Quick note about Facebook

Despite the memes you may have seen, typing BFF on Facebook doesn’t prove your account is secure. There are certain words, phrases and abbreviations that Facebook highlights, and you get a little animation when you click on them.

One of those words is congrats, and another is xoxo.

The best way to ensure your Facebook account is secure is not to type certain keywords (which does nothing) but to enable two-factor authentication.

Addressing some anti-gun arguments

The reason gun control advocates are often dismissed by gun-rights advocates is that too many of them operate from one or more flawed premises. This includes the arguments made by gun-rights advocates and the traditional orthodox understanding of Scripture. I will address a couple of those flawed premises here.

Gun-rights advocates are not saying that anyone should have any weapon for any reason. As has been pointed out many times by gun-rights advocates, a number of weapons are already illegal. You cannot legally own a machine gun. You cannot legally own a rocket launcher, a tank, a stash of mustard gas or a nuclear weapon. The idea that gun-rights advocates want an unlimited right to keep and bear arms is a straw man.

Many people would disagree with the claim that the weapons Leftists want to ban “have no legitimate defensive purpose.” An AR-15, for example (which is not a military weapon, nor is it a machine gun) is considered by many to be ideal for home defense and many people have in fact used it for that exact purpose – and preserved their lives and the lives of their families in doing so.

It is true that the text of the Second Amendment does not mention hunting, but historical context matters. Hunting was common at the time the amendment was written, so that should be assumed to be protected. (Plus, there is the Ninth Amendment.) God made man omnivorous, and eating meat from an animal a hunter killed himself is no different from eating meat purchased from the store. It could easily be argued that hunting is more humane than buying meat at the store.

Furthermore, there are plenty of verses in Scripture about the justifiable use of lethal force in defense of one’s own life or the life of someone else. In the Old Testament, this includes Nehemiah 4:8-18 and Exodus 22:2. (It is important to remember that Jesus is the same God as the God of the OT.) In the New Testament, husbands specifically are commanded to provide for their families (see 1 Timothy 5:8 and Ephesians 5:25) and that includes protecting the family from those who would do harm.

If you are going to argue for gun control, then you need to accurately represent the arguments of gun rights advocates. That is the honorable thing to do, and it makes your argument more effective.

Video game memories: Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI (originally released for the Super NES as Final Fantasy III) is my favorite video game of all time. It is not the best game of all time, or even the best Square-Enix RPG of all time. Just a year later, Chrono Trigger came out and was in many ways better. But FFVI is still my favorite game of all time.

First, you had an enormous cast of characters. If you keep Shadow from dying and recruit everyone in the World of Ruin, you will have 14 characters when it is time to storm Kefka’s tower at the end of the game. (I left Gau and Umaro on the airship as I went after Kefka the first time, because they could not be controlled.) This presents an incredible array of abilities and personalities, and some cut scenes are different depending on who is in your party. When I played Final Fantasy VII on PC, I was disappointed by the smaller cast.

Despite such a large cast, Square did a good job in making it feel like we knew each of these characters before the final battle, especially if we completed all of the side quests. From Locke’s grief over losing his girlfriend to Celes’ quest for redemption, this was the first role-playing game I played where the characters were more than just blank slates who would hit things really hard. I actually cared about what happened to them.

There were also iconic moments that did not feel forced. From Kefka committing genocide to bring the kingdom of Doma to surrender and the fallout from that, to the birth of a baby in Mobliz, to the supremely well-directed opera scene, this game was incredibly memorable. Kefka starts as a silly character trudging across the desert, becomes a truly vile antagonist, and then takes over the world and has to be overthrown. He is a thorn in your side almost from the very beginning.

There are some things that do not make sense, like why people are still using melee weapons when there are robots and machine guns and laser cannons. But this is to be expected: It is a mid-1990’s RPG, after all. Kefka probably should have vaporized Celes as soon as she started gathering the characters together to take him down. But overall, this is just an amazing game. Best of all, you do not have to track down a cartridge for 25 year old console, because you can download it on Google Play, the Apple App Store and Steam. If you have the time, you should check it out.

Stop complaining about Richard Mourdock

I understand why there is still frustration in Indiana over losing a U.S. Senate race in 2012. This was, by all rights, a race that we should have won. We should be trying to hold an open seat or retain an incumbent Republican, not trying to unseat an incumbent Democrat. But do we really need to continue to second-guess Richard Mourdock for his infamous comments in a debate with Joe Donnelly?

I am frankly sick of hearing about this. In fact, I was sick of hearing about this about four days after he said it, and that was six years ago. It is long past time to move on.

