Ron Meyer is 23-years-old and a former spokesman for the Young America’s Foundation and Majority Action. On Thursday, I caught up with him at CPAC to discuss his announcement earlier this week that he was forming an exploratory committee and seriously considering running for a seat in the United States House of representatives in 2014.
Here’s an excerpt from the official statement he released:
I’m exploring a run for Congress because I believe it is unjust, immoral, and unfair to leave an unsustainable, debt-ridden government to younger generations. Yet, for the last decade, politicians in both parties have punted our greatest challenges to future leaders. It’s time to start a genuine movement to force Congress to balance the budget so we can stop Washington’s generational theft.
If Washington's politicians insist on punting the toughest choices to young Americans and future leaders, maybe it's time for a young American to lead now. Unlike the current crop of supposed leaders (House’s average age is 57), I have a personal stake in making sure this nation succeeds long-term.
We need a game-changer in Congress. Experienced politicians with typical backgrounds have time-and-time-again failed the American people. It seems the more "experience" politicians gain, the more they lose their integrity and forget how to balance a budget.
Who better to advocate for young Americans in Congress than a young American? I want to help break the gridlock at the Capitol by making a personal, powerful, and moral case for sustainable government.
Meyer’s background is in public relations, having worked as the spokesman for Young America’s Foundation and American Majority. Meyer has frequently appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business, and CNBC, and published with the New York Post and Washington Times. If he were to run, he believes his communications skills would be an asset to a Republican Party struggling to find both effective messages and articulate messengers.
Meyer lives in Herndon which is in Congressman Gerry Connolly’s district (VA-11). Connolly nearly lost the seat in 2010, holding on by just 900 votes (less than 1%). Meyer plans to announce a final decision in early April.
If Meyer were to run for Congress -- and win -- he would be one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the United States House of Representatives. You can learn more about him by clicking here.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul covered a lot of ground today in his CPAC speech. He discussed, among other things, the real reason why he filibustered the president’s nominee for Defense Secretary, the absurdity of giving Egypt $250 million in foreign aid (a country known for burning U.S. flags and for its citizens chanting “death to America!”), the president’s politically-calculated decision to discontinue oh-so-expensive White House tours for America’s school children (even though he has no problem whatsoever subsidizing wasteful and frivolous government pork projects), and the importance of preserving and protecting the Second and Fourth Amendments.
Needless to say, his speech was a big hit. Enjoy:
For what it’s worth, the entire Townhall staff is on scene at CPAC this year. Stop by our booth and say hello if you’re in the area! We’re located right outside the main ballroom.
And so it begins. Fully twenty months before Kentuckians head to the polls to either re-elect Mitch McConnell or send some other pol to Washington, it’s clear that the Senate Minority Leader isn’t taking any chances. To wit, on Thursday Team McConnell will reportedly launch their first television campaign ad of the 2014 election season, according to Politico:
Mitch McConnell plans to begin running television commercials in Kentucky on Thursday, 20 months before the election.
The Senate Minority Leader, who polls suggest is perhaps the most vulnerable Republican incumbent up in 2014, is targeting women older than 25 in Louisville and Lexington with a six-figure buy.
A source that tracks media buys told POLITICO that McConnell will be up for one week.
The McConnell campaign confirmed the buy, saying they will run a positive spot and noting that there is an accompanying radio component.
It is extraordinarily rare for an incumbent to run advertisements so early, long before most voters have tuned in.
It was significant when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went on the air in Nevada in the fall of 2009, nearly half a year closer to the election than this. His advisers worried that he was seen as overly partisan and out of touch — perceptions that polling suggest could dog McConnell — so they ran spots highlighting his modest roots, along with illustrations of how he used his power to help his state.
McConnell began preparing early for a tough fight next year. He had $7.4 million in cash on hand at the end of January, as well as a stable of experienced campaign hands on board.
Democrats identify the GOP leader as a top target. Actress and activist Ashley Judd reportedly plans to announce sometime this spring that she will run, but for now McConnell has no declared opponent.
Over the weekend I noted that it seemed awfully likely that Ashley Judd will try to unseat Senator McConnell in 2014. Yes, the Hollywood actress has her work cut out for her -- that is, if she does indeed decide to run -- but McConnell isn’t necessarily a shoe-in for re-election either. On the other hand, McConnell has a distinct advantage, despite his sagging popularity.
