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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vote for Shaffer and White to ensure transparency

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

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

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Three random thoughts

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM (#)

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.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Already against the next war?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM (#)

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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shelli Yoder's shady dealings, Part II

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:30 AM (#)

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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We need new leadership in city government

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The choice for U.S. Senate is clear

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Todd Young for U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Can America survive Hillary?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Christians need to be careful in proclaiming doom and gloom, leaving room for the sovereignty, mercy and grace of God. We need to recognize that, ultimately, God is sovereign. We should keep this in mind as we consider our political campaigns.

I keep hearing from conservatives that America "cannot survive" four years of Hillary Clinton as President of these United States. This is not necessarily true, for a number of reasons. First, foremost and primarily, God is sovereign. If it is His will that America fall, then American will fall no matter who we elect as President – and that is also true in the opposite direction.

We should not discount the role of the Holy Spirit, even if Clinton is elected. I had a fantasy a couple weeks ago that Clinton is elected President, and then in January she comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and accepts Jesus Christ as her savior. (Obviously, Mrs. Clinton is not a Christian.) At that point, her entire outlook on life and policy changes. We cannot deny the power of God to call Mrs. Clinton to His kingdom if He so chooses. If God can convert wicked king Manasseh of Judah, then He can convert Mrs. Clinton.

We should also consider the political ramifications of a Clinton presidency, even if God does not call her to salvation. We saw in 2010 and 2014 that a backlash against President Obama brought forth huge Republican victories at all levels of government. Clinton is far less popular than Obama was eight years ago and even many Democrats are holding their nose to support her. There will be a huge Republican wave election in 2018 if Clinton wins this year. Let's not forget that the real action in policy right now is at the state level, where "red state" governors have been implementing bold conservative reforms.

What we need to be doing as Christians is pray for Mrs. Clinton, that God will call her to salvation - for the benefit of her soul and this nation. We also need to pray that God raises up leaders to oppose her if she is elected, to frustrate her agenda. We need to trust God for the future of our nation and not fall into the sin of hopelessness and faithlessness. Almighty God is in control.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Taking a stand against porn

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

It is good to see that Pamela Anderson has written against porn, because there is no question that porn has been very destructive to our society. We need to work to help eliminate the use of it.

People are shrieking that Anderson is a "hypocrite" for taking a stand against porn in a Wall Street Journal editorial. This is a poor argument. Sometimes, the best people to speak against something are people who have done it themselves. I can tell you a lot about knowing your limits while eating so you do not make yourself sick, or being careful while walking through the house so you do not shred the skin on your shin. That does not make me a hypocrite. That makes me experienced in what to avoid.

And let's be real here. We're not talking about nude photos here. Much of porn is incredibly vile, perverted, violent filth. Women being slapped, humiliated and degraded is common. How do I know this? Because I am literate and have read mainstream media reports on what goes on.

When stories about a particular porn star were appearing in mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post, I immediately thought she had been sexually abused as a child. It is not normal for a young woman who needs to pay for college to immediately take a job being sexually debased for money. This was not photos, this was humiliating, degrading, violent treatment. This is what happens when a young woman has had her understanding of sexual intimacy warped by a history of abuse.

Every technological advance in home entertainment has largely been driven by pornography. Just as the VCR took "adult" movies our of theaters and into people's homes, broadband internet access made it possible to stream video directly into living rooms. With modern smartphones, it is not even a desktop in the living room but an easy-to-hide small screen one can view anywhere. Parents especially need to be smart in how they deal with that technology and the dangers it represents.

It has long been thought that porn would make men into sex maniacs, but there is also another effect: Porn is making some men flaccid. Conditioned by years of stimulation by pixels on a computer screen, many men are unable to perform sexually when with a real, live, flesh-and-blood woman. It is terribly sad and shows how God's gifts are warped and destroyed by Satan.

The church has largely failed in helping men escape the sexual sin of pornography. I would love to see large campus ministries have at least one sermon per year recognizing the reality that a large majority of young men in the room have used or are using porn and offering them a way of repentance.

Porn is a real problem. It is not innocent. It is far from harmless. We need to stop living in a fantasy world and deal with reality. That starts with the church rebuking, exhorting and calling men to repent.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM (#)

I really wish Leftists would stop forcing me to defend Donald Trump, but sometimes it is important to defend an argument on its own merits.

