5 Reasons America Is In Decline

My latest Townhall column is called, 5 Reasons America is in Decline. Here’s an excerpt from the column.
There’s a reason gun sales are through the roof, gold advertisements are everywhere, products like survival seeds have started to creep into the edges of our consciousness, and Doomsday Preppers now runs on National Geographic. It’s the same reason people have started asking about ways to hedge their money against inflation and which countries they can flee to if America falls apart. A decade ago, the idea that America could economically collapse because ...


4 Crucial Techniques For Reprogramming Yourself Into A Better Person

My latest PJM column is called, 4 Crucial Techniques For Reprogramming Yourself Into A Better Person. Here’s an excerpt from the column.
Every day of your life, you are absolutely bombarded with attempts to influence your behavior. You pick up the paper and you read an article that tries to convince you to take a particular position on a political issue. You turn on the TV, watch a sitcom, and recognize that there’s a moral message shoved into it. While you’re watching the sitcom, commercials play. Do those commercials stick in ...


A Censored Race War?

When two white newspaper reporters for the Virginian-Pilot were driving through Norfolk, and were set upon and beaten by a mob of young blacks — beaten so badly that they had to take a week off from work — that might seem to have been news that should have been reported, at least by their own newspaper. But it wasn’t.
“The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel was the first major television program to report this incident. Yet this story is not just a Norfolk story, either in what happened or ...


The Feds’ Intrusions Into American Farms and Families

With Mother’s Day right at our back, I want to address one of the most extreme overreaches by the federal government into American homes that I’ve seen in a long time. Then I want to call on my own 91-year-old mother, who was raised in rural Oklahoma and worked in cotton fields with her family during the Great Depression, to help set straight the rural farm and child labor record.
After a national decry by American farmers (and all of us who support them), the Obama administration has just shelved its ...


Obama Is the Extremist, Not Conservative Talkers

Some conservatives believe that other conservatives, on talk radio and Fox News Channel, are damaging the cause of conservatism by dishonestly overstating their case against President Obama to increase their ratings and profits.
More reasonable Republican politicians, they argue, would like to cooperate with Obama on bipartisan solutions but don’t have the power to resist these extremists with the megaphones and so have buckled in lock step to their demands and become the party of “no” and the purveyors of gridlock.
The problem is that the presuppositions underlying those allegations are wrong. ...


Romney Understands America

On Saturday, Mitt Romney delivered a speech to the 6,000 Liberty College graduates.
It was an important speech, not only because it seems to have closed the gap between Romney and evangelical Christians but also because it spelled out major themes in Mitt Romney’s understanding of America.
Romney: “You know who you are. And you know whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence . . . .”
This is a truism. Most American universities seek to graduate men and women who are as committed to secularism as nearly ...


Romney’s stellar performance

LYNCHBURG, Va. — It wasn’t exactly the belly of the beast Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited recently on a picture-perfect commencement day at “the world’s largest Christian University,” but his appearance was a test as to whether the conservative school, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, would embrace a devout Mormon. And Romney passed.
The more than 30,000 assembled in Liberty University’s stadium to hear his commencement address not only applauded him when he proclaimed that marriage was a relationship between one man and one woman but also when he ...


The Pardon Attorney Who Just Says No

In 1993, a jury convicted Clarence Aaron for his role in two planned cocaine deals. Aaron was a 23-year-old college student. It was his first offense. Unlike his co-defendants, Aaron was not a career drug dealer. He didn’t know enough to plead guilty and testify against others to win a reduced sentence. He perjured himself in court. A federal judge sentenced Aaron to three terms of life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense.
Aaron’s only hope of not dying behind bars is a presidential commutation. President George W. Bush ...


Jonah Goldberg Explains The Problem With Moderates

Later today, I’ll be interviewing Jonah Goldberg on his new book, The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. That interview will be going up later this week on RWN and just to give you a little preview, here’s Jonah Goldberg doing an absolutely amazing job of breaking down the unpleasant truth about moderates.
There’s a certain Goldilocks bias to discussions of politics: If Papa Bear’s porridge is too hot and Mama Bear’s is too cold, then Baby Bear’s is always just right. It must work the ...


Romney’s Stellar Performance

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- It wasn't exactly the belly of the beast Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited recently on a picture-perfect commencement day at "the world's largest Christian University," but his...


