Election 2016

UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM PAUL'S OFFICE! Rand Paul Goes Hawkish, Proposes Massive Defense Increases, Becomes Less Interesting


UPDATED 3.30 P.M.: For a summary of the specifics of Sen. Paul's amendment and a discussion of GOP attitudes toward defense spending, go here.

UPDATED 11.50 A.M.: For a statement from Doug Stafford, senior advisor to Sen. Paul, about Paul's intention, scroll to bottom.

There's no question that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is one of the few bright spots in American politics, bringing a libertarianish policy orientation to questions about the size, scope, and spending of the federal government. That's one of the reasons he's been widely hailed as "the most interesting man in…" the Senate, politics, the country, you name it, by a wide host of folks (including Reason).

Alone among leading GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination, Paul has criticized the wild defense spending and demonstrably failed foreign policy initiatives of interventionists in both parties. That's earned him the ire of characters at the war-drum-beaters at places such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute and from many of his fellow Republicans. To Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who never met a country he didn't want to arm, bomb, or protect with U.S. troops (depending on his blood sugar levels, it could be the same country in any given month), Paul was one of those "wacko birds," folks who questioned the military-surveillance-industrial complex. Not only did Paul want to cut defense spending, he wanted Congress to declare war when we, you know, went to war! What a kook!

Back in 2011, Paul introduced a budget plan that would have reduced military spending and troop size, eliminated many overseas bases, and most importantly, started a long-overdue conversation about what the U.S. military should look like and act like in a post-Cold War world where the major dangers to U.S. security came less from state actors and more from non-state provocateurs and terrorists.

Among his recommendations in that budget:

Office of Rand Paul

In a country still on a mad spending spree and one in which both Democrats and Republicans considered the Pentagon budget as untouchable—despite massive, across-the-board increases and two major failed wars—Paul presented a bracing alternative to a status quo that had led to thousands of American deaths, ruinous heaps of debt, and a diminished U.S. reputation around the globe.

Well, that was then. As Time reports, the Kentucky senator 

introduced a budget amendment late Wednesday calling for a nearly $190 billion infusion to the defense budget over the next two years—a roughly 16 percent increase.

Paul's amendment brings him in line with his likely presidential primary rivals, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who introduced a measure calling for nearly the same level of increases just days ago.

Other declared and potential candidates such as Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Lindsey Graham have never pretended that they want to curb Pentagon spending or, for that matter, spending that in any way might discomfit their favored constituencies. Paul was distinct from such churlishness and it's precisely his principled commitment to reducing the size, scope, and spending of government that made him stand out.

Time again:

Under Paul's original [2012 budget] proposal, defense spending would have dropped from $553 billion in the 2011 fiscal year to $542 billion in 2016. War funding would have plummeted from $159 billion to zero. He called it the "draw-down and restructuring of the Department of Defense."

But under Paul's new plan, the Pentagon will see its budget authority swell by $76.5 billion to $696,776,000,000 in fiscal year 2016.

The boost would be offset by a two-year combined $212 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Education.

Full Time article.

Given Paul's stances on other issues such as the drug war and sentencing reform and his clearly heart-felt calls for the GOP to become a "live and let live" party, this conversion to big spending on the Pentagon probably won't assuage conservatives who say "Any Republicans who vote against higher defense spending should be fired."

But it will certainly temper the enthusiasm of younger voters who #StandWithRand and moderates who are desperate for fresh blood and ideas that are different not just from the failed policies of Bush conservatism but also of Obama liberals and Democrats.

And let's be clear: It ain't gonna help at all with libertarians who see in Paul their best hope for a major party politician whom they would vote for in a presidential race. Paul toys with lower-case libertarians at his own peril, as it's this group that could well provide the difference not just in Republican primaries but a general election. If he can energize libertarian-leaning Republicans and younger voters who otherwise would never think twice about the GOP, he could definitely blow past the genuinely uninspiring lot of Central Casting governors and senators who likely even have trouble rousing their paid employees to show up to work each Monday.

Last fall, Matt Welch posted exchanges between him and Paul on the subject of defense spending and foreign policy. The term Welch used to define the senator on this score was strategic slipperiness and it's an apt description. With that in mind, consider what Paul told Welch once upon a time:

Q: What's your ideal military budget?

A: Yeah, I think that it's a mistake [to say], "Oh it should be X percentage of GDP," or "It should be X dollars." I don't know what it should be. I do know that we should have the strongest defense possible, that we should be able to deter attacks, we should have the most advanced weaponry, and that we shouldn't have weapons based on jobs programs. We shouldn't build a weapon just because it's built in one particular state or another. And so I think that it's unknown what it should be….

It's also a disagreement that I've had with some other Republicans, is that they think sort of constitutional conservatives or libertarian Republicans are a danger to national defense. And I think it's the opposite. I think big-government Republicans are a danger to national defense, because they want to spend money on everything and defense. But you can't have enough money to defend the country if you spend it on everything else. If you're part of this gimme gimme culture, that you want to just, "Here, give me the federal money, I want it all now, I don't want any strings attached, I don't want any limits, gimme my money"—if you're part of that group of Republicans then there won't be enough left for national defense, and that's what will bankrupt us. And I do agree with Admiral Mullen and others who've said, our biggest threat to our national security now is our debt.

If Wednesday's amendment is any indication of what Candidate Paul is going for, expect to hear less and less about the need to fundamentally rethink America's armed forces and our approach to foreign policy and engagement through trade and cultural exchange (what a great speech Paul gave on "Islam and Containment" back in 2013). To the extent that Paul starts talking like, say, Marco Rubio, he will become far less interesting as a candidate and far less infuential as a much-needed counterweight to a resurgent neo-con mentality that has a hold on not just most of the Republican Party but Hillary Clinton as well. This sort of evolution comes even as diehard conservatives are finally calling bullshit on automatic approval of unnecessary Pentagon requests for more and more money.

