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Friday, April 29, 2011

New game consoles coming - but when?

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

It is no secret that Microsoft and Sony - both of which lost a significant amount of money when they launched the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3 - want to extend the life of the current console generation as long as possible. Video game consoles have always operated on the "razor and blade" model, where the money is made on the software rather than the hardware. Microsoft and Sony want to milk the "blades" as long as possible.

It should be no surprise, then, that both companies are waiting until 2014 to launch the next generation of consoles. This is good news for people who are already in the current console generation, because their system of choice will be supported for a few more years. This also means the current generation of video game consoles will have a much longer life cycle than we have seen in the past. Twenty years ago, a nine-year life cycle for a console was unheard of.

I will predict now that the next generation of game consoles will be based on digital distribution rather than physical media. Instead of going to the store and buying a disc, you will download a digital copy to store on your system's hard drive. While this could potentially kill the retail market, it is not impossible for retailers to stay in the game.

There are two big advantages to digital distribution over physical media.

First, there is the issue of convenience. Instead of pre-ordering physical media to be shipped to your home, or going to a store to buy a game, you can download it from your living room. Smaller publishers would be on a more even playing field with companies like Capcom and Rockstar, and the cost of manufacturing and shipping discs, cases and instruction manuals would vanish. There would be no such thing as a "sold out" game.

Second, this could open up a much larger market for classic games. All three console makers have introduced this to some extent. The PlayStation store, for example, offers Final Fantasy VII and IX via digital download for both PSP and PS3. If games for new consoles are all sold digitally, this could expand greatly. You will no longer have to hunt for an old copy of a game that is no longer being manufactured.

The biggest problem with digital distribution is the potential for piracy. Physical media can be copied, but it is much easier to copy digital media. The PC gaming industry has worked to combat this through digital rights management. In order to play some games, the software must be validated with the server, and only then is allowed to run. There is no reason this could not be implemented for video game consoles.

One of the things holding back the next generation could be the price point of a system that is significantly more powerful than the one preceding it. The PS3 struggled early because it launched at $600. That makes it a difficult purchase for anyone other than a hardcore gamer. As Kotaku points out, it may not be until 2014 before it is possible to release a new system at $400 without taking a huge financial loss.

It is certainly going to be interesting to see where the industry goes next.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Donald Trump's war against private property rights

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

Donald Trump is trying to rally conservative activists to him, capitalizing on the "birther" nonsense to bring headlines to himself. But let me say this well in advance of the 2012 Republican nomination battle: If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I will not vote Republican in 2012.

Let's not fool ourselves here. Donald Trump has no ideological foundation other than his love for himself. This race is not about what is best for the nation; it is about Trump's ego. The fact that he has latched on to the "birther" nonsense is proof positive of that. Trump knew that the "birther" conspiracy theory - the notion that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya - would grab the most headlines. If he were serious, he would be talking about public policy.

Let's not fool ourselves here. This has nothing to do with what is good for the nation and everything to do with Trump's massive ego. His flip-flopping on abortion provides more than enough evidence for that. After decades of supporting abortion rights, Trump is suddenly "pro-life" just as he is running for a nomination he knows he cannot win as a pro-choice candidate. No one is fooled, Mr. Trump.

As conservatives embrace the Tea Party movement, standing for individual liberty and limited government in the face of a massive expansion of government power, we should not forget that Trump is no friend of the freedoms protected by the Constitution. Trump has a history of attacking the Constitution for his own personal greed.

Both Robert VerBruggen and Michelle Malkin pointed out last week that Trump has a history of using government to muscle private property owners out of their homes so he can line his already large bank account. Trump's effort to get government to steal for him represents the worst of corporate greed and crony capitalism, and is exactly the opposite of what we need in our next President.

Trump even supported the damnable Kelo v. City of New London decision in 2005, where the "justices" on the Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Amendment allows government to steal land for use by private developers. Is this the kind of candidate that conservatives really want? Do Republicans really want the standard bearer for our party to be someone who advocates that government steal from the poor at the point of a gun, in order to give to the rich?

I have often said that a government that ignores the rule of law is far more dangerous to our liberty than any terrorist or foreign aggressor. It is inconceivable that the men who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to defend liberty would approve of Trump's vision where government acts as the enforcer for the super-rich to steal whatever they want. Trump's vision is profoundly anti-American and raises serious questions about his patriotism.

