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Two Cheers for Rand Paul: The Kentucky Senator Brought the Libertarian in Debate

On foreign policy and drug policy, he staked out distinct and forward-looking policies.

At last night's GOP debate hosted by CNN (full transcript here), the Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul brought consistently brought libertarian—or at least libertarianish—perspectives on major policy debates. Whether that jumpstarts his presidential campaign is anybody's guess, but it was a bracing and welcome development.

On foreign policy and drug policy (including criminal justice reform), the senator stood out as the one Republican candidate who championed new directions rather than doubling or tripling down on failed policy after failed policy.

On foreign policy, Paul was essentially the only one advancing any sort of vision distinct from the failed interventionist thinking that has coursed through D.C. politics under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Despite a dubious claim by Donald Trump that he was the "only one on the dais" who was opposed to invading Iraq in 2003, Paul could say with conviction

I’ve made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. I was opposed to the Syria war. I was opposed to arming people who are our enemies.

Iran is now stronger because Hussein is gone. Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. So when we complain about the Iranians, you need to remember that the Iraq War made it worse.

More important, Paul, who early on in his senatorial career talked forthrightly about the need to reduce not just the Pentagon's budget (U.S. defense spending continues to essentially equal that of all other countries), stressed that we need to rethink military interventions in the same way we think about domestic policy:

We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We’re still paying the repercussions of a bad decision....

We have make the decision now in Syria, should we topple Assad? Many up here wanted to topple Assad, and it’s like — I said no, because if you do…ISIS will now be in charge of Syria…

It's a damning insight that after two major wars that have failed either to advance U.S. interests or stabilize the countries in which they were waged that "we have to learn sometimes [that] interventions backfire."

Even liberal critics of Paul specifically and GOP hawkishness generally give Paul props. Writing at Slate, Fred Kaplan notes, "It’s a strange debate where Sen. Rand Paul comes off as the most sensible contender on the stage." Where Carly Fiorina said she wouldn't even talk with Vladimir Putin or other world leaders who are despots and a number of GOP contenders insisted they would tear up the Iran deal like some circus strongman tearing up a phone book upon entering the White House, Paul actually made sense:

Contrary to almost all of his rivals (and his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill), Paul said that he would not “tear up” the Iran nuclear deal upon entering the White House. “Let’s see if the Iranians comply with it,” he said, in a tone suggesting that he was making an obvious point—which, indeed, he was.

Einstein once suggested that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. He might have been thinking about 21st century foreign policy, whether conducted by Republicans or Democrats. For all the folks who think President Obama is a shrinking violet when it comes to what he once called "dumb wars," the Nobel Peace Prize winner tripled troop strength in Afghanistan, tried to keep troops in Iraq after the withdrawal date negotiated by the Bush administration, intensified drone strikes in countries with whom we are not at war, bombed Libya without constitutional authority, has sent troops back to Iraq, maintained he has the right to kill even U.S. citizens without judicial review, and more.

Obama stupidly drew a "red line" in Syria that he was unwilling to defend and he may have actually urged Ukraine to stand down at Russian forces took Crimea, but such missteps don't mean he isn't essentially an extension of failed Bush foreign policy. Six years after leaving the White House, it's easy to forget what a colossal failure George W. Bush was in the foreign policy arena. Indeed, his abject failure on that score was among the reasons Obama was able to beat interventionist John McCain so handily.

Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rand Paul at his best has forcefully and directly counseled that America needs a different style of engagement with the world, one predicated less upon dropping bombs and more upon trade, cultural presence, and other forms of soft power. Last night, he rightly urged that regional players in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia (the indirect source of so much jihadism in the world), step up in their own corners of the world.

The other moment in which Paul flew his libertarian freak flag had to do with drug policy and criminal justice reform. Paul stopped short of endorsing the end of federal prohibition against marijuana, an idea that both enjoys majority support from Americans and is an obvious move after decades of a failed drug war. Instead, Paul couched his argument in 10th Amendment terms, saying that states should be allowed to experiment with different approaches to medical and recreational pot legalization, a radical idea among the Republicans on stage and drug warriors such as Hillary Clinton:

The bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

Paul was alone among last night's participants in touching on the racial disparities visited like a plague upon the country by the drug war. It's of a piece with his ongoing efforts to reach out to new constituencies for the GOP, especially lower-income minorities who bear the brunt of drug laws that are not only odious by themselves but are used much more intensely against blacks and Hispanics. Indeed, one of the most electrifying moments in the debate for me came when Paul told Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents and an argent drug warrior, to check his privilege:

Under the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you [Jeb Bush, who has admitted to smoking pot in high school] do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it, and it is hypocritical to still want to put poor people in jail.

Despite the drug war losing ground at the state level—a couple of dozen states allow medical marijuana and three allow for recreational pot with more sure to follow—it's a brave stance to embrace the idea that people might be free to choose their intoxicants. People seeking national office are far more likely to fall back on the cliches peddled by Carly Fiorina, who invoked her daughter who died from substance abuse and denounced pot legalization via the discredited gateway-drug theory.

