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Monday, January 31, 2011

"Are you a Christian or a Paulian?"

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

"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:11-12

Apart from Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul was arguably the greatest saint of the New Testament. He is responsible for writing much of the Scriptures we study today, dealing with topics from sexual immorality to church unity and salvation. He takes an uncompromising stand on matters of doctrine, while commanding that Christians be tolerant of each other on matters of Christian liberty. Authority is woven throughout Paul's writings.

It should not be a surprise, then, that modern Christians hate the Apostle Paul.

The fact that many are dismissing the Apostle Paul in favor of "jesus" illustrates the same divisions that dogged the church at Corinth still endanger the Church today. We aren't of the Apostle Paul, we are of "christ."

Well, of course we are of Christ and not of Paul. But the Apostle Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament. Paul was a Pharisee with a deep and rich knowledge of the Old Testament before Jesus confronted him and converted him on the road to Damascus.

The hatred for the Apostle Paul stems from a hatred for God's Word and the deseire to toss aside the authority of Scripture where we find that authority too constraining. While the Bible demonstrates that certain civil and ceremonial laws governing the Israelites (such as the dietary laws nullified in Acts 10:10-15) are no longer in effect, Paul makes it very clear that we are expected to still obey God's Word on other matters such as sexual purity.

But postmoderns would rather worship a false, fabricated "jesus" that has absolutely nothing to do with the Jesus of the Bible. That fabricated "jesus" in an effeminate wimp who would never dare to drive the money changers out of the temple with a whip or rebuke a generation of vipers. That "jesus" certainly would not expand on Old Testament law by making it an issue of both the heart and body - that lusting after a woman is equivalent to adultery and hatred for someone is equivalent to murder.

If you are a Christian, you should love the Apostle Paul. You should love his obedience in demanding that we obey. You should love his confrontational, sarcastic and harsh tone, and his willingness to call out those who would lead vulnerable souls to destruction. We should love the Apostle Paul because he is such a good example of how we are to follow Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Political correctness should never trump public safety!

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

Note: I submitted this this letter to the editor of the Indiana Daily Student earlier this week. See my previous letter to the editor and follow-up blog post from February and March of 2008.

To the Editor:

According to statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control for 41,087 HIV transmissions in 2008, 22,469 infections were from male-to-male sexual contact. This is 54.7% of HIV infections. "Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use" accounted for another 1,141 HIV transmissions in 2008, according to the CDC.

Furthermore, male-to-male sexual contact has accounted for 513,138 of AIDS diagnoses through 2008, or 48% of the 1,063,778 diagnoses tracked by the CDC. All of this information is available on the CDC's web site, www.cdc.gov.

Keep in mind that male homosexuals represent a huge percentage of HIV/AIDS transmissions despite the fact that they are a tiny minority of the entire US population.

The blood donation policy that excludes male homosexuals from giving blood is based on solid statistical data. This is not about "discrimination" or "judgment" of anyone, but protecting public health and ensuring the blood supply is as safe as possible. It is irresponsible, selfish and dangerous to demand that male homosexuals be allowed to donate blood despite the very real increased risk that the blood they donate will be tainted with a deadly virus. Political correctness should never trump public safety!

As a former officer in the IU College Republicans, it was especially disappointing to see the current president of the College Republicans buying into the politically correct nonsense regarding the "discrimination" in blood donation policy. Abandoning sound public policy to embrace a Leftist political agenda is not something that any Republican should be doing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christian Citizens for Life organizes 2011 Rally for Life

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

About 200 abortion opponents gathered at the Monroe County Courthouse on Sunday to sadly remember and protest Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all 50 states. The rally was organized by Christian Citizens for Life, an alliance of several Monroe County churces to oppose abortion.

Tina Tuley-Lampke informed the crowd of a new children's ministry at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, in addition to the material support to young mothers and the Hannah House maternity home for women who need a place to live with their babies. CCFL encourages people to donate to CPC online or though more traditional means.

Alan Phillips of Sherwood Oaks Christian Church was the keynote speaker, encouraging us to stand up for the unborn and defend the basic human right to life. His wife Sharon told the story of an unplanned pregnancy in 1979, which was a shock for which she was unprepared. When her doctor responded to her distress by saying that he can "take care" of this "problem," she promptly walked out of his office. Today, her son is about to get his doctorate.

After the speeches and prayer, we marched down Walnut Street from the courthouse four blocks south to Second Street, and then back up College Avenue past Planned Parenthood back to the courthouse. I was struck by the inhumanity of allowing an abortion mill to operate in downtown Bloomington, while hundreds drive by unmoved by the murders that take place inside that building. Planned Parenthood's crimes against humanity are funded by the Bloomington City Council and the Monroe County Council. See my letters to the county council and city council.

