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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A few thoughts on plagiarism

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Please allow me to tell you a little secret: Everyone is guilty of plagiarism. There's not a single person on the planet who has an original thought and has not heavily borrowed from someone else. Everyone plagiarizes everyone else, so the real question is where plagiarism becomes something that is no longer acceptable.

We are all shaped by our experiences. Our parents, our siblings and our friends, along with what we read, watch and listen to all help us formulate our thoughts, our principles, and why we believe the way we do. We all use phrases in our everyday speech we have picked up from somewhere else. For those of us who write, those things wind up in our writings. Let's not pretend that using someone else's ideas is something that only truly abhorrent people do. We are all guilty, and there is nothing at all wrong with that.

Now, let me be clear: This is not to excuse egregious plagiarism. If a student copy-pastes whole sections of text from a website into his term paper, presenting it as something he wrote himself without crediting the author, he is guilty of severe academic misconduct and should be disciplined for it. A politician who lifts large sections of speeches from someone else without proper attribution should be publicly mocked and shamed. We all know there is a line where we are outright stealing someone else's work and we are morally wrong in doing so.

But let's all be honest here. Pastors freely use theological analysis from two thousand years of church history. Opinion writers consume hundreds of other opinion pieces and we craft what we have learned into our own arguments. Even the fact that we are able to speak and write is taking someone else's knowledge and using it as our own. My two-year-old son recently started saying "thank you" when given something and I was not sure where he got it from as I had not been working with him on it. Someone pointed out he probably picked it up from me thanking him when he does as he is told. That is a good kind of "plagiarism."

So yes, we should shame those who openly steal large blocks of someone's work verbatim and present it as "original content." In fact, it amazes me that any public figure would think he or she can get away with plagiarism, with the 24/7 news cycle and social media picking apart every single word someone says! But let's not pretend that we should all live in some sort of bubble where we are all producing only original context. That is not and will never be the case.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

Attacking Hillary Clinton is important, but it is critical that our criticisms be truthful.

Fabricating fake "quotes" helps no one.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Open government and transparency, revisited

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The premise of my guest editorial last week - that elected county administrators should be using county government's e-mail server - was not a controversial premise. My column nonetheless was controversial. Some of that was because I am the one who wrote it, and there are a number of Leftists who will react angrily to anything I write because they dislike me personally. Some of the complaints were because I unnecessarily "politicized" the issue, with the goal of scoring political points.

My response to that criticism: Hogwash. Of course this is a political issue. Thomas and Stoffers are elected officials. As elected officials, they are accountable to the public for what they do, and the voters deserve to be educated about what their elected representatives are doing in county government. The actions of elected officials are inherently political actions and should be addressed in a political context. And let's not forget that Julie Thomas is up for re-election this fall. Her handling of her e-mail is an important issue for voters to consider in whether they will hand her another four-year term.

Leftists know this is absolutely a political issue, which is why they do not want it politicized. They would rather it be a dry policy discussion when it could potentially damage their favored candidates. But their hypocrisy is obvious. When Leftists write letters to the editor or guest editorials criticizing Republican elected officials for actions in office, you do not see other Leftists whining that the official conduct should not be politicized.

When it comes to transparency and open government, there's no argument here - official communications should be stored and backed up on county e-mail servers, not someone's private Gmail account or someone's private Hotmail account. It speaks volumes that not a single Leftist who criticized me presented a substantive argument for why I am wrong on the issue of transparency. None of them even attempted to do so. If your only argument against my editorial is that I made a political point about what politicians are doing in their official capacity, then you have no argument. You are simply whining that politicians you support got caught.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Black Lives Matter raises important issues

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Bloomington Herald-Times, July 23, 2016

To the editor:

In April of 2013, Elizabeth Daly purchased bottled water and was accosted by plainclothes law enforcement who thought she illegally purchased alcohol. "One agent pulled a gun as another jumped on the hood of Daly’s car," according to the Huffington Post. She fled, not knowing her assailants were law enforcement, and went to jail. Daly sued for damages, winning a $212,500 settlement.


