Airport security screenings

A man who warned an airport security screener not to “touch my junk” has become a national celebrity, capturing the frustration of many people (including Hostage Hoosier of Hoosier Access) who object to the invasive security procedures – especially sensitive pat-down techniques – in airports.

Matthew Tully makes a good point in the Indianapolis Star: don’t take it out on the security personnel. They are not the ones setting the policy. They are simply trying to do their job. It is not productive to berate, curse at or assault security personnel. If you want to do something, boycott flying entirely rather than trying to be disruptive. We should not be making these people’s lives any more stressful than they need to be, especially during the holidays.

Instead, write a scathing letter to your Congressman or Senator, and also protest with the President and the Department of Homeland Security. Demand that elected officials tone down the intensity of the screenings and hold them accountable in elections if they do not. Volunteer for candidates who believe the government is going too far. Write letters to the editor, call talk radio programs and generally make a fuss about it in the arena of ideas. If elected officials think they will lose their power, they will generally listen to public outcry.

But let’s not get carried away with ourselves and let’s not take it out on airport security screeners.

"Do something" should not be the default

Last week, I argued in a guest editorial that sobriety checkpoints should be banned. In the comments, the user “tinyishbubbles” wrote that people who are quick to oppose government restrictions on liberty “lack any real suggestions for how we directly confront issues that plague society in a larger sense.”

And this is the problem with the way many people view problems in society, that we have to “do something” about it. According to this mindset, what we actually do is secondary to the fact that we do something.

I reject the premise.

“Do something” should not be the default position. A huge percentage of healthcare dollars are spent at the end of someone’s life. Should we then just murder all terminally ill and elderly people so we are not spending so much money treating them? While this is an absurd example, the point I am making here is that the “solution” can be worse than the problem. I reject the premise that I have to surrender my civil liberties to “do something” about drunk drivers.

What can we do about drunk driving? Harsher punishments for drunk drivers would be a good start. Someone who drives between .08 and .14 blood alcohol content “commits a Class C misdemeanor” while someone who drives with over .15 BAC “commits a Class A misdemeanor.” This means no more than a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Given the reckless disregard for life that such impaired driving presents and the harm it causes, driving with .15 or higher BAC should be at least a Class C felony – and perhaps a Class B felony. Remember that Indianapolis police officer David Bisard had a BAC of .19 when he slaughtered a motorcyclist in August. Driving with over .08 BAC should be a Class A misdemeanor. (See relevant sections of the Indiana Code: IC 9-30-5-1, IC 35-50-3-2 and IC 35-50-2-1.)

What I reject is that law-abiding citizens should be expected to “show their papers” to law enforcement in a fishing expedition. Absent evidence that I am doing something wrong, police should not be permitted to detain me and demand my “papers” before allowing me to travel freely. That is an overbearing and anti-American solution.

It is true that driving is a privilege, not a right. This is why we require automobile insurance, and that drivers have a license from the state. You can lose that privilege if you break the rules. But while driving may be a privilege, the right to be secure in my person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures is not a privilege. It is my fundamental right as an American.

Sobriety checkpoints themselves represent one more in a long line of abuses against civil liberties. As I said last week, without decades of abuses by government in the “war on crime” and public support of those abuses, government would have found it much more difficult to implement the abuses of the “war on terror.” We are building a cage for ourselves one bar at a time, and we need to start tearing those bars down before the door slams shut and it is too late.

Every state should have a "sore loser" law

Four years ago, Joe Lieberman ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but was defeated in the Democratic primary in large part because the Democratic Party base was unhappy with his positions on the War on Terror. This past fall, Lisa Murkowski ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but was defeated in the Republican primary in large part because the Republican Party base was unhappy with her record as Senator. Both Murkowski and Lieberman refused to accept defeat and ran petulant third-party campaigns to keep their seats, and both won.

