In defense of gruesome aborted baby pictures

Last Friday, I was at Tenth and Fee Lane volunteering at a display set up by Created Equal and IU Students for Life. The gruesome sandwich board size pictures of aborted fetuses are meant to educate young people about the reality of abortion and provoke conversations with students about this horrible atrocity.

I was surprised at how positive the reaction was to the display during the time I was there. A number of students thanked us for being there and said they were pro-life. There were only a few negative reactions. (The most aggressive negative reaction I saw was from a man who was infuriated by the display.) The positive reaction probably should not have surprised me as much as it did, considering surveys showing adults in their 20’s tend to be more anti-abortion than Generation X or Baby Boomers. Millennials have grown up with much more detailed images of unborn babies than their predecessors did, so that could be one reason.

The pictures themselves are shocking, and there are people on both sides of the abortion debate who oppose the use of graphic images. Let me address abortion opponents’ objections to the photographs.

Graphic images have been used throughout history to expose great evil. Images of bodies piled high in liberated concentration camps demonstrated the depravity of Nazi Germany in a way words cannot. The image of a brutalized Emmett Till showed the brutal way blacks were oppressed in the South, and Till’s murder is what motivated Rosa Parks to refuse to obey an unjust law forcing her to give up her seat on the bus to whites. Images of starving children in Africa have effectively pushed relief efforts for famine.

Now that historically effective method is being used to show the horrific results of abortion. Americans are easily distracted by arguments for or against abortion, and the fact that abortion is largely hidden from the public view allows tens of millions of people to be blissfully ignorant of the slaughter that happens in their cities. But abortion pictures cannot be explained away as “the products of conception.” You see even in early-term pregnancies that surgical abortion kills a fully-formed human being. The pictures shock the conscience.

I supported much more judicious use of aborted baby pictures until I personally saw how they changed minds and forced people our of their comfort zone by confronting them with reality. I know that people have been convicted of sin and accepted Christ as their savior at Genocide Awareness Project displays. Pictures make it impossible to deny what abortion does. The gruesome pictures are used because they work.

I was very impressed with Students For Life, which has reactivated and had a pretty big group of (almost entirely female) students at their training meeting the night before. It says a lot that these women are willing to stand with a controversial display at possibly the most heavily trafficked intersection on campus. I am looking forward to watching them stand for life over the course of the next school year.

Hillary Clinton and her supporters are tone deaf

I literally laughed out loud when I read this statement in the Washington Post:

After a year and a half of running for president, the Democratic nominee has concluded that many Americans still do not have a clear understanding of what motivates her or what she would do as president.

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for 25 years. People know who she is, her history, her beliefs, her character and her public policy agenda. That is why she has been unable to build a lead against Donald Trump, who is also completely unqualified to serve as President.

Her public policy agenda is typical liberal Democratic stuff: She is in favor of more restrictive gun laws, she is in favor of higher taxes and more regulation of business, she supports expanding the size of government with even more social programs, and she is radically pro-abortion to the point that she even voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion – a procedure so gruesome it is literally inches from infanticide.

For those not bothered about her policy agenda, there is her character: She is a well-documented liar. Just this past summer she was caught in multiple lies about her private e-mail server, which was itself designed to avoid transparency and hide her work as Secretary of State from the public. There are real concerns over pay-to-play (also known as bribery) with the Clinton Foundation – large donors getting priority to meet with her as Secretary of State. Plus there are the leftover scandals from her husband’s time as President, especially Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to destroy women who were intimate with or abused by Bill Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton’s problem is not that people do not know who she is. Mrs. Clinton’s problem is that people know exactly who she is. That is also why her fear-mongering about Donald Trump is not working, because many liberals (especially younger voters) who are attracted to the Libertarian or Green Party candidates see both Clinton and Trump as terrible. That Mrs. Clinton and her supporters do not see how weak and flawed she is as a candidate demonstrates how tone-deaf they are. The only reason Mrs. Clinton has a chance of being elected President this year is because her opponent is Donald Trump.

Do not just blindly vote for Democrats

Note: I submitted this as a letter to the editor to the Indiana Daily Student.

If you are a progressive student, you might be inclined to pull the straight ticket lever for Democrats, because you generally agree with Democrats and/or because you are particularly disturbed by Donald Trump. As someone who will have to live with the consequences of how you vote in local government elections long after you are gone, I urge you not to do that.

