Killing a spider with a twenty pound sledgehammer

I really hate spiders. But as much as I hate them, it is important that the force I use to eliminate them is proportional to what is necessary. If there is a spider on my wall, swatting it with a newspaper or my shoe will get the job done and not cause damage. Using a twenty pound sledge hammer will kill the spider (assuming I hit my target) but it will also break or severely damage whatever surface the spider is sitting on.

A rather foolish prosecutor in Iowa has not only apparently has never learned that lesson, he actually uses a jackhammer instead.

Backstory: A 14 year old girl took two inappropriate (but not nude) pictures of herself. A prosecutor threatened to charge her with child pornography. She sued and won, but this was a ridiculous abuse of power that was massively disproportionate to the girl’s actual offense. What she did was obviously immoral, in addition to being foolish and incredibly dangerous. But it is absurd to lump her in with monsters who rape children and then record the rape to sell tapes of it to other evil men. She took pictures of herself, and sent them to a boy.

Would some sort of legal sanction be appropriate here? I would have no problem with that, to send a very clear message that teens (especially very young teens) should not be sexting with each other. Maybe she could be charged with a misdemeanor and have her pick up trash by the side of the road. But she is not a child pornographer and should not be treated as one.

Think about the consequences if she was convicted: She would have to register as a sex offender and would have a child porn conviction on her record. She would be severely restricted in where she could live and her prospects for employment would be irreparably harmed. That conviction would be a scarlet letter for the rest of her life, and people would think that she did something much, much worse. She might even be subject to violence from vigilantes. Perhaps she would commit suicide, and all because a fool was overzealous.

Obviously, we should make it clear to teens that “sexting” will not be tolerated. That starts with the parents of teens tempted by this immorality. Because of the dangers of sexting (especially that the pictures will be shared without the subject’s consent) some reasonable legal sanctions would be appropriate. But going far beyond the limits of what any reasonable person considers proportional to the offense does not help anyone and could cause irreparable harm. Yes, we should discipline teens who engage in sexting, but we should not ruin their lives and potentially drive them to suicide.

Throw the rear view mirror out of the window

To expand on a tweet from July 13: The “scandal” involving Russian meddling in the campaign is designed to hide the fact that Donald Trump fairly won the required number of votes in the Electoral College. The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump won the election. Democrats are furious that they lost an election they were favored to win, and they lost it to someone they truly despise. However, Trump still won. Get over it.

Of course, meddling in the campaign is not the same as hacking the election. There is not a single shred of evidence that a single voting machine was hacked. It is irresponsible and dishonest to continue to claim (as Rachel Maddow does) that Russia “hacked the election.” They did no such thing, and everyone knows it. Meddling in the campaign by (allegedly) hacking a political party’s e-mail and releasing those e-mails to the public, and (allegedly) spreading both fake and legitimate anti-Clinton news is not the same as “hacking the election.”

The American people made their decision, and nobody from Russia forced them to do so. They consumed the negative information about Hillary Clinton, measured it against Trump, and they voted. Enough voters in enough states voted for Donald Trump for him to win the Electoral College, and there is nothing illegitimate about that. He is the President and should be recognized as such. It is legitimate to oppose the President’s agenda, criticize his behavior, and advocate that he be removed from office in 2020, but it is long past time to move on from the 2016 election.

Of course, pro-Trump Republicans need to get over it too. Hillary Clinton’s political career is dead. She will never be President and she will never run for office again. By continually whining about Clinton, Republicans show themselves to be petty sore winners who are unable to move on. This is political necrophilia and it needs to stop. You won, so get over it. Spend your time working to pass a conservative legislative agenda instead of re-fighting a battle you won decisively a year ago.

Donald Trump won, and he is the President. But while that election is over, politics is never over. Let’s have a battle over legislation, policy, rhetoric, behavior and morality. Let’s gear up for the 2018 election and see where that takes us. But Democrats (and some sore winners on the Republican side) need to leave the 2016 election in the rear view mirror – and then rip the mirror off and throw it out the window.

Shameful hypocrisy by the Herald-Times

I have asked this before, but does the Herald-Times actually have content standards, or are those so-called “standards” simply the whims of the editors and comment moderators on any particular day?

On July 10, a guest column was published referring to health care legislation as “murderous” and “murder for hire.” Keep in mind that I have had comments deleted for referring to abortion as murder, and the H-T justified that deletion by saying murder is a felony and saying that abortion is murder is therefore defamatory. HeraldTimesOnline moderators have made it very clear that word is not allowed to be used to describe the actions of others, but the Herald-Times approved a guest column claiming that the United States Senate is considering legislation that will “murder” people.

Since the word “murder” is not permitted in HTO comments, it should not be in the print edition. Full stop.

