Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Lie of the Lesser

Allow me to repeat an utterly vacuous argument I've heard one too many times:

"Refusing to vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary!"

No, you moron. A vote for Hillary is a vote for Hillary, a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump, and refusing to vote for either is the only option left to men of conscience and principle. I will not sully my sacred honor by endorsing a man as base and vulgar as Trump. There is no moral justification for supporting a man who has no qualifications for the office he seeks and who has repeatedly demonstrated that he is entirely ignorant of the document that established said office.

"But what about the Supreme Court! Hillary will appoint as many as five young liberals to it!"

And Trump will do better? He's openly considering a Democrat as his VP. He's also hinting that he'll refuse to take office even if he wins (spoiler alerthe won't). He's never expressed any interest in limited government or the constitution. Hell, he doesn't even know how many articles are in it! What reason is there to think that he'll appoint an actual conservative? What reason is there to think he'll even know how to *vet* an actual conservative?

"Hillary is a sure (bad) thing! Trump might surprise us!"

No he will not. There isn't a conservative bone in that man's body. He's constantly praising dictators including, Putin, Kim Jong Un, and even Saddam Hussein!

In fact I've yet to hear a convincing argument that Trump is any better than Hillary on any issue of importance to limited government conservatives.

Gun Control: In his book, The America We Deserve, he supported the 94 assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods. He claims to have converted, but there is no reason to believe him.

Abortion: Donald Trump claims to be pro-life now, but up until 2011 he was pro-choice. But his position changes so quickly its impossible to pin down

Limited Government: lol, of course not. Trump's selling Trump as the solution to all our problems, in that he is no different than Obama. Obama is not known for being an advocate of limited government.

Free Speech: Nope. The guy's modus operandi is to threaten people who oppose him into silence. He's constantly talking about "opening up the libel laws" to make it easier to sue people he doesn't like. 

How is this any different than Hillary wanting to repeal Citizens United, a court case that literally said it isn't illegal to show a film critical of Hillary?

Business Sense: The man literally bankrupted a casino.

Personal Integrity: lol, no.

So tell me, how exactly is he a better option than Hillary? In what area does he so outshine her? I can't think of any. 

So no, I will not vote for him. Nor should you if your reason for doing so is "at least he's not Hillary." The differences between them are so small as to be non-existent. "At least he's not Hillary" makes no sense when used in reference to a man is no different from her! They are both awful and in mostly the same ways! Short of a revolt in Cleveland, both parties will be offering corrupt liberals for president.

"Then they made me the GOP nominee for president!"

Its like choosing between two strains of flu. If your choices are H1N1 or H2N2, either way, you're gonna catch the flu. If you're lucky enough you might even live!

"So we're screwed?"

Now you're getting it! Nothing matters, eat Arby's.

However, so as not to end on a down note, Kevin Williamson at National Review points out that there is a bright side to 2016, and it is this: Americans will continue on as they always have regardless of whether they elect Jackass A or Jackass B.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The CMP Reporters Belong in Jail

(Trigger warning: I have a bad habit of calling spades spades and baby murders baby murders.)

There has been much ado about David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt's indictment by a Harrison County grand jury. Many in the pro-life camp are outraged that the CMP investigators were indicted and not Planned Parenthood. Many people who favor killing unborn babies were quick to claim Daleiden and Merrit's indictments as vindication that Planned Parenthood, who rips apart live babies in the womb, did no wrong. Still others have worried about a possible conflict of interest or a chilling effect on undercover reporting.

These people are all wrong and because I'm a nice guy I'm going to tell you why.

1) There is no conflict of interests

The low hanging fruit first: Lauren Reeder, the Harris County prosecutor who is a Planned Parenthood director, is not involved in the case. The decision to take the evidence to a grand jury was made by Devon Anderson, the District Attorney. In and of itself that fact would be less than convincing, however, Anderson is pro-life and was even endorsed by the Texas Right to Life PAC in 2014. The chances of a pro-life DA being out to unjustly prosecute pro-life undercover reporters is... well, low.

And while I don't know Anderson, Murray Newman, a Bryan Texas native and former Felony District Court Chief for Harris County, has this to say:

Make no mistake about this, Devon Anderson is about as pro-life as they come. I’ve known her for a little over 15 years, and her personal beliefs very much align with the Republican Party. No one could ever accuse her of being a dreaded R.I.N.O. I’ve seen her give speeches at Republican functions that would make Ronald Reagan pale in comparison. She doubtlessly knew this would not sit well with her party, but she proceeded with integrity.