As a country, we've needed a strong, principled critique of the warfare state for a very long time. The military-industrial-surveillance complex isn't just a waste of money, it's a direct affront to moral principles upon which this country is built. It's a rejection of limited government and respect for the dignity of the individual, both here and abroad.

Ironically, given the manifest failure of the past 15 years of foreign policy, the nation's horrible finances, and the pressing need to restrain both spending and spastic interventions all over the world, Paul's thoughtful non-interventionist stance has never been more relevant and attractive among a wide swath of the electorate, especially among the millennials who will soon control much of American life.

UPDATED AT 11.50 A.M.: Doug Stafford, senior advisor to Rand Paul, emails:

It is done in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending—some way more than Senator Paul's amendment—without paying for it.   Senator Paul believes national defense should be our priority.  He also believes our debt is out of control.  This amendment is to lay down a marker that if you believe we need more funding for national defense, you should show how you would pay for it.    We can't just keep borrowing more money from China to send to Pakistan.  And we can't keep paying for even vital things like national defense on a credit card.

Doug Stafford.   Senior Advisor

Reason TV talked to Rand Paul last summer on tech innovation and more. Take a look:

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  1. Unless Rand can come up with a secret signal to let us know that he’s just lying in order to attain office, he has lost me.

    1. Meh. The important thing to remember is he is a politician. First rule of politics is never get excited for any politician. The only thing that is more disappointing than every politician ever is that time you took that chick home and she turned out to have a penus larger than yours or possibly the Cleveland Browns or Chicago Cubs.

      1. Her penis was larger than the Cleveland Browns? Combined?

        1. It’s sad how little classical education there is anymore. Penus is Latin for provisions. The girl has large provisions, which means she has money, or provisions is being used as a euphemism for tracts of land.

          1. If you wanna speak Latin, go back to Latveria.

          2. She’s got huge…tracts of land.

            1. Now we see the importance of learning Latin.

          3. In that case, I wish I had married a woman with a big penus. I’d be sitting pretty if I had. As it is my wife’s penus is non-existent.

            1. My First Law: “The Whole World is a Tradeoff.”
              Hopefully, your wife has other redeeming qualities (or quantities…)

    2. I couldn’t agree more. He’s lost me, too.

      Gov. Gary Johnson, I hope you’re up for another presidential bid.

      1. This is where I’m going – even if I have to write-in.

        1. Congratulations on keeping libertarian ideas marginalized then, which is what happens if people here only support politicians who are “pure”.

          The goal of elections is not to outright win with a pure libertarian candidate, it is to move the beast in the right direction. The views on this site have 0% chance of winning in 2016, the goal should be to fill positions currently held by statists, with successful candidates that will move the national conversation more around libertarian ideas and increase education and advocacy for libertarian positions.

          Am I happy about this, no. But it is the reality of the current political environment.

          A libertarian movement needs to be done as a series of incremental steps. Rand is trying to find ways to take those steps, given the reality.

          People like Curtis, some-yahoo & Libertarian have their way in only allowing pure candidates, everything on this site is a waste of time because you’re already marginalized.

          1. First, that is your purpose, not mine. I don’t believe voting for president to be a zero-sum game. I’ve held my nose and voted for the candidate that was supposed to “move the beast in the right direction,” and each time, party mechanics prevented said candidate from being able to do that nudging. And this is precisely why we end up with people like Hillary and Jeb being seen as the most electable. In my view, the only way that changes is if enough people express their disagreement with the 2 major parties, such that they start catching on to the fact that people don’t want the same “business as usual” dreck we’ve had for so long.

            Second, I never said that I wanted a “pure” libertarian. I do get that change takes place over time – but what I’ve seen indicates that Rand Paul is becoming more adroit at politics than staying true to his ideological beliefs – or even within the range of staying near his ideological beliefs. You have to admit that this is a huge reversal of his position with respect to military funding.

            1. Gary has his share of issues, we just don’t see them as much because he doesn’t have the same spot light on him simply because everyone knows he has no chance of winning. If that changed, I’m sure Gary’s issues would be noticed more. So bashing Rand on this issue, and switching for Gary is a wash.

              I agree with what you’ve said. But I disagree that the US will ever be anything other than a 2 party system. It has been for it’s entire existence. There were a few real attempts at breaking this (i.e. Perot in the 90s for recent attempt, there were others), but none really came close. Perot had what 18% of the popular vote, but that yields zero electoral college votes.

              Getting rid of the 2 party system (which I hate) will only come when the federal government collapses, whenever that is, don’t hold your breath waiting. It will not come from the voting process or the citizenry.

              So we’re left with either trying to influence one of the 2 main parties (which I agree is practically hopeless) or simply withdrawing consent and exiting.

              1. Influencing the parties is hopeless?! Are you mad, man? The major political parties in the USA exist to be influenced. Influence is their raison d’etre. They have no intrinsic direction. If mandatory worship of Ba’al became popular, they’d be for mandating worship of Ba’al. If the people decided murder should be legal, the parties would get us there. If there were a movement to jack up the west coast so everything rolled into the Atlantic…you get the idea.

      2. Gary what’s his name ‘…on the issues…’

        ?Arizona anti-immigrant law leads to racial profiling. (Aug 2012) ‘and that’s wrong because?’

        ?A 10-foot wall just requires an 11-foot ladder. (Aug 2012) ‘…no wall means you walk in barefoot, like they are doing now..’

        ?2 year grace period for illegals to get work visas. (Nov 2011) ‘…holy sheet…are you joking?..’

        ?1 strike & you’re out for legal immigrants who violate terms. (Nov 2011) ‘..wait until lawyers and liberal judges rule on this tripe…’

        ?Let some, but not all, illegal immigrants stay in US. (Nov 2011) Some = 3 or 25 million?

        ?We educate the world’s best & brightest; why send them back? (Jun 2011) ‘..because they came here illegally and thus drag in 25 million illiterates …’

        ?Open the border; flood of Mexicans would become taxpayers. (Jan 2001) ‘..figured that out by yourself?..’

