February 21, 2016 was 30 years since the release of the original legend of Zelda. In celebration of that, here is a retrospective on the games in the series I have played. (I have not played all of the games.)
The Legend of Zelda (NES) -- This was an amazing game, and more so when you consider the time it was made. It was revolutionary in the various different kinds of weapons you could collect and use, and the sheer size of the game. Looking back thirty years later, the attention to detail in the graphics is truly stunning.
The Adventure of Link (NES) - This was a quality game that suffered by being radically different from its predecessor. Nintendo abandoned the top-down approach for a side-scroller, so it was a completely different game that to this day does not feel like it belongs in the Zelda family. Nonetheless, the graphics were amazing for the time and the combat system (while rudimentary by today's standards) was groundbreaking in having the player actively use both his sword and shield while learning the opponent's weaknesses.
A Link to The Past (Super NES) - A bigger game, with more weapons, more items, better graphics and the first real attempt at establishing a story in-game. This was a true sequel to the first game, and remains playable over two and a half decades after it was released. It perfectly builds on the foundation of the first game. There really is not much more I can say without gushing about how great this game was.
Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) - I was very worried about this game. I saw where the move to 3D worked, and I saw where it failed. Much to my surprise, a game in a 3D world managed to capture the spirit of the earlier game. With significantly different game play mechanics, this game still felt like a Zelda game. There is an incredible amount of stuff to see and do beyond completing the main game, and spending time chasing side-quests makes the game easier by providing extra weapons, durability, bottles, health and magic.
Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64) - In many ways, this was an improvement on Ocarina of Time with the ability to play as other characters by donning different masks, and as always there is a ton to see and do. But ths game had one major flaw: A timer. Zelda games have always been built on exploring every nook and cranny of the over-world and dungeons. Bomb everything, use every item, and explore as much as possible. Having an artificial time limit (which could be reset) to finish everything was an annoying artificial limitation on what could be done.
Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS) - While I understand what Nintendo was trying to do here, and I appreciate the attempt at innovation, using the stylus to play the game was not user-friendly. Zelda should be played with the buttons, not with a stylus. Plus, some of the other things that had to be done - such as yelling loudly into the microphone to activate a switch - were just too gimmicky. I made it to the final boss and never got around to finishing the game. I never played Spirit Tracks because I had enough of the gimmicky game play after the first one. Nonetheless, the graphics and sound were great and there was a lot to do and a lot of things to discover.
A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS) - A true sequel to A Link to the Past, this game takes the parallel worlds concept and expands on it. It is a more expanded "mirror universe" than in LTTP and there are plenty of nods to other games. For example, you see Majora's mask right away. My only complaint us that the game is a little too easy. I never really felt like the bosses were much of a challenge until I fought Ganon.
This has been a great series and it is astounding that it has been thirty years since the original was released in Japan. Realizing this series began thirty years ago makes me feel very, very old.
The botched raid in Waco was twenty three years ago today. That raid - which was a clear example of excessive force - led to the standoff between the federal government and with the Branch Davidian cult that ended in horrible tragedy on April 19, 1993.
If a suspected or convicted criminal is 18 or 19 years old, it is misleading to call him a "teenager," even if that label is technically factually correct. That 18 or 19 year old suspected or convicted criminal is NOT a "teenager" in any real sense. He is a MAN.
Never post anything on Facebook, even in a private group, that you would be horrified to see as the lead story on the nightly news, on the front page of the New York Times, or as the lead story on your favorite news website. That also goes for Instagram and Twitter and Tumblr and Google Plus and MySpace and Friendster and Yahoo 360 and... etc. etc. etc.
Every now and then, I get a spam email at work, usually followed by a warning from IT to not open the email and just delete it. The email is a "phishing" attack meant to trick me into divulging critical personal data. I do not recall ever hearing a Leftist complain that such warnings are "identity theft culture" and we should instead teach identity thieves to not steal people's identity. Yet we hear this all the time when any authority figure advises women on how to protect themselves from sexual predators.