As an independent voter and a small-L libertarian, I don't have a strong interest in partisan politics. That's probably because there's never really been a moment in my lifetime when either of the major parties came within a thousand miles of championing policies that line up with my beliefs and predilections. I remain far more interested in all the ways that the libertarian moment is proceeding despite pushback by Democrats and Republicans. The cultural and political forces of decentralization and the empowerment  of individuals to live lives of their own choosing will continue to grow whomever gets elected in 2016. Having champions in one or both of the major parties pushing libertarian ideas about limiting the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels could speed up the timing, but the move toward increased human freedom and flourishing won't be denied over the long haul.

But Rand Paul's performance last night, which included a pitch-perfect take on the minor issue of vaccines ("I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom) reminded me of why Reason dubbed him "the most interesting man in the Senate" when he took office. He is by no means without problems from my perspective (his muddled immigration policy, for instance, is longer on nativism than it is on a consistent embrace of individual rights and minimal government). Still, he was talking a different game than the others on the stage last night and whether he ends up as president is besides the larger point: His ideas and policy prescriptions reflect where the country is headed, whether establishment politicians want to go there or not.

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  • ||

    And the only people who cared could be counted on your fingers and toes.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    This.

    He was the clear winner, in my estimation. Unfortunately, I have an almost perfect record of picking losers in bog elections.

  • Rich||

    bog elections

    I like it!

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Channeled John there for a minute...

  • geo1113||

    A cranberry in every pot.

  • Drake||

    Me too - although I've never tried voting in a bog.

  • Raven Nation||

    bog = Australian slang for toilet.

  • Juan "Brushmaster" Seguin||

  • geo1113||

    Is that Ray Bolger?

  • Grant||

    Bog is a noun.
    Bog, an abbreviations for bogus, is an adjective.

    Since it was used to modify election, it works well. Nice!

  • electrotectic||

    board of governor elections?

  • jrom||

    Good for Rand Paul. He sure is allot better than that power hungry, ex prosecuting attorney, fat ass, Chris Christy. Christy, actually brags about being a former federal prosecuting crook. Christy, would triple the prison population in just his first month as president. He wants everyone that is using pot in the states that legalized it, to go to federal prison on pot possession charges. What a jerk!

  • William Pilgrim||

    He's ready to double down on every mistaken policy out there.

  • gaoxiaen||

    And triple down on cheeseburgers.

  • dchang0||

    Especially gun control. Yeah, he occasionally says he's pro gun, but his record indicates he's willing to punish all the innocent law-abiding gun owners for what a relatively small set of criminal gang members (drug-related, of course) routinely do. And worse, he tries to justify it with a "it's for the children, won't somebody think of the children!"-style response. Lot of good it'll do the children to have all their dads in prison for victimless crimes like owning a ten-round magazine or smoking a joint.

  • jrom||

    He wants everyone in prison!

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Meh, Rand was milquetoast at best. He could not even come out in favor of full legalization of marijuana. Instead, he kept prattling about medical marijuana. Make the moral argument that you own your body, Rand. He did not once mention which federal programs he would cut. No talk of cutting spending. At least he was somewhat ok in opposing war, though even this was not delivered with any passion.

  • ||

    His answer on drugs was disappointing. "Let's substitute treatment for prison."

    1. Coerced treatment, right?

    2. No agency assumed- what if I like drugs?

    3. No constitutional justification of why it's any business of the government's.

  • ||

    Oh yes, and fuck Carly with rusty barbed wire. Sorry about your daughter, but leave me the fuck alone, slaver.

  • Copernicus would chip||

    Here's the most disappointing thing about it...
    Carly is the only person in a position to hit a fucking grand slam home run on drugs.
    She has had a drug tragedy (I don't know the details) in her family.
    If, despite this, she were to take a constitutional/libertarian position on drugs, she would soar above everyone in either party. Alas...

  • lap83||

    What is more libertarian than being hands-off, regardless of your preferences?

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    To keep the baseball metaphor running (taking full creative license to burst it to its... seams?) she's still ahead in the count.

    *Blockbuster Trailer Voice*

    In the bottom of the 9th inning in a close game, she could still decide to switch-hit on the issue, preventing her direct opponent from throwing an effective curveball, and knock it out of the park for the [INSERT LOCAL SPORTS TEAM HERE]'s victory.

    Pennant? More like... pres-n-dent.

  • Mendelism||

    Paging Swiss...

  • electrotectic||

    I take the Swiss approach to drug legalization. Well, I really take the libertarian one but the Swiss one has some merits. Think back to Needle Park (=Platzspitz park). A historic compromise. The right didn't really need the drugs to be a crime, they just wanted to have pretty streets. Whereas the left didn't insist on every freedom, as long as they could provide treatment to addicts. So there is at least decriminalization for users and pain reduction. Not a libertarian solution but part way there and the human damage is a lot less than with the permanent moral panic system in the U.S.