Enter Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Although Senator McConnell didn’t endorse now-Senator Paul during his 2010 Republican primary run-off (he went with the establishment candidate, natch), he’s made a concerted effort to build a political alliance with him. As NRO's Andrew Stiles points out, McConnell’s hired the junior Senator’s old campaign manager to guide his promising bid for re-election, endorsed a few of his legislative ideas, and even participated in (after giving him explicit approval beforehand) his epic, 13-hour-long filibuster last week. Needless to say, I suspect McConnell will use Paul’s growing influence and newfound popularity to his own advantage; his endorsement and support certainly can’t hurt.
That being said, Kentucky is a state that leans unquestionably to the right. After all, they elected Rand Paul, a self-described Tea Partier with pronounced libertarian-leanings, to the U.S. Senate by a double-digit margin. But this begs another question: Do Democrats really believe a Hollywood liberal has a fleeting chance against the Senate Minority Leader? Surely there’s something almost farcical about a constitutional conservative and a liberal activist from Hollywood serving side by side as colleagues from Kentucky in the upper chamber, right?
Still, Allahpundit noted recently that Judd is basically a “low risk high reward” candidate -- that is to say, the chances of Senator McConnell actually losing to anyone, let alone a political novice, are so minuscule and unlikely that Democrats don’t really have anything to lose by backing her. And who knows? Nothing is certain in politics -- hence why I think Team McConnell is being extra cautious, and starting the political fireworks months earlier than probably necessary.
Now that the 2012 election over -- and therefore Team Obama doesn’t have an evil, “corporate raider” to blame for all of America’s woes -- the president’s approval rating has taken a decided hit, returning to levels we haven’t seen since November 2011:
If President Barack Obama had piled up political capital with his impressive re-election, it’s largely gone.
His approval rating has dropped to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters now turning thumbs down on his performance than thumbs up, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The measure of how much people like him also has dropped.
He’s still vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans. But in the biggest political clash of the year – over the federal budget and how to curb deficits – voters split 44 percent to 42 percent between preferring Congress or Obama.
At least some of the president’s fall to Earth lies in the fact that voters no longer see him in the context of an election. He has to stand alone in the eyes of voters again and doesn’t benefit from the comparison with Republican rival Mitt Romney.
“You remove the electoral context and post-election celebration, and some of the numbers are returning to the dissatisfaction people had,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the poll.
“Any glow from his re-election is starting to fade,” he said.
But it’s not just President Obama’s favorability rating that is plummeting, either. In fact, his personal popularity numbers are nearly underwater -- and the lowest they’ve been in sixteen months:
Obama’s personal popularity also has declined, with 48 percent of voters having favorable impressions of him and 48 percent having unfavorable impressions. That was down from 53-44 in December. It also was the lowest since November 2011, when it was 47-49.
Another factor in the president’s decline is anxiety about the economy and the country.
Just 34 percent of voters think the country’s heading in the right direction, while 62 percent think it’s headed the wrong way. That’s also the worst since November 2011.
Question: Could President Obama’s endless scaremongering have anything to do with why the public is slowly but surely turning again him? Or are his numbers falling simply because he doesn’t have a hapless scapegoat to blame for our wretched economy? Maybe it’s a combination of the two. However, it’s worth mentioning that the national unemployment rate (setting aside the fact that millions of Americans have dropped out of the labor market) fell to 7.7 percent last month, the lowest it’s been since The One took office. And yet 62 percent surveyed in the McClatchy-Marist poll say (a) we’re still in a recession and (b) the country is headed in the wrong direction. Go figure. In any case, the point is that the president cannot convincingly blame George W. Bush anymore for our perennially stagnant economy, and I think finally we’re starting to see that reflected in our public opinion polls.
Most Americans continue to loath Hugh Chavez for the oppressive, authoritarian tyrant that he was. The late dictator debased individual liberty and basic human freedom, to say nothing of the billions of dollars he openly embezzled from his own people. The country Venezuela is unquestionably better off now that he’s deceased, of course, but Texas Senator Ted Cruz took the significance of his death a step further.
