A few thoughts about Black Lives Matter

Conservatives should not categorically reject the Black Lives Matter movement. If we do so, we risk rejecting some of the very limited government principles we advocate. We do not have to agree with everything people within the Black Lives Matter movement do or say to recognize there are areas of common ground.

First, BLM is a grassroots organization, much like the Tea Party. There is no singular leader or single organization. Therefore, it is wrong to condemn the entire movement based on the actions of a few. When BLM activists chant for the death of police officers, that is sick and depraved. When BLM activists vomit despicable lies that police are targeting black people for fun, that is sick and depraved. But not all of BLM agrees with or supports calls for violence and defamatory lies.

Conservatives (especially Christian conservatives) believe in limited government because we recognize that human beings are inherently corrupt. We need government to restrain the wickedness of men, but we also need government to be restrained because those in government are also corrupted by sin. Is that not one of the biggest points of the BLM agenda? That government power should be limited?

Yes, there are problems with BLM. Picking the Michael Brown case as a core of the movement was wrong, because the reason Brown was killed was because he violently attacked and beat a police officer. But what about Eric Garner? He did not commit any violent act that led to his arrest. He was selling loose cigarettes, something greedy Democrat Bill DeBlasio could not allow. DeBlasio could not abide someone not collecting tax revenue for him. Why are conservatives not pointing this out?

Yes, Garner was breaking the law. Yes, he should have been told to move along. But did he need to be violently taken down? No, he did not. Conservatives complain all the time about government power and the nanny state, and this is an example of that. Garner died not because he was a violent thug, but because he was not collecting taxes on the cigarettes he sold. It was excessive force for a victimless crime.

Even in the case s where a shooting may be legally justifiable, we should ask: Was it necessary? Could it have been prevented? A core premise of conservatism and libertarianism is that government should not use more force on people than needed. Take the case of Tamir Rice. In the moment, he was shot, perhaps the police officer had legitimate reason to believe his life was in danger. But what about the moments leading up to that? Did the police need to get that close? Could the situation have been deescalated? Even when a shooting is legal, that does not mean it needed to happen.

Let’s not forget that one of the things oppressing blacks is the use of burdensome government regulations as a way to generate revenue instead of taxes. People are hit with a steep fine for a minor violation, then assessed a bigger fine when they do not pay, and then more fines on top of that. Do we conservatives believe in limited government or not? Do we not see there are political advantages in opposing these government regulations and the fines imposed for minor violations?

Obviously, I could go on and on and on. If conservatives really believe in limited government and individual liberty, we should listen to what Black Lives Matter has to say. Who knows? With the moderating influence of conservatives, maybe some of the more extreme elements of BLM can be discredited and lose influence within the movement. We can support police officers and oppose bad government policy. We have nothing to lose by listening and finding common ground. Let’s do that.

A few thoughts on plagiarism

Please allow me to tell you a little secret: Everyone is guilty of plagiarism. There’s not a single person on the planet who has an original thought and has not heavily borrowed from someone else. Everyone plagiarizes everyone else, so the real question is where plagiarism becomes something that is no longer acceptable.

We are all shaped by our experiences. Our parents, our siblings and our friends, along with what we read, watch and listen to all help us formulate our thoughts, our principles, and why we believe the way we do. We all use phrases in our everyday speech we have picked up from somewhere else. For those of us who write, those things wind up in our writings. Let’s not pretend that using someone else’s ideas is something that only truly abhorrent people do. We are all guilty, and there is nothing at all wrong with that.

Now, let me be clear: This is not to excuse egregious plagiarism. If a student copy-pastes whole sections of text from a website into his term paper, presenting it as something he wrote himself without crediting the author, he is guilty of severe academic misconduct and should be disciplined for it. A politician who lifts large sections of speeches from someone else without proper attribution should be publicly mocked and shamed. We all know there is a line where we are outright stealing someone else’s work and we are morally wrong in doing so.

But let’s all be honest here. Pastors freely use theological analysis from two thousand years of church history. Opinion writers consume hundreds of other opinion pieces and we craft what we have learned into our own arguments. Even the fact that we are able to speak and write is taking someone else’s knowledge and using it as our own. My two-year-old son recently started saying “thank you” when given something and I was not sure where he got it from as I had not been working with him on it. Someone pointed out he probably picked it up from me thanking him when he does as he is told. That is a good kind of “plagiarism.”

So yes, we should shame those who openly steal large blocks of someone’s work verbatim and present it as “original content.” In fact, it amazes me that any public figure would think he or she can get away with plagiarism, with the 24/7 news cycle and social media picking apart every single word someone says! But let’s not pretend that we should all live in some sort of bubble where we are all producing only original context. That is not and will never be the case.