Look. I get it. We do legitimately have a problem with idiots who think rape victims are "asking for it" when they are attacked, even when there is nothing they could have done to protect themselves. We have a legitimate problem with not taking victims seriously. Those attitudes are wrong and need to be eliminated. But the reality is that we will never live in Utopia. There will always be evil men (and women) who prey on others. Simply telling rapists not to rape will not work because some people are evil. So given that evil is real and will never be destroyed until Jesus Christ returns, we need to recognize that we live in a world where evil exists and help protect people from that evil.
Therefore, we need to have a balance. We need to teach our boys and young men to respect and honor women, and to never take advantage of them sexually. We need to make it very clear that forcing anyone into a sexual act is wrong in absolute terms and will never be tolerated. But sending that message does not and should not preclude educating women about how to protect themselves, especially when there is a specific threat - such as increased use of drugs like Rohypnol. The other side of the coin that educating women about how to protect themselves in no way prevents anyone from "telling rapists not to rape."
There is no question that rape is a thorny subject. We need to be careful that advising women about self-preservation does not devolve into victim-blaming. (I am absolutely sure that Claremont University had no intention of victim-blaming.) But we should not be so Politically Correct that we are paralyzed from taking wise and prudent steps to warn about sexual predators and help women protect themselves from those predators. We all have the same goal here, so forming a circular firing squad is counterproductive and foolish.
We enjoy an incredible amount of freedom in these United States, but have you ever considered how essential private property rights are to all of our liberty? If you look at the Bill of Rights, those rights are built on the foundation that private property rights are essential and cannot be violated by government except in the most extreme of circumstances.
Freedom of the speech is interwoven with private property rights, because our free speech rights allow us to distribute literature, place signs, and write letters. Freedom of the press is built entirely on private property rights because if the government can steal the means to produce a newspaper, pamphlet or book (or today, a website) then the right is meaningless. You cannot have freedom of the press without the right to own a press! Freedom of assembly requires the right to have a place to assemble while freedom of religion requires property rights to prevent the government from confiscating a church building or the Bibles inside.
The Second Amendment is all about private property rights, because firearms are private property. The Third Amendment, also, requires private property rights. The Fourth Amendment assumes private property rights in preventing unreasonable searches of our things, while the Fifth Amendment requires due process for someone to be deprived of property. The ban on excessive bail in the Eighth Amendment rests on private property rights. The Thirteenth Amendment protects the ultimate in private property rights - the right to one's own body.
Our economy is completely dependent on private property rights. If not for private property rights, people could not own a farm, a factory, a store, or their inventory. Without private property rights, our homes could be taken, throwing our economic productivity into chaos. Without private property rights, we could not travel to and from work in today's economy, because we could not own cars to drive. We could not be productive when we get to work unless our employer's private property rights are protected, and just basic things like the clothes we wear would not even be ours.
All candidates for elective office - from the President of these United States down to city, county and township government - should be expected to defend and protect private property rights as an essential and non-negotiable part of our liberty and prosperity. No candidate for any office who disregards private property rights should ever be elected (or appointed!) to anything. If we do not have private property rights then we have nothing at all - we are just fully dependent slaves to the State. This is not acceptable.
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. -- Romans 3:10-12
Conservatives should read Kevin Williamson's editorial about police corruption and apply our suspicion of big government to law enforcement as we apply that suspicion to agencies such as the EPA and IRS. Christian conservatives then need to go back to Scripture and read Romans 3:10-12, which I have helpfully quoted above, because we need to recognize a very important (indeed undeniable) fact: There are corrupt cops.
There are corrupt cops because humanity is stained by sin, by nature and by choice. There are corrupt cops just like there are corrupt accounting representatives, corrupt payroll clerks, corrupt pastors, corrupt janitors, corrupt judges, corrupt waitresses, corrupt cooks, and corrupt everything else. There is not something magical about being a police officer that excludes people who are corrupt, or people who are brutal, or authoritarian jerks, or just plain old bullies. We all have a sin nature and we are all prone to wickedness.
I understand the conservative knee-jerk reaction to defend police, especially having grown up in the tough-on-crime 1980's and come of age in the 1990's. After all, cops protect us from the worst of society, so how can some of them actually be evil? And to be sure, there are plenty of good, honorable police officers trying to serve the public as well as they possible can. I believe these represent the majority. But there are police officers who commit horrificabuses of power, framing innocent people for crimes while knowingly letting the guilty go free to commit more crimes.
