Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bob Barr Comes to Richmond

Circumstances prevented me from attending the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition meeting in Richmond this morning. The Tuesday Morning Group is hosted by John Taylor and Tertium Quids. It meets generally on the second Tuesday of each month so that Virginia political activists can hear from prominent speakers on the issues of the day and compare notes with each other about current events.

Today was quite a program and I had looked forward to it. (As recently as late yesterday afternoon, I had exchanged emails with John Taylor about my plans to record part of the meeting on video.) The speakers included Paul Jacob of the Sam Adams Alliance and the new chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Delegate Jeff Frederick.

The star of the show, however, was to be former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who is currently running for president as the nominee of the Libertarian Party. I have not previously met Congressman Barr and I hope today's missed opportunity does not mean I will not have a chance to do so before the election campaign is over. (I am counting on the University Libertarians to invite the candidate to Charlottesville in September or October.)

Fortunately, I knew that Steven Latimer would be attending the meeting and I implored him to get Congressman Barr's remarks on video so that they could be posted to YouTube (and, by implication, here).

Steven was more than willing to take up the task.

(For those who might be interested, Norm Leahy has a full report of the press lunch Barr had after the meeting.)

In the first part of this four-part video, John Taylor introduces Bob Barr. A couple of good lines worth noting, first from Taylor:

"The federal prosecutor who sent my congressman off to the Big House was Bob Barr -- something I will forever be grateful for..."
Then from Barr:
"Whenever you get libertarians into a room together, even if they agree on everything, they'll find something to argue about."

"The one thing that's missing from the Republican Party is any sense of excitement."

In part two, Barr starts off by noting:

"Neither of the two major parties has any vision or leadership whatsoever. It seems as if they not only have no leadership or vision or agenda for the American people, but they go out of their way to avoid it."

Here's the whole segment:

The expected third and fourth parts have not yet been uploaded to YouTube. When they are, I will post them here, too. Watch for an update soon.

Update #1: The mainstream media also covered Congressman Barr's speech: WTVR-TV in Richmond (with video); Julian Walker in the Virginian-Pilot; NBC29 in Charlottesville (WVIR-TV); WDBJ-TV Channel 7 in Roanoke; and Tyler Whitley in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Update #2: Part 3 of the video of Barr's remarks, in which he talks about ballot access challenges (especially Oklahoma and West Virginia, the hardest nuts to crack).

In this segment, Barr proposes a "new Grace Commission ... one on steroids" that would focus not just on government waste "but wasteful government," not just the "bad aspects of what government is doing, but the bad aspects of government itself."

He said we need to educate the American public about the tremendous waste, "not just in the money involved, but the power involved" and we need to characterize every government program according to three criteria: (1) "Is there a basis, explicit or reasonably implied, in the Constitution for that federal agency or program?" (2) "Even if there is, is it a program or a function that is best performed by the federal government ... as opposed to state or local government?" (3) "Do the benefits outweigh the cost?"

Waste in government, Barr said, represents a "loss of freedom."

See the rest here:

Update #3: Chelyen Davis has the story in the Free Lance-Star.

Update #4: This is the third and final part of the four-part Bob Barr video, in which the former Congressman says, "I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me."

Asked by a member of the audience whether he is concerned that votes for himself might contribute to a victory in November by Barack Obama, Barr replies:
"Standing up for principle should never be something that any American shies away from or feels guilty about. It would be a sad state of affairs if we ever reached a point in this country where somebody stands up and stands for principle, does the right thing for the right reason, but is criticized because that gets in the way of practical politics.

"In point of fact ... it's not an accurate scenario. The fact of the matter is that individuals who would go to the polling booth on November 4th and vote for a Big-Government Republican, that is, Senator McCain ... it would be very difficult for us to pull them away, even if we were trying to, to vote for a small-government Libertarian.

"The voters on that side of the ideological spectrum, or political spectrum, that we are targeting and tend to reach and, I think, will reach, are not voters that McCain has or is likely to have, but are sort of libertarian or true-conservative Republican voters who would not vote for McCain at any rate. We intend to reach out to them, and I think we'll get an awful lot of them."
Asked about an issue that divides some Libertarian Party members (and other libertarians), Barr responds by saying:
"The Libertarian Party nowadays is a very diverse party, but the one thing that unites virtually all -- not every single, but virtually all -- Libertarians is a strong desire to have a meaningful role in reigniting liberty in America, to really begin the process through a legitimate political party and all the attributes that come with that: paying attention to raising money, paying attention to grassroots organization, selecting good candidates, prioritizing your issues, delivering those issues in language that the average voter can relate to.

"That is very much what the modern Libertarian Party is. There are differences, whether it is on the drug issue, the abortion issue, other issues as well. But I think it's a real sign of maturation of the Libertarian Party that we are able to largely (not entirely, but largely) put aside differences that we have and move forward, particularly in this election year where there is a tremendous opportunity for a party of change, as the Libertarian Party is ... even though our philosophy is not a philosophy of change, it's the core beliefs of our Founding Fathers, and it's a very mainstream message."
Watch the full segment, in which Barr concludes by mentioning the campaign web site, BobBarr2008.com:

Update #5: Hugh Lessig reports on Barr's speech in Richmond in the Daily Press.

Update #6: The Free Lance-Star posted an editorial about Barr's appearance at the Bull & Bear Club on August 14.

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