Barr Now Realizes The War on Drugs Was a Failure

Hanging out with libertarians appears to be good for Bob Barr. Writing at The Huffington Post, he has admitted to his past errors:

I’ll admit it, just five years ago I was “Public Enemy Number 1” in the eyes of the Libertarian Party. In my 2002 congressional race for Georgia’s Seventh District, the Libertarian Party ran scathing attack ads against my stand on Medical Marijuana…

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I’ll even argue that America’s drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, “War on Drugs,” in 1972.

America’s drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

The result of spending all of those taxpayer’s dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.

Barr appears both more realistic and more concerned with liberty than he has in the past. For the most part this is good, but perhaps we might have to reassess how many votes a person with such beliefs will really take away from John McCain.

Quote of the Day: Obama Is a Free Market Guy

I am a pro-growth, free market guy. I love the market. I think it is the best invention to allocate resources and produce enormous prosperity for America or the world that’s ever been designed.”
Barack Obama

This looks like a good quote to refer back to when the right wingers claim Obama is a socialist. This is not to say he’s a supporter of laissez-faire capitalism. Here’s the full statement in context with the question which he was responding to.


Obama to Fight Internet Smears

The Guardian reports that Obama’s campaign is forming a unit to combat internet rumors:

Barack Obama is recruiting senior staff to a new unit which will combat virulent rumour campaigns on the internet that threaten to cost him votes in the presidential election against John McCain.

The unit is part of a huge expansion of Obama’s campaign team as he shifts from the Democratic nomination race to the campaign for November’s election.

As well as the rumour-mongering problem, units are being set up to deal with other perceived vulnerable points, including off-the-cuff remarks by his wife Michelle. McCain’s wife, Cindy, questioned Michelle’s patriotism in February after she said: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

Brooks Jackson, director of the Washington-based, an independent academic organisation set up in 2003 to monitor the factual accuracy of statements made in elections, said yesterday there had been false rumours on the internet about George Bush and John Kerry in the 2004 election.

“With Obama, it is particularly vicious,” Jackson said. He added that one of the most persistent is that Obama, a Christian, is “some kind of Muslim Manchurian candidate, planted by Islamic fundamentalists to betray the country and it is very widespread”.

The real question is how they combat these rumors. John Kerry’s campaign had a web site debunking all the attacks on Kerry, but this only has an impact on the people who actually read the site. Rapid response has been an important part of campaigns at least since Bill Clinton. Under the fold I’ve placed the transcript of a report on NPR’s Morning Edition on rapid response efforts of the presidential campaigns.

Obama has been highly successful in many aspects of his campaign. Hopefully he can be more successful than previous campaigns in fighting all the untrue rumors which have been too large a part of politics.


John Kerry Wins Profiles in Compassion Award

John Kerry has won this year’s Profiles in Compassion award from The Animal Welfare Institute. From their press release:

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has announced Senator John Kerry (D-MA) as the latest recipient of its “Profiles in Compassion” award, recognizing his strong commitment to protecting animals and their habitats. One of the few members of the US Senate to rate a perfect 100 percent on AWI’s Compassion Index (, Senator Kerry recently introduced S. Con. Res. 86, a resolution that calls on the Bush Administration to stand up for whales at the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting to be held in Chile later this month.

“In the face of increasing pressure from pro-whaling nations, the US must reclaim its historic position as a leader in whale conservation and support the moratorium on commercial whaling. The time is running short to protect the world’s dwindling whale populations,” said Senator Kerry, who has been actively working on the whaling issue for years. In February, he was co-host with House Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall of a Save the Whales Again! press conference featuring actress Hayden Panettiere.

The United States is the current chair of the IWC, the international body founded over 60 years ago to be responsible for the conservation of whales. Since that time, a ban on commercial whaling has been instituted, two sanctuaries have been established, and attitudes toward whale conservation have improved. However, Japan, Norway and Iceland have flouted the whaling ban and continue to whale for commercial gain by exploiting loopholes in the IWC Convention. Under the moratorium, these countries have killed more than 25,000 whales, including over 11,000 who were taken under the guise of “scientific research.” Norway and Iceland have also resumed the trade in whale meat with Japan, in flagrant defiance of an international ban on such trafficking.

Obama on Separation of Church and State


In a post on John McCain’s problems with evangelical voters I mentioned Barack Obama’s defense for separation of church and state and linked back to some quotations on the subject. Pharyngula has happened to post the above video clip of Obama. A better quality video of the entire speech can be seen here. More on Obama’s views on separation of church and state can be found here.

In contrast, John McCain has erroneously claimed that the United States was formed as a Christian nation. While I’ve discussed this in the past, a link to the video was posted in the comments at Pharyngula.


Some Conservatives Look Beyond the Liberal Label to Back Obama

Yesterday I noted how many conservatives and libertarians are supporting Barack Obama. One reason is that he is of a generation beyond the era of “tax and spend” liberalism and in some ways he looks back on classical liberal views. He’s liberal on civil liberties and foreign policy, with the later becoming much more acceptable to many after the total failure of neoconservativism. While he has liberal values in his economic goals, he often extends his support for free choice to economic matters. Steve Chapman, a conservative writer from Chicago, has described why Obama appeals to many conservatives despite his liberal label:

As liberals go, however, opponents of Big Government could do worse. On economic matters, like the mortgage crisis, he’s more respectful of property rights and free markets than, say, Clinton. His health-care plan rankles many liberals because it doesn’t force everyone to buy insurance.

While Obama has criticized various free-trade agreements, he’s also written that in today’s world, “it’s hard to even imagine, much less enforce, an effective regime of protectionism.”

Some of the positions that get him tagged as liberal confound traditional categories. Among the members of Congress who share his support for withdrawal from Iraq are Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who favors dismantling most of the federal government, and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who was secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan.

These days, 20 percent of Republicans say we should bring the bulk of our troops home within a year. They can attest that opposing the Iraq war doesn’t make you a liberal any more than eating nuts makes you a squirrel.

That’s one reason the liberal label may not be quite the ball and chain Republicans hope. If “liberal” is taken to connote gay marriage, socialized medicine and unilateral disarmament, most people won’t find it appealing. But Obama does not espouse those. If it is taken to mean trying something different from the last seven years—or offering a plausible alternative to war, inflation and a housing bust—they will be receptive.

Back in 1980, everyone knew Ronald Reagan was too conservative to win. But when non-conservatives were presented with a conservative who was likable, temperate and occasionally eloquent, many of them found they could vote for him. What Obama has going for him, more than anything, is a quality of calm and thoughtful gravity, which offers a refreshing contrast to President Bush‘s inarticulate defensiveness and McCain’s stubborn pugnacity.

I disagree with Obama’s positions more often than not, but reducing a political leader to the sum of his positions is like judging the value of an artwork by adding up the cost of the canvas and paint. Obama didn’t get where he is by being a liberal like any other. He got there by being a liberal like no other.