Glenn talks with Bob Barr


Bob Bar 2008

GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, third most listened to show in all of America. Bob Barr used to be a Republican. Now he's a libertarian and he's running for President of the United States with the libertarian party. But the convention is happening this weekend, right, Bob?

BARR: That's correct, Glenn. We'll have our nominee decided on by Sunday.

GLENN: What are the odds that you're going to be the --

BARR: Very good. We don't take it for granted. The libertarian party is very diverse, it's very active. There are other candidates, but we've got a great team here and we're very confident that we'll get the nomination come Sunday.

GLENN: Okay. Now, Bob, I spent about a half hour with you on television and I'd like to have you back for an hour on television at some point if you do get the nomination because you seem like a fairly reasonable guy, but you have some things that I just, I just don't understand and I'd like to get into some of those here today because I think Americans are just so disenfranchised, they are so done with the Republicans, they are so done with the Democrats that they would like somebody to deal with issues. So let's deal with some of the issues right off the top of the bat. What's the problem with oil right now? Congress asked the oil executives yesterday, why are we paying so much for gas. If you're President of the United States, why are we paying so much for gas and what are we going to do about it?

BARR: Well, we'll paying for gas primarily because it's a very precious limited resource. It's very difficult with the logistics of getting it out of the ground, refining it, shipping it halfway around the world and then distributing it in a way that is cheap. It's not going to happen. It is a very expensive commodity. What we need to be doing, and there's no short-term solution to this. There have been -- you know, we've had decades of government regulation that have gotten us to this point where we have a failing refining capacity, diminishing refining capacity. We're not developing new sources. What we need to do is we need to free up businesses, free up free enterprise so they can get out there and start tapping into the huge offshore reserves that we know are there. The reserves in Alaska, the reserves in the western mountain states with shale oil, and we have to start removing the impediments to oil companies increasing refining capacity.

GLENN: The governor of Alaska is saying that she's going to fight the designation of the polar bear as threatened on the endangered species list. Would you back that fight?

BARR: Absolutely. I mean, this is perhaps the most recent example of government nonsense. It's like they're operating in a Alice in Wonderland world. Every piece of evidence indicates that the polar bears have made a remarkable recovery over the last two decades. Their numbers are way up and yet what is the federal government do in the light of that? They say, well, gee, maybe they are an endangered species; we're going to completely ignore the scientific evidence, we're going to completely ignore common sense and put it on the endangered species list. And what that does, of course, that opens the door to more government restrictions to make it even more difficult to get at the oil in those areas where somebody thinks that there might be a polar bear lurking around.

GLENN: Do you believe in manmade global warming and to what extent will you try to correct it, if you do believe in manmade global warming?

BARR: Mankind has done a lot of good in the world. They have done a lot of bad as well, but change in the climate is not one of them. I've seen no legitimate scientific evidence that indicates that the cyclical -- and they are very much cyclical -- you know, increases and drops in global temperatures over the decades and over the centuries is the result of, you know, mankind.

GLENN: So how would you explain? Why the big push for global warming and cap and trade and everything else with both parties?

BARR: Two things. Because much public policy in America these days and even in the Western world generally is based on notions that sound good. It sounds good to people that there's something wrong out there and we can do something about it. It becomes a rallying cry and you have the Hollywood elites that have bought into this, you have the political elites like Al Gore that make money in this. You have it being pushed and rammed down our throats by the United Nations, you know, which, they may make really nice Christmas cards but that's about all the good they do in the world. But they're pushing this, forcing this down our throats. And I tell you, Glenn, the cleverest people in all this are the Chinese. They exempt themselves from things like the Kyoto protocol which would saddle U.S. and European governments and businesses with trillions of dollars of costs and drive down the ability of the Western world to increase and change its economy. Meanwhile the Chinese are surging and they are not bound by these same regulations that the international bodies are trying to force on us.

GLENN: Tell me about the role of the Fed and the depreciation of the dollar and what you would do about all of this.

