Democrats do not take full transparency seriously

The testy, defensive reaction of the Perry Township trustee to my press release in Herald-Times comments demonstrates that Democrats simply cannot be trusted to bring transparency into the 21st Century. Posting a paper copy at the township office is just not good enough. This is 2018, not 1995.

The incumbent Democrat trustee claims that the meeting notices fulfill the legal requirements for notifying the public. I do not doubt that is the case, but complying with the law’s minimum requirements is not enough when there is more than can be done to increase exposure of what township government is doing to the people who are paying the bills. There is no substantive argument against my proposal for more transparency.

I am disappointed that the incumbent Democrat trustee resorted to dishonesty in his response, asking if I am “a candidate with complaints and no plan.” This was in response to a press release in which I identified a problem and proposed a solution to the problem. I have a plan to increase transparency. The incumbent Democrat trustee is satisfied with the minimum requirements of the law.

The incumbent Democrat trustee was also disingenuous when responding to my point about meeting times. I pointed out that township board meetings take place during the work day, which is true according to the township’s own website. The incumbent Democrat trustee claimed what I said was “simply untrue” and then admitted my point when he said that the the meetings start between 4:15 and 4:30. This is during a normal 8 to 5 work day, which would require a taxpayer to take time off work to attend. That is an elitist response that does not indicate concern for transparency or allowing taxpayers to attend meetings.

This is not a new issue for me. I called for later meeting times for city government boards and commissions in 2015. I had a guest column in the Herald-Times calling on the county commissioners to move meetings – especially the biweekly county commissioners’ meetings – to after the end of the work day so taxpayers can attend the meetings to see what our employees our doing. That is exactly what city, county and township elected officials are: Our employees. They should make it easy for their employers to see what they are doing.

It is not 1995 any more. It is time for township government to move into 2018. That means everything the township does should be online – especially meeting times and agendas. That is what I have pledged to do if I am elected. If the Democrats took this issue seriously they would have fixed it years ago.

Of course we should overturn Roe v. Wade

Do we, as conservatives, believe that the text of the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted as written? Do we, as conservatives, believe that the original intent of the framers should be honored? Do we, as conservatives, believe in the rule of law? If we believe in all of those things, then we must overturn Roe v. Wade.

In terms of constitutional law, Tomi Lahren was simply wrong when she argued that it would be a mistake to overturn the decision that threw out state laws against abortion. Legally, Roe is a terrible decision and an example of judicial activism, when the Supreme Court invented a right that did not exist in the Constitution. Even putting aside whether or not abortion should be illegal, Roe is bad case law.

Lahren’s reasoning is even worse. She made her case based not on the law, but on political factors. This indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the judicial system. We should not support legal outcomes because they are politically beneficial to the Republican Party. That is the kind of argument Leftists use when advocating the court act as a super-legislature to make policy. Our only concern should be whether court decisions are in line with the text of the Constitution.

Not only is there nothing in the Constitution protecting the “right” to kill babies, the proper interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment is to mandate that abortion be criminalized nationwide. That amendment, after all, makes it illegal for states to deny to any person the equal protection of the law. Not including unborn babies under existing murder laws is just as unconstitutional as not protecting black people under those same laws.

Of course, overturning Roe v. Wade will not ban abortion. Not a single abortion would be prevented by overturning that decision. What it would do is throw abortion back to the states – an improvement over what we have now but by no means the end of the fight to protect babies from being murdered.

I am a conservative, not an anti-Leftist

I said on Twitter that while Donald Trump is not a conservative, he is an anti-Leftist. (I am talking about his personal philosophy, not his policies. Trump’s policies have been very conservative, and much better than I ever expected.) That Trump won the nomination and has such a devoted following should teach us something about fighting back against the Left.

And fight back we should. Many conservatives have been fighting back for a long time, from Ben Shapiro and Rush Limbaugh to yours truly. When we are unfairly attacked or lied about, we should aggressively push back against those attacks and counterattack. Republicans were sick of weak-kneed leaders who buckled under pressure every time they took a political hit, especially when the counter was so easy and obvious. True leaders do not run away from conflict. True leaders run into conflict to stand for critical principles.

But we should not confuse being an anti-Leftist with being a conservative. Our opposition to the Left must be based on solid conservative principles and a coherent political ideology, not simply a childish desire to “own the libs” or “fight fire with fire.” Pushing back should be motivated not by getting political “wins” but by pushing for principles like private property rights, low taxes, limited government, religious freedom, individual liberty, gun rights, and protection of innocent human life. Sometimes advocating for these principles means we have to call a liar a liar, or point out hypocrisy, but policy should always be the end goal.

