and another thing to debate measures which will reduce freedom.

How we should make open borders a reality is something worthy of serious debate. But when individuals advocate building walls, rounding up illegals, regulating private employers and who they may hire, etc., they are not looking for steps toward more liberty but proposing steps for less freedom. A candidate who tells me he wants to reduce taxes has my support. A candidate who wants to spend billions more to fight hardworking illegals is working to increase taxes whether he is honest enough to admit it or not.

One argument I have heard goes along this line. When Hitler used the Reichstag fire as an excuse to grab power he pushed through the Enabling Acts which gave him vast powers. Let us say that one Reichstag member was a vocal opponent of the law. No doubt we’d applaud him. We would be glad he spoke out against insidious, evil legislation that proved harmful.

But what if the same member also supported Hitler on “the Jewish question”? Obviously we would not think this man was a libertarian no matter how vociferous his opposition to the Enabling Act. Perhaps he wouldn’t go as far as the “Final Solution” in addressing the “Jewish Question”. But very few Germans, or Nazis for that matter, went that far. Most supported some measures to keep “Jews from taking over” but wouldn’t have supported all of Hitler’s efforts to “resolve” this matter. But someone who supported such efforts is beyond the pale. From a libertarian perspective he is unqualified to speak for liberty. No matter how valiant his effort at fighting the Enabling Act it wouldn’t remove the guilt and shame for his role in solving the “Jewish Question”.

This is the sad reality of the speckled career of Bob Barr, the Right-wing ex-Congressman from Georgia. Barr is bloody brilliant on the Patriot Act -- now. He voted for it but now he knows better. He speaks out against the law and the Imperial Presidency he helped create. And I’m glad he’s done that. Does that make the man a libertarian? NO.

He is no more a Libertarian than Obama is because Obama is against the stupid war. Barr is no more libertarian than Bush just because Bush supported tax cuts. Being good on something is not the litmus test of libertarianism.

It isn’t that Barr wasn’t good enough on issues. He wasn’t. He was actually horrid on issues. But the problem is that he still is horrid on issues. He has not abandoned his Right-wing views to embrace liberty. Instead libertarians have chucked out their principles to embrace this bigot. Barr can’t campaign as a libertarian because Barr is no libertarian. He is still a conservative. And a party that nominates a conservative is not a libertarian party no matter what it calls itself.

Barr was a drug warrior. He still is. He moved a bit on medical marijuana but still supports the criminal laws on drugs. That means he supports putting millions of people, who violated the rights of no one, in jail. That means he supports police raids to arrest users and thus he is responsible for the consequences of the policies he promotes. That includes responsibility for the dozens and dozens of innocent people killed regularly by drug cops in botched raids. If you support the policy then you support the outcome. And this is true especially after you have had decades of experience showing you precisely the outcomes you ought to expect. Bob Barr can’t pretend he didn’t know. He knew.

Barr was a federal prosecutor who helped arrest drug users and imprison them. He prosecuted the laws, he enforced the laws and he endorsed the laws. He still supports them and that makes him a criminal violating the rights of others. Being nice to your mother doesn’t mean you can’t be a killer. Being good on the Patriot Act doesn’t mean you aren’t a statist thug. Bob Barr’s work for the war on drugs, and his continuing support for this policy, makes him a rights-violating criminal. He is no hero just because he got it right on the damn Patriot Act.

Barr went further than just supporting bad legislation Barr actually proposed laws to treat people as second class citizens. He successfully pushed through hypocritical legislation to strip gays of the same rights he wants for himself.

Barr is a big defender of “protecting marriage.” Like other such moralists this didn’t stop him from cheating on his own marriage, having affairs, dumping his wife and marrying a new bed partner one month after his divorce. I think he’s on his third wife now. He’s all for defending marriage provided it isn’t his own. He campaigned strongly to pass laws making abortion a crime yet he paid personally for one of his wives to abort their child.

And if Barr went overseas and met an Italian woman and had another affair with her he could contemplate coming home, dumping his current wife yet again, and marrying his new concubine and bringing her to live with him in the United States. But that is a right which Barr has stopped gay and lesbian Americans from having. Barr assaulted the equal rights of tens of millions of gay and lesbian Americans. That is disgusting beyond words. I don’t give a damn about how good he is on the Enabling Act, but if you are wrong on the modern equivalent of “the Jewish Question” you are not fit to call yourself a libertarian.