Anderson, from what little I know of her, seems like the type of DA you'd want: someone devoted to uncovering the truth even if its uncomfortable. She says about the investigation:
"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," said Anderson, a Republican. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."
And what evidence is that exactly? Well, that brings us to point two...

2) The CMP reporters broke the law

Daleiden is accused of emailing Planned Parenthood an offer to buy fetal tissue for $1,600. Under Texas law this is a misdemeanor. As far as PP not being charged with offering to sell, well, its entirely possible for one to make an offer to buy from a person who has no intent to sell. The law gets tricky here as PP is allowed to charge for the costs of procuring and transferring dead baby parts but they are not actually allowed to sell them. As disgusting as the videos of PP are, I don't recall a clear cut offer from PP to sell dead baby parts.

Considering the DA Anderson's pro-life credentials, it seems likely that if she had found evidence of PP actually offering to sell dead baby parts that she would have presented that as well to the grand jury. Since this hasn't happened it seems likely that the evidence doesn't exist. (This of course does nothing to change the fact that Planned Parenthood rips apart unborn babies and calls it healthcare.)

Anyway, the more serious charge leveled against Daleiden and Merritt is their use of falsified California drivers licenses. This led to the indictment for "tampering with a governmental record with intent to cause harm", which is a felony.

Now we wait for the results of the trial. Though its hard to see how they wouldn't be found guilty given what we know about how the videos were produced.

And that's important because...

3) If you break the law while undercover... you break the law

This should be pretty obvious.

Undercover journalism is not some special protected class of journalism. If you go break the law... well you've broken the law. You don't get a pass because you wrote a story or filmed a video about your experience breaking the law!

And if you break the law, you should accept the consequences. Because...

4) Rule of law is important

Watch this before you continue:

Pay attention, this is the important part.

Some laws are unjust and need to be torn down, but one can hardly argue that a law against forging government issued IDs is one such unjust law. Nor can you argue that it is just to break a good law in order to bring about the end of an unjust law... the ends do not justify the means! Suppose you decided that the ends did justify the means, you've now placed yourself in the position of deciding when, and when not, to enforce the laws. You've made yourself higher than the law, and in the process made it meaningless.

Abortion is evil, and those who willfully facilitate it are accessories to evil. Shining light on evil is a good thing, but doing so doesn't grant carte blanche to break the law. The CMP reporters forged identities, this is pretty much certain. If the DA chooses to pursue charges she will be entirely justified in doing so because by doing so she is protecting the one thing that prevents all of us from being blown over. She is protecting the rule of law.

And God knows we need more DAs willing to stand up for the rule of law! The rule of law is under constant attack in this country. Hillary Clinton stored classified emails on a private server in violation of the law... and yet she's not prosecuted. The government keeps a secret list of names (names, not identities!) and then uses it to deny people the right to fly, while providing no appeals process or even any way to determine if your name is on the list! These are merely two examples out of countless many.

Any time we find someone in a position of power who respects the law is a time for celebration.

6) We should be slow to anger

Law is tricky business. Getting it right is hard and requires, like, reading comprehension and stuff. Which of course is far too much effort for today's twenty-four hour outrage cycle. There are listicles to write and clicks to be baited and by gosh these articles won't post themselves to facebook!

But its important to slow down, breathe, and actually comprehend what's happening. I would love nothing more than for Planned Parenthood to stop murdering babies. Or, failing that, to lose all federal funding until such a time as they stop murdering babies. But that doesn't change the fact that Daleiden and Merritt forged government ids and lied about who they were to gain access to private facilities. If they are convicted I hope they have the grace and composure to accept their sentences with dignity and to continue the work they've started, even if it means leading from their prison cells.

If Planned Parenthood is indeed guilty of selling baby parts I hope enough evidence surfaces to bring charges. In the meantime my fellow pro-lifers and I will do well to respect the rule of law, to continue to engage with the culture, and to pray for an end to abortion.

And if you're reading this and you think its okay to kill babies, get yourself to a confessional post haste.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Not a Toy

First off, the Tamir Rice shooting is a tragedy, and I sincerely pray for healing and reconciliation for all who were affected by it. This post is not about the shooting itself, or whether it was justified. I am not in a position to second guess the grand jury which found there was insufficient evidence to indict the officers, or the two outside investigations which found the officers acted reasonably. You can find opinions on that elsewhere. I wish to focus on one very specific thing I actually know a little bit about: the airsoft gun.

Many in the media have reported that Rice was carrying a "toy gun." Such reporting has led to comparisons like this:
Notice the water
But was the airsoft pistol that Rice was playing with a toy? Well, take a look at this:

One of these things is not like the others

The above image is of three real pistols I own and one airsoft pistol I also own. Can you identify the airsoft pistol? You have two seconds.