Furthermore, referring to the health care bill as “murderous” is an absurd abuse of language. Murder is the unlawful, intentional termination of a human life. Not one single person who wrote the bill and not one single person who voted for it in the House intend on killing anyone.

Whatever side you are on, there are arguments about whether ObamaCare or the ACHA would be better overall for this nation and her people. Argue your point, but to accuse those who simply disagree with you of being “murderers” degrades the discourse. Even if the American Health Care Act causes people to lose access to health care and they die as a result, that is not “murder.” And it is highly debatable whether that will happen. It certainly is not a fact.

Shame on the Herald-Times for their hypocrisy in allowing Leftists to use much more harsh and extreme language than conservatives and in a much more visible format approved by the editor. Shame on the Herald-Times for degrading the dialogue by publishing that guest column. Shame on the Herald-Times for encouraging an uncivil environment by allowing a guest columnist to accuse members of the Bloomington community of “murder.” And yes, I mean “our community,” because Senator Todd Young lives in Bloomington.

The Herald-Times should do two things. First, they should apologize for poisoning the well. Second, they should stop being hypocrites and apply their so-called “standards” to everyone, not just conservatives.

How to harden and intensify opposition to Trump

Anti-Trump conservatives are a bunch of stuck-up elitists who cannot stand him because he talks like a “commoner.” They see themselves as the intellectual standard-bearers and rightful leaders of the conservative movement and they will never support someone who speaks like a “commoner,” even when he implementing public policy they agree with and would publicly praise any other Republican doing the same things.

And that is exactly the wrong way to convert “Never Trump” conservatives.

As a former “Never Trump” and current Trump supporter, this oversimplification is not only offensive, it is wrong. It does not convince anyone, it has never convinced anyone and it will never convince anyone. It is nothing more than arrogant virtue signaling by Trump supporters.

I support President Trump in his effort to “drain the swamp” and “make America great again,” because I mostly agree with the policies he has implemented as President. Obviously, there are places I disagree. There has never been and will never be a candidate or elected official I agree with 100%, unless I am voting for myself. But Trump has been far more right than wrong.

That said, I categorically reject arguments that Trump is the “only one” of the Republican candidates who could effectively advance the conservative agenda. I categorically reject arguments that Trump is the “only one” who could have defeated Hillary Clinton. That is a cult mentality and I have no patience or tolerance for it. Even as a Trump supporter, I will continue to damn the worship of him as a messiah.

I did not vote for Trump, and I do not regret that decision. I support Trump now because as President he has implemented solid conservative policy and realistically he is the only option we have right now to implement conservative policy at the federal level. If we want market-based health care reform, lower taxes, border security, less regulation, and protection for the unborn, that goes through President Trump.

That said, I absolutely do not dismiss all conservative opposition to Trump as illegitimate. Again, that is a cult mentality and I despise it. I support Trump. For those conservatives who do not I will make the case for why he deserves conservative support and allow people to follow their conscience. I refuse to cast conservative opposition to President Trump as illegitimate.

That is not how you convince “Never Trump” conservatives to support Trump. I know this because it failed to convince me. Not only did it fail, it hardened and intensified my opposition to Trump during the campaign. The way you convince “Never Trump” conservatives to support Trump is to make the policy and political case for supporting him, not by demonizing them.

I know this because that is what worked to convince me to support Trump. Attacking me only solidified and intensified my opposition to him, and increased the volume of that opposition. While I do not regret voting against Trump in 2016, I would vote for Trump if the 2020 election were held today.

That is not because I was attacked, called illegitimate or immoral, or told I was a liar, a traitor to my county and a danger to my family. Those attacks were lies and slander in 2016 and they are lies and slander today. I was convinced by solid arguments and good policy. That is the case Trump supporters need to make, instead of the divisive attacks on “Never Trump” conservatives.

Blockquotes

I realized yesterday that the new theme does not do a good job of differentiating text in a “blockquote” from the text of the blog post. That cannot be fixed without changing the theme. So I will do something different for future posts where I am quoting something.

Gluten is not bad for you.

Gluten is not bad for you. If your diet includes the naturally occurring proteins from wheat, you will not suffer harm from that diet. There is no need for the vast majority of people to eat a gluten-free diet. This foodie fad is not based on solid science.

What I posted above is a statement of general truth. Exceptions to the rule – specifically celiac disease – do not invalidate that general truth. A general truth and a universal truth are not the same thing, but a general truth is still generally true.

Is gluten bad for some people? Obviously, people who have celiac disease should avoid it. Peanuts are not bad for most people either. For those with a peanut allergy, they are very bad and can be fatal. There are always exceptions to general truths, because of the complexity of human biology. Everyone’s body is different and unique. But for most people, wheat protein (gluten) is not bad for you.