Donald Trump was not joking about Hillary Clinton being assassinated. He was pointing out the hypocrisy of a huge advocate of gun control being protected around the clock by armed guards. Clearly, Clinton does not believe her own rhetoric about guns making us less safe. This isn't hard to figure out, people.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Looking back on 9/11

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM (#)

This past Sunday was fifteen years since the 9/11 war crimes. What lessons can we learn for the future, and how can we react more wisely next time? What can we do to prevent future war crimes and terrorist attacks, and how can we safeguard our liberty?

First, we need to stop denying the obvious reality that has been obvious since we watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center: This is a religious war. This has always been a religious war. No, this does not mean that we are at war with all of Islam or all Muslims. However, there can be no doubt that there is a violent, extremist strain of Islam that has declared war on us to please their "god." It does us no good to deny this obvious reality.

People who kill themselves for a chance to massacre innocent people do not do so for political ideology or generic extremist views. The Communists and the Nazis did horrific things but you did not see mass suicide bombings by either group. All of the 9/11 war criminals were convinced they would spend eternity in paradise. (They are actually suffering in horrible burning agony in Hell fire.) They committed war crimes to please their "god." Sacrificing one's life to save the lives of others is honorable and noble. Killing yourself in order to massacre women and children is monstrous and demonic.

We also need to be careful with the response to future war crimes and terrorist acts. Congress passed the so-called "Patriot Act" in a hurry and virtually no one read it. (Barack Obama renewed it, by the way. He could have vetoed it.) I knew this was a bad idea and opposed it from the beginning. We must be very skeptical of all efforts to expand government power, especially since fifteen years of the War on Terror and decades of the War on Crime and the War on Drugs have already set so many bad precedents for restricting our liberty. What we really need to be doing is rolling back these overreaches.

One thing I did not oppose from the beginning was the invasion of Iraq. I did not come to the conclusion that the war was a bad idea until five years later. That war provides another example of why we should not act rashly. We have made things worse and opened up an opportunity for both the Islamic State and Iran to expand their power in Iraq. It is possible that the Islamic State would not even exist had we opted to contain Saddam Hussein instead of remove him from power.

The common theme here is that we must not give into fear. We must closely guard our liberty and not over-react. We must resist the temptation to be the world's police force. We need to think things through before we act. Above all else, we must select leaders with a calm, even temperament instead of choosing demagogues prone to flying off the handle. An even-tempered leader can be incredibly valuable at restraining the mob, instead of trying to stir it up.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

All laws legislate morality.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Christians who argue for libertarianism often miss two important points: First, that the Bible does give the civil magistrate authority to legislate morality and that all laws legislate morality.

The most obvious Biblical example Romans 13, which sets the example of the good civil magistrate as one that rewards the good and punishes evil. God gave the sword to the civil magistrate for this purpose. The distinction between good and evil is a moral one and punishing evil is legislating morality. The civil magistrate is given authority directly from God, so we must obey the law unless the government orders us to sin.

Furthermore, it is fashionable to say that "we cannot legislate morality" in response to moral issues, but we need to be clear: All laws legislate morality. Environmental laws enforce a moral code that we do not excessively despoil nature and speeding laws (and other traffic laws) enforce a moral code against us recklessly endangering another person's life or property. The entire apparatus of the welfare state is based on a moral decision to confiscate the wealth of some to provide for those who are in need.

The question, then, is not whether to legislate morality, but what morality to legislate.

Since we will inevitably legislate morality as long as we have a government, the proper distinction is what is a sin and what is a crime. Being greedy is a sin, but is not necessarily a crime. If greed causes someone to steal, then it becomes a crime. The same is true with hatred: It is a sin to hate, but it is not a crime that is punishable by the civil magistrate until that hate causes someone to commit assault or murder.

So while the government deals with crimes, it is the church and the family that deals with sins. Because the potential for abuse of power is high (and because even a largely righteous government is made up of people wholly corrupted by sin) we should be very clear in what is and is not a crime and the definition of "crime" should be limited and easy to understand.

