Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Plus ça change….

One of President Barack Obama's opponents in last year's general election, former U.S. Representative Bob Barr, has an early assessment of what we might expect under the new administration in Wednesday's edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Noting, at first, that on the surface the political circumstances of early 2009 are far different than those of early 2008, Barr argues that things have not changed much at all -- unless they are just going to get worse, at least in terms of the expansion of the size and scope of government.

Writes Barr, who ran last year as the Libertarian Party's nominee for president:

Our civil liberties continue under assault by the highest courts in the land, by the federal government, by state governments and by local governments here in Georgia. What am I talking about? Well, let’s see:

Just last week the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in which now-former President George W. Bush’s two appointees were in the majority, ruled that evidence seized illegally by the police nonetheless can be used to convict someone if the police maintain they seized the evidence “mistakenly.” So much for the Fourth Amendment, which used to protect against such inappropriate police action.

Thanks to a law expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) signed last July by Bush, the government may now legally monitor any international phone call or e-mail transmission without a warrant, regardless of who you might be communicating with or why.

You might have thought yesterday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama was a celebration. You’d be wrong. It was a “national emergency,” right up there with Hurricane Katrina.

Why was it a declared “emergency” and a “special security event”? Simple. Such designations enable government to spend more of our money and to exercise greater power to control and arrest people.

Think your DNA is private? Think again. The federal government and many state governments, including Georgia, are now developing vast databases of DNA information (including from newborns), and they are not asking “pretty please” before they take the samples.
Barr includes other examples of government overreach (such as the EPA's plan to tax farmers for the gas that comes out of the rear ends of cows, or "bovine emissions") but what I've excerpted tells the story well.

What's the moral? Remain vigilant. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." He wasn't being merely descriptive; he was sounding an alarm bell.

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