  • electrotectic||

    p.s. My comment refers to hard drugs. Unfortunately the Swiss did not follow through with a tentative plan to legalize marijuana completely.

  • pronomian||

    What's sad is that her comments implied that pot was the gateway to her child's death. Funny (ironic not ha ha) that her child died with a drug overdoes while drugs were still illegal. How does keeping them legal, or in christie fascist mind, increasing penalties stop drug overdoses. Keep drugs illegal and the threat of incarceration, and job loss, will cause the person who needs help not get it. But, these neo cons can't even see it.

  • dchang0||

    They can see it, all right. They just need to justify spending more on the police industry and arming them up with military weaponry. Now that the overseas wars are winding down, the military/defense industry needs to shift spending somewhere or they're all out of jobs. There are kickbacks greasing those wheels for sure...

  • MichaelL||

    My thoughts, as a retired MD, exactly! Then again, how many need no help at all? There are fewer dieing of drug overdose, than there are that are attributed to alcohol! But good old Lindsey says we all need to be numbing our bodies with alcohol, more! The drug war people go for low knowledge voters!

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'm going to say it: maybe her kid was a drug addict because his mother was too busy fucking up Lucent and HP to pay attention to her family.

    -jcr

  • electrotectic||

    George McGovern lost a child to addiction. I remember the death.

  • John Galt||

    Exactly.

  • Hank Phillips||

    What part of God's Own Prohibitionists is so challenging here? 1. Ban abortion at gunpoint, 2. OK, padded cells and straitjackets if you get high, 3. A vote for us is a vote for Jesus.

  • Bubba Jones||

    1. Ban murder at gunpoint.

    Don't see the problem with that.

  • Eric Bana||

    Since a water molecule is a whirlpool...

  • electrotectic||

    And a thought is a plan is a man.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's an improvement. Not a great one, but still, an improvement.

    And that may be his personal preference but her really seems serious on letting the states decide. And that is a significant improvement.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This. Lets not be determined to throw out every incremental improvement.

  • lap83||

    I don't understand why her opinion even matters if she lets states decide. Apparently we're not above emotionalism.

  • Cytotoxic||

    THIS

  • lap83||

    Or maybe the consensus is we should go the gay marriage route and have judges override the states and rule that drugs are legal, in which case her opinion still doesn't matter

  • Alabama_Kid||

    1. Not coerced of course. Drug overuse is bad for individuals and bad for society. Free treatment for drug abuse and addiction problems is almost certainly a net winner for society. A public good if you will, that makes sense.
    2. The reason does not matter.
    3. Drugs can cause people to become dangerous to others, so it can become the government's business.

  • Drake||

    I watch these things and listen to what the candidates say. Then I really wonder if I watched the same debate as the pundits are talking about this morning. Everything Paul said made sense to me - the rest seemed to be speaking jibberish most of the time.

  • Rich||

    You're not watching with your *heart*!

  • Tybus||

    Frontier jibberish is how you win elections

  • tensegrity||

    I think we're all indebted to Gabby Johnson...

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    He was blowing our dog whistle.

  • R C Dean||

    Phrasing!

  • IceTrey||

    It's "gibberish".

  • Mendelism||

    I LOLed.

  • gaijin||

    Paul couched his argument in 10th Amendment terms,

    Which probably means most viewers were confused.

  • Rich||

    This. He's 2 orders of magnitude too technical.

  • kevrob||

    At the risk of being too technical....

    "Constitutional conservatives" who rest their supposedly libertarian arguments on the 10th Amendment are merely having an argument with the Federal Supremacists over which level of government gets to push us around.

    A real libertarian constitutional thinker, on the lines of a Randy Barnett (see Rights Retained By The People ) would base his case on the 9th Amendment.

    If we have a 9th Amendment privacy right (per Justice Goldberg's concurring opinion in Griswold) that allows us to buy contraceptives and, per Roe, get abortions, we sure as hell have one to smoke dope. There aren't any theoretical human beings having their theoretical rights violated in that case.

    FTR, IANAL, just a citizen with a political science/history B.A. But I think Prof Barnett and colleagues had something to say there, in response to Judge Bork's infamous "inkblot."

    Kevin R

  • R C Dean||

    having an argument with the Federal Supremacists over which level of government gets to push us around

    Yup. Because its actually pretty important.

    My city pushes me around? I move to burbs. Pretty easy.

    My state pushes me around? I move to another state. Not as easy, but not that hard.

    My nation pushes me around? Very difficult to do anything about that.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    you need to get on Simon Black's email list.