We can respect and support the police while recognizing that there are not only bad apples, but there are actually entire departments that are utterly corrupt all the way to the core. This is why conservatives should support oversight and transparency, as well as meaningful reforms that protect due process and civil liberties while allowing the police to do their jobs without being micromanaged.
We should view the police as an agency that is necessary to protect the innocent, preserve public order and punish the guilty while still recognizing that police officers are human beings every bit as prone to sin as we are and therefore in need of oversight and limits on their authority.
I was shocked and dismayed to see Republican candidates for President endorse registering women for the draft, a truly stupid position that will make our military weaker and subject American women to being raped - possibly brutally gang raped - by Muslim terrorists. Republicans are siding with Barack Obama against our national security! I posted a quote on on Facebook about the realities of ground combat and I strongly suggest that everyone read it.
Look, I realize we live in a society that hates distinctions and generalizations, but the reality is what it is: Men are bigger, faster, stronger and more durable than women. As Rich Lowry points out in National Review: "The top 25 percent of females in anaerobic power overlapped with the bottom 25 percent of males; the top 10 percent of females in anaerobic capacity overlapped with the bottom 50 percent of males." Women are also more injury-prone.
Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. Even though I outweigh mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey by twenty pounds and I am three inches taller, if I ever got into a fight with her I would be completely obliterated. Even if you matched her up with me from 20 years ago, I would be dominated. But as I have pointed out before, limited exceptions to a general truth do not invalidate that general truth. Rousey is tough as nails and I would never want to cross her physically, but against an actual male soldier in ground combat, she would lose and lose badly.
I said on Twitter last week that "if you support women in combat, you are pro-rape." That is true. Horrific as it is, rape has been a weapon of war all throughout human history. We saw it in the Yugoslavian civil war, and we are seeing it today in the Islamic State's rampage across Syria and Iraq. Do we really want to intentionally subject our women to that, given that capture is inevitable in any war?
There is absolutely no military need to send women to fight, kill and die in a war. The only reason to do this is to be Politically Correct and serve a deranged egalitarianism. It will make out military weaker, cause more women (and men) to be maimed and killed, and subject our female soldiers to sexual torture at the hands of our enemies. It is a grossly immoral decision that should be reversed by the next President.
I love partisan obstructionism and gridlock. It is always better to do nothing at all than to do something destructive. We could have used a lot MORE partisan obstructionism and gridlock over the last seven years. That would have stopped ObamaCare, the Porkulus and Dodd-Frank.
We force our personal beliefs on society all the time. That's what the law does, every single time. We force people to wear seat belts, we force people to not smoke in public places, we force people to buy automobile insurance as a condition of using public roads, we force people to not litter, we force people to obey red lights, and so on and so forth.
The question is not whether we should force our beliefs on people. The question is which beliefs to force on people.
Nano the Beagle / Rat Terrier mix can't hear me yelling at him from 10 feet away to come inside, but he can hear a piece of pasta hit the floor on the other side of the house, from upstairs, through three walls and the floor. I wonder why that is.
Nano also knows the sound of a jar of peanut butter opening. I was making a couple peanut butter pies on Sunday and he was upstairs. I opened the jar of peanut butter and he came running. Nano is spoiled.
When the legislature passes a law, it needs to consider the implications of that law and whether passing that law will actually make things worse instead of making things better. Such is the case with the poorly thought out efforts to further restrict the liberty of law abiding citizens by making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. This, of course, would also be corporate welfare for doctors, who will benefit from people being forced to see them for permission to buy a perfectly safe over-the-counter medicine.
Following up on my "instant message" response that we do not need more restrictions on pseudoephedrine, I pointed out in the comments that "80% of meth in Indiana comes from Mexico. Further restricting pseudoephedrine might reduce meth labs but will empower and enrich hyper-violent Mexican drug cartels. Is this really what the legislature wants?" In response, someone asked the following:
Why is it the responsibility of the Indiana Legislature to worry about the lack of effective government enforcement in Mexico?
