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Monday, July 27, 2015

A plea for unity

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

There has been a lot of bickering in the Monroe County Republican Party lately, and if we want to be a viable alternative to the Democrats people need to cool down and learn to work together. Whether we should have had this or should have done that is irrelevant and not worth worrying about. You have to play the hand you are dealt, not the hand you wish you had. Republicans need to push ahead and keep our eye on the goal.

And we learn from how things were done this year and in past years so we can think about how we can improve it in the future. This is positive, rather than negative criticism.

Republicans have been in a major drought in city elections for sixteen years. A lot of people do not think there is a point to being active in the GOP at the city level. Many qualified candidates are especially reluctant to run for office, as it can make one a target without having any election results to show for it. When Republicans are fighting amongst ourselves, that makes it even more difficult while not accomplishing anything.

I, for one, do not buy that Monroe County is totally, unredeemably blue. The Republican Party was within about 200 votes of a 5-4 majority on the city council in 1999. Yes, the city council. If we had approximately one hundred more votes in District 6, and about another hundred in District 4 would have won both of those districts and would have put one of the at-large candidates on the council. (The top Republican finished 100 votes behind the third-place Democrat.) Then Republicans ran the table here in 2002 - only thirteen years ago.

We have to register more voters and turn out the Republicans who have stayed home. We have to get more young people involved - people in their 20's and 30's. But if we are going to fight amongst ourselves, we are never going to win anything because we cannot win with a splintered coalition. And infighting is going to drive people away.

We are always going to have disagreements - sometimes strenuous and heated disagreements - on issues, policy and ideology. That's to be expected, and it is healthy for a Big Tent party to have these disagreements. But the personal bickering that has gone on, especially for the last couple years, needs to stop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Ferguson Effect

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:30 AM

In what should be a surprise to no one, the "Ferguson Effect" is a myth.

A quick common sense reminder

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM

Never post anything on Facebook (or any social media website) that you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on the nightly news, or as the lead headline on your favorite news website.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Third Party?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

ABC World News reported last night that Donald Trump is considering running for President as a third party candidate - guaranteeing that Hillary Clinton will be our next President.

(Remember, Trump has donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to Mrs. Clinton.)

So, Republicans: Still think Donald Trump is a genuine conservative?

He's not.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Planned Parenthood's body parts selling racket

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Last week, my news feeds on Facebook and Twitter have exploded with the news that Planned Parenthood was caught in an undercover video arranging to sell the body parts of aborted babies. This is awful and this is horrible, but this is not a surprise. Planned Parenthood traffics in the extermination of innocent human life. That they would be caught on video selling the mutilated corpses of their victims is a lesser evil.

Planned Parenthood is corrupt all the way to the core. This is why the Bloomington City Council should commit to never giving this organization even one penny of the money city government forcibly confiscates from taxpayers.

While the selling of mutilated body parts is horrifying, it is far less horrifying than abortion itself - the willful, intentional termination of a human being made in the image of God. We have seen over fifty million babies slaughtered in our abortion clinics. Every week, our own Planned Parenthood "clinic" kills innocent unborn babies, and that "clinic" is supported by the Democratic supermajority on the Bloomington City Council.

We are all under the authority of Almighty God, who in His Word speaks of those who kill children and babies:

  • Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? -- Ezekiel 16:20-21
  • And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. -- Jeremiah 32:35

City government does not have the authority under our legal system to close the abortion "clinic" on South College Avenue, as much as I wish we did. But what we can do is never give another penny to an organization that corrupts our youth sexually, kills babies made in the image of God and then sells their body parts for money. This abominable abuse of the tax money entrusted to the city council needs to stop.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Basic principles on planning, zoning and land use

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

As I run for city council, one of the biggest issues in local government is land use policy. What should be built where and how should the city grow over the next five, ten and twenty years? What used should be allowed and where? There are a lot of specific issues with specific developments, but here is my basic philosophy on land use policy:

I do not know best.