It is not enough to “own the libs” on social media or to defeat various Democratic policies or candidates. We have to be moving the ball down the field and we must have a clear objective for what we will do when we win. Those clear objectives should be reflected in the ideological commitments of the candidates we elect. How can we possibly define “winning” of we do not have a clear conservative standard to uphold? The answer is simple: We cannot, and that means that all of this “winning” will ultimately lead to defeat.

Civility begins with you

Guys, we are either committed to civility or we are not. If we are committed to civility, then we will not justify uncivil behavior even to the uncivil.

(Note: It is not uncivil to call out bad behavior, tell the truth and condemn evil.)

Here’s one example. Tomi Lahren is a caustic personality. That is a large part of her appeal to her fan base, but it also brings forth far more caustic reactions that go far beyond anything Lahren says. Any time she tweets, there is a flood of hate poured out by Leftists. The replies are just filled with obscenity and vulgarity – including extreme misogyny and explicit sexually degrading comments from the very same people who preach tolerance and rail against sexism. Lahren’s haters reveal who and what they are with their replies to her.

Lahren has been uncivil too, Leftists scolded me. I refused to even dignify that response on Twitter. (It is also useless to have that kind of “discussion” in 280 character bursts.) If your response to someone decrying hateful behavior is to childishly whine “she did it toooooooooooooooooooo!!” then I cannot take you seriously. Whataboutism is totally morally bankrupt. It is a world where moral relativism rules, and anything can be justified if you point to something far less severe said by the target of your deranged ranting.

That said, let me address this whataboutism where format permits. Yes, Lahren did post a childish insult against a Democratic Congressman. She also apologized for it, but as a media personality she should know better than to act that way in the first place. If she wants to be taken seriously as an insightful political pundit, she should discipline that kind of immediate reaction. Of course, this is the danger for any public figure, because a dumb rant can go viral in a hurry even if quickly deleted.

But does that justify endless misogynistic rants and sexually degrading attacks on a young woman? If a conservative crowd said the same thing about a liberal woman every time she tweeted, we would never hear the end of it.

Let’s be truthful for once: Lahren’s haters would post these obscene things even if Lahren had never said anything like what she said about that Congressman. Lahren’s haters spew hate because that is who they are: People consumed with hatred, rage and misogyny. The childish whataboutism is simply a way to justify their own hate, or to distract from it when called out. None of these haters are principled people debating policy or ideology. They are trolls who want to bully a young woman off the internet – sometimes by violently physically attacking her. (Yes, that has happened.) It is shameful.

Clarifying “bipartisanship is a fraud and a hoax”

In my recent letter to the editor in the Indianapolis Star, I said that “bipartisanship is a fraud and a hoax, and Republicans must reject it.” That is true… and I should clarify what I mean by that.

Of course there are areas where we can and should have bipartisan cooperation. The thing that comes to my mind first is criminal justice reform, where liberal Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans can cooperate ad have cooperated on legislation to make our laws less harsh and more effective. When Republicans and Democrats can work together on policy to get an outcome that both sides find positive, then that is a good thing and should be pursued.

What I vehemently oppose is bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship. Appeasing our political enemies for its own sake has never worked, does not work and will never work. What Republicans need to recognize is that those determined to hate us will always find some reason to viciously attack us. If there is not a legitimate reason for that attack, they will invent one out of whole cloth – even if that reason is the total opposite of what Republicans are actually doing and saying.

Take the Republican platform on strong families. As I explained, the platform is 100% inclusive and does not in any way oppose same-sex “marriage,” but that did not stop the homosexual mayor of South Bend from openly and flagrantly lying about it. The Republican establishment moved in a direction Democrats wanted to show they are “loving” and “tolerant” and all that jazz. Then for their efforts, the radical Left still lies about the Republican platform. You cannot appease people who hate you. They will still hate you, and you will alienate and antagonize your own base. It is stupid.

To sum up: Bipartisan cooperation to get a policy outcome is a good idea. Bipartisanship for its own sake – including abandoning your principles – is a stupid and counterproductive idea that will never work.

A Mary Sue villain

As a concept, I like the X-Men villain Apocalypse and the character has a cool design. But his powers are too undefined, especially for a mutant. (Mutants in Marvel tend to do one or two things.) Basically, he can do whatever the writers want him to be able to do at the moment. He is a Mary Sue villain.

Transparency is needed in township government

The primary reason I am running for a seat on the Perry Township Board is that township government operates almost entirely in the dark. The newspaper rarely covers township government unless there is a major scandal, and the public almost never attends their meetings. When you have a unit of government that is spending over one million dollars a year and has been under one-party control for decades, that is something that needs to change.

