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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mike Pence is not Vladimir Putin. Stop freaking out.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

From the freakout in some quarters regarding the Pence Administration's plan for a "state news agency," you would think the conservative Republican governor was setting up a Ministry of Information and Press like they had in the former Soviet Union. That's not the case. This is not state-run media. In fact, it is boringly normal.

What Pence is proposing is putting all of the state's press releases from multiple agencies into one easy to read and easy to navigate website, and providing additional content. It is not fundamentally different from what any number of elected officials have done for nearly twenty years now, from the White House blog and the President's weekly radio address (a tradition started by Franklin Roosevelt) to the State Department's Tumblr page.

Many elected officials do this. U.S. Senators such as Elizabeth Warren archive their press releases and editorials online. Literally hundreds of elected officials have press secretaries to release statements and talk to the media. They have official websites, blogs and social media accounts. So what exactly is the big deal here?

The answer is simple: This is not a big deal. Elected officials have always looked for ways to reach the people directly with their message and their policy agenda. If anything, the people complaining about the proposal should be praising it as a step toward greater transparency by government. We live in an age where many people get their news online, and this is just one more information source - much like Governor Pence's profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

If Pence's critics have a legitimate criticism, let's hear it. This story is much ado about nothing.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Men failing to be men

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

College men should be humiliated by this story. If men would be men and protect women from predators there would be no need for women to do it themselves.


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Indianapolis Star's online subscription service

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The Indianapolis Star needs to move into the 21st century with its web content.The service is stuck in a late 1990's mentality that is not friendly to paying customers and is far too clunky.

A couple weeks ago, I subscribed to the Star's website, and immediately regretted that decision. My understanding (from talking to a customer service representative before I subscribed) was that all of the Star's content was on its website. This is simply not true. At least some of what is in the print edition never shows up on the website, though it is in the e-paper. The thing is, though, that I do not like the e-paper. It is not nearly as user-friendly as the website. It is clunky and it is slow. It is not possible to open multiple articles in multiple tabs.

From a technical standpoint, the website is far better.

The Star has a soft paywall, much like the Washington Post and other newspapers - you can read so many articles per month before you have to pay for the content. My understanding was that I could read unlimited articles and see content that you cannot see without a subscription on the website itself. That is not true. Either the representative did not understand my question or she was mistaken.

I do not mind the soft paywall, and I would not mind if some content was visible only to subscribers. I have no problem whatsoever with a hard paywall. Newspapers do need to make money, after all. Our local Herald-Times puts the vast majority of the content behind a paywall. What I do mind is not getting all of the content on the website, and being forced to use a technically inferior product to get that content. In the year 2015, it is inexcusable that all of the content in the print edition is not posted on the website, especially for paying subscribers.

I am not going to cancel my subscription, but I am certainly not going to renew it. I barely use the e-paper and it is frustrating not knowing what I am missing if I only use the website. If I did not pay for access, that would not bother me. Because I am a paying customer, it is very annoying. The Star needs to dump this e-paper nonsense and focus on putting all of their content on their website. A list of "what was published today" (like is on the Herald-Times, Washington Post, New York Times and many other newspaper sites) would also be a dramatic improvement.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nanny state ninnies in the GOP

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Why are Republican legislators proposing a ban on cell phone use while driving? Reckless driving is already against the law. This nanny state stuff should not be coming from the GOP.

We got rid of a nanny state RINO last year, who supported making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. Looks like more primary challenges are needed to get rid of some more RINOs.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Murder is already punishable by death!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

A headline in the newspaper yesterday illustrated the absurdity of some of our state legislators: "Indiana Senate backs death penalty for beheading crimes."

Don't we have anything better to do? Murder is already illegal. Murder is already punishable by death, especially if aggravating factors are present. There is no need for another law.

This is just stupid and a waste of time.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Thoughts on protest tactics and coverage

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

This past Sunday, about 150 anti-abortion demonstrators blocked traffic on a heavily-traveled Bloomington street. Many of them wore bandanas to hide their faces (how gangsta!) and one of them was arrested for assaulting a police officer. The scene generated considerable outrage in the community and especially on Herald-Times story comments.

Now of course, that did not happen. Well, it did happen, but it was the "Reclaim MLK" protesters who committed those acts. If that is what we had done, you can imagine the reaction - and that reaction would be justifiable.

The anti-abortion protest was 225 people and had no illegal obstruction of traffic and certainly no assault on police. Christian Citizens for Life paid $500 to reserve the county courthouse (including a refundable damage deposit) and some volunteers picked up trash that was left on the courthouse lawn before we got there. The weather was nice this past Sunday, but young men from CCFL would often shovel and salt the sidewalks (with donated salt) around the courthouse to ensure the people attending are safe. Guess which protest was covered and which was not?

The "Reclaim MLK" protesters said they needed to block traffic to get people's attention and make the public face an important issue. One could argue that if the tiny number of police shootings necessitates blocking traffic to force people to face the issue, the 3200 babies killed every day by abortion (a disproportionate number of whom are black) would be a much bigger justification for blocking traffic. Yet you can imagine the reaction had we done that.