The reason is simple: Since 80% of methamphetamine in Indiana comes from Mexico, the cartels are obviously active in transporting it here. There have been reports of absolutely horrific violence committed by the cartels, including slaughtering rivals and hanging the corpses from bridges, kidnapping and torturing students, and beheading their victims. Doing something that will increase the market share of the drug cartels will bring more of them into Indiana - and you better believe that horrific crimes, murder, torture and rape will follow.
Let's be honest here: The market for illegal drugs (specifically methamphetamine) is a real thing. People who cannot make it at home will not simply stop using it; they will try to get it from another source. That is where the cartels come in. Further empowering the cartels will also destabilize Mexico and encourage more atrocities there. Just from a moral standpoint, we should not be doing anything to cause chaos in another country. Those lives are every bit as valuable as Hoosier lives and we should not wantonly subject them to more violence.
So what is the solution? We need to stop treating drug abuse like a literal war and instead treat it like a public health problem. Drug addicts need treatment, not jail. It is far less expensive to help someone beat his addiction than to send him to jail, where he will only re-offend once he gets out. We need fewer addicts, not an expansion of the failed War on Drugs. Empowering drug cartels (like we empowered the Mafia with Prohibition) and restricting the liberty of law-abiding citizens is not the solution to drug abuse.
It's unfortunate when the local newspaper's editorial board is so willfully ignorant of the purpose of primary elections. We saw this with the Herald-Timeslast week, when the editorial board complained that primary voters "cannot mix D's and R's when voting in May, as most voters do in the November general election." The editorial board further complained that the law "essentially makes it illegal to pick a ballot based on a desire to vote for the most contested races" and presents a "conundrum" to "politically independent" voters.
Primaries are not and were never intended to be for the general public. Primaries are for the political parties to choose their candidates for the general election. Someone who is truly independent should not be choosing a candidate to represent the Republican or Democratic parties. That should be up to actual Republicans and Democrats. This is also why I have always been opposed to monkeywrenching schemes like "Operation Chaos" in 2008.
Indiana technically is a closed primary state, though that is unenforceable. People can literally flip from party to party every primary election, or vote in the opposite party's primary whenever they want to either nominate the most beatable opponent or the one closest to the views of the other party. Because enforcement is based on voter intent and reading minds is not possible, there is no way to prevent this. That is why the state legislature should reform the primary system to make it more difficult to cross over, perhaps by having voters actually register as Republicans or Democrats.
So what if the party faithful nominate two "extremists" who are unacceptable to true independents? Those independents can always gather signatures to have a candidate placed on the ballot, or even for a third party to contest the two major parties in the general election. You do not have to gather any signatures at all to run as a write-in candidate, though I can personally attest that running as a write-in candidate is a huge barrier to being elected. Nonetheless, the options are there. Leave the primaries to the parties.
Let me start off by saying this: I like both Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman. I wish I could vote for both.
With that said, the rhetoric coming from Todd Young's campaign for U.S. senate is getting ridiculous, calling Marlin Stutzman a "professional politician" and repeatedly linking him to Barack Obama. Some of Young's supporters are openly accusing Stutzman of siding with the Democrats in their challenge to Young's signatures.
Let's get that last one out of the way right now. Stutzman is in a primary and he has a chance to automatically win the nomination without needing to fight a bruising primary battle and deplete his war chest in the process. If I was running for U.S. Senate and I had the opportunity to take my one opponent out of the game and avoid the fight I would do it. So would Todd Young, and any smart politician would do that.
Personally, I think Young got enough signatures, and every valid signature needs to be counted. The county clerks already certified that he had enough signatures. But if further investigation were to reveal that Young does not have enough signatures, he does not deserve to be on the ballot. Period. That does not represent "Obama tactics." That is adhering to the rule of law. Everyone running statewide knows the requirements.
As far as Republicans "attacking" each other: That is what happens in a primary and everyone who gets into a race like this should expect to take some hits from the other side. Furthermore, Young has been attacking Stutzman every bit as hard as Stutzman has been attacking him, especially with the "Obama tactics" meme the Young campaign is spreading. Neither side has much room to complain about a "circular firing squad."
