Marijuana

How Libertarian Is Rand Paul on Drug Policy?

More than any other major-party presidential candidate, but there's room for improvement.

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Last week about 40 people paid at least $2,700 each to hear Rand Paul talk about drug policy during the National Cannabis Industry Association's conference at the Denver Convention Center. That "private briefing" made the Kentucky senator the first major-party presidential candidate to hold a fundraiser aimed at people in the marijuana business.

"We are now establishing ourselves as a true industry with a professional focus, and we have issues that we need to have dealt with on the federal level," Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told The Washington Post. "We have candidates and elected officials who are seeing that need for reform." Tripp Keber, CEO of Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver-based manufacturer of marijuana products, called the fundraiser "a historical moment, that our industry is now working together with a presidential candidate."

That the candidate was a Republican may seem counterintuitive, but that it was Paul is hardly surprising. For years the self-described "libertarian-ish" conservative has been criticizing the war on drugs and recommending a state-centered approach to psychoactive substances. Among other things, that means states like Colorado are free to adopt policies that allow businesses like Keber's to flourish. Although Paul has refrained from endorsing marijuana legalization, he opposes federal interference with the industry, which is the biggest obstacle it currently faces.

Four days before his appearance at the cannabusiness conference, Paul received an A– in the Marijuana Policy Project's report card on 22 presidential candidates. It was the highest grade received by any candidate of either major party. "Sen. Paul has consistently supported states' rights to establish their own marijuana policies," MPP noted, "and he has been a vocal supporter of decriminalizing or reducing criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession." The organization also noted Paul's sponsorship of the CARERS Act, which would make the federal ban on marijuana inapplicable to people who produce, distribute, or use the drug for medical purposes in compliance with state law. Another provision of the CARERS Act is aimed at eliminating federal barriers to banking services for state-licensed marijuana businesses, including those that serve recreational consumers.

Paul is also a vocal opponent of excessively harsh penalties for drug offenses, including marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution. He has criticized Republican rivals who used marijuana with impunity in high school or college for continuing to support laws that result in hundreds of thousands of petty pot busts each year. Here is what Paul had to say about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in an interview with The Hill last January: "This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana, but he wants to put people in jail who do. I think that's the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that."

Comments like those imply that Paul, at the very least, thinks possession of marijuana for personal use should be not be treated as a crime. Furthermore, the fact that he is happy to rub shoulders with (and take money from) people who make their living by selling cannabis-infused sodas and chocolates indicates that he does not view that line of work as disreputable or immoral. Yet Paul has repeatedly shied away from saying that marijuana should be legalized, limiting himself to saying that states should be free to legalize it if they decide that is the right thing to do.

"I'm not for having the federal government get involved," Paul told Roll Call after voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., approved legalization last November. "I really haven't taken a stand on…the actual legalization. I haven't really taken a stand on that, but I'm against the federal government telling them they can't."

The denationalization of drug policy is a consistent theme of Paul's comments on the subject, going back at least 15 years. During an appearance on the public affairs show Kentucky Tonight in 2000, when he was chairman of Kentucky Taxpayers United, Paul even seemed to agree that the entire federal war on drugs, not just the part of it aimed at marijuana, should be called off. He was responding to the following statement from a caller:

My plan is to legalize all drugs and take the money that we spend to keep the drugs out of the country, put that into Social Security, and release all nonviolent drug offenders…take the money that we would spend in housing these inmates, put that into Social Security. Now that money is going to end the money problems with Social Security. I would like to hear you guys comment on that.

Here is how Paul responded:

I would agree with him. I think they are sort of separate issues, and obviously you can take the savings from one. But I would agree with him: The war on drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money. And we should better spend [the money] dealing with people, with their addiction problems, quit wasting all the money, sending the military to Bolivia to shoot farmers who are growing coca plants. That's just ridiculous. So I do agree with him there: Just end that war on drugs and make it a much more local situation, more community oriented…There's probably a lot of savings in that.

Those remarks can be read as an endorsement of legalization, but they also can be read as similar to the position Paul has taken since he became a Senate candidate in 2009: devolve drug policy to state and local governments; emphasize rehabilitation rather than punishment. It all depends on what Paul meant by "end that war on drugs." For me that means repealing drug prohibition. But recall that Barack Obama, who as a Senate candidate in 2004 called the war on drugs an "utter failure," supposedly ended it his first year in the White House.

Given the opportunity to retreat from his 2000 statement on Bill Maher's HBO show last November, Paul did not take it:

I'll do everything to end the war on drugs. The war on drugs has become the most racially disparate outcome that you have in the entire country. Our prisons are full of black and brown kids. Three-fourths of the people in prison are black or brown, and white kids are using drugs, Bill, as you know…at the same rate as these other kids. But kids who have less means, less money, kids who are in areas where police are patrolling…Police are given monetary incentives to make arrests, monetary incentives for their own departments. So I want to end the war on drugs because it's wrong for everybody, but particularly because poor people are caught up in this, and their lives are ruined by it.

