In five of the last six national elections…

Much has been said since 2012 about the Republican candidate losing the popular vote in five of the last six elections for President and what it means for 2016, but it’s important to have some perspective on this number. It is actually not as bad as it appears at first glance, especially when that number is compared to the Democrats’ results in the popular vote since Jimmy Carter was elected.

Ronald Reagan, of course, won the popular vote in 1980 and 1984. George H. W. Bush won the popular vote in 1998. But while Bush lost the popular vote in 1992, Bill Clinton did not exactly “win” it. In afct, he was elected President despite winning only 43% of the vote. Clinton then got only 49% of the vote in 1996, meaning that 51% of voters wanted to replace the incumbent Democratic President. Four years after that, Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush, but again failed to win a majority of the popular vote.

Prior to Barack Obama winning the White House in 2008, Democrats had failed to win a majority of the popular vote in seven consecutive elections.When Obama won a majority in 2008, it was the first time a Democratic candidate for President had won the popular vote in thirty-two years. That victory by the Democratic candidate was a historic event, because of the consistent failure to win a popular vote majority, and would have been regardless of Obama’s skin pigmentation.

So, yes, Republicans have been in a popular vote drought since 1988, with 2004 being the lone exception. But does anyone remember the talk about a “permanent Republican majority” after the 2004 election? That lasted all of two years, when Democrats captured the House and Senate in 2006. Obama would win the Presidency two years after that, but talk of a permanent shift in our politics was ended by a Republican landslide in 2010.

The bottom line is politics is a very shaky business, and talk of any sort of permanence is foolish.

Learn to drive or get off the road!

Note: I originally wrote this in February of 2009.

For several years now, I have been confounded by one of life’s great mysteries. Why is it that when the light turns green, so many people are not prepared to move and thus obstruct traffic? I simply cannot figure it out. Why is this so hard? All one has to do is watch the other street’s light, and when it turns yellow you know your light will be changing within seconds. You can then be prepared to move.

Also, if you are sitting at a red light, do not leave a large amount of space between you and the next vehicle. You do not need to be on someone’s bumper, but when there is several feet of space and multiple cars waiting, that “dead space” can prevent someone from turning from a parking lot into the lane when there is no oncoming traffic.

I’m also amazed that some people feel compelled to get out of their vehicle while stopped at a red light. Thankfully, this is rare, but I observed a near-accident on the bypass when some fool opened up his driver’s side door and the person passing him in the left turn lane had to swerve to avoid taking out the idiot’s door. What could this person have possibly been thinking when he did that, in the middle of morning rush hour traffic?

The worst behavior I’ve seen, though, is from people who are so self-centered that they feel they are above deferring to an ambulance or other emergency vehicle. When an emergency vehicle is coming, you pull over as much as possible and stop. No debate, no exceptions, end of discussion. There are few things that infuriate me more than fools who honk at me or whip around me because I am doing the proper thing by giving the ambulance as much room as possible.

Think about it for a second. If you were seriously injured or suffering a heart attack, what would you think of someone who delayed the ambulance getting to you because they wanted to get to the grocery a few seconds faster? In an emergency where seconds matter, what if you caused a family member to die by selfishly refusing to yield to an emergency vehicle as required by law?

There is a Biblical principle here too. God’s Word commands us to obey the authority God has placed over us. When someone breaks the law by refusing to yield to an emergency vehicle, he not only defies the civil authority. He is in rebellion against God Himself, and those who behave in such a manner “shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2) Stop for that ambulance and yield as much room as possible. The few seconds you save are simply not worth it.

The hypocrisy of opposing intolerance by being intolerant

Indiana Daily Student columnist Evan Stahr demonstrated last week that he does not understand the nature of tolerance, much less freedom of speech or academic freedom. As an example, take these three statements from his editorial in the IDS.

  • It is up to the community of IU students to keep bigots off campus.
  • Every time I see an advertisement for hate, it is taken down or painted over within a day.
  • They need to be sent a strong, unmistakable message — you are not welcome here.

The group Stahr wants to force off campus is one that will get no support or sympathy from many (if any) outside that small student group – that student group claims to be a “white nationalist” group and has ties to the Ku Klux Klan. (Yes, those people are still around in 2014, and in Bloomington.) Opposition to this wicked ideology is universal across the political spectrum, from Republicans, Democrats and independents.

