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Friday, September 30, 2011

Revisiting a shameful low point in American politics

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

One week ago on Wednesday, the world became a much better place when Lawrence Brewer was executed by the state of Texas. Brewer murdered James Byrd in 1998 by wrapping a chain around his neck and dragging him behind a truck for no other reason than he disliked the color of Byrd's skin. Byrd's right arm was ripped off and he was decapitated by the brutal crime. Rachel Maddow reported last week that he was conscious for most of the dragging.

By comparison, Brewer requested and got an ostentatious last meal, and was humanely executed in a sterile environment. Before he was put down, Brewer said he said he would "do it all over again," showing no remorse even 13 years after that crime. Brewer escaped the pain and horror he inflicted on Byrd, though Brewer will experience plenty of pain and horror as he suffers in terrible burning agony in Hell for all eternity. Thank God for Hell.

Byrd's murder became an issue in the 2000 campaign for President, when the NAACP ran an utterly despicable advertisement against George W. Bush, shamelessly race-baiting because Bush opposed hate crime legislation. Byrd's daughter said in the advertisement that "when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate-crime legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again."

White supremacist terrorist Lawrence Brewer is dead and is currently suffering in horrible burning agony in Hell. John King is on death row waiting to be executed. The third perpetrator will be in prison for the rest of his life. What more does the NAACP want? Do they think Brewer should have been tortured to death instead of killed by lethal injection? Should he have been crucified instead? Should he have been burned at the stake?

You may think I am being hyperbolic, but the point of hate crime laws is that there is extra punishment for crimes motivated by race, sex, religion and so forth. But the death penalty is the most severe form of punishment that our judicial system has to offer. If the death penalty is not enough, what is enough?

To top it off, the hypocrites at the NAACP are opposed to the death penalty itself, describing it as "cruel and unusual" punishment. (See tweets by NAACP president Ben Jealous here, here and here.) So while they demonized George W. Bush for opposing enhanced penalties for hate crimes, the NAACP opposes and is seeking to abolish the very same punishment that the state of Texas set for Byrd's killers while Bush was governor.

This was a low point in American politics. The NAACP did not give a damn about the purpose of hate crime laws. George W. Bush supported tougher punishment for Byrd's killers than the NAACP itself. This was about stirring up racial animosity for cynical partisan political advantage. The fact that the NAACP has never apologized for this despicable race-baiting is completely and utterly shameful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monroe County Council goes paperless with iPads

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

The Monroe County Council has decided that each councilor "needs" an iPad in order for the council to go paperless. The effort to go paperless is an admirable one, because it is more environmentally friendly and because it can be much more efficient. After all, if you have a searchable PDF instead of a thick paper packet, you can search for a specific line much faster.

But why do we need to give each councilor an iPad? A new iPad runs $500 or $600 or more, but a laptop is much less costly. In fact, several council members were already using laptops back in 2006. I found several laptops on BestBuy.com for between $250 and $400. Why can't the council make due with a less expensive solution?

It is fine to use technology to increase efficiency and productivity, but we should not use it as a gimmick. That's what the Herald-Times suggested in a September 16 editorial, proposing "a participatory system that would let viewers give a 'yea' or 'nay' (or 'like” or 'dislike') to issues up for votes." We could see the will of the people in real time!

This is a silly suggestion. If we move to real-time direct democracy, what is the point of electing county council members at all? Furthermore, there's a good reason the founders didn't set up a direct democracy. The will of the people is already reflected in who they choose to serve on the council every two years.

It would also be a poor representation of the public's views on the budget. The vast majority of people in Monroe County are not going to attend the meetings or watch them live on television, so this proposal would leave the decision to a few political junkies - not exactly a representative sample of the voters in Monroe County.

Furthermore, we already have the ability to directly contact all of our county councilors to express our views on items coming to them for a vote, though telephone, letters, electronic mail and public comment at meetings. Their contact information is listed on the county government website. (The same is true with the city.)

Frankly, I would be ashamed to editorialize in favor of such a silly gimmick. This foolishness is not worthy of the opinion page of a serious newspaper, but it fits just perfectly on the Herald-Times editorial page.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Santorum needs to stop whining about his "Google problem"

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

There is a time in politics when you need to defend yourself and counterattack against your opponent. There is also a time when you need to shut up and not be drawn into the fight your opponent is trying to start. By getting into that fight, you are distracted from your own message and it often makes you look bad.

Such is the case with Rick Santorum, the Republican candidate for President who has a "Google problem." According to Politico, It started a few years ago, when militant homosexual Dan Savage "organized an online campaign to link graphic sexual terms to the socially conservative senator's name."

