Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Pre-Congressional Campaign Bob Barr Interview

Bob Barr is running in the Republican Primary for U.S. Congress in Georgia's 11th Congressional District.  Below is a transcript of an interview Proof Negative and I did with Barr on August 7, 2012, on The Proof Negative Show at The interview covers several topics: Barr's endorsement of Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary in 2012, the trouble with 3rd Party political campaigns generally and Gary Johnson's campaign as the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate in specific, and some other ancillary issues like Iran, UN Arms Trade Treaty, the Patriot Act, the NDAA, and domestic drone use. You can learn more about Barr's Congressional run here

Some may look at Barr's run for president in 2008 under the Libertarian Party's banner and presume Barr must be 'Liberty'. This interview will likely shock those people. Those who've been paying attention, however, will not be surprised when Barr touts people like Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels and Rob Portman as possible VP nominees, or when Barr explains why he favors Iran sanctions.

Barr does manage to propose some big ideas about suing the TSA to disclose some of its operations and protecting habeas corpus by ending some FISA court abuses. Where I think Barr fails is in his belief that regular Republican Party Establishment insiders have the political will to defend civil liberties. Most don't.

The Proof Negative Show, even though it's a news show, is more hyperbolic than my old radio show. I hope no one faults Barr for going along with Proof's more conspiratorial line of questioning. I thought Barr handled it professionally. I also thought Barr made a salient point about the purpose of political parties: to win elections and change policies, not just debate.

It became obvious to me while transcribing this year-old interview with Barr that even long-serving political leaders don't understand how to answer questions to appeal to a growing base of liberty-minded people. If you plan to have a future career in politics you need to understand what the liberty-minded expect to hear you say. If you don't know what that is, you will struggle. If you need help because, for reasons of principle, you truly want to attract that demographic, I am willing to help you.


[00:21:25]Proof Negative [Proof]: And of course, as everybody knows, he was the 2008 Libertarian Party candidate for president, former federal prosecutor, he spent a lot of time at the House of Representatives in Georgia... well, Bob Barr, it's a pleasure to meet you.

[00:21:40] Bob Barr [BB]: It's a pleasure being with you. I'm sorry I had a little bit of trouble calling in there, but good to be with you and your listeners.

Proof: You made it. You made it.

BB: Yep.

Proof: So I wanted to ask you here, first off, I wanted to get your opinion of the UN small arms treaty, because I know that you, you serve on the board for the NRA, and I just feel as though part of what stalled the UN small arms treaty was that they don't want states to decide that their rights supersede the United Nations'.

[00:22:12]BB: The small arms treaty, or as its officially known the ATT, the Arms Trade Treaty, is something that Americans should never accept and should be very, very wary of whatever they call it because it would, as you've indicated, it would in very large measure deal not so much with international transfers of illicit firearms, which is what they advertise as the primary purpose of it, but it would lead to various registries and restrictions on internal, that is domestic, transfers and registration of firearms. We were lucky that we sort of dodged the bullet so to speak last month when they could not reach agreement, but the UN never gives up on these sorts of things, and they will keep trying and trying and trying to get it through. So it will come up again as soon, perhaps, as the general assembly meeting September in New York.

Proof: Right. So let me ask you, Bob, is the goal to get... obviously the goal is to disarm all American citizens, but is this an incremental process or is it just one day we're gun owners, the second day it doesn't matter what kind of gun you own it's going to be illegal?

[00:23:37]BB: No. They understand the realities of the world the Chuck Schumers and the Carolyn McCarthies and the other... Diane Feinsteins in the Senate and the U.S. Congress the same way they understand if they went out and they said, "OK, we're going to ban firearms or ban ammunition," they know that they would lose. They've learned over the years that the best way to do is to do it very carefully, very incrementally, and couch what you're doing not in terms of gun ban or gun control or ammunition control but something very different. 

They seized, as you'll recall 12 years ago, on this notion of assault weapons, so-called assault weapons. They'll use terms like that and what the UN uses is the term the illicit trafficking in firearms, the illicit international trafficking in firearms. But of course they know and many Americans do not realize that in order to control the illicit trafficking in firearms, which, in my view, is not the job of the UN in the first place. In order to do that you have to necessarily set up some system of domestic, national registration. They will do it very carefully, incrementally.

Proof: All right now, Valerie, I know you were screening a call a second ago, so we were discussing the small arms treaty just to keep you up to date. [silence] Oh, I thought you were here. Ok.