Let’s dig through all the bullshit that Right-wing types like to drag out. Barr’s bill was not about special privileges. It wasn’t about welfare or handouts or any of the issues they try to use to divert attention away from their own prejudices. Barr's bill said that no gay couple may be treated the same way the government would treat a heterosexual couple. It was one of those laws, in the spirit of Nuremberg laws, which singles out and scapegoats a despised minority for special treatment which degrades them before the law. Barr intentionally gave gay people a second class status as citizens. And nothing he does about the Patriot Act undoes that. Bob Barr is a bigot.

Mr. Barr has not been shy campaigning with bigots. The Council of Conservative Citizens sounds like a regular conservative group. But you might know them better prior to their current incarnation when they were called the White Citizen’s Council. I just listened to a spokesman for the Council say: “we’re unabashedly a group that primarily speaks out for White, European civilization, faith and form and government.”

They are basically a White Supremacist, anti-Semitic, racist organization. A quick look at their website shows an article by a “former Jew” who says he knows Jews “were anything but ‘holy innocents’” because of anti-Gentile remarks he says they routinely make. He speaks of Zionist indoctrination and the article links to an anti-Semitic site called “realjewnews” that tells us, among other things:

“Jews Murder Gentile Babies in USA!”
“Jews on Fox News Hate Ron Paul.”
“Jews Plotted the Armenia Holocaust?”
“Jews Plotted the Ukrainian Holocaust of 1932!”
“Jews: Their Money & Their Control.”
“Judaism is a Racist Idea.”
“Sex Peddling Jews.”

You get the idea. The site believes the Jews control the world and are destroying everything. The Council of Conservative Citizens is currently heavily promoting that web site. They aren’t shy about what they believe. They claim that the U.S. must be a “Christian nation” and that they oppose immigration of “non-European and non-Western peoples”. They believe military force should be used against illegal immigrants and “oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind”.

In an article on a “baby boom” in Russia the Council says: “We need White baby born all across Europe and the United States.” The Council is endorsed by racists such as Jared Taylor, Sam Francis, Lester Maddox and Kirk Fordice. They link to various racist parties like the British National Party, the National Front in France, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium and then encourage people to read various racist newspapers. They are quite openly and blatantly bigots. And it doesn’t take more than about ten seconds of on-line searches to show this. Reading the Council’s own website is rather convincing that they are bigots.

Yet Bob Barr saw nothing wrong in attending their conference and giving the keynote address. His excuse when the media caught onto what he had done was that he simply had no idea they were racists. Anyone who had dealt with these sort of hate groups can tell you that they are as transparent as glass when it comes to their bigotry and a 30 second conversation with one of them is usually enough to figure it out. If Barr could speak at their national convention and not “notice” that he was consorting with racists, anti-Semites, gay-haters, and varied bigots, then the man clearly has an attention deficit problem.

And Barr didn’t do himself any favors dispelling the notion that he likes bigots when his first case, as private attorney, was to defend a white supremacist and bigot, Chester Doles.

If the Libertarian Party supports Barr then it is dead. At that point it would have become some sort of spin-off of the hateful Constitution Party. It would deserve to die. And I for one would happily campaign for that death.

I hope the Libertarian Party will wake up and toss Bob Barr out on his cheating, hypocritical ass. As they give him the boot I’d applaud him for his stand on the Patriot Act and then cheer when his fat butt goes skidding across the pavement. That is the sort of treatment that bigots like Barr deserve. I hope that in addition booting Barr, the Party turns its backs on every would-be political manipulator who worked to bring Barr into the Libertarian Party.

If Barr can accept that he was wrong, and he hasn’t, then I can forgive. I can accept a confession that he was bigoted and stupid but has wised up. But Barr hasn’t wised up. He hasn’t retracted and he hasn’t learned. Good luck on fighting the Patriot Act. But don’t destroy what is left of the Libertarian Party in the process.

But, Mr. Barr, if you do run as the LP candidate, then please destroy it as fast as possible. It will no longer deserve to exist.

Editor's note: I have removed a couple of sentences stating support for Mary Ruwart. Those references would give the wrong impression that I continued to do so. I do not.

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