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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Congressman Jim McDermott is a liar

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

The following is an open letter to Congressman Jim McDermott. A copy of the letter was sent to President Barack Obama and Congressman Baron Hill.

Congressman McDermott,

You delivered a speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives lambasting Rush Limbaugh for his commentary on hungry children. Then, you uploaded a video of your speech to your YouTube channel and bragged about it on your Twitter page. You apparently think that you scored big here. You have not done so, for one simple reason.

You are a liar, Congressman McDermott.

The statements Limbaugh made about teaching students to go dumpster diving during the summer months when school lunches are not available was sarcasm, and you know it. It was never meant to be serious commentary. It was obvious to everyone listening to the program that Limbaugh was being sarcastic and mocking the news story, as if the parents of these children are too stupid or morally bankrupt to feed their own offspring.

My concern is with a member of Congress behaving as you have, shamelessly lying on the House floor and personally attacking a private citizen with obviously false accusations. It is disgusting that you would behave in such a dishonorable manner as part of your official duties as a Congressman.

This is why I am calling on you to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives. You have abused your office and your position of authority with your false accusations and attacks on a private citizen. I am sending a copy of this letter to both President Barack Obama and my Congressman, Baron Hill.

I call on President Obama to denounce your cynical and dishonest rhetoric as antithetical to the stated goal that President Obama has expressed, to reshape American politics to be less divisive and more civil. Openly lying about a private citizen is not civil, Congressman McDermott. I call on Baron Hill to denounce your lies as well.

Scott Tibbs

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scapegoating Ron Artest is foolish

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Gary Varvel takes note of Ron Artest's contributions to winning a championship with Los Angeles by pointing out the damage he did to the Indiana Pacers. Varvel needs to open his eyes about the flaws of the Pacers organization.

This isn't to minimize Artest's behavior. He lost control of his temper and charged into the stands after a "fan" in Detroit. Now, the "fan" is a notorious thug with a long criminal record, but Artest is a professional athlete and should know better. When you are making as much money as pro basketball players do, there is an expectation to hold yourself to a higher standard of behavior than the general public.

The NBA's laughable overreaction to Artest's behavior exposed that the NBA commissioner David Stern is thoroughly corrupt, but Stern would never have had the chance to sabotage the Pacers had Artest controlled himself. Artest's selfish and ungrateful trade demand the next season also put the Pacers in an untenable position.

However, the Pacers have a lot of problems that cannot be blamed on Artest. First, Artest was not the only one to lose his cool and become violent on that fateful night in Detroit. Second, there have been other incidents over the years.

In October of 2006, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels were part of an altercation at an Indianapolis bar where Jackson fired a handgun into the air. Criminal charges came later.

In February of 2007, Tinsley and Daniels had another altercation at the 8 Seconds Saloon, where they assaulted the bar manager.

In September of 2007 Shawne Williams was arrested for operating a vehicle without a drivers license and two traffic citations. The police cited other passengers for marijuana possession and handgun charges.

In December of 2007, someone fired at Tinsley and his entourage with an assault rife, leading to Tinsley's brother acting "gansta" by chasing the culprit. He "fired at the attackers with a 9 millimeter handgun."

In January of 2008, the NBA suspended David Harrison because he failed a marijuana test.

A decade ago, the Portland Trailblazers began to suffer from player misconduct and were mocked as the "Portland Jailblazers" by fans and the media. The Indiana Pacers took up the slack with the thugs and hoodlums on their team. How far the Pacers have fallen from the days of Reggie Miller shocking the Knicks in the playoffs! Mller has to be disgusted by the fall of the franchise that he built.

The Indiana Pacers organization has only itself to blame for its problems. Whatever damage Artest did is insignificant in comparison to all of the other scorn the Pacers have earned.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Associated Press "reporter" Aoife White is a liar

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

As .xxx comes closer to being available as a top-level domain, Associated Press "reporter" Aoife White makes a brazenly false statement to open her article.

It may soon be easier to block Internet porn: The agency that controls domain names said Friday it will consider adding .xxx to the list of suffixes people and companies can pick when establishing their identities online.


