Barger for US Senate

Official campaign website of Al Barger, 2004 Indiana Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate

"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows that the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?" - James Madison, Federalist #62

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Al Barger, Indiana Libertarian for US Senate 2004: The Judgment

So here are the final numbers in the 2004 election for US Senator from Indiana:

Democrat Evan Bayh 1,495,250 - 62%
Republican Marvin Scott 904,843 - 37%
Libertarian Albert Barger 27,966 - 1%

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with these numbers. I was hoping for 100K votes. Ah, well. You do what you can.

One thing, though: I said what I intended to say. I got my two cents in as best I knew how, so there's nothing to regret.

Generally, it appears that third parties and independent candidates were just totally shut down all across the country this cycle. Indiana has one of the strongest couple of Libertarian parties in the nation, and our numbers looked like they were off by half or more from the last cycle. Nader was totally shut down, too.

I've seen such things before. It appears that voters generally were looking to settle some big ol' war and peace issues, and just weren't interested in considering independent candidates at all.

On another basis of comparison, I ran somewhere in the middle of the Indiana Libertarian pack. I got something like half again the votes that our presidential candidate received. Our gubernatorial candidate Kenn Gividen got about 4K more votes than me. Our best result this year was ever lovin' Joe Hauptman, who got 68K votes for Superintendent of Public Instruction, for right at 3%.

On the other hand, it has been suggested that we got something close to as many votes as recent cycles, but that there were just a whole lot more new or infrequent voters watering down the percentages. Maybe. Actually, with late numbers trickling in, it appears that Badnarik got a few thousand more national votes for president than Browne did in 2000- with less than half the money.

One election return, however, meant particularly much to me. Charlie Kennedy voted for me, which may not mean anything to anyone else, but was important to me personally.

I first met Charlie Kennedy a few years ago at an open Libertarian forum in Indy. By way of protesting against the water and sewage systems, he came in with his water bill pinned to his shirt. That's when I fell in love with him. He puts me strongly in mind of my favorite uncle, the late Helmuth Fields. One of us, one of us! It was ol' cantankerous Uncle Charlie that placed my name in nomination at our convention in 2000 in my unsuccessful bid to be nominated for the other Indiana US Senate seat.

However, Charlie is adamantly opposed to the Iraq war, and was heavy of heart some months ago when he said that he couldn't vote for me. I felt real bad about that, but there was nothing I could do.

Election night, we had a nearly tearful reunion, though. Charlie just had to vote for me, regardless of his deep reservations. Voting for someone who supports the Iraq effort was really difficult for him, and it means a lot to me.

In conclusion then, I said my piece, made new friends, and learned quite a bit. Evan Bayh is by far the most popular politician in this state, so there's nothing wrong with getting beaten by the top gun. I think I would have done a better job, but the republic will surely survive.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Bringing It All Back Home

I finished my campaign with some door to door in Batesville, home of Hillenbrand Industries, and the place where I first got those subterranean homesick blues lo those many years ago. I was born in Batesville during the Cuban Missle Crisis. When my time comes, my people will probably plant me up on Stipps Hill in a Hillenbrand box. This was the place to wrap it up. So there I was, walking the pavement and thinking about the government.

In vote terms, this was not a significant activity, admittedly. Best guess suggests that there will probably be something in excess of 2,000,000 votes in this election tomorrow. Whatever few dozen folks I talked to aren't going to make a notable impact against a whole state full of voters.

However, this did give me a chance to talk to a young mother who was on her way out to church services to pray for guidance in tomorrow's voting. Hopefully that will include a small prayer for me.

I don't know if she's actually going to vote for me, though. That I personally asked for her vote and that she's obviously a loving and compassionate person might get me the vote.

However, she said that she's a fundamentalist Christian (though I'm not sure if she used that specific word), taking the Bible seriously as her main consideration in voting as in life. She asked about abortion and gay marriage. I doubt that my answers were quite what she would have wanted to hear.

Most people were just surprised to see a US Senate candidate personally show up on their door. Chances of Evan Bayh showing up door to door in Batesville would have to be awfully slim, I'd say.

The last door of the day and the campaign turned out to be a local Republican precinct committeman. He was preparing to go to the library to hang up some last minute signs.

