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Friday, January 20, 2017

The (at least temporary) end of #NeverTrump

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

In the fall, I was a #NeverTrump voter, and I make absolutely no apologies for that. However, Trump will be sworn in as President later today. Let's be honest with ourselves: Among Republicans, the #NeverTrump movement is over. He won and he is the President of these United States. So where do #NeverTrump voters like myself go from here, and how do we deal with the new President? What should our reaction be to his policies, his administration and how he speaks publicly?

The answer is simple: We should treat him exactly as we would have treated Hillary Clinton has she been elected. We treat him exactly how we treated (or hopefully treated) Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton: We will support him when he is right and oppose him when he is wrong. We will praise him or criticize him based on principle. Thus far, I am cautiously optimistic on the direction of the Trump Administration and the transition. The biggest source of my optimism, obviously, is Vice President Mike Pence, who is a genuinely good man and principled conservative and dedicated Christian.

As someone who did not vote for Trump, I am in a stronger position to support him when he is right. I vehemently opposed him in the 2016 election and harshly criticized him on numerous occasions, so you cannot accuse me of simple partisanship when I defend or support him. You cannot say "both sides do it" when I criticize Democrats for unfair attacks on Trump. I do not have a side, because I did not vote for Trump. I will, however, support him when he deserves it.

Hillary Clinton is irrelevant!

This is very important, and this needs to be very clear to Trump partisans: Hillary Clinton is irrelevant. She will never be President. She will never run for office again. There is absolutely no danger of her doing any harm to this nation whatsoever, at least in any capacity as an elected official. You cannot use her to fear-monger any longer, because her political career is dead. You might as well be fear-mongering about Ted Kennedy. Trump's policies, his performance, his ethics and his public statements stand or fall on their own merits. "Hillary is worse" is a totally invalid argument and became totally invalid the nanosecond she conceded.

I cannot say whether I will vote for Trump or not in 2020. Obviously, that depends on how he does as President. If he does well, I will happily toss aside my opposition to him and vote for him. Trump is who we have, and Trump is the President. So let's move forward to, as best we can, Make America Great Again.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Responding to my critics

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM (#)

While my letter to the editor didn't generate as many comments as it would have under the old HTO comment system, it still generated a few. Here is my response to some of those criticisms.

Since I was basically called a liar on Planned Parenthood funding, let me be clear: I have never said that tax money was used to perform abortions, and I dare anyone to prove otherwise with the literal, word-for-word text of anything I have written. I have always maintained that regardless of how the tax money is spent, tax money should never go to an organization that kills babies made in the image of God.

There are plenty of other resources to provide birth control and the other "good" things Planned Parenthood does without funding this abominable organization.

Who made me in charge of others' morality? This is a silly question. All laws enforce morality. We enforce morality by banning littering, speeding, theft and a number of other things. We enforce morality by regulating pollution and enforcing basic workplace safety standards. The only way to not have government enforce morality is to have anarchy.

No one has to believe as I do, but we all have to obey the law. The Bible prohibits murder and theft, and it does not force others to believe as I do to have laws against those things. Killing babies in the womb is no different than murdering a newborn baby, a teenager or an adult in the eyes of God.

Dismissing my views because I am a man (which is amusing, given Leftists' embrace of transgenderism) is sexist and lacks any logical foundation. If a woman (or a "trans woman" for that matter) made the exact same arguments I did, then the logical merit of those arguments would not change. This is an ad hominem argument made by people who do not want to actually address arguments against abortion.

"If you are so strongly against abortion, by all means, do not have one."

The problem with that argument is it ignores the basic question about abortion: Either the fetus is a developing human being or it is not. If that fetus is a human person, then he/she should have the same protection under the law as every other human being. If not, then this is not a worry. I oppose smoking marijuana, but I do not think it should be illegal. I oppose abortion, and it should be illegal because it harms an innocent person.

It is completely absurd to argue that God is an abortionist, and unless you are going to argue murder should be decriminalized you really need to stop using that argument. Every single human being in the history of the universe has died or will die, without exception. Cancer does not justify drive-by shootings, and Ebola does not justify bombing a school. Grow up.

By the way, God gives us free will. That doesn't mean He doesn't command us to make certain things - murder, rape and theft - illegal.

Saying that abortion kills a baby is not inflammatory language. We all know what is going on here. Google the Center for BioEthical reform or Created Equal for photographic evidence.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thoughts on the Facebook comment system on HTO

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

Judging from comments and letters to the editor, some folks are unhappy with the fact that the Herald-Times is using Facebook for comments, and others are concerned about privacy. To help clear that up: The H-T did not "find" anyone's Facebook page. The browser you use automatically logs you in to the Facebook comment plugin. No one knows you have viewed comments unless you actually post.

