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Friday, October 9, 2015

Since when is correct word use a theological issue?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:00 AM

Sometimes it amazes me what gets Leftists angry, and causes them to literally damn a conservative. Apparently, using the correct definitions of words is one of those things. Last week, a letter to the editor was published arguing that spending on military equipment is "theft" from the poor. I responded that is not the case, unless taxes from the poor are funding those things. We know that's not the case because of the huge percentage of federal revenue that comes form the top ten percent of wage earners.

A few of the responses:

  • How Christian of you Scott.
  • It's hard to imagine how Tibbs's views could be more different from those of Jesus the Nazarene.
  • It's hard to imagine how Saul-Paul's views could be more different from those of Jesus the Nazarene
  • His bible is missing Matthew 25. It's a common problem.

I assume that last comment is in reference to Matthew 25:31-46.

Since I am a hardcore literalist (which is increasingly burdensome in a society that does not believe objective truth even exists, and everyone has their own "truth") let's examine what I actually said.

  • No, it is not theft, unless the poor an hungry were the ones taxes to build the guns, rockets and warships. And that's not the case.

Note I did not say a single thing about policy or what policy should be. Note I did not say that we should not help the poor. Note I did not say that there should be no government programs to help the poor. I simply corrected an incorrect version of the word theft. It is not theft when you refrain from taking the wealth of one person to redistribute it. If I say I will not take money from Joe-Bob to give it to Bubba, I am not stealing from Bubba. Words mean things.

It says a lot about our society that someone cannot even point out a word is being used improperly without being personally attacked. This also shows why "bipartisanship" is a fraud and a sham.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Same-sex "marriage"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is absurd that same-sex "marriage" is a "constitutional right" under the 14th Amendment when the federal judiciary and the judicial branches of all fifty states unanimously agreed it was not a constitutional right for well over a century.

Original intent matters. Does anyone really think that the 14th Amendment was written to force states to recognize same-sex "marriage?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Republican hypocrites for Donald Trump

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Does character matter to Republicans any more? Back in 1992, it did. Republicans made a big deal out of Bill Clinton's adultery, saying it made him unfit to be President. In 1998, Republicans refocused on Clinton's adultery and how it exposed his character and fitness for office, this time with a White House intern young enough to be his daughter. Was it all a sham? Was it all just a political game? Were they ever sincere? The rise of Donald Trump and his popularity with the Republican base certainly raises those questions.

Trump's philandering ways are well known. He has been married three times, each time to progressively younger women. As his wives get too old, he casts them aside for a newer model. Trump treats his wives like most Americans treat their cell phones or automobiles.

What is both amazing and infuriating about this is that to this day Republicans are ripping into Hillary Clinton for defending her adulterous husband and scheming to destroy women who came forward with accusations of adultery, sexual harassment and even rape. But see, it's different because Bill and Hillary Clinton are Democrats. Don't you understand? It's OK if you're a Republican! And it's even more "OK" if you're a Republican who "speaks his mind" and has "courage." Many Republicans are perfectly fine with being two-faced, if the adulterer is someone who stands up to Political Correctness.

This is a joke. Republicans who support Trump are a national embarrassment - and not only to the Republican Party. It is actually much worse than political hypocrisy. The many Christian conservatives support Donald Trump despite his well-documented character flaws bring shame upon the cross of Jesus Christ and His church. Unbelievers look at Christians who blasted Clinton in the 1990's and now support Trump, and they scoff and mock. It is shameful.

I can understand low-information voters supporting Trump. I understand the appeal of someone who is as brash as Trump has been. But for Christians - especially Christians who have spent a quarter century blasting Bill Clinton - to support Donald Trump is utterly repulsive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

O.J. Simpson gets away with murder -- ten years later

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It has been twenty years since O.J. Simpson got away with murder.

It is a terrible tragedy that Simpson was never put to death for what he did.

Here is a blog post I wrote in 2005 on the ten year anniversary of this tragedy.

Monday, October 5, 2015

RFRA as the standard for religious liberty

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Where should the government defer to religious liberty, and when should it not? I got a couple interesting questions on Twitter that merit an answer. (See here and here.) The purpose of my previous post was not to establish where religion should "trump the law" but to establish the principle that if we value religious liberty (and we do not make the state into a god) there are certain areas where government should defer to people's religious beliefs. Now, where are those specific lines drawn?