        ?Mexican immigrants are pursuing same dreams we all have. (Jan 2001) ‘…so Jeb is a plagiarist?…’

        ?Share costs of legal immigration between states & federal. (Feb 2001) ‘….we don’t need illegals at the bottom (job automation) and we have a huge surplus in the STEM fields….’

        ?Federal government should deal with criminal repatriation. (Feb 2001) ‘….that’s specific…ha!…PS…anyone staying here without papers is a criminal…..’

        1. PS…anyone staying here without papers is a criminal?..

          In the same way that you’re a criminal for jay walking or turning without using a turn signal.

          “Illegal” immigration is actually a civil infraction, not a criminal one. If illegal immigration were a criminal offense, that would mean jury trials for illegal immigrants, complete with a public defender and jury which would bankrupt the US.

      3. Johnson = too depressing.
        Think about Jim Webb. Integrity. Bled for country. Look up his YouTube smackdown of Lindsay Graham. Gary Johnson should have shut down when there was even the slimmest chance of Ron (the Paul with principles) winning in 2012. GJ also happens to be as exciting as soggy oatmeal.

      4. I’ve all but lost my voice screaming “he ain’t no Libertarian” for the past 8 years.

    3. The boost would be offset by a two-year combined $212 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Education

      Maybe they should have posted the secret signal in bold?

      1. Really. I am all for starting with a transfer that cripples those other programs. “Bombs, not loans!” Bring it on!

      2. I like how they used a loaded term like “crippling” for cutting the budgets of departments that shouldn’t exist.

        1. Eliminating the Department of HUD would cripple the ability of the US government to concentrate the poor in projects.

      3. I think the reaction by libertarians, while understandable, is overblown. I think he’s trolling the neocons… they (neocons) would never actually cut funding for “aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in the budgets of the EPA, and the HUD, Commerce and Education”. The neocons will inevitably reject his budget, which will show their hypocrisy. RP is presenting himself as the reasonable one, by granting them their desired defense spending in turn for cutting things they claim they oppose. While it is important to always be skeptical, politics is the art of compromise, so viewing a politician through the purity lenses won’t give you a fair picture of what they are trying to accomplish.

  2. Ugh. It’s not even summer yet, and I feel like this won’t be the first set of fippy-flopies we’ll see from our perspective overlords. Just keep the socks at home please.

    1. Wait, don’t tell me. “Perspective” is Latin for “brain dead.” Am I right?

      1. In more ways than one.

  3. …sigh.

    Is it too late to plan ritual suicide?

    1. -one airliner.

    2. I don’t know about ritual suicide, but it’s not too late to save money I would otherwise have donated to Rand Paul’s bid.

      1. -1 money bomb

      2. Whatever you do, don’t send Rand money! I made the mistake of donating $100 to his father and I still regret it every time I check my e-mail.

        1. Never fear. I was able to get off all the mailing lists after only eight years.

          1. Unroll.me is awesome. I do miss my weekly free AR 15 giveaways though.

        2. I never regretted sending money to Ron Paul. The message got through the noise, for a while. Email can be deleted.

  4. You mean Rand Paul is a politician? Holy shit! I’m shocked!

    1. Plus, he conducts polling and found out that “strong on defense” is the opening bid to win the Republican primary.

      1. I would prefer to see him keep making the argument that you can be strong on defense without spending MOAR MONEY, but c’est la vie.

  5. Guess I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson again.

    1. “That’s the same as a vote for Hillary.”

      -future John comment in August/September/October in 2016

      1. Don’t care – I’m with Kristen on this. Rand Paul has lost me.

      2. “If you won’t vote for him, why would Rand Paul cut defense spending?”

        -future Tulpa comment

    2. In 2014, I decided to just embrace my political alienation and start blank voting.

    3. Idle Hands, with a gop majority in the house and senate, I’d rather have a democrat in the white house instead of a republican.

      1. Not like it really matters. The Dem world just go Caesar and the congress wouldn’t have the balls to even try to attempt to stop her.

        1. Would we rename the office of President after her?

      2. Three words: Supreme Court Nominee

        1. Yep. Just one more prog on the court and you can kiss your guns goodbye.

          Like it or not. If the next President is a dem the second amendment is toast. And the first will get creativly rearranged.

  6. Disappointing. The GOP is apparently going to go on a spendfest for the military when they take over the entire government. That is not what we need right now, with our government-created economic mess being the biggest threat by an order of magnitude to our future.

    The fact that Rand had to move this far off of his original position shows how much the party leadership is set on blowing through more hundreds of billions we don’t have.

    1. why would you expect different? The GOP, like the Democrats, love to spend other peoples money. Rand is a Republican, __NOT__ a Libertarian. Again, why is this a surprise to anyone?

      1. Well, in Paul’s case, he’s been a budget hawk first. This is a substantial change in where he’s been up until now.

        Compared to most any other candidate, he is a libertarian, but this is something that could ruin any other effort to limit government. Sure, if he can get less government intervention in markets, more individual liberty, and so on, that would be a huge win, but our economy is still in big trouble if the spendarama doesn’t stop.

        1. Follow the money to see the full agenda…..pretty brilliant if you ask me….

      2. It doesn’t surprise me because I’ve been watching him for a while. But why should we expect different? Because his is Ron Paul’s son, that’s why.

        I would rather see Rand as a “libertarianish” Senator, fighting like hell against the status quo, than a failed presidential candidate. His father introduced libertarianism to millions, but if Rand continues as he has, he will educate no one.

        1. he will educate no one

          And alienate many.

          1. I agree with you both here.

        2. I would rather see Rand as a “libertarianish” Senator, fighting like hell against the status quo, than a failed presidential candidate.

          I’ve been thinking this for about a year now. The country may be better off with Rand as a senior senator with strong libertarian leanings, free to bang the drum, speak his peace and filibuster as needed. The alternative seems to be Rand “lite” as a presidential candidate and the butt talk show jokes.