If we need any more evidence that Trump's candidacy is about his inflated ego instead of principle, consider that he said he would consider running as an independent if he failed to win the Republican Party nomination. This foolish move would hand the Presidency back to Obama. Republicans should not even consider voting for someone who will not respect the nomination process and will torpedo any chance of limiting Barack Obama's disastrous agenda to one term.

The bottom line is this: Republicans do not need an egomaniac with no principles other than his own ego, and we certainly do not need another nominee who is openly hostile to our Constitutional rights. I will not even consider voting for Donald Trump under any circumstances. Let Trump feed his ego elsewhere, perhaps with another appearance at WrestleMania. Leave public policy to people who are actually serious.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Honor God by obeying the law

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

Last week, I said that Republicans should stay in their own primary and not cross over to the Democratic primary in order to vote in the hotly contested race for Mayor between John Hamilton and incumbent Mark Kruzan. I believe the party nominations should be left to the voters of that party, without interference from the other party. I would support legislation to make Indiana's closed primary system enforceable.

For Christians who are also Republicans, there is a much more important reason to resist the temptation to jump to the Democratic primary. According to Indiana code IC 3-10-1-6, you are not supposed to vote in the primary of a political party unless you "voted for a majority of the regular nominees of the political party holding the primary election" in the last general election.

Romans chapter 13 is very clear that we are to obey the earthly authority God has placed over us. This means we are to obey the law, even if it is not enforceable. By honoring earthly authority, we honor God. This is why I took a Republican ballot when I voted on Thursday evening.

Furthermore, if I took a Democratic ballot, I would be declaring myself to be a Democrat. That is not true. It is a lie. That would make me a liar. I cannot in good conscience declare myself to be a Democrat in a very public manner when I have no intention of supporting Democratic candidates in the fall.

I understand there is a great deal of temptation to jump to the other primary because of the completely pathetic state of the Monroe County Republican Party and the nearly empty GOP field. It may be true that the Democratic primary is the de facto election for Mayor. But the law is clear, and as Christians we are commanded to obey the law.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Banning sexually degrading terms on HTO

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

Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg addressed the use of the sexually degrading term "teabagger" for Tea Party protesters in his editorial yesterday, saying the H-T editors "make every effort to remove comments from HeraldTimesOnline.com that use the term, and to edit it from letters sent by readers."

I will not quibble with the first claim. Moderating a heavily used forum like HeraldTimesOnline.com is not an easy task, with hundreds of messages posted daily and discussions often getting heated. It is very difficult to catch every use of the term. The second claim, however, is simply not true - and Zaltsberg knows it.

I posted in the comments that the H-T has repeatedly published the word "teabagger" or a variation thereof, with multiple quotes copy-pasted from articles published in the Herald-Times. One of those uses was in a guest column while another was written by one of the H-T's official community columnists. My comment was promptly deleted.

So let me get this straight. Directly quoting the literal, word-for-word text of an article published in the Herald-Times is suddenly a violation of HeraldTimesOnline.com terms of service? Are you kidding me? All I did was copy and paste what the H-T itself has published, and I get smacked with the Delete Stick.

I do not have a problem with the H-T banning the use of the sexually degrading insult "teabagger" in the comments. It is a good policy and one that should have been implemented two years ago. I have a problem with the flagrant lies used to explain the new policy, when everyone knows the H-T has never been serious about keeping that word off the printed page. I also have a problem with the hypocrisy of deleting comments that merely quote what has already been published in the newspaper.

Like I said, this is a good policy. But Zaltsberg needs to be an adult in explaining it. Had Zaltsberg admitted the newspaper made a bad call in repeatedly publishing a sexually degrading insult and will not make the same mistake in the future, I can respect that. It is honorable to admit a mistake and change course.

When the new policy is justified with lies that everyone sees through immediately, combined with hypocrisy in the enforcement of the policy, I have no respect whatsoever for the argument.

See examples below:

The important thing is to save the economy. The tea-baggers are being used.