Basically, Santorum is being trolled by a bunch of immature brats who do not have the intellectual capacity or emotional stability to engage him in the arena of ideas. Because they cannot deal with his stances on their merits, they have to engage in juvenile trolling behavior that would be frowned on by most 8th grade boys.

Let me be clear. I think it would be awesome if Santorum was a top-tier candidate in the GOP presidential nomination sweepstakes. He is a solid conservative with a record of getting things done. I'm supporting Texas governor Rick Perry, but I would be thrilled with Santorum as the nominee. But that is shaken when he says things like this.

Santorum looks like a thin-skinned crybaby when he demands that Google remove offensive content from their search results. He needs to shut up about this and stop whining because it makes him look completely unpresidential. Whining always hurts candidates.

Taking on cultural rot resonates with the Republican base is a smart move for Republicans, especially in the primaries where the base has more influence. Sitting in the corner and sobbing because you're being trolled by a bunch of intellectually deficient and emotionally unstable Leftists resonates with no one and raises questions about whether you are prepared to be the President of the United States.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Newt Gingrich on Social Security

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:30 AM (#)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Don't You Trust Women?"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:30 AM (#)

"Disturbing testimony from Ohio Democrats uncovers chilling anti-life bias."

Source: Created Equal Films

Friday, September 23, 2011

Netflix takes a step back in customer service

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

A lot of people are complaining about the new price structure for Netflix that was announced over the summer. I don't have a problem with it, because I know bandwidth is not free. A company like Netflix needs a lot of bandwidth to stream movies, and has to pay copyright fees to make the movies available for streaming. Hopefully, this will lead to a greater selection for instant streaming, because the selection for that is very weak compared to the DVD selection.

Here's the problem with the changes to the service. Netflix is completely separating the instant streaming and DVD rental portions of their business. This means you will have to manage two accounts on two separate websites. This means two usernames and two passwords, as well as storing your payment information in two places.

This is ridiculous. There is no good reason to separate the services. The instant streaming and DVD shipping have been on the same website for years, and it has worked fine. Are you telling me that there is a logistical need to separate the two? Even the local newspaper lets you manage your subscriptions in one place. You can subscribe to different packages for the print edition, or the website, or both.

Other websites (such as Yahoo) allow you to store your payment information in one place when buying more than one product, so why can't Netflix do this - especially when the infrastructure is already in place?

Right now, people who subscribe to both instant viewing and DVD's by mail have two queues. You can easily see if something in your DVD queue is available for instant streaming, and adjust accordingly. With the new system, you cannot manage both at the same time, and you have to manage two separate accounts on two separate websites.

What were they thinking?

As I said before, I do not have a problem with the price increase. Netflix needs to cover their costs and make a profit, and I can make decisions as a consumer based on that. The way some people are whining about this, you would think they believe they have a "right" to entertainment at a certain price. What no company should ever do, however, is make their products more difficult to use for the consumer. That's just stupid.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Should violating a TOS agreement be a federal crime?

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

Violating the Terms of Service agreement for a website can get your account deleted or restricted. But should the federal government be enforcing a TOS agreement between website owners and users? Should violations of those agreements be prosecuted as a federal crime with possible prison time?

The answer should be an immediate, obvious and uncompromising "no." However, the way federal law is written, prosecutors can go after people for violating a TOS agreement - and WebProNews reports that changes to that law are under consideration. Once again, politicians are passing laws to deal with a subject they do not understand.

I am not being an alarmist. There is precedent for the government prosecuting TOS violations as a federal crime, as was done with a sick and depraved woman who set up a fake MySpace profile to harass a teenage girl. She was convicted of computer hacking, but her conviction was thrown out in July of 2009.

Think about the free-speech implications of making it a federal crime to violate a website's TOS agreement. Last April, the Herald-Times announced that the word teabagger (or variations thereof) would no longer be permitted in comments or letters to the editor, and H-T editor Bob Zaltsberg made the utterly laughable claim that "we make every effort to remove comments from HeraldTimesOnline.com that use the term, and to edit it from letters sent by readers."

I copy-pasted the literal, word-for-word text of several articles published in the Herald-Times (including one written by one of the Herald-Times' official community columnists) that included variations of the word teabagger to demonstrate the dishonesty of Zaltsberg's claim. My comment was promptly deleted by HTO moderators.

Obviously, it's just silly (not to mention incredibly hypocritical) that quoting articles published in the newspaper would be a violation of the Terms of Service for the newspaper's website. But the overly broad interpretation of the prohibition against accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access of a computer would make my post not just a violation of the Terms of Service, but a federal crime that could send me to prison.

