"Republicans do not need an egomaniac with no principles other than his own ego, and we certainly do not need another nominee who is openly hostile to our Constitutional rights. I will not even consider voting for Donald Trump under any circumstances."
After reading this editorial warning against perfection being the enemy of the good, I am convinced that we conservatives could learn a lot from Leftists in terms of political strategy and taking the long view of how to implement an agenda. Far too often, conservatives take an "all or nothing" approach that is self-defeating.
Let me use a sports analogy. You are on first down with ten yards to go, on your own twenty yard line, on the first play of the game. Is it better to throw four "hail Mary" passes for an immediate touchdown, or would it be better to try a mix of running and passing to gain a few yards at a time and advance down the field? Virtually no one would advise going for broke in that situation. But we conservatives do that legislatively all the time.
Look at the anti-smoking movement as an example of a strategy we could emulate but often do not. In 1970, it would have been unthinkable that there would be bans on smoking in "public places" in cities all across this nation, and anyone who suggested that a local government anywhere would even consider banning smoking in your private vehicle would have been dismissed as a lunatic. But they chipped away at smoking a little bit at a time, taking a long-term view. Had the anti-smoking movement attempted to implement what we have today in one single step in 1970, it would have never happened. Because they take the long view, smoking is much more restricted than it otherwise would have been.
By and large, the anti-abortion movement has followed this pattern. The goal is ultimately abolition of abortion, to grant all unborn babies full protection under the law. There are a few purists here and there, but the anti-abortion movement as a whole understands that this is a generational battle where we can save a few lives at a time on the way to saving all of them. But when it comes to fiscal discipline and limited government, conservatives often have no patience for a long-term political strategy to accomplish the goal of a smaller, less intrusive government.
The reality is that in Washington from 2011 to 2014, we only had one house of Congress, so any productive legislation to shrink the budget deficit (much less shrinking government as a whole) must go through a Senate controlled by Democrats and a President who is also a Democrat. Even with controlling both houses, Republicans still have to deal with filibusters and the threat that Barack Obama will veto anything that goes farther than he is willing to go. But conservative activists (especially the Tea Party) do not want to recognize the realities of Washington and complain that any compromise is "selling out" to Obama and the Democrats.
Now, could Republicans be more confrontational, and more aggressive in pursuing the agenda? Absolutely. I have often thought they should be more assertive, especially in stopping what Obama is doing through executive orders and so forth. Republicans could definitely get more accomplished if they would blink a lot less often. But the political realities of Washington are what they are, and we need to be realistic in what the Republicans in Congress are able to accomplish with the power they have.
The question making the rounds of Republican candidates for President in 2016 is whether they would have supported the war in Iraq. A common theme is that if we knew then what we know now, the decision would have been different. But here is the problem: Even if what we thought we knew then turned out to be true, the war was still a bad idea and should not have been fought.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and we may not know the real impact of the Iraq war for a generation. This is because the effects of that war are still forming and will be for at least the next few years. What we see in ten or twenty years may be completely different from what we see today. But if we're really interested in avoiding the mistakes of the Iraq war, we need to challenge the assumptions we (and I do mean we, because I was a supporter of the war from 2003 to 2008) made that led us into this armed conflict and "regime change."
The first faulty assumption is that we are supposed to be the world's policeman and that we should project American military power to restrain, punish or eliminate bad actors from the world stage. President Obama made the exact same assumptions when he used military force in 2011 to force "regime change" in Libya that President Bush made in 2002 and 2003. (Assumptions that were supported by Hillary Clinton.) That does not make us a nation or even a leader among nations - that makes us an empire. We should not be an empire.
The second faulty assumption is that Saddam Hussein could not be contained. We have dealt with evil regimes with weapons of mass destruction for generations, going back to the Soviet Union after World War II. We have never seen our enemies use WMD against us because they know the consequences of doing so would be too horrible to contemplate. Even if Saddam had or was seeking WMD (including nuclear weapons) he was not stupid enough to use them and bring the nuclear wrath of these United States down upon him.