  • retiredfire||

    Better read that 9th Amendment again.
    The power to retain a right not enumerated rests with "the people", not with any other branch of government, because we are one.
    That means, coupled with the 10th, that the voters, of each state, get to decide such things, not anyone in a federal capacity, especially glorified lawyers, unelected and serving for life.
    Abortion, fake homo "marriage" and a plethora of other SC edicts are completely beyond what the nation was founded on.
    And, yes, if the voters of a state decides that mixed race couples can't marry or a business can make a decision not to serve anyone, for whatever reason they choose, that's how it was intended to be. It's called freedom, just as we have freedom to move to another state if we don't like what the one we are in, is doing.

  • BiPolarMoment||

    So 100%?

  • Rich||

    Alt text: "Stand up, Rand, let 'em see ya!"

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    The problem with Paul's foreign policy isn't the policy itself, but that he's selling it to a room of people who don't want to believe it. GOP supporters generally like the notion that war solves problems and they don't see Obama as an extension of Bush but a lack of Bush's policies not being expanded exponentially.

    The same can be said for legalizing pot - garden variety republicans tend to think of it as inherently evil.

    Most voters aren't thoughtful or interested in specifics or nuance. They are sheep that like to be told about big problems their candidate has big solutions for...

  • Bubba Jones||

    Even my wife said, "he dodged the question. If the arabs won't put boots on the ground, who will?"

    She thought he was a pussy for not saying he thought it was a hopeless clusterfuck and they can all go to hell for all he cared.

    I tried to temper it with "Arab boots are the only solution. American boots are not a substitute, even if we wish they were, and even if we don't have the power to force the Arabs to do it."

  • Bill Dalasio||

    She thought he was a pussy for not saying he thought it was a hopeless clusterfuck and they can all go to hell for all he cared.

    Honestly, I think if you want to sell the GOP on non-intervention, this is roughly the way to do it. Republican voters aren't generally going to be okay with the argument of America as the bad guy. On the other hand, they'll probably go along with the argument that the rest of the world is a bunch of ungrateful jerks who aren't worth our blood and treasure.

  • LynchPin1477||

    If the arabs won't put boots on the ground, who will?

    That really captures the do-something mentality nicely.

    A good response is that no one *has* to put boots on the ground, but if the Arab nations won't do it, then they are the one that will have to live with the consequences. If the humanitarian cost of that is too high for your wife or others, then by all means donate and support relief organizations. If she absolutely insists that the government has to have a role, then at least focus that role on helping refugees. It's a much less bad alternative than going in militarily.

  • Cytotoxic||

    "The problem with Paul's foreign policy isn't the policy itself"

    The problem is he keeps making unsupported statements like implying ISIS was purely a result of the Iraq intervention or that Sadaam's Iraq was a counterweight to Iran.

  • UCrawford||

    Except that both statements are true. With Saddam in charge, there is no ISIS...it never develops. His security apparatus was extremely efficient at weeding out internal threats before they could organize militarily. The most they were able to do is the occasional car bomb.
    And Iran was kept in check by Saddam...because they were terrified of what he'd do next. They push too hard, they always had him to worry about to take advantage of any weakness they showed when their attentions were focused elsewhere.

    It's only "unsupported" if you ignore all correlational links and timelines.

  • EMD||

    "With Saddam in charge, there is no ISIS"

    I suppose I could ask, to Iraqis, is there a difference?

    Sure Saddam was "stable" but he still killed plenty of his own.

    (This is not an endorsement for continued intervention)

  • gaoxiaen||

    No difference to Iraqis, big difference for the USA.

  • Otisjay||

    Chirstian Iraqis would say otherwise.

  • electrotectic||

    He was evil, but a long civil war is worse. As long as you have Tito you have hope of a transition that is not a war.

  • blcartwright||

    I thought ISIS started in Syria, after the revolt against Assad, and then spread into Iraq.

  • JFree||

    Actually his foreign policy problem IS the policy. Noninterventionism is not a policy. It is a specific choice made in a specific context. We should probably make that choice a lot more often - and there is a big audience across all parties to do just that. But those who actually believe that noninterventionism is a policy are never gonna actually help with that.

    Because at core those who believe that are always going to a)rationally choose willful ignorance of almost every situation because there is no value-added in understanding something thoroughly if you are never going to get involved and b)rationally choose domestic sloganeering (eg blowback - squawk) as the justification for every foreign policy decision because thats the only relevant audience

    There is no reason for someone like that - who has nothing to offer - to even be in the room when foreign policy discussions take place. And if they aren't in the room, their preferred choice will not be considered seriously. And they will be relegated to sitting on the sidelines perpetually squawking about someone else's past decisions.

  • kbolino||

    There is a difference between noninterventionism as dogma and noninterventionism as policy. The latter would mean that, by default, we don't intervene, and when we intervene, we have thoroughly considered the situation. This contrasts more or less with the policy of interventionism we currently have, whereby we intervene more often than not and without any consideration of the situation. See, for example, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and countless minor actions scattered across the globe.