The Rally for Life is the first of four events Christian Citizens for Life organizes throughout each year. CCFL also organizes an entry in the Fourth of July Parade, a booth at the Monroe County Fair, and the Life Chain in October.

See the post page for pictures

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take the politicians off welfare

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

Note: I actually posted this on a forum back in 2005, but never actually posted it on the blog.

Bloomington State Representative Matt Pierce is complaining that the House Republican leadership is improperly editing newsletters from Democratic house members. Pierce complains that strong criticism of the GOP leadership in his newsletter had to be toned down before the newsletter was approved.

Clearly, if legislators are going to be sending out newsletters paid for by taxpayer dollars, Hoosiers should not be forced to subsidize political messages disguised as an attempt to "inform" the voters about what is going on in Indianapolis. The question Pierce raises is how much the newsletters should be edited.

But the dustup between Pierce and House Speaker Brian Bosma raises a more important question. Should we allow Indiana legislators to send out franked newsletters at all?

The answer to that is no. When he was interviewed by AM 1370 on August 2nd, Pierce claimed that there is a distinct difference between campaign materials (which he described as "vote for me" or "vote against him") and information from the Legislature.

Pierce is right that the content and tone of a political newsletter is different from a legislative newsletter. But let's be realistic here. These newsletters are a way to get a state representative or state senator's name and face in front of the public, and are often used by legislators to pat themselves on the back for what they are doing in Indianapolis. While not technically part of a political campaign, these newsletters nonetheless are an unfair advantage that incumbents have over challengers. While that may not matter much in a gerrymandered district such as Pierce's District 61, it is a big deal in a competitive district.

We hear a lot about "campaign finance reform" at the federal level. Attempts to "reform" campaigns have been made at the state level as well. The best limit that state government can put on campaigns is to forbid elected officials from using taxpayer dollars to advertise their name to voters.

Furthermore, with all of the talk about how much of a financial crunch state government faces, why are we subsidizing these newsletters? While I doubt eliminating franked newsletters would make much of a real dent in state spending, eliminating them would send a positive message to overburdened Hoosier taxpayers.

If state legislators in either party think it is important to send these "newsletters" to the people in their district, let them fund the newsletters from campaign contributions. While I agree with Pierce that such newsletters can be informative, I do not think taxpayers should be paying for them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Change we can believe in? You can take that to the Banks.

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

My friend Jim Banks was elected to the Indiana State Senate last year, and has wasted no time in introducing groundbreaking legislation to implement change we can believe in. I knew I could trust Jim to vote the right way in Indianapolis. I am very excited that he has immediately taken a leadership role through the legislation he introduced.

Here are the descriptions for some of the legislation Jim has introduced. Click here to see all of the legislation he has sponsored in this legislative session.

I will comment more specifically below.

Senate Bill 0136

Legislative mailings. Provides that, during the 90 day period before election day, a member of the general assembly may not send an official legislative communication for which the mailing cost is paid in whole or in part using appropriations made by the general assembly.

I have been complaining about legislative mailings for some time now. For too long, the welfare queens have been using "informational" mailings that feature glossy full-color photographs, their name in large font and "information" about what that legislator is going. Legislators pretend these are a public service, but in reality they are little more than taxpayer-funded campaign mailings. Bravo to Jim Banks for challenging his fellow legislators to get off the dole.

Senate Bill 0148

Inheritance tax and estate tax. Phases out the inheritance tax beginning July 1, 2013, by giving an increasing credit against the inheritance tax due. Provides that the inheritance tax does not apply to the transfer of property interests by a decedent whose death occurs after June 30, 2018. Phases out payments of the inheritance tax replacement amount to counties over a period between 2013 and 2018. Provides that the estate tax and generation skipping transfer tax do not apply after June 30, 2018. Makes technical corrections.

This is a great piece of legislation. It is basic fairness to allow people to pass wealth to their descendents, and will advance economic growth in the state.

Senate Bill 0151

Precinct committeemen. Requires the county chairman of a major political party to submit, not later than July 1 each year, to the county election board the name and address of the party's precinct committeeman and vice committeeman for each precinct in the county. Requires the county chairman to update the information provided not later than seven days after a change occurs. Provides that the information is open for public inspection and copying in the same manner as other public records. Provides for a civil penalty of $50 per day, with a maximum of $500, for each day the information is late. Provides that civil penalties collected are to be deposited in the campaign finance enforcement account.

Josh Gillespie blogged about this over at Hoosier Access last month. Precinct committeemen have the power to choose elected officials in the event of a vacancy, so it is critical to open government that those records be up to date and accessible.

