I think I am like most people when it comes to political engagement: I first started paying attention to national and international news stories and then only much later started paying attention to what is happening in local government. It was then I realized if someone really wants to make a difference, the best place to be (for all but a select few) is in local politics - both in elections and in influencing public policy.
In national issues, I am one voice of over three hundred million. I have my little blog and my little readership, but I am under no illusions that anything I say or do is going to move the needle a trillionth of a millimeter on national politics. But locally, I can and have had an impact.
Take my campaign for city council last year. I ran as a write-in candidate and got a respectable percentage of the vote for a write-in candidate. (I should have ran as a Republican instead, but what's done is done.) But beyond the election results, I generated more media coverage than any other candidate except for the two candidates for Mayor. I might not have gotten as many votes as I had hoped for, but I was able to significantly influence the discussion of issues despite spending less than $20 on my entire campaign.
Let's say that instead of running for city council last year, I was running for Congress this year. Do you think my candidacy would generate any interest or discussion at all?
Your vote matters much more in local elections as well. Less than 8,500 people turned out to vote in the 2015 city election, but many more will turn out in this year's presidential election. But given how much each individual vote matters in city government races, turnout should actually be higher for city elections than for the Presidential election. In a city election, you are one voice out of less than 8,500. In the 2012 Indiana governor's race, over two and a half million people voted for one of the candidates. If the election were close, where would five or ten votes matter more?
Finally, it is local government that affects your life on a daily basis to a much greater extent than the federal government. Local government is responsible for city streets and county roads, trash pickup, police and fire protection, planning and zoning, snow removal and other things. The level of government that affects your life the most is also the one you have the most influence over. Why not take advantage of that?
When I say I will not vote for Donald Trump, Republicans respond that I should change my mind because Hillary Clinton would be much worse. But is that really the case? Would we really be better off with Trump than Clinton? I am not convinced. In fact, I am increasingly persuaded that Trump would be worse than Clinton.
When I voted for the Libertarian candidate for President back in 2008, one could at least make the argument that John McCain was substantively better than Barack Obama on a number of issues: Restraining federal spending, gun control, and abortion. For McCain's many faults, that was true. But is that true with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?
I am not convinced that there is any daylight between Trump's ideology and Clinton's ideology. Trump praised ObamaCare and even supports a much more expansive "single payer" system, which would even more dramatically increase the federal government's power. Is this the position of a legitimate conservative?
That's not all. Trump is so radically pro-abortion that he opposes a ban on partial-birth abortion. Trump supported same-sex "marriage" well over a decade before Hillary Clinton "evolved" on the issue and took the same position. Trump supports banning "assault weapons." That is just the tip of the iceberg for Trump's extreme-Left positions on issues, including his indefensible position on eminent domain. Trump has donated mountains of cash to Democratic politicians including Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer... and yes, even Hillary Clinton herself!
But Donald Trump says he is a conservative now. How can anyone with any discernment whatsoever believe that? This is a man who has been a Leftist for decades but suddenly becomes a "conservative" when it is time to run for President as a Republican. It is astounding that so many gullible Republicans have allowed themselves to be deceived.
So given that the two are virtually identical ideologically, would we really be worse off with Hillary Clinton?
Republicans control the House of Representatives and will almost certainly maintain that control after the 2016 election. Republicans control the U.S. Senate and will probably maintain that going into 2017. If for reasons of partisanship alone, Republicans will not cooperate with Clinton, preventing her destructive agenda from being implemented.
If Trump is elected, there will be enormous pressure on Republicans to go along with what Trump wants to do. Republicans in Congress have been timid in opposing Obama, but at least with Obama you have the fact that there is a partisan divide. Do you really think Republicans in Congress are going to show any resolve whatsoever when Donald Trump wants to do something foolish or destructive?
With Hillary Clinton as President, we can at least hope for gridlock, because getting nothing done is better than doing something destructive. We cannot hope for that with Donald Trump, especially since all indications are he will not hesitate to abuse the power of the Presidency. I would never vote for Hillary Clinton, but getting me to vote for Trump will require something a whole lot more convincing than "Clinton would be worse."
It is such a terrible thing that the city council in Martinsville is not allowed to pass legislation banning black people from living in the city because of state law. To paraphrase the Bloomington Herald-Times, my opposition to the state anti-discrimination law dwarfs my reasoning for opposing a local ban on black people living in Martinsville. I do not agree with banning black people from any city, but as a supporter of home rule I think we should respect democracy and allow the voters to decide for themselves through their elected officials.
Note for the terminally stupid: That opening paragraph was satire.
