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Friday, December 30, 2011

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM

You could see this trap being set a year ago, and yet the Republicans in Congress (displaying their usual ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory) willingly walked into it. Republicans have been attacked all month for the possibility that the lack of agreement between the House and Senate might cause the "temporary" payroll tax cut to expire.

First, the idea of a "temporary" payroll tax cut is stupid. Everyone knew when this agreement was reached that it would not last for only one year, because no politician is going to be responsible for raising taxes on everyone, especially lower and middle class workers. Congress was never going to allow this to expire at the beginning of an election year.

Second, the payroll tax is the funding mechanism for Social Security. I am all in favor of cutting taxes, but unless you are going to reform the entitlement it is simply irresponsible to slash the revenue for the program - especially when no one believed this tax cut would only last one year. All this policy does is endanger the future of Social Security, and add even more irresponsible debt to the mountain of debt that has been accumulated over the last three years.

But the way this is being spun in the mainstream media, Congress is never going to move the payroll tax back to where it was before the "temporary" tax cut was implemented, for fear of being attacked for "raising taxes" on the poor and middle class - despite the fact that everyone technically agreed to this tax increase when it was signed a year ago!

So now we have the perfect storm of bad policy and stupid politics. Everyone in Washington wants to see the payroll tax cut extended, if only for craven political reasons. But someone has to be the adult in the room make the point that if we are going to have these social programs we cannot simply put them on the credit card forever. It's not going to get any easier in the future because the next Congressional election is always right around the corner.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Four proposals for reforming county government

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM

The Evansville Courier reported on four proposals by Governor Mitch Daniels for reforming county government. The proposals and my reaction are below. (All text in the bullet points is quoted from the Courier.)

  • Allowing counties to switch their executive structure from three-member groups of commissioners to a single county commissioner.

At first, this did not seem to make sense, because the legislative authority in county government is very unusual. The county council is the fiscal body, while the commissioners are the legislative body. You cannot very well have only one person deciding legislation by himself. There would not even be a need for any votes.

But Daniels mentioned in his speech (download here) making county government more like other forms of government and strengthening the county council, so this would almost certainly involve moving legislative authority from the commissioners to the council. The Courier did a poor job of explaining the proposal.

  • Abolishing three-member township advisory boards that oversee township trustees' budgets and bumping their fiscal oversight duties up to county councils.

I disagree with this proposal. It is fine to give the county council more oversight but the township boards are in a better position to decide the township budget than the county council. This is an anti-democratic proposal that will actually reduce oversight by taking eyes off the township budget.

It also takes away local control by having it more centralized. Here in Monroe County, I am sure folks in conservative Washington Township would much rather have their township board deciding their budget than having the folks in the much more liberal Bloomington and Perry Townships having authority over them through the representatives they elect to the county council. (See township board duties here.)

  • Eliminating nepotism – that is, the ability for local elected officials to hire their relatives to do the area's work.

This is a good idea that is long overdue. It is long past time to professionalize local government and this is a step in the right direction. But it does not go far enough. The next step should be restrictions on patronage employment. The taxpayers are best served when people are hired on merit instead of politics and family relations.

  • Restricting "conflicts of interest," or situations where those who are paid by local government, such as police, firefighters, park employees and more, also serve on the councils that set their budgets.

While I see the reasoning for this proposal, I am not sure this is necessarily something that needs to be codified into state law. I am distrustful of any proposal that seeks to limit the choice of voters to elect whomever they please. Government employment is public record in the state of Indiana, and the voters are free to not elect someone who they believe has an unacceptable conflict of interest. Furthermore, it is often local government employees who are most knowledgeable about the operations of local government and are in the best position to make informed choices.

A more modest reform would be better. Instead of banning people from being elected completely, pass a law that legally requires any government employee to recuse himself on votes regarding the policy or budget of his department.

These proposals represent an ambitious agenda, especially for a short session during a year where we will elect a new governor. Even with the Republicans holding big majorities in both chambers, it will not be easy to get this done. Everyone should think about these proposals and express your opinion to your legislators.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Community Reinvestment Act, revisited

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:45 AM

I have blogged about the Community Reinvestment Act before. Here's another good article on the CRA's role in the 2008 housing crisis:

As Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times and Joshua Rosner wrote in “Reckless Endangerment,” the Fannie-and-Freddie debacle shows what happens “when Washington decides, in its infinite wisdom, that every living breathing citizen should own a home.”