    Moreover, to say that someone who generally adheres to noninterventionism as policy--and Paul is hardly dogmatic about it--has "nothing to offer" is to imply that intervention is the only possible option. It is akin to saying that someone advocating for repeal of the PPACA has "nothing to offer" because you have arbitrarily narrowed the range of choices to ones you favor.

  • JFree||

    "by default, we don't intervene, and when we intervene, we have thoroughly considered the situation."

    Thats exactly the problem of nonintervention as POLICY. As long as one can maintain willful ignorance; then one can justify nonintervention. And since nonintervention is what you want to do anyway; then there is a powerful incentive to maintain willful ignorance. This leads nowhere except - noninterventionism is a foreign policy based on willful ignorance.

    This is why 'nonintervention' can be so easily attacked and undermined and why those who advocate it AS POLICY have nothing to offer and aren't even in the room anymore. Might as well have the village idiot in the room.

    Turn your sentence around. "We always have to thoroughly consider the situation and then decide whether to intervene or not". The analysis/understanding of the situation comes BEFORE the prescribed choice - and CANNOT be avoided. As you yourself say, that situation analysis/understanding bar ain't very high right now - but someone who prefers 'nonintervention' as the prescribed choice had damn well better meet it. Because the only people in the room are gonna be people who do meet that bar. And the 'winning decision' is most likely to come from the person who best understands the problem and can best communicate their preferred choice over the objections of those who also understand the problem but have a different preference. Thats how 'nonintervention' can actually win.

  • kbolino||

    Thats exactly the problem of nonintervention as POLICY. As long as one can maintain willful ignorance; then one can justify nonintervention. And since nonintervention is what you want to do anyway; then there is a powerful incentive to maintain willful ignorance. This leads nowhere except - noninterventionism is a foreign policy based on willful ignorance.

    How is this materially different? You have this implicit assumption that intervention is always initiated from an informed position. Somebody who wants to be seen "doing something" regardless of circumstances has no more incentive to correct his ignorance than somebody who wants to be seen "doing nothing".

    This is why 'nonintervention' can be so easily attacked and undermined and why those who advocate it AS POLICY have nothing to offer and aren't even in the room anymore. Might as well have the village idiot in the room.

    In other words, it's a popularity contest, with no concern for the best interests of the nation or its people. How is this better?

  • JFree||

    "Somebody who wants to be seen "doing something" regardless of circumstances has no more incentive to correct his ignorance than somebody who wants to be seen "doing nothing"

    Intervening requires a slew of 'how' decisions as well which also requires situational knowledge. 'Interveners' face the music if the 'how' gets screwed up. Those who advocated Vietnam or Iraq interventions were the ones blamed. They weren't attacked because they chose to intervene. 'Interveners' get attacked when they 'lose' or screw things up. If you think 'interveners' are oblivious about this; then you're disingenuous.

    There is no such thing as a knee-jerk 'interventionist'. Yesterday there was a coup in Burkina Faso. Where are all the calls for intervention from the ignorant knee-jerk 'do something' crowd? There are none because no one knows shit about Burkina Faso and even fewer care. Until someone does decide to 'know something' or care; there will be no intervention. Is this a non-interventionist victory? No because 'non-interventionists' will not choose to even start being informed until AFTER someone intervenes. Non-interventionists will once again be irrelevant because they choose to be ignorant.

    And no I don't think anyone has some exclusive awareness about 'the best interests of the nation or its people'. Just different people advocating different things. All making self-righteous claims about their own ideas.

  • pronomian||

    Good point. Libertarians need to end their association with the one party system. Form another party, if it is true more and more millennials lean libertarian, this should wake them up.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    I can tell you from being a college student right at this very moment that this is an over-exaggerated phenomenon; the main groups in my age range IDing as libertarian are ones that would've identified as conservative if in college 15 years ago. That's a very small piece of the pie; I see far more in college that think the GOP or any ideology that isn't on the left is evil and that the world is not progressive enough.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    And to be more clear, the people I associate with tend to group the word "progressive" with "social inclusion," "diversity," and "environmental awareness". Meaning that most do not think that they're progressive, but rather they feel that they're progressive.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I missed something... did Rand Paul flipflop and decide not to ban the morning-after pill?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Fiorina's story suggests we should ban alcohol and prescription meds.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    I thought Rand did a great job on the whole

    He only had one truly cringeworthy moment, discounting the mass stupidity of the codename fiasco (omg #codenamegate?!):

    His continued use of the "Single Mom with a Sick Kid Smokescreen-O-Matic 5000" just... painful to watch. Simply witnessing it was like starring in a gonzo-insertions porn.

    Keeping with the theme of pornography, his best bet is to let the other candidates jizz all over one another during the d̶e̶b̶a̶t̶e̶s̶ foreplay and swoop in late to claim the money shot for himself.

  • dantheserene||

    You can really paint a picture with words, can't you.

  • BiPolarMoment||

    He could but instead uses aborted fetus' umbilicus and menstrual fluid.

  • Fizban||

    Unfortunately.