          1. As a Kentucky voter, I agree.

    2. The “spendfest” as you put it will result in millions of dollars going to needy defense workers and new hires who will put it in good use by spending it in the local economy creating a multiplier effect as the money is spent through the economy.

      /a more honest Tony

      1. Which is exactly the same reason I support a program to have 800,000 new govt employees dig holes in the Mojave desert and another 800,000 “needy” employees hired to fill them back in again.
        And, you’ll love this Puddin Stick, my hole diggers will create — oh oh I’m jizzing — a Multiplier Effect.

  7. The warmongering idiots are never going to accept him because he still refuses to committ to war with Iran or ISIS. And now he’s alienating his base of libertarians and moderates with this shit. Who the hell is giving him advice?

    1. Looks like this is the one thing the GOP is unified on. Just like the Democrats won’t touch welfare spending, the GOP has to service the military-industrial complex.

      I really wish they’d stop acting like we’re in the Cold War again when we’re facing a threat that’s orders of magnitude less. If terrorism continues to ramp up and become a bigger real threat (versus the mostly potential one it is domestically), then we can blow the fuck out of whoever we need to blow the fuck out of.

      1. mind you, a threat we created by all the war mongering and meddling we have done through our massive Department of War spending.

        1. No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          You’re not supposed to admit that!


        2. Not to get too Cytotoxic, but they hate us for our freedoms too.*

          *The seeds of their hatred are probably way more complicated than breaking it down to “Intervention” or “Hate our freedom”.

      2. This can’t be said enough. Even big, bad, horrible, nazi-like Iraq couldn’t get ONE SINGLE AIRPLANE launched when we attacked. What the hell are we so afraid of?

        1. Fear Itself?

      3. Indeed. ORDERS of magnitude less. So much so that, by cold war standards, they wouldn’t be considered a threat at all. A nuisance, at best. There needs to be an actual reassessment of the potential threat and work backwards from there, starting with the NSC and NMS. This notional acquisition process is an abomination. We have a quarter the threat we had during the cold war (and that’s because our cold war foes have cut their spending, not because terrorists have any power whatsoever) and we are spending more than we did when the Russians were coming across the Fulda Gap.

        Warmongers have somehow convinced just about everyone that terrorism is as big a threat as the Soviets, with nukes, armies, tanks, navies, and full up air Fforces were. It’s absurd.

        1. Countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc. were all viewed in Cold War terms, not as significant in their own right. While I think that was a mistake, it’s understandable when you realize how serious a potential threat the Soviets really were. Crazy Russians with an even crazier ideology is not a good combination.

          We have better things to do than to continue to mess around in the Middle East. The only solution is to act barbarically, which I don’t think is a good idea, so it’s better to withdraw. We don’t have to do that instantly, but it’s just not worth the damage it’s doing to us at home.

        2. We need a bigger war budget to create better enemies to justify our bigger war budget. Obviously.

          1. Product Placement,

            Why not just print a few thousand very massive “Freest Country on the Earth Ever!” banners and hang them up in every other country or territory and thereby anger everyone who is less free.

            Some people hate freedoms and this will surely get us a steady source of enemies.

            Full disclosure: I manufacture massive banners and own a controlling interest in Global Massive Banner Hangers and its offshoot GMBH Worldwide Security.

    2. Who indeed? Good point.

  8. Politicians suck.

  9. I hope he’s a pandering liar. That’s a depressing thing to say.

  10. I’m really, really irritated with him. There are two possibilities: He’s either doing this to gain votes (which is utterly moronic since the interventionist wing isn’t going to vote for him anyway) in which case this is a sleazy lie or he really thinks this is a good idea, in which case he’s no better on this subject than the rest of the Republican Party.

  11. So that leaves Rand on solid footing on:

    1. Drug policy and sentencing reform

    2. Civil liberties

    3. Taxes, economics, school choice etc

    That’s still enough for me to vote for, all things considered.

    1. The larger problem for me is that if he’s going to flip flop on this before campaign season what else is he going to flip on before or after he hypothetically gets into office?

    2. Yes, but this is troubling. I could even handle him being a little more hawkish/interventionist than he was, provided that he still was looking to get military spending under control.

    3. He’ll abandon all those whenever it becomes convenient to do so.

      He was never really libertarian; libertarians were just the first group of useful idiots he pandered to.

      If his dad had been Bernie Sanders he’d have gotten into the Senate running as a communist.

      1. I think that’s a bit much. He’s acted fairly libertarian while in the Senate, and I doubt he’s some secret super-conservative who has been pandering to libertarians all of these years.

        1. I doubt he’s some secret super-conservative either. I don’t think he’s anything other than a guy who wants to be elected.

          1. Why would he have played quasi-libertarian for years, then? That would seem to be a really indirect and ineffective way to the White House.

            1. He needed access to his father’s supporters for funding until he could build up a funding network of his own. He now thinks he’s big enough he no longer needs them so he no longer needs to pretend he shares their beliefs.

        2. Of course it’s a bit much. Stormy goes a little crazy once in a while.

          I seriously doubt anyone who was just lying about everything he believed would have sang the praises of Lochner v. New York during an anti-drone filibuster. It never would have occurred to someone who wasn’t legitimately sympathetic to libertarianism to discuss the benefits of the Lochner decision.

          1. 1. My participation in the political process has absolutely no effect on the outcomes. I AM POWERLESS
            2. As Rand just demonstrated, even if my participation did have an effect, it is impossible to determine how to use it to advance my goals. MY PARTICIPATION IS MEANINGLESS
            3. Politicans are no limited by any bounds of ethics or morality. POLITICS IS NORMLESS
            4. My views are a minority and are not tolerated or respected by the rest of society. I AM ISOLATED.

