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Strange bedfellows fighting tyranny?
November 27, 2002 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Strange Bedfellows fight tyranny? - Bob Barr, Dick Armey to join ACLU Quoth James Madison: (Federalist Papers #47) - "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." and Benjamin Franklin:"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." William Safire Slammed the Bush Adminstration (Nov 15) over John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program. NOW: Bob Barr, a gun-rights anti-gay firebrand conservative to join the ACLU? Dick Armey's joining as a consultant? Say that again? And Nat Hentoff reports that the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana ran a broadside called (sept. 8) "Attacks on Liberty" - "In the name of national security, President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and even Congress have pulled strand after strand out of the constitutional fabric that distinguishes the United States from other nations. . . . Actions taken over the past year are eerily reminiscent of tyranny portrayed in the most nightmarish works of fiction" MEANWHILE...an email of an editorial by right wing radio personality Chuck Baldwin, "Bush Government 'Out of Control' ("The Bush administration seems determined to turn our country into the most elaborate and sophisticated police state ever devised") first published in an online Christian Fundamentalist antiabortion newpaper is making the (right wing) rounds. It asks: "Does that mean one must leave the Republican Party in order to fight for liberty?" [antitroll protection dislaimer: most Democrats signed the Patriot Act, the principle cause of concern behind the statements and editorials linked to on this post]
posted by troutfishing (25 comments total)

 
Awesome. America still holds these Truths to be self evident.
posted by four panels at 10:58 AM on November 27, 2002


I like how the right's militancy is actually putting it somewhat at odds with its own zealous patriotism. I feel sort of déchiré, as the French would say ... I mean, it's the good fight, but peopled with so many despicable players.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:11 AM on November 27, 2002


What's wrong with Bob Barr joining the ACLU? Last time I checked it stood for the American Civil Liberties Union or did that get changed to Liberal Civil Liberties Union sometime recently. Barr, in fact, has been one of the harshest critics of Bush's policies. From this article:

Barr recently told ABC News, "I'm not worried about tribunals, for example, overseas, but domestically we have to abide by the ... Bill of Rights." A lockstep, Clinton-baiting right-winger, Barr has nevertheless wildly denounced a slew of modest and well-precedented measures to protect the country from further terrorist assault.
posted by PenDevil at 11:11 AM on November 27, 2002


The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Interesting quote. Not necessarily applicable to the republican majority congress coming up though. They only have a majority (not even filibuster proof). There are still many checks and balances in place to keep republicans from simply passing whatever they want to.

In the name of national security, President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and even Congress have pulled strand after strand out of the constitutional fabric that distinguishes the United States from other nations...eerily reminiscent of tyranny portrayed in the most nightmarish works of fiction

Not really. The Judicial branch can strike down any law passed by congress if it considers it to be unconstitutional. Tyranny this is not.
posted by jsonic at 11:15 AM on November 27, 2002


Any conservative that doesn't support the ACLU is a hypocrite.
Supporting the bill of rights includes defending things that you don't like.
posted by 2sheets at 11:18 AM on November 27, 2002


The evolution of the American political parties is very interesting. An either/or, black/white, us vs. them system is bound to create some pretty interesting grey areas.
posted by maniactown at 11:21 AM on November 27, 2002


Any conservative that doesn't support the ACLU is a hypocrite.

Hm, that's interesting. I'd say any American that doesn't support the ACLU hasn't done their research, regardless of party. I can't understand how the ACLU and what it stands for is seen by some as a leftist organization.

Hopefully these developments will help get the point across: it stands for civil liberties, which every American should support.
posted by jragon at 11:37 AM on November 27, 2002


Why is this surprising? Right wing gun nuts have been fighting these overreaching government control programs for years. Of course, when the government only wanted to register gun owners and trash the second amendment, leftists cheered. Now that its registering everyone and trashing the whole constitution, they're concerned. Welcome to the party, leftist morons.
posted by quercus at 11:42 AM on November 27, 2002


Quercus if that was true then we wouldn't have been listening to right wing folk talking about card carrying members of the ACLU for at least 20 years now. Before you say morons you should probably pay closer attention.

I have long been of the opinion that the ACLU is one of the most important organizations in our polity. I am glad to see Barr and Armey get involved. I'm a member, how about you?

On a side note has anyone seen the new commercials the ACLU is running which name Ashcroft. They seem spot on to me. I'd love to hear the opinions of others who have seen them.
posted by filchyboy at 11:51 AM on November 27, 2002


Bob Barr, a gun-rights anti-gay firebrand conservative to join the ACLU?

Since the ALCU seems sort of agnostic on the gun issue (it's not even a listed issue on their home page) I suspect Barr doesn't have a problem with the ACLU on that front.
posted by probablysteve at 11:55 AM on November 27, 2002


LOL.

I'll fight besides anybody that supports Liberty (big L) and civil rights. I've never understood how one could call the ACLU a bunch of leftist dupes and then support the NRA. They're both vital to maintaining the ideals of liberty and equality before the law.

As for surprise that right wing conservatives and left wing liberals are joining, why do so many find this surprising? It has been happening for the past 10 years or so. Right now, it is the most ideological on both ends of the continuum that are crying 'foul.' That's a good sign, but until those that stand to gain economically and politically from a more libertine America join the fight (IOW, the sellouts throughout the government and the complacent, cud-chewing middle class) nothing fundamental will change.

A Conservative from Judicial Watch was on "Now" the other night and was saying freedom and government responsibility is not a Conservative/Liberal thing, but something fundamental to America itself. I nearly cried.