My guess is that you have a hard time figuring out which one is not a real gun. For the record, the image below is of the airsoft gun Rice was carrying:

Looks like a long slide 1911
Calling these things toys is misleading at best. They look and feel like the real thing. So much so that the reason I own one is because I wanted it for training. In the image of the four pistols the bottom right pistol is my XDM airsoft gun. It weighs and functions the same as a real XDM, which makes it useful for training.

Airsoft pistols of this type typically run off of compressed gas and can propel the plastic bbs up to 500 feet per second. They are not a toys, they can cause serious injury if eye and ear protection are not warn. Personally I would never let a twelve year old play with one unsupervised. Let alone remove the orange safety tip and point it at people!

Less you think I am blaming the victim my point is only this: that these things should not be treated as toys. Calling them toys obscures the fact that they are indistinguishable from a real gun. It also hides that they are, in and of themselves, dangerous and capable of bodily harm when not used properly.

They are not toys. They should be respected. They should be used only in appropriate settings and with the proper safety gear. If you own one of these, I hope you consider this carefully.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Privileged White Woman Doesn't Care About Gun Crime

It's inevitable when my husband and I visit family these days that the subject of violence in Baltimore comes up. Often, I'm the one who raises it.
Thus begins Tricia Bishop's op ed in the Baltimore Sun. Perhaps, Ms. Bishop, you should try not bringing it up and seeing how inevitable it is? I mean seriously, what is it with liberals insisting that people discuss politics at family gatherings?

But I digress, let us move on.
I'm less afraid of the criminals wielding guns in Baltimore, I declared as we discussed the issue, than I am by those permitted gun owners. I know how to stay out of the line of Baltimore's illegal gunfire;
Ms. Bishop, you are bad at threat analysis. Maryland requires a license to even *purchase* a handgun, and said license requires fingerprinting and a background check. Other requirements include at least 4 hours of instruction on state laws, safe storage, and handgun operation. It also requires a firearms safety course.

And that is just to purchase the gun. The license to carry is a different beast entirely.

Legal gun owners in Maryland go through all those hoops, and you're afraid of them? Because you think someone who's willfully submitted to a background check is more dangerous than criminals?
I have the luxury of being white and middle class in a largely segregated city that reserves most of its shootings for poor, black neighborhoods overtaken by "the game." The closest I typically get to the action is feeling the chest-thumping vibrations of the Foxtrot police helicopter flying overhead in pursuit of someone who might be a few streets over, but might as well be a world away. But I don't know where the legal gun owners are 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Raucous Refugee Rant

Let me introduce you to an idiot:

As of writing this profoundly inane comparison has been retweeted 20,000 times, thus proving that at least 20,000 people lack more than two functioning brain cells with which to think. I mean, we can play games with this all day. For example:

Sarcasm aside, the comparison fails for the simple fact that it has nothing in common with the current situation. The Holy family wasn't fleeing war, they were reporting for a census. Their move didn't come on the heels of a massive terrorist attack, it was government ordered. They weren't seeking asylum in a foreign country, they were going to their home town. The inn keeper wasn't heartless, he was out of space. He didn't turn them away, he let them stay in the manger!

Other than that, good job Mr. Willis! Way to use that guy you don't believe in to shame those people who do!

Then there's this:
Way to show Christian charity there Governor. Glad to see that Texas is a place that welcomes the least of these. But seriously, this is profoundly silly and is clearly a ploy to his base. Texas, being a state, does not have any real say over federal immigration policies. Once an immigrant or refugee is inside the federal borders he or she is free to move about the country. No papers.

That all being said, I have no idea what to actually do about the current refugee crisis. Kevin William at NRO has some good thoughts on the matter which essentially boil down to "proceed with caution." And happily enough that conversation is happening, with Democrats like Senator Schumer joining Republicans in saying a pause in immigration might be necessary.

Unhappily, its being overshadowed by the idiots throwing dung at each other. As our illustrious president demonstrated mere hours ago when he said he can't think of a "more potent recruitment tool for Isis" than Republican rhetoric on Syrian refugees. Yeah. I'm sure all those drone bombings of weddings were way less upsetting.

All this posturing is unhelpful, polarizing, and generally divides people into two equally asinine camps. The "how unchristian of you" camp ignores the very real security challenge posed by the present situation, while the "keep 'em out" camp ignores the very real human suffering that we ought to alleviate as much as is reasonably achievable.