Now, realistically, am I going to go to prison because HTO policy is completely hypocritical? No. But it is easy to see where corrupt prosecutors can abuse the law to harass political opponents and blackmail them into silence. This has serious and frightening implications for free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

Fixing this problem is easy. All the law needs to do is clarify that violating a website's Terms of Service agreement does not constitute computer hacking, which is what the law is actually intended to criminalize. Violations of Terms of Service agreements should be dealt with between the interactive content provider and the individual breaking the policy, not between the person who broke the policy and a federal prosecutor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rick Perry was wrong on the HPV vaccine

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

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. -- 1 Corinthians 6:18

Last week, I praised Rick Perry for telling the truth about Social Security and recognizing the need to reform it.

But while Perry is my choice in the race to be the Republican nominee for President, his record is not exactly spotless. Arguably his worst decision was to issue an executive order requiring that pre-teen girls in Texas get a vaccine against the human papillomavirus, which is known to cause cervical cancer.

This was an inexcusable government overreach into the personal lives, health care decisions and parenting decisions of millions of Texas families. Parents should decide for themselves whether or not the HPV vaccine is appropriate for their daughters, rather than have that decision made for them by the governor. The fact that Perry did this via executive order instead of the legislative process adds further insult to this policy.

The HPV vaccine is not equivalent to vaccines against measles or polio, because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. Our postmodern culture hates judgment and distinctions, so we often try to forget about the ST in STD, but the fact of the matter is that if you do not engage in sexual activity prior to marriage, you choose a spouse who is sexually pure, and you and your spouse are faithful to your marriage vows you have zero chance of contracting HPV.

Many people have legitimate concerns that the HPV vaccine would translate into a license for promiscuity, especially if boys are also vaccinated for the virus so they cannot pass it to their female partners. Sexual immorality is rampant in our nation, and has led to many broken homes, ruined lives and an unacceptable illegitimacy rate. We must be very careful about doing anything that would make people believe it is "safe" to engage in extramarital sex, because it is never safe.

While Perry's decision will cause legitimate concern for many conservatives, the good news is that he is committed to state sovereignty and will not do something this radical should he be elected President of the United States. While I vehemently disagree with Perry's executive order, it does not erode my support for his candidacy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My position is and has always been that tax cuts create jobs

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

Last week, I said that two specific tax credits posed by President Obama would do nothing to create jobs. My political enemies have jumped on this statement and are now claiming that I said tax cuts do not stimulate economic growth.

That is a damnable lie. I never said any such thing, and my political enemies know it.

What I actually said is that these two specific tax credits will do nothing to stimulate job growth, and I gave my reasons for that position. But criticism of these two specific tax credits is not a blanket, universal criticism of or opposition to all tax cuts. The only people who would argue otherwise are shameless liars.

I do not support Obama's proposal to implement piddly, meaningless targeted tax credits that do not provide nearly enough financial incentive to hire new workers.

I said last week that this proposal demonstrates that Obama "has no clue how business works." But there is a more sinister and cynical interpretation of why the President proposed this foolishness. It is entirely possible that Obama is proposing meaningless, tiny and ineffective tax credits that he knows will fail. Then, when his policy fails as it is intended to fail, Obama can gloat and claim that tax cuts are ineffective.

My position is and has always been that legitimate tax cuts create jobs. My record is clear that I believe tax rates should be reduced in order to create jobs. My position is and has always been that we need across-the-board reductions in tax rates - for corporations, individuals and capital gains.

I said on December 7, 2010 that "We should not be taking more money out of the private sector, when it could be used for investing and creating jobs." I said on September 29, 2010 that "If we increase taxes at this time, we will discourage investment and job creation." I could cite many more examples.

But the real kicker is my post on October 22, 2009, when I said "We need to reduce the tax burden on business so it is easier to invest and create jobs."

The very same person who is leading the charge of Leftists falsely accusing me of saying tax cuts do not create jobs threw a hysterical temper tantrum on a local forum over that post, because I dared point out that the Community Reinvestment Act contributed to the 2008 economic collapse. He accused me of "trying to blame the global economic collapse on feckless black people" said that I was an "inveterate racist."

There is no question he knows my position on tax cuts. He's simply making things up for the sole purpose of attacking me. It is shameful that someone of such low moral character would be appointed by the Monroe County Council to serve on the Economic Development Commission. He should be removed from that position at the first opportunity. The people of Monroe County need to know that those who serve on boards and commissions are honest and trustworthy, and this individual has proven over and over again that he is a shameless liar.

This is exactly why people are fed up with politics and why they don't trust politicians. Instead of actually engaging the ideas presented, political hacks shamelessly lie and distort statements made by their enemies. Average citizens understandably throw up their hands and assume everyone involved in politics is corrupt. When objective truth is murdered and replaced with subjective spin based on the partisan affiliation of the person making the argument, who can blame the average person for being fed up with politics?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Robbins is right to place all candidates on the ballot

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, September 17, 2011

To the editor:

Critics of County Clerk Linda Robbins have complained that she is not following the law by placing unopposed candidates on the ballot. We can have an argument about the meaning of "may" as opposed to words like "shall" in the Indiana Code, but the key point is the legislative summary for the law in question. The summary includes the following statement:

"Provides that uncontested municipal offices are not required to appear on the ballot in a municipal or general election."