Senate Bill 0290

Prohibition of abortion. Prohibits abortion in Indiana unless a physician determines, based on sound medical practice, that the abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. Creates a Class C felony for a person who knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly performs an abortion. Removes references to abortion clinics. Repeals current statutes governing the performance of abortions.

Naturally, I am very pleased with this. Even if passed, this would have to survive litigation and would go all the way to the Supreme Court before it could be enforced. Jim is demonstrating that just because the status quo is abortion on demand, it does not always have to be this way.

Senate Bill 0522

Prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks. Sets public policy findings concerning when a fetus can feel pain. Sets requirements for performing an abortion after the first trimester but before the earlier of viability of the fetus or 20 weeks of postfertilization age of the fetus (current law requirements are based on viability of the fetus). Requires that a physician determine the postfertilization age of a fetus before performing an abortion, and allows for the discipline of a physician who fails to do this in certain circumstances.

Creates a cause of action for a pregnant woman or the biological father of the fetus for actual and punitive damages if a physician recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs or attempts to perform an abortion in violation of the law. Provides for injunctive relief for specified individuals against a physician to prevent the physician from performing further abortions that violate the law.

Creates the special litigation defense fund to provide reimbursement of the costs and expenses incurred by the attorney general in defending the constitutionality of this act, and continuously appropriates the fund. Provides for severability of provisions if a court determines that any of the law is unconstitutional, and specifies prior law returns to effect if the amended law is found by the court to be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, this would leave the majority of abortions untouched. However, given the huge obstacles to an outright ban on abortion, this is a step in the right direction toward a life-affirming culture. It is a realistic ban that should attract the support of moderate abortion rights supporters. It is smart strategy to attack on two fronts, picking the low-hanging fruit with the ultimate goal of chopping down the whole tree.

Joint Resolution 0013

Definition of marriage. Provides that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.

As our society becomes more and more tolerant of sexual deviancy, it is important to get this passed quickly as a traffic calming device on the road to total depravity.

Joint Resolution 0010

Elections by secret ballot. Adds a new section to the Constitution of the State of Indiana to provide that if any Indiana or federal law requires or permits an election for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot in any such election is guaranteed. Provides that all elections by the people shall be by secret ballot.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats have been working to remove the right to secret ballot for two years now at the federal level, because the unions admit "we can't win that way anymore." Fortunately, they have not been able to accomplish it yet. That effort should be dead in the water with the new Republican House of Representatives, but Jim is smart to launch a preemptive strike on this anti-democratic effort by the Left.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Using Scripture in a "secular" argument

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

For a long time, I operated under the assumption that Christians should not use Scripture in debates over public policy. Pagans will reject Scripture outright, so we must instead use "reason" to convince people of the validity of our arguments regarding controversial moral issues of our day.

This is because I am so much wiser and more intelligent than God, and so much more convincing.

This strategery fails on several points. First, those who reject Biblical moral law are going to reject it whether it's based on "reason" or Scripture. The basic problem we face on matters of morality is that we live in an increasingly post-Christian society, and the battle we face is spiritual, not political or cultural. (See Ephesians 6:12.) We are fools if we think the arguments of a feeble human mind are going to be more powerful than the Word of God itself.

Second, using Scripture in public debates is evangelistic. The Bible is "quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword." (See Hebrews 4:12.) When we use the Word of God, not only are we using the most powerful weapon available, we are convicting the hearts of sinful men. We are commanded to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (See Matthew 28:16-20.) There is no better way to do that than with Scripture.

Third, when we carefully avoid using Scripture in favor of our own "reason" and logical argumentation we are actually worshiping ourselves. Do we actually believe that the arguments we craft on issues like abortion and sexual morality will be superior to what our Father has written for us? Do we really have such a high view of ourselves that we need to run interference for God? What unbridled arrogance!

When we go into spiritual battle without God's Word, we are leaving our sword behind and using our bare hands. That is foolish. There is and cannot be any better weapon than Scripture.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Abortion rhetoric and civility in politics

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

In my letter to the editor a couple weeks ago, I described abortion as murder. Two days later, a psycho went on a shooting spree in Arizona. While his actions have been demonstrated to have nothing to do with politics, it nonetheless has sparked a debate over civil discourse and political rhetoric similar to what we saw after the murder of George Tiller in 2009. Many believe that using the word murder to describe abortion is incendiary.

So how should abortion opponents describe abortion and express our views on it?