Valerie Sargent Martin [VSM]: I'm sorry about that, Proof.

Proof: There you are.

VSM: The switchboard's slow tonight, yeah. Thank you, Bob Barr, for joining us tonight. I really appreciate that. Exciting to have you on the show. You've been on a lot of important projects both as a Republican and as a Libertarian. I wanted to kind of get your thoughts on the current presidential race and maybe have you handicap it for us and tell us what you think about what you've seen so far in the election cycle.

[00:25:49]BB: I'd be glad to but I'd also be glad to hear what you and your listeners think about it. I mean, you're certainly in touch with many, many thousands of listeners and people across the country.

My view is that ultimately on Election Day Obama will lose very decisively. I don't think that the recent polls that indicate that the election is very close, sort of going back and forth by a couple of percentage points, to me that doesn't mean anything because the vast majority of Americans, contrary to those of us on this call and your listeners who pay attention all the time to these things, the vast majority of Americans don't. And they won't focus on the election truly until the last few or several weeks before the November elections. So these early polls don't mean anything.

But the way I look at it President Obama… he, he will keep the core liberal democrat vote. The problem is I don't think he will excite his base and I don't think that he will gain the independent vote that he gained last time. The big question mark is to what extent will Romney be able to pick up that independent vote. Romney does not so far indicate or illustrate an ability to excite the independents, but when push comes to shove in the fall I think the majority of the voting public will recognize that this president has failed utterly to fulfill his promises that he made four years ago, that he has not done what he says he would do, and at least be willing to give Romney a chance. So I think Romney will win almost despite himself.

Proof: Right. So let me ask you then, do you feel as though the Romney vote is more of an anti-Obama vote, or is this a pro-Romney vote?

BB: I think it's a little bit of both, but probably more an anti-Obama vote than anything else because this President has done such a miserable job following through on his promises. Now in many respects I'm certainly glad he hasn't followed through on his promises because his promises are all Big Government. But for his base, for the Democrats out there, they are very disappointed and that will show up on election day with him.

Proof: And what do you think is a good, attainable goal for your 'brethren in crime' there? Well, maybe not 'crime,' but anyway, Libertarian [Party presidential nominee] Gary Johnson. What would be a good goal for him?

[00:28:40]BB: I like Gary very much. I first met Gary back in the mid-1990s when I first served in the Congress. We were at that time on different sides of the drug issue, but I always enjoyed debating him, I enjoyed talking with him, he's a very decent human being, he knows what he's talking about, he marshals the facts, he's a very, very solid candidate. And Judge Gray, who is his running mate, is as well. The Libertarians have a very solid ticket this time in Johnson/Gray.

The problem of course, the primary problem, remains for Gary and Judge Johnson [sic] same as for myself and Wayne Allen Root four years ago is money and organization. It is extremely difficult to buck the tide the way the laws nationally and the various states have been set up that make it much, much easier for the Democrats and the Republicans to organize themselves and raise money than for Libertarians. The real problem that Gary will face is simply having the resources to get his message out. But I think he'll run a very solid race. It will be very difficult to get into the debates because they simply, 'they' being the two major parties and the media, they like to keep it an exclusive club with just the two parties. Unfortunately I don't think he'll get into the debates which would really make for an interesting race.

VSM: Yeah. Can we talk about that for just a minute? Because supposedly if Gary polls 15% as the Libertarian candidate, or third party candidate, then the two major parties are supposed to be willing to participate in major national debates. It seems like Rasmussen and some of the other polling companies refuse to include Gary in their polling questions, so it's not really possible for him to get that 15%. What do you think about that?

[00:30:57]BB: It's very unfortunately and it's extremely unfair and the American people ought to demand that if they're going to set an arbitrary figure like 15%, which I think is unrealistically high given the lock on electoral politics that the Democrats and the Republicans have, but whatever that number is it needs to be a number that can be arrived at fairly and it's not.

The two major parties and the media basically decide who they're going to poll, when they're going to poll them, so they don't include Bob Barr, or, in this election cycle, Gary Johnson, and many of the polling questions so of course they're not going to… he's not going to poll well enough. It's something the America people ought not to stand for.

Proof: Right. And I'm sure you ran into that buzz saw yourself four years ago. Were you close to getting into any of those debates on TV?