There is still considerable ambiguity there about what "end[ing] the war on drugs" would entail. But it is probably significant that Paul, unlike other Republicans seeking their party's presidential nomination, does not feel a need to say legalization is a bad idea. And consistently following Paul's recommendation that states be free to set their own drug policies leads to a position virtually indistinguishable from the one staked out by the senator's father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul.

The elder Paul, who ran for president on the Libertarian Party's ticket in 1988, is more openly and consistently libertarian than his son. But his main drug policy prescription as a legislator and presidential candidate was to eliminate prohibition at the federal level, leaving states free to go their own way. That is what the 21st Amendment, which repealed National Alcohol Prohibition, did, and that is the direction in which Rand Paul seems to be leaning. His CARERS Act would essentially repeal federal prohibition with respect to state-legal medical marijuana.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, which Ron Paul cosponsored, would have gone further, limiting the federal government's role to curbing the transportation of marijuana into states that continue to ban it. A similar bill, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, was introduced in April by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). It says simply that the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act dealing with marijuana "shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws." So far there is no Senate version. Who in that august body would be radical enough to sponsor something like that?

This article originally appeared at Forbes.com.

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143 responses to “How Libertarian Is Rand Paul on Drug Policy?

  1. I love how Jacob constantly says Rand is better than “any candidate of either major party”, but not once does he compare Rand’s policies to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Jacob doesn’t mention Johnson even once in the article. It seems odd to me that a Libertarian publication would bend over backwards to not even mention a candidate that they should “naturally” support, when assessing the policies of a candidate that they should kind of support. I have no major problem with Rand, he is better than every other major party candidate. But why should I support a candidate that is almost good enough, when I can support a candidate that is good enough?

    1. Because your good enough candidate has no actual chance of winning an election. A vote for Johnson if Rand makes the general (unless you are in a state that is lopsided for one party no matter what you vote) is a vote for the continued marginalization of libertarian ideas for the sake of…what? Grandstanding?

      Rand Paul is the most viable libertarian candidate within my lifetime. His election may cause something crazy to happen like more people actually take a look at libertarianism.

      We won’t get perfect. We will never get perfect in American politics. Libertarians continue to be the most marginal of political ideologies because that’s what they demand.

      1. What Brochet said….!!

      2. And it is reasoning like yours why we are stuck with a shitty two-party system. A two-party system which does not allow opposing views to theirs to take the dais during Presidential Debates. It seems to me that the more support Gary Johnson gets now, helps to get him on the stage during the debates (by their rules, assuming he loses his lawsuit). I believe having an actual Libertarian debating Libertarian principles with a (R) and (D) will do far more to spread the idealism of Liberty than us just listening to a liberal and a libertarianish neo-con. I support Dr. Paul through the primaries (as I did his father), but when it comes to the general, I vote by principle, not popularity.

        1. I’m still LOLing about Gary Johnson. Who?

          1. Gary Johnson is a popular guy who got elected governor of New Mexico. What have you done?

            1. Oh, he’s also an an Iron Man triathalete.

            2. I’m sure you’re proud of your hero. Unfortunately, he’s got as important a voice as any random person commenting here. He’s irrelevant. No.One.Knows.Who.He.Is. Oh, sure, posters here do. And you, and Gary Johnson, have spread the message so effectively that any random libertariot dumb enough to run for Prez still gets about the same percentage or less than they did when the party started, How long were Republicans around before they won the Presidency? You guys are like a less effective version of the Workers World Party, minus the charisma. You’ve been chattering for years and can’t even muster the electoral support of Ross H. Perot. The Bull Moose Party was more meaningful than your party. Perhaps you can form a libertarian Bull Moose Party and latch on to past successes. Call it the Bullshit Loose Party, which pretty much sums up everything you guys spill on these pages.

        2. Right, but here’s the thing: We do have a two party system. We will have a two party system unless the electoral college gets abolished by constitutional amendment.
          The Whig party was replaced by the Republican party, and the Republican party may be replaced by the Libertarian party, but as long we have the electoral college, we will never, ever, ever, have a parliamentary system.

    2. Get used to it. I came to this blog years ago because I specifically wanted to learn more about Johnson before the Presidential election. Sadly, I learned they were much more interested in complaining about Democrats and Republicans than they ever were about promoting Libertarian Johnson. Many more articles about Obama and Romney than about Johnson.

      They say Paul is libertarian-ish. Given their leanings to the GOP on so many issues, they are in fact libertarian-ish right here.

      1. Get used to it. I came to this blog years ago because I specifically wanted to learn more about Johnson before the Presidential election

        You lying sack of shit. If you actually came here to read about Johnson, it was like how Obama reads biographies on Reagan.

        1. Like you suggested above, I came here to look at libertarianism. It’s what you want. Alas, I found too many shallow thinking foul mouths like you. Congrats!

          1. Jackand Ace|7.5.15 @ 10:32AM|#
            “Get used to it. I came to this blog years ago because I specifically wanted to learn more about Johnson before the Presidential election”
            Repeat: You’re a lying sack of shit. You came here to spout lefty lies and you can fuck off.

            1. In Jack and Ace’s defense, that is Tulpa he’s responding to, isn’t it?

              1. that is Tulpa he’s responding to, isn’t it?

                At this point everyone is Tulpa, including you, Tulpa.