Even as a party leader though, this fellow apparently had only barely heard of Marvin Scott, the Republican in this race. I left him with the last dozen or so brochures I had to take to the library. I made a point of finishing up my last campaign pitch with a few nice words about Senator Bayh, who seems like a pretty nice fellow.

For the last, last stop there was really only one place to go, back home to Laurel for a drink at the Long Branch, and one last chance to persuade the hometown crowd.

I've been a Libertarian for a long time now, since I was first eligible to vote for Ed Clark against Reagan and Carter back in 1980. And I still don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

So here it is: I've said my piece, and spread my call for constitutionally restrained government as far and wide as possible across the state. I've done the best I knew how to do with what I've had to work with. This is my best case.

So then, the judgment is in your hands. I humbly await your verdict.

Thanks for your consideration, and I would appreciate your vote.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Final Barger for Senate TV ads

The final contracts in the Barger for Senate ad campaign have been written, and the last check signed. Here are the ads:

Social Security

I was particularly pleased to have ads during the season premiere of South Park on October 27, and to have been in some small way a sponsor of the series premiere of Drawn Together.

In the end, I managed to squeeze my modest budget to get ads on a dozen networks:

Comedy Central
Animal Planet (with dedication to Tori, the animal shaver)
History Channel
Headline News

Friday, October 29, 2004

Free the airwaves

Supposedly, "the people" own the airwaves of America. In practice, this arbitrary commie nonsense actually means that the GOVERNMENT claims ownership, and the right to manipulate and censor any expression that they don't like.

This comes out particularly with regard to exactly the kind of political speech that is most important to our republic.

From the LA Daily News:

In a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission, the National Republican Campaign Committee accused radio station KFI-AM (640) co-hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of "criminal behavior" for attacking Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and endorsing his Democratic opponent, Cynthia Matthews.

By criticizing Dreier's positions on immigration, promoting a "Fire Dreier" campaign and making on-air appeals for voters to elect Matthews, the NRCC said, the hosts gave Matthews an unlawful corporate, in-kind contribution of more than $25,000.

"This behavior is illegal and must be appropriately punished," the NRCC charged, noting violation of the law carries a penalty of fines and jail time.

Please allow me to retort with some of the most righteous words in the English language: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Apparently, it's totally cool when Republicans like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity beat up on Kerry all day long (I'm certainly all for that!), but it's a criminal act punishable by jail time if the other side gets in a few licks.

Of course, it's not like Democrats are the least bit better on these issues. The nonsense where they about threw a calf over the Sinclair group suggesting that they were thinking about airing a documentary critical of Kerry's war record, that shows their true colors. A pox on both their houses.

We should fully privatize the broadcast spectrum, properly establishing true freedom of expression. Currently used frequencies probably should just be properly recognized as belonging to the people who are using them, who have invested in the equipment and the development of those spectrums as valuable property. Or perhaps auction off the right to use of those frequencies. Either way, get the government out of it.

Moreover, we need to end the artificially created scarcity of the broadcast spectrum. There are all kinds of usable broadcast spectrums that are prohibited by law from being used. Anybody who wants to jump up and homestead a piece of the spectrum should be understood to have every right to do so, so long as they're not interfering with other broadcasts.

So then, let me take this opportunity in the closing days of the campaign to officially quote my hero Elvis Costello in the words of the song he sang when he famously seized the airwaves on Saturday Night Live in 1977:

Radio is the sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you'd better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice
'cause they think that it's treason.
So you had better do as you are told,
You'd better listen to the radio

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Brookville Democrat profile

Editor John Estridge published this profile in the October 27, 2004 Brookville Democrat:

Local's run for Senate Biblical in nature

Brookville is known for the four Indiana governors who once called the town between the rivers home.

Al Barger may be the first Franklin County resident to make a run for U.S. Senator.

He is listed on the Libertarian ticket, trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Evan Bayh. Bayh is a second-generation U.S. Senator from Indiana as his father, Birch Bayh, was a long-time senator.

Barger said he wants to cut taxes to the hilt and not replace them with anything. Instead, he calls for severely cutting back on the federal government's role.

"The federal government should be limited to doing only things specifically authorized to do by the Constitution," Barger said. "The federal government's one main job is national defense. That is to stop people from coming in and killing us."