I am not sure how this could be any clearer. The law was never intended to make it illegal to place unopposed municipal candidates on the ballot. It was intended to make it optional.

It is an abomination to democracy that anyone could be "elected" without getting even a single vote in the general election, so Robbins is exactly right. This law must be repealed 100-0 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate.

Yes, canceling the election in Ellettsville will save money, but holding elections is a basic function of government that should be funded,

Finally, the state constitution makes it illegal for government to disenfranchise citizens. Canceling elections is clearly disenfranchisement, so the law is null and void.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Is Social Security really the third rail?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:50 PM (#)

An excellent point by Mr. Fluhr:

Let's be clear here. If Todd Young can be elected in the 9th Congressional District in Indiana against a tenacious and experienced campaigner like Baron Hill while referring to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, then that probably says a lot about the political viability of such a strategy elsewhere in the country (and particularly among Rick Perry's opponents for the Republican Presidential nomination).

Source: The Hoosier Pundit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rick Perry is right about Social Security!

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

The Securities and Exchange Commission says "a Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors." How does this not describe Social Security?

Republican candidates for President are lining up to attack Texas governor Rick Perry for having the audacity to point out what everyone already knows about Social Security, and the conservative intelligencia is wringing their hands that this could hurt Republican chances of capturing the White House if Perry is the Republican Party's nominee.

But the fact of the matter is that Perry nailed it. Social Security requires people at the bottom of the pyramid to pay taxes to fund the benefits to people at the top. If we have more young people paying into the system than people collecting benefits, the system will be solvent. The problem is the pool of workers supporting each retiree has been dramatically reduced over the last few decades. The system is headed toward inevitable insolvency.

Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" for young people. This may not be the most politically expedient thing to say (after all, senior citizens vote in much higher numbers than young people) but it is absolutely true. If you ask most people about Social Security, their understanding is that they pay into the system over several decades in order to get back what they contributed when they retire. This has never been the case, but this is how politicians have sold the program. Politicians deceive young people into thinking this is a retirement program. It isn't and never was.

The reality is that we need to reform the system if we want it to be solvent in the future. We can either have an adult conversation about what to do with Social Security or we can demagogue the issue like petulant children. We know what the Democrats are going to do in 2012. Let's not have Republicans imitating them in our own primaries.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Was September 11 a warning from God?

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

Ten years ago this past Sunday, Muslim terrorists crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Jerry Falwell said then that this was both a warning and as judgment from God.

I wrote a letter to the editor where I said that Falwell was wrong to say what he said. At the time, I was wrapped up in patriotism and not heeding the warnings of Scripture, and I was wrong.

The Bible is filled with examples of God warning or destroying entire groups of people. The wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are the two most obvious examples, but God also proclaimed that the city of Ninevah would be destroyed because of their wickedness. Of course, God spared that city when they repented.

God ordered that the wicked Canannites were to be wiped out because of their evil practices, including the practice of child sacrifice. The people of the land would toss their infants into a fire, sacrificing them to pagan gods – an incredibly cruel and inhuman practice.

In Deuteronomy 12:29-31, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and 2 Kings 16:3, God spoke of destroying the wicked people of the land in part because of infant sacrifice. In Jeremiah 32:24-36, God proclaims judgment against Jerusalem for their wickedness, including infant sacrifice. In this passage, God's rebuke is especially damning. He says that the practice of infant sacrifice is so evil that it didn’t even enter into His mind.

It is common for Christians today to think that the Old Testament has been rendered irrelevant by Jesus, but we should not forget that Jesus Christ warned of the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-24:2 – a prophecy that came true when the Roman Empire destroyed the city in A.D. 70.

But are we any better in America? In the United States of America, we have murdered 50 million unborn children in the name of reproductive choice and personal autonomy.

Is it so outrageous to believe that God would judge America for the great wickedness in our land? I do not believe it is. We need to repent of our wicked ways and turn to God before it is too late, and our iniquity is full like the iniquity of the Amorites as described in Genesis 15:16.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Republicans capture Anthony Weiner's seat

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

David Weprin (D)

Bob Turner (R)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Obama's jobs speech an embarassment

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

President Obama presented his campaign speech "jobs program" to the audience he wanted on Thursday. From the beginning, this was a show of petulance unfit for the President of the United States.

First, Obama demanded that he be granted an audience the same night as the Republicans looking to challenge him next year were debating, an obviously political attempt to distract attention from his potential opponents. House Speaker John Boehner was absolutely right to deny this flagrantly political request.