Ron Paul Is Not Ending His Campaign for Liberty

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
announced yesterday that he will no longer be actively campaigning
in forthcoming primaries. While
this announcement
 was widely played in the media as
essentially "Ron Paul drops out"—as perhaps his team should have
figured, especially with its injudicious use of past tense about
"fought hard"—Paul in fact directly said his quest to rack up as
many delegates as he can for the Republican presidential nomination
will continue. Indeed, the announcement was more or less merely a
public declaration of what had been the campaign's style for the
past few weeks, featuring few of the smaller public events that
make up a full-fledged campaign and more giant campus rallies. The
campaign was indeed likely down to only about a million dollars
cash on hand, and seems ill-inclined right now to do more big calls
for cash.

Paul's campaign advisors have had to try to play damage
—many, though by no means all, Paul fans around the
Internet were
, especially the ones still wanting to rack up big
vote totals in states like Texas and California, just to show the
establishment what's what.

But as a further announcement from
Paul's campaign website stated
, "Asked if this is a dropout,
Paul’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said, 'Absolutely not! We are
focusing our efforts squarely on winning delegates and party
leadership positions at state conventions.'"

This announcement happened just a couple of days
after state Republican Party conventions in Oklahoma and Arizona
were marked by dissention, boos, accusations of illegal
adjournment, at least one physical attack, and, in Oklahoma, a rump
convention exiled in a parking lot. All that arose from the
continued fervor of Paul’s supporters, and not even Paul will be
able to stop it. Such tumult is just the latest manifestations of
the slow march of Paul people through the institutions of the
Republican Party this year, a movement that is about more than
whether Ron Paul is personally on the campaign trail.

Indeed, campaign advisor Doug Wead seemed to indicate that ending
that sort of loud fighting—which makes the Paul movement seem
unbearably wild and feisty for the Republican establishment—might
have been part of the goal of the announcement: 

all of this fighting makes Ron Paul nervous. Yes, he is taking
on the establishment. Yes, he wants the monetary policy reformed so
that the poor and the middle class and even the excluded rich can
know the thrill and opportunity of free markets that aren’t rigged
for insider trading. But Dr. Paul is a happy warrior on these
issues. He is a person who has always believed in a respectful
dialogue and debate. As John Tate says, “That is what he
wants his legacy to be.”

Shouting people down is not Ron Paul’s way. Winning a battle of
ideals based on principles, in a respectful way, is how he
approaches the contest and it is how he wants others to approach
the contest, as well.

Other chatter around the Paul campaign I heard indicated that an
attempt to imbue a more realistic sense of what Paul's actual
electoral prospects are moving forward might have been part of the
motive for the misunderstood announcement. Regardless, it's
unlikely that a mere word from the top will slow down the desire to
make as big a splash in the remaining state conventions, and
eventually Tampa, as possible.

Of course, many in the Republican Party will continue to be
merely aggravated by the Paulites' loud persistence and refusal to
get in line behind frontrunner Mitt Romney. But the rise of the
movement around Paul, and the past history of such loud minorities
within the GOP, indicates the Republican Party should figure out a
way to keep the Paul people in the tent—not out in the parking

A year ago, Paul was the presumed least-likely-to-succeed
candidate in the GOP field. His radical libertarian bent and his
fervent opposition to the GOP’s standard foreign policy positions
made him seem anathema to the party’s primary base. Anyway, hadn’t
he tried this same trick in 2008, with no real electoral result?
His running again was treated by both the party and the media as an
easy-to-ignore distraction. Now, Paul is still the last man
standing in opposition to Romney—and far from fading, his fortunes
both within the party and within the culture are rising.

Politically, Paul has been pulling off wins thought impossible
through the winter and spring, when every other candidate had his
or her moment as the presumptive leader of the opposition to
Romney. Paul now controls the delegation
from Maine
, and seems on target to do the same in
, and
. He has also made substantial in-roads in
filling delegate slots in
(though even delegates who are Paul supporters are bound
to vote for Romney). Paul supporters hold top leadership positions
in the state GOP in both
. No matter how many delegates he goes into Tampa with,
Paul and his fans can no longer be written off as politically

But political importance, as measured in votes or delegates,
isn’t the only measure of Paul’s effect. Some have mocked Paul’s
presidential runs as ideologically-motivated acting out, not
serious attempts to win office. That accusation seems to ring true
to some because Paul can gain whether he wins or loses.