During a recent speaking engagement, Cruz said -- among other things -- that he hoped thugs like Fidel and Raul Castro will soon meet their maker . . . and the oppressed people of Cuba will finally reap the blessings and benefits that naturally result from free elections (via Real Clear Politics):
Bringing freedom to Cuba is an issue that is quite personal for Senator Cruz. His father was tortured and nearly killed there during the 1950s. Miraculously, however, Rafael Cruz was able to escape to Texas with (as he memorably phrased it during his 2012 RNC speech) nothing but “a hundred dollars sewn into his underwear.” And today, fifty years later, his son serves as the junior Senator from one of the largest and most prosperous states in the nation. Where else in the world would this be possible?
Chavez’s death reminds all of us, too, that although Cuba is just 90 miles from the southern coast of Florida, its people have known nothing but tyrannical rule. But perhaps, someday soon, the people of Cuba will enjoy the rights and freedoms we Americans have cherished and defended for centuries. The godless, failed system of communism will eventually be relegated to "the ash heap of history," but it nevertheless survives today less than a hundred miles from our shores.
Cruz firmly believes Chavez’s death is an opportunity for America’s top political leaders to re-affirm and re-proclaim American values to the world -- to stand, in John Winthrop’s words, as that “Shining City on a Hill.” I think so too.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan appeared on Fox News Sunday today to talk about his chamber’s soon-to-be-released budget proposal (which reportedly has significant flaws), but that wasn’t the highlight of the discussion.
Several things Ryan mentioned -- or importantly, failed to mention -- were highly significant. Not only did he double down on his long-held aversion to serving in the House Leadership -- a pretty significant statement in and of itself -- but he didn’t rule out running for president in 2016 either:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he has plans to pursue an elected leadership position in the House and that he is much better suited for policy leadership.
“I have no plans to be in House elected leadership,” the House Budget Committee chairman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If I wanted to be in elected leadership like speaker, I would have run for these jobs years ago. I’ve always believed the better place for me is policy leadership — like being a chairman.”
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, said last year’s campaign was a pleasant experience for him.
“I enjoyed the experience. It made it more realistic in my mind. It’s something that I much better understand,” he said.
When asked about the prospect of him running for president in 2016, Ryan said his focus now is on the fiscal work in front him and serving his constituents, not his long-term political aspirations.
“I shouldn’t be clouding my judgment today by thinking about some political thing four years from now,” Ryan said.
I’ve already spent time in these pages talking about 2016 so why stop now? Granted, it’s only 2013, but c’mon. There’s not much else going on.
First of all, I hope any and all concerns that Paul Ryan isn’t ready for the big show were put to rest during the last election cycle. Indeed, during the course of the 2012 campaign, Ryan engaged in literally hundreds and hundreds of interviews -- and not all of them were softballs like the underhand tosses the president was thrown. What’s more, under intense pressure, Ryan chalked up a very strong debate performance against Joe Biden -- proving that he can (a) handle the scrutiny and (b) go toe to toe with the Democrats’ (ahem) best and brightest. If he decides to run in 2016, Paul Ryan is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
But there was also something in Ryan’s tone that caught my intention. And I think the Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein got it exactly right:
Bottom line -- Ryan sounded like he was very likely to run for prez in 2016— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) March 10, 2013
Final thought: If Ryan does run for president in 2016 he’s probably going to face off against a very dynamic and talented field of young conservatives. Will his experiences in 2012 make him a stronger candidate -- perhaps even the front-runner? -- or will voters view his association with Mitt Romney (and failed bid) as a strike against him? That’s a fair question, I think, and one I suspect Mr. Ryan himself is already weighing.
UPDATE: Watch the full clip here.
This scoop is
Ashley Judd has yet to officially announce her political aspirations, but a source with intimate knowledge of the situation tells FOX411's Pop Tarts column the actress is preparing herself to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky seat in 2014.
"At least in Ashley's mind, it is happening," said the insider. "She has devoted herself to many important causes and stepped away from the Hollywood spotlight so this seems like the logical next step. I don't know if she will be successful, but her heart is in the right place."
Judd, 44, has reportedly been meeting with well-financed Democratic donors, and last week ventured to Washington D.C for more public engagements.According to Don Peebles, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, a member of President Obama's National Finance Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a Judd run is likely much more than a Hollywood fantasy.
"There looks to be a lot of noise around her running and she's been active in commenting on politics of the day so it is certainly possible," he said. "Senate Minority Leader McConnell's approval ratings are low, and a lot of reports show that he is vulnerable to a challenge. While Kentucky leans right, it is not as conservative as most of its neighbors and the voters of Kentucky may be looking to send a message that they don't feel fairly represented by Minority Leader McConnell."
