Monthly Archives: October 2015

Common sense defense

Carson Black conservatives get under the skin of most liberal commentators, and Ben Carson’s steady rise in the presidential polls have been driving the pundits outright batty.  Detractors have seized upon Carson’s comments relating to Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and most recently about guns and self-defense.

In the latest provocation, Carson told CNN he thinks “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed… there is a reason these dictatorial people take guns first.”

Put aside that a certain class of opinion makers thinks it offensive and indefensibly hyperbolic to make references to Naziism in the context of any contemporary policy debate.  On the face of the issue, critics seem to reject a self-evident observation.  As Dennis Prager offers on TownHall: “No normal person thinks that armed Jews would have prevented the Holocaust (nor did Carson make such a claim). But no normal person should think that it would have not have been a good thing if many European Jews had weapons. The hallowed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began with the Jews in the Ghetto possessing a total of 10 handguns. Imagine if they had a thousand.”  The Federalist’s Daniel Payne adds detail how the Nazi regime engaged in systematic confiscation of weapons from political opponents, including Jews in particular, and maintained strict gun control as a means to dominate civil society.

Opponents of gun rights are not interested in delving into these historical realities because they want to deny the nexus between gun ownership and self-defense.  In their view, the availability of guns leads to more, not less, criminal violence, not to mention accidental injuries and death.  If only we had more “common sense” gun control, they assure us, the body count of innocents would plummet.

But what is common sense, anyway?  A feel-good compulsion to “do something” when tragedy strikes?  Or is it more sensible to check emotions at the door and look at the empirical evidence about gun violence?

There is a lot of data bandied about by both sides of the issue, and it is hard for any fair-minded person to say the data is conclusive.  What is indisputable is that violent crime has been nosediving for years, even as Americans have more guns than ever before.  Proponents of “concealed-carry” laws think this fact tells the whole story, but it is impossible to prove causation.  In other words, you just cannot prove that more generous gun rights will further reduce crime.

Of course, by that count, it is even more difficult to defend the merits of gun control.  Here is where the policy “laboratory” of our federal system offers insights to anyone who cares to look.  Cities like Chicago, with some of the most stringent restrictions, have some of the worse records on gun violence.  Even Harvard scholars cannot seem to agree whether gun control reduces gun violence or not.

Our nation is based on individual liberty.  Like a doctor whose first duty is to do no harm, our government must not take freedom from the people without just cause.  The burden of proof is on the state, not the citizen.

Mass shootings have grabbed the headlines and prompted President Obama and his fellow Democrats to demand new laws to tighten allegedly insufficient controls on access to guns.  Nowhere has anyone demonstrated that new background checks, assault rifle bans, or magazine restrictions — let alone manufacturer liability — would have prevented the massacres at Roseburg, Aurora, or Newtown.  So why create laws that at best do nothing and at worst reduce the capacity of good guys with guns?  Just to “do something” while enriching the trial attorney lobby?

Jewish critics of Ben Carson, self-declared defenders of sacred Holocaust cows, might want to ask themselves why Israel, which is facing the most acute urban violence in years, has just loosened its civilian permit laws to allow more people to carry concealed firearms.  Time and again over past several weeks, Israelis have taken down terrorist attackers using weapons carried by bystanders or by the victims themselves.  In this case the argument is not academic.  It truly is a matter of life and death.

The liberal political elite will not admit it, but their actions speak louder than words.  They walk among armed security guards while disparaging the rights of common citizens to arm themselves.  Just like they send their kids to private schools while battling school choice for the urban poor.  Just like they fly on private jets while denigrating the fossil fuels that power the working man’s pickup.

Supporters of Ben Carson have had their fill of such hypocrisy.  They are placing their trust in common sense.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Domestic Policy, Electoral Politics, Gun Control

Why I’m rooting for Carly

Carly-Fiorina-Republican-Debate-GOP In the rough and tumble Republican nomination battle, a key dynamic has emerged.  The primary electorate, particularly the activist base, is hungry for a political outsider, someone it hopes can shake up the status quo in Washington.  It attaches momentum to unconventional candidates who can make their cases most effectively under the glare of the media spotlight.  This dynamic will persist until the last man (or woman) is standing.