But here is the problem: It is not up to would-be vigilantes like Stahr, or even the IU administration, to decide that the “traditional youth” movement or the students who support that movement do not belong on the campus of a public university. As long as the self-described white nationalists are obeying the law and not breaking university rules of conduct, they have every right to be on campus spreading their message, no matter how sinful that message is. Such is the nature of free speech.

Censorship does nothing but elevate the white nationalists and makes the censors look like they do not have the intellectual capacity or emotional stability needed to refute easily refutable arguments. Violence against the white nationalists – which has happened – is even more counterproductive because it is not only immoral and illegal, but it completely discredits the people engaged in it. No one is going to respect your argument or you as a person if your first reaction is censorship, or worse, violence.

But this sort of attitude has implications far beyond some unsavory white nationalists. Extreme Leftists who engage in censorship by mob rule as a matter of normal behavior will not stop once the white nationalists are gone. Instead, they will turn to others. It could be anti-abortion students, Christian students openly advocating Biblical sexual morality, or opponents of affirmative action. This has dangerous implications for free speech, free thought and academic freedom. The university administration needs to step up and say that all views – no matter how abhorrent – are welcome at Indiana University.

Thoughts on the "Slut Walk" and effective protest

Is the “Slut Walk” really the best way to attack rape culture, or does the silliness of the event distract from the important message that the protesters are trying to promote – that victims of rape are not responsible for the violent acts committed against them? I think the answer is obvious: This is a silly sideshow that does not advance the cause of victims’ rights. Circuses rarely do.

This is not to say there is not a legitimate point to be made. The event originated when a Toronto police officer said that women could avoid getting raped if they did not dress like “sluts.” This is a deplorable statement, obviously – no victim of violent crime consents to being victimized. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist himself. Too many people still think that rape victims are “asking for it” somehow, and that attitude needs to be changed – but this is not the way to change it.

But when feminists are walking around campus wearing nothing but a bra from the waist up or “wearing opened button-down shirts with tape covering their nipples,” they are not treating a sensitive issue with the intellectual seriousness it demands. Take Back the Night already spreads that message in various ways, including the chant “whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no.” Dressing in an indecent manner does not convince anyone of your argument. You might as well be putting on a clown nose and wig.

The “Slut Walk” did get some unsavory opposition, when a “white nationalist” group showed up to counter-protest. Feminists responded by using bed sheets to cover the group’s signs. I often wonder where feminists come bed linens so quickly, so they can use them to censor speech they do not like.

You will thankfully not find much support for a “white nationalist” group in Bloomington, but the reaction was exactly the wrong thing to do. By covering up, stealing or destroying their signs (and worse, physically assaulting them) “Slut Walk” activists did nothing but elevate the Trad Youth movement. Feminists also make themselves look dangerously emotionally unstable and mentally unhinged. If Trad Youth’s message is so offensive, let that message be discredited in the marketplace of ideas. Censorship by violent mob rule only serves to discredit the mob and bring sympathy on the group being censored.

At the end of the day, an event that was guaranteed to be a farce became an even bigger farce than anticipated. I have attended and supported Take Back the Night in the past (and I hope to do that again this Fall) but I would never attend a “Slut Walk” or support such an event. There are better ways of spreading an anti-crime message, and violence is never under any circumstances the answer to offensive speech.

"Beethoven" mini-review

I watched Beethoven for the first time last weekend. It is a good movie – very entertaining – but it is really dark. Much darker than I expected, especially for a Disney movie. The Mafia is testing new ammunition so a Mafia veterinarian is providing dogs to be shot in the head? Very dark. Then two Mafia thugs get mauled to death by Doberman Pinschers at the end, off-screen.

An offensive glurge about the "world’s toughest job"

I roll my eyes and sigh at a lot of the stupid memes that travel around the Internet, and with the advent of social media I am seeing a lot more glurge than I did ten years ago. The world’s toughest job video is especially offensive.

First, no matter what the “point” the video’s makers were trying to make, the tactics used are cruel, hateful, unethical and mean-spirited. In this depressed economy, with tens of millions out of work, giving people a false hope in order to prank them and put it on YouTube is sick and depraved. Even if the message was a good one, I have no interest in hearing what these people have to say. It is disgusting. I am sure they got a few people who told them what they could do with their prank using very colorful language.