The covering of the protesters' faces is an unnecessary tactic. What is the purpose of hiding their faces? Do they really think they will face repercussions in Bloomington Indiana if their faces were not covered? This is a tactic that is common in anarchist protest and is arguably intended to be intimidating. If your message is that important, do not be afraid to show your face - especially since this was meant to honor Martin Luther King, who never hid his face.

The H-T again failed to cover the Rally for Life, which is consistently one of the biggest public events in Bloomington on an issue of social and cultural significance, as well as significance in the local political arena. The newspaper was notified of the rally well in advance, and there was no reason a reporter could not have been dispatched.

This was a great rally, and Pastor Jody Killingsworth delivered a powerful keynote address about abortion and our own culpability in it. The weather and turnout were excellent. It would be much better, though if we never had another rally because unborn babies' lives would be protected.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forty two years ago today

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court thew out laws in all 50 states protecting unborn lives from abortion. Since that day, we have seen fifty million unborn babies slaughtered by the abortion industry. The number of abortions per years has dwindled, but we are still seeing over a million babies murdered every year. May God have mercy on us for this bloodshed.

This is the bloody reality of abortion in these United States:

Source: The Center for BioEthical Reform

Source: The Center for BioEthical Reform


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We must constantly be on guard against censorship

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

As expected, the aftermath of the Muslim terrorist massacre in Paris has brought out not only defiance but a new debate over censorship. That debate reminds us why we must be vigilant and constantly fighting against censorship. We saw this in a letter to the editor last week.

The author makes the absurd claim that the Bill of Rights "identifies the possible limitations of those ideas." Perhaps she is referring to Supreme Court decisions, if we are being charitable. But there is clearly nothing in the Constitution that enables government to restrict free speech. The Constitution does the opposite - it prohibits government from restricting speech (before or after the fact) because the Founders assumed free speech was a fundamental human right that government could neither grant or deny.

The author is correct that free speech "cannot work in a vacuum." There are limits on speech that are socially enforced, and parents restrict what their children say - whether the speech is crass, insulting, rude or simply out of turn. ("Mommy and daddy are talking.") There are laws on the books that allow damages from slander and libel, because of the harm false accusations can cause to someone's family, career and reputation. But socially enforced speech codes, rules provided by parents and awards granted in a civil lawsuit are a completely different animal than censorship enforced by the power of the state.

By all means, we should encourage people to speak responsibly and with care to the feelings of others. But one thing cannot be tolerated, and that is violent suppression of speech by terrorists. There can be no rational discussion of appropriate or responsible speech with someone who is holding a rifle, a bomb or a sword. The terrorists need to put down their weapons or they need to die. Once the terrorists are in the ground where they belong, then we can have that rational discussion.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coverage vs. non-coverage

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

So apparently if 150 people block traffic, and a couple of them fight with police and get arrested, the Herald-Times finds that worthy of coverage. If 225 people rally peacefully on the courthouse lawn and are careful to obey all laws, that is not worthy of coverage. Brilliant. Way to go.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Answering some objections to my anti-abortion posts

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:00 AM

I do not get many comments on the blog, so I wanted to thank a couple people for their comments on recent posts on abortion, the rights of the unborn child, and the government role in regulating and/or banning abortion. (The first comment thread is here and the second one is here.) I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of those objections in a new post.

One objection was that traditional common law only saw abortion as a crime after the "quickening," or when babies start moving in the womb. Following up, here is a portion of that comment:

  • It is only at the third trimester that the state has any legitimate interest in the well being of the fetus.

The problem with the "quickening" argument is that our understanding of gestation and fetal development, based on the rapid advance of medical technology, is much more robust than it was when the Constitution was written. We now know that the unborn baby is far from an "unviable tissue mass" because we have seen the photographs that prove it. Furthermore, there is nothing in the text of the Constitution that states that "common law" is the basis for all of our laws. The only mention is the right to a jury trial in a lawsuit over a certain amount.

Obviously, people disagree on where life begins, but where life begins is a matter of verifiable scientific fact, not opinion or philosophy. That point is fertilization, where sperm meets egg and creates a completely new and unique human being. From that point on, all of the building blocks are there and given nutrition and shelter that new life - that one cell human baby - will grow and develop through the various stages of life.

  • perhaps your socially conservative argument against abortion would carry more weight if you didn't simultaneously try to lecture people as to every aspect of their "sexy time"

I have written at length about sexual morality and the harm caused by sexual immorality, as well as the need for our culture to embrace Biblical sexual morality once more. A lot of our problems as a society would be fixed by this. However, I have not advocated that government police sexual activity among consenting adults. In addition, the rights of the unborn baby to not be mutilated and murdered exist regardless of whether the person arguing for protection of those lives lectures about "sexy time" or not.

  • perhaps you would find more success at saving unborn lives by advocating for better access to birth control.