And for this reason, Carly Fiorina is the Great GOP Hope.

Like current front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, Fiorina has never been elected to office or otherwise served in a government job.  Similarly, she has found a way to stir the base with crisp, memorable sound-bites on the stump.  Unlike the other two outsider candidates, however, Fiorina has demonstrated policy depth and has confidently articulated her positions with intelligence and clarity.  She works hard and has thought seriously about the issues.  Her preparation shows.

Fiorina’s performance during and after the first two candidate debates has catapulted her from relative obscurity to the top tier of contenders.  The RealClearPolitics average of national polls over the last two weeks now has her ranked third, just after Trump and Carson.

Begrudging commentators have dismissed Fiorina’s rise as another infatuation with the latest shiny object, predicting her lack of political experience and campaign resources will cause her to collapse like 2012 flavors-of-the-month (such as Herman Cain).

Here’s why Fiorina is different.

First of all, she packs a rhetorical punch.  She doesn’t just parrot the requisite talking points for a receptive audience.  She brings the house down with razor-sharp attack lines which address the point at hand even as they paint a broader vision for conservative governance.

For example, here’s how Fiorina tackled the thorny issue of Iran during the CNN debate:

You haven’t heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here.  Here is my plan. On day one I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him that we will stand with the state of Israel. The second to the Supreme Leader to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we the United States of America will make it as difficult as possible to move money around the global financial system.  We can do that.  We don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and adversary we have in the world will know that the United States of America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with allies.

And then on the funding of Planned Parenthood:

I dare, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.

Even liberals — especially liberal women, who feel compelled to confront her policy positions, are at great pains to resist the appeal of her powerful stage presence.

Secondly, Fiorina promotes conservative principles with more than empty platitudes.  Whether it’s reasserting American strength abroad, defending the sanctity of life, or embracing a pro-growth economic policy, she makes her point and backs it up with specific ideas.  A critic might not agree with her conclusions but he would be hard pressed to refute her arguments on the spot, while millions of viewers were tuning in.

At the same time, Fiorina doesn’t throw out base-pleasing proclamations that would paint her into a corner.  Ted Cruz might also be a good debater, but unlike Fiorina, he has alienated the majority of the electorate, burning bridges with personal attacks and futile parliamentary maneuvers, which do little other than burnish his image with the hard-right.

Lastly, Fiorina readily dodges the bean-balls that typically trip up GOP candidates.  As an accomplished female executive, wife, stepmother, and breast cancer survivor, she gives no quarter the tiresome “war on women” diatribes coming from the politically correct feminist left.  As a wealthy person, she makes no apologies for her success, which she earned through individual labor and merit, something Democratic front-runner Hilary Clinton can scarcely claim.

As could be expected, the projectiles of critics have flown with Fiorina’s ascent in the polls.  Her controversial tenure as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard featured deal-making and boardroom drama, but little definitive success.  She outsourced jobs and cut thousands of employees from the payroll.  And when the board finally took her job away, she exited with a rich pay package.  She hasn’t been hired by another big company since.

Fiorina has her counterpoints to all of these knocks, and she seems well-prepared to push back against the kind of attacks which doomed her 2010 campaign for Senate in California.  Given the well-calibrated but fearless response to shots fired by Donald Trump, it’s easy to imagine her dispensing with Democratic critiques of her business record and pivoting quickly to the substance of the 2016 campaign.

Compared to Clinton, Fiorina is an icon of personal accountability and achievement.  She may have ruffled feathers climbing the corporate ladder, but she did it on her own.  Compared to most of her Republican rivals (excepting possibly Cruz and Marco Rubio), she speaks more clearly, more confidently, and more consistently on the stump and on the screen.  Compared to the other front-runners, she is the most presidential.

Money can’t buy these qualities and it won’t.  Just look at the middling Jeb Bush campaign.  But money will help a candidate compete if she otherwise has the right stuff.  That’s why I’m hoping big dollars start to flow her way.

1 Comment

Filed under Electoral Politics