[00:32:07]BB: No. We really weren't. Early on in the '08 campaign, shortly after the Libertarian National Convention -- which four years ago was held in Denver -- some polls indicated that we were doing 10, I think maybe even 12% in a couple of states, but we simply didn't have the financial horsepower to sustain that. I hope that Gary will have better resources so that maybe he can. But here again the only person in recent decades that has been able to meet the criteria that is established by the two major parties, and that is this arbitrary 15% polling, was Ross Perot and that was due largely to the fact that he had a large amount of his personal wealth that he was willing to put into that race. I certainly don't have that, and did not have that wealth, and Gary doesn't either. So, you know, third parties really operate at a distinct disadvantage in terms of both money, and the way the system is gamed against any third party.

VSM: So, Bob, with that in mind, is that your pragmatism about his chances? Is that why you didn't come out and endorse Gary and instead chose to endorse Mitt Romney?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Constitution Day! An old Interview Proves Nothing Much Changes

Less than a year ago I interviewed Jack Hunter, formerly known as the Southern Avenger, who's moniker and Paulist associations recently earned him the disdain and rebuke of the Free Beacon and much of the pro-war Right and Establishment Republican Party, despite his success as a co-author of Rand Paul's book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

In the interview we chatted about Continuing Resolutions, Debt Ceiling Negotiations, the various purity tests within the Liberty Movement, his status as an 'operative', and, sadly the trouble with mass shootings. The interview transcript is below along with a link to the entire radio show from December 16, 2012, from which the interview was excerpted.

Welcome back, everybody. It’s the Valerie Sargent Martin Show. Our number to call in is 347 324 3704. Or you can join us at the chat room. On the line with me now we’ve got our guest for this hour pundit, writer, radio personality, Liberty Movement superstar Jack Hunter. Hi, Jack.

Jack Hunter [JH]: Good to be with you, Valerie. How are you?

VSM: I’m doing great. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m thrilled to death to have you with me.

JH: I’m glad to be here. It’s been too long.

VSM: Well, all right. So I invited you on specifically to talk about Jim DeMint’s departure from the Senate because you are a South Carolinian.

JH: I am. I am sad to see Senator DeMint leaving the Senate. I am glad that he will be in charge of the Heritage Foundation, an organization which, for the good things it does on occasion, I think also is an Establishment defender, particularly during the Bush/Cheney era. I like the fact that a guy who’s moving more in the liberty direction on issues – that’s not to say he’s perfect, but he’s certainly veering more in that direction than the average Republican – will be in charge of an organization like that with an $80 million annual budget. That makes me very happy.

As far as what’s going to happen with his seat, well, that is a big loss for us. You know, when guys like Mike Lee and Rand Paul were voting against things like indefinite detention, you know, for our liberties, DeMint was right there with them a lot of the time. You would hope somebody would be in that seat that would continue with those same votes. If I had to guess, I think Governor Nikki Haley would probably appoint Tim Scott who is actually my congressman in my home district, the 1st Congressional District of South Carolina. Tim Scott is very conservative and good on some things, you know, and not good on others, in my opinion, but, you know, he’s no Jim DeMint, and the more he could possibly be like Jim DeMint would certainly be a good thing. My first pick for South Carolina would be Mick Mulvaney as far as people who have said they’re interested. There’s other people who aren’t interested who I would pick also.

[16:00] VSM: Mick Mulvaney is a current congressman.

JH: Right. He’s a current congressman. And he has made, there was a story in Politico last week talking about Republicans who are encouraging defense spending cuts and he was the main focus. He even uses the term ‘Military Keynesianism.’ And for anybody who’s been following my work for a long time, what has prevented the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and something Ron Paul has talked about until his face turns blue, and so many of our liberty leaders and activists, if we can’t cut pentagon spending, if we can’t cut all these bases around the world, the trillions and trillions of dollars that we spend on mindless wars that don’t make any sense, we will never, ever be able to shrink government.

Entitlements are unquestionably the biggest culprit when it comes to our debt and deficits, and our foreign policy is the second. And if Republicans, conservatives, can’t get their heads around that we will never, ever be able to shrink government.

VSM: Yeah, well, let’s talk about the fiscal cliff stuff first and then we’ll get back to the Jim DeMint issue in a moment. What do you think’s going to happen with the fiscal cliff stuff?