BARR: If I could wave a magic wand and the Federal Reserve Bank would disappear tomorrow, I would do so. It's a group of unelected governors that are not answerable to or accountable to the people of this country and yet they wield considerable influence over the economy by basically setting rates at which banks and other financial institutions can loan money. And they have built up, you know, huge reserves themselves that they can then dole out as they're doing -- as they did recently with Bear Stearns to prop up as failing, what they see as failing investment houses, for example.

What we're on the verge of right now, Glenn, through this federal government monkeying around with the mortgage business, both directly and indirectly, is to have the federal government now set a "One size fits all" mortgage criteria for the country. That would be disastrous. It would stifle risk-taking, it would stifle the independence of small mortgage houses and mortgage banks and would simply create further problems down the road. What we need to be doing is tackling government spending. That is the root of all evil, so to speak. We need to get a handle on federal spending, we need to start reducing the economic footprint and, you know, all the other footprints of the federal government if we want to talk about them, and get the federal government out of running our economy. It was never intended to be the job of the federal government to run the economy.

GLENN: Speaking of evil, will you call the philosophy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad evil and can you explain the role that the theology of the 12th Imam plays in his foreign policy and his kind of thinking?

BARR: Anybody, whether it's Ahmadinejad or other leaders who call for the extinction of any country or any people or who call, as he very clearly has done for the murder of many thousands, if not millions of law-abiding citizens of other countries clearly is evil. No doubt about it. That does not mean that we go and invade the country, though. There is a lot more to it than that. But any movement that has, as its avowed goal, the destruction of the United States or attacks on the United States is certainly one that ought to be very, very high on our radar list. We ought to be prepared to defend ourselves as aggressively as we need to against steps that they might take against us.

BARR: Bob, you were the guy -- and I was cheering for you in congress when you said -- when we got on the PATRIOT Act, it's got to have sunsets. I don't want my government to have any power without a sunset on it, especially the kinds of things that we're talking about the PATRIOT Act, and you're the guy who got the sunsets attached to it, which to me makes the PATRIOT Act okay. If it didn't have a sunset, I would have a real problem with it.

BARR: The problem that I have with it, Glenn, and thanks for remembering that and recalling that for your listeners. The real problem in the PATRIOT Act was -- well, there were several problems. But along the line of sunset, the problem was that we weren't able to secure an overall sunset. There were only about a dozen and a half specific provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act that we were able to get sunsetted. That at least, though, did give us an opportunity in 2005 and 2006 to have a real national debate in which I engaged with groups from across the etiological spectrum, from the American conservative union to the ACLU to the NRA, the eagle forum and so forth. That at least gave us that opportunity. At the close of the day in early 2006 unfortunately, those provisions that were sunsetted were re-upped. But at least we opened the eyes of the American people and continue to do so with other information that's come out and to the abuses in the PATRIOT Act that's being used far more aggressively than congress intended or that it should be to go after -- to conduct investigations and prosecutions of matters that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

GLENN: Tell me the places in the PATRIOT Act, because every time it comes up for review, we look for it. Tell me the cases where people's rights have been trampled.

BARR: It's very difficult to point to specific cases because it's done in secret. There have been court cases, Glenn, where institutions and individuals have tried to bring cases and the courts won't allow it because they won't allow them to get the information to prove their case. There have been some. We had the case, for example, of Brandon Mayfield, the attorney out in, I think it was Portland, Oregon, who was arrested and detained incommunicado for weeks in, I think it was either 2004 or 2005 because he was completely erroneously linked to some suspects in the Madrid train bombing. Taking somebody, a U.S. citizen and holding them incommunicado without charges being brought against them on the flimsiest of evidence, evidence that in that particular case was told to the FBI by the Spanish authorities was wrong is in itself a very clear abuse of not just the PATRIOT Act but the fundamental constitutional liberties in this country.

GLENN: Wasn't it corrected?

BARR: Well, it was corrected later on, but --

GLENN: Okay, not --

BARR: But I dare say -- and the federal government wound up having to pay him a couple of million dollars because they abused his rights.