Furthermore, no one has access to your Facebook posts other than those allowed to see them in your privacy settings and depending on how tightly your privacy settings are locked down people may not be able to see much on your public profile. That includes your employer, which some people were concerned about. But that can be fixed by not listing your employer on Facebook. You can hide what pages you like and follow, hide your friends list, and other things. You can also show those things.

Facebook's privacy settings can be a little difficult, because they are not all in one place, but everything has an option for "me only" or "friends" or "friends of friends" or "public" or even specific lists. While some people might be tempted to do this for HTO comments, it is against Facebook Terms of Service to set up an entirely new "dummy" Facebook profile in order to comment using a separate browser.

That said, nothing you put on the Internet is truly private. A good rule of thumb is to never put anything on Facebook (or Twitter, or Google Plus, or MySpace, or Yahoo 360, etc.) that you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, as the lead story on the evening news, or as the top story on your favorite news website. Discretion is always a good idea.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Five years ago today

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

Five years ago today, I became a father for the first time.

Happy birthday, Timothy Benjamin Tibbs!


Monday, January 16, 2017

Russia did not "hack the election."

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

We have been hearing for months that Russia "hacked the election" and handed the election to Donald Trump. This did not happen, and it is incredibly irresponsible for Democrats and the media to continue spreading this fabrication.

Russia did not hack the election. There is absolutely no evidence that Russia tampered with any voting machines or software to sway the election one way or the other. This fearmongering against a nuclear superpower is reckless and dangerous, and it needlessly undermines Americans' faith in the integrity of our election.

Furthermore, we do not have a national election. We have hundreds of smaller elections, in counties all across these United States. In the state of Indiana alone, we had 92 elections. Because of the decentralized method of conducting our elections, it is basically impossible to hack a national election.

Here is what actually happened: Someone in Russia hacked the private e-mails of people within the Democratic Party and released them on the Internet. Voters, based on this information, made choices accordingly. Perhaps this information swayed the election to Trump. Perhaps it did not. But whether or not the leaked e-mails influenced voters' decisions, that leak does not constitute "hacking the election."


Sunday, January 15, 2017

How could people be so offensive?

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

Note: Because some people are very dim-witted and will not get it, THIS IS SATIRE.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

A fake "scandal" believed by stupid people

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

Do people actually believe that Donald Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had slept on? Are people really this stupid? It is has been obvious that this was fabricated from the moment it hit Twitter.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Takeaways from the "hate crime" in Chicago

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

The "hate crime" in Chicago teaches us two things: Superpredators do exist and hate crimes do not.

I explored superpredators last year. We have greatly over-applied the term and went way too far in our criminal justice policies as a result.But superpredators - people who rape, kill and maim without any human decency or restraint whatsoever. John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy were superpredators. The three monsters who laughed and joked while brutally torturing a mentally disabled man and streaming the torture live on Facebook are absolutely superpredators.

While "superpredator" has been overused, we should not throw away the term because it describes a real phenomenon. Just because a word has been used poorly does not mean that word should be banished.

The thing that worries me more is conservatives rushed to label this a "hate crime." This is wrong-headed and dangerous. We have once again surrendered to the Left's definitions and the Left's basic premise. Crimes are not worse because they are motivated by race, sex, political orientation or disability. These three monsters would need to spend the rest of their lives behind bars no matter what the motivation for their crime was.

Conservatives have spent decades arguing against "hate crime" laws, because they criminalize thought and because they make some victims of crime "more equal" than others. Now, because some conservatives see a short-term political gain, they are latching on to the term "hate crime." Sadly, this includes some conservatives who really ought to know better and have stood against "hate crime" laws in the past.

We should not so casually toss aside our principles for very short-term political gain.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sermons should not always be "the shortest path to Jesus"

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

I cannot understand how anyone can read the book of Proverbs and think every single sermon should be "the quickest path to Jesus," with the primary message that we are sinners and Jesus Christ offers forgiveness. Obviously this is the heart of the Christian faith, because we are all wicked degenerates who are on our way to eternal damnation in Hell Fire without the blood of Christ to wash away our sin. Evangelism should always be a top priority for churches, including in sermons.

But what about the rest of the Bible?

When Christians are saved, our lives do not become flowery beds of ease as we wait for death to transport us to paradise. We have sickness, financial hardship, persecution, marriage troubles, fights with family, discipline of children and so much more. And yes - Christians do continue to sin and sometimes we sin very seriously. Accepting Jesus Christ is only the first step in a Christian's life. After justification comes sanctification, as we work to obey the God who saved us out of our gratitude for that salvation. In all of life's hardships, God gives us guidelines and wisdom in His Word to deal with it.