Second, what are the fathers doing while the mothers are doing the “world’s toughest job?” I guess we must all be drinking beer, farting and burping. That’s all we’re good for, apparently. Obviously, the fathers don’t rock the baby or give him a bottle at 3:00 am so mommy can sleep. Definitely not. We need to make sure we get plenty of sleep so we can burp and fart and drink beer tomorrow. That is some important work that simply cannot be done if we are helping the women folk with the “world’s toughest job.”

I am the father of a two-year old and a newborn, so I certainly do not deny that motherhood is difficult. So is fatherhood, and both are difficult in different ways. It is counterproductive, yet typical of our victim culture that we have to elevate our own hardships to being so terrible no one else could bear them, and exaggerate how severe those hardships are. After all, I used to walk four miles to school, barefoot, in 18 inches of snow, uphill both ways. And I had to carry 100 pounds of books on my back after not getting enough to eat that morning.

Finally, this video represents our culture’s hatred of children. Motherhood is portrayed as the most grueling and demanding work possible. Children are not a joy, they are a heavy burden. (If you are training them properly, that burden will not only lessen over time, they will start to help.) If people actually believe the nonsense spouted by this video, is it any surprise that many do not want children at all?

The United States of SWAT

From an excellent article at National Review Online:

Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was “visited” by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright’s estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn’t been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.

Read more at National Review Online.

Why does the Department of Education need a SWAT team?

Kruzan’s secrecy is not acceptable

The scandal surrounding the Bloomington city employee who allegedly conspired to defraud city government out of $800,000 has brought forth some really weak defenses for the actions of Mayor Kruzan’s administration, as well as attempts to dodge legitimate criticism entirely.

Kruzan’s defenders whined that I was “politicizing” the scandal in my letter to the editor last week. This is a typical tactic used when a politician is revealed to be incompetent or has committed some sort of malfeasance. Instead of addressing the arguments made, Kruzan’s defenders whine, “Oh the criticism is political.” But that does not address why the employee was able to get away with the fraud for over two years. Why did the city’s accounting team not catch these fraudulent invoices? Why were the auditing procedures not sufficient to catch this sooner? These questions remain, and whining about the criticism of Kruzan being “political” is a pathetic non-dodge.

Now, let’s be real. Of course this is political. When you are dealing with the performance of elected officials and government agencies, such matters are inherently political. You better believe that if a Republican were Mayor, he would be facing criticisms from the Left, just as Republican officials in county government have faced harsh criticisms when they have made errors in the past. Let’s drop the hypocritical whining about the political aspects of this scandal.

I have been accused of “blaming” Mayor Kruzan for this scandal. I did no such thing. The only person to “blame” for the theft is the city employee himself. That said, the obviously insufficient internal financial controls that allowed this fraud to continue are legitimate areas of concern and ultimately Kruzan is responsible here. Kruzan is the Mayor and is the top authority over city employees. Like it or not, the buck stops with him.

Furthermore, Kruzan deserves 100% of the blame for his administration’s actions surrounding this scandal. The idea that such secrecy is needed is absolutely absurd, as I demonstrated in my post on April 11. The nature of financial records that are open to the public does not change simply because there is a criminal investigation. The question remains: What is Kruzan trying to hide? What sort of political embarrassment will come from releasing the records that he is morally, legally and ethically obligated to release?

This is why Mark Kruzan needs to be challenged in 2015. If the Republican Party cannot find someone who is willing to provide voters a choice, someone needs to file as a write-in candidate. Kruzan should not go into the general election with no option for voters to choose someone else. While the odds of electing a Republican as Mayor are virtually zero (and the odds of a write-in candidate winning are even less) the voters deserve an opportunity to make that choice.

Never forget the massacre in Waco!

Twenty-one years ago today, the Branch Davidian cult was massacred in Waco, Texas. Never forget this crime.

Twenty years ago today: Never forget Waco! — April 19, 2013

The botched raid in Waco – 20 years ago today — February 28, 2013

Lessons from Waco, 19 years later — April 19, 2012

The Waco massacre, 15 years later: Never again! — April 18, 2008

There must never be another Waco — April 26, 2006