What we should do is embrace nonaggression as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. War should only be used in the case of a direct attack on our national security interests, and even then it should always be the last resort. We had to go to war with Japan and Afghanistan, for example, because those nations directly attacked us at Pearl Harbor and in New York City. Iraq represented no such threat. Our war in Iraq was a preemptive war to stop a possible threat in the future, and now we are dealing with the consequences of that decision.
If we want to repeat the mistakes of Iraq, looking at it through the lens of hindsight will never accomplish that goal. Only by completely changing our perspective, our assumptions and our basic foreign policy strategery can we avoid making that same mistake again.
Taking radical egalitarianism to an absolutely absurd extreme, one radical academic is actually musing that in order to increase equality, we should consider abolishing the family. (I shared some especially frightening quotes from the article onsocialmedia.) You see, it is simply not fair that some children grow up with intact families who provide an education, training in manners, and various other things. Some children don't have these advantages, so it is not fair that others do.
Waah. Let me get my violin.
If we lived in a sane world, people like Adam Swift would be laughed at, mocked and ridiculed by everyone until they were too humiliated to ever say something that stupid ever again. Sadly, we do not live in a sane world, because this idiot is actually a college professor. It is true that in order to believe some things that are just outrageously stupid, you have to be "educated" at a modern university, and Swift (who is really not all that swift) is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Look. True egalitarianism is impossible. Even if we were to embrace this Stalinist proposal, we would still not have complete equality. This is because people are different. Men and women are different, and each individual is different. Even if I dedicated myself at a young age to being the best basketball player I could possibly be given my natural ability, I would never be as good as LeBron James. I would never play in the NBA or Division 1 college basketball. Is it "unfair" that I topped out at 5'10" while James is 6'8"? No. It's life.
In a sane world, the question would not be how to take away "unfair" advantages from "privileged" children and morons who propose anything of the sort would be shamed into silence. The question would be how we help disadvantaged children who are growing up in poverty and broken homes. Instead of pulling down the top (which ultimately does not, cannot and will never benefit those at the bottom) we should be looking at how to help those at the bottom. For example, what can we do to motivate all parents to read to their children?
But, you see, Communists are not interested in prosperity for everyone. They are interested in "fairness" and "equality" by any means necessary. One only need to look at the tens of millions of dead bodies left in the wake of tyrants like Stalin and Mao to see how far Communists are willing to go to enforce their evil agenda. Swift is just another in a long line of evil men advancing this completely discredited and genocidal agenda.
Since Barack Obama's Food and Drug Administration has liberalized the policy banning blood donations from men who have sex with men, it is worth revisiting the archives as a reminder of how dangerous this politically motivated policy is.
♣ Here is an editorial by George Will on "free range parenting," and the legal trouble parents of "free range kids" can find themselves in. Those of us in Generation X and older would definitely have seen our parents in jail for letting us have the freedom we had, and the ironic thing is that statistically children are much safer than our cultural expectations would have you believe.
There is a role for the state in ensuring children are not neglected, but where that line should be drawn is not always clear. That said, the state should not be micromanaging parental choices in how much independence they give their children. In the vast majority of cases, the civil magistrate should defer to parental authority.
♣ The horror of prison rape continues, and the New York Times' account of Joshua Zollicoffer's treatment in prison is just awful. Government at all levels needs to do more to protect the inmates in their care. While the federal government's efforts to bring states into compliance with the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act does raise overreach concerns, the feds do have an interest in making sure prisoners even in state prisons get equal protection under the law as required by the Fourteenth Amendment.
♣ The idea of a bad cop registry is a good one, but it is unusual for a libertarian to be advocating that the federal government create and/or maintain the database. The federal government does not have the authority under the Constitution to create such a program. States, however, can cooperate to improve the hiring practices in police departments and keep bad apples from getting hired in the first place.
I am donating space on the blog today today to promote the SFCCF money bomb.
Today is the money bomb to officially launch Students for Concealed Carry Foundation!
Students for Concealed Carry Foundation will be supporting students who protest being disarmed on campus, providing them with studies to better make their arguments when defending their rights, and take up litigation when necessary.