My basic assumption on land use policy is that I do not know better than the property owner when it comes to how their land or building should be used. My role as a city councilor is to protect the rights of Bloomington's citizens, and private property rights are an essential right for any people. Provided a proposed development does not cause harm to neighboring property owners or residents, people should be allowed to do what they want with their land. My role is to facilitate economic development, not stand in the way of it.

Obviously, there should be reasonable restrictions on what should be built where, primarily to protect the private property of neighbors. That is why we have planning and zoning. The most often used example is someone who wants to put a pig farm into a residential neighborhood. That would harm the neighbors though the smell wafting into the neighbor's property, the loss of property value, increased traffic and so forth. There are also environmental issues with runoff and waste disposal. There is a controversy on that issue right now in my hometown.

But as city officials, our basic orientation would be one of humility, recognizing we do not know best. This is because - let's be honest - we do not know best. It is arrogant to assume we know better than the property owner how a property should be developed. Our basic orientation should be that private property rights should be infringed only if the use of that property would harm someone else.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Was "Sweet Cakes By Melissa" really gagged by a judge?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

If you've followed the conservative Internet, or seen conservative friends post about this on social media, you have probably seen the allegation that Sweet Cakes By Melissa was forbidden from speaking about their case. (This is the business that refused to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding and was then punished by the government.)

But here's the deal. They were not actually gagged. You can see this article for more, but the order was also quoted by Todd Starnes at Fox News. Specifically, the owners were ordered to:

Cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.

See pages 42-43 of the order.

Basically, it comes down to this: The Kleins may continue to publicly speak about the case, and why they believe it is wrong. They may continue to advocate for changing the law, and publicly explain that their rights were violated. What they are forbidden from doing is publicly stating that the business will not provide a cake (or any other service the business normally provides) for a same-sex wedding.

I've blogged at length about why I believe that business owners should be allowed to serve or not serve whoever they please. The point is not to go over that ground again. The point is that when we criticize the Left, bad policy, or government overreach we need to be accurate and truthful in what we say. I found the idea that the Kleins were banned from speaking about the case to be questionable, if plausible. (After all, similar gag orders do exist.) But now that we know what the facts are, we need to stick to those facts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A shyster and a fraud of the highest order

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

After insulting our veterans a few days ago, Donald Trump said this:

"People that fought hard and weren't captured, and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They're like forgotten."

This is just a brazen, blatant, bold faced lie.

Donald Trump is a shyster and a fraud of the highest order.

Disqus comments are back.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:00 AM

Disqus is ever-improving, and I like it better than Blogger's native comment system. I've decided to give it another go. Old comments made using Blogger's native comment system are still there and there's a link to old comment threads on each post, with a count of total comments in that thread.

Young men must be mindful of cancer

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Note: I originally wrote this on June 7, 2002.

Later this month, I will travel to Indianapolis for what may be my final check up for the cancer I was diagnosed with in 1997. It was a little over five years ago that I noticed all was not as it should be. My left testicle was significantly larger than my right one, and it was beginning to get uncomfortable. By the time the last week of classes before spring break began, I knew something was seriously wrong.

When Friday morning rolled around that week, it was all I could think about. My brother in-law's younger brother had passed away as a result of complications from testicular cancer. He had swelling, but didn't do anything about it, and when he was hospitalized for another ailment the cancer was discovered. By then it was too late. From that point on, the men in my family were instructed to immediately go to the doctor if anything suspicious was present in that area.

I went home over the weekend knowing I had to go to the doctor, and I was fairly certain I was developing a malignancy. My general practitioner referred me to a specialist, and by Friday of spring break I was having the diseased organ removed. Spring Break '97 wasn't exactly fun in the sun in Fort Lauderdale.

Because my cancer was caught early, my treatment has been fairly easy. I had the initial surgery to remove the cancer, and I have been in "surveillance" for the last five years, having periodic blood tests, chest x-rays, and CT scans to check for cancer or signs of it.

While testicular cancer is relatively rare (1 in 25,000 men will contract it each year according to the Virginia Urology Center Web site) it is the most common cause of cancer for men between the ages of 15 to 34 years old, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Young men must be mindful of the warning signs of TC and be prepared to take measures to treat it. The FDA Web site reports that common warning signs include "an enlarged testicle, a feeling of heaviness or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or enlargement or tenderness of the breasts".