GLENN: Here's what I'm asking. There's no -- there is absolutely no institution, there's nothing that is perfect that will never make a mistake. And are you telling me that -- I mean, the mistake that you just -- I asked you for an example. The one you just gave me was corrected and he received damages. That doesn't make it right by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not an abuse that just was swept under the rug and nothing ever happened and he died in prison. What I'm asking you is, if it makes us safer, isn't there some -- isn't there some way to make the PATRIOT Act have the sunsets that we need, make sure there are some checks and balances? There is no system -- people who are against the PATRIOT Act to me, it always makes me feel like, well, okay, there are people on death row that shouldn't be on death row. "Well, then we should just stop the court system." No, we should refine it. We should do everything we can to make sure it works the best it can knowing that it will never be perfect. But make it the best we can.

BARR: And that's certainly my goal, also. I start, however, Glenn, from the premise that when you look at the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we had on the books at that time already over 4,000 federal criminal laws, to say nothing of all of our state laws. We had opportunity to have stopped those terrorists at every step of the way.

GLENN: Yes.

BARR: Everything they did was already illegal. We didn't need more laws, more invasive laws. I have no problem at all with the government taking legitimate evidence that somebody is committing or might commit or is about to commit a terrorist act and investigating them to the full extent possible. But when you have, as we now have in the USA PATRIOT Act enshrined now in U.S. law the power of the federal government to initiate an investigation and gain private records on any person in this country without any evidence whatsoever that they have done anything wrong, that to me is going too far. And that's the problem that we see in a number of the provisions in the PATRIOT Act.

GLENN: But wait a minute. I believe that's a mischaracterization. They can do that, but they have to then go back to a judge to be able to show their cause after the fact. They were trying to speed it up. So they have to go to the judge. And if the judge says, what the hell are you doing, then they're in trouble.

BARR: No, a lot of this is done, Glenn, through what are called national security letters which, many of which never find their way to a judge. These are documents that are signed off on by an FBI field agent or a supervisor at an FBI field office and don't go before a judge.

GLENN: After you left -- well, first of all, why did you leave the Republican party?

BARR: I left the Republican party for the same reason that President Reagan decades before me left the Democrat party. It left him. The Republican party has veered, Glenn, so sharply from its individual liberty roots and government policies that there's no relation to the party that I proudly served with for so many years.

GLENN: And I agree with you. The Republicans have left the Republicans and the Democratic party have left the Democrats. And that's why I would consider you. But there's a couple of things that interest me. After you left congress, you went to work for the ACLU which I think is the biggest leftist affront organization I've ever seen. I mean, the only thing that has done more damage to the United States of America than the ACLU is the McCain/Feingold bill.

BARR: You hit that nail on the head, that's for sure. The ACLU and I had many disagreements. I was in battle with them when I went to congress, before I went to congress and I continue to have serious disagreements with them but look at just one issue that we were just talking about and that is the USA PATRIOT Act. They have been out there arguing the exact same things that you and I are supportive of here with regard to the PATRIOT Act since it was enacted and if it weren't for their work really leading the effort along with a number of other conservative organizations to bring to bear the light of, you know, public awareness on the abuses of the PATRIOT Act, it wouldn't have happened.

GLENN: So why not go to work for one of those conservative organizations as opposed to one that will --

BARR: I do -- I do.

GLENN: Wait a minute, one that will fight for footbaths for Muslim prayer rituals in public buildings but will fight against anything to do with Christianity in a public building? Why not, why not -- why go to work for them at all?

BARR: Well, first of all, I didn't work for them. I wasn't a member of it. I mean, I did consulting work for them, but I did work for the American conservative union at the same time. Basically what I was doing, and I would do it again today, is to work with any of these legitimate organizations that have an interest in protecting our fundamental right to privacy in this instance. We'll disagree on all sorts of other things but if we don't pull together all of these different groups from the right, the left and the middle to work with those fundamental constitutional liberties that we agree with, then the government is simply going to be able to continue to divide and conquer and we won't get anywhere.

GLENN: We're talking to Bob Barr. He is the libertarian candidate. Their convention is happening this weekend, for President of the United States. Bob, if you don't mind holding on for just a few minutes. We'll come back. I want to talk about the borders, I want to talk about Jack Bauer, I want to talk a little bit about the war on terror, I want to talk about income tax. We'll do those with Bob Barr coming up in just a second.


 

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?