Sometimes, stuff happens and nobody is to blame

I have two sons. Over the last five years, it has been very clear to me how quickly children can dart away – but I was already familiar with that concept because I have been an uncle since 1977. Kids scamper off, kids lag behind, kids get distracted, and kids are not aware of their surroundings. Occasionally, that can have tragic or near-tragic outcomes. Many times, nobody is negligent, nobody is reckless, and nobody is malicious. Stuff happens and no one is to blame.

This beings me to another excellent editorial by Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids at Reason, and it is a reminder to all of us that sometimes, stuff happens. You cannot watch a child’s every movement at all times. After the outrage over the killing of a gorilla, Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters determined that there was no negligence by the mother. “She was being attentive to her children by all witness accounts,” he told the New York Times, “and the 3-year-old just scampered off.”

Continue reading

A few thoughts on Syria

I have been saying for years that we should not be involved militarily in Syria. (See here and here and here for more.)

The mess we face today is a direct result of Barack Obama unilaterally sending our military there without Congressional approval, after saying he did not have that authority. If we did not get ourselves entangled in this mess in the first place, we would not need to have a debate now about withdrawing our troops.

If Congress thinks we need to have our military in Syria, they should put on their big boy pants on and do their jobs. Pass an authorization to use military force. Stop ceding your power to the executive branch, you cowards.

Quiet week coming

Unless I get really fired up about something and want to comment right away, there won’t be any new blog posts this week.

Normally all posts in any given week were written and scheduled for publication the previous week. Last week I had no motivation to write anything, as I was wiped out by a particularly nasty virus.

Blogging should return to normal next week.

Good ends and questionable means

I have been a critic of land-use policy in local government for over two decades, back to when I was a college student. I have long believed that it is too restrictive and should be relaxed, so part of me is happy to see “YIMBY” legislation pushed by Senator Todd Young and Representative Trey Hollingsworth. Young lived in Bloomington for years, and only recently moved to Indianapolis, so he has seen first hand how local government can be overly intrusive. One overlooked aspect of the housing shortage and homeless problem is how local government’s regulations prevent the construction of necessary housing infrastructure.

But is federal legislation really the best solution?

Continue reading

A few thoughts on Donald Trump and Ukraine

Take politics out of this for a minute: Of course the sitting President should encourage Ukraine to investigate a former Vice President if there is evidence of criminal activity. If Joe Biden abused his authority to halt an investigation into his son by sacking a prosecutor investigating his son, that is a serious problem and the American people deserve answers. Joe Biden is not above the law, and he is not immune to prosecution just because it might politically benefit Republicans.

Remember all of the calls for criminal prosecution of George W. Bush after Barack Obama took office? Many of the same people who are furious with Trump for wanting to look into Joe Biden were calling for Obama to do the same to Bush. If it is bad for the President to use his authority to go after political rivals, it is just as bad for Obama to do it as it is for Trump. The partisan hypocrisy never ends, which makes it impossible to believe these arguments about Trump’s alleged corruption are being made in good faith.

Continue reading

An overapplication of the “initiation of force” principle

I was listening to a libertarian podcast last week where one person was arguing that no one signed a consent form for the police to pull you over for a broken tail light, so police should not be allowed to do that. That is certainly an… interesting position to take.

But actually, you did sign a contract, and agreed to obey the law, when you got a drivers license. When basic safety features on your car do not work, you are in violation of that agreement. If you do not want to abide by that agreement, then do not drive on public streets. For Christians, the obligation to obey the law (unless we are ordered to sin) is made clear in Romans 13, because all authority is established by God.

Continue reading

We must protect human rights of prisoners

Printed in the Herald-Times, September 29, 2019

To the Editor:

The death of Jeffrey Epstein has led to innumerable conspiracy theory posts on social media, with many arguing that it is not plausible that he killed himself. It is actually not nearly as implausible as people would like to think. This is one more example of a broader national scandal. The way we treat people in our prisons and jails is abominable.

Continue reading

Stop mutilating the law for political ends

If you want to argue for protections for homosexual and transgender employees from discrimination as a matter of policy, fine, make that case. But to argue that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes such discrimination illegal is patently absurd.

First: The law was passed in 1964, and you have to take the original intent into account. There is no way Congress intended to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) illegal in 1964. Sodomy was a criminal offense in every state in the nation, with Illinois the only exception.

Continue reading