Second, the tone of the speech was unpresidential. Obama attempted to set himself up as speaking from on high, scolding the Congress for not being able to get along. He has attempted to set himself above politics before, but it is not 2008 anymore and people see through him now. After all, this is the same President who dismissed Republican ideas in early 2009 by gloating that he won the election and that was his trump card. Had the Republicans not won the House a year ago, would Obama have any interest in working with them?

Knowing that one of his biggest weaknesses is the dramatic increases in federal spending and the budget deficit, Obama said that this program will be paid for. Republicans should hold his feet to the fire on that promise and expect dollar-for-dollar spending cuts elsewhere to match this new stimulus.

Obama specifically proposed extending the payroll tax holiday, scolding Republicans who have promised not to raise taxes by demanding that the holiday be extended. One thing is now clear: This was never a serious proposal. It was a trap from the very beginning. Obama knew that he could spin the end of the payroll tax holiday as a tax increase and use it for political gain, and as a tool to get what he really wants: Increased taxes on the rich.

Obama again whined that the rich need to pay their fair share, throwing out the red herring about Warren Buffet's tax rate. But as I pointed out last month, the rich do pay their "fair share." The top 1% of wage earners paid 38% of federal personal income tax in 2008, and the top 5% paid 58.7% of federal personal income tax that same year. Is the President capable of being honest?

One of Obama's "generous" tax cut proposals was a proposal that would allow an employer who hired 50 employees at an "average salary" to enjoy an $80,000 tax break. Well, whoop de diddly do, Barack. If each of those employees makes $25,000 a year, it will cost $1.25 million annually to pay them - and that is salary only, not health insurance or other benefits.

This President clearly has no clue how business works. Does Obama really think that an $80,000 tax break will be enough to encourage employers to hire so many employees and take on so large of an ongoing expense? The same can be said for the proposed $4000 tax credit for hire someone unemployed for 6 months or more. The reality is that businesses hire when they have work that needs to be done.

Obama topped it off with a flagrantly dishonest misrepresentation of conservative/libertarian thought. He categorized his opponents' proposal for economic prosperity as an agenda to dismantle government, refund everyone's money, let everyone write their own rules and tell everyone they're on their own.

While libertarian philosophy is certainly enjoying increased popularity, libertarianism and anarchism are not the same. There are no credible voices that are arguing we should have no government, only that government should be much smaller and more limited in scope than it currently is. And make no mistake here: Obama is not confused about the difference between libertarians and anarchists. He's lying. That is unacceptable.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time to shake up the Presidential nomination process?

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

As we get closer to primary season, we will hear the typical complaints about Iowa and New Hampshire having such a disproportionate impact in the race, while other late-voting states, such as Indiana, rarely have any voice in the process. The 2008 campaign was an anomaly, as the nominations are usually decided by that point.

It is far too late to change the process for 2012, but changes can be made in the future to ensure that smaller states have more of a voice in the process and that the best sample of voters is used to determine the nominees.

I propose splitting the nomination process into six separate "super Tuesdays" three weeks apart. The ten smallest states would vote first, followed by the next batch of ten until the ten largest states are left. The final two "super Tuesdays" would consist of the sixth through tenth largest states by population, with the five largest states voting last.

A national primary day is a possibility, but that it would give a heavy advantage to the most well-financed candidates and prevent lower-tier candidates from potentially catching fire at the grassroots. In addition, the smallest states would be ignored as candidates concentrate on the largest states. Spreading the nomination process out over fifteen weeks with the most populated states voting last would allow voters the opportunity to compare the candidates over a longer period of time. The nomination would still be decided by the largest states.

This would be a radical change and would meet stiff resistance, but I think it would be a significant improvement over the tangled and confusing mess we have now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The war on terror has not bankrupted America!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:32 PM (#)

Charles Krauthammer says that complaints about the 9/11 "overreaction" are nonsense.

Perhaps, says the new conventional wisdom, but these exertions have bankrupted the country and led to our current mood of despair and decline.

Rubbish. The total cost of “the two wars” is $1.3 trillion. That’s less than 1/11th of the national debt, less than one year of Obama deficit spending. During the golden Eisenhower 1950s of robust economic growth averaging 5 percent annually, defense spending was 11 percent of GDP and 60 percent of the federal budget. Today, defense spending is 5 percent of GDP and 20 percent of the budget. So much for imperial overstretch.

Yes, we are approaching bankruptcy. But this has as much to do with the war on terror as do sunspots. Looming insolvency comes not from our shrinking defense budget but from the explosion of entitlements. They devour nearly half the federal budget.

