Harper's Credits Rand Paul with Outflanking Obama on the Left on Drug Punishments

The bulk of this Harper's piece by Michael Ames is an interview with the always-interesting Neill Franklin of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) but it's framed with some nice praise for Sen. Rand Paul as mandatory minimums are called into question nationally:

Twice now this year, Rand Paul has flanked the Obama Administration from the left. The first time, when Paul staged a dramatic thirteen-hour talking filibuster to protest the government’s secretive drone-assassination program, the episode could have been written off as an opportunistic stunt. But with his latest move as the tacit leader of the disorganized libertarian-populist movement, Paul staked out less impeachable ground: America’s cruel, racially biased, and generally nonsensical drug-sentencing laws. 

Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the Justice Department will ease enforcement of mandatory minimums, the federal prison sentences that compel judges to lock up even nonviolent and first-time offenders of some drug laws regardless of the details of the case. Five, fifteen, and in some cases life sentences were first made mandatory for drug crimes with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, legislation passed amid the hysteria of an urban crack epidemic and Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs. Aided by such laws, the federal prison population has grown roughly 800 percent since 1980, with nearly half of all inmates held on drug charges. The status quo is untenable for reasons fiscal and philosophical, and Holder’s decision was widely heralded as a welcome policy shift. Not everyone was convinced, though. For reformers who once hoped that Barack Obama would make a sincere attempt to address the outrages and immoralities of the war on drugs, Holder’s speech smacked of politicking — a double hedge against the right’s libertarian awakening and the left’s charges that the administration has done nothing on the issue.....

As the policies of libertarian populism come into focus, Rand Paul’s threat to the establishments of both parties will likely increase. He doesn’t have to adopt his father’s strident purism — Ron Paul wrote that drug prohibition of any kind is “incompatible with a free society” — to push an agenda of sensible reform. The Democratic Party won’t credit him with leading on an issue that should be theirs, and the G.O.P. establishment still can’t decide whether libertarians pose a path to victory or an existential threat. But Paul is nimbly pushing his own agenda to the fore. And with popular opinion about America’s drug laws squarely on his side, the rest of Washington will have little choice but to keep up.

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  • Dylboz||

    "From the left!?!?"

  • wheelock||

    This. It is endlessly frustrating to see positions advocating greater individual liberty as coming from "the left" which is the antithesis of liberty. Sort of how the mantle of "liberal" has been twisted into its new Orwellian meaning.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Ditto my very first thought.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Libertarians don't help when they talk about being socially liberal and economically conservative.

    Conservatives tend to be socially authoritarianish and economically libertarianish, and liberals tend to be socially libertarianish and economically libertarianish.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Crap "liberals tend to be socially libertarianish and economically authoritarianish"

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Neo-Progressives tend to be totalitarianish on social issues and economically totalitarianish. Neocons tend to be totalitarianish on social issues and economically totalitarianish.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In other words, beware, Republicans primary voters. Rand Paul could be a RINO!

  • Dibbler||

    Yeah but what do they have to offer that's better? Christie? Maybe he could pull in enough moderate votes, but if he gets the candidacy the conservative stronghold will be coming to the booths in low numbers I wager. He certainly wouldn't see much, if any, libertarian votes.

  • Dibbler||

    Paul shows a lot if promise and sensibility, but I feel like, for the most part, its wasted on the masses. I can't even see him getting the momentum his father garnered.

    I wonder what the correctional officer unions will have to say if someone actually acts on all this talk of abolishing mandatory minimums.

  • robc||

    He has already managed to get elected to the Senate, which his father never managed.

    KY isnt TX, but its 6 times the size of a House district.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Oh, OK. I had Michael Ames confused with Mark Ames of the infamous "Ames and Levine". I was gonna say, those moralfags hate libertarians.

  • Doctor Whom||

    La la la, my liberal Facebook friends can't hear you! RP is an evil archreactionary. They even have cutesie graphics to "prove" it. Then again, they have to have a Two Minutes Hate against someone to distract attention from their silence on their failed messiah.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Oh please. Don't even mention Ayn Rand.

    I post some of her quotes without attributing them to her, and I get 50 "Likes". If I put her name to them, I am told I am the Devil himself for "worshiping" her.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Try posting some quotes by, say, Krugman, and attribute them to Ayn Rand. One could have fun with the la la la types, one could.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    If you want an excuse for getting an early start on your Friday night drinking, click over the 'Being Liberal' Facebook page.

    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and stupidity.

  • Nazdrakke||

    That's like killing brain cells at twice the speed.

  • Dweebston||

    He doesn’t have to adopt his father’s strident purism — Ron Paul wrote that drug prohibition of any kind is “incompatible with a free society” — to push an agenda of sensible reform.

    "Sensible reform" is an oxymoron. The policy is toxic, anathema to a classically liberal society with its emphasis on self-determination. It subverts the normal constraints on policing, provides Temperance-minded prohibitionists carte blanche to direct others' lives, and creates a class of permanent dependents, all without achieving even the most modest of its stated goals./ Blanket repeal is the only "sensible" reform, in fact the only effort worthy of the word "reform."

  • mad libertarian guy||

    "Sensible reform" is an oxymoron. The policy is toxic, anathema to a classically liberal society with its emphasis on self-determination. It subverts the normal constraints on policing, provides Temperance-minded prohibitionists carte blanche to direct others' lives, and creates a class of permanent dependents, all without achieving even the most modest of its stated goals./ Blanket repeal is the only "sensible" reform, in fact the only effort worthy of the word "reform."

    I agree in principle but it simply is not politically feasible to do it it the right way. We have to back in slowly. It has taken ~90 years to get to the state of prohibition we're in. It will take at least 90 years to get back to where we were before, if not longer. We will never see the natural state of things in our lifetimes, unfortunately. Our efforts must be so that our children and their children may have a chance at liberty with respect to putting whatever they choose in to their bodies.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "the disorganized libertarian-populist movement"

    Not that execrable phrase again.

  • robc||

    Its beginning to piss me off.

    And by "beginning", I mean from the first time I saw it.

  • Loki||

    That must've really hurt for them to admit that the racist new-confederate teabagging teathuglican Rand Paul was out in front of their Chocolate Nixon dreamboat.

  • Outlaw||

    How mad do the proglodytes get when you call Obama Chocolate Nixon in front of them?

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Chocolate Nixon Dreamboat. That's about as funny and accurate as I've ever heard. I'm gonna piss my pants on that one!!!!!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Calling the president Chocolate Nixon is offensive and inaccurate. It's more like Caramel Nixon.

  • Agammamon||

    Still haven't fixed the title?

  • G-dub||

    The sad thing is that most lefties probably think this was Obama and Holder's idea all along. I bet they don't even know about RP's bill, which I'm sure was the whole point of the Holder memo in the first place.

  • ||

    Paul staked out less impeachable ground: America’s cruel, racially biased, and generally nonsensical drug-sentencing laws.

    So wait, being against executive assassination is MORE objectionable than being against drug laws? I'm not fan of drug laws, but that being against murdering people is considered worse than being against imprisoning them doesn't make me trust Harper's very much. Those are some backwards priorities there.

  • cw||

    Even if murderdroning is cruel and racially biased, it is generally sensical.

    /Harper's

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