Hit & Run

Barrwatch: Hoosier Passion

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It's been a busy week in Barrtopia. Declan McCullugh reported from Las Vegas on FreedomFest and Barr's promise to be the candidate of privacy.

Barr focused almost exclusively on privacy and eavesdropping--and argued that both major parties are far too surveillance-happy. "Both of them will continue down the same track," Barr said, noting that both McCain and Obama supported last week's bill to immunize telecommunications companies that illegally opened their networks to government snoops.

Congress' legislative rewrite of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is "not about surveilling al-Qaida," Barr said. "It's about surveilling U.S. citizens in America." He added, for good measure: "This administration is the most anti-privacy, the most anti-individual freedom, in our nation's history, certainly in my lifetime."

"The best way to control the populace is to take away their privacy," he said. "The digital age, and what will come after that, makes it much, much easier for the government to abuse those powers and erode the Fourth Amendment."

Today, Barr attended the launch of Al Gore's We campaign, and fired off his impressions for the press.

I commend Mr. Gore for his efforts and leadership in this area, and urge Senators Obama and McCain to join me in studying, debating, and finding solutions to the problem of energy needs, consumption and effects. The American people deserve to hear all of our views and proposals on this issue and others. I am particularly pleased that Mr. Gore agrees that the public debate of this issue should include me so that the American people can make an informed choice after hearing a range of views. However, the fact that neither of the two major party candidates attended this event may indicate their unwillingness to address this important issue. Mr. McCain, for example, seems to have adopted already the internationalist approach and relying on the cumbersome and costly "cap and trade" formula and he may therefore be unwilling to engage in a real debate that would reveal how flawed that approach truly is.

After that, Barr got on the phone for an inaugural blogger conference call. Ed Morrissey has the rundown and some thoughts.

Barr, it should be emphasized, sounds eminently more reasonable and competent than Ron Paul. Even on issues where I'd disagree, Barr gave reasoned, thoughtful answers, as opposed to the kind of conspiracy-theory kookiness Paul spouted at debates and in interviews. The Libertarian Party has its most credible candidate in years, if not ever. However, unless he suddenly finds a way to organize Libertarians and convince vast swaths of Americans to start pitching money into the kitty, his best hope will be to influence the major-party candidates to start addressing some of the legitimate concerns of the Libertarian Party.

I missed all but 10 minutes of the call, sadly, but I had a reason: lunch with three Indiana LP candidates for U.S. House, state Senate, and state House. Rex Bell, who's making a second run at the 54th district House seat after scoring 15 percent in his 2006 race, told me that he'd love for Barr to come to the state and campaign for him. "Four years ago, nobody asked me about our presidential candidate," he said. "At the booth at the last fair I went to, people were asking me. Even if they hadn't heard about Barr. They wanted a new candidate. They don't like either of the major party choices." (EDIT: Added the last part of what Bell said to make this clear.)

Also, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney talks to Newsweek.

Q: There are quite a few prominent third-party candidates running this year, including your former fellow Congressman from Georgia, Bob Barr, over at the Libertarian Party. Is he basically the conservative version of you?

A: The only thing I would say about Bob is that it's interesting that Georgia is so well-represented in the non-major party lineup. Of course, I worked in the Congress for a long time with Bob Barr and, in fact, members of the Libertarian Party have reached out to me on several occasions this year and I expect there will be more mutual reaching.

Q: So you might actually be working together on some issues?

A: I didn't say that.

Q: What does mutual reaching mean then?

A: It means that where there is the possibility of having discussions, then I wouldn't turn down discussions. There's nothing afoot, if that's what you mean. I would take it issue by issue, and see what the future brings.