April 16, 2009

(the Teabagger extremists apparently having forgotten the Bush family’s close ties to the House of Saud),

So while on our Earth (Earth 1) teabaggers fade into the background

April 23, 2009

I believe in making your opinions heard and open intelligent debate, but the footage I have seen of these tea bag parties shows some serious hatred and contempt for our government and an elected president

May 2, 2009

The ridiculous "tea bag" protests are just one demonstration of how little honest debate goes on about real economic issues.

May 10, 2009

A confused teabagger, pleading to keep the socialistic system he loves. More on socialism later.

September 19, 2009

QUESTION: Since this new plan will save Monroe County taxpayers millions by not subsidizing speculators profits, where are the teabagger's who are all for lower taxes?

Nocember 18, 2009

I was amused by Brian Christiansen’s "tea bag" advocacy letter. He gets a lot wrong concerning our national deficits.

March 21, 2010

"Bush Lite" wants the job but doesn’t qualify as a brand-name extremist to rouse teabag rabble.

Septembver 23, 2010

Tea-bag supporters rant about a "Ground Zero mosque." They’re lying. It’s not a mosque, and it’s not at "Ground Zero."

November 23, 2010

How gullible are tea-bag voters?

December 27, 2010

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cancer does not justify drive-by shootings

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

I am always amused when I see someone argue for abortion rights by saying God "is the most prolific abortionist of all."

Let's follow this argument to its logical conclusion.

First, every single person who on earth has ever lived has died or will die, without exception. The vast majority die from natural causes, such as old age, cancer, heart disease, viral infections and so on. Therefore, they were "murdered" by God.

Since God has "murdered" all of these people, then drive by shootings must be OK! I mean, why can't I take an AK-47 and start mowing people down on Kirkwood Avenue? God "murders" people every single day, so there must be nothing wrong with murder.

Abortion-rights advocates think they are being "cute" with this argument, but anyone who examines it thoughtfully will rightly see it as foolishness. Natural spontaneous miscarriages do not justify abortion any more than cancer justifies drive-by shootings.

Either the fetus is a human being and should be protected, or he/she is not. That is the fundamental question that needs to be answered.

Friday, April 22, 2011

You cannot win the future by lying about the past

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

President Obama is proposing significant tax hikes in order to bring the budget into balance. In his speech this week, Obama once again childishly blamed President Bush for the budget mess we are facing, rather than own up to his own recklessly irresponsible spending. Obama repeated the Leftist meme that tax cuts caused the deficit.

This means we need yet another history lesson.

Barack Obama’s own web site (WhiteHouse.gov) reports that total federal revenue in 1981 was $599.27 billion. Total federal revenue in 1989 was $991 billion.

Barack Obama’s own web site (WhiteHouse.gov) reports that total federal revenue in 2001 was $1.99 trillion. Total federal revenue in 2008 was $2.52 trillion.

The problem we have is not that we lack revenue, though revenues have gone down since 2008 as a result of the terrible economic downturn brought about by the crash of the housing market. The problem we have is that the government has absolutely no discipline when it comes to spending the people’s money. More tax revenues will do nothing to solve the budget crisis if we do not bring government spending under control.

Meanwhile, President Obama has been spending us into bankruptcy. Total federal spending in 2008 was 2.98 trillion. Total federal spending in 2009 was $3.51 trillion. Total federal spending in 2010 was $3.45 trillion. Total federal spending in 2011 is estimated to be $3.81 trillion.

This is simply not sustainable, folks. We cannot continue to hemorrhage cash the way we have done these last three years. The future of this nation is at stake.

Furthermore, Obama’s petulant insistence on blaming President Bush ignores the fact that the Democratic Party won control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 election.

The federal budget deficit in 2005 was $318 billion. The federal budget deficit in 2006 was $248 billion. The federal budget deficit in 2007 – the last budget written and passed by Republicans – was $160 billion. The deficit exploded after the Democrats took office.

One week ago, I attended the Tea Party rally at the Showers Building in downtown Bloomington. The message to Barack Obama today remains the same as it was when the Tea Party movement launched two years ago: The United States of America cannot survive if we continue your reckless spending policies. Stop it now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Republicans: Stay in your own primary

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

The primary election is in 12 days and there is a hotly-contested contest for mayor on the Democratic side. Democratic incumbents face primary challenges in city council districts 1 and 6, while districts 3 and 5 have a number of Democrats running for open seats as Mike Satterfield and Isabel Piedmont have decided against running. The fifth district should be interesting as it is a five-way contest.