Some of the Hollywood actress’ past comments have been quite jarring, and one wonders how she’ll be able to explain them away to average blue-collar Kentuckians. On the other hand, Allahpundit notes that this isn’t the worst recruiting decision Democrats could make. After all, she’s a relatively famous -- and smart -- Hollywood liberal with a penchant for moral grandstanding. What else could Democrats ask for in a candidate?
But more to the point, it seems that getting elected nowadays to high national office is less about resume and credentials and more about celebrity status. I don’t believe former Governor Mitt Romney lost his presidential bid because voters thought he was unqualified; he lost because people didn’t think he “cared” enough about them, among other reasons, and his opponent was much more charismatic and likeable. One of the things that makes Judd an attractive candidate, then, is that she’s very likeable -- at least with her base -- and can raise tons of money in Tinseltown. And since Mitch McConnell is one of the least-liked Senators on Capitol Hill, perhaps she has a chance to unseat him. Worse things have happened.
UPDATE: Did Judd just make it official? Not quite.
Funding less-than-friendly foreign governments is probably the last thing the “Brokest Nation in History” should be doing with its taxpayer dollars. Nonetheless, before Congress stopped him, our illustrious secretary of state went rogue and offered Egypt hundreds of millions of dollars more in foreign aid than he was legally authorized to deliver. Fortunately, that idea was quickly nipped in the bud:
Secretary of State John Kerry had hoped to offer considerably more aid to Egypt than the $250 million he announced during his trip to Cairo but was blocked by Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said.
“This is not the aid package that the administration wanted to announce,” Royce told The Hill. The administration wanted to release a “larger sum,” but bowed to the wishes of Royce's committee as well as congressional appropriators, he said.
Royce wouldn't say how much Kerry had hoped to announce, but the State Department has been pressing Congress to greenlight $450 million in direct aid since last fall.
“Our approach is not the full-throttle administration approach of delivering all the aid that they wanted to deliver, but rather a measured approach of tying tranches to results as it pertains to the peace treaty with Israel, to cooperation with respect to smuggling [into Gaza] and with respect to economic reforms to guarantee civil rights and the rule of law within Egypt,” he said. “That's the pressure that we're applying.”
Kerry announced the new aid package last Sunday during a stop in Cairo as part of his first trip overseas. The money includes $190 million in budgetary support that's part of the $1 billion in debt relief President Obama pledged in 2011, along with $60 million for an enterprise fund.
The aid, Kerry said, was a “good-faith effort to spur reform and help the Egyptian people at this difficult time.”
Charles Krauthammer addressed this very issue in his latest column. As it happens, Dr. K supports giving foreign aid to Egypt -- under certain conditions, of course -- but believes Secretary Kerry is in desperate need of a lesson in diplomacy:
[W]e should not cut off aid to Egypt. It’s not that we must blindly support unfriendly regimes. It is perfectly reasonable to cut off aid to governments that are intrinsically hostile and beyond our influence. Subsidizing enemies is merely stupid.
But Egypt is not an enemy, certainly not yet. It may no longer be our strongest Arab ally, but it is still in play. The Brotherhood aims to establish an Islamist dictatorship. Yet it remains a considerable distance from having done so.
Precisely why we should remain engaged. And engagement means using our economic leverage. …
Any foreign aid we give Egypt should be contingent upon a reversal of this repression and a granting of space to secular, democratic, pro-Western elements.
That’s where Kerry committed his mistake. Not in trying to use dollar diplomacy to leverage Egyptian behavior, but by exercising that leverage almost exclusively for economic, rather than political, reform.
Kerry’s major objective was getting Morsi to apply for a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Considering that some of this $4.8 billion ultimately comes from us, there’s a certain comic circularity to this demand. What kind of concession is it when a foreign government is coerced into . . . taking yet more of our money?
We have no particular stake in Egypt’s economy. Our stake is in its politics. Yes, we would like to see a strong economy. But in a country ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood?
Krauthammer goes on to say that the U.S. government should not give Egypt foreign aid unless they agree to certain political concessions -- namely, amending their constitution and allowing for free and fair elections. Only then, he believes, should Egypt be given access to our hard-earned tax dollars -- money we obviously can’t afford to just give away carelessly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something America’s top foreign diplomat seems to understand.
