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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Christmas in September?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Christmas display at Kroger - taken September 26.


It's not even October yet, people!


Monday, September 29, 2014

25% does not equal 0.11%

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

According to the Indiana Daily Student, "There were 22 sexual assaults reported on the (IU) campus in 2013." Assuming an enrollment of about 40,000 students, and assuming half of those students are women, that comes out to 0.11% of women on campus assaulted. So here's the question. The feminist line is 1 of 4 women in college are assaulted. Something does not add up, because 0.11% does not equal 25%.

On a related note, here is an article from Time.com arguing the "yes means yes" standard will "create a disturbing precedent for government regulation of consensual sex."


Want to drive to your destination? "Papers, please."

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Last Friday night, local police set up a "sobriety checkpoint" to check for drunk drivers. When drivers pass through the checkpoint, "officers will ask for the licenses and the vehicle registrations," according to the Herald-Times.

I ask a couple serious questions here: Can you imagine how this nation's founding fathers would have reacted to an agent of the state asking for their "papers" when they were simply traveling from one place to another? Would the men who wrote and ratified the Fourth Amendment be comfortable with being stopped and questioned despite no grounds to suspect a crime is being or has been committed?

Defenders of checkpoints make utilitarian arguments about stopping drunk driving, and that is certainly a legitimate goal. Much progress has been made - drunk driving fatalities have fallen sharply since 1982. But being stopped while traveling on a public street and asked to "show your papers" is antithetical to the notion of a free society.

But we need to get down to brass tacks here. According to the Herald-Times, police officers manning the checkpoints "work on an overtime basis and are paid by federal and state grant funds." In other words, local government's incentive here is not just to stop drunk driving, but to allow more overtime pay without straining the budgets of local government. Overtime pay for each individual officer can be quite high.

As is the case with any government program, the most important thing to do is follow the money.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The rape epidemic is a fiction."

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 PM

Over at National Review, Kevin D. Williamson argues that "The rape epidemic is a fiction." From the article:

This is a matter of concern because a comparison between the NIJ's estimates of college-campus rape and the estimates of rape in the general population compiled by the DoJ's National Crime Victimization Survey implies that the rate of rape among college students is more than ten times that of the general population.

It is not impossible that this is the case, but there is significant cause for skepticism. For example, in the general population college-age women have significantly lower rates of sexual assault than do girls twelve to seventeen, while a fifth of all rape victims are younger than twelve. Most of the familiar demographic trends in violent crime are reflected in the rape statistics:

Poor women are sexually assaulted at twice the rate of women in households earning $50,000 a year or more; African American women are victimized at higher rates than are white women, while Native American women are assaulted at twice the rate of white women; divorced and never-married women are assaulted at seven times the rate of married women; women in urban communities are assaulted at higher rates than those in the suburbs, and those in rural areas are assaulted at dramatically higher rates.

And more:

Under the Bureau of Justice Statistics' apples-to-apples year-over-year comparison, sexual assault has declined 64 percent since the Clinton years. That is excellent news, indeed, but it does not feed the rape-epidemic narrative, and so it must be set aside.

Source: National Review.


Friday, September 26, 2014

The importance of the 2014 elections

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The elections this year are called "off year" elections, not taking as much attention as the Presidential election every four years but important all the same. Here is why you should care and why you should vote.

The biggest items on the ballot, of course, are the federal legislative elections and state legislative elections. This year will determine who controls the U.S. Senate in January, but state legislative races are also important. It is the states, after all, where many of the most important reforms and policy changes have taken place over the last four years.

But where most people pay the least attention is one of the most important reasons to get out and vote in November. (Or October, if you vote early.) It is local elections that affect voters most directly, and local elections are where each individual vote matters most. Back in 2007, one city council race was decided by only six votes.

The local elections on the ballot are important. One of the most important is Assessor. Anyone who remembers the assessment mess in 2002, where incumbent Judy Sharp assessed a gas station at $350 million, knows how that office can affect not only individual property owners but also local government finance. Local taxing units faced a loss of over $6 million due to Sharp's bad assessment. Smaller errors in property assessment can impact property owners and how much we pay in property taxes, so it is important this is done correctly.

The Prosecutor's Office is important as well. The Prosecutor is the one who is the final line of defense in protecting the community from criminals, but also in making the right decisions in what to prosecute. Radley Balko has documented prosecutorial misconduct all over the country in his various writings, and his exhaustive research shows how a bad prosecutor can do a lot of damage.