                1. No, I think that guy was seriously identified as Tulpa weeks ago.

                  Normally, I’d agree with Sevo, but if he’s calling Tulpa “a shallow thinking foul mouth”, then I think we have to give him credit for that, don’t we?

                  1. Since everyone is Tulpa, including me, I disagree with you just because that is what Tulpa does.

                    1. I thought it was confirmed that Bo and Tony where one and the same, but Tulpa usually uses a bunch of one-off sock puppets that do not have their own “personalties”….no?

                    2. I don’t think that’s what was “confirmed”.
                      Personally, I think Bo is more than one person. I think it’s a joint account at a law school, and different little statist fucks take turns using it. The writing style and even the sophistication of the arguments changes all the time.
                      Tony lives in his mom’s basement, and probably works as a security guard while masturbating to pics of Joe Walsh.

                    3. John Walsh, John Walsh. Omg, Joe Walsh is the man and my stupid phone wrote the wrong name. Funk #49 is inspired.

                    4. Shut up Tulpa!

                      Wait who are we talking about?

                  2. I don’t believe anyone has ever actually accused me of being Tulpa. Nor do I see anything Tulpa-like in the positions I take. Or that Tulpa makes a point of calling Jackand Ace a moron instead of goading regulars.

                    1. If I have you confused with one of Tulpa’s many names, I sincerely apologize.

                    2. That sounds exactly like something Tulpa would say, Ken.

                      And I’d know, since I’m Tulpa.

      2. “Sadly, I learned they were much more interested in complaining about Democrats and Republicans than they ever were about promoting Libertarian Johnson. Many more articles about Obama and Romney than about Johnson.”

        No one should be surprised to learn that libertarians really don’t see political candidates as the solution to our problems.

        Electing an emperor that’s certified by the LP won’t change the fact that the Presidency is turning increasingly imperial.

        And why not take the viability of winning into consideration? The LP candidate’s best hope is win more support in third place than the margin between the winner and loser.

        The LP candidate is a protest vote. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him treated like a protest candidate.

        1. There is no doubt that Paul’ candidacy has value…if for nothing else than to push the GOP, maybe the country, toward more libertarian positions. Remember how Ron was treated by McCain et.al? That doesn’t happen anymore because Ron’s positions resonated.

          But to go back to Bones’ point, Johnson maybe could do the same, but he really got scant support here.

          1. Johnson cannot do the same as the Libertarian nominee because we have single member districts.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger‘s_law

            If America ever becomes a libertarian nation politically, it will be because one of the two major parties appropriated its platform–like when FDR coopted the Socialist Party platform of 1932.

            Change will come from the bottom up. Rand Paul is probably too soon, but I hope I’m wrong about that. If I am, and a libertarian is elected to the White House, it happens, however, it won’t be because an LP candidate won an election for President. It’ll be because the Republicans coopted the LP platform and ran as Republicans.

            That’s the way the world works under single member districts.

            1. Maybe this link will make it through?

              http://tinyurl.com/99pvjpv

              1. Maybe. Like the old adage, though, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Ron took a bite. Rand may as well. It’s a marketplace of ideas. And as I said elsewhere, money is now speech, and that works to Rand’s detriment. And no one should discount how important that is…today. But we will see.

                1. Yeah, there are two major pushes to make.

                  One is to spread the libertarian gospel like evangelists. Ron Paul was great at that. Reason.com is good at that. And in my opinion, doing that is far more important than winning votes. When I think of people who changed things, I don’t think of politicians. The politicians are always the last ones on board–and they parade around like they’re the ones who bravely led us there.

                  The civil rights movement didn’t win because politicians enacted legislation. They won because people like MLK went out and changed people’s minds. The politicians were dragged along kicking and screaming. In 1963, George Wallace as all about “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” In 1972, George Wallace after some deep soul searching (and a quick glance at the polls) changed his mind completely.

                  That’s the way change happens. First you change people’s minds, and then the politicians change to reflect that. The libertarians of tomorrow are already in Congress today. 95%+ incumbency winning percentage! You don’t change the world by changing the politicians. You change the world by changing the voters themselves.

                  I’m not sure there’s been enough change in people’s hearts to elect Rand Paul yet, but that’s the order of operations–and it happens within single member districts.

                  1. The LP candidate has no chance of winning anything but more popular support for the ideology–but that’s really important. That’s the whole purpose of having an LP candidate. It certainly isn’t to seize the reigns of power through the ballot box and use the coercive power of government to inflict libertarianism on everyone from the commanding heights.

                    1. I think he just needs to make a strong showing in the primary, get acceptance from others on some policy issues (foreign policy maybe, maybe even drugs) and then see what happens. I kinda think right now his voice is kind of muted. But Ron was very effective in using the debates to his advantage, maybe Rand can as well. First step…get in the debates.

                    2. Rand Paul can win in New Hampshire.

                      If he does that and comes in the top three in Iowa, then he’s got as good a shot as anybody.

                      And I think he’ll have a harder time winning the nomination than he would against Hillary or what’s his name in the general election.