For me, it is very simple. If I did not believe that abortion is murder I would not call it murder. I certainly would not make an ass of myself in public by rebuking the city council every summer for funding Planned Parenthood. (It looks like I will be rebuking the county council annually as well.) If I didn't believe abortion is murder, I would not waste my time writing letters to the editor or blog posts about abortion. I would not attend the Rally for Life every January or the Life Chain every October, and I would not picket at Planned Parenthood.

I say that abortion is murder because abortion is murder. It is an unmitigated evil that must be opposed through every nonviolent and lawful means available. As Proverbs 24:11-12 commands, "rescue those being led away to death."

I could use less aggressive language, but I do not believe that is effective or appropriate. It would be ineffective because we have a society that is swimming in the blood of 50 million murder victims and people need to be confronted with language that accurately describes what abortion is. It would not be appropriate because when you face slaughter of this magnitude, "civil" and "gentle" language does not do justice to what we are facing.

This is why I support the use of graphic bloody pictures of aborted babies. The biggest enemy abortion opponents face is not Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women or pro-abortion politicians. The biggest enemy we face is apathy from millions who know that abortion is wrong or ambivalence from those "on the fence" about the issue. The pictures shock people out of their apathy in a way that words cannot. Those pictures have actually brought people to saving faith in Jesus Christ by convicting them of their sin and need for a Redeemer.

Of course, murdering unborn children is as far from civility and gentleness as one can get. No words I can use will approach what Planned Parenthood does right here in Bloomington each Thursday, while hundreds of cars drive by oblivious to a mass murder that goes on behind those walls. Let's not fool ourselves here. Taking words like "murder" or graphic pictures of aborted babies out of the discussion of abortion is not so we can have a false sense of "civility" about it. The real purpose is to allow America to hide from our collective blood guilt over what we have done.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CitiBank's fraudulent student loan payment website

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM (#)

I sent this letter to the Better Business Bureau of Indianapolis.


I would like to report fraudulent activity by CitiBank, specifically the student loan services offered at www.StudentLoan.com.

Back in December, I made an extra payment on my student loan through the website to pay down the principal. There is an option on the website to apply an extra payment completely to principal, so I was surprised when my payment was applied as a normal payment.

I called customer service to investigate the problem and was told that in order for an extra payment to apply to principal, it must be made between the 14th and the 21st day of the month. This means out of every month, there is a seven day window to make an extra payment to principal, and all other payments are processed as a normal payment with interest deducted.

This is fraud, plain and simple.

CitiBank would have customers believe they are able to make a payment to principal at any time and there is an option on their website for that. There is not one single word on the website that in any way indicates that there is only a seven-day window each month to make an extra payment.

CitiBank is knowingly deceiving customers to line their pockets with interest payments, while pretending that payments will go to principal. Even worse, I was told that there is no way to apply inappropriate payments to principal despite the wishes of the customer and the fact that payments are clearly marked to go to principal on CitiBank's website.

I encourage you to take all necessary action to shame CitiBank for fraud and theft.

Thoughts on the State of the State address

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

The State of the State address last week was a positive vision for change founded on conservative principles. Governor Daniels has pursued an aggressive reform agenda the last half-dozen years as governor, and it doesn't look like he is willing to rest on his laurels the final two years of his term. You can download the speech at WFHB's web site.

The proposal for criminal justice reform is a promising one, though few details were offered. Considering the cost of incarcerating people, we need to look at who we put behind bars and whether we can do it in a more cost-effective manner. Home detention can be expanded and other options can be used to reserve prison space - and the money needed for it - for truly dangerous violent criminals. It will be interesting to see exactly what is proposed.

One of Daniels' big agenda items is local government reform, including banning government employees from serving as elected officials. I addressed this a couple years ago and my opinion is the same as it was then. I do not believe that restricting democracy is a good idea. Let the people decide whether a government employee is qualified to serve as an elected official, and whether an elected position presents too much of a conflict of interest. I'm not as concerned about the ability of government employees to serve as much as I am concerned with limiting the choice of the voters in local elections. I think voters can make their own decisions.

Daniels is right to criticize nepotism in local government. The state legislature should move forward with legislation making it illegal for local government officials to hire their relatives to work in their offices, because of the inherent conflict of interest this creates. But does that go far enough?

In addition to nepotism, the legislature should tackle patronage as well. This is going to me a much thornier issue, and patronage is much more difficult to conclusively prove than nepotism. Furthermore, there are positions within state and local government that are genuinely political positions, and political considerations are obviously important in evaluating job qualifications for those positions. We need to be wise about this.

That said, it is plainly obvious that the "good old boy" network's tradition of hiring based on politics rather than on who is most qualified to do the people's business is a disservice to Hoosier taxpayers. Because this is such a mine field, the odds of getting this done this legislative session are very low. There's no reason the conversation cannot be started now, though. Sometimes needed reforms take many years to become law.