This would not happen in Indiana, where a “sore loser law” makes it illegal for a candidate defeated in the primary to run as an independent or with another party in the general election. (Indiana Code IC 3-8-1-5.5) If you lose in the primary, you are done. You can run for another office, but not for the office you previously sought.

This is a good law. It prevents sore losers from mucking up the general election and thwarting the will of the people. Generally, a sore loser will split his party’s vote, allowing the other party to win with a plurality even if a majority is split between the two most similar candidates. (Murkowski and Lieberman, obviously, are exceptions.)

It also encourages candidates to accept responsibility. Someone who truly wants to run as an independent or with a minor party in the general election can choose to do so by refraining from participating in the primary of one of the two major parties. If that person decides to risk defeat in a contested primary, however, he will need to take responsibility for his choice. Part of taking responsibility is accepting the restrictions that come with that choice.

Local political activist Don Moore said over the weekend that he supports sore loser laws because they “keep what little remains regarding the meaning of party affiliation.” Moore is right. Once someone declares his affiliation with a political party for the purposes of a primary election, he should not be allowed to renounce that party for the sake of taking another shot at the office he desires.

Does this restrict the choices of the electorate in the general election? Strictly speaking, yes. But again, the failed candidate and his supporters can choose to bypass the primary completely and go directly to the general election as an independent. If he runs in the primary and loses, he can also try for another office or try again in the next election. Our choices are limited by our decisions all the time, and failed primary candidates should not be permitted to avoid the consequences of the choices they make.

Nanny state ninnies seek to ban alcoholic energy drinks

Last week, Big Red Liquors and Bloomington Liquors announced that they would not be selling alcoholic energy drinks, in an attempt to be “socially responsible.” Big Red admitted that they “have not heard of direct problems involving people consuming the drinks in Bloomington” though the beverages have been banned in other states.

That’s fine. What is not fine is that the two retailers are lobbying the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission in order to get the organization to “ban the sale of the drinks statewide.”

Let’s be brutally honest here. Big Red and Bloomington Liquors have made a decision they feel is right for them, but they know that people can buy the products at other stores. This will cut into their profits and market share, so they want to make sure that no one else is allowed to carry them either. Asking state government to ban the drinks is not due to some sense of social responsibility, but because they want government to help them avoid economic repercussions from their business plans. This is little more than corporate welfare.

How effective will this be? Are people who currently consume the drinks (especially people in their early 20’s, who are the primary market for these drinks) are going to be unable to manually mix vodka and their energy drink of choice? Should we also ban bars from manually mixing the two, so that consumers will have to do it themselves? After all, stupid people have been making methamphetamine from common household products and cold medicine for years.

It should not be government’s role to ban alcoholic energy drinks. Yes, some people are going to use them irresponsibly and get sick as a result. But it should not be government’s role to start banning products because some people are stupid and irresponsible. Government does not need to protect us from our own stupidity.

If there was a message of the 2010 elections, it was that government is taking too much control of our lives. Now is not the time for government to take control of what we are permitted to drink, especially with Republicans (supposedly the party of limited government) in solid control of both the legislative and executive branches of state government.

Trading liberty for security is dangerous

Printed in the Bloomington Herald-Times, November 16, 2010

On October 22, the Herald-Times declared that “it’s hard to imagine that the sober drivers would put up much of a fuss about efforts to keep drunks off the roads.”

Actually, it is not hard to imagine at all.

It is a disturbing trend in our society that we are willing to give up liberty for security or perceived security. Much has been said over the last nine years about the federal government’s increased law enforcement powers (including things like wiretaps without a warrant) to fight terrorism. I respectfully submit that without decades of abuses by government in the “war on crime” and public support of those abuses, the abuses of the “war on terror” would have been much more difficult.

For example, we see the terrible abuse in Abu Ghraib, but should this really be surprising in a society where prison rape is epidemic? Far too many times, I have seen people respond with clich├ęs such as “if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime” to efforts to combat this horrible abuse. We often forget that many of the prisoners subjected to sexual abuse are not the worst of the worst, but nonviolent offenders.