Daly survived. Eric Garner did not. He died to satisfy New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio's greed for tax money. Garner was selling loose cigarettes without collecting the necessary taxes. Was he breaking the law, and should he have been told to stop? Yes. Should he have been arrested and violently taken down, for what is at worst a minor infraction? No.

I attended the Black Lives Matter rally on July 16. I do not agree with everything BLM says or does, but they raise issues that should be addressed. These include excessive force, the militarization of police, and using excessive fines as a way of raising revenue for local government. This practice (common in Ferguson) has crushed many poor blacks caught in a cycle of penalties and jail time for non-payment.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"Law and Order"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:32 PM

The "law and order" rhetoric we are seeing lately is worrisome. So many people - Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, Right and Left - are finally starting to understand that the "law and order" policies of the 80s and 90s were an overreaction. Too many laws and too many people in prison. Too many young people branded as super-predators, meaning they were hopeless. We are about to fall right back into those errors. It is just sad.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ted Cruz was right to not endorse Donald Trump

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:00 AM

When Donald Trump viciously personally attacked and smeared Ted Cruz's wife he lost all claim on an endorsement by Cruz. Frankly, I would lose respect for Cruz if he endorsed the man who attacked his wife the way Trump smeared Heidi Cruz.

Then Trump went farther. Much farther. He viciously personally attacked, defamed, slandered and smeared Cruz's father - AFTER Trump had clinched the nomination. There was absolutely no reason to do this. None. It was nothing but pure vindictiveness and spite, nothing more. And that kind of vindictive and hateful behavior raises serious concerns about this man having access to our nuclear arsenal.

Trump nullified any claim on a Cruz endorsement when he attacked Cruz's wife and father. There are some places you do not go and some things you do not get to come back from. Frankly, Trump is lucky Cruz did not knock his teeth down his throat.

Trump is the one who chose to make it personal with vicious personal attacks and smears on Ted Cruz's wife and father. And who knows? Trump may have been able to secure a Cruz endorsement if he had been a man instead of a tantrum-throwing spoiled child, and apologized for his wicked behavior. Trump clearly does not have the personal integrity to do that.

There are consequences when you behave this way. There are consequences when you go after a man's family. There is nobody to blame for that but Trump. This is 100% his fault.

Yes, Cruz made a pledge during the primary to support the nominee, as did the other candidates. Cruz is also bound by his Christian faith to honor his wife and honor his father. Let's not be purists here. We all know there is a line where someone who pledges to support the nominee is justified in abandoning that pledge. If Trump walked into an elementary school with an AR-15 and murdered 30 kindergartners, then obviously no one would be obligated to support him regardless of what pledge he signed .

Lets not pretend that line does not exist, because we all know it does. The question is where that line falls, not whether there is a line. The Republican Party is a political party, not a cult. Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President, not a messiah or a prophet. And frankly, I have absolutely no interest in being part of a cult. The only God I worship is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Christian Citizens for Life

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Christian Citizens for Life is Monroe County's anti-abortion organization, committed to defending all innocent human life from fertilization to natural death. They do quite a bit to advocate for the unborn and educate the public about life issues and local public policy. Here is how to follow CCFL:

  • CCFL on Twitter - Follow CCFL for updates in your social network news feed.
  • CCFL on YouTube - CCFL has uploaded several videos of recent events and will be uploading more going forward. If you cannot attend an event, you may be able to watch it later.

In addition to following CCFL online, you can participate in CCFL's community events. There are three events that take place every year, plus more that pop up. Follow the CCFL events page for details.

Rally for Life: Every January, CCFL sadly remembers the Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all 50 states and opened the floodgates allowing the slaughter of 50 million unborn babies. There are always good speakers, free hot chocolate, and a reminder that you are not alone.

