Monday, December 02, 2002

Is Bob Barr Reborn?

About twenty five years ago, when I was in the insurance business, my partner Nick thought that we should rep the products of a company which was run by a disreputable character. When I asked Nick why we should get involved with such a person, Nick said "Mike, every scumbag is reborn in the next deal." Nick and I split up over this issue, and Nick got rich, while I had to wait a couple of decades, and a couple of careers, for my ship to come in. Since then I have been painfully aware that, indeed, it is possible for a scumbag to be reborn, to change in response to new conditions.

Enter Bob Barr. Regular readers know that Barr is my poster child for scumbaggery in the political class, since he has a penchant for supporting many of my favorite issues, bolstering our freedoms and serving as a bulwark against those who would, for instance, expand property forfeiture rules or restrict free speech, while at the same time he is the most cynical of Drug Warriors, who believes that all constitutional protections should vanish if the defendant is accused of altering his consciousness. He clearly believes that anyone who uses illegal substances should be serving a life term at hard labor, and he has manipulated the power of the state to realize this result. He was the driving force in the effort to avoid even counting the result of the election of a medical marijuana initiative in Washington D.C. For this and other reasons, he was denied renomination to the U.S. Congress. With a 73% voting rating from the Libertarians, he was nonetheless opposed by them for his drug war activities.

Now that he is unemployed, he can be expected to do what they (almost) all do: cash in. But sly Bob has surprised me. He has joined the enemy (his enemy at least) by accepting a consultancy with the American Civil Liberties Union! Plans for exploiting his access do not, of course, include his working on securing our cognitive freedoms, which the ACLU is heavily involved in, but they will use him on informational and data privacy issues. While acknowledging their congruence on past issues:
The ACLU and Barr found common ground several times during his stint in Congress, including mutual opposition to a national ID, the Justice Department’s Carnivore Internet snooping system, the proposed "Know Your Customer" banking regulation, and the controversial Operation TIPS citizen-spy program. Just recently, Barr was able to persuade the House to pass a bill requiring federal agencies to consider the privacy implications of new regulations.
they make no mention of his implacable opposition to any non-punitive approach to the problem of drug use and abuse. Bob Barr and the ACLU have been on different sides of many debates, but when they want to buy access to the corridors of power, they go to the source. They clearly have taken Nick's advice, and concluded that this scumbag has been reborn in this new deal.