Trump hits a home run with Kudlow appointment

Originally published on The American Thinker, March 20th, 2018

The economic reins of the Trump White House were up for grabs last week with the exit of Gary Cohn.  Despite concerns from the right (and, ironically, the left) that the president’s appointment would signal a doubling down on trade protectionism, President Trump surprised his detractors by adding an all-star member to his Cabinet in Larry Kudlow.

Kudlow is a supply-side stalwart who will bring unique economic experience to Trump’s administration.  He began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked in open-market operations and bank supervision.  Quickly rising through the ranks, Kudlow eventually became the chief economist for Bear Stearns & Company after serving in the Executive Office of the President during the Reagan years.  Today, he is a syndicated columnist and a frequent contributor to CNBC.  Additionally, Kudlow is a founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, an organization that has played a critical role in educating the public on the benefits of supply-side policies.

Kudlow’s tremendous understanding of markets is evident during his frequent television appearances.  It should come as a surprise to no one that Trump views Kudlow as someone who could serve as an effective communicator of his economic policies to American families.

Perhaps the only area of disagreement between Kudlow and President Trump involves tariffs.  The president has favored blanket tariffs in a variety of industries, while Kudlow is first and foremost a free trader.  Kudlow has, however, advocated for highly targeted tariffs if they prove effective for negotiating broader policy reforms.  Conservatives and supply-siders are hopeful that Kudlow will use his economic expertise to steer the president toward a greater embrace of free-market economics.  President Trump addressed this disagreement, noting that “we don’t agree on everything, but in this case I think that’s good.”

Time and again, Trump has kept true to his promise to hire “the best people” for his administration.  In his selection on Kudlow, Trump’s excellent management skills were once again on full display – Kudlow’s appointment might be the president’s best selection since Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch.  Our new NEC director will only strengthen the renewed optimism Americans are presently feeling.  Thank you, President Trump, for saying “you’re hired” to Larry Kudlow.

President Trump Should Stick to His Guns

Originally published on The Patriot Post, March 8th, 2018.

Since he was elected, President Trump has earned a well-deserved reputation among his supporters for keeping campaign promises. But his latest gun control proposal is a worrisome contradiction to the MAGA movement. And it’s our responsibility to take him to task for it.

The president met with lawmakers from both sides of the isle last week to discuss gun regulation and the Second Amendment in the wake of the recent Parkland shooting. Republicans in the room — including Sen. Marco Rubio, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Vice President Mike Pence — likely expected to hear the president deliberate on policy recommendations that would defend the Second Amendment while deterring the likelihood of another school shooting. Instead, President Trump sided with Democrats and railed against the Republican Party’s support for the NRA.

Specifically, Trump accused Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey of being “petrified” of the gun lobby. He then went on to recommend that lawmakers raise the legal purchasing age for AR-15s from 18 to 21 and for enhancing the federal background check system (which many believe will result in law-abiding gun owners being barred from purchasing firearms due to the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen rather than any legitimate threat).

However, the most startling of his remarks came in the form of a rebuttal to Vice President Pence, when the president bluntly stated we should “take the guns [from mentally ill citizens] first” and worry about due process later. Let’s face it: If president Obama (or any other president for that matter) were to make such a claim, the entire conservative base would be up in arms (pun intended) — and rightfully so. Due process of the law is one of the most paramount protections of our liberty, and any politician who threatens to infringe on it must be held accountable.

This turn of events was especially unfortunate since President Trump garnished exceptional backing from Second Amendment supporters throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. This was no coincidence. Then-candidate Trump was an ardent supporter of the DC v. Heller decision and routinely trashed Hillary Clinton for opposing it. He also favored solutions like reciprocity for concealed carry laws, armed security in public places, and the overall deregulation of firearms.

A tragedy like Parkland should not initiate a change in attitude, nor should the liberal media’s shameless co-opting of children to further their totalitarian agenda. President Trump should instead return to what he campaigned and won on: protecting the Second Amendment at all costs.

Luckily for the president, there are a variety of proposed pro-gun bills that he can support without abandoning his base. Sen. Marco Rubio is in the process of drafting two bills — one dealing with straw purchasing (buying a firearm for someone who legally cannot), and another allowing citizens to apply for court orders to ban “red flag” individuals from obtaining a firearm. Both have bipartisan support.

Furthermore, various House and Senate Republicans are authoring legislation that would offer a wide array of improvements to school security, including metal detectors, armed guards, and third-party security reviews. All of these proposals would allow Trump to get back on the right track — should he choose to do so.

All hope is not lost for gun owners in America. So long as president Trump backs away from the intoxicating aurora of “dealmaking,” the executive and legislative branches could enact some refreshingly effective policies that would put a sizable dent in the likelihood of another mass shooting. But Trump’s supporters must hold him accountable. If they don’t, Trump could very well latch on to a restrictive piece of legislation that will have devastating impacts on our personal freedoms.

Co-opting children for political gain

Originally published on The American Thinker, March 6th, 2018.

Liberal activists are allowing – even encouraging – students to leave class, protest, and generally disregard their hierarchies of authority in the wake of the Parkland shooting.  The mainstream media are actively cheerleading for this educational anarchy by providing these children with constant airtime on national programs and social media.  Regardless of where one stands on the Second Amendment, the media’s shameless exploitation of children in the aftermath of a tragedy is entirely reprehensible – and we must call them out on it.

The first component of the media’s effort to co-opt children establishes high school students as experts on gun policy.  Framing students as credible experts on gun policy is simply irresponsible.  Media titans are fully aware that these students are not the most knowledgeable sources to showcase in this debate, but they choose to pass them off as such nonetheless.  Would the media rely on high school students as experts on the stock market, national security, or any other complex issue?

For the leftist media, these children afford a barrier between themselves and their critics.  News outlets hide behind distraught families and devastated young children because they understand the impact this emotional appeal has to their audience.  The media’s effort to conscript children for political gain is also visible in the total coverage this tragedy has received.  Prominent news networks are spotlighting this shooting to an unprecedented degree: more than twice that of the Las Vegas shooting from just a few months prior.  Notably, there were 32% more mentions of “gun control” on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and 55% more mentions on ABC, CBS, and NBC broadcasts nationally, in the wake of Parkland than in the aftermath of Las Vegas.  The question, then, is, why did the mainstream media decide to up their ante with Parkland (which, while unthinkably tragic, had significantly fewer victims)?  Because children are involved, and the media know that kids generate better ratings and will make their case for gun control more persuasive.

Lastly, the media are also using child victims in order to promote a false paradigm – they ascribe unsympathetic motives to supporters of the Second Amendment in framing the debate as “those who believe in gun ownership don’t care about dead children.”  This sleight of hand is disgraceful.

The media intentionally exclude arguments from supporters of the Second Amendment on how to reduce gun violence.  During NPR’s coverage of the Parkland incident last week, the network did not include a single pro-gun guest or opinion.  The anchors also based much of their criticism on a selectively edited excerpt from an NRA statement about corporate support for the organization.

In all, the media’s handling of the incident is evidence that they don’t want viewers to see a balanced debate on how to prevent mass shootings; they want the public to turn against the Second Amendment at the sight of traumatized children.

The media coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting is proof that the anti-American media are willing to run roughshod over any obstacle in the pursuit of their agenda.  The irony of this approach is that the industry could, potentially, make an argument for greater gun regulation without sacrificing its credibility by shamelessly co-opting children for political gain.  If the power-players in the media want to both ethically and effectively convince audiences that their resolution is the correct one, they should stick to a reasoned policy debate.  Then, and only then, will critics and indifferent onlookers alike view their recommendations in a legitimate light.