Open government and transparency, revisited

The premise of my guest editorial last week – that elected county administrators should be using county government’s e-mail server – was not a controversial premise. My column nonetheless was controversial. Some of that was because I am the one who wrote it, and there are a number of Leftists who will react angrily to anything I write because they dislike me personally. Some of the complaints were because I unnecessarily “politicized” the issue, with the goal of scoring political points.

My response to that criticism: Hogwash. Of course this is a political issue. Thomas and Stoffers are elected officials. As elected officials, they are accountable to the public for what they do, and the voters deserve to be educated about what their elected representatives are doing in county government. The actions of elected officials are inherently political actions and should be addressed in a political context. And let’s not forget that Julie Thomas is up for re-election this fall. Her handling of her e-mail is an important issue for voters to consider in whether they will hand her another four-year term.

Leftists know this is absolutely a political issue, which is why they do not want it politicized. They would rather it be a dry policy discussion when it could potentially damage their favored candidates. But their hypocrisy is obvious. When Leftists write letters to the editor or guest editorials criticizing Republican elected officials for actions in office, you do not see other Leftists whining that the official conduct should not be politicized.

When it comes to transparency and open government, there’s no argument here – official communications should be stored and backed up on county e-mail servers, not someone’s private Gmail account or someone’s private Hotmail account. It speaks volumes that not a single Leftist who criticized me presented a substantive argument for why I am wrong on the issue of transparency. None of them even attempted to do so. If your only argument against my editorial is that I made a political point about what politicians are doing in their official capacity, then you have no argument. You are simply whining that politicians you support got caught.

Black Lives Matter raises important issues

Bloomington Herald-Times, July 23, 2016

To the editor:

In April of 2013, Elizabeth Daly purchased bottled water and was accosted by plainclothes law enforcement who thought she illegally purchased alcohol. “One agent pulled a gun as another jumped on the hood of Daly’s car,” according to the Huffington Post. She fled, not knowing her assailants were law enforcement, and went to jail. Daly sued for damages, winning a $212,500 settlement.

See:

Daly survived. Eric Garner did not. He died to satisfy New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s greed for tax money. Garner was selling loose cigarettes without collecting the necessary taxes. Was he breaking the law, and should he have been told to stop? Yes. Should he have been arrested and violently taken down, for what is at worst a minor infraction? No.

I attended the Black Lives Matter rally on July 16. I do not agree with everything BLM says or does, but they raise issues that should be addressed. These include excessive force, the militarization of police, and using excessive fines as a way of raising revenue for local government. This practice (common in Ferguson) has crushed many poor blacks caught in a cycle of penalties and jail time for non-payment.

"Law and Order"

The “law and order” rhetoric we are seeing lately is worrisome. So many people – Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, Right and Left – are finally starting to understand that the “law and order” policies of the 80s and 90s were an overreaction. Too many laws and too many people in prison. Too many young people branded as super-predators, meaning they were hopeless. We are about to fall right back into those errors. It is just sad.

Ted Cruz was right to not endorse Donald Trump

When Donald Trump viciously personally attacked and smeared Ted Cruz’s wife he lost all claim on an endorsement by Cruz. Frankly, I would lose respect for Cruz if he endorsed the man who attacked his wife the way Trump smeared Heidi Cruz.

Then Trump went farther. Much farther. He viciously personally attacked, defamed, slandered and smeared Cruz’s father – AFTER Trump had clinched the nomination. There was absolutely no reason to do this. None. It was nothing but pure vindictiveness and spite, nothing more. And that kind of vindictive and hateful behavior raises serious concerns about this man having access to our nuclear arsenal.

Trump nullified any claim on a Cruz endorsement when he attacked Cruz’s wife and father. There are some places you do not go and some things you do not get to come back from. Frankly, Trump is lucky Cruz did not knock his teeth down his throat.

Trump is the one who chose to make it personal with vicious personal attacks and smears on Ted Cruz’s wife and father. And who knows? Trump may have been able to secure a Cruz endorsement if he had been a man instead of a tantrum-throwing spoiled child, and apologized for his wicked behavior. Trump clearly does not have the personal integrity to do that.

There are consequences when you behave this way. There are consequences when you go after a man’s family. There is nobody to blame for that but Trump. This is 100% his fault.

Yes, Cruz made a pledge during the primary to support the nominee, as did the other candidates. Cruz is also bound by his Christian faith to honor his wife and honor his father. Let’s not be purists here. We all know there is a line where someone who pledges to support the nominee is justified in abandoning that pledge. If Trump walked into an elementary school with an AR-15 and murdered 30 kindergartners, then obviously no one would be obligated to support him regardless of what pledge he signed .