It should be obvious to everyone why there are limits (and why there should be limits) to "home rule" - the ability of a city to legislate and manage its own affairs. Cities are not allowed to ban people of a certain race or religion, they are not allowed to randomly execute people on the street, they are not allowed to take property without compensating the owner, and they are not allowed to do a plethora of things because they are restricted by state law and the state constitution. For that matter, states are not allowed to do a plethora of things because of the federal constitution. Even as someone who is more adamant on states' rights than most, I recognize this is a good thing.
Government has checks and balances for a reason. In our system of government, we do not allow government to trample over individual rights or pass oppressive legislation just because it reflects "democracy" or the "will of the people." We do not let local government run rampant because restraining it would "silence the voices" of one thousand people who signed a petition. Home rule is important and states' rights are important, but limited government and individual liberty are also values that we have protected (if imperfectly) since the founding of our nation and state.
Now, whether allowing local government to ban plastic bags is a good idea is another debate. Personally, I think it is good that the state government protects our freedom to make our own choices in the grocery store against the tyranny of the majority. But even if one thinks it is bad public policy and that the city council should have the legal authority to pass this ban, using "home rule" is a simplistic argument. The readers of the Herald-Times deserve better than these weak arguments on a major public policy issue.
Donald Trump's popularity demonstrates a disturbing trend in our culture that will have implications long after he is gone. That trend is that our culture has largely abandoned learning, reason, and logical argumentation for entertainment and the flashy new thing. Trump's primary appeal is that he is loud and obnoxious and "does not back down."
It is astounding that so many genuine conservatives support Trump. Trump supported the assault weapons ban and reflexively supports restricting gun rights for people on the no-fly list, even though the list has been proven to be wrong and even banned Ted Kennedy from flying at one point. Trump is so radically pro-abortion that he even opposed banning partial-birth abortion. Trump praised ObamaCare and donated thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Chuck Schumer
Now Trump says he has become a conservative, just in time to run for President as a Republican. Have we so abandoned discernment that we believe this obviously false claim?
Even his "conservative" statements have been profoundly disturbing. Trump actually said he wants to go after the innocent families of terrorists, which would qualify as a war crime if implemented.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by a Child Born Abroad
Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock
A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth.
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock
A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth.
I am still working my way through the first half-dozen Star Wars movies. Here are my observations on the third part of the original trilogy. When I eventually get to the prequels, I will have some criticisms but (spoiler!) I am not going to rip them to shreds. I actually like the prequels - even The Phantom Menace. They are flawed, but still enjoyable.
I was surprised by how strongly the Stormtroopers were put over when I re-watched the first two movies, but this is where they turned into laughingstocks. They were physically overpowered and beat down by a bunch of three foot tall teddy bears. The Ewoks were a marketing success but they completely buried the Stormtroopers as a legitimate threat to the heroes. Burying the Stormtroopers also buried Rebel Alliance soldiers who were completely helpless against the army that could not defeat a bunch of three foot teddy bears with crude stone weapons.
The battle on Endor would have been so much better had the natives been Wookies like originally planned. The Wookies carrying crude stone weapons while Chewbacca is proficient with modern technology could have been explained. Perhaps Chewbacca was taken prisoner by Imperial forces when they occupied Endor and either escaped or was rescued by Han Solo. Imagine the Stormtroopers getting overwhelmed by hundreds of Wookies.
And where did the Rebel soldiers go during the big fight? We had Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the droids, but all of the Rebel soldiers went AWOL once the fight started. Way to fight for survival guys. Princess Leia ought to be Force-choking everyone after it was all over. She is storng in the Force, after all.
There was no legitimate reason in storyline bring C-3PO to the forest moon. C-3PO is completely useless in battle and there is no reason for the Rebels to think his interpreter skills would be useful in a military raid. Jar Jar Binks would have been more helpful. Yes, he got the heroes out of the situation with the Ewoks, but it was clear they could have fought their way out of it if they wanted to. Luke alone could have cut them all down with his Lightsaber. There is no reason the heroes should have allowed themselves to be captured. Wheat if the "savage" Ewoks had just skewered the heroes after they allowed themselves to be captured? The movie is over and the Empire wins. Idiots.
In Empire, Darth Vader and Luke were evenly matched in their Lightsaber fight when Luke was using two hands and Vader was using one hand. The minute Vader puts both hands on his Lightsaber playtime is over and so is the fight. In Return of the Jedi, Vader is using both hands from the beginning and still gets beaten down. The only reason the fight lasted as long as it did is because Luke did not want to fight. This is a great way to show how much more powerful Luke was as opposed to where he was in Empire.