            1. Isolated yet not alone.

              1. Thus far have I proceeded in a theme
                Renew’d with no kind auspices: — to feel
                We are not what we have been, and to deem
                We are not what we should be, — and to steel
                The heart against itself; and to conceal,
                With a proud caution, love, or hate, or aught —
                Passion or feeling, purpose, grief, or zeal, —
                Which is the tyrant spirit of our thought,
                Is a stern task of soul: — No matter, — it is taught.

                And for these words, thus woven into song,
                It may be that they are a harmless wile, —
                The colouring of the scenes which fleet along,
                Which I would seize, in passing, to beguile
                My breast, or that of others, for a while.
                Fame is the thirst of youth, — but I am not
                So young as to regard men’s frown or smile,
                As loss or guerdon of a glorious lot;
                I stood and stand alone, — remember’d or forgot.

                1. I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
                  I have not flatter’d its rank breath, nor bow’d
                  To its idolatries a patient knee, —
                  Nor coin’d my cheek to smiles, — nor cried aloud
                  In worship of an echo; in the crowd
                  They could not deem me one of such; I stood
                  Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
                  Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
                  Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

                  I have not loved the world, nor the world me, —
                  But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
                  Though I have found them not, that there may be
                  Words which are things, — hopes which will not deceive,
                  And virtues which are merciful, or weave
                  Snares for the failing: I would also deem
                  O’er others’ griefs that some sincerely grieve;
                  That two, or one, are almost what they seem, —
                  That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.

      2. Pandering to libertarians is akin to pandering to NAMBLA. One, we’re a tiny minority. Two, almost everybody thinks we’re crazy.

        1. His father’s supporters are a tiny minority, but a very vocal one that’s willing to put money behind their words. Visibility and money are the two most important things for someone getting started as a politician.

          1. His father’s supporters are taking over state Republican parties?

    4. Let’s not forget his positions on abortion and gay marriage.

      His idea that states should prevail on some issues doesn’t work for me, either.

      1. The President is supposed to follow the Constitution, so it’s hard to argue with him there.

    5. True, until it becomes more “convenient” to change his mind on those also. I’m not saying he will but if he changes on this, what may be next, in order to win the nomination? The opposition to a overly large military industrial complex and opposition to interventionism is part of the foundation of what separates libertarians from the other two sides of the same political party. If we have a gov’t who strives to have a military so large it has no problem intervening in foreign affairs, we’ll have a gov’t who has no problem increasing it’s intervention in domestic affairs.

    6. Agreed, but this is not nothing. If he is elected with a GOP-controlled Congress, he will likely be getting budgets with even more defense spending sent to his desk. This suggests he won’t fight against it, and he certainly won’t veto it.

      (of course, so would Hillary, and probably Biden)

  12. Our list of allies grows…thin.

    1. And winter is coming.

  13. As I recall, Rand has been quite hawkish about ISIS. Perhaps his new budget is reflective of a desire to eliminate it from the region and as such would be a temporary expenditure?

    1. My take was that he wants to arm the Kurds so that ISIS will go for the weaker targets in Baghdad and Damascus. Then, let Iran and ISIS deplete each other’s resources. Now, I’m not so sure.

      I am still hopeful that he would not be actively supporting Iranian forces with air strikes or giving weapons to ISIS through Syrian “moderate” pass-throughs if he were president.

    2. We could easily do that without increasing the budget.

  14. This is clearly a move to assuage law ‘n’ order conservatives for the Presidential primary.

    Every election cycle Republican candidates talk about smaller government, less debt, etc. We identify these people as lying sacks of shit by the things they do when they’re NOT running for election.

    Shouldn’t the same hold true for Rand Paul? When he’s not running for president, he’s probably the most outspoken Republican on the NAP in foreign relations — hell, he’s more outspoken on the NAP than most Dems. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here. I’ve been lied to by big government overlords my whole life. For once, I have some hope that I’m being lied to by someone who actually wants to reduce the size of FedGov.

    1. But this is “what he is doing”.

      Its an actual proposed amendment to spending, not just some stump speech. I can deal with him talking more hawkish if his proposals in congress stay the same.

      Heck, even a moderate increase compared to Rubio et al would less bad. A 4% increase instead of a 16% increase or something.

    2. This reminds of the now deceased MA governor Cellucci who said he’d vote for an assault weapon ban if he were elected governor. gop’ers argued he was just saying that to get elected.

      Well, he was elected and MA now has an assault weapon ban thanks to Cellucci.

      Screw them all!

  15. Wasn’t it obvious from the beginning that, unlike his father, Rand was willing to sell out on principles to get elected? Or have those of you who are shocked forgotten his surprising endorsement of Romney in 2012, even though his father hadn’t officially withdrawn from the race? Now that he’s made waves and has a loyal following among the grassroots, he’s making his pivot to the establishment.

    1. I’m not a “Rockwellian”, i.e. one who doesn’t realize that perfect is the enemy of the good. But Rand needs to remember that the reason he’s been resonating with so many is that he has taken radical (for this day and age, anyway) stances. His winning the nomination is a long shot, to say the least. If/when he loses and once again becomes Rand the senator, he may find himself at odds with Rand the presidential candidate.

  16. Hey nick,

    Every time I see you on tv you are bitching about the NSA, the defense budget, wars in Afghanistan. I’m with you, comrade. Why don’t we throw our support behind someone who is unambiguously against those things and not someone that is willing to play power politics– you guys call it realism, I call it bullshit– in order to get nominated?

    1. Re: American Stolid,

      Why don’t we throw our support behind someone who is unambiguously against those things

      How about No One? I heard he’s principled.

      1. He in fact possesses all principles all the time…

    2. “Every time I see you on tv you are bitching about the NSA, the defense budget, wars in Afghanistan. I’m with you, comrade.”

      Add social welfare spending to that list and you’ve got a winner.

    3. “Every time I see you on tv you are bitching about the NSA, the defense budget, wars in Afghanistan. I’m with you, comrade. Why don’t we throw our support behind someone who is unambiguously against those things and not someone that is willing to play power politics– you guys call it realism, I call it bullshit– in order to get nominated?”