Lets not pretend that line does not exist, because we all know it does. The question is where that line falls, not whether there is a line. The Republican Party is a political party, not a cult. Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President, not a messiah or a prophet. And frankly, I have absolutely no interest in being part of a cult. The only God I worship is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Citizens for Life

Christian Citizens for Life is Monroe County’s anti-abortion organization, committed to defending all innocent human life from fertilization to natural death. They do quite a bit to advocate for the unborn and educate the public about life issues and local public policy. Here is how to follow CCFL:

  • ChristianCitizensForLife.com – CCFL’s website is the primary source of information about what CCFL is doing and is a good place to keep up.
  • CCFL on Twitter – Follow CCFL for updates in your social network news feed.
  • CCFL on YouTube – CCFL has uploaded several videos of recent events and will be uploading more going forward. If you cannot attend an event, you may be able to watch it later.

In addition to following CCFL online, you can participate in CCFL’s community events. There are three events that take place every year, plus more that pop up. Follow the CCFL events page for details.

Rally for Life: Every January, CCFL sadly remembers the Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all 50 states and opened the floodgates allowing the slaughter of 50 million unborn babies. There are always good speakers, free hot chocolate, and a reminder that you are not alone.

Monroe County Fair booth: CCFL reaches out to the community every summer with a booth at the county fair, handing out literature and hoping to educate people about the horror of abortion. Stop by and say hi!

Life Chain: CCFL stretches a Life Chain along Third Street every October with a pro-life message. This is part of the National Life Chain that takes place all across the nation the same day.

Everything CCFL does takes money. It costs money to reserve the courthouse, pay for insurance, reserve the fair booth and host the website. If you want to help CCFL stand for life in Monroe County, you can send a check to P.O. Box 2043, Bloomington, IN 47402. CCFL is currently exploring options for online donations.

Evan Bayh is a carpetbagger

Here’s an interesting article from bizjournals.com, published on May 28, 2015:

Bayh — formally known to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue as Birch Evans Bayh III – and his wife, Susan, paid $2.9 million for a four-bedroom home on N Street Northwest in Georgetown in March.

The former Democratic senator from Indiana, now a partner at the K Street office of McGuireWoods, said he would have been just as happy staying in Spring Valley. But with their two kids off to college, the big six-bedroom, Georgia-style brick home was more than the couple needed.

“Carpetbagger: Someone who tries to be elected as a politician in a place away from their home because they think there is a greater chance of succeeding there.”

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/carpetbagger

That describes Evan Bayh perfectly. He’s been living out of the state of Indiana for years. He is a Washington DC lobbyist. His home is Washington, DC, not Indiana. Bayh only coming back to Indiana because he smells an opportunity, and because he wants to buy a U.S. Senate seat with the $9 million in unspent campaign cash from his previous time in the Senate.

The ex-Supersonics do not deserve loyalty from players

It is basically impossible for me to have any sympathy for the Oklahoma City Thunder now that they have lost Kevin Durant, and any chance of sympathy was lost in 2008. That is the year that franchise abandoned the city of Seattle and moved to Oklahoma City in the first place. One could say that Durant is leaving the Thunder the way the Thunder left Seattle, but the Thunder team still exists. That was not the case for the city of Seattle, which has been without an NBA team for eight years.

Now, I do not have any particular grudge against the Thunder for leaving Seattle. I just find the hypocrisy of Thunder fans to be extremely galling. They all need to remove a giant Redwood tree from their eyes before they can see clearly to remove a speck of dust from Durant’s eye.

Come on now. How many people have left a job for a better one? How many people have left a job for more money, a better work environment, an easier commute, more opportunity for advancement, more responsibility or some combination of those factors? I know I have done it. I would bet that most of the people hating on Durant (including Thunder fans calling him a “traitor”) have done it too.

The NBA is a business just like any other business, and employees change jobs all the time. That does not make them bad people, or disloyal employees. It means they are making the best decision for themselves, their family and their careers. Furthermore, we need to be brutally honest for a minute. If the Thunder (the ex-Supersonics) had the chance to make their team better by trading Durant, do you think they would hesitate to dump him? No, they would not. Yes, it’s difficult to imagine how trading away Durant at this point would make the Thunder better, but we should not fool ourselves.

But ultimately, everyone needs to chill out. This is just a game. It is an escape and a means to have fun. People get way to wrapped up in this sort of thing and it is not worth that level of anger. Sports are not a god, though you would think they are from how offended people get at the slightest little thing.