Let’s be real here. We have all worded things poorly, especially when put on the spot. We have all blanked the answer to a question where we knew the answer. Every single one of us has done this, without exception. The difference is that most of us do not have our flubbed answer turn into an international news headline and a major campaign issue for every race in the nation. To continue to second guess and attack Mourdock for what he said, six years after the fact, is utterly repulsive. The pile on happened six years ago.

Mourdock has not run for office since he lost that U.S. Senate race in 2012. He probably will never run for anything at this point because of how much his reputation has been trashed and how even the Republican Party is afraid to be associated with him. This is unfortunate, because he is a solid conservative with a firm grasp of public policy, but it is what it is. But now that Mourdock’s political career is over, it is time to let it go and leave him be. Richard Mourdock is a good man and deserves better than this, especially so long after his infamous answer on that debate stage. Everything that can be said has been said. Let it go.

Evangelical Christians do not care about children?

I do not accept your premise. That, in a nutshell, is my response to a Raw Story article on why evangelical Christians do not care about anything other than abortion, and certainly do not care about real victims. I do not accept the premise that if we do not adopt Bradley Onishi’s positions on the laundry list of issues he presents that we do not care about children.

First of all, the reason millions of Christians are single-issue voters on abortion is the magnitude of the tragedy. Surgical abortions are way down compared to a quarter century ago but we are still seeing nearly a million babies killed every single year. In 2016 alone in Monroe County, there were over 1,000 abortions. No other tragedy comes close to the sheer body count of abortion.

As far as the list of issues, each one could be its own post, so my refutation will be far from exhaustive.

The thing Onishi latches onto is gun control – how can you claim to be pro-life and not oppose our gun culture? How can you be pro-life and not want to “do something” about guns? But this is the first case of “I do not accept your premise.” I simply do not believe that it is against pro-life principles to support the right to own guns, including so-called “assault rifles.” I believe it is pro-life to support the right to self-defense, both against criminals and (in a scenario I hope never happens) against a tyrannical government.

I do not accept the premise that support for expanding our massive social welfare system is necessary to be pro-life, or that it is not pro-life to support reducing the size of that system. Christians are called to care for the poor, but in Scripture that is an individual and church responsibility. There are many policy arguments about what is the best way to care for the poor. One could argue that the current social welfare system is the opposite of pro-life because of how the state has replaced fathers and enabled men to abandon their responsibilities.

Regarding war, there is disagreement among Christian conservatives on when and why we should engage in military conflict. I have become much more non-interventionist over the years, and many Christians I know worry about our willingness to go to war willy-nilly. Many Christians are also opposed to the expansion of government security theater and restrictions on civil liberties that follows military action.

But there are also arguments to be made that various military actions are needed to protect ourselves from our enemies. Whether I disagree with those rationalizations or not, that does not mean it is inconsistent with a pro-life message. I think the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake, for example. Hawks and non-interventionists have different definitions of what it means to be pro-life. So, again, I do not accept the premise.

I also do not accept Onishi’s premise on what it means to “love” people engaged in sexual immorality. It certainly is not loving to endorse sexual immorality, because we want those in sin to repent and be reconciled to God. Obviously, no one should be bullied, beaten or murdered. Our government school systems need to act against bullying, and our criminal justice system needs to prosecute and punish behavior when it violates the law. No Christian disagrees with that, so, again I do not accept your premise.

What about police shootings? Again: I do not accept your premise. There are bad shootings, and Christians do oppose unjustifiable shootings. But the fact that blacks are killed by police is not by itself evidence that the killings are unjustified. Whether a police officer is beaten and then defends himself, or has legitimate reason to believe someone is holding a gun, there are many cases where shootings look bad but are then revealed to be justifiable when the facts come out. Each shooting must be judged on its own merits, rather than condemning Christians for not protesting the fact that blacks are shot. Of course, there are some Christians who are damn near being cultists for the police, and that idolatry should be disciplined by their churches.

Onishi’s article is little more than virtue signaling. He seeks to paint himself as better because he cares about all of these other issues, and he seeks to discredit those who do not agree with him. The article is the height of arrogance: It assumes that we must accept the premise that we are hypocrites or worse if we do not agree with him on all of these other issues. Nope. I am not interested in that.

Crooked Hillary needs to look in the mirror

Every time Hillary Clinton complains about her 2016 loss, she again demonstrates why she lost in the first place. One of the more recent excuses is that women were pressured to vote for Donald Trump by their fathers, husbands, boyfriends and brothers.

Right away, let me address an objection. Why I still talking about a candidate who was vanquished a year and a half ago? Well, the answer is simple. Mrs. Clinton will not go away and is obsessed with re-litigating the 2016 election and smearing the voters who did not give her the office that she believes is hers by divine right. As long as she continues to thrust herself into the political debate, she is a legitimate target for criticism.