      Why don’t you point me to a single electable politician who actually opposes the NSA? There aren’t any of those on the left either, with the possible exception of outright Communists like yourself.

        1. Re: American Stolid,

          Viscount did say “with the possible exception of outright Communists like yourself.”

        2. Needs more Stasi apologia. I love how you’re stupid enough to not understand the actual consequences or institutions needed to fulfill your ideology. The KGB would have a field day manipulating idiots like you.

    4. Fuck you, scum.

  17. Rand Paul has managed to give EVERYONE a substantial list of reasons not to support him.

    He will not be getting a party nomination.

  18. The only possible out I see is that his budget might include all the off-budget war money that everyone else pretends is not part of the budget. I hope that’s the case.

    What’s depressing about this is that war-boner politicians are a dime a dozen; Rand Paul stood out for being different. If this is really just his turning into yet another war-boner candidate, then he’s losing all that made him worth paying attention to.

    Like Saab after being bought by Detroit, or HP turning into a commodity PC maker.

    1. Does he have to be different in every respect, to be considered “different”?

  19. “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” ?Mark Twain

  20. In the abstract, partial demilitarization and reducing our military budget by half, or more, sounds attractive. However, having never seen one, I’d like to see an article in Reason describing what the world would look like, geopolitically speaking, if the U.S. abandoned all its military bases abroad, including those in Europe and Asia, brought home all its troop, reduced its navy to about two carriers and one hundred ships (estimating a third in port or dry dock at any given time), and kept it within 500 nautical miles of U.S. shores. Would we be safer then?

    1. Nobody’s suggesting that anyone would be ‘safer’ by doing those things.

    2. Peter Zeihan’s The Accidental Superpower is a pretty good book on this subject.

    3. I’ve been wondering how many wars have been extended due to our meddling. for example if Obama had left Lybia and Syria alone ISIS might have already been marginalized and if we weren’t bombing them for Iranian troops they would then have to use their own equipment or not bother at all thus also ending their action earlier. but we don’t know either way.

    4. Forget the “safer” part. Describe to me what the geopolitical landscape would look like it the the U.S. abandoned all its military bases abroad, including those in Europe and Asia, brought home all its troop, reduced its navy to about two carriers and one hundred ships (estimating a third in port or dry dock at any given time), and kept it within 500 nautical miles of U.S. shores.

  21. Very sad. That echoing voice on the military from his father was one that I know I hoped I would hear from him. It will be missed and won’t come from either party.

    But I’m not surprised…his lack of support for a negotiated settlement with Iran (unlike his father) is all you need to know that apple does indeed fall far from the tree.

    1. You know what else is sad, joe? You. Especially how you continually come here under different handles and pretend like we can’t recognize you instantly. Moron.

    2. Don’t you have some of the Lord’s work to do on the meanest streets of America, or something?

  22. It’s interesting you guys don’t see what’s happening here. No one knows better than Rand Paul that you need to win a nomination to win an election. You do realize John McCain and Mitt Romney won the Republican nominations just 7 and 3 years ago, right? Rand cannot allow his opponents to destroy him on military spending…THE MOST IMPORTANT GOP VOTER CALLING CARD. He would lose, and then all the good things we agree with him about are lost because no other candidate in either party espouses them at all.

    So, he’s being smart here. Win the GOP nomination first. (And don’t think for a second he could have won by reducing military budgets. That’s blood in the water for a debate that is likely to have at least a half dozen guys in it, all hawks.) Then when you are Commander in Chief, you can be as dovish as you want.

    At least he offset the budget by reducing in other areas we all want reduced. And it’s actually an overall budget decrease of about $22B if I read it correctly. I’m curious where he directed this increase. Sensible military spending that actually matters, maybe even efficient spending, or 6 nuclear subs when the Navy asks for just 1?

    1. ^^Bullshit^^

      If you want change in politics, you have to be the change. You don’t get elected as a candidate of change by acting just like everyone else. Either be straight with voters or GTFO. And I’m sure as hell not gonna be one of those voters who guesses as to a man’s intent. If he says he intends to increase military spending, I’m gonna take his word for it.

    2. Yea, and how did that work out for them? If he has to do what he can to get the nomination, he’ll then have to do what he can to win the general election, then he’ll have to do what he can do to win reelection, and then what do we have. One who claims to be libertarian doing what those who are entrenched in the one political party, doing what we thought he wouldn’t be doing so we voted for him. If he says he wants to raise spending, what proof do we have that he won’t? If you say he’s just lying to get elected, what other things is he lying about to get elected? Libertarianism is coming on stronger and stronger but if we have those who say they are libertarian speaking like the other two what’s the difference? They too will say whatever it takes to get elected, then re elected.

      1. The libertarian message is strong, and it’s the correct one. We need those who won’t change the message for convenience, we need libertarians who have the character to proclaim what they believe and stand by it. You can’t get the true message out if you have to change the message to appease those who don’t get it.

    3. If he wins then slashes spending, fine. But it is concerning. There’s a point where good intentions don’t matter. We ran into this a little with Reagan, too, who sounded pretty fond of limited government.

    4. I’m sure all of the warhawk support will just come rolling in now.

  23. Here’s Barney frank talking about his close relationship with Ron Paul, principles, and the corrosive effect that the. “Presidential bug” has had on rand. I think he gets it about right.


  24. Could we let the poor man maybe make it through the primary? He’s going to have to say things that libertarians will probably disagree with.

    When Obama said he thinks marriage is a man and a woman and he doesn’t support gay marriage – did anybody in his progressive left base really think that was true? Well, maybe a couple but most of them got the game. Let’s realize politics is 80% BS and not tear him apart too quickly.