Beginning in 1992, the government began pushing for more allocation of credit to lower-income borrowers. To meet affordable-housing goals set by Congress, the two mortgage giants steadily lowered their credit standards and began buying subprime loans or no-document mortgages — those for which verification of key data like income was absent. Subprime originators seized the opportunity to reap profits with dubious mortgages while shifting the risk to Fannie and Freddie — and the Treasury.

Whenever concern was raised about the increased risk, reforms would be blocked by powerful Fannie-and-Freddie backers in Congress, like Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank.

Source: The Kansas City Star.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Credit card mess is a reason for change in 2012

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM

The pathetic record keeping for county government's credit cards demonstrates why Monroe County voters need to vote for local offices on local issues instead of national or international issues. Local Democrats took advantage of tides against George W. Bush in 2004, 2006 and 2008, and we have seen the results of that.

Last month, Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman wrote a personal check for $2,592.75 to reimburse county government after she was unable to locate a credit card statement from January. But that's just the beginning of the mess. It was later discovered that personal expenses have been charged to county cards and reimbursed, leading to a request for public records by the local newspaper.

It is not unheard of for personal expenses to be accidentally charged to a company card and then repaid - or for a company expense to be accidentally charged to a personal card and then reimbursed. Sometimes people use the wrong card. That is certainly not an ideal situation by any means, but it's not necessarily a crisis. County employees who have authorization to use credit cards need to be very careful about proper use.

The big question in this controversy is context, and only a thorough audit of the credit card statements can determine if people were simply careless with county credit cards or whether there were isolated incidents. Which county departments had incidents of personal expenses reimbursed by the county?

Clearly, reform is needed. Here is one thing the county should do, if they do not do it already: Scan in all of the receipts along with the credit card statement to PDF. Then any time someone wants to see the statements, they can get them via CD, or (if the file size of a specific statement is small enough, say no more than 2 MB) have it sent via an e-mail attachment. Not only would it allow rapid access to the statements for county employees auditing them, it would allow a turnaround of less than a day for public records requests.

The hard paper records also need to be saved, obviously.

But the credit card mess gets worse. On December 17, the Herald-Times reported that after two weeks, county government was still not able to provide the number of credit cards the county has.

This is simply unacceptable. Losing the January credit card statement in the move from the courthouse to Showers is obviously bad and indicates poor internal controls on documents. But how could the county not know how many credit cards it has? If nothing else there should be a spreadsheet - or even a text file - with a list of all the cards. Not knowing how many cards there are makes the situation a prime target for abuse.

The real scandal is not that inappropriate expenses are made and then reimbursed. As I said above, sometimes people use the wrong card and it's not a crisis as long as these mistakes are very rare and there are procedures in place to safeguard against it. The real scandal is that record keeping in county government is so shoddy that we now have a situation where county government does not even know how many credit cards it has.

After the county Auditor's Office had been controlled by Republicans for twenty years, a Democrat was elected in the anti-Bush wave of 2004. The incumbent Auditor did such a poor job that she was defeated in her own party's primary by a margin of 11,722 to 7,762. The winner went on to victory in the general election over a Republican who had worked in the Auditor's Office for more than twenty years and was far more qualified than her Democratic opponent. No human resources manager would have hired the Democrat, but she won thanks to Barack Obama.

I have said before that we need to reform county government. But that would require a change to Indiana's constitution that would take a while to get on the ballot, even if the legislature made it a priority in 2012. (And we know that will not happen.) But one thing we can do in Monroe County is stop voting for local races based only on who we support for President. Republicans have a great opportunity to win local races in 2012.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:00 AM

Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While many church services focus on the glorious birth of Christ with heavenly host singing, it is also important to recognize how much of a sacrifice it was for Jesus to come to earth to be our Redeemer. We often think of the crucifixion as Christ's main sacrifice, but his entire life was a sacrifice for us.