Pardon the "all caps" response above, but lies such as this infuriate me. So-called "reporter" Aoife White knows this is a false statement. She even admits in her third paragraph that porn sites will not be forced into a .xxx "ghetto" and few (if any) will willingly give up their existing domain names. White's employment should have been terminated the moment she turned in this anti-factual article.

The reality is that .xxx will not make it easier to block internet pornography. It will simply give porn sites an opportunity to market themselves using a new top-level domain. It is estimated that half of all Internet traffic is to porn sites. Do you really think that all of those sites are going to move? Would it be enforceable even if it is a goal?

Of all of the arguments for and against creating a top level domain for "adult" entertainment, this is one that should never be spoken because it is so obviously false. Of the people making this argument, 99.9% know it is false. The point of this post is not even about the top-level domain, though it is a terrible idea.

The point of this post is that if we're going to debate issues such as this, then the debate should be based on honesty and truth. The news media should not perpetuate statements that everyone knows are false, and White's opening paragraph was a blatant, brazen, bold-faced lie. It should never have been published.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Appeasement of a ruthless enemy does not work

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

The IDS editorial of June 10 was shallow and demonstrated that the editorial board lacks understanding of the issues surrounding national security.

It is true that Israel did suffer a public relations setback in the flotilla incident, but this is about far more than public relations. The terrorists who control Gaza have a long history of murderous actions, and have been firing rockets at civilian populations for the sole purpose of terrorizing civilians for years. Thinking people rightly recognize the actions of Hamas as war crimes.

The flotilla incident was a fraud from the beginning. This was never about delivering "humanitarian" aid to the people of Gaza. The only purpose of the flotilla was to provoke Israel into using force to prevent the "activists" (actually terrorists) from breaking a legitimate military blockade.

Israel boarded the ship, and attempted to deal with the "activists" using non-lethal force. They were attacked by "activists" wielding chains, metal pipes and knives. A video clearly shows the "activists" throwing a flash bang grenade into the boat Israeli soldiers were riding and throwing an Israeli soldier off a ship. Israeli soldiers were stabbed and beaten.

Tell me, if this was a "humanitarian" mission, why did the "activists" immediately respond with lethal force? Israeli soldiers were justified in using lethal force to defend themselves.

No matter what Israel does, Islamic terrorists will seek to destroy the nation, and Israel's enemies will demonize them. Israel has complied with demands to trade "land for peace" and was rewarded by a terrorist state in Gaza committing acts of war against them. If anything, Israel should be praised for restraint in not invading Gaza and occupying it by force.

Appeasement of a ruthless enemy does not work. Israel understands the lessons of the Sudetenland. The IDS editorial board should learn those lessons too.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thug Congressman physically attacks student journalist

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

When a Democratic Congressman physically attacked student journalists, the video of Etheridge's criminal behavior became an Internet sensation with over 2.5 million views. Etheridge immediately brings to mind another entitled Democratic member of Congress, Cynthia McKinney, who is best known for striking a police officer.

Predictably, Leftists are leaping to defend the thug Congressman. Even those who admit that he acted badly are placing blame on the student journalists for "provoking" him. The idea that any blame for Etheridge's criminal behavior could be assigned to the students is laughable.

The thug congressman was walking down the street, directly toward some student journalists. He had plenty of time to compose himself so he could react in an appropriate and nonviolent manner. When the student asked him a simple question, the thug congressman assaulted the student. He could have ignored them and walked past them, but he did something no member of Congress should ever do: he put his hands on the student.

Etheridge is quite a bit older than the students he assaulted, so he should have been mature enough to deal with them without resorting to violence. He could have easily asked about the student's identity without putting his hands on the student. The student journalists, for their part, did not retaliate violently - though they would have been justified in doing so as a matter of self defense.

I could have written the defenses for Etheridge's thuggery before his Leftist apologists spouted it. "He's not guilty of assault. That is determined by a jury." How silly. Etheridge is guilty of assault. That much is more than obvious by the tape. It is possible that he will get away with his criminal act, but a lack of a conviction in a court of law does not erase his guilt.

Honestly, have we lost all ability to think for ourselves? Are plainly obvious facts documented by irrefutable video evidence able to be discerned only by a court of law? Any functioning adult can view the video and make a judgment about the criminal behavior documented by the video. Whining that a "judge and jury" will determine what he did is nothing but dishonesty. The video is all the evidence needed to determine guilt.