We also plan to have expansive education programs, from teaching students about their rights, to providing them with training on the actual handling of firearms.
Help us help students around the country as they stand up for their rights to protect themselves.
All donations up to $20,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous donor, so there has never been a better time to make the most of your donation.
Our goal for the day is $6,000. So if 600 people across the nation were to donate just $10 a piece, our goal would be met.
Also, our top 5 largest donors will be contacted to vote on which initiative we will fund first. This is a great way to make your voice heard in the organization you are supporting.
Once again, Planned Parenthood has applied for a handout from city government's social services fund. This is the sixteenth time in the last seventeen years PP has come to taxpayers for corporate welfare, and with only a couple exceptions the city council has given them a handout every year. Even when PP did not get money from the social services fund in 2000, they got corporate welfare from the community development block grants fund.
I have explained many times over the years that Planned Parenthood does not need the welfare they get from city government. They are not even pretending to seek "one time" funding anymore, which is the purpose of the fund. They are asking for money to cover ongoing costs. Yet the city council repeatedly denies deserving organizations funding so they can make a pro-abortion political statement by donating money forcibly confiscated from taxpayers to Planned Parenthood.
I again strenuously object to my money going to an organization that performs the barbaric act of abortion at its "clinic" on South College Avenue. No organization that engages in the barbaric act of exterminating a human life in the womb should be funded by taxpayers.
Why is it important for Christian pro-life advocates to oppose and speak against the city council (and the county council) when it gives corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood each year? Are we wasting our time? Are we being productive when we speak and write and lobby local government to not fund the local abortion mill?
This June, the Bloomington City Council will consider funding Planned Parenthood again. The council has given PP a handout 14 of the last 16 years, and out of dozens of votes cast there have only been a total of seven "no" votes over that sixteen year span. Usually, the funding passes 8-1 or 9-0. The best year was 2002, when the funding passed the nine-member council with two dissenting votes. The other "no" votes were in 2001, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 - but those "no" votes were only one of eight or nine votes cast each of those years.
So why should we bother?
First and most importantly, we are to speak in defense of the unborn, and against the civil magistrate funding those who oppress them, because we are obedient to the God who made those babies in His image. When we obey our Savior, we do so because we are called to be faithful. We may be successful or we may not, but we are to be faithful regardless of the outcome.
By speaking against this welfare, we also educate the community. When we speak to the council, the meetings are broadcast on cable television and people can see the arguments made for and against the funding. Many people have no idea that city government funds the local abortion clinic each year, and (since it is more recent) even fewer realize that county government has joined in to hand Planned Parenthood even more welfare.
It is important that local government officials know that someone is watching them and they will be opposed when they make these votes. Who knows what minds will be changed? The Pharisee Saul had a miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus and became the Apostle Paul. If God can change Saul's heart, He certainly can change the hearts of the city council and call them to repentance.
Look. Even if you mutilate a dude's genitals and give him hormones, he still has a man's bone and muscle structure. It's not fair to have a man fight a woman. Period. It amazes me that we as a society have become so insane that we're even contemplating having men fight women in mixed martial arts.
It is unfortunate that in our politically correct age, people who ask legitimate questions are often immediately accused of being racist or sexist or bigoted in some way. We saw this last week when someone on HeraldTimesOnline.com asked if Allison Chopra, running as a Democrat in the third city council district, will "really have the proper amount of time to devote to the Council." That was immediately denounced as "a sexist comment from the right."
But is it really a sexist comment?
Chopra is in law school, which can be an enormous amount of work. She also has two children. I am a few years younger than Chopra, and like her I have two children. (I have a one year old and a three year old.) Between that and my other responsibilities, running for office as a major party candidate is therefore off the table for the time being. I did not even run for delegate to the Republican state convention last year because the convention was in Fort Wayne instead of Indianapolis, and my younger son was two months old.
Am I just consumed by anti-male bigotry and self-hatred?