Daniels proposed that if a student graduates from high school early, the money that would have been spent on that student's senior year will go toward further education, such as college tuition. That is a good idea. Those who work hard enough and are talented enough to finish early should be given a financial incentive to do so.

The only area where I fervently disagree with the governor is the proposal for vouchers. (Daniels did not explicitly mention vouchers, but he did say parents should be allowed to use public funds to send their children to private schools.) I graduated from a private Christian high school, and vouchers would have been a financial benefit for my family. However, the implications for religious freedom are serious.

When you accept government money, you accept government strings. Once private schools start taking government money, how long until government starts demanding that those schools implement policies approved by the government? Will Christian schools be forced to hire openly homosexual employees? Will Christian schools be forbidden from having Bible classes or chapel services as long as they take government money? These are very real risks and Christians are foolish to entangle themselves with government.

Vouchers aside, the governor's speech presented a positive vision for the state's future, representing change we can believe in. The legislature should begin moving forward on these proposals.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shameful sensationalism from the drive-by media

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

Last Thursday night's ABC World News was a classic example of sensationalistic fear mongering from the drive-by media. The problem is that 56,000 people are hospitalized each year due to acetaminophen overdose. There are 200 fatalities each year. Diane Sawyer said this was a "quiet crisis."

A crisis? Really? Do you know what percentage of the population that is?

  • The number of people who are hospitalized from acetaminophen overdose is 0.0187% of the population.
  • The number of people who die from acetaminophen overdose is 0.000067% of the population.

That's right folks. The number of people hospitalized - the far larger number - is less than two one-hundredths of one percent of the population. That sure does not sound like a "crisis" to me.

This is shameful sensationalism. In fact, it is worse than sensationalism. Trying to spin this statistically insignificant number as some sort of "crisis" is a brazen lie. Diane Sawyer is guilty of journalistic malpractice.

The FDA issued more restrictive guidelines for prescription drugs containing acetaminophen, and is considering regulating over-the-counter drugs as well.

Certainly, the death of 200 people every year is a tragedy, especially since these deaths are completely preventable. But this is a problem that can easily (and should be) be solved by more education, not more restrictive government regulations. If the maximum dose for extra-strength Tylenol is reduced to 325 milligrams per pill from 500, I will simply take 3 pills for a total of 975 milligrams so I can get the same effect I do now.

What we have here is a bunch of nanny sate ninnies who think we are far too stupid to take care of ourselves or understand what is in the medicines we take. But the statistics are clear: acetaminophen overdose is by no means a national crisis. The bubble wrap caucus needs to stay out of this one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stop trying to score political points with the atrocity in Arizona

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

In the wake of the atrocity in Arizona on January 8, it is appropriate to discuss civility in political discourse but we need to be very careful to safeguard free speech. We should also recognize that people have deeply held convictions and should not exploit this tragedy to silence or muffle political discourse by shaming people as accessories to violence.

We saw this same phenomenon after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. Abortion opponents were vilified for allegedly creating an environment where a mentally unstable person could act on statements that abortion is murder. These types of statements were called irresponsible and incendiary, but what about those who actually believe that abortion is murder? Are we expected to lie about our beliefs on the subject for the sake of a false civility?

Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face the Nation complained that people who disagree with us "become not opponents but enemies." I think we are making too much of a distinction between the two. Most people want to see political opponents or enemies defeated in elections and/or the defeat of legislation proposed by those opponents or enemies. That does not mean we want to see anyone personally harmed or killed.

The complaints about the state of modern political discourse are overblown because politics has always been a blood sport. I watched a couple campaign commercials by President Lyndon Johnson's 1964 campaign on YouTube, and I was taken aback by how aggressively negative they were. President Grover Cleveland was taunted in the 1880's with allegations that he committed adultery and had an illegitimate child. Republicans were literally bribing voters in Indiana during the same decade.

Historian Joseph Cummins told the New York Times in 2007 that after he researched every presidential election between 1789 and 2004, "my answer is that elections are not getting dirtier. They’re just as dirty as they have always been."

Even with a long history of dirty politics, it is a sad commentary on the state of modern political discourse that we immediately began to cast blame for the shooting on one ideology or another. If one side can demonstrate "angry rhetoric" on the other side, those people are not only wrong but accomplices to violence if a lunatic starts shooting people or setting things on fire.

We saw this locally in 2002, when several acts of eco-terrorism were blamed on the allegedly irresponsible rhetoric of local environmentalists, including some elected officials. This was clearly an attempt to put a chilling effect on their speech. I said then that personal responsibility demands that we place blame for arsons, sabotage and bombings the only place it belongs: with the thugs who commit acts of terror.