                    3. Good ol’ what’s his name.

                    4. Maybe not for you, but I have an evil scheme to take over the world, and then leave everyone alone! BAWAHAAHAAHAA!!!!!!11!eleventy!!

                  2. I agree with what you are saying but I credit Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson more than MLK.

            2. I do you not disagree with you Ken, but as I pointed out above a few moments ago, in my purview, it is more important to get a Libertarian on the debate stage against a (R) and (D). The debates are rigged to keep third-party candidates out. Things we can do as Libertarians is support the (L) candidate as mush as possible in these early stages and to vote our principles in the general to get the (L) over the 5% threshold. I know for a fact that there are more than 5% of Libertarians in the general population, if only we could get over this notion of “wasting your vote”.

              1. Sigh, it is wasting your vote. Our country is set up in such a way that a two party system is inevitable. The closest you could come to a parliamentary system is if, say, the Libertarian party endorsed the Republican candidate.
                Because the presidential election relies on a system where the winner takes all of a state’s electoral voters, a two party system for the presidency is obvious, and of course congressional, state, and even local politicians, will in turn be captured into one of the two parties.
                I am not making a judgement call between parliamentary and presidential systems, I’m just pointing out the realities on the ground.
                So, if Gary Johnson ran again for president as a Republican, then I will vote for him.
                If the election comes down to Paul for the R, Clinton for the D, and Johnson for the L, I gotta vote for Paul.
                And so do you, and you know it.

      3. Rand Paul is a politician affecting policy. Gary Johnson hasn’t been in office in over a decade. I like Gary Johnson and will take any voice libertarians can get.

        But let’s be in reality. Gary Johnson is less libertarian than Rand Paul. Gary Johnson didn’t know who Henry Hazlitt was a couple of years ago. The primary role of the LP is to educate. s Gary Johnson believes in anti-discrimination laws and other laws regulating business and he thinks humanitarian wars like going after Kony are okay. Gary Johnson wasn’t even for full drug legalization until very recently.

        1. I’m not sure I buy that Johnson is less libertarian than Paul. It might be more which libertarian side you lean toward. Right or left. Maybe Paul is libertarian-ish leaning right and Johnson is libertarian-ish leaning left.

          1. To be clear, I voted for Johnson last go around. I will vote for him again. I am always shocked though when people dump on Rand, a guy who won a statewide race and is a current elected official. And then some of those same people promote Johnson, someone not in office with no accountability to voters who frankly isn’t very libertarian.

            1. It’s about single member districts.

              You may have a larger army and better tanks, but if we’re fighting a naval battle, that doesn’t help much.

              You have to win within the context of a naval battle single member districts. Those are the confines of what can be done. If you ever make a big enough splash on ideological grounds, the major parties will start to coopt your ideology–issue by issue. In 2008, Obama ran on a campaign of “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. For 2012, Obama coopted libertarian ideas–because they were resonating.

              Winning on ideological grounds as a third party candidate cannot be done. One of the reasons is because as you become increasingly successful in garnering voter support, the two major parties have an increasing incentive to coopt your issues. Hell, have you seen that idiot Tony coming over gloating as if gay marriage were a triumph of progressives over libertaranism? That’s the way the system works.

              Our ideology can win rebranded as a one of the two major parties’ platforms, and that is the opportunity Rand Paul represents.

              Gary Johnson has no chance of winning or implementing anything–but he does have a chance to evangelize the ideology, and for that reason, he should be supported.

        2. True Mr. Johnson has not been an elected official for a decade, but when he was, he was a RINO in a 2/3 Democratic state, was the only former Gov. to leave office after term limit with a greater than 50% approval rating, left office with his state in much better financial state than when he was elected. It was his Libertarian views that allowed him to work with his Democratic Congress, although he also vetoed more bills than he signed. I cannot speak as to when he became opposed to the drug war, but I have to believe those views were formed while Governor of a Mexican border state.

          1. How did Gary Johnson’s libertarian views help him work with a Democratic legislature?

            1. It doesn’t matter to them if he did or didn’t work with the legislature. In THEORY it helped him work with them, and that’s what’s important to this crowd. They don’t care what the reality is. They don’t care that half their votes are probably random chance or protest votes from people who don’t have any idea what their party is. Or that they’re lucky if 1/100 the people who care enough to vote do vote for them. It’s just the libertopic randian theory that matters. According to that theory, they are winning. Gay marriage, so they are winning. Therefore, they win. Libertarian logic.

      4. Given their leanings to the GOP on so many issues, they are in fact libertarian-ish right here.

        Libertarians lean towards the GOP when they support economic liberty. That’s not supporting the GOP, that’s supporting economic liberty. If the Democrats supported liberty then libertarians would lean towards them. But the Democrats do not support liberty in any way, shape, or form. The only thing they support is control. And in reality it’s the same way with the GOP. Neither will repeal any liberty-restricting legislation (Repeal and Replace is like removing a cancerous tumor and replacing it with, say, a grapefruit).

        So in the end libertarians end up criticizing both sides, because what we’re criticizing is their continuous assault on liberty. Democrats abhor economic liberty while giving lip-service to personal liberty, while Republicans frown on personal liberty while giving lip-service to economic liberty.

        In the end, the only people who actually support liberty and justice for all is libertarians.