Obviously, we should be sensitive to those with food allergies. You will never find anything I have ever said or written where I argued otherwise. It has never happened, even one single time. Criticizing a foodie fad that is not based on facts or science in no way denies the fact that there are people with food allergies.

In fact, I would argue the anti-gluten fad actually harms people who legitimately have celiac disease. When tens of thousands of people are religiously (I use that word intentionally) avoiding gluten when they have no health need to do so, people who rightly see this as a fad then take real medical issues less seriously. The gluten-free fad is the classic “boy who cried wolf” scenario.

The arrogant, know-it-all federal bureaucracy

The following quote is typical of the arrogant, know-it-all federal bureaucracy. Rant to follow.

“We still have too many people getting medicine at too high a level and for too long.”

Right. You know this because you know every case intimately. Sure.

Look, are there serious problems with opioid prescriptions that have caused suffering and addictions? Are there doctors who have been sloppy in the way they prescribed opioid painkillers? Are there unethical “candyman” doctors who people go to in order to feed their addictions, instead of for legitimate chronic pain?

Yes!

Sloppy and negligent doctors should be disciplined by the appropriate medical boards. Unethical “candyman” doctors should be disciplined, and criminally prosecuted if that is necessary.

But the statement from the Centers for Disease Control that I quoted above is a political analysis, not a medical one. There is simply no way to know that without independent doctors (not politicians and bureaucrats) looking at each individual case and determining whether or not the prescriptions were necessary to control pain, or whether those prescriptions were sloppy or even reckless.

It is obvious (or should be obvious) that the best person to decide what pain medication is appropriate and what level is appropriate is the doctor who deals directly with the patient, not a federal government bureaucrat and certainly not a politician. This needs to be solved with a scalpel, not a sledge hammer.

The bottom line is this: I simply do not trust the federal government on this matter. I trust individual doctors. We should not make doctors terrified to treat people who are in agonizing pain.

Blind support of a political leader is wicked

Printed in the Bloomington Herald-Times, July 11, 2017

To the Editor:

It does not help President Donald Trump when sycophants mindlessly praise everything he does. If people want to support Trump, then they need to push him to be better, including calling him out when he is wrong. Those who never find fault in the President are not Trump supporters. They are cultists.

I did not vote for President Trump in the 2016 election. I do not regret that choice. However, Trump has successfully converted this former #NeverTrump voter. I am happy with his anti-abortion policies and his rollback of environmental regulations that have harmed our economy. I would vote for Trump if the 2020 general election was today.

But when Trump launches depraved personal attacks, like the one he spewed against Mika Brzezinski, Republicans must rebuke him for it. Many conservatives love that Trump is a fighter and a counter-puncher, but there are many ways to fight back that are within the realm of civil discourse. This was way out of bounds.

It is especially important for Christians to not support these attacks. Our loyalty is to be to Jesus Christ, not any politician or political party. Blind, unwavering support for a political leader is idolatry and is terribly wicked.

Responding to Trump vs. overreacting to Trump

President Donald Trump inspires a range of emotions. This is especially true when he is trolling his political opponents, who look silly when they overreact. In some cases, they look dangerous and deranged, harming themselves much more than they harm Trump with their criticisms. Let this be a political lesson: Responding in a reasonable manner is fine, but becoming unhinged is not fine.

When Trump tweeted an altered GIF of his appearance at WrestleMania a decade ago, the reaction was swift: Some people criticized Trump’s tweet as for being childish and for demeaning the office of the President. While I thought the reaction to a funny GIF was overblown, these criticisms do have merit. Had the criticisms stopped there, CNN and its defenders could have “won” the argument with the President. They did not.

First, they overreacted rhetorically, with laughable claims that Trump “endorses violence against journalists” and that Trump ” is going to get somebody killed”. Now you have just made fools of yourselves by overreacting to a silly GIF from a decade-old professional wrestling event.

But CNN did not stop there. They made it much, much worse.

CNN actually blackmailed the anonymous Reddit user who created the meme by threatening to “out” his real name, exposing him to threats, harassment and maybe even violence. By engaging in that bullying – which is far worse than Trump’s silly WrestleMania post – CNN permanently lost all credibility to whine about Trump or anyone else “bullying” them.

Think about this for a minute. A multinational corporation actually threatened, blackmailed and bullied a private citizen because he posted a silly GIF on Reddit. That is astonishing. This is not the President feuding with the media. This is a power imbalance between bully and victim so extreme it should be appalling to all good and decent people. How can anyone defend this depraved and perverted behavior by CNN? They have completely humiliated and degraded themselves with this unconscionable cyberstalking.

It is reasonable to criticize the President, both on his policies and on his childish personal behavior. It is not reasonable for a huge multinational corporation to blackmail, threaten and intimidate a private citizen for posting a meme. What about this very simple concept is so difficult for CNN to comprehend?