    1. He did not “say” anything. He submitted an amendment to a spending bill.

  25. It is done in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending?some way more than Senator Paul’s amendment?without paying for it. Senator Paul believes national defense should be our priority. He also believes our debt is out of control. This amendment is to lay down a marker that if you believe we need more funding for national defense, you should show how you would pay for it. We can’t just keep borrowing more money from China to send to Pakistan. And we can’t keep paying for even vital things like national defense on a credit card.

    Heavy on words, light on substance.

  26. The statement from his office in reaction is bizarre. Does it actually say anything substantive? Not really, it’s just a bunch of one-liners.

    At this rate, he’s going to be a mainstream Republican by the time the first primaries roll around.

    1. So, you’re saying he might actually win?

      1. Well, yeah. But…if he’s completely sold out and is just another R, who cares?

        “Well, he’ll be better than any Democrat!” Not saying much, is it?

        1. I took one of those “How much do you agree with this candidate” polls when Ron was running. I agreed with him on about 95% of issues. I probably agree with Rand somewhere between 75-85%. All other candidates, it was sub-50%. I’m practical enough to vote for the vastly better of two evils in order to finally be partially represented in some way by someone in my government of, by, and for the people. I’ll never defend a politicians principles because I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think I understand tactics enough to not freak out about them.

          I think he’s even more interesting if he pulls off what I consider to be a massive upset by fooling the fools.

    2. The statement from his office in reaction is bizarre. Does it actually say anything substantive?


      It sounds like someone’s trying to weasel his way out of a position he’s clearly put himself in.

  27. Let’s see:

    1. Rand: Newfound defense hawk. Hasn’t sold out on other principles… yet. Had a job.
    2. Cruz: Always a defense hawk. Not sure about other principles, but pisses the right people off. Never really had a job outside government (was private practice attorney for NRA and Speaker Orange for a year there before joining Bush admin.)
    3. Walker: Seems defense hawky. Never had a job outside government. Makes all the right people frothy-mouth-derp-nuts.on the possibility that somewhere, somehow, someday, a person on the gubmint payroll could get fired. At least has executive branch experience.
    4 Jeb…

    Yeah, I’m moving to Costa RIca. Fuck it.

  28. It is done in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending?some way more than Senator Paul’s amendment?without paying for it.

    The criticism, Mr. Stafford, is not that Paul’s bill is an attempt to increase spending for “defense” without having a proper source of funding, but that it purports to increase spending for “defense” at all.

    1. Yeah if this is some poison pill maneuver or something they need to explain far better than that.

  29. April Fool !!

    I thought you all were getting a little morose. It appears Rand’s goal is to demonstrate what would need to be cut to balance the defense increases, ie it’s a signal not a serious proposal. At least I hope so.

    1. If that’s the case, he’s gonna need to Randsplain himself much better than he has.

  30. He’s not going to appease the hawks, who will still think he’s a weak-kneed Neville Chamberlain.

    He’s also going to alienate the noninterventionists.

    Other than that – a stroke of political genius!

  31. Rand should remember that you don’t win by converting your enemies, you win by getting your base excited and getting them to vote.

    This stunt is not going to convert the Rubio / Jeb crowd (or others), but it sure makes it harder for me to see why I should respond favorably the next time I get a request for campaign support.

    1. You also win in part by making your enemies less enthusiastic & more likely to attack someone else.

  32. Nick,

    I’m a libertarian so I’m planning on voting for a politician that opposes NSA wiretapping, opposes wars in Afghanistan, opposes increasing the defense spending, and wants to minimize u.s. Involvement in Iraq. You think someone who is at best ambivalent on all these issues is ” the most interesting man in the senate.” What’s so interesting about him?

    1. I’m a libertarian

      Starts off with a lie.

      opposes NSA wiretapping, opposes wars in Afghanistan, opposes increasing the defense spending, and wants to minimize u.s. Involvement in Iraq.

      Meanwhile, american socialist, being a scumbag, offers up excuses for a totalitarian dictatorship when it does anything remotely similar to this.

      Stop pretending you’re principled. You have repeatably shown to be a dishonest, childish and petty liar. No surprise that you’re kowtowing for Sanders now, considering he shares all those traits.

    2. I’m not saying that it is requisite, but if you were to read Nick’s Twitter feed, he’s clearly shown his dissatisfaction with Rand’s announcement, and specifically proclaimed that this move has made him far LESS interesting.

  33. I’m a libertarian [citation needed]

    1. No see, he’s a left libertarian! After all, ‘libertarians’ were originally anarcho-communists!

      Oh wait, even bloody ‘libertarian socialists’ of the 19th century recognized the issue of coercive statism, while american socialist sings its praises.

      1. Right wingers conflate Lenin with Marx for the 1,546,876th time.

        1. Re: American Stolid,

          Right wingers conflate Lenin with Marx for the 1,546,876th time.

          That’s because communists conflated them a billion times, AS

          What’s so obnoxious of you is that you think you’re talking to morons.

      2. If I remember correctly, american socialist isn’t even a real socialist, he’s a social democrat that thinks Denmark and Sweden are socialist states. Real socialists usually despise people like him, except to the extent they can use them as useful idiots.

  34. The boost would be offset by a two-year combined $212 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Education


    1. Look, there’s no place for realism here. Wipe that smirk off your face or gtfo.

    2. trust me

  35. I’m one of those who have continually waffled between just giving up on and leaving the GOP and trying to ‘change it’ from within. Knowing that there really is zero chance of changing it from within and zero chance of my principles winning as a third party.

    But I think I’m now comfortable with embracing my irrelevance as a citizen. Gary Johnson, you now have one yard in my neighborhood that will have a yard sign. Maybe it can help break the 1% barrier

    1. if you are in the GOP, you are part of the problem.

    2. Pretty much why I’d like to just pick up and head for the hills and become a hermit.

      I’m burned out with this BS.

    3. Are you just finally giving up on the gop now 🙂

      I have to admit getting sucked into their “we want smaller gov’t” promises, and as time went on I realized they only meant “marginally smaller gov’t.”