Isaiah 53:2-3

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Many paintings of Jesus depict Him as a glorious, good looking man. But the prophesy of Him in Isaiah indicates that He was just the opposite. Born in a manger rather than a palace, Jesus humbled Himself to be with the lowly rather than the rich and powerful. Born as a baby, Jesus humbled Himself by being completely dependent on his mother and father for everything aspect of His life: food, shelter and clothing. Think that the Creator of the universe was completely helpless.

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Yet he entered this world with no power whatsoever, in the body of a newborn baby. Jesus was completely dependent on Mary and Joseph for food, shelter and basic care. Like all newborns, Jesus could not walk or even crawl. Imagine, the Creator of the universe being carried around because He has no mobility! Jesus was willing to lower Himself not only to take on a frail human body, but to have the most vulnerable and frail body of all: a newborn child. How many of us, if we were omnipotent, would be willing to make that sacrifice for the people we created?

Most importantly, why did He do this? Jesus came to earth, endured the humiliation of helplessness, endured the humiliation of being of low social status, and endured the suffering of the cross for our sins. All of us have sinned against God, and no one has the ability to repay that debt and make ourselves right with Him. So God Himself comes to earth and suffers, and is eventually executed for the sins we committed against Him. What a merciful and loving God our Father is, to sacrifice Himself to free us from the bondage of sin and death.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Splitting the vote is a sure path to defeat

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

Imagine this scenario: Voters go to the polls in 2012, and 55% of them vote for a conservative candidate, while 45% vote for a liberal candidate. The liberal candidate wins because the conservative votes are split between two conservatives, with the next highest vote total at 40%. We now have four more years of Barack Obama and his destructive policies.

This is an unacceptable scenario, but it is possible. Ron Paul has said he has no intention of running as a third party candidate, but has not ruled it out in absolute terms. He needs to do so immediately. If he makes any noise about running as a third party candidate, his supporters should abandon him.

There is a lot to like about Paul, who is arguably the most consistent limited government candidate in the race. But no matter who you support, any of the Republican contenders would be vastly superior to Barack Obama. Paul simply cannot win as a third party candidate. The best he can hope for is to be a spoiler by pulling enough conservative votes to cause Obama to win with a plurality.

I have voted for third party candidates before and I almost certainly will do so again. There are times when a Republican candidate's positions are so offensive that I cannot in good conscience support him. But that is not the case with anyone in the 2012 Republican field. There are some I support more than others, but I could enthusiastically vote for any of them as the Republican nominee.

Paul was not always a Republican. He was the Libertarian Party's candidate for President in 1988. Later, he left the Libertarian Party to run for Congress, and has represented his district in Texas for 15 years. Had Paul remained a Libertarian, he would not have been able to capture that seat. Because he ran as a Republican, he has had a platform to advocate (small "L") libertarian ideas popular with much of the Republican base.

Paul could have pursued the Libertarian Party's nomination from the beginning, but he decided to run as a Republican - knowing that he is a long shot to win the GOP nomination. Since he is running as a Republican, he needs to respect the nomination process and not run as a "sore loser" candidate. He will not be on Indiana's ballot if he chooses that route, because IC 3-8-1-5.5 prevents a defeated candidate from appearing on the general election ballot for the same office.

It is not only at the national level where conservatives could defeat themselves by splitting the vote. There has been a lot of chatter about a second conservative challenging Richard Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary. As I pointed out in August, this is a sure path to defeat. Not everyone is thrilled with Richard Mourdock as the alternative to Lugar, but he has been in the race for nearly a year and he is a proven 60% general election winner. For anyone to get in the race now would be nothing more than an ego trip and an in-kind donation to Lugar's campaign.

We have the chance to be rid of a President who has wrecked the economy and a U.S. Senator who has far too often sided with Democrats against conservative principles. Now is not the time to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and allow Obama and Lugar to win with a plurality. We need a single conservative alternative to both, and we can win.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Joe Biden's shameful lies about Iraq

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

Read the following two quotes and see if you spot something unusual:

"(Saddam Hussein is) a long term threat and a short term threat to our national security… We have no choice but to eliminate the threat. This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world." - U.S. Senator Joe Biden on Meet the Press in 2002

"When that original debate took place, what is easy to forget, I don't expect people to remember, those of us like Dick Lugar and myself and others who voted to authorize the President to use force were based on the President's commitment that not to use force, that he had no intention of using force." - Vice President Joe Biden, December 13, 2011 on MSNBC.