The Republican primary, meanwhile, is truly pathetic. There is a Republican candidate in district 1 (where I live) and there are two at-large candidates. No Republican has filed to run for mayor or city clerk, and no Republican has filed to run in districts 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Because of this, there will be a significant temptation for Republicans to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary. I understand this temptation, because there is no real reason to vote in the GOP primary. Furthermore, some Republicans may be tempted to jump because a primary loss would be a significant setback for the Kruzan wing of the party.

This is not something I will be doing, and I do not support those who do. I already explained why I oppose crossover voting back in 2008, so I won't repeat the same reasoning. Suffice it to say that I believe Republicans and Democrats should stay in their own primaries instead of trying to monkeywrench the other party's nomination process.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Limited government, abortion and same-sex marriage

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

In his LTTE today, Charles Winkle takes issue with my statement that "Republicans are supposed to be for limited government" in my April 1 LTTE by bringing up "women making their own reproductive choices" and "people being allowed to love and marry who they love regardless of gender."

First of all, there is a difference between limited government and anarchy. A belief in limited government is just that - a belief in limited government. That is not the same as anarchism. I am not an anarchist.

I believe people should have the liberty to do pretty much whatever they want without interference from government, provided they are not harming anyone else. That second part is crucial, and that is why I favor criminalizing abortion. Abortion is not simply women making reproductive choices. Abortion is the bloody, violent, cruel butchering of an innocent human being. Government has both the right and moral responsibility to make it illegal to kill people.

If Winkle is interested keeping government out of reproductive choices, will he join me in advocating that all taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood be eliminated, so pro-life taxpayers are not forced to fund that damnable organization? Will he join me in lobbying the Bloomington City Council and the Monroe County Council to urge both to stop giving corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood as a means of giving a cynical political endorsement to that organization?

As far as same-sex marriage, who is making it illegal for people to love whoever they choose? There is no serious effort to criminalize homosexual behavior. Winkle thinks he has accomplished something with this "argument" but he has only managed to set up a straw man and knock it over.

There is nothing in current or proposed law that prevents two people of the same sex from getting married and living as such, provided that couple can find a "church" that is willing to perform the ceremony. What same-sex couples cannot have is the official endorsement of government placed upon that marriage.

As far as the expanded law enforcement powers advanced by the Bush administration, this has been a failure of Republicans, though I would point out that these policies have been continued by President Obama. But I am frankly tired of having this argument thrown in my face.

Do you know who it was who wrote the very first letter to the editor published in the Herald-Times opposing the so-called "Patriot Act?" It was not Isabel Piedmont, nor was it anti-war activists David Keppel or Timothy Baer. It was not Sean Bagley, who was living in a "peace camp" in Dunn Meadow. That person was right wing activist Scott Tibbs.

Yes, that's right. While Evan Bayh was voting for the "Patriot Act" and while Baron Hill could not even be bothered to vote at all on the most significant piece of anti-terrorism legislation in a generation, I was literally the first person in line to oppose the Patriot Act... I joined several others as we successfully lobbied the Bloomington City Council to pass a resolution against the "Patriot Act" two years later.

Winkle is right when he argues that Republicans have often failed to be consistent in support of limited government, but abortion and same-sex marriage are poor examples of that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turnout down at Tea Party rally, Leftists disrupt anyway

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

The threat of rain, cold weather and the Little 500 weekend all contributed to a poor turnout at the 2011 Tea Party rally in downtown Bloomington, significantly down from the 2009 and 2010 rallies. The rally also was not as heavily promoted as in past years. Nonetheless, a couple Leftists were determined to disrupt the rally.

One Leftist in a red sweatshirt walked up behind the second speaker and stood within a couple inches of him with his arms raised in an impersonation of Richard Nixon. If I pulled the same stunt at a pro-choice rally, I would be arrested and thrown into jail faster than you can say "disturbing the peace."

The red-shirted Leftist later teamed up with another Leftist to shout down the speakers. They clearly rattled the IU College Republicans president, who was trying to continue his remarks despite the rude and disrespectful attempt to shout him down and disrupt the rally. Predictably, they claimed "free speech" in their right to disrupt.