Source: Washington Post

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monroe County GOP shoots itself in the foot - again!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:00 AM (#)

Does the Monroe County Republican Party really believe that people should serve as "elected officials" without getting even one single vote in the general election? Does the Monroe County Republican Party really support having people be simply anointed to serve without any input from the voters whatsoever? Apparently, the answer is yes.

Judith Smith-Ille, the Republican appointee to the Monroe County Election board, voted to remove the names of unopposed candidates from the November ballot, meaning that the Democratic candidates for Mayor, City Clerk, and Districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 would be "elected" without getting even one single vote. She was overruled by the other two members of the election board, so Bloomington city voters will not be disenfranchised in November.

I've already explained why this is terrible policy as well as why the argument is without merit legally.

What amazes me is that the Monroe County Republican Party leadership seems to think that this is a good idea politically. Does the Monroe County GOP actually think that disenfranchising every voter in Bloomington would help convince people to vote Republican? With all of the things local government is doing - such as standing in the way of I-69 and potentially causing us to lose truckloads of road construction money from the state in the process - does the Monroe County GOP really believe that this is the battle to fight?

Smith-Ille is wrong on policy, she's wrong on legality, and she is doing damage to the Republican Party politically. It is long past time for her to be removed from the election board.

Finally, the state legislature simply dropped the ball when they passed this law. The first order of business in January should be to repeal it. A vote to repeal should pass 100-0 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rush is wrong: Saving lives is not a distraction

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:00 AM (#)

What is more important: Preventing millions from being slaughtered or preserving our wealth?

Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh argued that the Republican candidates for President need to focus on economic issues and not be "distracted" by other issues. Limbaugh argued:

The left would love for the Tea Party to get distracted, start talking about immigration, abortion, gay marriage, all this other stuff, because right now the chief vulnerability faced by Obama and the Democrats is the economy. Jobs, stimulus spending, federal regulations, those are the three things that are killing this country. Those are the three things that every Republican needs to focus on.

It is ironic that Limbaugh had harshly criticized Mitch Daniels a few months ago for making the argument that we have to declare a "truce" on social issues in order to focus on economic growth and restraining federal spending. Isn't Limbaugh making the exact same argument by saying that abortion, illegal immigration and homosexual marriage are distractions?

Limbaugh often claims he is documented to be almost always right, 99.6% of the time. Well, this is the 0.4% of the time where he is wrong.

Our abortion industry has murdered 50 million children since 1973. Every year, we murder 1.2 million babies in America. The abortion toll worldwide is even worse: Approximately one billion babies have been aborted over the last several decades.

Think about that for a minute. Worldwide, abortion has wiped out the equivalent of the entire population of China.

Limbaugh is probably right that Obama is most politically vulnerable on the economy, with a the official unemployment rate stuck at 9% and the real unemployment rate much higher. The unemployment rate for blacks is much worse, causing a lot of Congressional Black Caucus members to openly grumble about Obama and potentially sapping the enthusiasm of a voting block that Obama must convince to turn out in large numbers 14 months from now.

But if you really believe that the fetus is a human being worthy of protection, and if you really believe that abortion ends a human life, how can you possibly argue that abortion should be a back burner issue and that Republicans should not be "distracted" by it?

The answer is simple: You can't.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Indiana's 6th Congressional District: Travis Hankins

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

Indiana's 6th Congressional district is an open seat, with the incumbent likely to be Indiana's next governor. Because it is an open seat, there are a number of people running in the Republican primary.

Travis Hankins ran for Congress in the 9th District last year and did surprisingly well, finishing second and actually getting more votes than former Congressman Mike Sodrel, who was looking to face Baron Hill for a fifth time.

I didn't support Hankins (or the winner, Todd Young) in the primary, as I thought Sodrel deserved another shot at winning back the seat he held in 2005-2006. I thought all three candidates were qualified, though, and would have been happy with any of the three as the nominee. I enthusiastically voted for Young in November.

Now, Hankins is running in the newly-redrawn 6th District, and I am happily endorsing him this time.

Hankins was seen by some (including me, quite honestly) as a "me too" candidate in 2010, so I was very surprised at his strong showing in the primary. Finishing ahead of Sodrel was certainly an accomplishment. In the new 6th, I think his chances are strong. Hankins finished with over 60% of the vote in Ohio, Ripley, Bartholomew, Jennings and Dearborn counties, all of which are in the newly redrawn 6th district.

One of the things I find most encouraging about Hankins' candidacy is that his anti-abortion views are prominently featured on the front page of his campaign website. I have met him several times and I know his commitment to opposing abortion (and actively fighting against it legislatively) is genuine. Hankins is committed to not only voting his principles on legislation that comes before the House, but actively advancing legislation to preserve liberty.