It is reasonable to ask if someone who has a lot of responsibilities if they will be capable of fulfilling his or her duties as an elected official. That is not a sexist question, because it can be asked of both men and women. Immediately accusing someone of sexism for asking that question does a disservice to everyone involved because it "poisons the well" and reduces the civility in politics. These unfounded accusations do not change minds or advance an argument.
Now, can Chopra fulfill her duties as a city councilor, if she elected this November? It has been said that if you want something done, ask a busy person. I am sure that she can make time to serve the city and her district. I do not think that is an issue in this race. (But again, it is not sexist to ask the question.) The issue will be the policy differences between Chopra and her Republican opponent. I am looking forward to see that debate unfold over the course of the next few months.
When it comes to politics, the reality we all face is that perception is reality. No matter how right you are on the facts, and no matter how well your argument is constructed, you have to deal with the voters where they are, not where they should be. This is why it is critical to never stop teaching voters about facts and policy, and (like it or not) this is something advocates of criminal justice reform have to deal with.
About half as many cops are killed on the job today as in 1968, despite the fact that there are significantly more cops on the street. So far this year, 10 U.S. police officers have been killed by gunfire. That puts us on pace for 29 by the end of the year. That would be the lowest raw number in well more than half a century. And again, once you factor in the increase in the number of cops overall, the drop in the homicide rate among cops is even more dramatic.
The crime rate was much higher in 1968 than it is today. Here's a mind-blowing statistic: There were 500 fewer overall murders in 2013 than there were in 1969, despite the fact that the population increased by 115 million people.
In 2013, there were nearly 9,000 fewer homicides, about 27,000 fewer rapes, and about 368,000 fewer aggravated assaults than there were in 1991, even though the country's population increased by 64 million people.
These are the kind of statistics that criminal justice reformers need to keep repeating, as often as is necessary to educate the public about the reality of crime in America. Even as crime has fallen, we have continued our "tough on crime" policies, and the use of paramilitary SWAT raids continues to increase even on nonviolent suspects. Even regulatory agencies are employing SWAT teams to enforce code, which sounds like it should be in an absurd parody movie, not reality.
Balko expresses frustration that two pundits critical of Hillary Clinton are only engaged in political analysis instead of dealing with the facts, and that is a reasonable criticism. It is irresponsible for a journalist to deal only with perception when that perception does not match reality.
But whether we like it or not, in politics perception is reality. This is why voter education is important. The statistics about the falling crime rate need to be pounded over and over and over so it is inescapable in order to combat the sensationalistic "if it bleeds, it leads" focus of the news media (especially TV news) as it covers violent crime. Because these statistics are not "sexy," they need to be hammered home all the more.
That said, I think Balko overstates his case when he describes policies that disproportionately harm blacks as "racist" in areas governed by blacks. Merriam-Webster defines racism as "poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race" or "the belief that some races of people are better than others." I cannot imagine the black leadership of Baltimore are intentionally harming blacks. It strains credulity to describe it as such.
But bad policy is bad policy. We do not need to attach a loaded word like "racism" to bad policy to explain why it is bad policy. We simply need to explain why that bad policy is causing a great deal of harm without getting much in the way of positive results, and that there are alternative ways to solve problems without the negative externalities caused by the current "tough on crime" mentality. Using a loaded word like "racism" is unnecessarily divisive and creates a left/right debate that is a needless distraction.
We have a lot of work to do in order to roll back the abuses of the War on Crime and the War on Drugs, and there is a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats ready to work toward that goal. (I would be remiss if I didn't point out that those Democrats and Republicans have just recently caught up to where the Libertarians were decades ago.) There is also bipartisan resistance to reform, as the current leviathan is a bipartisan creation. Let's not blow this opportunity by making it a left vs. right or a Republican vs. Democrat issue.
If someone does not express an opinion on a particular topic or event, he is not endorsing or supporting anything. He is also not opposing anything. Silence is not the expression of an opinion. Silence is the absence of an opinion. If course, I should not have to explain this at all. This is a basic premise of logical thought, and should be well understood by everyone.