According to Barger, the other power are enforcing the copyright law and making money.

"Two-thirds of what the federal government does is completely illegal," Barger said. "It has no Constitutional authority to be involved in education or retirement accounts."

Social Security would be No. 1 on Barger's hit list if he is elected.

"The federal government takes about 15 percent of your money in Social Security taxes, and they're squandering it" Barger said. "Take a look at how much you paid, wad it up and flush down the toilet. Any private company has investments like this would be put in a hoosekow.

"We put executives from Tyco and Enron in jail for squandering $1 billion," he continued. "Then Evan Bayh and most of Congress should be in with them because they have squandered tens of thousands of billions of dollars."

Barger said Congress is using the Social Security surplus for other things besides Social Security. Soon the Baby Boomers will be retiring and the money coming in will be less than the money going out.

"Get ready for a train wreck," Barger said. "There's not been one peep from him about trying to fix this."

Barger understands his chances against one of the state's most popular senators in the history of the state is next to nil. Many believe Bayh is a future presidential candidate.

Then there is the little fact about money. Bayh counts his campaign funds in millions. Barger's is a little less than that.

"I think I have $50 in the bank," Barger said. "My total expense for the whole campaign is about $700 as compared to the $7 million Bayh has in the bank.

"I'd rather be a David than a Goliath," Barger said. "It's pretty unlikely that I could actually beat Evan Bayh and be the next senator. Jesus of Nazareth couldn't cause Evan Bayh to lose unless He called down 10,000 angels."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bayhs, Bargers, Gun Control and Family Traditions

As a Libertarian, naturally I'm highly supportive of 2nd Amendment gun rights. Evan Bayh, however, is not. A lot of this difference no doubt comes from our different family traditions.

In the mid '60s, my family built Barger's Lakeview Market out on Highway 52 in Franklin County. One of my first memories was watching Uncle Bill wiring the lights in the apartment part of the building, which various Bargers lived in for the next nearly 40 years.

Barger's Market started out as a combination grocery/sporting goods store, one of those unique little rural combos. You could get your bread, milk, lunchmeat, shotgun shells, and nightcrawlers. They were also licensed handgun dealers.

In this same time range, Evan Bayh was a teenager at the knee of his senator father Birch Bayh, no doubt already being groomed for his career as a politician. Senator Birch Bayh was known as quite liberal, particularly for being from Indiana.

In 1968, Birch Bayh and Ted Kennedy ran through a landmark gun control bill. No doubt, Birch Bayh really thought he was helping out society, making America a little bit safer. Understandably, his loving son was doubtless well impressed with his daddy's work.

Now, this gun control act did not discernably reduce crime, nor has any other gun control measure since then. We've had more and stricter gun control, and more crime. I'm not necessarily saying that there's been a causal relationship, but stricter gun control certainly has not reduced crime.

From my family's perspective, though, gun control has been a bane to decent upstanding citizens and businessmen. Right after this 1968 gun control act, our young family business started getting hassled by The Man.

Federal bureaucrats were showing up in our place of business and home. I was maybe six years old, so most of the details went by me at the time. Basically though, some newly empowered federal agents started lording their power over our business, picking at picayune paperwork. Hey, you should have had this report filed three days ago.

At some point, there were noises in the direction of threatening to not just pull our gun license, but to confiscate the inventory. We gave up our gun license, and visits from those pesky federal agents.

Not that this stopped my people from trading guns, of course. It just made my dad and grandpa into criminals. Hey, back in the day ol' Brown Barger used to run a little bootleg whiskey in Kentucky during the Prohibition. Despite his youthful indiscretions, though, my grandfather wasn't an outlaw. Brown and Howard Barger weren't particularly rebellious, and generally intended to be straight law-abiding Republican citizens.

However, you just can't expect to tell a Kentuckian from Hazard County that he can't trade in guns. That's just not going to fly. Our people believe in the Constitution, even if Birch Bayh doesn't.

Evan Bayh no doubt thought that his daddy had done a great thing for the country, but from my perspective all he accomplished was labeling my family as criminals.

So I'm not real surprised to see now Senator Evan Bayh voting for every kind of gun control that comes down the pike. For example, just this summer he voted to extend the ban on so-called "assault" rifles, backed up with a lame excuse that this seemed like a "prudent part of the war on terror."