We are also seeing a frightening trend of police using paramilitary force in no-knock raids to catch drug offenders. A 92 year old woman named Kathryn Johnson was shot to death by just such a strike force in Atlanta, and the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland was detained for hours at gunpoint by a paramilitary SWAT team. There are countless more examples of paramilitary no-knock raids that should be a concern to every American.

Now, we have government targeting American citizens living abroad for extra-judicial assassination, something the American Civil Liberties Union is aggressively fighting in court. Is it really a surprise when government overreaches with the “Patriot Act” or other anti-terrorism measures, given how readily we have given up liberty in the name of security from crime?

The sobriety checkpoints are just another in a long line of infringements on our civil liberties where statists argue that if you are not doing anything wrong, you do not have anything to worry about. (Mrs. Johnson’s family would argue against that premise.) However, the Fourth Amendment’s promise that our right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” is very clear.

The question is obvious: Does government have the right to detain you and demand that you “produce your papers” with absolutely no evidence that you are doing anything illegal? Does simply driving on a public street now count as “probable cause” for police to detain citizens? May it never be!

We saw a great deal of outrage over the summer when the state of Arizona passed a law to allow police to check the immigration status of people detained on suspicion of another crime. What about immigrants living in Bloomington who will have to “produce their papers” if they happen to be driving the wrong stretch of road at the wrong time, and come across a police checkpoint? Where is the outrage about this?

I vividly remember driving down College Avenue where the police would be looking in my vehicle to see if I was wearing a seatbelt, and would ticket me if I was not. I always wear a safety belt, but that is not the point. Thankfully, this practice has been outlawed by the General Assembly. Our legislators should follow up by making sobriety checkpoints illegal as well – and any legislator who opposes this move should be thrown out of office.

Saw VII – the "final chapter" with a cliffhanger ending

Note: There will be lots of spoilers in this review. If you have not yet subjected yourself to the latest chapter in this abomination of a franchise and do not want to see the spoilers, stop reading now. You have been warned.

The Saw series started out with a lot of promise. It was gory and difficult to watch at times, but the first movie was surprisingly tame in comparison to later films. Lionsgate set out to make an intelligent movie that broke from the mold of slasher films, and for the most part they were successful. The problem is that this series probably should have ended after the first movie. Had that happened, people would view the series in a much more positive light. The fact that Jigsaw died in the third movie should be a clue as to how absurd the last four movies have been.

The series has gotten progressively worse over time, with overly convoluted plot twists and “swerves” that are little more than retroactively rewriting the script of various movies. After the third movie, the primary purpose of watching this series is to laugh at the utter stupidity of the horrible writing. The first movie to actively annoy me, however, was Saw VI, which was so overtly political it could have been a Barack Obama campaign commercial. Yes, we hate insurance companies and we need health care reform. Blah blah blah. You can stop preaching now.

So I plunked down my $5 to see Saw VII last week. I was the only person in the theater, which was a bad sign. If you walk into a movie and realize you’re the only one in the theater when the opening scene starts, you are probably not about to see a good or even passable movie. And this one was bad beyond my expectations.

First, the opening trap was absurd. You have a woman hanging above a buzz saw, with the two men she has been dating below her. The series’ new villain (Hoffman) explains that one of them has to die. The men decide that their girlfriend would be the one to die for manipulating and lying to them – which is now a capital offense apparently. Never mind that one of the themes of the movie is that the traps supposedly are all survivable.

Here is where it gets absurd. The trap is behind a glass wall, in the middle of a very crowded shopping area. How exactly did Hoffman have the time to set this up, considering this takes place immediately following Saw VI? Simply put, there is no way the timeline works for this. Plus, once the trap is completed, it is never mentioned again, making the entire scene a completely pointless waste of time. This was filler, nothing more.