People who vote straight ticket Democrat without examining the qualifications, experience and ethics of down-ballot races are why we have corruption, massive financial mismanagement, and credit card fraud in county government. The Democrat elected as county Auditor in the Obama wave of 2008 committed credit card fraud using the county government credit card, and the Democrat who was elected county Auditor in 2012 is currently under investigation for the same thing!

Offices like Auditor and Treasurer have nothing to do with political ideology or policy. What matters in those races is the qualifications and (much more importantly) the ethics of the candidates. What matters is whether someone can balance the books and will operate with honesty and integrity. The Democrat running for Auditor cost the county $150,000 because she could not balance her books, while the “independent” candidate for Auditor (also a Democrat) served as Chief Deputy under the last two Auditors and did nothing about their abuses of power.

The Republican candidate for Auditor, Ann Boehm, has promised to uphold the highest ethical standards, will implement basic “best practices” and has promised that no employee will be terminated without cause or for political affiliation. This is a policy that has been needed for a long time, as experienced and qualified employees have been pushed out in favor of nepotism, cronyism and patronage.

The county Auditor’s race is just one race on the ballot, but every race should be considered on its own merits – especially at the county level. Please educate yourself about every race on your ballot in county government, and vote accordingly. Split your ticket to give the most deserving candidates your votes, especially in administrative positions that do not make policy.

Vote for Shaffer and White to ensure transparency

Bloomington Herald-Times, September 26, 2016

To the editor:

The county commissioners need to commit to full transparency, because the voters deserve nothing less. To achieve this goal, vote for Paul White and Nelson Shaffer.

Shaffer and White have pledged to use county government’s e-mail server for official business instead of using private e-mail accounts. Two of the incumbent county commissioners do this currently, and this practice needs to stop.

This is very simple: Official county business should be conducted on county government’s e-mail server in order to be fully transparent and to keep records of what the commissioners are doing. There is no way to know the records are being properly preserved if official business is conducted on a private e-mail account.

This is not a small issue. Government must be fully open and transparent to ensure the people are being represented well.

Please do not vote based on party affiliation. Do not just vote Democrat because you dislike Donald Trump. That philosophy has led to over a decade of mismanagement of county government finances as well as credit card fraud. We need to vote for local office on local qualifications.

Vote for transparency and open government. Vote for Nelson Shaffer and Paul White for Monroe County Commissioner.

War Crimes should not be official U.S. foreign policy

There has been some talk that the United States needs to take the “spoils of war,” especially regarding Middle eastern oil, as part of our various military interventions. This is a terrible idea, for a lot of reasons. First, foremost and primarily, plundering the wealth of a defeated enemy is a war crime. The victor is not permitted to take the “spoils” of war under international law, including treating signed by these United States. Pillage is prohibited by the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention.

Of course, the Bible also commands “Thou shalt not steal,” which is important for those who claim to be Christians. Even if international law did not ban pillage, Almighty God does prohibit it in His Word. We know from Romans 13 that all earthly authorities derive their power from God, so they are to obey His Word in how they use that authority. God will judge those who abuse the authority He gives them.

Even beyond the fact that it is illegal under the laws of God and man, pillage is an incredibly stupid foreign policy for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is that the United States does not need to pillage defeated enemies in order to defray costs of war. Yes, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was expensive, but we do not need to steal the Iraqis’ oil to pay for it. We are an obscenely wealthy country and we can absorb the costs of the war and occupation. Stealing Iraq’s national resources would be nothing but pure vindictiveness, for a preemptive war of choice on a nation that did not attack us.

Pillage would also destroy our moral authority and put us in the same category as our enemies. We fought a war in 1991 because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for the sole purpose of pillage. We are rightly horrified by Boko Haram kidnapping pre-teen and teenage girls as “spoils of war,” for forced marriage and rape. One of the things that was so monstrous about the Holocaust was that the Nazis even went so far as to steal the gold from their victims’ teeth after they had slaughtered them. We would be placing ourselves in the same category as those wicked regimes by making pillage official policy. We are also going to create more enemies if we become a nation of pillage.

Those who propose pillage are fundamentally un-serious, ignorant people who do not understand international law or U.S. law, or the effect it would have on our relationships with our allies or future enemies. This proposal should not be taken seriously by anyone, and those who actually advocate pillage should be mocked, shamed and condemned until they have the good sense to recant this wicked policy.