Now, Evan carefully soft pedals his support for gun control. This ended up being one of the key issues that caused his dad to lose the seat in 1980. The son largely votes like a liberal Democrat, but he's smart enough not to talk like one. Nonetheless, Evan Bayh never met a gun control law he didn't like. Like father, like son.

Fortunately for the freedom of the republic, though, the family traditions of those who value liberty over lawfulness remain just as strong.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Statehouse I-69 "Boondoggle" protest rally, October 22

Perhaps the most fun one event I've been at in this campaign season was the rally on the Statehouse steps in Indianapolis on Friday, 10-27. I was on a mission to shave the animals, but we'll get back to that.

This rally was in protest against the new-terrain I-69 proposal that's been on the boards for some years now. Kenn Gividen, our Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, has made opposition to this plan to build an extension of the interstate from Indianapolis to Evansville a centerpiece of his campaign.

I freely admit that this is not the top issue on my plate. I haven't studied this issue that close. I was there in large part to support Kenn, who has run perhaps the finest campaign I've ever seen from any Libertarian.

I would tend to be opposed to it though just on general principles. For starters, it's a huge lot of money being spent, a "boondoggle" as Kenn calls it. That's a lot of money being taken away from taking care of all the other roads in the state.

Personally, my biggest beef with this would be the eminent domain issues. I generally think that it is totally wrong for the government to seize people's property by eminent domain. Governments across the country have become FAR too willing to invoke eminent domain.

The most compelling sign I saw invoked Amish farms that would be taken and paved over for this project. There aren't very many real family farms left. At this point, religious communities such as the Amish probably represent a pretty good percentage of them. We definitely shouldn't be forcibly uprooting them from their homes and land unless it is absolutely necessary. It's not.

Anyway, we had a couple of dozen Libertarian Party people there, holding up Gividen for Governor signs. Not too bad.

Also, there's a specific organization behind this anti-interstate activity called CARR, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads.

However, it turns out our infantry in this scene was a bunch of danged dirty hippies from Bloomington. They came out opposed more on the count of environmental issues, destroying wildlife habitats and such.

For one thing, there was an outfit there called the Bloomington Circus Collective. I think they were responsible for the bongo drums and face paint and giant puppets. For one thing, they sure helped to make the event colorful and entertaining. Looking for identifying hippie marks, such as dredlocks and pony tails and bongo drums and such, I'd estimate that there were a hundred odd people from different groups that might be likely grouped as the Bloomington hippy crowd.

They also managed to bring some delightful pre-voting age kids with them who really gave me great personal delight. I was standing along the curb with my Gividen sign with a couple of very charming teenage girls. Naturally, I started ranting about danged dirty hippies for their benefit.

One of the girls, probably 15 and wearing beaded hair, immediately picked up that I was doing a little Cartman routine. We started bonding over favorite episodes of South Park. I didn't quite get her name, but she gave her buddy Lilli her camera phone to get our picture. She promised to email me my pictures with her and Lilli.

Anyway, a couple of tv news crews were on the scene. If I were less philosophically inclined, I might have been annoyed that they weren't interested in the candidate for US Senate out protesting. They were much more interested in my new friends, and their friends with the face paint and drums. In fairness though, those girls weren't quite old enough to vote, but they're far cuter than me.

Also, we're standing along the road, hollering at the cars passing by. I'm not particularly expecting them to hear anything I might say, so I'm really just making noises to attract their attention to look at my sign.

In short, it didn't much matter what I said, which is asking for trouble. Following the South Park theme, I found myself literally yelling "rabble, rabble-rabble." I know that's not right, but I really couldn't help myself. I'm not sure if this made me the rabble rouser, or if I was actually the rabble being roused. I think that's one of those "chicken or the egg" deals.

This generated an amusing moment as one of the hippies tried to gently suggest that hollering "rabble-rabble" in the middle of our protest rally might not really be cool. I'm standing there in the suit and tie, hearing from the hippy about trying to act normal so as not to put off average voters. He really was trying to be nice, and he did at least halfway have a reasonable point. Still.

All this seemed funny to me. In my own past, I'd probably have mostly been more likely taken for a hippy than any kind of Chamber of Commerce guy. Still, I've always much preferred Merle Haggard to the Grateful Dead. On the other hand, the Dead did cover a Merle Haggard song on their first album.

