Rand Paul, Here's a Plagiarism Lesson: Wikipedia, AP Must Be Cited

Plagiarism is never a good call... which is a lesson Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky seems to have missed. Lately, he's been known less for his Tea Party politics and threats to run for president, and more for lifting the text of his speeches from — deep breath — two Wikipedia pages; one Associated Press releases; two research papers from conservative think-tanks; and one Right-leaning Bible group. Oh, Rand Paul, when will you learn? Being caught red-handed with a stolen excerpt from Wikipedia is par for the course for high-schoolers, but when you're a prominent conservative and member of Congress, passing off press releases as your own words simply won't do — especially when you've threatened a 2016 run for president. After all, when was the last time Hillary Clinton gave a speech that lifted half the Wikipedia entry for 90s sci-fi movie Gattaca ?

Never, Rand Paul. The answer is never. Here's a lesson in Plagiarism 101:

1. Do not quote the Wikipedia plot for a sci-fi thriller when you're harping on about how eugenics is the future, Rand Paul. Sure, there's a lot else wrong here, but this can't be the best way to make your point. Whatever it was.

  • Paul: “In the movie Gattaca, in the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common, and DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class.”
  • Wikipedia: “In the not-too-distant future, liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class.”
  • Paul: “Due to frequent screenings, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way to achieve his dream of being an astronaut is he has to become what’s called a ‘borrowed ladder.’”
  • Wikipedia: “Due to frequent screening, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to become a ‘borrowed ladder.”

2. The same goes for '80s dramas, Rand Paul. Remember: it doesn't matter how bad the movie is, you still can't substitute the plot summaries for your own thoughts.

  • Paul: In the area of East Los Angeles, in 1982, in an environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Escalante was a new math teacher at Garfield High School determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement."
  • Wikipedia: "In the area of East Los Angeles, in 1982, in an environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Jaime "Kemo" Escalante is a new teacher at Garfield High School determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement."
  • Paul: "As the year progressed, he was able to win over the attention of the students by implementing innovative teaching techniques. He transformed even the most troublesome teens into dedicated students. While Escalante was teaching basic arithmetic and algebra, he realized that his students have far more potential. He decided to teach them calculus."
  • Wikipedia: "As the year progresses, he was able to win over the attention of the students by implementing innovative teaching techniques. He transformed even the most troublesome teens into dedicated students. While Escalante was teaching basic arithmetic and elementary and intermediate algebra, he realizes that his students have far more potential. He decided to teach them calculus."

3. When trying to undermine President Barack Obama, quoting an Associated Press release will only undermine you, Rand Paul. (Really? There weren't better anti-Obama sources out there? Shoddy research.)

  • Paul: “Under President Obama, the ranks of America’s poor swelled to almost 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans struggling and out of work.
  • AP: “The ranks of America’s poor swelled to almost 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans struggling and out of work.”

4. When speaking about students who benefited from D.C. school vouchers, it might be more effective to speak to the student yourself, rather than lifting the words of an article from social-conservative magazine CitizenLink, Rand Paul.

  • Paul: “By sixth grade, Ronald Holassie was failing most of his classes, but through school choice he was able to attend a Catholic school in the D.C. area. There, he learned that he had a natural gift for composing music, but before that, his reading level was so low that he had struggled to write lyrics.”
  • CitizenLink: “[Holassie] described public schools where fighting was more common than learning. By the sixth grade, Ronald was failing most of his classes. He has a natural gift for composing music, but was so far behind in reading that he struggled to write lyrics.”

5. And when writing a book, Rand Paul, particularly a supposedly hard-hitting piece of research entitled "Government Bullies," do not quote think-tank research for three full pages without giving a passing citation to the original source! Come on, now!

  • Paul: "This prosecution also reveals the risks of federalizing criminal law. Observers have long warned against allowing the federal government to encroach on the traditional state function of enacting and enforcing general criminal laws. Here, the federal government, through the Lacey Act, claims to enforce foreign laws against foreign and U.S. citizens. These regulations were not made by the U.S. Congress or by some executive agency, but by a foreign government with unfamiliar procedures. If the government of Honduras had actually believed these regulations to be valid, they were free to bring charges. Instead, the U.S. government prosecuted a case on what turned out to be bad law."
  • Heritage Foundation: “This prosecution also reveals the risks of federalizing criminal law. Observers have long warned against allowing the federal government to encroach on the traditional state function of enacting and enforcing general criminal laws. Here, the federal government, through the Lacey Act, claims to enforce foreign laws against foreign and U.S. citizens. These regulations were not made by the U.S. Congress or by some executive agency, but by a foreign government with unfamiliar procedures. If the government of Honduras had actually believed these regulations to be valid, they were free to bring charges. Instead, the U.S. government prosecuted a case on what turned out to be bad law."[This continues for a while.]

Paul hasn't denied lifting the quotes. The thing is, says Rand Paul, he's a victim of bullies and "haters" who are out to destroy his political career, and undermine his potential presidential run. “The footnote police have really been dogging me for the last week,” Paul said on ABC Sunday. “I will admit that. And I will admit, sometimes we haven’t footnoted things properly.”

“I take it as an insult and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting,” Pau continued. “I have never intentionally done so.”

Still, the Washington Post points out that Paul isn't alone in being chased down by the "footnote police." President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have also lifted quotes from other sources and passed the statements off as their own. In the most notable example, Biden apparently stole an entire family history from the leader of a British political party, claiming that Biden's ancestors were coal miners (they weren't) and he was the first of his family to go to college (he wasn't).

Hillary, please come save us. You know how to footnote things.