I am not opposed to non-abortifacient forms of birth control. I am actively opposed to abortifacients. As someone who cherishes religious liberty, I find it abominable that anyone would be forced to pay for abortifacient drugs. If someone wants abortifacient birth control, he or she can pay for it (because it's not that expensive) or seek employment with a company that does cover those drugs. Ideally, I would like to see those drugs banned, so as to protect unborn life from the moment of fertilization onward.

  • For example, do you support Sex Ed in schools?

It really depends on what is being taught. That is an incredibly wide term.

When I said "engaging in intercourse is a tacit agreement that pregnancy might occur," the following comment was posted.

  • Only if said intercourse is both "straight" and deliberately unprotected.

No contraception method (other than total abstinence from intercourse) is perfect. The pill, condoms and other methods reduce the chance of pregnancy but do not eliminate that probability. Therefore, I stand by what I said. The fact that a couple tried to prevent conception does not eliminate the rights of the unborn baby.

Now to deal with some other objections to my "inconsistency" on being pro-life:

Objection to government welfare programs is not an objection to aid for the poor. In fact, many charitable organizations that aid those most in need are explicitly Christian organizations, including Backstreet Missions and Hannah House right here in Bloomington, Indiana.

I do not advocate more war, so that is irrelevant. Militarily, I am an isolationist. We should use military force only when there is a direct threat to or assault ion national security. Military force should always be the last resort. I have also not defended "murderous" police officers. I defend the right to legally use lethal force as a last resort, and I abhor excessive force. I have written extensively in opposition to excessive force, especially in the name of the War on Drugs.

I am an enthusiastic supporter of capital punishment, but in my opinion that is a pro-life position. We show we value human life so much that we must terminate the lives of those who commit murder. We need reforms in our criminal justice system to protect the innocent from fraudulent convictions, but the truly guilty have forfeited their right to life by taking the life of another. When the ultimate crime is committed, the ultimate punishment is required.

Even if I am inconsistent (which I do not believe myself to be) that does not affect the logical validity of the arguments on abortion and the rights of the unborn child. Again, thanks for the comments.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Obama needs to stay out of this

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM

From ABC News:

The FCC is already considering requests for Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, to prevent state laws from blocking the expansion of their broadband projects. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in June that communities that want to provide their own broadband service "shouldn't be stopped by state laws promoted by cable and telephone companies that don't want that competition."


I agree with President Obama on this issue, philosophically. But the federal government does not have the Constitutional authority to do this. Once again, Obama is overstepping his authority as President.



Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The excessive use of flashbang grenades is a big reason people are worried about the militarization of law enforcement - especially in the War on Drugs. Using explosives on nonviolent suspects is an abomination.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three years ago today

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

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

Happy birthday, Timothy Benjamin Tibbs!


Friday, January 16, 2015

The local news focus of the local newspaper

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The changing landscape of news coverage, especially in the Information Age, has brought a number of challenges to the local newspaper industry. One of those is that national and international news coverage is ubiquitous and the local paper now has much more competition than was the case twenty years ago. This is why the local Herald-Times made the decision over a decade ago to focus on local news coverage and de-emphasize national and international news.

This has brought some criticism, including in a letter to the editor on January 11. Years ago, when the H-T made the decision to focus on local news and give local news the priority in the print edition, I disagreed with that decision. Over time, I came to agree with it.

I can get national news anywhere, and I do - I have a subscription to the Washington Post online, and I read many other news sources. I also listen to various news podcasts - ABC and NBC evening news, the Rachel Maddow show and the BBC. For local news, I can get news from exactly three sources: The H-T, the Indiana Daily Student (which is often very good and more local folks should read it) and AM 1370. Local folks (or anyone, anywhere) can download AM 1370's news programs via podcast if they cannot listen while the programs are on the air.

But for better or worse, the primary source of news for Bloomington and Monroe County is the Herald-Times. Through story comments, HeraldTimesOnline.com also provides a local forum for community dialogue that a couple decades ago only existed in the much more limited letters to the editor section. The H-T is in a unique position to cover local news that you cannot get elsewhere. and they should continue to focus there. The quality of that local news is up for debate, but the focus on local news is a good one.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

To honor MLK Jr., let's protect unborn black lives

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, blacks make up about 10% of Indiana's population, but about 28% of abortions in the state of Indiana are done on black babies. (See http://1.usa.gov/1s2Y8HT and http://bit.ly/1AodHwF for the data.) If we truly believe that black lives matter, should we not be concerned that black babies are being aborted at a much higher rate than white babies?

This is an especially important question now, as we worry about how blacks (especially young black males) are treated by our criminal justice system. As we approach the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, we should also consider how we can ensure the blessings of life and liberty are extended to everyone - including unborn babies of all races.

Black lives do matter, even if the abortion industry does not seem to agree. January 22 will be the 42nd anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all fifty states, leaving unborn babies with little protection from the abortionist's cruel instruments. We should unite under the idea that innocent life deserves to be protected, and oppose abortion. We should demand our legislators take action to protect the unborn.