As the trap starts, at least 100 people are watching this happen and no one makes a serious effort to break the glass and rescue these people, other than one woman who lightly taps on the glass with her briefcase. That is just stupid. Perhaps Saw VIII will rewrite the story again and retroactively decide that these people are all part of a Jigsaw cult.

So one of the Jigsaw “survivors” is on a book tour about his experience. I won’t go into much detail here. Hoffman kidnaps him and places him, his publicist, his lawyer, his best friend and wife in a series of traps, because he was lying about the experience. He was never in a “Saw” trap. Of course, everyone involved, save for the faux survivor, dies. But the faux survivor’s wife was not in on the plot, so why did she have to die?

Hoffman manages to sneak into the police station, and then goes on a slasher movie rampage by killing most of the people in the building – including his target, Jigsaw’s wife. Wasn’t this movie supposed to get away from the slasher genre? In any case, he punks the entire police department, slaughtering others with traps he has set up (because Hoffman is supposed to be a good guy who only goes after criminals and degenerates) before finally getting to Jigsaw’s wife and killing her.

This is where it gets stupid. Well, it is more stupid than before. The new “reveal” (again retroactively rewriting the previous movies) is that Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride) has been in on the scheme the entire time, since Saw II. After he survived the trap, Jigsaw rescued and recruited him.


Never mind that Gordon was assumed dead after the first movie after cutting off his own foot, and never mind that he has never once appeared in any of the previous 5 movies. Never mind that it makes absolutely no sense for him to be working with Jigsaw after what Jigsaw did to him. Jigsaw put Gordon in a death trap that Gordon could only free himself from by cutting off his own foot. Jigsaw threatened to murder Gordon’s wife and daughter. Yes, I can see how Gordon would be motivated to help Jigsaw after that. It makes perfect sense.

Gordon and two others (we never see who they are) kidnap and drug Hoffman (who is still no-selling getting stabbed in the neck with a letter opener) and leave him in the bathroom from the first movie. Gordon has been asked by Jigsaw to avenge Jill if Hoffman does anything to her. After all, it makes much more sense for Jigsaw to ask Gordon to take revenge than actually protecting Jill from getting killed in the first place.

Hoffman isn’t killed, of course, so we have plenty of room for him to go on another rampage next October. Since we have three people carrying out Jigsaw’s last wishes, the door is open for more sequels even if Hoffman dies, and Gordon has apparently been working with Jigsaw all along.

The Gordon swerve was so stupid and nonsensical that I actually started laughing. The writers of this movie actually think they are being intelligent, by orchestrating this large-scale conspiracy involving what now can only be described as a Jigsaw cult. (The conspiracy now involves Jigsaw, Amanda, Hoffman, Gordon, Jill and two others who are not identified.) Gordon has had nothing to do with the last five movies, so suddenly inserting him into this conspiracy strains credibility to the breaking point. And how did Hoffman, who was Jigsaw’s right hand man from II through VI, not know Gordon was involved? Amanda did not know about Gordon or Hoffman, either.

I was actually laughing on my drive home, because this series has become a self parody. I am sure that is not the reaction Lionsgate wanted for the biggest horror franchise of the last decade. They have taken what could have been a good franchise and made it into little more than a gore fest and the attempts at writing a “plot” have been a complete failure. It is also absurd to label this “The final chapter” and end it on a cliffhanger with the villain still alive and three new recruits. This series once had promise, but that has long since evaporated.

Final Grade: F

On a jihad for Molech

I made a comment to a friend a couple days ago that the pro-abortion terrorist who attempted to destroy the Genocide Awareness Project at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne was “on a jihad for Molech.” For those who don’t know, Molech was a pagan “god” worshiped by the people of Canaan. The Israelites would often abandon the faith and worship Molech. A central part of Molech worship is to heat up a stone idol with fire, and then throw a newborn baby into the fire and watch him or her burn to death as a sacrifice to Molech. (See God’s commandment to the nation of Israel regarding Molech worship in Leviticus 20:1-5.)