On to her complaint. Is Mrs. Clinton so misogynistic that she believes that women are so weak and feeble minded that they cannot stand up for themselves and vote the way they choose? Even if there was pressure, we have something called a “secret ballot” in this country. Once you walk into the voting booth, you can vote for whoever you want and nobody has any clue who you chose.

Has Mrs. Clinton considered that perhaps the reason husbands and wives vote the same way is because people tend to choose spouses with similar worldviews? Because they do. When it is time to get married, people naturally gravitate to someone of a similar background, religious faith and political ideology. Yes, I know there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. Exceptions do not invalidate a general truth.

Once again, Mrs. Clinton is unable to accept any responsibility for why people did not want her in the White House. The people who voted against her are either feeble-minded women who are unable to think for themselves or they are racist, sexist, uneducated, backward rubes who voted against her historic candidacy because they are deplorable. She is unable to see her own flaws.

Mrs. Clinton, you need to get over it. Move on with your life. You will never be President and this obsession is unhealthy. You need to let go of this bitterness and let it go. This path will only lead to more pain and misery, and that is entirely self-inflicted. Do you want to spend the rest of your life miserable and bitter?

“How could you criticize a child?”

We need to learn to stop trying to have it both ways. Political speech brings more political speech response – especially when that speech is caustic and confrontational. That has always been the case and will always be the case. When you strike first, someone will strike back. Deal with it.

Since an evil man murdered seventeen teenagers at a high school in Florida, some of the students have taken a national public profile in advocating for gun control. Criticism of these teenagers (specifically David Hogg) has been met with outrage, including faux horror that someone would “criticize a child.”

This is absurd. An older teenager is not a child. Hogg is 17 years old and mere months away from being a legal adult. Underage teens who commit crimes are often tried as adults. We are not talking about a kindergartner here. It is simply dishonest to pretend that Hogg is a “child.” He is not.

Beyond that, we need to face the reality of political discourse and human nature. Once you enter the realm of public policy, you subject yourself to criticism. Hogg decided to become an activist for gun control and his status as a gun massacre survivor has granted him a national stage that he has gladly accepted and exploited. With that platform and with that notoriety comes criticism and even mockery. That does not mean that every criticism or mocking is justified, but whining because criticism exists is hypocritical.

David Hogg has openly accused Republicans of accepting bribes from the National Rifle Association and not caring if kids die as a result of opposing gun control. A specific target of Hogg’s rage was Marco Rubio, so examining Rubio’s financing is called for. Marco Rubio raised $48.3 million for his campaign for President. He got $9,900 from the National Rifle Association. That is two one hundredths of one percent – 0.02% – of his total contributions. See here and here for more.

Given the vicious personal attacks launched by Hogg and his allies, you have to expect that there will be push back. A reality of politics is that when you launch an attack – especially an attack that is personal, unfair or dishonest – the other side will strike back. It is the height of hypocrisy for gun control advocates to fall on their fainting couches at responses to attacks against gun rights supporters.

How about a little gratitude?

After a terrible tragedy, it is understandable how some high school students would be advocating for gun control, especially when those teenagers saw their friends and classmates murdered by an evil man. I do not question their sincerity, but the arrogance of some of the advocates has been irritating and does not help their cause. One of the more high-profile teens said this:

“I mean this sincerely, I really do, to all the generations before us we sincerely accept your apology. We appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you fucked up.”

This is the arrogance of youth. You are going to rescue the world from the old? It is a typical attitude, but the person speaking (and his cohorts) would nonetheless do well to learn some humility. What exactly did previous generations mess up?

Previous generations gave us a free country founded on civil liberties and a limited government that could not trample our human rights. Previous generations built a prosperous economy that gives us material wealth, comfort, technology and entertainment options beyond the wildest dreams of anyone who lived even thirty years ago. Previous generations have invested in schools were you can learn in safety. (School shootings are, despite the headlines, very rare.) Is that what was messed up? Is that what you want to fix?

Previous generations built strong infrastructure that allowed our economy to grow, and that you inherited despite not paying a time for it or producing a single drop of sweat to build it. Previous generations bled and died to defeat Nazi Germany and then held off the evil of the Soviet Empire. Previous generations fought against Muslim terrorists determined to force you to live under Sharia Law and murder anyone who does not abide by Islamist theocracy. Is that what was messed up? Is that what you want to fix?

How about having a little gratitude for your many blessings and opportunities instead of being a smug little spoiled brat?

