Rand Paul: Not Anti-Drug War

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There was a conservative guy I knew, who, when I brought up gay marriage, he would always try and dodge the question by saying “it should be decided by the states.” I then brought up my cousin, who is in a committed relationship with a woman from Spain. Were they a straight couple, her immigration status would be fairly clear cut-they get married and she would get a green card and a path to citizenship. However, while she did eventually get a green card, it was a long and tenuous process that involved them living on the other side of the country for years. This conservative never gave me an answer as to whether or not my cousin’s family should get the same treatment as a straight couple would.

I bring this up because the common consensus is “Rand Paul wants to end the drug war.” His stance over allowing decriminalization was brought up in his speech to Howard University as an example of minority outreach. A common libertarian line used against Obama and the Democrats is they want to end the Drug War, which has been overwhelmingly harmful to minority communities, while the Democrats want to keep it going. However, that’s only part of the story.

There are two big flaws in the Rand Paul plan to decriminalize drugs. The first is Senator Paul is calling merely for an end to federal involvement in the drug war. In his world, states would be allowed to make their own decisions.

While he has called for a more compassion with regards to drug sentencing, leaving it to states would create a whole mess of trouble. It doesn’t seem particularly fair if California and New York become Amsterdam while Paul’s own Kentucky keeps drugs illegal. It also would raise some questions-what would the standard be for regulating and taxing narcotics? What about moving them across state lines? Suppose a flight from San Francisco to New York made an emergency landing in a state where drugs are illegal, would passengers who brought drugs be arrested? Could the state’s Air National Guard scramble fighter jets to bring down the plane? The reason we have a national government is to sort these things out.

The second issue goes to the reason he got into so much trouble in 2010-his belief about government regulation of the private sector. If you remember, he got into trouble for claiming the Civil Rights Act shouldn’t have infringed on private businesses that discriminated. So, even if drugs were legal in all 50 states, what about companies who forbade drug use outside of work? What if all the companies in the US got together and fired anyone who smoked weed outside of work? What if they only fired black or Hispanic employees who did this but not white ones? What if they chose to use it as a firing offense on libertarians but not liberals? Paul has stated he doesn’t want the federal government interfering with business practices. It doesn’t seem particularly liberating if you can’t get a job merely because you smoke weed.

If Paul wants to work with other lawmakers to deal with our absurd War On Drugs, I’m all for it. However, it should be noted if you think marijuana is a substance less harmful than alcohol and should be taxed and regulated as such while more harmful narcotics should be dealt with as a health issue and not a criminal one, Paul is not on the same page-like everything else, he just doesn’t want the federal government involved.

Remembering the 2008 Primary

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Reading about whether or not Clinton would hire Mark Penn again has reminded me of the 2008 Democratic Primary. I volunteered in various capacities on that campaign, the biggest being running the phone banks in San Jose. While Obama’s nomination now seems inevitable, looking back it really wasn’t. I remember everyone in 2007 talking about Clinton being the presumed nominee and how Obama had a bright future ahead of him but not as our next President. And the reality was, they were right.

Clinton went into the 2008 Primaries with the greatest name recognition, fundraising base, and ground team of any of the candidates. As Obama as a state senator from Illinois in 2004, he had to start from scratch. Also, the Clinton campaign (along with Giuliani’s) managed to convince most states to have their primary or caucus on February 5th, as early as possible. This was to shut down any potential upstart challenger in the early states.

So Obama had his work cut out for him. If I had to point to one thing that cost Clinton the election, it was not putting staff in February 5th states like Idaho and Kansas. The fact Obama put resources in those states was accidental-they had raised more cash than expected and decided to contest these states, as David Plouffe documented in his book. However, Mark Penn actually didn’t realize the Democratic primary wasn’t winner-take-all so he failed to put any resources in those smaller caucus states. In the end, winning Idaho by 50 points netted as many delegates as winning New Jersey did, so Super Duper Tuesday was a draw and not the knockout blow Clinton needed.

In the end, Clinton was still a formidable candidate. While we talk about the left being upset at her Iraq vote or her mismanaged campaign, one has to remember she was able to stay in till the very end. I honestly believed after Obama won those 10 primaries after Super Duper Tuesday, Clinton would pack up and concede and her support would give up and rally behind Obama, but she was able to push on till the very end. As I said, in an alternate universe where she had kept Obama’s margins smaller in the caucus states and had put resources in the states after Super Duper Tuesday, she would have netted several hundred delegates more than Obama did and would have been the nominee.

One thing I’ve always remarked on is if Clinton were to run in 2016, she would most likely have a lot of former OFAers on staff. I found this funny because there were a lot of people who joined the Obama campaign in no small part because of Clinton’s Iraq War vote and the general feeling the Clintons sold out on things like “welfare reform.” Now, 8 years later, time will heal all wounds.

Since When Did Conservatives Care About The Masses?

If you read Matt Yglesias today, you have to wonder if he is paying attention to American politics at all. Some basic points-

  • Liberals/progressives/Democrats/center-left folk’s end goal is a world more equal for everyone.
  • Conservatives/libertarians/Republicans/humble Burkeans’ end goal is a world more unequal for everyone.

Why is this? Conservatives believe the natural order of the world is one where one group is on top-rich over poor, men over women, white over minorities. Therefore, there is no problem in government rewarding this. If this means taking money out of the poor and middle classes’ hands, even better. The producers certainly deserve it.

One thing so many liberals need to stop doing is pretending conservatives are something that they’re not. They don’t care about the “value proposition of government services.” They care that those they deem worthy live well off and the rest suffer for their sin of not being worthy. At least one former conservatives knows this. Why doesn’t Matt comprehend this?