Though a Republican congressman and a Ronald Reagan delegate to
the 1976 Republican convention, Paul’s intellectual background is
in the libertarian movement. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1988
presidential candidate in between stints as a Republican
congressman, and his attitudes about government purpose and
monetary policy were shaped by libertarian hero economists such as
Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.

The libertarian movement has been driven not necessarily to win
political office, but to educate the mass public on the virtues of
libertarian ideas. Politicians, most libertarians think, are
lagging indicators of public opinion. The real game is shaping that
public opinion.

Thus, Paul’s cultural and intellectual victories—a series of
best-selling books, launching organizations such as Campaign for
Liberty, becoming a positive political signifier on everything from
Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show with Jon
—can be as meaningful as racking up votes.

And Paul’s status as a cultural hero, especially to the young,
is growing. In the past couple of months, he’s pulled bigger crowds
than ever at college campuses, including over 7,000 at UCLA, over
6,000 at University of Texas-Austin, and over 4,000 in the rain in
Philadelphia. His “Youth for Ron Paul” group now has over 110,000
members in 627 chapters in all 50 states. He is creating a legacy
of enthusiastic, giving activists, many skewing young.

The “giving” part should be especially important to the
Republican Party. Paul raised $35 million in the 2008 run, and got
nowhere electorally. Rather than feeling burned out, his fans have
given even
this go-round. Paul outraised Newt Gingrich by $14
million, and Rick Santorum by $16 million.

His vote totals in 2012 also show the Paul phenomenon growing,
not shrinking. He
his total number of votes, and his share of the total
Republican primary vote more than doubled so far, increasing by 6
percentage points, from 4 percent to 10. While his armies are
undoubtedly an election cycle or two from succeeding in large
number, dozens of would-be federal office holders and hundreds of
state and local candidates are running now explicitly inspired by
Ron Paul. The first fruition of that strategy was in 2010, with the
election of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The Republican Party has seen this phenomenon before—young,
passionate, uncompromising activists with a powerful
anti-government bent coming into a party whose establishment is
confused or aggravated by them, led by a very ideological
politician who inspires great personal loyalty and affection. It
was the Barry Goldwater movement, in 1960. Four years later their
man got the nomination, and 20 years later an exemplar of that
movement won the presidency of the United States.

How much hold on the future could this libertarian minority
within the Republican Party have, energized by a failed
presidential campaign and deliberately following a strategy of
occupying positions within the party structure from the bottom up?
To answer that, consider Pat Robertson in 1988 and the effect the
religious right has had on the Republican Party ever since.

The libertarians could well have success in shaping the GOP’s
actual policies in a way the religious right did not. The
libertarians' concerns actually represent serious solutions to
actual crises the country faces, in fiscal, monetary, and foreign
policy, not merely a shrinking reaction against cultural and values
change. The cultural values of the religious right are losing their
grip on the majority of the American people, while Paul’s
libertarian leanings are growing. In a
CNN poll from last June
, 63 percent say they think government
was doing too much, and 50 percent said government should not favor
any particular set of values. That was the highest numbers ever
supporting those libertarian-leaning attitudes.

The most important reason Paul’s fans aren’t going away is that
they believe that his very serious attempts to rein in government
spending and function—his budget proposals are
far stronger
on instant spending cuts and debt reduction than
Romney’s or any other past candidate's—are what the GOP needs to
focus on, in the wake of the still-dissatisfied Tea Party movement,
and what the country needs to focus on, in the wake of our
overwhelming and growing debt.

In 2008, Paul and his people ran an alternate convention called
the Rally for the Republic that drew well over 10,000 dedicated
fans. Paul has not made any promises to endorse Romney, and despite
the studied cordiality with which the candidates have treated the
other, he’s unlikely to. That won’t make the Republican Party
powers any happier than were those people fussing in the Oklahoma
and Arizona GOP conventions. But the activists Paul has energized
won’t be going away until the issues of debt and government
overreach that inspire them have been dealt with, and from their
perspective that won’t be happening no matter who wins in

Brian Doherty is a senior editor of Reason magazine
and author of

Ron Paul’s Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

(Broadside Books).