Ultimately, saying that "we cannot legislate morality" is an extremely childish argument. It sounds hip and enlightened and it can be a cool catch phrase, but it is a simplistic worldview that falls apart when closely examined. We need to be better than that, both as Christians and as citizens.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shelli Yoder's shady dealings

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

We have enough shady dealings and obstacles to transparency in Washington D.C. We should not make things worse by electing Shelli Yoder, especially with her history on the Monroe County Council.

I have been speaking against the Monroe County Council's repeated handouts to Planned Parenthood for eight years. The council knows by now that I and a number of others will show up to speak against funding Bloomington's abortion mill, so Shelli Yoder and her fellow Democrats decided to try to pass it in secret.

Last year, I was stunned to see that the vote on funding Planned Parenthood had been fast tracked to the middle of August, for a vote that almost always takes place in October or November. Yoder and her colleagues wanted to avoid controversy by moving the vote up and shortening the process hoping that no one would notice until after they had already passed the corporate welfare.

This is simply unacceptable. Trying to sneak a controversial item through before the public knows what is happening is dirty, underhanded, cowardly and shameful. If Yoder behaves this way as a county council member, why should we trust her with a seat in Congress from Indiana's Ninth District?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Why don't you write about something that matters?"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

I get a question now and then about the subjects I choose to write about. Why do I choose this topic instead of that one? Why am I wasting space on this issue? Why am I not covering that important issue?

The answer is simple. I long ago accepted the reality I will never be a major pundit or political figure. I will never be a columnist, radio talk show host or TV personality, and I certainly will never turn this blog into my full-time job. So why do I still do what I do? This blog is a hobby. That does not mean I do not believe in the principles I advocate or the arguments I make, but I know what it this is and once I accepted that I enjoyed doing it more. Would it be nice to have a bigger audience? Sure. But sometimes it is what it is.

So to keep this enjoyable, and to keep my interest in doing it, I write about things that interest me. Ideally, I will have three posts every week. If I am really fired up about a number of things, then I may have five posts in a week. If you have something you think needs to be addressed that I am not addressing, you can set up your own blog, for free, at any number of places or post on social media.

Furthermore, I am a realist about my reach. The number of unique visitors to my blog is very small. I very rarely post anything about a hot topic until it is at least a few days old, so my the time my pre-scheduled post hits the blog at 4:00 a.m. there will be much less interest in the issue I am writing about. I am doing this because I have something I want to say. I don't expect I will have any unique insight into what is going on, even in issues that are about local government where I live.

So there you have it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Changes to blog comments

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

All future comments on this blog must now be pre-approved by me before they are visible. This is because another neo-Nazi "alt right" troll found my blog last week and filled the comments with filth - including posting a reasonable comment and then changing it a couple weeks later so it appeared that I endorsed something completely different from what he originally said. I do not respect people who are dishonest liars.

I deleted over 30 comments, which were peppered with words like "faggot" and multiple variations of the F-Word as well as the usual racist filth we see from the "alt right" on Twitter. I am not sure why the "alt right" cares what I say on a blog that gets almost no traffic, but some of them find their way here anyway.

I have few visitors and even fewer comments, so I have resisted changing comment settings to require pre-approval of all comments. I do not want to discourage comments, but I will not allow the comment section on this blog to become an open sewer. I am not going to allow this filth to be public for hours or even days before I get a chance to delete the comments and ban the latest "alt right" troll who finds my blog.

With that said, I understand why some people are in favor of mainstream news sites abolishing comments altogether. But even Eric Zorn seems to miss the point he made in his own editorial: That the problem with online comments is not that trolls take over and turn threads into feces-throwing contests, but that bad moderation produces a bad comment section. Zorn himself admits that his comment section got really bad only after he lost a number of valuable moderation tools.

The reason I prefer Disqus to Blogspot's native comment system is because Disqus offers more moderation tools, including banning particularly troublesome users. Blogspot does not offer that. Plus, you can comment on multiple different websites with only one account. It is unfortunate that I have been forced to use some of these tools, as some trolls are far too intellectually feeble and emotionally unstable to make an argument without sputtering obscenities and calling me a "faggot." I will continue to use those tools to ensure this blog remains a family-friendly site.