Three random thoughts

Hillary Clinton should renounce her husband’s support of brutal, murderous dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That we invaded Haiti to re-install this thug after he was forced from power is a shameful stain on American history.

People who vote straight ticket Democrat without examining the qualifications, experience and ethics of down-ballot races are why we have corruption, massive financial mismanagement, and credit card fraud in county government.

Now more than ever, it is critical that we have a President with a calm, even temperament and one who understands the importance of keeping our promises as a nation. Our allies need to know we will honor our commitments to them.

Already against the next war?

Unless you are a total pacifist, saying you are “already against the next war” is a very simple-minded statement.

Wars are fought based on all kinds of different justifications. Some wars are bad, and others are necessary. (No war is ever “good,” of course.)

Lumping them all in one basket shows a real lack of discernment and good judgment. We need leaders who take these decisions seriously.

I make an exception to the “simple minded” statement for pacifists because, while I disagree with pacifism, it is not necessarily simple-minded to automatically oppose war.

Shelli Yoder’s shady dealings, Part II

The reason Shelli Yoder’s vote to fund Planned Parenthood disqualifies her from serving in Congress is not necessarily that she voted “yes,” but that she did it in a dirty, underhanded, dishonorable, cowardly and dishonest way. Yoder exposed herself as an enemy of transparency and open government. Yoder proved that she does not even want to hear from her constituents in how she spends their money.

When the 2015 vote is discussed, it is easy to get sidetracked into a discussion of whether Planned Parenthood deserves funding. (It doesn’t, of course.) But the real scandal is not that Yoder voted to fund PP. The real scandal is that Yoder and her fellow Democrats on the county council fast-tracked a vote that had always taken place in October or November to the middle of August in a shameful attempt to hide it from the public.

Even if the funding had been for a worthwhile organization, this kind of behavior is deplorable. Yoder and her fellow Democrats knew that an upcoming vote would be controversial and they actively attempted to hide it from the public. Shelli Yoder and the county council Democrats did worse than ignoring the input of the public that pays their salary and health care benefits. They actively tried to silence opposition to their agenda by sneaking it through when no one was watching.

The three incumbents running for county council do not deserve re-election, and the three district representatives should also be fired in 2018. It is Yoder, though, who deserves the most scrutiny. Why? Because she wants the voters to give her a huge promotion (and a huge pay raise and pension) to serve in Congress. When we are electing someone to serve in Congress, character matters. Yoder shows she does not have the integrity we need to direct the incredibly powerful federal government. We cannot trust Shelli Yoder.

We need new leadership in city government

The handling of Mother Bear Pizza’s efforts to build a new shopping center on West Third Street – a project that would have created construction jobs and jobs for the businesses that would locate there – shows that the current philosophy of city government needs to change. We are not being served by the top-down approach of micromanaging development and business. (See here and here for more.)

Because of delays in the approval process, Mother Bear’s abandoned the West Third location and instead will renovate the old Smokey Bones building next to Kohl’s. Other tenants had already backed out of the project because of foot-dragging by city government. While the new plan will re-open a long-dormant building, the opportunity for greater development has been lost.

The problem is the basic philosophy of city government, in the planning commission and the city council. Instead of deferring to the private property rights of developers, the city council and plan commission want to direct development of land owned by other people in a way that will benefit “the community.” (Whatever that means.) One plan commission member said he wants the city council to allow “greater plan commission discretion over a building’s design” – meaning even more micromanagement of business.

This top-down, central planning approach is not the way city government should operate. The city obviously does have some interest in directing development. For example, if a poorly-designed project will create a traffic hazard or put too much of a strain on overcrowded streets, the city has an interest in regulating the area. But the idea that even such things as building design should be dictated by the city is absurd.

It should also be pointed out that a large national chain – for example, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart or Starbucks – will have the corporate resources to tough it out against city government. A small business will not have that kind of leverage. So the city government that allegedly wants to see more local businesses and fewer chains is actually making it easier for chains to come in at the expense of a local business.

We have a vibrant business community, despite the efforts of city government, because the economic engine known as Indiana University helps overcome some of the obstacles created by city government. We can be even better if we jettison the top-down approach in favor of a bottom-up approach more friendly to economic development, local business, and the jobs those businesses hope to create.