Monroe County Fair booth: CCFL reaches out to the community every summer with a booth at the county fair, handing out literature and hoping to educate people about the horror of abortion. Stop by and say hi!

Life Chain: CCFL stretches a Life Chain along Third Street every October with a pro-life message. This is part of the National Life Chain that takes place all across the nation the same day.

Everything CCFL does takes money. It costs money to reserve the courthouse, pay for insurance, reserve the fair booth and host the website. If you want to help CCFL stand for life in Monroe County, you can send a check to P.O. Box 2043, Bloomington, IN 47402. CCFL is currently exploring options for online donations.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Evan Bayh is a carpetbagger

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Here's an interesting article from bizjournals.com, published on May 28, 2015:

Bayh — formally known to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue as Birch Evans Bayh III – and his wife, Susan, paid $2.9 million for a four-bedroom home on N Street Northwest in Georgetown in March.

The former Democratic senator from Indiana, now a partner at the K Street office of McGuireWoods, said he would have been just as happy staying in Spring Valley. But with their two kids off to college, the big six-bedroom, Georgia-style brick home was more than the couple needed.

"Carpetbagger: Someone who tries to be elected as a politician in a place away from their home because they think there is a greater chance of succeeding there."


That describes Evan Bayh perfectly. He's been living out of the state of Indiana for years. He is a Washington DC lobbyist. His home is Washington, DC, not Indiana. Bayh only coming back to Indiana because he smells an opportunity, and because he wants to buy a U.S. Senate seat with the $9 million in unspent campaign cash from his previous time in the Senate.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The ex-Supersonics do not deserve loyalty from players

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is basically impossible for me to have any sympathy for the Oklahoma City Thunder now that they have lost Kevin Durant, and any chance of sympathy was lost in 2008. That is the year that franchise abandoned the city of Seattle and moved to Oklahoma City in the first place. One could say that Durant is leaving the Thunder the way the Thunder left Seattle, but the Thunder team still exists. That was not the case for the city of Seattle, which has been without an NBA team for eight years.

Now, I do not have any particular grudge against the Thunder for leaving Seattle. I just find the hypocrisy of Thunder fans to be extremely galling. They all need to remove a giant Redwood tree from their eyes before they can see clearly to remove a speck of dust from Durant's eye.

Come on now. How many people have left a job for a better one? How many people have left a job for more money, a better work environment, an easier commute, more opportunity for advancement, more responsibility or some combination of those factors? I know I have done it. I would bet that most of the people hating on Durant (including Thunder fans calling him a "traitor") have done it too.

The NBA is a business just like any other business, and employees change jobs all the time. That does not make them bad people, or disloyal employees. It means they are making the best decision for themselves, their family and their careers. Furthermore, we need to be brutally honest for a minute. If the Thunder (the ex-Supersonics) had the chance to make their team better by trading Durant, do you think they would hesitate to dump him? No, they would not. Yes, it's difficult to imagine how trading away Durant at this point would make the Thunder better, but we should not fool ourselves.

But ultimately, everyone needs to chill out. This is just a game. It is an escape and a means to have fun. People get way to wrapped up in this sort of thing and it is not worth that level of anger. Sports are not a god, though you would think they are from how offended people get at the slightest little thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Genesis 9:14-16

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM

And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Indiana state legislature further empowers drug cartels

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I want to take this opportunity to pass on my sincere thanks to the Indiana state legislature on behalf of hyper-violent Mexican drug cartels that are currently responsible for 80% of the methamphetamine in the Hoosier state. The 150 legislators in Indianapolis have worked tirelessly for years to increase the market share and profits of Mexican drug cartels. If scores of innocent people are brutally slaughtered as a result, that is a price the Indiana General Assembly is willing to pay!

Obviously, I am being somewhat sarcastic in the above paragraph. But it is a well-documented fact that 80% of crystal meth in the state of Indiana and in the nation at large comes from Mexico. (See here and here and here for more.) Every effort made to crack down on "home brew" meth users only makes it easier for the Mexican drug cartels to increase their market share and profits - which inevitably leads to more violence, murder, mayhem and rape on both sides of the border.