Anyway, I eventually worked my way down the crowd, handing out my own cards. Hey, I'm there supporting their cause, and hippies get to vote like anyone else.

This left me down toward the north end of the lineup on the curb, meeting my very bestest new friend at this event. Miss Tori is 10 years old, and full of the most charming earnest childish enthusiasm for the environmental issues that brought her hippy daddy and her out. Besides the money and the eminent domain, this I-69 project would tear up and pave over a lot of nice, clean land. It would certainly tear up a lot of natural wildlife habitat.

Nonetheless, I was shocked and appalled at what she was yelling at the passing traffic. Child, what's wrong with you? Why in the world would you want to "shave the animals?"

Sure, it's a perfect sunny 70 degree day now. A month from now, though, it's really going to be cold out here, and the animals are definitely going to need their fur. What in the world are you thinking?

No, Tori explained. SAVE, save the animals.

Ah, I see. That's alright then. So then, naturally I was standing there with my buddy hollering "Save the animals!" This was probably better than hollering "rabble, rabble." Plus, I was making friends with Tori.

Of course, after about five minutes I forgot her explanation, so I'm standing there with my Gividen sign hollering "SHAVE THE ANIMALS" at the passing buses. Tori then had to carefully correct me. "SAVE the animals, not shave." Oh, right.

I had a good hour of joy tormenting Tori about shaving the animals. I'd go along saving them for a few minutes, waiting for her to drop her guard. Then I'm back trying to shave the animals. Good times.

Eventually, the hippies all got done talking up on the steps, and handed it off to Kenn. Now, besides the fact that Kenn's one of my favorite cool guys, he's also obviously a much better public speaker than any of the rambling hippy speak, and also mercifully shorter.

Kenn got to his main point within a minute or so, using his background as a Baptist minister to set up a simple call and response to make and amplify the point. The core of his maybe six or eight minutes was a series of (admittedly loaded) questions, the answer to all of which was "BOONDOGGLE!"

Finishing up with that speechifying, the hippies marched off down the block to the governor's office. The Libertarians followed the cue of our state chair, Mark Rutherford who correctly suggested that it probably would behoove us to hang back. It might not have been perceived as entirely right for Kenn and supporters bearing his signs to march into the office of the governor he's running against.

My best estimate is that we were there for three hours. By way then of finishing up, I was privileged (along with Rutherford and several others) to lunch with Kenn and the reporter from his local Columbus paper at an Indian restaraunt. Besides anything else, it's a pleasure watching Kenn work. He's good.

All in all, then, it was a pitch perfect day to get out and shave the animals.

Abdul in the Morning on WXNT, October 22

I had a good old time chatting with Abdul in the Morning on Indianapolis talk radio WXNT.

In the first place, I should get some kind of medal for being dressed and functioning and most of a hundred miles from home at 6:30 AM. I'll just say I'm not usually a morning person.

This was definitely worth getting up for, though. Abdul and me seemed to be working on the same wavelength. "Where have you been all my life?" he asked me at one point during a break.

Interestingly, talking to him and listening to the last two hours of his broadcast, I wasn't real sure what his politics were. He wasn't being evasive. He expressed clear opinions, particularly in practical defense of property taxes.

He just didn't seem to have some totally dominant ideology being used to divine Correct Answers. It was only on reviewing his website that I ascertained that he is officially a "conservative." Based on my knowledge of him, my official political designation for Abdul is simply "reasonable fellow."

Abdul was only too happy to steer the conversation to my #1 issue in the campaign, Social Security. I was particularly pleased to answer people critical of letting individuals keep and invest their own retirement funds. Considering that Evan Bayh and the rest of Congress have squandered absolutely every last nickle of Social Security taxes ever paid, it would not even theoretically be possible for individuals to do a worse job managing their own money. Or am I missing something?

We actually managed to get several calls in. Iraq was a big topic, and I wish I had time to discuss these things at a proper length, rather than squeezed into part of a 30 minute appearance. There was again a question about abortion, which by rights should not be a federal issue- though I recognize that Roe v Wade makes it so.