I think the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (originally signed into federal law by President Clinton and then passed by a number of state legislatures) is a good standard. Basically, it boils down to this: If government passes a law (even one that applies generally to everyone) that violates someone's religious beliefs, the courts should apply "strict scrutiny" to that law to ensure that the law furthers a compelling state interest and is the least burdensome way to accomplish that compelling state interest.

Obviously, that standard does not and cannot foresee every single possible scenario. I could spend the next ten years writing two posts per day and not cover every single possible application of RFRA and whether certain laws meet both the "compelling state interest" standard and the "least burdensome" standard. Some laws (like speed limits) are obvious and easy. Many more are much more difficult and sometimes may even have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. My point is that "strict scrutiny" should be the standard. But RFRA should be the foundational standard for protecting religious freedom.

Unfortunately, RFRA should never have been needed in the first place. The First Amendment should have been the only RFRA we needed, until a poorly-reasoned Supreme Court decision inspired Congress to pass and Clinton to sign the federal law. The solution should not have been to pass a new law to direct the courts' interpretation of the First Amendment. The solution should have been to impeach judges and justices that did not submit to the strict scrutiny required by the First Amendment.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Being a hardcore literalist is increasingly burdensome in a society that does not believe objective truth even exists, and where everyone has their own "truth."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mentally ill inmates

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:30 AM

This is horrific:

Mentally ill inmates are being warehoused for weeks, months and, in rare cases, years in jails around the nation, waiting to go to state mental hospitals where experts determine whether they are well enough to stand trial and treat those who aren't. Advocates say the delays are leaving vulnerable defendants to languish, sometimes with tragic results.

In recent years, a defendant with mental illness was raped repeatedly at the Los Angeles jail as he waited eight months for treatment, according to a lawsuit. Three former guards at the Santa Clara County jail in California have been charged with murder for allegedly beating to death a mentally ill inmate who was waiting for a treatment bed. A third inmate in Washington state committed suicide during a wait for treatment.

Source: The Washington Post.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Apple's ad-blocking and obnoxious ads

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The decision by Apple to allow ad-blocking in the new iOS has stirred a lot of debate and controversy, and it is going to be interesting as it plays out - especially since smartphones account for a huge and increasing percentage of web traffic.

Folks who design banner ads could have avoided this by being less intrusive. When the page becomes unusable because a video plays complete with booming sound, it is very frustrating. That is even worse when you have multiple tabs open and have no idea where the annoying sound is coming from. The Herald-Times, for example, is especially obnoxious with ads. I have clicked on an ad by accident a number of times as the banner ad at the top of the page explodes to fill the entire screen. This is one thing on a free website, but you cannot read the H-T website at all without having a paid subscription of nine dollars per month.

But for websites that rely on ad revenue to keep going, this is problematic. Newspapers get money from both their advertisers and subscribers, but "free" websites rely almost entirely on ads. Increasing ad-blocking may wind up making more sites go to a subscription service instead of a "free" model - if they can stay in business at all. But the fact that this is a popular and desired feature should say something to the advertisers. I am not sure why huge popovers are popular with advertisers. I cannot imagine people actually buy things when they are forcibly redirected to an advertiser's site.

It seems like there should be a good middle ground here. Ultimately, there probably will be as people who program the ads will find ways to defeat Apple's software.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life Chain!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:40 AM

The 2015 Life Chain is this Sunday. See the event on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comp time, overtime and the MCSWMD

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I really wish the Herald-Times would actually research and think about what happens in local government before writing an editorial about it. Not only would that be more informative to the H-T readership but it would also be more fair to local government officials. Such is the case with the editorial board's uninformed statement about compensatory time off in the September 22 editorial.

In addition to accrued Paid Time Off that was paid when he left the agency, the executive director of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District had accumulated 54.75 hours of comp time for hours worked above 40 hours in a week. The Herald-Times wrote "So many problems accompany 'comp time' that government should stay as far away from it as possible."

That is a simplistic overreaction. If managed properly, compensatory time (even at 1.5 hours per hour worked) is less expensive than overtime because it requires no extra money from the employer - just additional time off for the employee. In fact, that has been one of the concerns about comp time, because of worries that employees will not get the added money owed them for extra work and will be forced to take time off instead. The problem comes when someone is allowed to accumulate a lot of comp time, because that creates a liability for the MCSWMD - and the taxpayers.

For the MCSWMD, comp time was clearly a better deal than overtime in this case. (For the employer, if not the employee.) Had the former executive director been paid overtime instead of hour-for-hour comp time, he would have been paid 82.13 hours instead of 54.75 hours. For those who are mathematically challenged, 82.13 is bigger than 54.75 and will cost more.