        1. “If the Democrats supported liberty then libertarians would lean towards them.”

          NEVER!

          I would never support the Democrats because they’re smug, and they drink lattes!

          And besides that, they care about the environment, and I would never support anyone who cares about the environment–not even if they want to fix it with capitalism–because not giving a shit about the environment is what libertarianism is all about!

          P.S. Caitlyn Jenner!

          1. they “care” about the environment

            Unless you live in Sudbury, ON or are one of the birdies getting chopped up by wind turbines…

            1. The people who run the turbines are saving us from global warming, which will kill every living thing on the planet! They’re preventing the environment from becoming an oven! So what if a few birds are killed! The end justifies the means!

              Besides that, the people who run the turbines are altruistic! They’re not tainted by evil profit motives like Big Oil! I mean, they’re working like with government and stuff! Public-private partnerships are good and wonderful, while private enterprise is evil! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil!

    3. Reason is a libertarian publication, not a Libertarian one. And the Libertarian Party, aka the Party of Bob Barr, is hardly the end-all, be-all of philosophical libertarianism. Most anti-democrats contend that using the collectivist vote to defend individual liberty is an absurd notion, as unfettered democracy always devolves into majorities harming minorities for their own benefit.

      And guess what? Libertarians are never going to be a majority. We talk about Rand because in the real world, he’s the politician who’s the most likely to have a substantial positive influence on the federal government, whether he’s in the White House or not. Not all governments are equally bad, and one with Rand in a prominent position of power is far better than one without him.

    4. The LP is useful 1) as a means to insert libertarian arguments into the media under the pretense of a Presidential candidate and 2) as a means for libertarians to register a protest vote.

      Rand Paul is useful because he has a legitimate chance of winning the White House.

      Perhaps more importantly, Rand Paul has a chance to rebrand the Libertarian platform as Republican (much like FDR rebranded the Communist Party USA’s platform from the 1920s as “Democrat”), which could eschew in fundamental change and make America as libertarian as FDR made it socialist.

      It doesn’t have to happen this election cycle. Maybe it’ll happen four years from now. Maybe eight. Maybe it’ll never happen. But Rand Paul has a legitimate shot despite singe member districts and winner take all–and if Rand Paul does get into the White House, it’ll be the best thing that’s happened for libertarianism since the fall of communism.

      If Rand Paul doesn’t win the nomination this cycle, then I’m sure Gary Johnson will get all the coverage he needs to mount a successful protest candidacy. So, here’s to Gay Johnson and wishing him success in all his future endeavors. May the road rise up to meet him. May the wind always be at his back.

      Rand Paul 2016.

    5. Johnson is not yet “the Libertarian candidate,” nor has he announced a campaign.

      So, there’s that.

      1. He (Johnson) has not announced because he the presumptive candidate. He is still actively suing the Commission on Presidential Debates for inclusion in the Presidential Debates (which I cannot state enough is what I believe to be the most important thing to spread the message of Liberty). I cannot imagine he would continue the suit if he were not running.

        1. I could easily imagine his losing the suit & then saying he’s not running, as when Howard Stern couldn’t get a quick ruling against financial disclosure & then dropped out for governor.

    6. I love how Jacob constantly says Rand is better than “any candidate of either major party”, but not once does he compare Rand’s policies to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate.

      Gary Johnson isn’t running in either of the two major parties, is he?

      It seems odd to me that a Libertarian publication would bend over backwards to not even mention a candidate that they should “naturally” support

      I don’t think Reason is a Libertarian publication; it’s a libertarian one. Besides, I’d bet my bottom dollar Johnson will get more coverage here than anywhere else.

      1. Gary Johnson isn’t running at all.

        Retarded person is retarded.

        1. I don’t think Reason is a Libertarian publication; it’s a libertarian one

          Should we all be drinking? I think we should….

          1. I think there is a level above DRINK required on post-holiday hangover Sundays.

            Its “Bong hit and 20 pushups” or something. Because everyone could stand to drop and do 20.

    7. As irrelevant as Paul is to anything approaching national policy, he is at least on the national stage. Johnson, meanwhile, is hiding under the rug. Gary Johnson? LOL get real. Why not mention Joe the Plumber? He probably has the same importance in the public consciousness.

      1. You are correct re: Johnson

        but

        “As irrelevant as Paul is to anything approaching national policy”

        No. Drones, Federal Sentencing, even foreign policy… Rand actually swings and hits when it comes to policy. which is actually far more than most individual politicians do – most simply herd to whatever consensus they think presents the least political risk, whereas Rand has actively agitated to change policy and made a significant difference, even when he fails.

        its his main selling-point, in fact. While i can see a range of possible criticisms of RP, his ‘irrelevance’ is not one of them. He actually tries to change things and goes to the mat on issues that he thinks can be changed.

        1. Goes to the mat and gets pinned. He’s like an athlete that never wins games, but is constantly celebrated as MVP by fans who support him. Try harder. He’s achieved even less than Hillary, which is just one more reason he’d lose to her, if it wasn’t already a foregone conclusion that you’re going to nominate another Bushkin.