The Sheriff is an important office, not only because he manages the deputies but also because he manages the county jail. That is a huge amount of money to manage, and the jail itself is important for obvious reasons. We saw in 1997 how much damage a sheriff can do when he is mismanaging his office, especially if that mismanagement is intentional. Electing the wrong person to this office can have lasting consequences for years.

The county council manages the county budget, and determines how, where and how much money is spent. We elect four councilors this year and the other three are up again in 2016. The council can be an important check on administrative offices through the power of the purse strings.

The Clerk's Office manages a number of things, such as marriage licenses and civil court filings. Incumbent Democrat Linda Robbins has made a mess out of the last two elections, with unacceptable delays in counting the votes as well as an inexcusable mess in 2011. It is important that she be removed from office by the voters

We can often look at elections for President or even Governor and think our vote does not matter. In local elections, our votes matter a great deal and the final total can be very close. Fourteen years ago, less then one hundred votes in the at-large election would have changed the makeup of the county council. Eighteen years ago, the third and final seat on the county council in the at-large election was decided by a razor-thin margin. Even if you do not think your vote matters in state or federal elections, that vote matters locally. It is unfortunate that so few people use that power.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Needless fearmongering about violent crime

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

See previous LTTE on this topic here and here and here and here and here.

Bloomington Herald-Times, September 25, 2014 (Comments)

To the Editor:

I wish that conservatives who rightly decry the federal government's deadly excessive force in Waco, Texas in 1993 would apply the same scrutiny to use of force by law enforcement generally, especially in relation to the increasingly literal "War on Drugs."

An August 31 letter to the editor engaged in needless fear-mongering about violent crime - which has dropped significantly since the early 1990's. This kind of fear-mongering against crime and drugs has led to erosion of civil liberties and ever-increasing use of force by government agents.

SWAT teams, which were originally for riots, hostage situations and barricaded suspects, are now used between 50,000 and 80,000 times per year. (See http://wapo.st/1w0xqxd for more.) The vast majority of these paramilitary raids are for simple search warrants, where SWAT is not needed.

SWAT often creates a needlessly violent situation that could be resolved with a traditional search. For examples, see the horrific burning of an 18 month old baby earlier this year by a flash-bang grenade, the police officer killed by Corey Maye when Maye thought he was the victim of a home invasion, and the 92 year old woman who was gunned down in her own home by SWAT in Atlanta.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The ultimate disinfectant

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

As a reminder, Sunshine is the ultimate disinfectant.


Adrian Peterson, spanking, child abuse and liberty

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

With all of the sound and fury surrounding Adrian Peterson, it is important to make a clear distinction between true child abuse and the necessary discipline every child needs (and every parent is obligated to provide) in order for that child to mature into a responsible, productive, respectable adult citizen.

Leaving a welt on a little boy's scrotum by hitting him with a switch is not discipline. It is child abuse. It is absurd to equate Peterson "whupping" his son with a spanking that causes pain but does not cause physical injury. People who equate Peterson's criminal assault with a reasonable spanking are discrediting themselves, because most people instinctively know the difference between a beating and a spanking. It is fundamentally dishonest to equate the two.

In fact, physical discipline is part of responsible parenting. A father who forces his toddler to hold his hand when crossing the street or a parking lot is engaged in physical discipline, but that discipline is necessary to protect that child from injury or death. Parents who do this are not being authoritarian killjoys - we are loving and protecting our children. We would not dream of treating an adult in this manner, even though some of the students who blindly walk out in front of vehicles on the Indiana University campus could use some literal hand-holding.

The state has an interest in protecting children from legitimate abuse, but we should be extremely distrustful of the state any time it seeks to steal parental authority for itself. God did not give the authority over child rearing to the civil magistrate. He gave that authority to parents. The positions of father and mother are offices with authority, and absent evidence of criminal child abuse we should give parents wide latitude in their disciplinary choices.

I would be negligent to dismiss the credibility factor of the state in the discipline of children. When the civil magistrate freely gives birth control to teenage girls as young as 13 (or subcontracts that shameful activity to Planned Parenthood via a tax subsidy) the civil magistrate has lost credibility as a reliable agent to determine what is best for children. Any entity that helps sexual predators cover up their crimes (pregnancy in a 13 year old girl is prima facie evidence of felony sexual abuse) is in no way to be fully trusted with a child's welfare.