Why people are blindly flying American flags and not the old state militia "Don't Tread on Me" makes me wonder what the message is.
posted by infowar at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2002


probablysteve, actually, the ACLU does take something of a stand on gun control issues. This position paper used to be on their site, but I can't find it anymore, so here's the google cache.

Barr probably doesn't agree with the ACLU that "the constitutional right to bear arms is primarily a collective one", however it appears he agrees with them on many other issues.

I'm glad to see that these prominent Republicans are thinking beyond the party line to challenge the Administration on this issue.
posted by MarquisDeShad at 12:09 PM on November 27, 2002


Anyone who has watched Bob Barr over his political career should be completely unsurprised by this. His beliefs on the limitation of government power over the individual have remained consistent throughout. I disagree with the man a lot on many political issues, but he has my respect for the true nature of his conservatism.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 12:48 PM on November 27, 2002


filchyboy-right. sorry about the wisecrack.
posted by quercus at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2002


Any conservative that doesn't support the ACLU is a hypocrite.
Supporting the bill of rights includes defending things that you don't like.


Amen to that. Conservatives have faith in the Constitution, and we ought to promote and participate in an organization set up to defend it.

Besides, while the current administration of the ACLU seems to have a radical liberal spin to it, leaving it as such isn't going to make it any better. They could use a few conservatives in their ranks to balance things out a bit -- I wouldn't want the ACLU dominated by either wing.
posted by oissubke at 12:55 PM on November 27, 2002


A Conservative from Judicial Watch was on "Now" the other night and was saying freedom and government responsibility is not a Conservative/Liberal thing, but something fundamental to America itself.

That was Larry Klayman. Here is the full transcript of that episode, scroll down for Klayman's interview.
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2002


I don't have zoo's "respect", as it were, for Bob Barr -- the man's still a loudmouth twit, no matter what camp he's in. But he certainly has been consistent, as noted, and I agree this isn't really out of character.

And anyone (trout? donkey?) who has someone characterized the right as this huge, undifferentiated mass, really hasn't been paying attention. There have always been tensions between varoius camps, though this has over our lifetimes been most apparent in foreign rather than domestic policy (traditional isolationism vs. Cold War internationalism, to grossly oversimplify). The War on Terrorism is starting to have an effect on domestic policy, though. Bush 43 just sprang for the largest government re-organization in history, and it involved concentrating power and creating a brand-new department -- anathema to the small-gov types. The GOP dominance of Congress may mean that some of these fights start to have more substance, and that could mean bitter division, especially if issues like Iraq continue to lull.

And what oissubke said. I'm glad of anything which makes the ACLU less obviously partisan, because it shouldn't be.
posted by dhartung at 1:57 PM on November 27, 2002


First off, the Constitution and Bill of Rights don't mean the same things to everybody. Everybody interprets the words contained in those documents in various ways. So while Freedom of Speech was what was written we have been faced with deciding whether or not someone screaming "Fire!" in a crowded theatre is protected under Freedom of Speech. The courts have ruled this is not a protected form of speech, though others might feel it is. While two people still believe in the right to Freedom of Speech they disagree on how to apply it. So, simply because one does not agree with the ACLU's interpretation of the Constitution or Bill of Rights does not make them against the rights being disputed. It only means they don't agree with the ACLU's interpretation of them.

Obviously there are those who feel that they agree more with the ACLU than they disagree and have joined them to fight certain issues (the enemy of my enemy . . . ). There are many who don't agree with the ACLU or dislike the tactics that they use but that makes them no less passionate about protecting the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

Personally, I'm niether pro or anti ACLU. I just don't think it's an either/or sort of issue.
posted by billman at 2:34 PM on November 27, 2002


The GOP dominance of Congress may mean that some of these fights start to have more substance, and that could mean bitter division, especially if issues like Iraq continue to lull.

You know, I was just thinking today, Dan, that given the Democratic leadership's deer in the headlight mode of late, that fissures were bound to open in the Republican ranks--someone has to mount an effective opposition.

Eleanor Clift, of all people, put a finger in passing on what's scary about the Department of Homeland Security--cronyism in place of Civil Service: no whistleblowers, no internal checks and balances and the politicization of a huge and incredibly powerful bureaucracy.
posted by y2karl at 2:49 PM on November 27, 2002


All of the above confirms my feeling that these old left v right distinctions no longer hold. What seems to be more accurate and useful is something like an authoritarian v Libertarian distinction. This would be more helpful in understanding what is actually happening in our country today. (Note that I have capitalized Libertarian. I use this latter term in the sense of "Give me Liberty or give me death." )

I suspect that there may be some of each of these flavors in the administration, the ACLU and even in the community of MeFiers and that can't be all bad.
posted by donfactor at 3:23 PM on November 27, 2002


Caught yourself a big FPP, didn't you? :) Sorry, couldn't resist.
posted by trillion at 3:39 PM on November 27, 2002


A 11/26 comic on Total Information Awareness. Conservative or liberal, we all know absurdity when we see it!
posted by sheauga at 5:52 PM on November 27, 2002


That pyramid is a kick.
posted by y2karl at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2002


An example of a conservative view on the ACLU.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:42 AM on November 29, 2002


Dhartung - Oh no! Do we agree on something? Sound the alarm!

Yes - the ACLU should be "departisanized". Civil Liberties are not (or should not be) a partisan issue. And, for the record -- I'm not especially concerned about gun ownership, and will sit down at the table (and do!) with those who oppose abortion rights (despite my own personal convictions). It's a question of priorities, and Civil Liberties are near the top of my list.

I was fully aware of the tensions among the US right, and of it's infinite shadings of political opinion.
posted by troutfishing at 8:53 AM on November 29, 2002


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