America today is swimming in the blood of 50 million unborn children who have been killed, under the protection of the U.S. government, since the Supreme Court decriminalized murdering the unborn in 1973. Instead of the open cruelty and shocking spectacle of the entire community watching a newborn baby burn to death, we have turned murder into a clinical procedure so we do not have to see it. We are much more dignified and sophisticated as we murder innumerably more children than the Canaanites ever dreamed of killing.

Are we sacrificing these children to Molech? Not directly, no. But it is worship of a pagan “god” that drives our bloodlust. We worship self-determination and the “right” to be free from responsibility if we so choose. At least the pagans in Canaanites recognized that they were murdering babies, while we hide behind terms like “the products of conception” or arguments about “personhood” so we do not have to see our own depravity. When we refuse to see what we are doing, is it any wonder that our depravity is unprecedented in human history?

It has been said that if you will worship something. That is an unavoidable aspect of human nature. We can either worship God or we can worship innumerable false pagan “gods.” In America, we worship ourselves, our irresponsibility, our leisure time, our material wealth and a false version of “freedom.” Claiming that a nation that has murdered 50 million children in 38 years is somehow a “Christian nation” is a blasphemous lie and a smear against the character of God.

The Genocide Awareness Project rips the blindfold from our eyes and shoves our depravity in our faces. Not only the depravity of murdering children and a society that does nothing to stop it, but the depravity of abortion opponents who know they could be doing more but sit on our couches at home instead. If we are to come to Jesus Christ, we must see our sin first. GAP shows us our sin in a way that few other things can. It should not be surprising, then, that there have been people who have accepted Jesus as Savior at the GAP barricades.

I mocked Terrence the Terrorist yesterday for his/her/its actions. But there is more hope for Terrence the Terrorist than for the hundreds of people in Bloomington who walked right by the GAP display in 2001 and did not feel a twinge of shame, guilt or remorse for the blood that soaks America’s hands.

Pro-abortion terrorist tries to censor GAP

On Election Day last week, a pro-abortion terrorist who identified himself/herself/itself to police as “Terrence” jumped the barricades of a Genocide Awareness Project display at IPFW and assaulted a GAP volunteer, and started tearing apart the display until he/she/it was arrested. Watch the video and laugh out loud when the police officer asks the skirt-wearing terrorist “you’re a male, right?”

Is the word “terrorist” too strong? The answer is no. A terrorist is someone who uses violence to coerce others into doing things his way. That is most certainly what the IPFW “student” was doing when he/she/it used violence to suppress political speech he did not like. The difference between “Terrence” and the Islamic terrorists who threatened to murder cartoonists who draw the “prophet” Mohammed is one of degree, not substance.

What GAP does is present the truth about abortion through photographs of aborted babies. Terrence the Terrorist wants to censor this message, because he/she/it does not want people to know what really happens in an abortion. By censoring the message of GAP, Terrence the Terrorist helps the abortion industry perpetuate the lie that the unborn are not human beings. After all, it is easier to slaughter a the most defenseless among us if we hide the truth about who they are.

“Terrence” demonstrates why GAP is effective. The pictures cut through the arguments about abortion in away that nothing else can. The anger and rage – and, often, the acts of violence – that we see in response to GAP is because abortion advocates are forced to admit exactly what it is that they support. I have seen minds changed as a result of the graphic photographs. Many women have decided they could not go through with an abortion after what they saw in those photographs. Small wonder the obscenely profitable abortion industry hates those pictures so much!

I call upon the Capital Care Network, which operates an abortion facility in Fort Wayne, to not only denounce this act of violence but to name it as an act of terrorism. Capital Care Network should demonstrate that it is committed to peaceful, civil discussion and debate about abortion by making it clear that acts of terrorism are unacceptable and inexcusable. No matter how fervently we disagree on the issue of abortion, violence can never be tolerated.