Read the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to churches, and how he deals with a variety of issues from family life to running a church and, yes, dealing with very serious sin within a church. The most obvious example is the man who was committing adultery with his stepmother. The book of Proverbs, mentioned above, gives Christians an incredible treasure trove of wisdom for our daily lives and how to live godly lives. There are all kinds of accounts through the entire Bible that serve as examples to us.

Yes, churches must save souls and sermons must incorporate that. But believers should not be sitting in church and getting no help on how to defeat their own sin, despair and faithlessness. Believers should not be sitting in church and getting no guidance on how to live as God would have us to live. Sermons should evangelize, but they should also be practical and helpful, which includes calls to repentance for Christians who sin. We should not abandon sanctification as we (rightly) pursue justification for those who lack salvation.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ugly comment box

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

I've changed the comments so people can comment on the post itself without going to a separate page, but the comment box has a ton of white space below it. I don't know how to fix that. Comments still have to be approved by me before they show up on the blog.


As the king goes, so go the people

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

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. -- Proverbs 29:2

I wonder to what extent King Hezekiah's righteous reformation of Judah was motivated by grief over his siblings being burned to death by his evil father King Ahaz in sacrifice to demons. While Scripture doesn't explicitly state it, it is safe to assume that Hezekiah was aware of what was going on. God often uses children to rebuke their parents' sins, something I have seen in my own life when my four-year-old has called me out from time to time.

Perhaps the saddest part of Hezekiah's life story, though, was the rebellion of his evil son Manasseh. Hezekiah purged Israel of demon worship, and brought the people's hearts back to the only true God. This was a wonderful thing. But Hezekiah's own son would plunge Judah back into demon worship, burning his own children (and Hezekiah's grandchildren) to death in sacrifice to demons. This cut me deeply. Those of us who advocate for righteousness in public life must not fail to discipline and instruct our own children. In fact, there is a reason that the Apostle Paul instructs believers that church elders must run their own homes well.

It was not until King Josiah (Manasseh's grandson) that Judah repented again of demon worship. But by then it was too late. God's judgment was already on Judah, because they had filled up His cup of wrath. God in His kindness promised the judgment would not fall as long as Josiah was alive, but the judgment would come. Thankfully, this was all part of God's plan to eventually bring salvation to all peoples.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It never even entered the mind of God

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

Printed in the Bloomington Herald-Times, January 10, 2017

To the Editor:

Do we really understand how wicked abortion is in the eyes of God?

Three of the most intense rebukes in Scripture are in Jeremiah 7:31, Jeremiah 19:5 and Jeremiah 32:35. When God was addressing the wickedness of His chosen people burning their children in sacrifice to demons, God said this evil never even entered into His mind.

Would America's modern abortion industry have entered into God's mind? We have slaughtered fifty million babies made in God's image. It is truly a horrible thing and we richly deserve God's judgment on our nation.

There is still time for us to repent, by rejecting the killing of unborn babies as "health care." One way to start that process in 2017 is by coming to the 2017 Rally for Life at 2:00 p.m. on January 22, 2017 at the Monroe County Courthouse. Come listen to a local physician explain why abortion is such a terrible thing.

We will never "make America great again" as long as we are slaughtering over a million babies a year in our abortion clinics. A nation that allows this wickedness is not and will never be great. First, de-fund Planned Parenthood. Then grant legal protection to unborn babies.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Star Wars retrospective: Revenge of the Sith

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

I said after watching The Force Awakens that I was going to watch and cover the first half-dozen Star Wars films. It has taken me a year to do it, but I finally re-watched Revenge of the Sith a week ago.

Revenge of the Sith is here we see a heel turn by the Jedi Order, and that heel turn leads directly to the establishment of the Galactic Empire. It was a needless turn that makes the Sith look sympathetic, which is not what you want to do in wrapping up the trilogy that plunges the galaxy into twenty years of darkness.

I will start off the review with a couple complaints: The droids are completely useless and a total joke. Why the Trade Federation (and later the separatists) did not build the much stronger super battle droids as their army is beyond me. It does not make the Jedi look heroic to easily mow down hundreds upon hundreds of walking toothpicks that are not intimidating in the least. Even worse, the droids had the drop on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker multiple times and could have killed them, but did not. That makes no sense.

Second, Hayden Christensen has improved from the previous movie but he does not sell his concern for Kenobi well at all, either during the space battle or when he is carrying Kenobi out. Where he really shines is his facial expressions later in the movie. He sells his grief and pain without a single word spoken. His look has improved too, from the Padawan haircut to a mess of hair and wearing all black.