On a lighter note, a party member called in to ask how the state would get along without me when I leave for Washington. I'm sure you'll muddle through somehow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Download a Barger for Senate brochure

Here's a little something you can do between now and election day to help me, Al Barger. Print up a few (or a bunch) of one of these flyers, and hand them out to your Hoosier buddies.

I've got two of them. The nicer, fancier one is a two-sided three panel brochure. DOWNLOAD IT HERE. Note that is a WordPerfect document. Print the two pages back to back on one regular sheet of paper. Fold it up so that my smiling face is on the front.

For fun and aesthetic edge, print some on colored paper. I think that blue copies of this flyer would particularly rock. You could tell people that I've been preaching agin the government till I'm blue in the face.

The easier down and dirty flyer is RIGHT HERE. One side of one piece of paper, and doesn't need to be folded. It's not the prettiest thing I ever conjured up, but it's easy to work with, and effective. Pass them out around your apartment complex, your suburb, the parking lot, or on bulletin boards.

If someone can be persuaded to give this even ten or fifteen good seconds of attention, they can scan the headings and have at least some rudimentary idea of what I'm campaigning on.

Really, the proper civic thing for all Hoosiers would be to disseminate as many of these as possible before election day.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Leland Franklin WHBU interview

I was on the morning show at WHBU radio in Anderson with host Leland Franklin from 7:00 to 7:30 am Tuesday, October 19.

For starters, I got some brownie points for knowing something about the somewhat obscure topic he was discussing just before I came on. Specifically, it was Jeannie C Riley's birthday, and I happened to know more than her one hit, "Harper Valley PTA." For one thing, there was a follow-up song "Sippin' Shirley Thompson" based on a character from the main hit.

Mostly though, Social Security was the topic of the day. I hammered and hammered at the absolutely criminal mismanagement of the nation's retirement funds.

Notably, I went half an hour with no discussions on Iraq. That was unusual.

However, that may also be my doing. In theory, this was a call-in show, but between my Very Important Insights, we only actually got to one call, which turned out to be about abortion.

I reckon you'd say that I stayed on message.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jim DeMint recognizes a separation of powers

Questions of jurisdiction are critical in the government of our republic. Who is responsible for what issues? What things are responsibilities of the federal government, and which part of the federal government? What things are issues for state or local government? What should be left for individuals to be responsible for themselves?

Yet this distinction often gets completely lost on voters and politicians. I've got a problem, and what's Congress going to do to solve it? The politicians are always expected to have an answer. Unfortunately, they almost always do.

I was particularly pleased, then, to catch the Meet the Press debate on October 17th between Jim DeMint and Inez Tenenbaum, candidates for US Senate from South Carolina. Specifically, I was impressed with how DeMint handled one line of questioning from Russert.

Russert was basically trying to nail DeMint from several different angles as being some form of homophobic, specifically pulling up a recent quote in which DeMint said, "If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools."

REP. DeMINT: Well, I apologize for that remark, because I really regret distracting from the main issues of this debate.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, do you apologize because it's a distraction or do you apologize for what you said?

REP. DeMINT: No, I apologize for distracting from the real issues of this debate. This is...

MR. RUSSERT: So do you--wait, but let's clarify. Do you believe that gays should be able to teach in the public schools of South Carolina?

REP. DeMINT: I believe that's a local school board issue

Pressed on the point at least half a dozen times with the full Russert effect, DeMint stuck to the same answer. He apologized specifically for having commented on something that was not his business as a federal candidate, insisting that the hiring of teachers was the concern of local school boards and not the concern of a congressman. It was not his place to even have an opinion on this issue.

Of course, one could question the purity of his motives. This might be considered a way of trying to back up after having stepped in it. Whatever it took for him to get the separation of powers religion though, I'm glad he's reading out of the same constitutional hymnal here as me.

I'm just happy for the rare sight of a candidate recognizing that there are problems and issues in the land which are not the province of the US Congress. First issue when a new problem is presented to Congress: Is this the responsibility of the Congress or the federal government in the first place? If it's not specifically listed in the US Constitution, then it's somebody else's issue.