What brought this up for me is another sinusitis infection. I am used to being required to "show my papers" to buy a perfectly legal FDA approved over the counter drug, though I still resent the fact that I am treated like a criminal and have my purchases tracked in a statewide database. Now I find out that our state legislature has mandated that you may not buy pseudoephedrine from a pharmacy where you are not a preexisting customer unless you have a doctor's prescription. Wonderful.

That will not stop me from buying the cold medicine I need, of course, and will not even force me to go to the doctor. What it will do is waste my time, waste gasoline and further pollute the environment as I would have to travel to another pharmacy where I have had prescriptions filled.

This is ridiculous. We are further punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty and treating everyone like a suspected meth maker. This is not how a free society operates. Instead, this brand new law is further evidence that the War on Drugs has failed and is unwinnable. Instead of treating drug abuse like an increasingly literal war (which is one of the things that ramps up the violence from the cartels) we should be treating drug abuse like a public health problem. We certainly should not be taking actions that increase the market share of the Mexican drug cartels, because that makes us all a whole lot less safe.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A local lesson from the Clinton e-mail controversy

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

Printed in the Bloomington Herald-Times, July 13, 2016

Regardless of what you think about whether or not Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted over her use of a private e-mail server, the lesson is obvious: If you are sending work-related things, you should be using a work e-mail account. This is not difficult to understand and should be universal practice. In fact, the more powerful the position, the more important it is to use work e-mail for work-related communications.

So after years of comprehensive coverage of this issue, it is incredibly disappointing that Monroe County Commissioners Pat Stoffers and Julie Thomas are using personal e-mail for their work-related communications, according to the county commissioners web site. Thomas even set up a special gmail account specifically for her work as a county commissioner instead of using county government's e-mail server. Thomas and Stoffers, like Clinton, are Democrats.

The primary reason that it is important to follow proper e-mail protocol is that it is a much stronger protection for transparency. If the e-mails are under the control of the county's technical services department, it can be backed up and archived. Yes, people can delete e-mails, but having the e-mail be totally under the control of the elected official herself/himself removes that layer of protection and transparency.

So why exactly are Thomas and Stoffers not using the county e-mail server? Do they have something to hide in conducting their official business? I certainly hope that is not the case. Is it done for the sake of convenience? Perhaps, but millions upon millions of people are perfectly capable of managing separate work and personal e-mail accounts - including multiple accounts. I have done it for many years. Obviously, both Stoffers and Thomas are tech-savvy enough to do this.

We should also consider the issue of employee morale and the example this sets for county government employees. Employees are expected to use their work e-mail account for their work-related communications, but the two elected county executives do not. Is this leading by example? Stoffers makes $34,249.00 per year while Thomas earns $32,921.00 annually. What does it say to county employees when the executives earning more than they do for what is officially a part time position are not following basic best practices expected of them?

This is something that should never have been an issue. Both Stoffers and Thomas know better, especially in light of Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal. Why they would have ever done this in the first place and set this kind of bad example is baffling. Even Monroe County Republican Party chairman William Ellis moved months ago to create official e-mail accounts for the Election Board in order to increase transparency. If Ellis can do this, why are elected Democratic county administrators not doing the same?

This practice needs to stop immediately. Stoffers and Thomas need to switch to an official county government e-mail account for official county government business. Furthermore, policies should be tightened to make sure this is not an issue in the future. Taxpayers deserve no less.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mike Pence for Vice President?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is extremely unusual that being nominated to run as a major party's candidate for Vice President would be harmful to the person accepting the nomination, but that is what would be the case for Mike Pence. There are positives, of course, but there are enough negatives that this would ultimately be a bad career move for Indiana's governor.