California Austerity: $5 Billion Spending Hike: Cavanaugh on Fox L.A., 10 p.m. tonight

When Tim Cavanaugh stares directly at the sun, the sun looks away. Rabbit ears alert for all L.A.

Why does California keep overestimating how much it can collect
in taxes? 

How did the overestimation this time around result in a cool $16
billion shortfall? (Not even the worst in recent memory!) 

Where are the devastating cuts of the austerity of bare-bones of
the starving beast in a state that will increase
spending by six percent — from $86.5 billion in outlays last
year to $91.4 billion this year? 

Is it smart for Gov. Jerry Brown to expect a Facebook windfall
when Facebook founders are literally willing to flee the United
States to escape the tax hit of the company's impending

Does anybody except USC/Dornsife pollsters think Brown will get
his $8.5 billion tax hike approved in November? Does anybody on any
planet believe it will actually bring in $8.5 billion in new

What's the best way for a broken state to spend money it doesn't
have: Government employee pensions, high-speed rail, boards of
horse racing and chiropractory, or all of the above? managing editor Tim Cavanaugh will answer these
questions and more on Fox Channel 11 tonight at 10 p.m. 


Gay Rights: The Arc of Justice Is Clear

Not one, but two new national polls show that Americans are increasingly comfortable with same-sex relationships and unions:

CBS News/New York Times Poll: Most Americans Support Same-Sex Unions:

Overall, 38 percent of those who responded to the survey said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, just like any other couple. Another 24 percent said civil unions should be used to grant same-sex couples legal rights similar to male-female partnerships. Combined, that means 62 percent - close to two thirds - of Americans believe that same-sex unions should be recognized by law.

Of all those who participated, 33 percent said there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples.

One of the most striking figures revealed by the survey comes when the responses are broken down by age. Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 are far more likely than people 45 and older to support full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Gallup Poll: U.S. Acceptance of Gay/Lesbian Relations Is the New Normal:

PRINCETON, NJ -- The slight majority of American adults, 54%, consider gay or lesbian relations morally acceptable. Public acceptance of gay/lesbian relations as morally acceptable grew slowly but steadily from 38% in 2002 to 56% in 2011 and is now holding at the majority level.

This Gallup trend mirrors the growth in public support for legalizing gay marriage, which has risen from 42% support in 2004 to 50% or greater support in the last two years. Americans' support for gay rights on both questions leveled off in this year's Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-6.

Gallup's longer-term question measuring U.S. attitudes about gays asks whether gay or lesbian relations should or should not be legal. The 63% now saying gay relations should be legal nearly matches the record-high 64% of a year ago, which came after a long-term increase in support for legality from 32% in 1986.


President Obama says that same-sex marriage is way cool.

On May 9th, President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage; sort of.  Acknowledging that it's a matter of fairness that remains up to the states, he was planning to get around to it if and when convenient.

There is already excessive Federal involvement [...]


CBS/NYT: Romney 46, Obama 43 Among Registered Voters

In a long election season, it’s never wise to get too high or too low over any one poll. Presidential elections are won at the state level, but statewide polling is fairly sporadic at this stage of the race, so we’re stuck reading national polls a lot. But the latest poll is bad news for President Obama.

We all know the major issues by now to look for with individual polls: some polls are adults, and are totally useless, because only registered voters can vote. Polls of likely voters, in turn, are vastly more accurate and less Democratic-biased than polls of registered voters, many of whom also don’t show up to vote. Most polls are also reported after weighting to achieve some guesstimate of the partisan breakdown of the general electorate among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Even polls that don’t feature egregious hackery are an inexact science, because they rest on the pollster’s current assumptions about the D/R/I split and the ‘screen’ they use to decide who is a likely voter. If the shape of the electorate is not as projected, the poll will be wrong.

Polling averages tend to be steadier than individual polls conducted over a few hundred respondents, and they show a tight race – the RealClearPolitics average shows Obama up 46.5%-45.1%, while the left-leaning TPMPolltracker average shows Romney up 46.1-44.2. Those averages smooth out possible outliers like last Friday’s jaw-dropping Rasmussen poll showing Romney up 50-43 among likely voters. And the averages themselves get more reliable as more of the pollsters start polling likely voters – right now, Rasmussen is virtually the only pollster reporting regularly conducted polls that is polling likely rather than registered voters. Looking at RCP, Rasmussen’s mid-April poll is the last likely voter poll showing President Obama in the lead.