Who should we hire to teach our schools? Let's see, where does the US Constitution give Congress responsibility for schools? Correct answer: nowhere. Therefore, Jim DeMint had The Correct answer: It's not Congress' job. I'm staying out of it.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Al's addendum to Scott-Barger joint news release

I've just published a joint news release from the Al Barger and Marvin Scott senate campaigns. Let me add here a few comments on the Indiana US Senate debate situation strictly under my own name:

It's no secret that Evan Bayh is being groomed to run for president. However, if Evan's afraid to have a simple debate with a poli sci professor from Butler and a blogger from the holler, then how's he going to stand up to Iranian mullahs or Kim Jung Il? Those people are FAR worse customers than good Dr Scott or ol' Al.

For my part, I'm ready to debate either of them anytime, anywhere right up until election day. If Evan won't come out to defend his record, I'll be happy to have a forum just with Dr Scott. Heck, we can go to his home turf at Butler. It's all good. Any tv or radio types reading are encouraged to contact Evan, Marvin and me with an offer.

I can understand Evan's Rose Garden strategy. It does not particularly benefit him personally to meet his opponents in debate.

However, I don't understand why the public and the media have been willing to let him completely coast through this election without answering any kind of questions from anyone. He won't meet his opponents in debate. He hasn't done much of any kind of interviews with reporters. He won't even fill out questionnares, not even the main Vote Smart survey.

The senator's press secretary Meg Keck was explaining to the Indianapolis Star last week about wanting a "Lincoln-Douglas" format. Look, I know all about Abe Lincoln, and Senator Bayh is no Abe Lincoln.

Here's my counterproposal for a simple debate format: We go into any tv news room in the state, sit down at their news desk, and let their reporters ask us some questions. Now how hard is that?

Like I said, I'm ready anytime.

Republican Marvin Scott and Libertarian Al Barger Challenge Evan Bayh to a Debate

The following is a joint news release from the Barger and Scott campaigns

October 15 - INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Senate candidate Marvin Scott and Libertarian Senate candidate Al Barger are calling on Evan Bayh to debate the important issues facing Hoosiers.

“There are too many issues deserving an open-forum discussion between the candidates and it is time we stop all this wrangling and hold a debate,” said Marvin Scott. “There is no more authentic way to reach the voters than through debate. It is the best way for us to discuss issues such as the War on Terror, job creation, tax-cuts, the cost of health care, energy prices—just to name a few.

"Mr. Bayh is avoiding answering any kind of questions from anyone," said Al Barger. "The office of United States Senator is one of the most powerful elected positions in the nation, yet he refuses to discuss his record in any public format except the controlled comforts of a Senate office and an editing booth for his television and radio ads—completely inaccessible from the Hoosiers who pay his salary."

Evan has been unwilling to meet his opponents in open debate before the voters and Hoosiers deserve better.

"He's not just avoided any debate. He has refused even to fill out questionnaires under his new 'no questionnaire policy,'" remarked Mr. Barger.

"Al Barger and I have released our schedules so we can decide a date beneficial to all candidates," said Marvin Scott. "Everywhere I go people ask when there will be a debate. I want a debate, Al Barger wants a debate, and Evan Bayh has repeatedly said he wants a debate. Once again, we are waiting on Evan Bayh to match his words and deeds."


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

WFIE-Ben Jackey, Evansville October 12

Evansville doesn't get the attention it deserves. It's a fairly isolated area, 100 miles from any other major Hoosier population center.

On the other hand, it was a glorious fall morning to drive I-64. The leaves are just hitting the fall peak. The southern Indiana hills just gave miles of vistas of beautiful orange, red, yellow, green and rich brown visions.

I even had good luck with Mapquest. It took me right where I needed to go. I seem to have done better going by the written directions rather than by their maps.

The Channel 14 WFIE studio is built on top of a big hill. The entrance is in the back, which leaves the lucky receptionist for the station with huge windows opening out onto a view for miles of hills and trees and city below. Again, I'm getting it here just at the peak of season. Impressive.

I appeared live on the midday newscast with reporter Ben Jackey from 11:45 am till noon. Turned out to be a call in show, which I'd never done before. The main topic of interest in Evansville seems to be Iraq and foreign policy.

One caller denounced me as a dirty "neocon" and as "two-faced" for supporting the war, as he supposed this to be contradictory to my generally espoused beliefs of disliking taxes and activist government. Yes, I confess to not being fond of the government doing lots of stuff it shouldn't be doing, which is most of it. Dealing with nasty, violent enemies such as the Ba'athists is the main reason for having a federal government, though. This does not seem contradictory to me.