Finally, to the Leftists crying about due process: Grow up. No one is advocating that Etheridge be denied due process or punished extra judicially. The people condemning the thug Congressman are discerning adults who can see the behavior on the tape and name it. That is protected speech under the First Amendment, and no one's rights are being violated by those who see and name criminal behavior.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bloomington Democrats subsidize sexual abuse

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Last week, I spoke at the Bloomington City Council meeting against funding for Planned Parenthood. For the eleventh time since 1999, Planned Parenthood has gone before the Bloomington City Council to request a handout. Every time PP has requested a handout, the city council has fallen in line and given them the taxpayers' money. This has come from the John Hopkins fund every year, except for the grant they got from the community development block grants in 2000.

This year, the city council had over $400,000 in requests, and $200,000 to distribute to various social service agencies. Despite the limited funds and the fact that the need far outpaced the available money, the city council decided once again to give scarce social services monies to an organization that on its most recent annual fiscal report admits that it made a profit of $85 million. This is a political endorsement of Planned Parenthood, nothing more.

I would prefer that the city abolish the social services fund, and allow all residents to make their own choices about which organizations to support. If the city is going to have a social services fund, it is a cynical debasement of the process and a slap in the face to more deserving organizations to give money to Planned Parenthood simply to make a political statement about "abortion rights." As I said last week, the city councilors should be ashamed of themselves.

This year, the city council has gone beyond the misuse of social services funds for political purposes to actively subsidizing crime. In their application, Planned Parenthood says that there are 14,930 "women" between the ages of 13 and 44 who are in need of publicly funded contraceptives.

Now, why would 13 year old girls "need" publicly funded contraceptives? It is illegal for someone to have sex with a 13 year old, and contraceptives only serve to cover up the sexual abuse of these girls. We should not be providing these girls with contraceptives, we should be finding the men who are abusing these girls and put them in prison. Planned Parenthood is publicly stating that they will be aiding the sexual abuse of children. And the Democrats on the City Council gave them taxpayer money to do it.

It should not be a surprise that Planned Parenthood is publicly announcing that they will be aiding in criminal activity. After all, it has only been a year and a half since a Planned Parenthood employee in Bloomington was caught on tape trying to cover up the sexual abuse of a 13 year old girl by a 31 year old man. This is the organization that is fully supported by the Democrats on the Bloomington City Council.

It is generally understood that those who aid in criminal activity are guilty just as the criminals themselves, so it is reasonable to say that the Democrat-dominated Bloomington City Council is now a criminal organization.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Speaking against Planned Parenthood funding

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Below is a video of my remarks to the Bloomington City Council on June 16, 2010.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Replacing God's moral law with man's petty law

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Two weeks ago, I got smacked by a nasty cold. It started out as a sore throat and expanded from there. As usually happens, I got stuffed up and could not breathe out of my nose. To suppress my symptoms until I fought off the infection, I purchased some nasal decongestant containing pseudoephedrine as the main ingredient. Because the symptoms were not going away as I approached the end of my box, I purchased another box.

Both times, I was treated like a criminal.

Pseudophedrine is used by methamphetamine dealers and addicts to make the drug. Because of this, the federal government has mandated that products containing certain doses of pseudoephedrine cannot be sold over-the-counter in the traditional manner. To purchase the decongestant, you have to show a photo ID and your information will be recorded. If you purchase too much, you will be visited by the police.

I've ranted about this before, so I will not repeat the complaints I have previously posted. The point I want to emphasize here is something my pastor has said many times: when you abolish God's moral law, you replace it with an infinite number of man's petty laws.

Today on South College Avenue, the "doctor" at Planned Parenthood will murder several babies by dismemberment for profit. A society that has not discarded God's moral law would not allow this to take place and would send the police to arrest the "doctor" for the crime of murder. Planned Parenthood's "clinic" would be closed. But in our society, the government has decided that murdering your child is a "constitutional right" and refuses to interfere. Instead, the government actively protects this "right."

But while the "right" to kill your child is protected, you may not purchase cold medicine without having your name placed into a database mandated by the federal government. You can have your child murdered, but you better be wearing a seat belt on the way to the abortuary, because not doing so is dangerous. The government warns us against consuming too much sugar and cooking with trans fats.