          1. ‘He’s achieved even less than Hillary”

            I’d be interested in hearing what you think Hillary ‘achieved’ as either a senator or Sec. State.

            and by your “you”, you seem to be thinking you’re talking to a bunch of republicans. Did you not see the sign before you walked in the door?

            1. Hillary hit the reset with Russia. Reset to 1984.

            2. I bet at least 70% of the commentariat here votes GOP. The other 3 vote for Gary Johnson, studying the post election results and drooling that if they get above 1% that they’re gaining momentum or some such dreck.

              1. You forgot the part about Hillary’s great achievements.

                i can only assume that’s because you don’t have any to offer?

                Your assumption about commentariat here says far more about you and your own personal political dogma, fwiw

    8. I’ve thought all along that Johnson should be running for the Republican nomination. Would he win probably not but it would be bigger coverage for the message and then he could take that into the LP run.

      1. Johnson. I’m still LOLing. Donald Trump has more appeal than Johnson. Come TF on.

    9. Is Gary Johnson even running for 2016?

  2. But legal pot will turn us all into mass-murdering, raving lunatics!

    1. Nancy Reagan told me so, that’s how I know these things… That’s also why, like Bill Clinton, I never inhaled. I felt your pain, but I never inhaled it!

      1. Bill tried to feel my great-aunt’s pain one time when he visited an old-folk’s home, but she beat him off with her cane.

        1. What, she had no access to a wood-chipper?!?!

          Free wood-chippers for all, I say!!!

        2. beat him off with her cane

          kinky

  3. The war on drugs, is something that we have seen reek havoc on our poorer communities. Many times it literally destroys lives. I’m not talking about the drugs, I’m talking about the drug laws.
    Libertarians and Democrats should debate the virtues of legislation but here’s an issue where we don’t need conjecture, because there are plenty of real life examples of what a mess these laws have left of so many families.
    Senator Rand Paul has lead the fight on this issue for a long time and his work with Senator Corey Booker is proof that, this is an issue that can really bring us together.
    If you haven’t already, educate yourself about Dr. Paul’s historical record on this and how he has spoken out about ending the war on drugs and ending the civil forfeiture laws and then think about all the other areas where we might disagree on the approach to the problem but where, in the end we want the same thing (think economic issues).
    On war and on foreign policy many of us Libertarians and Democrats agree. On privacy, we agree. I would argue that we agree on most things, when you really get down to it. Where we disagree, much of the time, is on the approach.
    Libertarians see the unintended consequences of having too many laws. Democrats are constantly sold the idea that laws are the only way to solve our problems.
    This is the real conversation we need to have, as a country and Rand Paul is the one who will lead the way for us to be able to have it.
    Freedom! Rand Paul 2016!

  4. Someday hopefully people may refer to cannabis use as something other than a mistake.

  5. Dr. Paul talks about The Declaration of Independence being less than 1,500 words and The Gettysburg Address being even less. Both could fit into this site’s commenting box. But the regulations for the sale of cabbage could not. It is over 26,000 words long.
    We need to think for a minute about whether we want to keep letting lawyers take away our freedom and keep feeding the big government beast.
    If we don’t wake up soon, it’s going to bankrupt us anyways.
    The country is starting to look a lot more like Greece than The United States of America.
    Give freedom a chance! Rand Paul 2016!

  6. It’s called freedom! Like so many other things, the federal government has no legal or moral basis to restrict our freedom, whether it be on this issue or on anything else, (provided we aren’t hurting others).
    This is just another example of a symptom being discussed rather than the problem. The problem is that we are no longer a true Constitutional Republic.
    We need a Constitutional President to lead us back to what we were and what we are in our heart of hearts.
    Rand Paul is the only one who can give us what we need.
    FREEDOM!!! Rand Paul 2016

    1. Amen, Dude, way to go!!!!

    2. You’re related to Agile Cyborg, aren’t you?

  7. They will only let him win if there is any chance the economy will tank within 2 years of his election. What better way to put this libertarian nonsense to bed in the history books

    1. He’ll only win if he can come close to generating the kind of money that Bush and a few others will generate on the primary. And he won’t. After all, money is speech these days.

      1. And yet the candidates who spend the most often times lose elections every cycle…

        The candidates who spend the most money are often times the ones who have to spend because they are already behind, and it still rarely matters.

        Which candidate gets the most money does not, despite the fear mongering, decide campaigns.

        1. The Dems and GOP will always generate enough money to be competetive. Libertarians won’t.

          1. Always? Even your concerning trolling is pathetic.

            1. Always. Hillary will do just fine in the money department in order to compete with Bush. But money? It’s a real problem for Paul.

              1. You are completely right, and everyone here agrees with you.

                We all very much appreciate your principled stances *and* your shrewd political analysis.

                1. And here I thought no one was even reading them! Whew!

    2. They will only let him win if there is any chance the economy will tank within 2 years of his election.

      My thought as well. Hoping that this Greek nonsense knocks the legs out from under it while we can still staple much of the blame to Odummy and his proglodyte hordes.