We need to get serious about balancing the budget

The Republican leadership in the House is talking about deep cuts in discretionary spending, along with eliminating earmarks to get the federal budget under control. Reducing discretionary spending will make a dent. Eliminating earmarks, while it is popular politically, will do virtually nothing to get federal spending under control. If Republicans (and President Obama) are serious about getting the deficit under control, we are going to need to take a serious look at entitlement spending.

Over the long term, we need genuine statesmen making the case for reforming Social Security and making individuals more responsible for their own retirement. Social Security is running in the black and has been doing so for a long time, but we are approaching a tipping point where SS will not only start running a loss, but those losses will get bigger and bigger. Newly elected Congressman Todd Young was right when he said that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

For a number of reasons, we are going to need to keep the commitment we have made to those already in the system or those who will be entering the system shortly. For younger Americans, we have to explain that the present course is unsustainable and will need to be changed. Democrats will shamelessly demagogue the issue, but Republicans will need to show courage in making the case for reform.

We are also going to have to get Medicaid and Medicare spending under control by reforming both systems. Those are the next two biggest entitlement spending portions of the federal budget after Social Security. Unfortunately, reforming these was made more difficult thanks to George W. Bush and the Republican Congress giving us a brand new federal entitlement program. Because Bush sold out conservative principles, we have a bigger problem to fix than we would have had otherwise. This is a lesson Republicans must learn.

The strength of the Tea Party movement means that now is the perfect time to make the case for other government assistance programs, from food stamps to unemployment, to be devolved to the states. Republicans did a poor job of making the case for this in the 1990’s and allowed Democrats to demagogue the issue. Republicans will need to educate the American people and begin to build support both in the general population before we begin making changes. We cannot devolve federal programs until Barack Obama is defeated anyway, but we can use the next two years to make the case for it.

We are on a path to fiscal destruction, and while Republicans have said some good things over the last couple years, it will not be enough. We see in Europe right now what our future will be if we continue on this course, and we cannot let that happen.

Failure? What failure? How could 2010 be a failure?

The Politico is reporting that Republican senators are fighting over failure, which leads to one very obvious question: what was the failure? The Republican Party captured 6 seats in the US Senate on top of 60 seats in the House of Representatives. Democrats went from 255 seats to only 188 in the 435-member House. Republicans now hold 239 seats, with a few races to be determined. Furthermore, as the Weekly Standard points out, Republicans won a greater percentage of U.S. Senate elections than U.S. House elections.

I honestly cannot see how that is a failure.

One of the places that country club Republicans point is Delaware, where true conservative Christine O’Donnell defeated RINO Mike Castle in the primary. Frankly, I would much rather lose than win with a RINO like Castle. Rachel Maddow illustrated why on her program last week, when she suggested that Republicans could work with Democrats on “comprehensive immigration reform.” After all, “several prominent Republicans” including Lindsay Graham, John McCain and George W. Bush made it a priority.

This is exactly why I would rather lose a seat like Delaware rather than win with a Leftist RINO – because the Leftist RINO becomes a tool of the Democrats. When country club Republicans like Castle vote with Democrats, they use that to add a cover of “bipartisanship” to their policies, as well as using the “moderates” to attack conservative Republicans for not being “reasonable” like McCain or Graham. Well, the era of McCain is over!

If having a majority is to mean anything, then Republicans have to stand for something. Country club Republicans like Graham are not interested in doing what is best for the country by advancing a set of core beliefs, they are interested in personal political power for themselves. I am especially disappointed in Trent Lott, who used to be a reliable conservative voice but apparently lost his spine several years ago after Democrats screeched in protest because he praised his friend Strom Thurmond at Thurmond’s birthday party.

What the country club Republicans do not like is that the conservative movement has put them on notice that simply having an “R” next to your name is not a guarantee of popular support, and we will be as active in primaries as we are in general elections. This is something newly-elected Republican Senator Dan Coats should remember, since 60% of Republicans rejected him in the May primary. Coats only won because the majority was split between the conservative candidates, allowing him to win with a plurality.