Do I really need to comment about how completely perverse this is?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When hatred pretends to be "compassion"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Last year, Jamie Weddle held his girlfriend captive for two days. He raped her several times, sodomized her, and beat her so badly that he broke her leg. When she begged him to seek medical attention, he refused and raped her again. Last week, Judge Marc Kellams sentenced him to spend 70 years in prison, of which he will likely serve half.

At the sentencing, Public Defender Stu Baggerly argued for a lighter punishment by saying the most depraved, disgusting, hate-filled thing that could possibly come out of his mouth.

Jamie is not a bad person. He is a man who has made bad decisions.

Bovine feces.

Turning off the lights before walking through the room at night is a bad decision. Raping, sodomizing and brutally beating your girlfriend for two days is not a bad decision. Holding her hostage is not a bad decision. Breaking her leg and denying her medical attention is not a bad decision. It is evil.

What Baggerly said was pure hatred. Imagine what the victim must have felt listening to this prominent attorney say that the horrible things done to her were nothing more than "bad decisions." Could Baggerly have been any more hateful to this woman? He should publicly retract his evil words and personally apologize to the victim.

Baggerly's hatred for Weddle is evident as well. Weddle does not need to hear that his actions were "bad decisions." He needs to hear that what he did was evil. He needs to hear that he is going to suffer in horrible burning agony in the Lake of Fire for all eternity unless he repents of his evil deeds. Only when faced with the terrible fear of judgment by a holy and righteous God can Weddle recognize that he is without hope and that he needs the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cover his terribly wicked and evil behavior. (See 1 John 1:9)

Judge Kellams, meanwhile, perfectly represents the love and holiness of Jesus Christ by handing down this harsh punishment. He served as an avenger for the victim, just as God does, demonstrating his love for her. Kellams did not whitewash and brush aside the evil done by Weddle. Instead, he shoved it directly into Weddle's face and made it perfectly clear that Weddle is evil. In doing so, he demonstrated that he loves Weddle.

Fraudulent "compassion" in the face of evil is nothing but hatred in disguise.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The redundant residency requirement

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Last week, the Monroe County Council considered resolution 2010-13, which would require that certain positions be filled by people who are Monroe County residents. Putting aside the merit of the proposed policy, the basic problem with it is that it is redundant because state law already requires that chief deputies live in the county.

IC 36-2-16-3
Performance of duties of appointing officer; regulations and penalties; responsibility for acts of deputy

      Sec. 3. (a) A deputy appointed under this chapter may perform all the official duties of the officer who appointed him and is subject to the same regulations and penalties as the officer.
    (b) The officer appointing the deputy is responsible for all the official acts of the deputy.
As added by Acts 1980, P.L.212, SEC.1.

IC 36-2-16-4
Officers entitled to appoint chief or other deputies and employees

      Sec. 4. Each of the following county officers is entitled to appoint one (1) first or chief deputy, and also may appoint the number of other full-time or part-time deputies and employees authorized by the county fiscal body:
        (1) The county auditor.
        (2) The county treasurer.
        (3) The county recorder.
        (4) The county superintendent of schools.
        (5) The county sheriff.
As added by Acts 1980, P.L.212, SEC.1. Amended by Acts 1981, P.L.11, SEC.154; P.L.174-2006, SEC.20.

The fact that the county council is considering a redudant residency requirement raises an obvious question: How many employees, if any, that are required by state law to be county residents are not actually county residents?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The AFA comments on Mitch Daniels' proposed "truce"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

The American Family Association of Indiana sent the following editorial to their e-mail list this week. This excellent editorial is reposted with permission from the AFA-IN.

There is a disturbing item this week from the Weekly Standard entitled, “More on Mitch Daniels’ Proposed ‘Truce’ on Social Issues.”

The Standard has been following the Governor as a possible Presidential candidate in 2012 for his admirable handling of state government in the midst of a national economic disaster. There is good reason for such an article. More and more eyes are turning to Governor Daniels who is doing exactly what needs to be done fiscally in this “great recession.” He is making hard choices in the midst of a crisis that are a completely opposite contrast to how President Obama appears to be fiddling while the nation burns down. You have a failed bigger government Keynesian spending model in Washington, verses a lower tax, less spending supply side model in Indiana of which many people are now taking notice.