There are two general types of testicular cancer, seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma cancers can be treated with radiation (a high dose of X-rays) while non-seminoma cancers are generally treated with chemotherapy as radiation isn't effective against them. Non-seminoma cancers are marked by unusually high levels of alpha-fetoprotein in the blood.

Men should perform a monthly Testicular Self Examination to check for abnormalities, just as women are advised to perform a monthly breast examination, especially as they get older. Many resources are available online on how to perform a TSE, and contacting one's general practitioner for help and advice on the TSE or on testicular cancer should also be a priority for men.

The good news is, unlike some particularly nasty forms of cancer, testicular cancer is very treatable. Chances of curability are upwards of 98% if caught early. Naturally, the odds diminish the longer the cancer has had to metastasize. World champion cyclist Lance Armstrong and renowned figure skater Scott Hamilton have both been successfully treated for testicular cancer. Armstrong was treated at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Testicular cancer is understandably a difficult subject for many men. Discussing it can be embarrassing. Even though I have written of my experiences with TC in the past, it is still somewhat difficult to be writing this column, even though there should be nothing embarrassing about having any form of cancer. Men cannot allow embarrassment over discussing these matters to cover up a serious health issue like cancer. Postponing a potential embarrassment isn't worth one's life.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The social media outrage machine

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

A friend of mine told me in a private message on Facebook a couple weeks ago that "social media is destroying this country." He has a point. While social media has been an opportunity for the average person to have a much larger voice in political and social issues than ever before, it also carries a lot of negatives. The biggest negative is what I like to call the "Social Media Outrage Machine."

Two stories illustrate this. First, a professor called for white people to commit mass suicide over slavery. While this is factually correct, it is also false. He was not actually calling for white people to kill themselves. He was being sarcastic. And as it turns out, Sir Tim Hunt was also being sarcastic in remarks made about why women are not qualified to be scientists. Unfortunately, we live in a nation where people live on a hair-trigger and are ready to be outraged at any moment, over something the least bit plausible. We also live in a nation where a lot of people are too dim-witted to get sarcasm. Social media allows that outrage to spread in a way that could not happen twenty years ago.

I admit, much to my shame, that I have also fallen for things like this far too many times.

So what is the answer? First of all, bookmark Snopes.com and be ready to use it. Snopes has been a great resource in refuting some of the silliness I see on social media. Second, when you see something trending, investigate it before you post about it on social media. This is especially important if what you see outrages or angers you. Do not just hit "share" or "retweet" because what you are sharing may not be true. It is also possible that it is factually correct but very misleading, like a sarcastic comment taken out of context.

We may not be able to put the genie back in the bottle, but we can avoid being part of the problem.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Proverbs 16:12-15

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Another nakedly partisan attack on Republicans

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM

Four years ago, the Herald-Times published a nakedly partisan editorial calling for the Monroe County Republican Party to be abolished. They tried to walk it back after taking some criticism, but the record was clear. (See here and here and here and here for more.) Now, the H-T editorial board is gloating about a how the Republican Party has allegedly regressed from 2011, citing a controversy over slating candidates and a ballot with uncontested races.

First, let's examine the facts. Four years ago, the only district the Republican Party challenged was District 1. The Republicans could have had a candidate in District 1 this year, but that potential candidate realized that a three-way contest would only guarantee a Democratic victory and is supporting the Libertarian candidate. That individual is now running at-large as a write-in candidate. (That would be me.)

The Republican Party is has a candidate for District 3, which we did not have in 2011. There were two people who sought to run at-large as Republicans (the same number that we had in 2011) though party chairman Steve Hogan only certified one of those two. Most importantly, the Republican Party has a candidate for Mayor, which we did not have in 2011. The Republican Party is, at worst, in the same position we were in 2011. Actually, we are better off.