That starts with the township’s online presence. The last meeting minutes was February 16, 2017, though there have been many meetings since then. Unlike city and county government, there are no meeting agendas online for the township board. So if you are a citizen in Perry Township and you want to follow what your township government is doing, you cannot do that through the township board’s website.

In the age of social media, there is simply no excuse for this. Meeting agendas can easily be posted to Facebook, Twitter or other sites. There are many sites that will convert a PDF to an image file for free, to make viewing it even easier, especially on a mobile phone or tablet. A Facebook or Twitter feed can easily be updated to let the public know when and where a meeting will be, along with a scan of the agenda.

It is never good when a unit of government operates out of the public eye. If I am elected to the township board, all of this information will be online. If the township office itself will not do it, then I will do it myself. If you believe in transparency, vote for Scott Tibbs for Perry Township Board!

Wikipedia pranksters and Google searches

If you follow enough conservatives on Twitter, you’re probably seeing calls for Google to “stop the bias” because the search engine results include descriptions of Republicans as Nazis, references to “cocaine Mitch” and other things. This is one of those times when I just facepalm because these conservatives simply do not know what they are talking about.

It is silly to blame Google for this. The entries are not Google entries. They are Wikipedia entries. I went over this way back in 2010, but many people do not understand how Wikipedia works. Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia where anyone can register an account and edit articles. This allows a lot of information to be posted, and there are innumerable Wikis on various subjects all over the internet.You can find information on Wikipedia much more easily than anywhere else because of the large user base. But the reality is that the information is only as reliable as the person doing the editing.

The downside to Wikipedia’s model is that it is vulnerable to pranksters and trolls. When Google started including text boxes from Wikipedia in search results, pranksters and trolls knew they could vandalize Wikipedia pages to get negative propaganda on basic Google searches. That is where you get the “Google search results” describing Republicans as Nazis and other things. (Of course, there are pranksters and trolls on the Right as well.) The problem is not Google itself but the structural vulnerability of Wikipedia. The site’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness.

The obvious answer is for Google to stop using Wikipedia for info boxes, due to the vulnerability of Wikipedia’s site to vandalism. Either eliminate the info boxes or use a site with stricter editorial controls. Google knows about this problem, so there is no excuse not to fix it.

Civility begins with assuming good motives

A few years ago, when I objected to President Barack Obama ordering the assassination of an American citizen named Anwar al-Awlaki via a drone strike, a Leftist troll accused me of being a white supremacist who was siding with Islamic terrorists because the President was a black man. It was an absurd attack that was meant to avoid any serious discussion of civil rights, due process and the limits of government power by smearing me with the fraudulent allegation of “racism.”

So here is a thesis: We should generally assume that the people we argue with and against want the best for our country. They want our country to have liberty and economic security. We may violently disagree with their policies, and we may think that those policies will be ineffective at best and destructive at worst, but we should assume we have patriotism on both sides and a belief in the idea of America.

This is not a call to be naïve or to not practice discernment. We should not do that. There are legitimately bad actors in politics at the local, state and national level. Those people should be called out, and a general civility does not preclude us from calling out such people.

But generally, people want what is best for our nation. For example, I believe that abortion is a moral abomination, but those who favor abortion rights do not take glee in the death of unborn babies. They are worried about government intrusion in people’s lives. Those who support “card check” support a bad policy that I believe is harmful, but they want unions to be strong to advocate for employee rights. Those who support government spending I find wasteful do not want to spend our nation into bankruptcy. They want to help people with programs they find useful. Those who support a liberalized immigration policy do not want MS-13 terrorizing our neighborhoods. They want to offer the promise of America to more people.

I could go on with many more examples, but you get my point. I can disagree with open borders advocates, union representatives, abortion rights supporters and even socialists without thinking they are all evil people who are trying to destroy our nation. Meanwhile, those who disagree with me on policy can think I am wrong without thinking I hate immigrants, I want to oppress and enslave women, or that I am a greedy person who does not want to help those in need.

Furthermore, it should be obvious that we can disagree with various uncivil actions (such as harassing people at home or in public) and call for more civil behavior without getting into a childish game of whataboutism. “He did it tooooooooooooooooooooo!!” is not an argument, it is an attempt to avoid accountability. At the same time, we should call out uncivil behavior on our own side.

Most importantly, we should model civility in our own behavior and rhetoric. I have often failed in this regard, too willing to directly attack the person when I should instead make an ideological argument. Again, this is not to say that no attacks are justified or that there are not legitimately bad people. Obviously there are bad people. But I need to do better, especially in modeling behavior to my sons.