      1. More like Puerto Rico than Greece. Even then, they’ll fall back to the Krugman “We needed moar!”

        1. I think we’re almost out of “moar”.

          1. We’re out of moar? Fine, just gimme most the stuff that guy has.

            1. Hold out your hand, close your eyes, and just think of cake…

              1. Hey, that doesn’t feel like cake.

  8. “Those remarks can be read as an endorsement of legalization, but they also can be read as similar to the position Paul has taken since he became a Senate candidate in 2009: devolve drug policy to state and local governments; emphasize rehabilitation rather than punishment.”

    Rand has been consistent in his application of federalism to most controversial issues that his dad would just wade right into, so his chief goal seems to be ducking the Kulture War! and even libertarian stuff and just encouraging people to support local political initiatives rather than one-size fits all fedgov solutions. Which is itself mind blowing for most people who think of themselves first as Americans rather than Texans or Floridians (bless their hearts).

    As a convenient secondary effect, it also allows him to take stances that are largely unoffensive to the GOP base, namely old people who dare you–DARE YOU–to touch their social security.

  9. I’d really like to see them stop referring to smoking weed as a “high school mistake” (unless of course for them it really was) and admit they enjoyed it and managed to turn out ok. Pipe dream, I know.

    1. Smoking weed in high school showed me that the information I had been fed by authority on the subject was nothing but a pack of lies. It helped me to understand that stated intentions are not necessarily honest, and the danger of valuing those intentions more than actual results.

      1. “Smoking weed in high school showed me___________

        THAT THIS IS THE BEST RECORD OF ALL TIME??!

        1. nice 🙂

          1. I saw bad company w/ Damn Yankees (Ted Nugent)… at the Westchester Cross-County Center.

            i can’t remember when. 1998? anyway, the joke that makes my brothers laugh till they piss is to remind them of the introduction of that concert.

            The british-accented singer going, “We could have started this tour in London…We could have started this tour in Paris…We could have started this tour in L.A….. but i said to my mates… We’re going to start this tour in WHITE FUCKING PLAINS!! ARE YOU WITH ME!!!” (launches into Bad Company Anthem)

            No one cheered. They were like, “oh my god, this is so sad”.

      2. Smoking weed = the genesis of libertarian ideas. You read it here, folks.

  10. And just so everyone knows how important our borders are:

    “Investigators just seized nearly $500,000 in Warriors counterfeit merchandise. The investigation was headed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security unit.”
    […]
    Most of the seizures took place at roadside booths and pop-up tables in Hayward, Reno, Oakland, Concord, and San Francisco.”
    Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/22137…..oWExkcI.99

    As someone in the local rag mentioned, it seems this very important enforcement program could have been more appropriately handled by, oh, the vacationing school cross-walk guards.
    Remember, THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO CUT!

    1. My takeaway from this is that Sevo wants kids to go around wearing counterfeit Warriors merchandise, which very well could be laced with acid or something. He probably opposes the Department of Education and school lunch programs as well, so he just hates people in general.

      If we put half the fedgov to work digging trenches and the other half filling them, we would produce a net benefit to the economy. Keynes was right, in the end.

      1. “My takeaway from this is that Sevo wants kids to go around wearing counterfeit Warriors merchandise, which very well could be laced with acid or something”

        Darn! Busted!

        1. I hate when the dam busts 🙁

      2. Keynes was right, in the end.

        We’re all dead?

  11. It’s way too early to be defeatist. I am a volunteer with the campaign and I can tell you that Democrats and Independents are with us on the issues. I will concede that many of them don’t know it all the time but if you think about it, it’s only the approach that separates us and we have the better way. More important, we have the results of their way which makes it academic. The tax plan is being applauded for what it does for working Americans, all over the country.
    Rand Paul is a much better orator than Hillary Clinton. That debate between them, must take place!
    We may not have Bush money but we have the tireless support of our base, which will only grow, while others trade support, back and forth, while they stumble through their gibberish.
    Come on. Join the fight. This election can be won and for those of us who can see it, know that it’s going to come down to converting Democrats and Independents and Dr. Rand Paul sure as hell can do it. So can we all. Speak to every Democrat and Independent you know and don’t let up. We can bring most of them over. I know it! Rand Paul 2016

    1. You are preaching to the choir here.

    2. You are exactly right. Commenting on blogs is not joining the fight. Knocking on doors, making calls is. And that matters.

  12. President Rand Paul 2016

    1. Jim, are you by any chance a Rand Paul supporter?

  13. I like to remind them that the last Constitutional President we had, 120 years ago, was a Democrat.

    1. Meanwhile, the first Fascist President was elected 17 years later, and was also a Democrat.

  14. More important than the candidate and the party, are the ideas themselves. The fight against the war on drugs is a bridge that can connect us. So is foreign policy. So is privacy. So is economic inequality and unfairness. When in recent history have we had such well appointed bridges coming from our side?

  15. More important than the candidate and the party, are the ideas themselves. The fight against the war on drugs is a bridge that can connect us. So is foreign policy. So is privacy. So is economic inequality and unfairness. When in recent history have we had such well appointed bridges coming from our side?

    1. Not only do I plan to vote for him, I’ll also send him some of my hard earned money.

      How’s that for support?