As part of the article, the Governor told the Standard’s Andy Furguson “the next president would need to call a truce on social issues” implying that such concerns should be set aside while the economic mess and fiscal irresponsibility problems are cleaned up.

As a follow-up to this comment at an event at the Heritage Foundation, another Standard reporter asked a question to see if the Governor was saying that social issues should be “de-emphasized” or actually “not acted upon.” The reporter asked if he were president would Daniels reinstate Ronald Reagan’s “Mexico City Policy” preventing US tax dollars from funding abortions overseas. The Governor’s answer was a disheartening “I don’t know.”

This is the policy that President Obama repealed with an executive order in a matter of minutes inside his very first few hours in office in January of last year. It was a brazen pro-abortion move that Gallup Polling found had only 35% of American’s support. Yet, for whatever reason, the political left doesn’t get weak kneed and queasy about their divisive and minority-held support of their agenda for social issues. They move ahead in matters like this and don’t ever look back. Polling on abortion funding in the health care law was equally low and yet, it was rammed through without ever any talk from their leaders of a truce on the promotion of abortion.

I understand in one sense what the Governor is saying. I, too, have told the media that fiscal bankruptcy is one of the biggest dangers facing our nation today. Yet, it is easy to talk of truce when you’re not really all that engaged in the battle to protect faith, family, marriage and the unborn in the first place. IF this were actually a wise strategy, it would have more credibility if the call were coming from someone like James Dobson, Tony Perkins or Don Wildmon, leaders who have dedicated their entire lives to the defense of the family and the values that uphold it. Unfortunately, with the exception of signing a couple of pro-life bills that made it to his desk early in his administration, Mitch Daniels practically called a truce on most social issues in Indiana as soon as he became our governor.

Once again, Republican leaders need to look at President Ronald Reagan. As you will recall, President Reagan took the nation from the brink of economic disaster with unemployment numbers similar to today's combined with double-digit inflation and interest rates as well. He accomplished this while always standing for faith, family and life. Oh, and he did another thing at the same time that many people thought was impossible. He won the Cold War after years of defeat, retreat, MAD and Détente. In other words, Reagan could walk and chew gum at the same time, and he did it with a Democrat controlled House and Senate (for most of his Presidency).

If there is one thing Mitch Daniels has proven as Governor, it is that he is a remarkably capable leader and gifted administrator. I believe that if he is in the Oval Office in January of 2013, (he would quite possibly have a Republican House as well) he too could multi-task, just like Reagan did and address our economic concerns as well as the numerous social problems, most of which ultimately lead to a growth in government anyway. But, he has to want in his heart to do both of those things . . . and sadly that has never seemed to be part of his agenda as a leader.

As for AFA of Indiana, we don’t participate in truces when it comes to the defense of life, marriage, faith and family. After all, if one is truly pro-life and pro-marriage, how can you in good conscience ever set aside your principles to knowingly allow the death of unborn children or the destruction of marriages and the endangering of women and children? I have pledged that as long as I am its Executive Director, AFA of Indiana will fight to our last penny, until the Lord closes our doors, to defend life, faith, family and freedom, regardless of who is in the State House, the White House, (be it a fellow Hoosier or not) or what other problems we face. AFA of Indiana will never surrender. We will never quit. We will constantly encourage leaders to lead on these vitally important issues, and we will always speak up for your values against mistaken friends and intentional foes alike.

Many thanks to the AFA-IN for allowing me to post this.

See my editorial on Mitch Daniels' proposed "truce" from earlier this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mitch Daniels and his "truce"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done? -- Proverbs 24:11-12 (NIV)

Mitch Daniels claims to be personally pro-life, and he claims to support pro-life public policy. For the past 6 years, I have been less than comfortable with his lack of action on issues like abortion but I have not had a reason to doubt Daniels' claim that he is pro-life. Then he declared to the Weekly Standard that we should declare a "truce" on social issues like abortion in order to solve the fiscal crisis the nation is facing.

Who could disagree with that? After all, when you have a deficit of over a trillion dollars a year, how could solving that not be more important than the fact that we're killing 1,200,000 babies every single year and have killed over 50 million babies since 1973?

Wait. What?