The most obvious problem is this: Donald Trump is a raging dumpster fire. As Trump's running mate, Pence would be obligated to defend Trump throughout the next three and a half months. Trump has said and done a number of outrageous things over the last year and is still not trusted by even a lot of Republicans who support him. By attaching himself to Trump, Pence would be accepting Trump's baggage as his own. It would be very difficult to walk that back after the election is over, and if Pence tries to do so he may wind up looking worse in the process.

If Trump wins, Pence gets the prestige of being Vice President but would be further saddled with Trump's antics. If Trump acts illegally to restrict free speech or due process, or attempts to force the military to commit war crimes, Pence would be tarred by that too. One lesson for Pence is that Bill Clinton's antics in office harmed Al Gore in 2000. Pence would not have the perch of the Vice President's office from which to launch his campaign if he avoids Trump, but he would also have a cleaner record in running for President in 2020 or 2024.

Indiana is a Republican state, and Pence has a financial advantage over his opponent in a rematch of 2012. Hillary Clinton is deeply unpopular here, so even with Trump leading the ticket the Presidential race is likely to have at least a net neutral effect if it is not a positive for Pence. Indiana's economic climate is strong and that always helps the incumbent. Trump's ability to win the Presidency is questionable at best, so Pence would be taking a safer bet by staying where he is instead of joining forces with Trump.

Some Republicans think moving Pence would be useful because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) controversy last year, but in terms of Indiana politics that has pretty much played itself out and will probably not be a factor in the 2016 election. If Pence becomes Trump's vice presidential nominee, RFRA will be re-litigated not only in Indiana but all across the nation as well. I do not buy the argument that RFRA damaged Pence, and the only people still motivated by it are people who would never vote Republican anyway. There is no need to make that a distraction going forward, though.

No matter who replaced Pence on the ballot, choosing a new candidate for governor with handicap the Republican Party's chances of holding onto the seat. Pence already has a strong campaign infrastructure in place, so a new candidate would have to build a statewide campaign and start winning voters with only two and a half months before early voting starts. Sure, some of that can be transferred but throwing the ballot into chaos with only two and a half months to go would hurt the party. Pence needs to consider what he would be leaving behind and if his replacement loses some Republicans may hold a grudge.

Pence has a lot to lose by going with Trump, both in the short term and in the long term. There is a significant upside, of course, but that depends on how Trump behaves over the next four years - something that is by no means predictable and could actually be harmful. Pence would be wise to respectfully decline and pick the safer bet of staying on as governor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Yes, birth control can lead to sexual abuse

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

When the city council voted to give corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood a few weeks ago, one of the most powerful testimonies from the public was a woman who described how she was abused as a teenager and forced to take birth control to prevent pregnancy. When the birth control failed, her abusers forced her to get abortions so they could continue raping her. It was a horrific story - one the Democrats completely disregarded.

In Planned Parenthood's application for a handout, they were very careful to avoid mentioning the age of their patients. But we know that Planned Parenthood gives birth control to teenagers without parental notification or consent - including to girls as young as 13 years old. We know that Planned Parenthood has used taxpayer dollars to give birth control to teenage girls. When teenage girls can get chemical birth control without the knowledge of their parents, they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and/or sexual abuse.

Planned Parenthood should not be violating parental rights and usurping parental authority by giving birth control to teenage girls without parents' knowledge or consent. It is terribly wicked that government at all levels - even in Republican states - has conspired with Planned Parenthood to violate parents' rights. The fact that this practice has led to documented cases of sexual abuse should be of even greater concern.

Planned Parenthood has already announced that they will be asking for a handout from the Monroe County Council later this summer. The people of Monroe County deserve to know if PP is giving birth control to teenage girls, funded by tax dollars. Shelli Yoder, who is running for Congress, should be aggressive in discovering this and fully disclose it to voters of the Ninth Congressional District. We already have enough secrecy and corruption in the federal government, and we do not need more.

Does Shelli Yoder believe in transparency and open government or not?

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Red Baron runs away

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

Baron Hill has dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate.

He will be replaced by Evan Bayh.