Don Bates is also running in the 6th. If Hankins were not in the race, Bates (a solid fiscal, social and foreign policy conservative) would be the obvious choice for Republican primary voters.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I hate universe-wide reboots

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

This month, DC Comics will be relaunching dozens of titles with a new issue #1. Some characters will get new origins and a number of costumes will be redesigned. The idea behind the reboot is that because these characters have so many decades of history, it is difficult for new fans to jump on.

This is not new. Back in the 1980's, DC decided that all of the alternate universes were too confusing and everything was to be condensed into one universe. Some characters were wiped from history while others were folded into the new universe. For the most part, the original Crisis on Infinite Earths was a good idea.

But now, DC is starting over again. This is an unnecessary move that will not only annoy fans who have been following these characters for years and even decades, this is at best a temporary fix.

Here is the inherent problem with the "logic" of a universe-wise reboot making it easier for new fans to jump in. After all of the characters have been rebooted, years will pass and those characters will develop years of history.

Marvel started a new "ultimate" universe (separate form the existing universe) and launched new titles with new origins and no history for some of their most popular characters. Now, that "ultimate" line has a full decade of history. As the years ago by, the reason for the "ultimate" line to exist becomes less and less relevant.

In ten years, DC's rebooted universe will have a decade of continuity and it will allegedly be "difficult" for new readers to jump in and read about those characters. In 20 years, they will have 20 years of continuity that will make it "difficult" for new readers to jump in. And so it goes. Will DC need to reboot again?

A well-written comic book does not need to reboot in order to be accessible to new readers. It has become fairly common to include a "what has happened so far" page so readers can get caught up on current storylines.

As far as the history of characters, modern comic fans have an advantage that did not exist in 1985 - the Internet. With a few mouse clicks, fans can get caught up on decades of history so they can better understand what is currently happening in the stories they read. Wikipedia was useful in helping me figure out the tangled mess that is Hawkman's history when I started collecting Justice Society trade paperbacks.

Bottom line: Tell good stories and people will buy your comics. It really is that simple.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Space hippies to punish man for blaspheming Gaia?

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

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. – Genesis 1:28

I believe that we should have reasonable protections for the environment. Primarily, this is to protect human health and prevent people from harming each other through pollution. Because pollution from one state can harm other states, I believe that it is appropriate for the federal government to pass and enforce reasonable environmental regulations under their authority to regulate interstate commerce. As a Christian, I also believe that we are to be good stewards of the world that God has given us to have dominion over.

But some people take it way too far, to the point of actually worshiping the Earth itself. Around Bloomington, you will see the occasional bumper sticker with a picture of Earth urging us to "love your mother."

In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul warned that God would give people over to vile affections because they worship the creation rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. On August 18, the UK Guardian published a very sad story about His judgment – something the writers and the scientists at NASA and in academia are far too blind to see.

From the article:

"Green" aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. "These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets," the authors write.

So let me get this straight. Hippies from outer space might arrive in their bong-ship someday to wipe out humanity in order to save the Earth and punish us for blaspheming Gaia. Far out, man. Groovy. Pass the weed.

This is what they believe?

This is what passes for serious academic study from NASA and Pennsylvania State University?



Do we need any more evidence that radical environmentalism is little more than soul-destroying earth worship? Enviro-extremists even have doomsday prophecies and judgment from deity-like figures if we continue to "sin" against the Earth.We can avoid this judgment from Gaia’s agents (angels?) in outer space if we stop "sinning" against Mother Earth and behave in a way that releases less pollution into the atmosphere. We can also get visions directly from Gaia by smoking a lot of marijuana.

My assessment of the scenario posed by these "respected scientists" is admittedly harsh, mocking and disrespectful. But when something is this mind-numbingly stupid, it does not deserve the respect of a thoughtful analysis and refutation. Instead, it deserves scorn and ridicule. This is simply absurd. This is not science. It is a doomsday prophecy from a religious cult. It is the fantasy of extremists who believe man is an enemy of nature, rather than a part of nature.

Yes, nature is a wonderful thing. Yes, we should have reasonable protections for the environment, as I said above – though there are and will be endless arguments about what is reasonable and what is not. Much of the environmentalist movement has gone far beyond a simple desire to have clean air and water to treating "mother nature" as a divine being. This is literally damnable.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cindy Sheehan coming to Bloomington

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 PM (#)

Cindy Sheehan, who once said her son was killed in a war for a Jewish cabal, will be speaking in Bloomington this October.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Hollywood's right wing fantasy world

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

Is there much difference between Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask wearing killer of the Friday the 13th movies and vigilante killer Paul Kersey of the Death Wish movies?

The title of this post might be a little surprising given Hollywood's reputation for unapologetic liberalism. After all, Avatar was a two and a half hour sermon about how we mistreated the American Indians and The Day After Tomorrow was a two and a half hour sermon about how we need to protect the environment. Even the sixth entry into the Saw franchise was heavy on political commentary, with an evil health insurance company executive serving as Jigsaw's latest victim just as the health care reform debate was heating up.