We live in a wicked day where we say that evil is good and good is evil. We have for the most part escaped a scenario where parents are persecuted by the state for obeying Scripture and spanking their children. (Though there are cases of this, and many parents are afraid of the state stealing their children for the application of needed discipline.) But the march toward statism and an ever-expanding government never stops. We should never trust a government pulling our heart strings with real child abuse, because you can be assured this is a bait and switch.

No pun intended.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:50 AM

Note for today: I hate being sick.


Monday, September 22, 2014

An observation from George Will

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM

Here is an interesting observation from George Will:

Regarding voting, more often means worse. If money is necessary to lure certain voters to the polls, those voters will lower the quality of the turnout: They will be those people who are especially uninterested in, and hence especially uninformed about, public affairs. Why is it intelligent public policy to encourage their participation?

Source: Washington Post.


Due process and sexual assault, revisited

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

From National Public Radio, a report on sexual assault and due process:

  • Dozens of students who've been punished for sexual assault are suing their schools, saying that they didn't get a fair hearing and that their rights to due process were violated.

NPR reports that a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst claims he was notified that an investigation was being conducted into alleged sexual misconduct and he "had just hours to move out of his dorm." It comes down to a he said vs she said controversy about whether a one night stand was consensual or not.

The accused (one of many suing) claims the university "withheld information he needed for his defense" and refused to allow him to be represented by an attorney, according to NPR. Robert Shibley (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) says academic disciplinary panels assume the accused is guilty, requiring proof of consent as opposed to proof of assault.

The basic problem, as I have said before, is that universities should not be dealing with sexual assault allegations at all. Someone who has committed a violent crime should be behind bars, not just expelled from the university. But expelling students who have committed no crime based on a system that is weighted to get more convictions is not justice, and denying due process rights does not in any way guarantee justice.

Thanks to the Obama Administration's threats, universities are worried about losing their funding and are steamrolling due process in order to prove they take sexual assault "seriously." But if we truly want to show we take rape on campus seriously, we should implement serious reforms while preserving the due process rights that protect all of us from abuse.

The reform should be simple: If a student reports a sexual assault to any university official or employee, that assault must be reported to law enforcement and police must take action - at the very least questioning the suspect and (if the evidence is strong enough) arresting him.

Years ago, some states implemented reform of domestic violence cases that required an arrest even if the victim refused to cooperate when police arrived. Similar reforms would help here. If sexual assault victims are shown that law enforcement takes it seriously, perhaps they would be more willing to cooperate - and the accused would have the due process protections that university disciplinary systems are not providing.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vote for Jeff Ellington

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:05 AM

Random note:

I turned off predictive typing in iOS 8. It is annoying.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Three links for today

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

Here is an actual headline from the Indiana Daily Student a few years ago: Stoner arrested for alleged possession of marijuana. Yes, his name is Stoner. You can't make this stuff up.

From the Matt Walsh Blog: Sorry, but it's your fault if you're offended all the time.

Congressman Todd Young explains why he voted against granting President Obama the authority to train and arm Syrian rebels.


If inflammatory language is used, it should have a purpose

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I got some legitimate criticism over the weekend in response to my editorial about due process in college sexual assault investigations for using the term "Obama regime" instead of referring to the "Obama administration."

We all hate to admit it when we are wrong, but I was wrong and my critic is right. I am not convincing anyone by using the inflammatory word "regime" and my argument about due process would be stronger without it. Using that inflammatory word does not help me convince anyone of why my position is right, and the discussion in the comments can get derailed into something unrelated to the issue.

And, really, I knew better than to use the word "regime." By using the word "regime," I did not strengthen my argument. I only provided a distraction from it.

I have been writing editorials, blog posts and letters to the editor (not to mention commenting on blogs, forums and newspaper comment sections) for nearly twenty years now. This is a continuing lesson for me as well as a lesson for everyone else who writes opinion pieces: Do not be inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory. You undermine your argument, harden the opposition and make civil discussion more difficult.

Sometimes, the language a writer uses on hot button issues is going to be inflammatory by the very nature of the issue itself. Other times, an inflammatory word might be necessary to drive home a point, because a softer word will not make the point as well as the more inflammatory word.

But I can and should do better in my choice of language.