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  17. I had two conversations in the last few weeks with former Obumble supporters. Both conversations went exactly the same way. First they express support for Hillary. I then point out that she straight-up sold the office of Secretary of State, committed felonies to hide her communications, has told numerous lies, viciously attacked her husband’s victims etc, etc.
    Rather than try to deny any of that they immediately began making excuses for her and reiterated their support for her.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that both of these women are actually voting against the GOP and will vote democrat if the democrats put a goat on the ticket.

    1. You’re right about your point there.

      Almost no one actually *likes* hillary. She’s just the Goat tasked to win. The young internet left wing all gushes about Bernie…as though they’re ever going to vote for him. When it comes time they’ll swallow their egos and vote hillinator. Many will, at least. If enough stay home, that’s the deciding factor.

      That said… please, no more munging versions of Obama’s name. Its bad enough in its orginal form. There is no need to go down that one-way road to retard.

      1. Oh come on. No president in the history of the country has even close to as many derogatory nicknames and I refuse to refer to that idiot scumbag in any way that remotely resembles respect.

          1. That’s not hilarious, its depressing.

            I mean look –


            “Bareass Banana
            Barrack Inseinn O’bowdown
            Barrack SoVain Obama

            Obie bum Kabrokie”

            etc.

            I was more witty in 2nd grade.

            That said… “Dreamy McMompants” is pretty hot.

      2. Lynn Samuels actually liked Hillary for US senator.

    2. I haven’t come across a woman yet who’s not voting for her, but I live in Progland, and she’s the most famous Dem, so there it is. No one can actually say anything good about her though, other than her vagina status, and I’ve yet to see proof of this vagina’s existence.
      I would be much more interested in which thug gets elected if there was a chance anyone but Hillary would win my state.
      I still think if Warren joined the party she would win the nomination, with her vagina and prog cred giving people the reason they need to not vote for Hillary.
      That being said, I am rooting for Paul from the sidelines.

    3. She didn’t want to tell you she hopes the White House will be controlled by Bill in fact, Hillary in name only.

      1. HINO? that sounds suggestive

  18. It’s so early though. I know what you’re saying and yes, I have friends like that too. I know people in San Fran who say the same kind of thing (re: Hillary) but she’s not going to get people fired up like Obama or her husband were able to.
    First and foremost, people are smarter today. We have the ability to shake up our base and bring people over for the first time since Reagan did it and I think we have an even better opportunity to do it today than Reagan had in 1979, even though the economy was a mess then.
    Rand Paul is 10 times a better orator than Hillary. We just need to get him on the stage debating her!

    1. First and foremost, people are smarter today

      Whoa, whoa! Don’t mean to rain on your enthusiasm, which is utterly ingratiating, but

      [citation needed]

    2. “People are smarter today.”

      You should spend about an hour watching Youtube videos. Go to youtube and search for ‘fails’ or ‘idiots’.

      I agree, Paul will mop the floor with Hillary despite the moderator’s best effort. I don’t really see anyone who can stand up to him in debate. He is definitely the best candidate in my lifetime.

      1. I agree, Paul will mop the floor with Hillary despite the moderator’s best effort.

        I dunno. Paul has logic and reason on his side, but that’s no match against the power of the dark side emotive language.

        All someone has to do is ask a few loaded questions like “Why do you support the rich getting richer while the poor are getting poorer?” or “Why do you want children to use marijuana?” or “Why do you want the terrorists to win?” and the debate will end right there in a standing ovation while Paul is quietly removed from the stage.

        Debates are no place for though. They’re a place for soundbites and emotional reactions.

        That’s why libertarians always lose.

        1. *thought*

      2. Why don’t you provide an example of his commanding oratory skill? I’ve yet to see him say anything that had as much impact as Hillary’s “What difference does it make?” In one masterful stroke, she pulled the curtain and revealed the Repugnican clown car for what it was. Long after everyone and their brother is asking, “Rand who?” people will be reading in the history books about how Hillary made people see that the House’s witch hunt was little more than an unintentional Monty Python routine.

    3. On-board with you here in Iowa – donating, volunteering and sending the offspring to push the student vote.

      Thanks for the rallying cry – not something I have seen often among Libertarians, but certainly more common in Reason’s post Woodchipper-6 world.

    1. I want to convert religions just to understand wtf you’re trying to do

  19. It comes from speaking to people in Iowa, myself. I really believe that the primary is a more difficult thing to win, than the general would be for us. I also think it’s different than 2012. There are a whole bunch of people, like Ed Snowden, who voted for Obama last time, who are with us now.

  20. When Rand Paul is standing beside Kristin Gillebrand on one thing and Corey Booker on another, it’s our time! I believe it in my heart of hearts! In any event, no matter how skeptical you might be, we’re definitely in the fight. I just wish the Koch brothers would jump on board and give us the dough to take on Bush. They should. They want a less aggressive foreign policy. If we can get a big donor, look out!

    1. For christ sakes man, take your roadshow somewhere people aren’t already in the fucking bag.

      We’re 90% pro-Rand here. Try Salon.

    2. Kristin Gillebrand supported that lying-ass “mattress girl”, and Corey Booker is a dumbass, corrupt left-wing hack.

  21. Yeesh. Have a good time.

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