After the shots were fired and as the wounded were fighting for their lives, liberals almost immediately tried to blame the shooting on the Tea Party movement while conservatives searched for evidence that Jared Loughner is a Leftist.

But the mass murder in Arizona was not the act of an organized political movement. No matter how the shooter can be characterized ideologically, any large group of people is likely to have a few deranged members. Whether Loughner is mentally ill or simply evil, the acts committed by him are his and his alone, not the actions of the Tea Party or any other group.

The vast majority of people in politics understand that violence is reprehensible and inexcusable, and has absolutely no place in political discourse. Above all else, we must aggressively fight against any effort to use the force of government to clamp down on political speech. No matter how offensive we may find some political speech, censorship by government is much worse.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Following up on my letter to the editor

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

My letter to the editor last week promoting the 2011 Rally for Life drew nearly 70 comments. Some of these are legitimate questions, and some are not. This is my response to those comments.

  • And how many unwanted kids have you adopted,Mr Tibbs?

This is a common pro-abortion fallacy, that unless someone has adopted a baby they are not qualified to speak to the issue. But no one would make the same argument to people who have not adopted a pet from the animal shelter, when that person is arguing against dogfighting or animal abuse. Either the unborn are human beings who deserve protection under the law or they are not. That, not adoption, is the real argument.

  • Where is the line between living cells and true human life? Reasonable people are able to discuss it without invoking absolutes.

Skin cells are living cells, but they will never become a human being unless they are used for cloning. Once sperm and egg join, a new human being is created. That new human will grow and develop through the stages of life, given time, nutrition and shelter. Skin cells (or any other cell) will not go through that process. This is an easy distinction, and therefore it is easy to establish a moral absolute.

  • You might not be a Republican, but assuming you are, how can you support using my tax dollars to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

I am opposed to the war in Iraq, but that is irrelevant to my opposition to abortion. Either the unborn are human beings deserving of protection under the law or they are not. My position on invasion of Iraq does not have any logical connection to arguments about whether or not it should be legal to kill a baby in the womb.

  • Also, god is the number 1 abortionist of them all. Far surpassing Planned Parenthood.

Then because cancer is an act of God, we can just kill whoever we want? Cool! Cancer justifies drive-by shootings!

Predictable response: "No, they are not the same. The fetus is not a person."

That's fine, but what you are doing is admitting your own hypocrisy and dishonesty. If the argument is about personhood, then let's make the argument about personhood. But you clearly do not even believe your own argument about miscarriage. If you want to be taken seriously, then make a serious argument, rather than post foolishness and then run away from your "argument" when it is exposed as foolishness.

  • The argument isn't (or should not be) whether or not the fertilized egg is a human. People will disagree.

Would we have said the same thing in 1850? The argument isn't (or should not be) whether or not the Negro is fully human. People will disagree on that. The government should not making the decision for everyone whether people should be allowed to keep their Negro property. That is not only wrong, it is obscene. The humanity of the fetus is at the heart of the argument.

  • Will that also be a rally against the death penalty? Against two wars? Against poverty? Will it be a rally in favor of universal health care?

Different people have different opinions on capital punishment, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the proper means to deal with poverty and health care. People at the rally will have differing opinions about these issues. But when you have 1.2 million children killed every single year and over 50 million children killed since 1973, there is no bigger life issue on the table. Furthermore, the idea that we have to address all these other issues at the Rally for Life is both illogical and selfish. There are 364 other days in the year to address those issues.

The 2011 Rally for Life is on January 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm at the Monroe County Courthouse.

See my report on the 2010 rally here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Barack Obama's grocery store scanner moment

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

As Robert Gibbs is leaving the White House, President Obama said he has been working very hard "with relatively modest pay." Gibbs earns $172,000 a year, putting him "in the upper 8 percent of all American families." A modest income, President Obama?

Two decades ago, President George H.W. Bush was derided as being out of touch when he expressed amazement at a grocery store barcode scanner. Is this Obama's scanner moment?

Yes, Washington DC is an expensive place to live. It was striking how much more expensive basic things are in DC when we spent a week in the nation's capital last March. But let's not get carried away with ourselves here: Even in Washington, 172 grand is not a "modest" income.

Now, I don't have a problem with Gibbs making the salary he earned at the White House. The press secretary has a very difficult, high-stress job and he may have been making more in the private sector. But in an economic downturn where many people are struggling as we have an official unemployment rate of nearly 10% (the real unemployment rate is significantly higher) it comes off as elitist for Obama to be playing the violin about the financial sacrifices of his beleaguered press secretary.