The evolution of Vader's character is well done too, especially the subtle change in his language. In Empire he was referring to Luke as "the son of Skywalker" but in Jedi he calls Luke "my son" several times. He even indicates he regrets becoming a Sith Lord but is trapped when he says "it is too late for me, my son." That is an indication not of someone who is dedicated to the Sith cause but someone who is going through the motions.
Ian McDiarmid is by far the best part of the movie as the Emperor. You could tell he was having a ball playing a character who is so delightfully evil. The only problem is that he is so charismatic and just plain fun to watch that it is impossible to hate the character. It weakens the movie when you are almost rooting for the villain.
As a movie, Return of the Jedi is the weakest of the original trilogy. However, that is quite a high hurdle and almost an unfair comparison. This is still a great movie and fun to watch.
I've been getting a number of phone calls from the Indianapolis Star. I had subscribed to the Star's website about a year ago and decided the service was not for me. That's fine, not every product or service is for everyone.
I've been called a couple times since then, asking to re-subscribe. I declined. That is also fine. But what is most certainly not fine is getting phone calls from the Star where no one answers when I pick up. I don't know if this is a robo-call where an operator was not available or some kind of technical glitch, but it is very irritating. I could not get through when I called the Star offices (what a surprise!) to demand I be taken off the list.
Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about this, because the Indiana state legislature, in a shameless bit of political pandering, exempted newspapers from the Do Not Call List. This is a shameful example of protecting special interests.
This exemption is also illegal, due to the Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 23: "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizen."
I have a very simple, two-fold message: Indianapolis Star, stop calling me. Indiana General Assembly, stop violating the Indiana Constitution by granting special rights to a politically favored class. You bring shame upon yourself and on our state by doing so.
Donald Trump's vaunted poll numbers didn't prevent a Rubio surge or a Cruz win.
Hopefully Republicans are finally seeing through him, recognizing him as the gun-grabbing, radically pro-abortion, Nancy Pelosi supporter he really is - a big-government, socially liberal Leftist who uses government as a Mob enforcer to take an elderly widow's property by force.
If you vote for Trump, you might as well vote for Hillary Clinton. There is no difference, in ideology or corrupt personal character.
We need people involved in opposing abortion. Can you help protect these little ones made in the image of God?
Last year, the pro-life movement in Bloomington and Monroe County was invigorated like I have not seen in twenty years. There were several rallies at Planned Parenthood protesting the national scandal where PP was found to have sold the body parts of aborted babies. The cold attitude of Planned Parenthood employees when they were caught on tape horrified and shocked many people and spurred others into action.
We have let local government know that we are watching them and that we do not want to see any more of our tax dollars going to fund Planned Parenthood. When the Monroe County Council voted to give $3,000.00 to the ghouls at Planned Parenthood back in August, a huge crowd of people showed up to protest and speak against this corporate welfare. This was by far the biggest crowd to ever show up at one of these meetings, and this was despite the fact that it was literally organized with less than two days' notice because the county council tried to hide the vote by fast-tracking the process. Or local elected officials know we are watching them!
It is important that we do not lose the momentum we have built over the last eight months. It is important that we do not let this issue slide back out of the limelight, back to something that only a select few are actively opposing, with a large group supporting the effort but not actively contributing to it. Our God tells us to defend the innocent in His Word:
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done? --Proverbs 24:11-12 (NIV)
We have all heard the larger numbers for abortion nationwide, but let's make it more personal. Right here in Monroe County, Indiana, 10,202 babies were murdered by abortion between 2001 and 2013. That bloodshed is happening in downtown Bloomington, just a few blocks from the Monroe County Courthouse. Right now, Planned Parenthood is preying on our community and killing babies made in the image of God next to where many of us work and shop!
I understand that not everyone is called to pro-life activism. Each of us has our own calling and our own way to serve His kingdom. But I am convinced that most people can do more, even if it is a very small time commitment. Go to Christian Citizens for Life's Facebook Page and send a message. Someone will help you get plugged in.
Here is an excellent observation about seat belt laws:
If a seat-belt violation causes a low-income man to be pulled over, searched, fined and fined again for nonpayment, then results in a suspended license, and then arrest and incarceration for driving on a suspended license, the state is no longer protecting him — it's ruining him.
The "christians" who condemn Bill Clinton's adultery and womanizing and yet give Donald Trump a pass on the same issue are utterly disgusting and bring shame upon the name of Jesus Christ. I have no patience for hyper-partisan hypocrites who place party loyalty over their faith in their Savior.