All that said, the Obama campaign cannot be happy with the results of the latest CBS/New York Times poll – a poll of registered voters done by two organizations notoriously unfriendly to Republicans* – showing Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 46-43. Some breakdowns below the fold.

1. This is a registered voter poll, which as noted above means it tends to favor Democrats. The weighted party-ID split is 36% D, 30% R, 34% I.

2. The trend is negative for Obama – 48-42 lead in February, 47-44 in March, tied 46-46 in April, down 43-46 in May. Whatever the methodology, if you use it consistently and show a clear trend, that says something.

3. Gender gap? Romney leads 45-42 among men, actually down from a 49-43 lead last month, but after all the “war on women” hoo-ha, Obama’s 49-43 lead among women has flipped to a 46-44 Romney lead.

4. Oddly, Obama for once is polling behind his approval rating, which is up to 50% in this poll. One of the common themes of the past few years is that he tends to poll above his approval rating – people tend to like him or say they do, but don’t think he’s getting the job done. This, compared to the general personal and political unlikeability of Mitt Romney, is one reason why I tend to agree with Michael Barone’s third scenario that there’s a good chance that undecided voters wait until the last minute to resign themselves and break for Romney, much as happened in the primaries among reluctant voters who felt they had run out of better options.

The poll dropped some of the questions in last month’s survey about Romney, but that poll had him tied even though voters said by 60-34 that they can’t relate to him and by 62-27 that he says what people want to hear, not what he believes. In other words, it’s only Romney’s inherent flaws as a candidate that are even keeping this race close – people neither especially like nor trust Romney but are still dissatisfied enough with Obama to give him a shot. The longer the polls look tied, the worse things get for Obama, because it means voters haven’t bought his various efforts to make Romney radioactive. Remember, all this occurs against a backdrop of voters unhappy with the direction of the country and thus predisposed to change horses.

5. Despite its near-unanimous popularity among the media, entertainment and academia, Obama’s support of same-sex marriage is not an asset; by 25-16 (22-14 among independents), more voters say they are less likely rather than more likely to vote for Obama after his change of position on the issue, whereas by 23-17 (20-20 among independents), voters say they are more likely to vote for Romney as a result. Just under 60% of voters don’t consider the issue a factor. Notably, the poll found that the public, by 50-46 (50-47 among independents) favors amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, by 67-24, voters think Obama’s change of position on the issue is politically expedient rather than principled. In other words, the voters think he’s being political and doing something unpopular. This is not where you want to be in an election. Yet another reason why I refer to Romney-Obama as the collision between a resistible force and a movable object.

6. 62% of voters named the economy as the number one issue and another 20% named the budget, the deficit or health care. This race will be dominated by the big-picture domestic issues, not foreign policy or social issues, as much influence as those have on the baked-in partisan divides.

* – The National Journal has some thoughts on the oddities of the CBS/NYT poll’s methodology.

POSTSCRIPT: Bad polling news for Obama is also bad for his campaign for another, more immediate reason. Both of these candidates are unusually dependent on raising vast sums of money. Obama, as a number of press accounts recently have noted, has mostly lost the confidence of Wall Street fundraisers, who were a huge element of his fundraising in 2012. Romney, by contrast, as a former private equity guy, has a natural base of support throughout the financial industry. But many potential donors are terrified of donating to Romney and seeing Obama win, given this White House’s well-known efforts to target and intimidate private citizens who donate to the opposition. Perceptions shifting away from an inevitable Obama victory could have a disproportionate effect on the fundraising balance of power.


RS Interview: Tom Smith (R CAND, PA-SEN).

Pennsylvania’s going to be an interesting place this November: incumbent Senator Bob Casey is in the unenviable position of having to explain to half of his constituents why he’s not really like President Obama, while explaining to the other half why Bob Casey actually is. If you’re wondering how Senator Casey plans to square that circle; the plan is to ensure that he does not.

Along those lines RedState talked last week with Tom Smith, who won the Republican nomination for Senate.  Tom is a businessman with a history in the coal industry – you know, the industry that Democrats hate – and we talked about both that, and the race generally:

Tom’s site is here.

Moe Lane (crosspost)