  • Mike Parent||

    “Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy … and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’ … fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. … The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.” – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983

  • Conchfritters||

    Exactly - - beat them over the head with the real consevative view point. My grandpa was the most conservative person I ever knew, and if anyone asked him about his personal affairs or what he did in his free time, he'd respond: "None of your dam business!!" Where are all the crusty old conservatives when you neeed them? Dam - I forgot, they are all dead. (RIP grandpa)

    “See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true.” - Milton Friedman

  • R C Dean||

    Where are all the crusty old conservatives when you neeed them?

    Cashing SocSec checks, and running up the tab on Medicare?

  • DenverJ||

    Yeah, I miss Bill.

  • kevrob||

    WFB would have made a fine libertarian, if it weren't for that nasty old Cold War. He was very friendly with old libertarian "right-wingers" (sic) such as Frank Chodorov and Frank Meyer. I caught my taste for reading Mencken from NR and the early American Spectator. There was a time when the American right would have recognized Fox Nooz for the populist Yahoo-fest that it is during its opinion programming.

    Buckley famously sailed his boat outside the 3-mile limit, then tried marijuana, so he could write about it intelligently, all the while not "breaking the law." Today he'd be sunk as a smuggler if he tried that.

    Rand Paul may be trying to pull off the "fusionist" trick that Meyer was in favor of. The problem being, that the libertarian wing of the GOP is always supposed to sit in the corner and live on crumbs while the Corporate Welfare and Theocratic branches of the party make policy. The pure "small government" types are to dutifully get out the vote for whichever douche the Hefalumps are running against the Donkoids' turd sandwich, then return to their corner for another two years. Madness.

    Kevin R

  • Conchfritters||

    “The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy.” - - William F Buckley Jr.

  • Conchfritters||

    "Einstein once suggested that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome."

    Then why do we tell our children: "if at first you don't succeed, then try try again"? Are we meaning to drive them insane?

  • ||

    We haven't failed... we've invested $18 Trillion in solutions that don't work.

  • 0x90||

    *yet*

  • IceTrey||

    I think the child admonishment allows for different approachs.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I always hated that guy for making a speed limit in space.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm not a fan of his birthright citizenship answer.

  • adampeart||

    Too bad 95% of Americans prefer war mongers, jingoists, statists, fascists, demagogues, liars, cheats, elitists, and thieves to "run" things. Always have, do, and will. Only the remaining 5% of the population do the work and put forth the effort to learn and understand philosophy, coming to the conclusion of some form of libertarianism. Mission accomplished statists! We'll all be dead before we are free. When you want to be Rome, do as the Romans did.

  • See Double You||

    Humans everywhere and for all time have wanted someone or something to watch out for them, to guard their safety, and to even treat them like children. Notice the similarities between God as the Father and the president as the "Father of the Country."

    Most humans crave a benevolent dictator.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    This article IMO explains it the best: the average GOP "small government" supporter is looking for larger government in reality, it's just they want it for stuff that they like. "Benevolent dictator" sums it up beautifully: they want a leader that outlaws and limits programs and laws that they don't like and financially supports the programs and laws that they do like. As long as voters want principals not principles, the politicians they elect will also be for principals not principles. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....41032.html

  • onebornfree||

    Rand Paul, no different from the rest of the presidential candidates, is a fraud. s such, he is no better, or worse then any of the others.

    The "debate" was a waste of time, a distraction, nothing more. Governments, and presidential candidates, regardless of whether they are elected or not, do not solve problems, only create more of them :-)

    Fact: there are _no_ political solutions for _any_ percieved "problem" ; never have been, never will be - not "right wing", not "left wing" , not even so-called "Ron Paul", or "libertarian" solutions.

    Fact: As long as you believe that real political solutions actually exist, dear reader, you will remain firmly locked inside "the Matrix"; i.e. exactly where the Obama's, Trumps, Sanders , Pauls, etc. all want you to be:-)

    Fact: the author of this article is just another in the endless stream of "inside the matrix" writers doing their utmost to keep you firmly buried/entrenched deep inside that "matrix", by encouraging/flattering yours and others here endless fantasies of dreamed of political "solutions" to yours, the country's, or the world's, problems, when in fact, there are none, can be none, and never have been any :-) .

    Regards, onebornfree.
    www.onebornfree.blogspot.com

  • brokencycle||

    Never quit posting. Your crackpot theories are always good for a laugh.

  • Conchfritters||

    I always wanted to know what REALLY happened if you took the red pill.

  • ||

    DON'T TAKE THE BROWN ACID!

  • IceTrey||

    That's only because governments are allowed to initiate force. If they were limited to the retaliatory use of force they would solve problems.

  • DenverJ||

    Governments, and presidential candidates, regardless of whether they are elected or not, do not solve problems, only create more of them :-)

    Oh yeah? What about roadz, huh?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Rand's statements on the ME are almost as often wrong as they are right. No, invading Iraq did not create ISIS; all those jihadists would have joined some other Syrian outfit otherwise.

