Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Barr Code

My blogs will now be appearing as The Barr Code on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website. Please visit the site at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday sows super confusion

The country remains closely split between Rs and Ds, but within each of the two major parties, Super Tuesday’s results confirm deep splits among constituent groups. In the GOP, the chasm between moderates and religious conservatives has become more pronounced than at any time since the early and mid-1990s, and threatens to create a serious problem in the general election for the Republican candidate if (as now appears likely) John McCain is the Party’s nominee. Regional splits, breaking down largely but not entirely along that same moderate-conservative fault line, also have come to the fore in the GOP.
On the Democrat side, the splits are deep and bright between young and old, male and female, black and white, and black and Latino. The challenge for that Party’s nominee will be to bring those deeply divided factions together in the fall.
These splits will likely figure heavily in each Party’s nominee’s choice of a running mate; with McCain (if he prevails as appears likey) almost certain to choose a southerner, and the Democrat nominee likely to pick a veep from the west or the south.
Although major media still tries to ignore Ron Paul’s Republican candidacy, the continuing strength of his effort, reflected especially in impressive fundraising, indicates a real base of libertarian-leaning voters into the future.

Real ID Act a real intrusion on rights, privacy

With the announcement last month by Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff of the final implementing regulations for the much-delayed Real ID Act, the debate over this thinly veiled national identification card project moved into high gear.
The federal government for several years now has been fighting a guerrilla action with citizen groups and a number of state legislatures over imposing on the states and the citizenry this privacy-intrusive and costly mandate. With the announcement Jan. 11 of the final regulations, the debate is fully joined and pits those who support the principle of states’ rights against the legions of Big Government advocates.
Big Government advocates are personified by the current Bush administration, favoring central control of virtually every facet of activity in our society, from education to transportation and from the plumbing in our bathrooms to the bulbs in our lamps. While the Real ID debate shares some elements with its sister debate concerning voter ID, mixing the two as if two sides of the same coin dilutes the host of fundamental constitutional concerns and responsibilities affected by the Real ID Act program now being forced down the throats of the states.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the underlying federalism question — where does the federal government get the power to dictate to the states who can get a driver’s license? — to focus on civil liberties that would be undercut by the Real ID Act.
If, as proposed in the law, a person must have a Real ID Act-compliant card in order to access a federal building, access any regulated or interstate mode of transportation, or obtain any federal benefit, then we have surrendered to the federal government (that is, federal bureaucrats) the power to deny citizens all manner of activities guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Consider:
A person not possessing a Real ID Act-compliant identification card could not enter any federal building, or an office of his or her congressman or senator or the U.S. Capitol. This effectively denies that person their fundamental rights to assembly and to petition the government as guaranteed in the First Amendment.
A person seeking to exercise their right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment could henceforth be denied that ability if they do not possess a precious Real ID card, because the federal bureaucracy known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives probably will decree that such a form of identification is necessary to meet federal requirements for purchasing a firearm.
Very possibly the Real ID card will be required in order to vote in any election for federal office.
A veteran may be denied access to a VA hospital because he or she lacks the requisite Real ID card, perhaps because they did not have the money required to purchase it or because they could not locate the background forms the Department of Homeland Security required to obtain one.
A business traveler, unable to afford to travel by private jet, is denied the ability to make a living because their job requires air travel and they do not have a Real ID card — even though they demonstrably pose no danger whatsoever to their fellow travelers.
Even though individual states, such as Georgia, may provide greater legal protection for private information of its residents than other states or the federal government, this will mean nothing in the Real ID Act world, because all the data under that law will be subject to the lower federal standards, thereby subjecting residents to a higher likelihood of identity theft than they would risk under the laws of their state.
And, they would have no recourse to correct erroneous data, or prevent identity theft pursuant to the Real ID regulations.
On the other side of the ledger, arguing in favor of this intrusive and expensive federal mandate, are hollow promises of “security” — not freedom or liberty — but “safety,” the promise of which trumps all else in this post-9/11 world, at least for this Congress and this administration. I, for one, commend the state of Georgia and those other states that are standing against this assault on states’ rights and the Bill of Rights.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Justices Broaden Immunity for Officers

If you think that government agents who steal your personal property should be punished or at least held accountable for such actions, you’re out of luck. The United States Supreme Court has just ruled that what appeared to have been a narrow exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act that preserves sovereign immunity for wrongful acts committed by customs officers, should afford that immunity to all federal law enforcement officers. Henceforth, if you are detained or your property is detained or seized by a government law enforcement official for any colorable government purpose, and your property is mishandled, detroyed, damaged, or stolen, you’ll have no recourse whatsoever. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision.

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country where the government is accountable?

For more detail, see “Justices Broaden Immunity for Officers,” New York Times, January 23, 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Be Careful What You Read.....

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the District of Columbia’s 30-year old gun ban during the Court’s current term, many in the mainstream media are still trying to prejudice the debate through biased reporting in favor of gun control.

In a recent article, the anti-gun bias of Newsday was made crystal clear in the headline to a piece that appeared in announcing that “District attorneys nationwide ask Supreme Court to keep gun ban.” Based on this headline, you’d expect that a significant number of district attorneys from all parts of the country were supporting the District’s gun ban that had been invalidated last year by a federal court of appeals. Wrong! While the headline is designed clearly to leave the reader with that impression, the facts – not revealed in the article – are quite the opposite.

While the article accurately relates that 18 district attorneys have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the D.C. gun ban, what the magazine doesn’t tell you is that this represents less than .7% of all district attorneys in the country! That’s right, only 18 out of some 2,700 district attorneys apparently have gone on record with the High Court supporting the D.C. gun ban. Less than one percent. Hardly a landslide movement. Moreover, while these anti-Second Amendment district attorneys do represent jurisdictions from the east to the west coast, they are hardly representative of the population – virtually all hail from liberal, metropolitan areas such as New York City, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and Atlanta.

I suppose after all these years of having the Second Amendment bashed by the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, and other liberal mayors, and by much of the media in those cities, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the bias continue even as the Supreme Court is poised to hopefully find the D.C. gun ban unconstitutional, just as did the court below it. I guess that worries the anti-firearms crowd. That’s not a bad thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ongoing FISA Legislation

Senate has put off til January the re-authoauthorization on the so-called Protect America Act which basically opened up for the government virtually every international telephone call or email by anyone in this country to or from someone overseas (the PAA was signed last August 5th and expires the beginning of Febuary ’08). The administration and its supporters in the Senate also want to grant full retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that violated the old FISA law and gave government agents virtually unlimited access to subscriber phone data without any court orders or supervision.

Best thing that could happen would be for the PAA to simply expire, but the administration will do everything it can to avoid that. A handful of Senatorts – e.g., Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, et al. – are waging a courageous fight to limit government surveillance and telecom immunity.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guns don't kill people. People kill people.

A huge thumbs up to Ted Nugent and his recent article, “I Fell Like Writing Another Gun Celebration Column.”

In the town of Colorado Springs, CO, a young woman used her concealed weapon to protect herself, and the people around her during a church gathering this week. She used her gun to defend herself, her congregation, and her freedom. She should be commended for taking the high road of defense instead of cowering in the corner and taking what the gunman was giving to her and the congregation.

Ted Nugent should also be commended for taking the initiative of writing such a strong and moving article.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

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