I thought I had all the answers when I was 18, but I did not. There were a lot of things I did not understand, on economics and especially on things like limited government, due process and civil liberties. I had strong opinions, but I was not well informed or experienced enough to back them up. I look back at some of the positions I took even twenty years ago and I shake my head. The teenagers of today may contribute, but to argue they will fix a world that old people – Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers the World War II generation – allegedly messed up is arrogance and pride backed by nothing of substance. Have a little humility.

Dennis Prager is wrong, but at least he is consistent

One of the things I find most disgusting about some so-called “christians” who support Donald Trump is their willingness to brush aside his documented sexual depravity for access to political influence. These men are heretics, cultists, apostates and idolaters who should be shunned by all Bible-believing Christians. Dennis Prager recently penned an argument for why Trump’s adultery is not a concern, but I will say this for Prager: Unlike the “christian” hypocrites, this Jew is at least consistent.

He is, of course, wrong. Moral character does matter. God judged the kings of Israel and Judah throughout the Old Testament for their wickedness. Prager uses King David as an example, but David was punished harshly for his adultery and murder: The son he conceived with Bathsheba died after birth. Later, David was driven out by his other son Absalom, running away so he would not be killed while Absalom openly had sex with his own father’s other wives and concubines.

Ideally, the President should be of good moral character. Even if we do not elect a “good” man, then we should elect someone who refrains from gross immorality and personal depravity. The problem with electing an immoral man as our President is that he does set the tone for the country, and like it or not many people will justify their own sin if the President is caught doing it and gets away with it. The President may not be a rabbi or pastor, but he is a moral leader and an example. That comes with the job of being any kind of leader.

Yes, policy matters. While I do not regret not voting for Trump, the reason I am no longer #NeverTrump is because his policies have been good. As it stands now, I will vote for Trump in 2020. But policy is far from the only consideration when evaluating a leader. Policy is only a part of the whole package.

What is worse is how this is discrediting the Christian faith. When so-called “christians” excuse Trump’s immorality and depravity, they bring shame upon the name of Jesus Christ and lead people to eternal Hell Fire. We will have Trump for at most another seven years, but what about after that? Are we really willing to trash our reputation and credibility for decades to come just so we can avoid criticizing a political ally for the next three or seven years? Really? Are we this short sighted and foolish?

Prager’s attack on “anti-trump conservatives” is unfair and dishonest. We are not criticizing Trump’s behavior only because we oppose Trump. (Again, I support Trump.) The reason we are critical of Trump’s immorality is because we have held the same consistent position for decades. We criticize Trump for the same reason we criticized Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson and Ted Kennedy.

Obviously, we can support someone as a political leader while we decry his personal wickedness. We can support Trump’s good policies while condemning his personal morality and calling on him to repent. For crying out loud, do any of the Trump apologists have children? A good parent wants his child to succeed personally, academically and professionally. We discipline sinful behavior not because we do not support our children but because we DO support them and we want them to grow into responsible, respectable adults. As Christians, we want them to continue in the faith. The same can be applied to political leaders.

Why is this so difficult to understand?

Are you posting on YouTube without a license?

Regulating home-based businesses is a tricky proposition. My first inclination is that someone should be allowed to work from home without interference from government, but the liberty of the person working is not the only thing to consider. Increased traffic in the neighborhood affects others, and loss of property value is a concern. Local government must consider the neighbors as well.

Of course, there is a difference between real harm and neighbors being jerks for no legitimate reason. Someone should not have his livelihood threatened because his neighbors are vindictive or hysterical. Some reasonable regulations on home-based businesses are appropriate. Some, of course, are not:

But by uploading gaming videos and making money from content produced at home, the county claimed he was operating an unlicensed residential business. His income doesn’t even involve seeing clients at his house, but to avoid further legal trouble, he handed over $470 for a license.

This hits home for me, obviously. I do not make any money from my blog (and I have no interest in doing so) but if I did I would fall under the same category. Given how overly restrictive Bloomington city government is, I can easily see myself getting smacked for some sort of violation if I sold advertising or set up a Patreon or something like that. The fact that I am a political opponent of city government, and a former candidate for office, would make that persecution even more likely.

There is zero difference between someone who uploads videos to YouTube for fun and someone who monetizes his content to earn a living. If Justin Chandler was doing his gaming videos as a hobby and not making any money, local government would have no “legal” grounds for persecuting him. For greedy local government officials, this is not about enforcing the law. This is a way to grab some cash via extortion.

But here is a problem: The First Amendment. Government cannot legally punish someone for uploading videos to YouTube. Since there is no difference between someone who earns money via YouTube and someone who produces identical content without monetizing his videos, the “law” is obviously an unconstitutional attack on free speech. In an ideal world, this sort of unconstitutional action would be subject to criminal penalties including prison time. That is how seriously we should take free speech and efforts to silence it.