Third, while the romantic banter between Skywalker and Padme Amidala is not nearly as painful or cringe-worthy as the awful dialogue in Episode II, it is still very bad.

The most interesting thing in this movie is that there is so much moral ambiguity between the Sith and the Jedi. I am not sure if Lucas intended to do this or not, and I waver back and forth on whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. On one level, the villains should be understandable - not necessarily sympathetic, but not mustache twirling monsters who cannot wait to step on a box of kittens either.

It starts when the Jedi ask Skywalker to spy on Emperor Palpatine. (Ian McDiarmid is excellent again.) Skywalker correctly points out that he is asked to betray a mentor and a friend, is being asked to betray the Republic, and is being asked to betray the Jedi Code. This unethical move by the Jedi Council leaves Skywalker vulnerable to manipulation by Palpatine.

Palpatine takes advantage, telling Skywalker that the Jedi plan to betray him and rule over the Republic. The Jedi themselves enforce this belief when Mace Windu goes to "arrest" Palpatine and attempts to murder him instead. This was a strange and poorly set up heel turn, as Windu goes from saying Palpatine will be put on trial to trying to murder him in less than a minute. What changed in that sixty seconds?

Skywalker stops Windu, and Palpatine kills Windu. Skywalker asks himself, "What have I done?" Um, you stopped an act of treason, a murder, an attempt to overthrow the legitimately elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic and the assassination of the head of state. In that moment, the Jedi were clearly wrong and the Sith were clearly right. There would be no due process for a defeated Palpatine. He would just be murdered. Anakin Skywalker upheld the Jedi Code in stopping Mace Windu.

This was a very well done movie, and while it has flaws it more than makes up for the failures of the previous two prequels. (Which I still like, in spite of their flaws.) It makes sense that the Empire started work on the Death Star at the end of Episode III, because a project like that - building a space station the size of a moon - would easily take twenty years. There is a big plot hole in that Princess Leia says she knew her mother, but Padme's death could have easily been faked to protect her from Darth Vader.

Previously in the Star Wars retrospective, covering the first five movies: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Video game memories: Paperboy

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

I think everyone who played Paperboy for the Nintendo Entertainment System would describe it in one word: Frustrating. That includes many people who, like me, enjoyed the game.

The premise was a basic one: You delivered papers to your customers. It was all of the other things added on that made it such a memorable game. You had to dodge people walking down the sidewalks, swarms of bees, crazy women with clubs, and even the Grim Reaper. Apparently Dracula fired him after he was unable to stop Simon Belmont in Castlevania. Now he tries to stop little kids from delivering newspapers.

In addition to delivering to your customers, you got extra points by vandalizing the houses that did not subscribe to your newspaper. Sometimes they would become subscribers after that. That is a good business plan: Subscribe to our newspaper or else. It would be a shame if something happened to your property. Perhaps the Grim Reaper went to work for the homeowners association, and is technically a hero now.

I think my favorite memory of the game was trying to pull off the trick of riding between a parked car and the sidewalk. Neither I nor my older nieces and nephews could pull it off. The one who could do it was my four year old niece. Not only that, but she would do it consistently. When we asked her how, she said "I don't know. I just did it." I think those are the greatest memories of gaming in any context.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Social media lynch mobs

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

People who pick up their digital pitchforks and digital torches to join a social media lynch mob are incapable of seeing their own sin.

We have all said things we would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on the nightly news, or the top headline on a popular news website. Before the internet generally and social media specifically, that generally did not ruin someone's life or make him a nationally (or even internationally) infamous target of scorn. It could damage someone's life, but did not spread across the world in seconds. Today, so much of our lives are lived in public that it is too easy for people to be made infamous by one stupid thing they do or say - largely due to an overly judgmental public.

One of the most unfortunate byproducts is the social media lynch mob. When someone says something especially stupid or offensive (and sometimes not nearly as stupid or offensive as it originally seems, because it was misinterpreted) they are targeted for destruction. They get people calling their employer and harassing their place of business, and they are denounced and humiliated all over Facebook and Twitter. But do we really want to ruin people's lives over one stupid thing they say on social media?

Yes, generally we should be careful about what we say. But as the Bible says in James 3, no man can tame the tongue. So before you become inflamed about the latest offensive Tweet or Facebook post that comes across your news feed, have a little perspective. Realize that you walk there but for the grace of God - and in most cases you have done the same thing but did not record your stupidity with a keyboard, microphone or video camera. Have some humility and grace, and stop acting on a hair trigger all the time. The targets of the social media lynch mobs are not just pixels. They are people, just like you and me, with flaws and virtues.