This is simply unacceptable, folks. There are plenty of opportunities to engage and discuss the merits of the Tea Party's objections to government spending without trying to disrupt the rally and shout down the speakers. The two Leftists who disrupted the rally had no interest in discussion or the exchange of ideas. They were only interested in preventing the Tea Party Patriots from exercising our free speech rights. Shameful.

See pictures on the post page...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Meddling legislators need to stay out of my life!

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

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Prescriptions for pseudoephedrine
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2011 19:19:29 -0400
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: H22@IN.gov

Representative Kubacki,

I am very sick today. I am fighting a nasty cold and I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some nasal decongestant to clear up my sinuses so I can breathe. I was irritated because had to wait in line for 15 minutes because meddling legislators cannot keep their noses out of everyone else's business. I was completely miserable.

If you get your way, I will not be allowed to even have the privilege of "showing my papers" to the pharmacy because pseudoephedrine will be available only by prescription.

Never mind that there are other ways for people to make meth without PSE, and never mind that 80% of the meth in Indiana comes from Mexico. Never mind that abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin is common, so this may have only minimal impact. Meddling legislators feel the need to "do something" about the meth problem.

Have you considered the poor, Representative Kubacki? After all, it is hardly fair for people who don't have much money and do not have health insurance to suffer without medicine because of meddling legislators.

Here is my proposal. If pseudoephedrine becomes prescription only, there should be a new government program that pays for doctors' visits of people seeking the medication. If the government is going to require us to go to the doctor to get an over-the-counter medicine, then the government should pay for those doctor's visits.

That sounds like socialism, you might say. Yes, it does because that's exactly what it is. But if society (through our elected representatives) is going to make it more expensive for sick people to get medicine due to overreaching nannyism, then society as a whole should pay for it.

When costs for this program start spiraling out of control, maybe we will think twice about it.

I have a better idea. The Indiana state legislature needs to stay out of my life. I can take care of myself. I don't need state government trying to be my mommy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Silly Florida pastor provides valuable public service

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

I do not agree with the actions of a Florida pastor who burned the Koran, but he provided a valuable service in exposing exactly who we are fighting in this War on Terror. In response to this display by the pastor of a small church on the other side of the planet, a bunch of savages murdered a number of people and rioted across Afghanistan.

Terry Jones' critics are arguing that he is responsible for these events. No, he is not. The only people responsible for Islamic terrorism are Islamic terrorists themselves. If your faith is so fragile that you can't handle some paper, leather and glue being set on fire, your faith is not worth very much.

But the issue is not Jones or his church. The issue these savages are such fanatics that they will engage in mass murder at the slightest insult against their religion. Jones provided a valuable service because, nearly a decade after September 11, we need to be reminded of who we are fighting. Our enemies will gladly kill themselves in order to slaughter three thousand innocent people.

We cannot negotiate with Muslim terrorists. Walking on eggshells and being careful not to "offend" them will not satisfy them. Muslim terrorists want one thing and one thing only: to force the "infidels" to convert to Islam, and to kill us if we refuse. Peace is impossible with these people. Only overwhelming military victory will work.

Previous editorials:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opposing abortion in a moral and legal manner

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

I believe abortion is murder. Because of this, I have been involved in the anti-abortion movement for the better part of the last 15 years. The fact that 50 million unborn babies have been murdered in the United States alone since 1973 is an incredible moral tragedy and a crime against humanity. When faced with this bloodshed, how should we react? On HeraldTimesOnline.com I was asked the following question:

I assume you're doing everything in your power, including the use of deadly force, to stop this mass murder? Or are you a completely immoral coward?

Setting aside the fact that the "question" is completely intellectually dishonest, would it be appropriate for abortion opponents to use lethal force to stop abortion?

The answer is a resounding and uncompromising "no."

First of all, abortion is "legal" thanks to a damnable Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all 50 states. Abortion should be a crime under our legal system, but it is not. God has placed the sword into the hands of the civil authority, not vigilantes or terrorists. (See Romans 13.) Because of this, killing abortionists would fall under the prohibition against murder in Exodus 20:13.

In 1 Samuel 24:8-13, David is being pursued by the wicked King Saul, who was trying to murder him out of petty jealousy. David had the opportunity to kill Saul and end the persecution he faced, but David was a man of faith and refused to harm the Lord's anointed. It is clear that God takes authority very seriously, and we are to respect the authority that He established on earth.