This episode makes Barack Obama look dangerously out of touch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Herald-Times' quirky religion rules

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

Last week, my letter to the editor was published in the Herald-Times, but not before a very strange request came from the editor. In an e-mail, I was told that "We'll either have to take the quote from Proverbs out or run this on our religion page." My response to that request follows:

The letter I submitted falls within the editorial page guidelines as established by Mr.. Zaltsberg in an editorial on April 5, 2010. The relevant portion of Mr. Zaltsberg's editorial is quoted below.


Letters that simply attempt to interpret the Bible will no longer be published in The Herald-Times editorial pages.

That does not mean the Bible or an interpretation of it will never again be allowed in the letters column. But the reference to the Bible must be part of a larger argument or opinion about an issue of some current relevance.

My letter speaks to a contemporary public policy issue. Furthermore, it addresses an upcoming local event, and decisions by local government on how public funds are spent. The quote from Proverbs is a small part of the overall letter.

If the Herald-Times has implemented a new policy that states Scriptural references are not permitted in letters to the editor even when connected to debate over a public policy issue, please remove the quote from Proverbs so it can be published as a LTTE.

If that is the case, I strongly encourage Mr. Zaltsberg to write another editorial announcing the change in policy so Herald-Times readers will know what the new guidelines are.

But if the policy has not changed, please publish my letter as written.

After years of back and forth letters about the interpretation of Scripture and complaints from some about those letters, the H-T announced that there would be no more letters published on the editorial page that deal only with interpretations of the Bible or trying to make an argument about religion. Because religion does play a large part in many contemporary debates about public policy and culture, religious arguments would still be published, but letters that deal only with religious doctrine and interpretations of that doctrine would be on the Religion page.

What makes the initial decision so unusual is because it was so clearly at odds with the very policy that the Herald-Times established last year, especially since the quote from Proverbs was only 6 percent of my total letter and that my letter addressed local government and how local tax dollars are spent. For several years now, the Herald-Times has gone out of its way to focus on local news.

The good news is that the Herald-Times relented and published my letter with the Bible quote intact.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Scott Wells was not set up.

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

On September 29, 2002, Scott Wells (then a member of the Monroe County Council) was arrested by the Indiana state police and charged with "driving while intoxicated and resisting law enforcement." Over a year later, Wells was convicted of "driving while intoxicated and disorderly conduct." Ever since the arrest, Wells and his supporters have whined non-stop that he was "set up" by his political opponents because of his environmental activism.

That is silly. Scott Wells was not set up.

No one forced Wells to drink and become intoxicated. No one forced Wells to get behind the wheel of a car and try to drive while intoxicated. No one forced Wells to engage in disorderly conduct during the arrest. (See IC 35-45-1-3 for a definition of the disorderly conduct, which includes someone who "engages in fighting or in tumultuous conduct." Wells was charged, but not convicted, of battery on a police officer.)

One the night Wells was arrested, a dispatcher called deputy prosecutor Mary Ellen Diekhoff, a Democrat who was elected judge in 2004 and 2010, and is the wife of former Democratic city council member Mike Diekhoff. On the tape of her conversation with a dispatcher, Mrs. Diekhoff said "You can bet he is going to allege that he is set up. We've got to be prepared for the worst here because that's the nature of the game."

She couldn't have been more right. The whining has not stopped, and it has been over eight years now. Wells would have us believe that there was some sort of wide-ranging political conspiracy that involves the Republican Party, the Bloomington city police, the Indiana state police, and the Monroe County Prosecutor's office - including a deputy prosecutor who is now a Democratic elected official. It is just laughable.

It has been eight years since the arrest. It has been seven years since Wells was convicted of two crimes after a fair trial by a jury of his peers. Scott Wells drove drunk in 2002, and got caught. He needs to stop whining about it, grow up, accept responsibility for his behavior, and move on with his life.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reforming local government

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

Gov. Mitch Daniels has placed reforming county government on the top of his legislative agenda for 2011, and that is something that has needed to be done for a long time. I just hope that this reform goes farther than the proposals by Daniels, because more reforms are needed to enhance accountability in local government. Here are my proposals.

First, the executive, legislative and budgetary functions of county government should be modeled after city government. A single elected county commissioner would act as a county executive while the legislative and budgetary functions of government would fall to the county council. That system works fine in city, state and federal government, so there is no reason not to implement that structure in county government.

Second, elected county department heads should be appointed, just as they are in the city. Offices like Auditor, Treasurer, Surveyor and Assessor are skill positions. Too often, elected officials decide to make their offices a personal political fiefdom and fill the office though nepotism, patronage and cronyism rather than what is needed to do the work, and we have seen the result. Obviously, there will still be patronage if the elected positions are appointed instead of elected, but it would be one step removed from political pressures.