To put it another way: The worst-case scenario for Democrats in 2011 was a 6-3 Democratic majority on the city council to go with a Democratic mayor and city clerk.. The worst case scenario for Democrats in 2015 is a 5-3-1 majority, with a Republican mayor and a Democratic city clerk. Is that scenario likely? No. But in terms of candidate recruitment, this is not a step backward at all.

There was one statement in the editorial that should be corrected. The editorial board wrote that in addition to not certifying the candidacy of a Republican who sought to run at-large, "(Steve Hogan) also did not certify Denise DeMars, who sought to run for city clerk."

This is a factually correct statement, but is not true. the fact of the matter is that DeMars changed her mind and decided she did not want to run for clerk. Hogan did not certify her candidacy at her own request. The Herald-Times editorial leaves the impression that the party chairman refused to certify a city clerk candidate duly elected by Republican Party precinct committeemen. That is false.

Yes, Republicans have fought amongst ourselves this year, as we always have and always will. Such is the nature of a big-tent party - and this challenge is an action of one person, not an indication of a deep division in the party. It is also very interesting how quickly the Herald-Times forgets about the vitriol Democrats spewed at each other during the primary. Much of this was about Darryl Neher's primary voting record, but we should not forget the absolute unhinged hatred for Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo over the deer cull issue.

No, the Republican Party is not at the level we were in 1999, where (despite going from three seats on the council to two seats) it was a close election where about one hundred votes in two council districts could have brought a 5-4 Republican majority. There is no question that the Republicans are much stronger in the county than in the city, and it is not surprising that potential Republican candidates (especially top-tier Republican candidates) would be shy about running in the city after forty years of Democratic control.

But a city election is not exactly unwinnable, when the third place finisher in the 2011 at-large race got 3,076 and the number one vote getter citywide (The uncontested Democratic candidate for city clerk) got 3,989 total votes in the general election. It would only take four thousand votes to win an at-large seat on the city council, hardly an insurmountable obstacle given that there were 26,519 total votes cast in the secretary of state race in 2014 and that there were 57,223 total votes cast in the Presidential election three years ago. As you can tell, turnout for city elections is pathetically low - hardly a ringing endorsement for our current Democratic city leaders.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Donald Trump on the Second Amendment

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

From the National Association for Gun Rights:

"If Presidential candidate Donald Trump does not trust us with guns, should we trust him?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Killing a spider with a twenty pound sledgehammer

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

When an adult man has sex with a 14-year-old girl, there needs to be some sort of legal sanction on his behavior - even if she misrepresented her age and he believed she was 17 years old. We have age of consent laws for a reason, the primary one being to protect young teenagers from being sexually exploited by adults. But in seeking to combat these crimes, we should not do the legal equivalent of killing a spider with a twenty pound sledgehammer.

This brings me to a case I mentioned on Twitter, of an adult man who is facing harsh legal sanctions for "hooking up" with a 14-year-year-old girl. Specifically, he will now spend the rest of his life on the sex offender registry, is prohibited from using the internet (thus obliterating his career in information technology) and will face harsh restrictions on where he can live and work. Is this really the best way to solve this problem?

First, we need to be very specific about the words we use. Zachery Anderson is 19 years old, but it is misleading to call him a "teenager." It would be more truthful to refer to him as an adult man (as I did above) because that is exactly what he is. Anderson could fight, kill and die in a war for at least a full year before he committed the crime. It is especially important when the girl he had sex with is 14 years old, two years under the age of consent. In describing Anderson as a "teenager," the New York Times biases the coverage of the case in a manner that is almost certainly intentional.

But while some criminal sanction is appropriate, this particular punishment - forcing him to register as a sex offender and severely limiting where he can live and work - is an extreme and unnecessary solution. Anderson is not a sexual predator or a pedophile. He is not a threat to society or to abuse others in the future. If we are serious about helping people like him re-integrate into society, become productive citizens and not be in and out of the justice system, then this level of punishment should be illegal in situations like this.

I understand, appreciate and sympathize with the judge's moral revulsion to what Anderson did. That should not be what drives the punishment in this case, however. This case shows we need to reform how we deal with sex offenders.