The purpose of the pro-life movement is to advance a life-affirming culture as opposed to the brutality that surrounds us. Engaging in terrorism to stop abortion is not morally justifiable. Instead, it reduces us to the same level of barbarism that we oppose. Abortion must be opposed, but it must be opposed by peaceful, legal means.

Previous articles:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rachel Maddow "confuses" limited government with anarchism

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

On her program last week, Rachel Maddow was talking about government safety regulations in the wake of a Southwest Airlines flight that lost part of the roof of the plane and was forced to make an emergency landing. Maddow claimed that conservatives reject the idea that government should play a role in regulating the industry to prevent these things from happening. "Government is the problem. No role for government. That is the conservative case and the conservative cause," Maddow said.

Interestingly enough, Maddow didn't bother citing a single credible conservative who is on record as saying government should have no role in regulating the airline industry, or any other industry for that matter. That's because she is making it up. In other words, she lied.

There is a difference between conservatism and anarchy. There is a difference between limited government and no government. Even libertarian conservatives do not argue for no government at all. If they did, they would be anarchists.

We can and should have a discussion about the role of government, and to what extent we should regulate industry to protect public safety. To what extent are government regulations necessary to protect the health and safety of the public? To what extent are government regulations an overreach that places an unnecessary burden on business and are therefore a drag on the economy?

If we're going to have this discussion, however, it is necessary to honestly examine the policy positions of both sides of the argument. Creating a caricature of the opposing argument and then refuting that "argument" is not only a straw man logical fallacy, it is a fundamentally dishonest and unethical trick that makes legitimate discussion impossible.

When Maddow is ready, she can join us at the adult table.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The childish Tu Quoque fallacies used to defend Obama

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

While some defenders of President Obama's military adventure in Libya make policy-based arguments about why this needed to be done, the arguments of others can basically be summarized as: Waaah! Waaah! Bush did it too! Bush did it too! Waaah!

To this I say: Grow up.

This is what is wrong with politics today, folks. We cannot even have a legitimate discussion about the philosophical and practical merits of public policy because people are too busy pointing fingers at the other side as a means of justifying what they are doing. It is a classic Tu Quoque logical fallacy. And let's not fool ourselves: Republicans are every bit as prone to this childish behavior as Democrats.

Barack Obama either has the authority to do this under the Constitution or he does not. The military strikes on Libya are either a good idea or they are not. What President Bush did or not do is completely irrelevant. George W. Bush is not President anymore and has not been President for more than two years. It is long past time for the more childish elements of Obama's base to stop whining about Bush and start defending Obama based on the merits of his policy.

The fact of the matter is that Obama flip-flopped on this matter. He said in 2007 that "the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Whatever else the Libyan regime might be guilty of, there was no attack on the United States and there was no imminent threat of an attack. Obama abandoned his stated principles, plain and simple. Arguments that Bush flip-flopped on this issue or that are worth less that a pile of horse manure.

While Obama was right in 2007, his statement creates a potentially large loophole giving the President much greater power to initiate military conflict than Obama probably intended. The problem is that using "imminent threat" as a standard is that "imminent threat" can be very broadly defined.

After all, the regime in Iran is well-known for alliance with terrorists. American troops in South Korea live under the threat that that the North could use nuclear weapons against them. The Soviets had the capacity to wipe the United States off the map during the Cold War - and Russia still does.

We need to have an adult discussion about American military adventurism and what powers the President has to order our troops into combat. Childishly pointing fingers at each other accomplishes nothing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

There's no reason to panic about binding arbitration

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

A number of conservatives are apoplectic about a judge in Florida who ruled that Islamic law would be used to settle a dispute between two parties in a civil lawsuit.

First of all, I am not a fool. I understand the threat presented by militant Islam and the fact that militant Islamists want Sharia Law to be the law of the land. This case should not be causing conservatives to get stomach ulcers, because this is about one thing and one thing only: enforcement of a contract willingly agreed to by both parties.