Some of Young's supporters are bringing up Richard Mourdock, which is a flawed comparison. Stutzman is not Mourdock, and this is not a case of a party that is divided because a challenger knocked off an incumbent who has been in office for 36 years in a primary. Mourdock may have won - and certainly would have done better - if not for "the comment" that has become infamous. Even then, the Democrat barely got 50% of the vote, with an exceptionally strong showing by the Libertarian candidate.
Plus, while Young has a huge advantage over Stutzman in fundraising, Stutzman has significantly more money than Baron Hill, who has a ton of baggage. Hill is not Donnelly. No matter who wins the primary, they will be favored to defeat Baron Hill in November - especially as voters statewide are reminded of Hill's famous "this is my meeting" meltdown in 2009, refusing to allow a student to film his speech for a school project.
Ultimately, we should let the process play out. I hope Young survives this challenge and I think Republicans will be better off with an issue-oriented primary between the two than no primary at all. Young's campaign needs to cool down the anti-Stutzman rhetoric before they alienate voters, especially voters who have not yet made a decision.
In over twenty years, there have only been two times that I have voted for general election candidate I agreed with 100% of the time. Both of those times (in 2006 and 2015) I voted for myself. Every other time, I have voted for candidates that I have disagreed with, if only on small matters.
The real question is how much disagreement one can tolerate while making the best choice of all available options. Everyone has a point where they will not support the a candidate of their chosen party. (At least I hope they do!) The question is where to draw that line, and that line differs from person to person.
People may not support their party's candidate for any of a number of issues: Private property rights, gun control, abortion, tax policy and many others. Some people are single-issue voters where others take a more comprehensive view of a candidate. Even when voters of particular party agree with a candidate on most issues, they might find that candidate lacking in moral character and refuse to vote for him for that reason.
But apart from those exceptions, we all compromise every time we step into the voting booth. There are many reasons why we make those compromises, or the reasoning might be very narrow.
For example, party affiliation matters a great deal in state legislative bodies and in Congress. This is why someone may not vote for a candidate that is closest to his own views (such as a conservative who votes for a moderate Republican over a conservative Democrat) because he realizes that if the Republican Party controls the speaker's chair and committee chairmanships the end product will be better even if his own legislator votes the "wrong" way.
We all make those decisions according to our own consciences and what we think is best.
I have said many times that anonymity on the Internet is the single worst thing to happen to political discourse in the last 100 years. That was reinforced last week, when an "anonymous" troll on Herald-Times story comments accused me of pleading for al-Qaeda and being a member of the KKK because I criticized the Obama administration for killing a 16 year old boy who had no connections to terrorism while he was eating at an outdoor restaurant. The boy's father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was assassinated earlier by a drone strike.
It is outrageous that the troll is allowed to post under the cover of darkness, and that Herald-Times policy protects him from being "outed" by his real name. This is a policy that needs to change.
The H-T closed down comments for two weeks back in December because the tone of comments had gotten too harsh. That was probably an overreaction, but the H-T consistently refuses to take two concrete steps that would improve the tone of HeraldTimesOnline (HTO) comments.
First, require everyone who posts does so under his real first and last name. This is the policy for letters to the editor right now and was the policy for letters to the editor for many years before the Herald-Times launched its forum in 2002 and story comments in 2007. There is a robust discussion in LTTE, and that has been the case for many years. I have never seen a good explanation for why what works with a much more public forum cannot work in HTO story comments. This is because there is no good explanation for it.
Yes, I understand the arguments for anonymity. If people must use their real names, important arguments or even important facts will not be presented. Blah blah blah. Ivory tower theories are nice but in the real world the damage done by anonymity far outweighs the supposed "benefits" of anonymity, especially when people spew raw sewage from their keyboards without ever needing to worry about being held accountable in public for what they say. In fact, protecting anonymity hides critical information from voters when elected officials and candidates for public office are allowed to comment behind a fake name.
Second, the H-T needs to be more quick to ban troublesome commenters. The troll who viciously personally attacked and smeared me has a very long and very well-documented history of doing this sort of thing to me and others - posting defamatory personal attacks while never revealing his own name. He should have been banned years ago, as he long ago proved that he is unwilling to control himself, unwilling to be civil, and unwilling to abide by basic norms of civility or HTO comment policy. Deleting the troll's posts is worthless if he is never truly disciplined.