As Kevin Williamson points out, the question isn't "do we help refugees?", of course we do. The question is do we help these refugees at this time in these numbers, under these circumstances. The answer to that depends greatly on your own values, the perceived threat level, and personal risk tolerance. On a national level we'll only find an answer through honest and open discussion.

So, basically, never.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The one divorce Christians celebrate

I wonder how many people celebrating Luther's posting of the 95 thesis have actually read them. For one thing, they are amazingly Catholic. For another, they only really cover the sale of indulgences.

When I was younger I was under the impression that Luther defiantly nailed a list of 95 problems with the Roman Catholic Church to that door in Wittenberg. Later I learned that this was actually really common practice when posting questions for debate, which is exactly what Luther was doing. He was asking for debate over a single subject. A very Catholic subject.
To be sure within 13 years Luther would be reduced to calling Catholics "papist asses", but you'd never know it from reading the 95 thesis, which contains such statements as:
25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
But all this is secondary to the idea I've been trying to get into words for the last hour or so: What a sad thing to celebrate.

No matter which side of the reformation you find yourself on, one thing is for certain: We are not a unified church, and I can think of nothing sadder. Celebrating our fragmentation is like celebrating a divorce. Christ says in John 17:

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."
That they may become perfectly one. Perfectly. One cannot argue that Christians today are perfectly one. Perfect is too high a standard. There are major contradictory teachings on issues of great importance. We disagree on things as basic as how one attains salvation! Let alone the role of baptism! Maybe we should not celebrate the existence of such great schisms.

For a millennium after Christ the Church existed as one more or less unified body. Even up until the 16th century there were only two or three major divisions, and they were more similar than not. So whether or not you think the Reformation is still a necessary thing today, this day should be a day that reminds us of our failure to be one. Of our failure to show the world the perfect unity of God's love.

This is a day of sadness. The painful anniversary of a divorce that literally caused wars. It feels odd to see so many of my friends celebrating it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trials and Trumpulations

If there is one thing this election cycle has made me thankful for it is that I am no longer a teetotaler.

Between Hillary Clinton being immune to laws on the left, the actual insanity that is Trump on the right, and oh so much nonsense in between, drinking is about the only recourse left to the thinking man. That and whining bitterly to each other over said drinks at the bar the last three of us meet at each night.

How anyone can take Trump seriously I'll never understand. The man does not have a conservative bone in his body, and yet he's somehow become the figurehead of an anti-GOP establishment movement. That there is a lot of anti-establishment sentiment in the GOP is good and well deserved, that it has latched onto a man who has actually advocated for the deportation of American citizens because of their skin color is astounding. That there is a huge overlap between Trump's supports and white nationalists is to his supporters great shame, though to a man they seem not to realize this. Nor do they seem to care that up until five minutes ago Trump was anti-gun, pro-abortion, pro-single payer health care, and basically indistinguishable from a democrat.

And let's not forget our friends in blue! In what is a most breathtaking indictment of our mere lip service to the rule of law, Hillary Clinton is not only not in jail awaiting trial for storing classified information on a non secured email server *and then lying about it*, but also has a serious chance of becoming the next Commander in Chief. Hillary's guilt is so painfully obvious at this point that most of my liberal friends do not defend her, and to the democratic party's chagrin they have very few other options to support. Bernie Sanders seems to be popular among some people, and to his credit he seems to be ideologically consistent, but whether or not ideological consistency is a virtue depends greatly on the ideology in question. Sanders is an unapologetic socialist, and seeing as people are being arrested in Venezuela for smuggling toilet paper I'd rather avoid socialism please and thank you.

And so, dear reader, my exhortation for you is to come join us at that bar. Be the sort of person who doesn't just react, but who acts deliberately. Dig deeper and see what's below the surface. Don't settle for sound bites and voxplainers. Grow a healthy skepticism of the hyperbole. So often I see people react without thinking, or repeat the things they've heard repeated by people who did the same. Even worse, I commonly see arguments develop over a topic where two parties take differing positions and argue, while both being utterly wrong. Minimum wage is a great example of this. One side talks about "living wages" and the other side talks about "not deserving $15 an hour to flip a hamburger" with neither side stopping to consider the economic reality of what wages really are.

Its tempting in times like these to say that we're a special kind of stupid these days. That in the past things were better, but alas I suspect things have always been this way. The ink wasn't dry on the Constitution before Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, effectively outlawing the first amendment. People have always been reactionary, shortsighted, and fearful. I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. Fortunately, the United States enjoys one of the world's only *designed* governments, and its designers were rather skeptical men who recognized this. They've made it exceptionally hard for us idiots to screw things up so badly we can't recover.

But let us not push our luck, eh?