      The only place for me is with the libertarians, and not the ones that want to argue the 10th Amendment of allowing the states to rule on gay marriage, abortion, etc. Our rights are our rights and no gov’t entity has the right to deprive us of a single one.

      The 9th says what it means:

      “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

  36. “The boost would be offset by a two-year combined $212 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Education.”

    Honestly, I see where he’s going with this.

    Still the wrong move.

  37. Okay, so you’re saying that doing this–

    But under Paul’s new plan, the Pentagon will see its budget authority swell by $76.5 billion to $696,776,000,000 in fiscal year 2016.

    To get this–

    The boost would be offset by a two-year combined $212 billion cut to funding for aid to foreign governments, climate change research and crippling reductions in to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Education.

    Is a net loss? A violation of his principles? Really?

    77billion to stop intervening, stop funding AGW hysteria, cripple the EPA, HUD, Commerce and education and you’re complaining?

    In the name of all the gods, why?

    1. If this is money funneled into R and D and NOT war-making, I really couldn’t care less.

    2. I wouldn’t be so quick to take Time’s description of “crippling” so literally. It would also be nice if we could actually cut spending for once without having to offset it with increases elsewhere.

  38. *narrows gaze at Rand Paul*
    Someone had to do it.

  39. Here’s another update:

    Rand Paul isn’t running for the LP nomination.

    He’s running for the Republican Party nomination, and to do so, he has to win the support of Republican primary voters…

    I know! It’s scary.

    But winning the support of Republican primary voters means saying the shit Republican primary voters (and donors) want to hear.

    This shouldn’t be news to anyone–and it’s going to get worse. Outmaneuvering the competition in the primaries and pandering to the interests of the broadest possible constituency is the way you win the nomination. What did you expect? Fuckin’ crybabies.

    I was as staunchly opposed to the Iraq War as anybody else here, but if Rand Paul winning the nomination necessitates him saying some stupid shit in the primaries, then I’m happy to hear him do so.

    1. The point that many made upthread is that those OG voters don’t like or trust Paul regardless of what he says, so he’s better off sticking to his guns. He’s risks alienating his “base” and not gaining much of anything by shifting to a more hawkish stance.

    2. Old Mexican,

      I’m responding to you here because I think it’s more appropriate. It’s not that I think people in the commentariat are stupid, it’s just I don’t think they believe in limited government. Sorry, I don’t want to buy the right-wing shit sandwich they are selling. What is the saying? Principals over principles?

    3. I read your comment as you being “happy” to see RP stand up and applaud Bibi 41 times and commit trillions of US taxpayer funds so AIPAC & Shelley Adelson will say, “Well, you’ll never be our first choice but kiss our ass once more, wet please, and we’ll tolerate you.” Can you imaging Jim Webb knuckling under like that?!

  40. That’s an OK statement from Paul’s office, but defense ? offense or pre-emption. I get the feeling Paul would be OK with starting a war with ISIS overseas, which is not the same thing as beefing up our home turf defensive capabilities.

    You may even be able to make the case that foreign military adventures helped 9/11 in that we had almost no air cover for the entire east coast of the U.S., including the nation’s capital. Ramstein and Incirlik probably had more equipment than we did at the time.

  41. Re update:


  42. If he thinks such an obvious flip flop (‘…were you lying then or are you lying now?….’) is what is needed to ‘break out’ of the pack, he’s toast.

  43. Defense is one of the few legitimate roles of government. Radical pacifism as cornerstone of libertarianism is a very recent invention – a product of the Iraq war hysteria that lost much of its credibility with Islamic State on the rise.

    1. Totally agree with that. That said, the defense budget is so bloated with fat that calling for increases instead of pointing out how fat defense is is a bit silly and makes you look like a hypocrite.

  44. So, so disappointed. Done with Rand. Sorry Ron; you have once-in-a-lifetime integrity unlike your son. Go Jim Webb!

  45. Describe to me what the geopolitical landscape would look like it the the U.S. abandoned all its military bases abroad, including those in Europe and Asia, brought home all its troop, reduced its navy to about two carriers and one hundred ships (estimating a third in port or dry dock at any given time), and kept it within, for example, 500 nautical miles of U.S. shores.

  46. 2011 was before the rise of ISIS and acts of aggression by Russia and other hostile regions. America has gotten a bit more hawkish since then. No one wants outright war, but they’ve largely supported other forms of intervention.

    No one will slash civilian personnel (which take up a chunk of the defense spending, if I’m not mistaken) involved in national defense. It just wont happen. I’m not opposed to spending money to upgrade equipment and beef up intelligence. Let’s see where the money is going.

    Defense spending isn’t the same thing as military intervention. With Rand Paul as POTUS, people on this side of aisle gets at least something – friendly to Israel, skeptical (but not outright hostile?) of Iran, less interventionism but not completely isolationist.

    SOME conservatives don’t like him. But in fact, Ron Paul was a frequent guest at the Michael Savage show, and Rand appears a lot on a whole bunch of talk radio and FOX shows. If Rand is nominee, they’ll vote for him despite some serious differences.

    Reason insist that Republicans should support open borders, because the numbers are on their side. But if Rand proposes increase in spending (that please someone somewhere) they would call him a traitor. You can’t support the numbers game on one issue but insist on purity on another.

  47. “Rand Paul Goes Hawkish, Proposes Massive Defense Increases”

    Why? So we can look back in 10 years and say look, “America rushed to war”?

  48. Rand is doing what he has to go to get the nomination. He watched and learned what happened to his father when he ran for president. Rand in 2016!!

  49. How do you get a libertarian into the oval office by way of the Republickin primaries? You position the guy as being “just as hawkish on national defense as those other guys” (while being even more fiscally conservative of course). After he gets the primary nod, he can then flipflop his position back toward isolationsist vs. the interventionist Billaryborg side.

    My advice: judge the man by his actions, not by his words.

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