I have been falsely accused more times than I can count of endorsing or supporting something, when I have been silent on the topic. Even when a news story breaks about a particular scandal in the middle of the work day, I have been falsely accused of "supporting" the scandalous behavior if I do not immediately comment on it. I have even been accused of supporting bad behavior that I have previously denounced, because I did not denounce it again when that same action was in the news again.
Such is the nature of "gotcha" politics and instant communications via the Internet. People on both sides demand answers RIGHT NOW, and then denounce their political opponents for their silence without regard to any kind of logical thinking whatsoever. This unfortunate trend in anti-logic has expanded dramatically in the last twenty years. Both sides need to drop this charade immediately.
It is perfectly reasonable to ask someone's opinion in a public forum, especially if that person is vocal in the public sphere. It is not reasonable and it is not civil to assign someone an opinion he has never expressed. When that fabricated opinion is then used to accuse someone of "hypocrisy," it crosses the line into a lie, making the accuser into a liar. It shows more than a lack of critical thinking skills - it shows a severe lack of integrity.
This is not difficult, people. Do not assume someone has a particular opinion on an event, topic or issue unless that person has expressed an opinion on the matter. Many times, your assumption will be wrong, especially if you are making that accusation with a reckless disregard for the truth. (In other words, if you are a liar.) Simply wait for an opinion to be expressed, or ask someone what his opinion is. Silence is silence.
Is it beyond the bounds of respectable political discourse to compare a candidate's roots in his community to the roots of a new arrival running for the same office?
A letter to the editor complains about the campaign tactic of touting that a candidate is a "lifelong Monroe County resident," meaning that we should not support "outsiders" - specifically people who came here because of Indiana University. The author complains "it was a distasteful tactic then and it's distasteful now."
But is it really distasteful?
"Carpetbagger" has long been a term of derision, describing someone who moves to a different area in order to be elected to an office. Hillary Clinton faced the "carpetbagger" criticism when she ran for U.S. Senate in 2000, and it certainly hurt Scott Brown to be running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire a mere two years after losing an election for a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Someone who is a recent arrival to Bloomington or Monroe County does not have the same kind of roots, knowledge and connections as someone who has been here for decades. If I had been a candidate for city council in 2003, I would have been far less qualified than I would be in 2015, after living here as a "townie" for another decade-plus. While I had been a Bloomington resident for ten years at that point, four and a half of those years were as an undergrad at Indiana University - hardly giving me the kind of experience I needed to be a truly effective city councilor. (No, that does not mean I am running this year!)
Relevant experience for elective office is a reasonable and proper thing to consider when choosing between candidates for elective office, either in the primary or in the general election. Considering and comparing experience is not a personal attack, nor is it "distasteful." It is and always has been part of the normal political process, and we should not be shaming people who raise that issue in a campaign.
I was not surprised to see incumbent city councilor Marty Spechler lose his primary race on May 5.
Spechler won his primary with a plurality in 2011, but he only got 35% of the vote in a multi-person race. He got the nomination despite 65% of Democrats in his district picking someone else. One could say his 2011 victory was a fluke. In a one-on-one race, he was always going to have a more difficult time.
However, I was surprised to see how badly he lost. He only got 27% of the vote this time. He did not just lose. He was annihilated. I figured the race would be much closer than that, especially since Spechler is an incumbent. It is difficult to unseat an incumbent, especially in a primary.
It will be interesting to see if the Herald-Times makes an issue of a moderate Democrat losing in the primary to a challenger from his left. Not much was made of that during the primary campaign. Many would argue that if this were a Republican primary, the local newspaper would have already devoted at least one editorial bemoaning the fact that a moderate was at risk of losing his seat in the primary.
The Republicans did not field a candidate in the 2011 general election, but that is not the case this year. It will be interesting to see if Nelson Shaffer can win that seat, and how close the results are in the fall.
Social media - specifically Facebook - presents some significant opportunities that did not exist a decade ago, in multiple areas of life. But there are also significant spiritual dangers that Christians should seriously consider, and not go blindly into the world of social media without considering the pitfalls. Some would say that Christians should not use Facebook at all.
