Great publicity for the libertarian Cato Institute's upcoming conference on drug policy: Its keynote speaker just got jumped on by the country's chief drug warrior.

New Mexico Gov. Gary E. Johnson (R), who has publicly called the war on drugs a failure and mused aloud about the possibility of decriminalizing drug use, last week received a five-page letter from national drug control policy director Barry R. McCaffrey, asking him to "re-examine" his views. McCaffrey's spokesman went a bit further, calling Johnson "the poster child for drug legalization." Cato thinkers, many of whom support some form of legalization, must be squealing with glee.

Johnson is scheduled to keynote Cato's conference, called "Beyond Prohibition: An Adult Approach to Drug Policies in the 21st Century," on Oct. 5.

THE GREAT WHITE NORTH: Few Americans spend much time thinking about the nation's border with Canada, but the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is trying to change that.

Today Carnegie will convene the first of three conferences on "Managing Common Borders," this one focusing on the U.S.-Canada line. Participants from various levels of government, the NGO community and academia will do their own border-hopping, meeting in Windsor, Ontario, today, then jumping the border for sessions in Detroit on Wednesday.

"We want them to start thinking about what the border might look like in 2015," said Demetrios G. Papademetriou, one of the Carnegie scholars managing the project--which aims to generate "alternative visions" for future border policies.

"One vision, that is quite Washington-based, is more physical barriers, more people on border control, more people at inspection stations. . . . We think that there are limits to this," he said. "How do you get the biggest bang for the buck? We're saying it is not in getting another 15 inspectors. It is better invested in intelligence sharing, in cooperation, and in thinking about protecting the greater space, the outside perimeter of the United States and Canada."

But why Canada? "We want to use the northern border as a laboratory, because it's less of a problem for us," Papademetriou said.

A second conference will be held later this year along the somewhat more controversial southern border with Mexico. (The third will be a wrap-up.)

SCHOLARS ON SCHOOLS: Children are back in school and scholars are thinking about education reform, particularly school choice. Latest from the tanks:

* On Wednesday, the Economic Policy Institute will release case studies on what public schools can learn from private schools.

* The Heritage Foundation just updated its comprehensive volume on state school choice developments (and hosted Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) last Friday for a talk on "What Florida Can Teach the Nation" about choice).

* California's Pacific Research Institute has published a state-by-state review of charter school laws and legislation, and the Progressive Policy Institute has a new report on the successes and failures of the charter movement thus far.

* The Brookings Institution Press next month will publish "Choosing Equality: School Choice, The Constitution, and Civil Society" by New York University professor Joseph Viteritti, who argues that vouchers are the best way to improve education for the poor; a similar recommendation recently emerged from a Manhattan Institute study in New York state.

TO MARKET: It wasn't just smart guys at two of the big tanks last week, it was smart guys with campaign clout.

The American Enterprise Institute fielded an in-house team for a debate on the merits of "Dow 36,000," the controversial new book by AEI scholars James Glassman, a former Washington Post columnist, and Kevin Hassett. Their thesis is that the same stock market some believe to be irrationally exuberant is actually dramatically undervalued.

Hassett is the top economic adviser for GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). One of the economists arguing against the book's optimistic conclusion was AEI resident scholar Lawrence Lindsey, who just happens to be the primary economics guru to the presidential campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R).

Meanwhile, at Brookings, the man with Bush's ear on faith-based social programs held forth. John DiIulio--affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Brookings, the Manhattan Institute and Public/Private Ventures--told a conference audience he is both an "analyst" of and "advocate" for the power of faith-based organizations to address social problems. The conference lunch, co-hosted with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, also featured Bush's top domestic policy adviser, Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.

MOVES: Jonathan Weiss, who recently was Vice President Gore's point person on urban sprawl, has been named executive director of a new center on "sustainability and regional growth" at George Washington University Law School. The center, which received significant funding from the Ford Foundation, will conduct and publish research, hold conferences and do project work.

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