Look. You either believe abortion is murder or you don't. If you believe abortion is murder, then nothing should take precedence over doing what you can within the law to prevent babies from being killed by dismemberment for profit. Nothing else comes close, whether it be shrinking the budget deficit or defeating Islamic terrorists. We've allowed a slaughter within our own borders that is unprecedented and it is even worse outside our borders. Since 1970, over one billion abortions have been performed worldwide. The abortion industry puts the Nazi Holocaust to shame.

I am not saying that solving our financial crisis is not important. What we are doing right now is simply not sustainable. We are going to have to reduce the size and cost of government or we risk severe economic damage. There is no reason, however, why we cannot work to being fiscal sanity back to the federal budget and work to eliminate abortion at the same time. We are more than capable of dealing with two issues at the same time.

There has been speculation about Daniels challenging Obama in 2012 for some time. The speculation started almost immediately after the 2008 election. When Obama became the first Democrat to win Indiana in 44 years, Mitch Daniels completely dominated his challenger and finished with nearly 60% of the vote. If Daniels can win with that kind of a margin in a terrible year for Republicans, he's a serious threat to Obama winning a second term.

If Daniels wants to keep the 2012 dream alive, calling for a "truce" on social issues is not the way to do it. Daniels will damage himself with Republican primary voters who are motivated by social issues like abortion. If he were to win the nomination, he runs the risk of a less-than-enthusiastic Republican base in the general election. Do I really need to remind anyone that it was the "values voters" who played a huge part in President Bush winning a second term in 2004?

You can't call a "truce" on 50 million murders, Governor Daniels.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The city's boycott of Arizona

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

The ten elected Democrats in city government sent a letter to the Governor of Arizona (PDF) proclaiming that the city of Bloomington would be boycotting the state of Arizona in protest of the state's law that seeks to slow down the flow of illegal aliens into the state. (Of course, nothing will stop illegal immigration, but this may make a dent.)

Whether the law is a good thing or not, the city's boycott represents cynical and dishonest policy. This should have been a resolution voted on in a public meeting by the city council, rather than a proclamation issued after a decision had been made behind closed doors.

One of the most vigorous defenders of the city's Democratic leaders (and a member of the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission) defended the boycott with this laughable response:

True, if they were announcing to the governor of Arizona that the city of Bloomington was boycotting the products of Arizona. But that is not what the letter did--it announced to the governor that the signees (two elected administratior and 8 council members who have fiscal allocation and monitoring authority) that they would URGE city department heads within fiscal prudence to not purchase from Arizona (and ENCOURAGE city buisness to do the same).

So department heads who serve at the pleasure of the Mayor are "urged" to follow through on the Mayor's political agenda item, and that's not an official policy? Are we to expect that when these department heads are "urged" to support a political position taken by the Mayor in a letter sent on official city letterhead, this is not an order?

Right. That's believable.

The city and its defenders can argue from now until the end of time that the language of the letter "is not the same as proclaiming an official boycott" but common sense demonstrates otherwise. Hiding behind technicalities is cynical and dishonest, and demonstrates that Bloomington Democrats hold city residents in contempt.

There is no reason this could not have been a resolution, especially since all eight Democrats on the nine-member city council signed the letter. It would have passed easily and would be official city policy already. Furthermore, the city council has a long history of approving resolutions on issues outside their jurisdiction, from foreign policy to the so-called "Patriot Act." Since the mayor and city council made a public policy decision on the use of taxpayer funds, there should have been a vote instead of a proclamation.

Those who blindly defend the decision to bypass public input can argue the technicalities of the law as much as they want. The city's boycott may technically be legal without a public hearing and an official vote, but it is bad policy because it sidesteps openness in government. The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.

It is true that both elected officials and other employees of government (at all levels) make decisions on a daily basis without public input. I am not suggesting that all of those decisions be subject to prior public input. But this is not a run of the mill decision about what brand of office supplies to purchase: this is a political policy meant to make a political statement. Therefore, this should have been subject to a public hearing.

What exactly do Bloomington Democrats have against conducting public policy in the open, with the opportunity for public comment and with votes recorded after a televised meeting? What are they afraid of?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The terrorist flotilla

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

Last week, Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla that was supposedly delivering "humanitarian" aid to the residents of the Gaza strip, controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas. There were several fatalities and the international community rushed to condemn Israel's actions.