The problem for MCSWMD is not that comp time was allowed. In fact, the 54 hours of comp time was a only 19% of the 290 hours of paid time off. While some PTO accrual is wise (especially in the event of something like an unexpected serious illness) the question should be how much PTO and comp time should be allowed to be accrued. If the payout of over $9,000 for accrued hours is a problem, then the problem is the implementation of the policy, not the policy itself. No policy is going to be perfect if it is not implemented well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Let's not forget that Donald Trump used government as a Mafia enforcer to muscle people of of their property. He is a thief and a thug. We don't need someone like him in the White House. We might as well elect Barack Obama to a third term. I will believe Trump is sincere when he gives back everything he stole - with interest.

I will never vote for Donald Trump.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Peter Shumlin's editorial is typical hysteria

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Note: I submitted this to the New York Times last week.

Gov. Peter Shumlin's editorial is typical of the hysteria that has fueled the War on Drugs for two generations - the same hysteria that leads to aggressive paramilitary police tactics such as dropping a flash bang grenade into an 18 month old baby's crib and maiming him for life.

First, Gov. Shumlin claims are false, and therefore should have not been printed by the New York Times. Pediatricians already have the authority to prescribe OxyContin to children in severe pain. The FDA decision did not "legalize" the practice. What the FDA actually did was provide guidelines for the use of the drug. Whether Gov. Shumlin was uninformed or dishonest, he has proven himself to be unfit for office by spreading falsehoods.

Furthermore, describing opioid painkillers as "poison" is unnecessary hyperbole that is unworthy of the nation's newspaper of record, much less one of the nation's 50 governors. Opioid painkillers are not poison. Someone can poison himself by abusing them, but the drug itself can be invaluable to people suffering severe pain.

I know if (God forbid) my young sons were in severe pain, I would want all options on the table, while carefully considering the benefits and risks of those options. As a father, I should have that choice.

Instead of listening to the fearmongering of bloviating politicians like Gov. Shumlin, Americans should trust the pediatricians who are treating children that may need powerful pain relief. Let the doctors practice medicine, and the meddling politicians need to mind their own business.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Background music

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The year is 2015. It is not 1998.

Can we PLEASE be done with background music on websites, PLEASE?

It serves no purpose. Get rid of it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

That digital clock is not a black-or-white issue

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Social media has lit up with discussion of a 14 year old Arab teenager arrested after bringing a homemade digital clock to school to show off his skills to his teachers. He was arrested and accused of making a bomb threat. So this is obviously racism and persecution of Arabs, right? If this young man had blond hair and blue eyes and his name was John Smith, nothing would have happened to him. But because he is an Arab named Ahmed Mohamed (and his family is Muslim!) he is the target of racist, bigoted cops and school officials.

Not so fast. This story is a lot more nuanced than that.

First of all, go do a Google image search take a look at the clock online. It does look like a number of suitcase bombs we have all seen in movies and video games. It was not a bomb, nor was it presented as such. But in the post-Columbine era, schools do need to take reasonable precautions when a teenage boy brings something like that to school. Just to be on the safe side, the school did need to intervene and raise questions.

There was absolutely non legitimate justification for the police to arrest Mohamed, though. The digital clock may have reminded school officials of a suitcase bomb, but it was not a bomb and was never presented as a bomb. It was a homemade digital clock. The intelligent thing to do would be to confiscate it, give it to the boy's parents at the end of the school day, and tell Mohamed not to bring it back to school. Arresting him was an absurd overreaction that should result in strict scrutiny of the police officers and possible disciplinary action.

Mohamed did nothing wrong, but what he did was unwise. That said, how many of us have NOT done things that were unwise when we were 14 years old?

A bigger culprit here is not racism or bigotry, but absurd "zero tolerance" policies that are better described as "zero intelligence" policies. Far too many young people (as young as elementary school students) have been caught by these "zero intelligence" policies that ban discernment in favor of a strict enforcement of rules even when it does not make sense. Hopefully Mohamed's case will be the spark we need to eliminate this foolishness once and for all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Religious tests

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 AM

Quick lesson on the Constitution:

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Source: Archives.gov.

This is a restriction on government, not a restriction on voters or a restriction on what people are allowed to say.

The government may not implement a religious test as a matter of law, but voters can vote for or against a candidate for office for whatever reason they want.

Therefore, the argument that anyone is acting an an unconstitutional manner by saying he would not support a Muslim for President is completely wrong.