[17:27] JH: Well, Washington D.C. being Washington D.C. I can see nothing happening at all, and, you know, my preference is that sequestration goes through. For there to be a deal would probably mean there’s not going to be any cuts. And [cuts are] what needs to happen. And nobody needs to raise taxes. The idea that the government doesn’t have enough money is just stupid on its face. It would certainly hurt jobs. But more important than anything we have to start cutting. Sequestration is not enough, but at least it’s something. So I would like to see no deal happen, but, you know, John Boehner is sort of a joke. Barack Obama’s certainly a joke.  It will remain to be seen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Athens-Clarke County Tea Party Convention - Lessons in Legitimacy

When I was asked about giving support to Athens Clark County Tea Party Chairman Keyantwon Stephens’ plan to organize a “Tea Party Convention,” Stephens had already burned through all of his credibility with me. (For background on the problems with the event go here:

I won’t go into all of the reasons that I doubted Stephens knew what he was doing, but his young age wasn’t ever a factor. In fact, he has shown despite his age an incredible ability to confidently attract attention and win support.

The problem with Stephens, who’s run for Congress, proposed running for governor, and most recently announced his desire to head Georgia’s Democratic Party, is that his ‘dream big’ mentality lacks any grounding in reality. The ‘Convention,’ which in the end had many prominent local and national political speakers, was a manifestation of  Stephens’ ability to convince himself and others that he can do great and meaningful things.  Never mind that there was no real plan to pay for it or support it in any real way.  Stephens has been, for a while now, writing metaphorical checks that, sadly, finally caught up with both his reputation and his real-life bank account.

I think the visceral reaction against Stephens from within the libertarian-minded circles stems from the fear that Stephens, who has sometimes worn the 'Liberty' mantle, has exposed the underlying inexperience of many in the movement that want more leadership roles and responsibility in formal politics. I'm disappointed at those who say Stephens purposefully misled people, though. I am fairly certain he didn’t.

Everyone who meets Stephens, including myself, wants to see him succeed. He is charming and soft-spoken, and yes, young and idealistic.  It was utterly disappointing for me when I finally realized and accepted Stephens has no awareness that his attempt at this high level of community organizing is something most would consider quite difficult. His lack of awareness hurt him and his ambitious event. It may ultimately hurt the efforts of others, as well.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Raw Milk Drink-In a Celebration of Natural Rights

We're protesting bad law by drinking good milk. Will you celebrate our natural rights with us?

Tastes like Freedom. Sweet, sweet, delicious, raw Freedom. 
The Raw Milk Drink-In is about the absurdity of bad laws and the requirement of informed people to disobey those laws. It is about the real and direct effect that burdensome government regulation in all industry has on people’s day-to-day lives. It is about the unjust authority our government exerts on us when it acts outside its constitutional size and scope. It is about the arbitrary and subjective way in which laws are enforced.

The Raw Milk Drink-In will use food freedom - the principle that government should not determine what foods adults are allowed to eat, even under the auspices of health and safety - to make our point that the government has overstepped its bounds. Breaking state and federal laws about the sale and consumption of a basic food item is symbolic of our natural right to be free of government intrusions in our decision making and dealings with others. It is about our right to the results of our own work. It is about our right to defend ourselves when others seek to harm us.

The event will take place outside the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia, because several of the organizers and attendees are delegates and alternates to the GAGOP State Convention being held there that day. The goal is to remind the Republican Party that it has walked away from its duty to uphold its stated principles of small, local, and limited government. We submit as proof legislators within the Republican Party who allow the obtrusive and corrupt government process that prevents the sale of raw milk, a wholesome and natural food consumed throughout all of human history.

Even though this is being held at a Republican venue, everyone is invited to attend. We hope to reinforce the idea that people on both the Left and Right agree on the protection of civil liberties.

Saturday, May 18th, shortly before 9:00 a.m. we will sell raw milk shots for a nickel while supplies last. We will read a few quotes about civil disobedience. We will mention the symbolism behind our event. Then we will have a brief toast, hold up our raw milk, and drink in unison. That will be the end of the official event. Anyone who wants to stay longer is welcome to do so.

The exact spot of the event is to be announced. All money raised will be donated to Georgia Alliance for Raw Milk. The event is sponsored and organized by members of Hoco4Liberty.

UPDATE: At the suggestion of friends in Georgia Alliance for Raw Milk, we will donate any proceeds from the event to Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund at and the Weston A. Price Foundation at We hope you'll spread the word and donate, too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Speech I Wanted to Give

Here’s a little truth for you: I’m an awful public speaker. It’s true. I am. There’s a reason people fear public speaking more than death.

Yesterday, I received the Republican Liberty Caucus of Georgia’s 2012 Citizens Award. Here's what I meant to say yesterday, but didn't get quite right. Sorry. :(