Although some authoritarian sympathizers such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and actor Sean Penn felt compelled to stand in solidarity with the grieving people of Venezuela, the vast majority of Americans do not have a favorable opinion of the late dictator:
Very few voters have a favorable opinion of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez who died earlier this week, but they’re also not very optimistic that U.S. relations with Venezuela will get any better.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just six percent (6%) of Likely U.S. Voters share a favorable opinion of Chavez. Sixty-seven percent (67%) view the late Venezuelan leader unfavorably, while 27% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
His successors would be in better shape if Chávez had been a typical South American strongman. But he wasn’t just another caudillo who stuffed ballot boxes and rounded up his enemies. As I describe in my book The Dictator’s Learning Curve, Chávez’s rule was far more sophisticated than such heavy-handed regimes. Like many authoritarian leaders, Chávez centralized power for his own use. Not long after taking office in 1999, he controlled every branch of government, the armed forces, the central bank, the state-owned oil company, most of the media, and any private sector business he chose to expropriate. But Venezuela never experienced massive human rights abuses. Dissidents didn’t disappear in the night, and for all Chavez’s professed love for Fidel Castro, his regime was never as repressive as Castro’s tropical dictatorship.
And unlike Castro and many other autocrats, Chávez didn’t fear elections; He embraced them. Most opposition leaders will tell you that Venezuelan elections are relatively clean. The problem isn’t Election Day—It’s the other 364 days. Rather than stuffing ballot boxes, Chávez understood that he could tilt the playing field enough to make it nearly impossible to defeat him. Thus, the regime’s electoral wizards engineered gerrymandering schemes that made anything attempted in the American South look like child’s play. Chávez’s campaign coffers were fed by opaque slush funds holding billions in oil revenue. The government’s media dominance drowned out the opposition. Politicians who appeared formidable were simply banned from running for office. And the ruling party became expert in using fear and selective intimidation to tamp down the vote. Chávez took a populist message and married it to an autocratic scheme that allowed him to consolidate power. The net effect over Chávez’s years was a paradoxical one: With each election Venezuela lost more of its democracy.
Reading about Chávez’s reign of terror -- if that’s the right word -- is a lot like reading a passage from George Orwell’s 1984. In Venezuela, much like in Orwell’s fictional dystopia, the government controls every facet of your life; genuine political dissent, free elections, and basic human freedoms are suppressed by the ruling party. But now at least a new chapter in Venezuela’s history has begun in earnest -- after all, the nation’s top kleptocrat is dead -- so here’s to hoping that democracy and freedom can finally flourish in the oil-rich country . . . even if the chances of that happening are exceedingly slim.
Put another way, only about 20 percent of students who graduate high school in New York City are academically prepared to take -- and presumably pass -- college courses. This should be a wake-up call, America (via CBS New York):
Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.
The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
When they graduated from city high schools, students in a special remedial program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College couldn’t make the grade.
They had to re-learn basic skills — reading, writing and math — first before they could begin college courses.
They are part of a disturbing statistic.
So what is the solution? We can continue to throw all the money we want into the New York City public school system (even though taxpayers already spend nearly $7,000 per student on transportation alone), but I doubt that will fix the problem. The issues facing public school students are systemic and too numerous to mention in a single blog post.
As social conservatives have argued for years, I think it all starts with the breakdown of the traditional family. As a personal (albeit unscientific) example, one of my good friends teaches eighth grade Social Studies in the New York City public school system. She often tells me that one of the greatest challenges she faces is dealing with kids from broken homes. The vast majority of her students are raised by single moms in government-subsidized housing, and thus don’t have the time -- or perhaps the inclination -- to force their children to do their homework after school or study for tests when they get home. They’re simply not around a whole lot.
And so we as a nation can have a spirited debate about, say, the best methods or policies that could, in theory, fix our broken education system, but until we resolve this issue -- an issue that is staring us blankly in the face -- the vast majority of students in our inner-cities will continue to graduate high school without the requisite skills they need to be successful.
I admire inner-city public school teachers very much. I believe most -- not all, but most -- work hard because, if nothing else, they want to see their kids escape a life of poverty and dependence. But children brought into the world in less-than-ideal circumstances -- as Marco Rubio once said -- are going to struggle to make it. And until we recognize that this is at least part of the problem, we’ll never be able to come up with serious solutions worthy of our kids.
Great Moments in Human Rights: Mandated “Emotional Support” Animals in College Dorms | Daniel J. Mitchell