This is not unique to Islam. In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul shames the church at Corinth for taking civil lawsuits to the pagan authorities rather than having the dispute judged by the ruling elders of the church. If two parties in a Bible-believing church were to agree in writing to submit to arbitration by the board of elders, a judge would not be establishing a Christian theocracy by simply saying the two parties have to abide by the contract they signed if one of the parties does not like the decision made by the elders.

The fact that the two parties specifically agreed to submit to Sharia for arbitration of the dispute is not the issue. The issue is that both parties agreed to binding arbitration. There is nothing wrong with the courts basically telling the parties to deal with it themselves, and declining to interfere with the arbitration process.

Obviously, there have to be limits on this and there are areas where the courts should overrule the internal arbitration. For example, if a cult leader wanted to force a family within the cult to give their 12-year-old daughter to a 40-year-old man as his wife, the courts have every right to step in and protect the child and her family from the predatory cult leadership. But in this case, there is no harm in honoring the arbitration process.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The importance of contested elections

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

The primary elections for control of city government are looming, and the Republican Party is missing in action. On the Democratic side, there are contested primaries in the first, third, fifth and sixth city council districts, and a contested primary for mayor. Republicans managed to find a candidate for the first district and two at-large candidates. The spots on the ballot for the other five district seats, the mayor and city clerk are vacant.

The good news is that the Republicans are planning to hold a caucus after the primary to fill some vacant spots for city council. Unfortunately, no one has yet expressed interest in running for mayor. Hopefully the GOP will do better than in 2007, when they contested only 3 of 6 districts and fielded 1 at-large candidate.

But more important than the city council races is the race for chief executive. Someone needs to run for mayor. It is not healthy for Bloomington to have the most powerful position in city government be uncontested in the November election. Even if the eventual Democratic nominee is opposed by a write-in candidate with absolutely no chance of winning, it is critical that there be some choice for the voters.

It is true that the last eight years have not been good for Republicans in Bloomington and Monroe County. There are a number of reasons for that, but there is simply no excuse to not even attempt to give the voters a choice in November. I do not buy the argument that it is impossible for a Republican to win elections for city government. Republicans won the 5th district (though not by much) three elections in a row and have held the 2nd district for some time now. The 6th and 4th districts are winnable if Republicans can somehow manage to mobilize students. There's no reason Republicans can't pick up one of the three at-large seats.

There was a significant oversight in the article on Sunday, with the statement that "the two political parties can hold a caucus after the primary." There are actually three parties with ballot access in Bloomington. The third is the Libertarian Party. The Libertarians have not placed a candidate on the ballot in a city election since 1999, though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

War should always be the last resort

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

Last week, I sent a letter to President Obama questioning his authority to initiate military action against Libya and urging him to cease the conflict immediately.

There is a precedent for military intervention for the sake of humanitarian goals. My position on the military strikes against Libya is the same as it was for our military actions in Somalia and Bosnia. War is a terrible thing and should be avoided to the greatest extent possible. This means military force should only be used to protect national security and then should always be the last resort.

There is no question that the Somali warlords were completely evil. There is no question that the Milosevic regime in Serbia was completely evil. As terrible as the Somali warlords and the Serbian regime were, it was not our place to intervene militarily. We simply cannot be the world’s policeman, and these types of operations set a precedent for an incredibly interventionist foreign policy.

What President Clinton did in Haiti was worse. After a murderous dictator was forced from power (by people who admittedly were bad guys themselves) Clinton used American military power to reinstall that murderous dictator. Even if I supported military action for humanitarian reasons, there can be no moral justification for putting Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in power.

While I was opposed to the operation in Somalia, I believe our response to the war crimes committed in the Mogadishu Massacre was completely inadequate and foolish. We managed to show the world that the United States was weak. Osama bin Laden himself gloated about our weak response after the massacre.

I will never forget the images of those war criminals dragging the corpses of American soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu. We owed it to the families of those soldiers to respond aggressively and bring the guilty parties to the harshest justice possible. We must never encourage those who would harm us by showing weakness to terrorists and war criminals.

If we are intervening militarily in Libya to prevent war criminal Muammar Gaddafi from slaughtering his own people, why are we not intervening in the Darfur region of Sudan? What is going on there could easily be described as genocide. We know that Kim Jong Il is brutally repressing his own people in North Korea - and for that matter, Red China is not exactly treating Tibet in a gentle manner.

We are setting a bad precedent here.