It is surprising, then, just how many of the action movies have the "hero" ignoring due process and civil liberties for accused criminals, with the "hero" serving as judge, jury and executioner for the criminals the permissive liberal justice system sets free. We see this in the Death Wish and Dirty Harry movies, and Sylvester Stallone's Cobra was especially heavy on the message that the police are powerless because they have to "play by the rules" while the criminals don't.

With film "heroes" like these, is overuse and abuse of paramilitary SWAT teams surprising?

Back to the opening question. Voorhees goes on killing rampage after killing rampage because he watched his mother get killed in the first movie. Paul Kersey, a bleeding heart liberal pacifist, goes on killing rampage after killing rampage after his wife and daughter are raped and murdered. Charles Bronson's portrayal of Kersey in Death Wish III indicates that he's not just doing this to clean up the streets - he enjoys it.

There are serious cultural implications to this question. Hollywood movies, after all, are only a representation of the broader culture. Since the 1960's, a perceived lack of toughness in our criminal justice system has led to more and more "tough on crime" measures, but the problem is that "tough on crime" has often translated into being tough on civil liberties. In the real world, we far too often unethical actions by prosecutors leading to false convictions.

Most frightening is the trend toward overuse and abuse of paramilitary SWAT teams. The 92-year-old woman gunned down in her own home in Atlanta and the mayor of Berwyn Heights who was held at gunpoint for hours are only two examples of why we should all be concerned about how we view crime and criminals.

Don't get me wrong here - I am no thug hugger. I was absolutely furious when a thoroughly corrupt Scottish "justice" released mass murdering terrorist Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, and the pathetic 25 years in jail for genocidal psychopath Dominique Ntawukulilyayo had me burning with anger. Closer to home, the pathetic abomination of a "punishment" for a teenager who sawed back and forth across the throat of an elderly woman in a failed attempt to kill her had me beside myself with rage.

What I support is stiff punishment for criminals who are convicted after a fair trial - especially the death penalty for cold blooded murderers. But we should never compromise on civil liberties protections for those not convicted of a crime, and we should never retreat from the principle of innocent until proven guilty. I only need to mention the Duke lacrosse case to remind people of the reason we have these protections in the first place.

Hollywood movies are harmless. The blood-soaked rampages of Paul Kersey are fictional and didn't deprive a single person of their civil liberties. The actors playing the thugs got back up and went about their lives. My concern is the fact that far too many people are cheering these fictional serial killers as "heroes" and buy into the notion that we need to toss aside protections for civil liberties in order to win the "war on crime."

As much as you may fear criminals, history shows we have much more to fear from government abuse of power. Ignoring civil liberties is not a conservative position by any means, especially at a time when the Tea Party movement has us increasingly focused on the US Constitution's limits on government power. Instead, it is an extreme right wing fantasy world - and that's scarier than any horror movie bad guy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Graphic images to oppose smoking... and abortion

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

This month, graphic warnings about the serious health consequences of smoking will go on cigarette packs. The FDA is following the lead of the United Kingdom, which implemented similar measures three years ago.

It was nearly ten years ago that the Center for BioEthical Reform brought the Genocide Awareness Project to Indiana University in partnership with IU Students for Life. Like the anti-smoking warnings, GAP uses graphic photographs of the results of abortion to shock people out of their apathy and to warn what abortion does.

I find it interesting that many of the same people who support the anti-smoking pictures vehemently oppose pictures of aborted babies. On Twitter, SnarkyIndiana replied to me linking to CBR's web site by saying the pictures "don't belong in any realistic policy debate" and that they "belong at an abortion doctor hate rally." So do the graphic pictures of health problems caused by smoking belong at a tobacco farmer hate rally?

The fact that we have graphic and revolting pictures of smoking-induced health problems on cigarette packs shows that the graphic pictures work. The saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words" may be a cliché, but it is true. We can read thousands of words arguing about the humanity of the fetus, but a picture of an aborted baby drives the point home and erases arguments that it is just an "unviable tissue mass." It is easy to deny arguments presented as text, but it is much more difficult to deny the reality of abortion presented in the form of a photograph.

But there is a significant difference between smoking and abortion. For the most part, smoking harms the smoker. Abortion is designed to harm an innocent party. Smoking may be deadly over decades, but cigarettes are not designed to kill. Abortion, meanwhile, has the sole purpose of murdering another human being. And yet, the Obama administration is leading new efforts to warn against smoking while advancing a radically pro-abortion agenda.

The pictures of aborted babies are offensive and revolting, as are the new cigarette warning pictures. But that is exactly what they are supposed to be.