First, we need to establish some basic facts. Israel lives in a constant state of war. Hamas is regularly firing rockets into Israel to terrorize and murder civilians, something that should be recognized as a war crime. There are constant threats of terrorist attacks. Israel is surrounded by nations that are either untrustworthy or openly hostile, and has to be ready to defend itself at any moment. Given the circumstances, it is understandable that Israel would be jumpy.

In order to secure itself, Israel is enforcing a blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Last week, a group of "activists" attempted to run the blockade to deliver "humanitarian" aid to Gaza. Israel, with no way to know what was actually on the ship, offered to allow the "activists" to dock in an Israeli-controlled port, so that the cargo could be verified and legitimate humanitarian aid could be delivered by land.

If this was truly a "humanitarian" mission, the "activists" would have accepted Israel's terms. Instead, they forced a confrontation. As Israeli soldiers were boarding, the "activists" were throwing things at them, including a stun grenade. When the soldiers boarded the ships, things got more intense.

The "activists" attacked the Israeli soldiers, using knives, metal pipes and chains against them. Several soldiers were stabbed or slashed, and a video shows one soldier being thrown off the flotilla. Clearly, the armed confrontation was premeditated, designed to draw an Israeli response. The fact that the "activists" turned violent immediately demonstrates they are not "activists" at all. They are terrorists.

Israeli soldiers were justified in using lethal force to defend their lives and get the riot under control, especially since lethal force was used against them. This is exactly what the "activists"/terrorists wanted - an opportunity to use propaganda against Israeli soldiers killing "peaceful activists" who were only trying to deliver "humanitarian" aid.

This entire fiasco is a complete fraud.

What President Obama should have done once the facts became clear is to announce support for Israel's right to self defense and denounce the obvious fraud perpetrated by the "activists"/terrorists who attempted to run the blockade. His weak response demonstrates why he needs to be replaced.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Avatar: New technology does not make a great movie.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

I finally saw Avatar after listening to months of hype about it. I was bored to tears.

There was not anything specific about this movie that I truly hated, though I thought the political commentary was heavy-handed and preachy. The special effects were nice. The problem was that there was too much movie. Does a popcorn movie like Avatar really need to be 2 hours and 40 minutes long?

The Lord of the Rings series changed movies, demonstrating that people are willing to sit through longer movies. As a result, movies are getting longer and longer. There is a qualifier for that, however: the movie has to be an excellent movie to get away with being 3 hours long. While that works with the LOTR series, it does not work with Avatar. Had this been 90 minutes, it would have been great.

The good news is that it was better than Transformers 2.

I realize that the 3-D effects in Avatar have changed movies, and Hollywood is rushing to cash in on the 3-D craze. The problem with Avatar was that there was not a great story to go with the special effects. Groundbreaking though the effects may be, as movies come out with technology that is just as good (and eventually better) than Avatar, there will be movies that look as good but have a much better story. Avatar will be forgotten.

Allow me to use video games as an example for why you need substance to go with a leap in technology. Back in the 1990's, Donkey Kong Country revolutionized 16-bit graphics, but along with the graphics came a great game. Rare actually improved the gameplay in the two sequels.

But improved graphics do not make a great game. Final Fantasy VIII for the PlayStation was a step forward in graphics for the series, with a much more realistic look for the characters and beautifully rendered cut scenes. The problem was that the gameplay left a lot to be desired. The "draw" system for magic was tedious busywork and the junctioning system for character's abilities was overly complicated and annoying.

I do not doubt that Avatar revolutionized the way movies are made, because we are seeing more and more movies use the 3-D technology. The problem with a new technology, however, is that companies love to jump on the technology without realizing they need substance and not just flash.

Again, using video games as an example: the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation brought 3-D to the forefront, and there were some great games - especially Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. But there were also a lot of games with broken controls, an awkward and infuriating camera, and all around bad gameplay. Making a game in 3-D does not ensure a great game. It merely ensures the game will be 3-D.

Ultimately, Avatar was a lot of sizzle and not enough steak. Final Grade: D+

Friday, June 4, 2010

Frivolous defamation lawsuits

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

The New York Times reports that when a college student annoyed with a Michigan towing company created a Facebook group to criticize them, the company retaliated with a $750,000 defamation lawsuit, claiming that it has lost business.