Also, I'm still looking for someone who can tell me the definition of "neocon," by the way. Could somebody complete this sentence stem for me? A neo-con is someone who believes...

This same caller was also agitated that I would support the Iraq war on the supposed grounds that Hussein had nothing to do with terrorism. Now, we have found only a few minor scraps of WMDs- and I don't know whether to be relieved or worried by that. Also, Saddam's ties specifically to al Qaeda are somewhat weak. He very likely didn't have anything to do specifically with 9/11. But then, no one says he did.

On the other hand, Saddam Hussein certainly was up to his butt in nasty Islamist terrorism. My caller was simply factually wrong to say otherwise. Start with the $25K payoffs for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers that Hussein made publicly and proudly. That would include, for example, supporting the activities of Hezbollah, which was responsible for the 241 US Marines slaughtered in Lebanon. This alone was a pretty good start of a reason for taking this guy out. Then there are all the training camps and money and terrorist stuff left, right and center.

For this fellow's benefit though, I noted and re-iterate here that the Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik is anti-war. Indeed, Michael Badnarik will be the only anti-war candidate on the Indiana presidential ballot.

As Mr Jackey noted later privately, you're going to get nailed whichever side you come down on in regards to Iraq. One of our LP congressional candidates had been on the day before opposing the war, and apparently got just as much hostility. My esteemed opponent Senator Bayh has a surfire solution for avoiding angry voters: he has refused to come on WFIE- or pretty much any other public setting where he might be asked questions of any kind. It works for him.

The main non-Iraq question was a woman, best I can remember wanting to know what I propose to do to make prescription drugs cheaper. Now, there might be some things around the edges that government can reasonably do, most obviously things in the range of tort reform.

However, I basically had to tell her that it's not the job of the federal government to set drug prices, or provide drug benefits or welfare of any kind. At the risk of sounding like a big meanie, the government just can't solve every problem. Nor is it constitutionally authorized to try.

On the other hand, if we privatized Social Security, and you were not having 15% of your income confiscated and simply squandered, but instead invested in your own accounts, why you'd probably have quite a bit of money. You wouldn't be needing to come begging to Congress for free drugs.

Thus I managed to wrap up the appearance with my top issue, Social Security reform.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

"The Candidate Show" on Indianapolis Comcast cable

Comcast cable has a special public service election special called "The Candidate Show" which offered time for a direct appeal from (best I can tell) every candidate on the Marion County ballot. I taped my two minute contribution a month ago.

Those of you in Indianapolis can view "The Candidate Show" on channel 76 from 7-9 PM any Monday, Wednesday or Saturday in October. To put it differently, that means it is showing from 7-9 PM on October 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27, and 30.

I'm sure all of you in Indianapolis will want to view me in all my video glory, but for the rest of you, here is the two minute version of the Barger for Senate campaign, my script:

Hello. I'm Al Barger, and I'm the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate. You can find me on the web at

As a Libertarian, I believe that generally the government that governs best is the one that governs the least.

As our good luck would have it, the best, least government ever practically implemented was that outlined by our United States Constitution.

According to our constitution, the federal government has ONE main job to do: national defense. Stop people from coming in and killing us. There are also a handful of lesser responsibilities such as making copyright law and printing money, but that's it.

By rights, then, two thirds of what the federal government does now is illegal. They simply have absolutely no constitutional authority to be meddling in schools, or stealing people's retirement money.

When we ignore the minimal government wisdom of our constitution, we usually end up screwed, as under the so-called "social security" system, where 15% of your income is confiscated and squandered. Meager benefits are paid to current retirees, and the rest has been blown. They may as well be using your retirement money to buy crack rocks and smoke them, cause YOUR retirement money is just as gone as if they had.

NONE of it has been saved or invested, and the system will soon no longer be able to continue paying even the current meager benefits. If any private company treated retirement accounts this way, the whole board of directors would be in prison for securities fraud.

There are numerous ways to go about digging out of this mess, but we've only got two minutes here, so we can't resolve all this right now. You can get my full spiel though at, or call us at 317 920-1994.

Again, I'm Al Barger, Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate, and I'd appreciate your vote.

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