    "Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. " -Wrong. Sadaam couldn't sustainably counter the Iranians when he was backed by America in the 1980s. I have yet to have anyone present to me evidence that Sadaam's Iraq was a remotely effective counterweight to Iran anytime after Desert Storm.

    Nick also sprinkles his otherwise good article with stupid. Ex "still bombing in countries we aren't at war with" -Great insight dipshit. Maybe if you had a shred of honesty, you'd note that the drones are bombing entities in those countries like AQ.

  • Dan Bongard||

    If Paul doesn't get a significant poll bump from this, he might as well pack it in -- Republicans aren't interested in hearing realistic foreign policy ideas.

  • dantheserene||

    Bombing entities in much the same way 9/11 was only an attack on the financial and military sectors, not on the US as a whole?
    The point is, those countries being bombed probably don't take much solace from hairsplitting.

  • Cytotoxic||

    You just went Full Retard.

  • Otisjay||

    Easy there, That was a mirror.

  • blcartwright||

    but Iraq without Saddam was weaker vs Iran than Iraq with Saddam

  • Nosea||

    It is good to see Mr. Paul finally remember where he left his backbone and not still wondering where to left untapped donors. When he started his campaign he was saying things he thought everyone wanted to hear --that is when I tuned out.

  • 0x90||

    an argent drug warrior
  • ||

    Re: that second photo, who are the two giants on the left standing literally at least a head taller than every presidential candidate? Their freakish height upsets me.

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  • biljay||

    "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." -Moshe Dayan, military leader and politician (1915-1981)

  • Arthur45||

    Rand Paul and libertarian ideas are a joke - less that 1% support Paul.He wants to replace supposed failed poicies with policies that are even worse - witnes what happens whn cops stop arresting "low priority criminals" like those urinating and defecating on the street, etc. Not pretty.

  • kbolino||

    Rand Paul has advocated against public defecation being a criminal? Surely, you can find a speech or proposed bill where he says that?

    As to public urination, clearly the world is better off when the sex offender registry is filled with people who urinate in public. Why, I feel safer already!

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Statists, especially on this board and others, love to delve into black and white absolutes. Rand frequently talks about releasing low priority prisoners. People who urinated and defeated in public are likely on that list. He MUST be against criminalizing them at all, eww that's gross! Libertarians are no good! Logic may not be a statist's forte.

  • allie||

    Ah yes, a nation in which drunk frat boys won't be beaten and kidnapped for relieving themselves in a dark alley. I see the very fabric of our society being torn asunder at the notion. What will Americans do when they no longer have to subsidize the government's micromanaging? That way lies Somalia, I'd imagine.

  • Free Society||

    Einstein once suggested that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

    So he's the asshole who came up with that terrible expression. That cancels out all his achievements, as far as I'm concerned we're even with Mr Einstein.

  • HolgerDanske||

    Libertarians could still join the incredible amount of free seats on Republican Precinct Committees around the country. This would go a long way to get someone like Rand Paul on the ballot.

    One of the most influential, and low effort political offices in the country is left mostly vacant. And is ripe for a libertarian takeover.

  • JFree||

    That was tried in 2012 (and 2008 to a lesser degree). Ron Paul's bots took over many of the vacant precincts - and some of the other precincts still run by the Shafley/Goldwater grassroots wave of now-80 year olds and the socon 70's wave of now-65 year olds. And when they got to the 2012 national convention, the GOP establishment firmly and permanently stuffed all the grassroots precinct folks (not just the Ron Paul folks) into the grave via rules changes. For better or worse, the GOP is now a completely top-down party run by the established pols and the 'wholesale politics' folks (big money donors, pollsters, media/ad/soundbite consultants, etc).

    There is a really huge opportunity for retail politics again in this country - doorknocking, precincts, GOTV. But its not gonna be within the existing GOP now. Far better for organization-minded libertarians to take over a party with 100% precinct vacancy - no grassroots/precinct organization at all - and completely 'ripe for a libertarian takeover' unopposed - the Libertarian Party. There is really no need for pure internal organization power squabbles if the goal is to get a clear message out to voters.

    Retail politics on its own may not win elections anymore. At least not without changes in district size or term limits and such. But it can be as serious a 'spoiler' as the Free Soil Party was in undermining the then two-party system. And a 2016 Bush/Clinton election is the perfect situation for a spoiler.

  • JFree||

    And by the way, to anyone who says that grassroots/precincts folks need incumbent politicians (like Rand Paul) to support; I say hogwash. Its more like Field of Dreams. Build a grassroots/precinct organization and incumbent pols (and challengers) will come.

  • Loss of Reason||

    Both parties suck, but Reason is kinda losing it. Paul was horrible, but as long as he says "Drugs for all" and "let's stay out of people's business". He gets the Reason. What about "cops should be disbanded?"

    - Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rand Paul at his best has forcefully and directly counseled that America needs a different style of engagement with the world, one predicated less upon dropping bombs and more upon trade, cultural presence, and other forms of soft power. Last night, he rightly urged that regional players in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia (the indirect source of so much jihadism in the world), step up in their own corners of the world.-

    Give an example in history when that has worked? It's an admirable goal, but doesn't match reality.

    - Under the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you [Jeb Bush, who has admitted to smoking pot in high school] do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it, and it is hypocritical to still want to put poor people in jail.-

    Poor kids also drive drunk and go to jail more, rob people and go to jail more, and tons of other things. So instead of just saying let's make it all legal (At least here for DRUGS!!!), how about jailed the too?

    I used to love Reason...but it's turned..It's turned so bad. Like a leather jacket into pleather.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    "Give an example in history when that has worked? It's an admirable goal, but doesn't match reality."

    Again, advocating for non-interventionism is NOT appeasement or isolationism. Just because dropping bombs is not a preferred choice doesn't mean that it is not ever a choice no matter what the circumstances are.

    "Poor kids also drive drunk and go to jail more, rob people and go to jail more, and tons of other things. So instead of just saying let's make it all legal (At least here for DRUGS!!!), how about jailed the too?"

    Again with the flawed logic here. Smoking weed or using other recreational drugs is not an act of violence, force, or interference against others' property. Driving drunk and robbing people are. Sit down.

  • 0x90||

    Driving drunk isn't, either, strictly speaking. Prosecution of it lies on the dangerous side of the bright line between preventative and retributive justice; that is not to say it doesn't save lives, or bring in revenue, but those factors don't change the nature of what it is.

  • libertyistheanswer||

    aye, well done sir, thank you for what you do!

  • Rockabilly||

    Was Saddam's nucular bomb ever found?

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  • Father of Two||

    Wishing the nation to be moving in a libertarian direction does not make it true. Yes, more states will not legalize pot and here and there we will make some progress on social issues. But those who want to choose the school their children attend, run businesses as they choose, hire, fire or promote whom they choose, use there own land as they choose are flat out of luck. Since the 1930s and accelerating in the 1960s, government has gotten larger, spent more and regulated more regardless of who occupied the White House and which party controlled Congress. I wish I could be nearly as optimistic as Nick.

  • Don'tTreadOnMeChipper||

    Yeah, we're fucked, but this kinda fills the time, right?

  • JPyrate||

    Hinh Bait. I'm calling it. =D

  • CatoTheYounger||

    I guess Rand Paul decided that pandering to conservatives wasn't going to cut it. People don't want more of the same. People want radical ideas and new solutions to current problems - radical centrism, or libertarianism.

    Libertarianism may be a niche, but it's a niche that he should milk well. He did after all inherit the Paul name.

  • jimshier||

    Finally! Reason has something positive to say about the best candidate we have had for President in over a hundred years. Rand Paul 2016!

  • Arthur45||

    Whether Iraq was a mistake or not, Hussein WOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD BY NOW and nothing would be different had anyone followed Paul's advice. And ISIS was not around back then anyway, soPaul is wrongabout that aloso - ISIS exists because of a coward like Paul - Obama is running, and ruining,, things.

  • Arthur45||

    And those morons who ,for some bizarrereason, consuidered smoking pot safer than smoking cigarettes, are now being instructed in just how crazy legalization of marijane is turning out to be,
    But I don't expect stupid libertarians to admit they were totally wrong.

  • Thomas O.||

    If you're gonna present an opposing viewpoint, you should at least do so using proper grammar and spelling, especially if you're calling libertarians "stupid".

    No one's disputing the fact that smoking marijuana is a health risk. But I'll ask two questions here:

    1. Do you know of any pot dealers putting all sorts of hazardous chemicals into their joints (as cigarette companies allegedly do)?

    2. When was the last time someone made tobacco brownies or touted the benefits of tobacco oil?

    I'm not saying cannabis is a miracle plant that's immaculate in every way, but I do know some people are living healthier lives because of it, and it's been treated like a Gitmo prisoner (I'm now going with this instead of "redheaded stepchild") by the legal system for too long.

  • JFree||

    I live in Colorado. Legalization has turned out to be a huge yawn. Oddly too, the sun rose this morning.

    And no - that doesn't mean anything about a 'libertarian moment' either despite what Reason and the useless DC crowd of 'libertarians' trumpets.

  • Arthur45||

    And those morons who ,for some bizarrereason, consuidered smoking pot safer than smoking cigarettes, are now being instructed in just how crazy legalization of marijane is turning out to be,
    But I don't expect stupid libertarians to admit they were totally wrong.

  • NYer||

    Well when you have evidence to back up your "interesting" attempt at defending keeping pot illegal and overriding the will of the states, we'll listen. Until then I think I'll take the word of someone who actually lives in Colorado, and tells me legalization is going well, over someone who thinks insults pass for intelligent discussion.

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