The Times reported that the group had 800 members in two days. As of Tuesday evening, the group had 12,871 members. The disproportionate response from T&J Towing has backfired, giving the company national media attention and inflaming opposition to their practices. T&J Towing has shot itself in the foot.

Basically, T&J Towing is trying to blackmail its critics into silence with the threat of financial ruin. Expecting a college student to pay $750,000 for griping about the company on Facebook is a laughably disproportionate response and has backfired big time.

T&J Towing's frivolous lawsuit is a "strategic lawsuit against public participation" (SLAPP) designed to intimidate critics into silence. Some states have laws against such lawsuits, though the laws obviously vary from state to state. It should surprise no one that two members of Congress are trying to pass a federal law against SLAPP.

I oppose this for the same reason I oppose federal efforts to implement tort reform. Regardless of the merits of preventing SLAPP, it should be the states, not the federal government, that set policies to protect the free exchange of ideas and legitimate public criticism of bad company practices. We should not be immediately looking for a federal solution to a problem that can be solved through the state legislature.

Ultimately, if a company wants to have a good public image, then they should conduct business in a courteous and professional manner. If a company deals with the public properly, then the occasional disgruntled customer will not cause damage to the company's reputation when he complains online. Perhaps T&J Towing should consider that business model instead of mafia-like intimidation tactics.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Limited government vs. no government

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

When Governor Bobby Jindal was calling for action to protect the Louisiana coast, a Democratic state representative Sam Jones whined that Jindal was being "hypocritical" because he believes in limited government.

It is useful to make the distinction between limited government and no government, because there are some who do not understand that those who advocate limited government are not advocating that we abolish everything government does. Advocates of limited government (like Jindal) support exactly that: a government that is limited, not anarchy.

Conservatives generally believe in a federal government with a limited role, with most of the authority left to the states. Once again, limited does not mean nonexistent. Only the most extreme would argue for the elimination of the military, especially since national defense is a power specifically enumerated to the federal government by the Constitution.

In the case of the oil spill, you have a disaster that is threatening the coasts of several states, a situation where it is wholly appropriate for the federal government to intervene to protect the borders of the United States.

Of course, Rep. Jones knows this. He's simply lying by pretending to not know the difference, in order to play to the extreme Left base of his party. Jones' complaint has no merit because it is not honest. This type of petulant "criticism" could be expected from an anonymous troll on an Internet forum, but not from a member of a state legislature. Jones dishonored himself and his office with his childish and dishonest cheap shot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How not to draw a legislative district

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

This fall in House Legislative District 61, Kevin Suddeth is seeking to unseat Matt Pierce, who was elected to the Indiana House in 2002. Pierce defeated a Libertarian to win an open seat vacated by Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, and won two landslides against his challengers (both IU students) in 2004 and 2006.

District 61 is a heavily Democratic district, picking up all of Bloomington Township, heavily Democratic areas of Perry Township and all of sparsely populated Washington Township. For the most part, it is a well drawn district, a simple rectangle. The problem comes at the southern tip of the district, where District 60 takes a chunk out of 61 with a tiny land bridge to make the district contiguous. See maps below:

(Maps are from the district's Web site.)

This is ridiculous.

While I understand that jagged lines are often necessary to keep the population of state legislative districts as even as possible, there is a difference between necessary zigs and zags and a shameless gerrymander. This is not surprising, given that the same legislators who gave us the shamelessly gerrymandered Congressional districts and a state legislative district map that contributes to a huge number of uncontested races.

There have been proposals for reform, including establishing an independent commission to draw the maps. Ultimately, though, the solution will be to terminate the employment of legislators who short circuit the electoral process by drawing maps that make election results a foregone conclusion. Even in the worst of gerrymandered districts, voters can do that in November - something that is especially important because no reform will be implemented in time to affect the next redrawing of Congressional and state legislative district maps.

Furthermore, Republicans should make redistricting a major issue in this year's elections, and pledge to draw legislative districts that make sense for voters rather than for the re-election campaigns of incumbents. To steal a phrase from President Obama, redistricting reform is change we can believe in.