If the Herald-Times wants to actually improve the tone of comments, instead of publishing patheticwhining screeds about civility in the comments, then banning the most disruptive trolls is the most logical place to start - one that the H-T editor pretended he is going to do more of back in December. Of course, we all knew that was a joke before that editorial was ever published - but it does not have to be.
I like Todd Young. I have voted for him five times. But he either got enough signatures to be eligible for the 2016 Republican primary for U.S. Senate or he didn't. That's the real question here. If he didn't get enough signatures, he's not eligible to be on the ballot. Period. That's not dirty politics, from the Democrats or the Stutzman campaign. That's the law.
So let's stop playing these games about "Chicago politics" and other such nonsense. Let's examine the facts and see if Young qualifies. I hope Young has enough signatures and from what I've seen I think he does. Let's let the process play out, and be sure it's fair. That means every valid signature should be counted.
I don't have a side, by the way. I like both Young and Marlin Stutzman and I wish I could vote for both. But I am someone who believes in the Rule of Law.
This week's "instant message" question to Herald-Times readers is whether Indiana needs change the date of the primary election. This would give Hoosiers more of a voice in the nominating process, but ultimately is just another way to make the overall process more confusing and cumbersome. We are already having problems as states move primaries around to get more of a voice in picking the Republican and Democrat nominees for President.
What really needs to happen is a complete reform of the presidential nominating process. I believe there should be 6 primaries over 11 weeks, with the ten smallest states voting first, moving up until the largest states vote last. There would be two weeks between each "Super Tuesday". (While we're reforming the nomination process, we might as well change the day to Saturday, which would make it easier for many people to vote.) Basically, the primaries would be organized as follows, based on the population numbers as reported by Wikipedia:
Week 1: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New Hampshire
Week 3: Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas and Mississippi
Week 5: Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Colorado and Minnesota
Week 7: Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia and New Jersey
Week 9: North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania
Week 11: Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas and California
One concern many people have about a national primary day is that it would give a heavy advantage to the candidate with the most money. Furthermore, the smallest states would likely be ignored as candidates make their push in the states with the most votes (and therefore the most delegates.) By spreading the nomination process out over 11 weeks and saving the most populated states until the end, voters would have the opportunity to compare the candidates over a longer period of time. The largest states would still ultimately decide the nomination.
I have made no secret of my disdain for Donald Trump, both personally and as a political candidate. It is tempting to condemn Trump while giving his voters a pass, and it is understandable why many would not want to alienate Trump's voters. After all, we will need them to vote for the Republican nominee if Trump indeed loses. But we cannot separate Trump from the Trumpsters who have fully bought into this fraudulent cult of personality.
Look, all of the evidence is there for why no conservative should ever support Donald Trump. He has been repeatedly exposed as a radically pro-abortion gun grabber who uses government as a Mob enforcer to steal other people's property. The truckloads of money Trump has donated to extreme-Left Democrats has been well-documented. It is more than obvious that Trump's conversion to "conservative" positions is a complete and total fraud. Trump is an authoritarian egomaniac who will start abusing the power of the Presidency the minute he takes the oath of office.
So why do so many people support him? Oh, he's politically incorrect and he refuses to apologize. Basically, his entire appeal is that he is a jerk and a loudmouth. I understand being frustrated with the mealy-mouthed politicians who have to focus group everything, but that does not in any way justify supporting a charlatan who has spent his whole life fighting against the very causes that we conservatives hold dear. Supporting Trump because you do not like political correctness is the equivalent of troll spewing vulgarities on Twitter because he thinks it is "edgy."
That Trump was ever a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for President is a sign of severe problems both for the party and the conservative movement as a whole. This has been apparent for quite a while, as conservatives have latched onto various celebrities who are clearly not prepared to be any kind of leader in the movement. If we're serious about advancing our agenda, we have to be serious in the leaders we select to advance that agenda.
Women in combat is completely insane. Even setting aside the Biblical reasons why this is wrong (which is how we got here) women are just not as effective as soldiers. Women in combat will make our military weaker. Barack Obama doesn't care. He values political correctness more than national security.
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.