The first and most obvious danger of Facebook is vanity, especially for people who are young and attractive. A particularly well-shot profile picture can bring lots of adulation and a swelled ago. Pictures of children or pets can serve the same end vicariously. Given the many Biblical warnings against pride, Christians should consider what we put on Facebook and why we're really posting it.
Another danger is adultery. Much has been made about the connection between social media and adultery, especially evidence linking Facebook and divorce. Connecting with a high school or college sweetheart can lead a Christian down a dangerous path that would not have necessarily been available twenty years ago. Obviously, sin proceeds from the heart, not technology. But we should be wary of the increased opportunity for sin presented by the technology in our lives.
Facebook also presents the opportunity for resentment and bitterness. If your life is not what you thought it would be, and you see your Facebook "friends" doing all of these cool and interesting things, it is easy to be dissatisfied with your life and depressed about your station. It is important to remember areas where we have been blessed and be thankful, as we are commanded to do many times in Scripture. Recognizing the temptation to jealousy, resentment and bitterness is important in resisting it.
Obviously, there are many good things about Facebook too, and opportunities to enrich our lives in many ways. But as with any tool, Facebook can have good and bad uses. Some Christians are not on Facebook at all, on principle. Whether one decides to use Facebook or not, it is good to recognize what is on there and to think about why and how you are using it.
The most offensive four-letter word in our culture is not what one would consider a traditional obscenity, but is considered to be a word one should not use in polite company and never in public. Yet it is precisely because that word is so hated that we need to continue using that four-letter word. That word, of course, is liar.
We live in a culture that increasingly hates confrontation and judgment. We think it wrong for people to use strong language, especially language that directly attacks the character of someone else. But it is nonetheless necessary to be direct with our language, and not to couch it in flowery prose that does not make the point that needs to be made.
When someone knowingly and intentionally makes a false statement, that person is a liar. When the lies are meant to smear someone else's reputation, it is important that the word liar be employed. No other word is as useful in dispelling the defamatory accusations as the word liar, because it is a direct challenge not only to the false "facts" provided, but to the character of the attacker.
The other reason the word liar is important is that we are a culture that increasingly hates truth itself. Too many people (especially in academia) embrace the notion of "my truth" and "your truth," which is patently absurd. Facts are not subject to interpretation. If we accept the postmodern notion that truth is relative, civil discourse becomes impossible because we cannot even agree on the basics before we make our arguments.
Finally, the use of the word liar is important for civility itself. Liars destroy civil discourse and make reasonable discussion impossible. No one wants to have a discussion with someone who cannot be trusted. Therefore, they must be called out, no matter how much they may whine about their honor being insulted. Shaming a liar by demonstrating his lies is effective in either shaming him or discrediting him.
Therefore, I will continue to use my favorite offensive four-letter word when it is needed.
With the latest trolling "question" making the rounds of Republican candidates for President, Leftists need to make a decision. Either someone's private life is private, or someone's private life is public. Which is it?
Back in the 1990's, we heard the Left defend President Clinton in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal by saying it was a "private matter" and it was "only about sex." Taking that premise as true for the sake of argument, is it not extremely hypocritical for Leftists and the news media to demand that Republicans answer a "question" about whether they would attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one?
I guess all of this defense of privacy and private choices in someone's private life only goes one way. The special pleading and hypocrisy is embarrassing - or would be, if the Left had any shame.
If I was running for President, here is how I would answer:
Why are you asking me this? What does this have to do with the responsibilities of the office I am seeking?
We have seen our national debt explode to unprecedented levels to the point that it threatens the global economy. The economic recovery has been anemic at best. We have government officials at all levels regularly violating the basic civil rights of American citizens under the premise of keeping us "safe." We have an increasinly unstable Middle East that presents a national security threat.
Why are you not asking me about those things, since that is what I would actually deal with as President?
This is a troll question, nothing more. You have no interest in informing your audience. You only want to stir things up. You are engaged in journalistic malpractice and you should be ashamed of yourself.