Third, there are positions that are not elected that need to be elected. City and county planning commissions are at the top of this list. You have a number of people who are making public policy decisions but are not accountable to the voters for their decisions. That needs to change, and there is no better time than now to change it. People who make decisions on what we can do with our property should be accountable through the ballot box.

I'm not convinced that eliminating township government is a good idea. The township trustee is often the last resort for people who are about to run out of food or have their utilities shut off. Would these services be as effective if they were centralized into one department in county government? Can a county poor relief department function as quickly as a township trustee? Would this require an entirely new county bureaucracy?

Would county government be able to effectively manage the various fire departments in the townships, and how would they be merged into a single county fire department? Which department within county government would handle fire protection, or would we need a new one? There are concerns about some townships heavily subsidizing fire protection for other townships, so this should be addressed as well.

There is no question reform is needed. Let's get it done in 2011.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Barack Obama's unsustainable deficits

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

Now that the Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, we have a chance to put the brakes on the reckless deficit spending of Barack Obama. The Republicans need to listen to the message the voters sent in 2010, or they will not have a good year in 2012.

As tea parties began popping up around the country, Leftists began to complain that the only reason that there is concern about the debt is that "there is a black man in the White House." It is true that conservatives didn't raise enough of a stink about the deficit when Reagan was President, or when George W. Bush was President. But let's look at the numbers, because it's about more than just the fact that there were deficits under Reagan and Bush. The size of the deficits, led by the extravagant spending of Obama, is the issue.

According to Barack Obama's own website, the total of all the deficits under Ronald Reagan was $1.491 trillion. The total of all the deficits under George W. Bush was $2.005 trillion. The deficit for 2009 alone was $1.412 trillion. The projected deficits for 2010 and 2011 are $1.555 trillion and $1.266 trillion, respectively. Again, these are Barack Obama's numbers, not mine.

The fact of the matter is that federal deficit spending is out of control and we need to put the brakes on all of this reckless spending. The path we're on is simply not sustainable, and one has to wonder why Barack Obama has continued to go down this destructive path without implementing the deep spending cuts that are needed to at least bring the annual deficit down to a reasonable number.

None of this has anything to do with Barack Obama's skin pigmentation, and the screeching that this is all about race - a tactic meant to intimidate opponents into silence through character assassination - has failed and only served to motivate the Tea Party and the conservative base. We need to keep up the pressure and demand that the federal government spend less money - because the problem is not a lack of revenue. The problem is spending.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sexual assault: It's not about patriarchy

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

Last month, there was a sad and scary article in the IDS dealing with the college party scene and sexual assault. Reporter Jessica Haney recounted the story of a freshman woman being sexually assaulted while she was "too wasted to say yes or no." Haney tracked down the woman, her friend, and the man involved.

The story was scary. The scene Haney describes is obviously wrong, but no one bothered to intervene on behalf of the obviously unconscious freshman. Statistically, 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted during her academic career, and situations like this are far more common than we would like to believe. In some cases, there are sexual predators who look to take advantage of these situations, while in others a drunken haze impairs judgment.

I wasn't surprised to see the typical academic response from a doctoral student who blames the "patriarchal power dynamic" in American society for these types of incidents. That is just silly. This has nothing to do with father-rule. We have seen 50 years of "sexual liberation" and the feminist movement, and college students today live in a more egalitarian world than ever before in American history.

Instead, it is precisely the "sexual liberation" brought on by the feminist movement that has created situations like this. As sex has become separated from what God intended it to be - an act between a man and woman, sanctified by marriage - it becomes more and more debased. When sex is a means of "expressing yourself" rather than an act of love in marriage the moral boundaries of society begin to break down.

No, the problem here is a lack of real men. Too many men live in somewhere called "guyland." Here, the responsibility and respectability that comes with adulthood is postponed by adults who would rather be adolescents as long as possible. We've been studying "guyland" and how to break out of it at David's Mighty Men, our men's ministry at Church of the Good Shepherd. The goal is to train men to leave "guyland" and become men.

A real man doesn't try to force himself on a girl at a party, nor does he allow himself to get so wasted that he doesn't realize or remember what he is doing. A real man defends the fairer sex, especially in an environment like this. And there clearly weren't any other real men at that party, or they would have stepped in and defended this girl.

Real manhood isn't easy. It's hard, and involves not only courage, but humility, self-control and a willingness to repent of one's own sin. On our college campuses, we need a lot more men and a lot fewer guys.