People can change their position on issues in one of three ways.

First, they can have a legitimate change of opinion. There are some people who were formerly for the war in Iraq who honestly examined their position and decided they had made a mistake. Those people owned up to their position.

Second, they can change their position for craven political expediency.

Third, they can pretend they never actually held the opposing position at all, and have always held their new position.

Unfortunately, Biden has taken the third route, which is by far the least honorable.

Biden used to be in favor of the war, and now he is not. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. What is unacceptable is for the Vice President of the United States to lie about his former position. He has demeaned the office and shamed himself. He needs to apologize to the American people.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Off to get a Christmas tree...

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 AM

This video is dedicated to the Earth Liberation Front.

"The most beautiful thing about a tree is what you do with it after you cut it down." - Rush Limbaugh

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The reality of at-large races

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

Last month, Indiana Daily Student columnist Kelly Fritz bitterly complained about a Republican city council candidate encouraging supporters to vote for him only, not any of the other candidates. While her zeal for democracy and voter participation is laudable, it represents a fundamental misunderstanding about the way at-large races work.

Voters can pick up to three candidates, but can also vote for two, one or none at all. If there is a candidate you enthusiastically support, it is counterproductive to vote for the candidates of the opposing party. For example, voting for a Republican and a Democrat would negate the vote for the Democrat by elevating his Republican opponent. Voting only for the Democrat elevates him while not elevating the Republican.

Republicans only had two candidates, because the former Monroe County GOP chairman failed to file the paperwork to get the third candidate on the ballot. A Republican who uses all three votes in the 2011 city council race would negate one of his votes. (This is why it is important to fill the ticket, because a lot of people automatically use all three votes.) One can debate the wisdom of only voting for one Republican instead of both, but it was certainly not advisable for Republicans to use all three votes.

I ran for delegate to the Republican state convention several times in the primary. I have encouraged friends to vote for me only, because that elevates me without elevating my opponents. When I ran for Bloomington Township Board in 2006, the primary was irrelevant because there were two of us running for three seats, but had there been more than three I would have encouraged supporters to vote only for me. In the general election, after the GOP filled the final spot on the ballot in a caucus, I voted for all three Republicans and encouraged others to do the same. We were all annihilated anyway.

It is not anti-democratic to not use all your votes in an at-large race. Instead, it is smart political strategery.

The GOP will need to pick up two seats on the county council in order to win a majority, which is highly unlikely. The last time Republicans won two at-large seats was 2000, and the party has self destructed since then. It would not surprise me if the Republicans fail to fill all three spots on the ballot for county council at-large. If that happens, Republicans would be wise to educate Republican voters and conservative independents about why voting for only the one or two Republicans best advances the cause of getting Republicans elected.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Why not exempt everyone from the smoking ban?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

A December 4 editorial in the Journal Gazette asks whether a limited statewide smoking ban is acceptable or whether legislators should push for a much more comprehensive ban. But while legislators haggle over who should be exempted, the obvious question lingers: Why not just exempt everyone?

The fundamental question is not whether this or that class of business should be exempt from a statewide smoking ban. The fundamental question is whether the proper role of government is to forbid the use of a legal product by consenting adults on private property. Unfortunately, the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature have ceded a power to government that would have been unthinkable only 25 years ago.

But the nanny state is relentless. Once the nannies have their sights set on something, they will keep coming back. Smoking bans have been passed in a number of Indiana cities as anti-smoking activists have built their case over ten years. Reasonable limits on smoking in places like hospitals and government buildings morphed into restrictions on private property rights, even when the only people allowed in are consenting adults.

In Monroe County, you cannot even smoke in your own vehicle if a child 13 years old or younger is with you. If you think that will remain confined to Bloomington, or the nanny state will be satisfied with smoking bans in private vehicles and will not push for ever more restrictive bans, you are deluding yourself. If nothing else, smoking opponents have demonstrated that the slope is indeed slippery.

We don't need government policing our lives.

Let me be clear: I despise smoking. If you smoke, you should quit. I do not want you smoking in my home and I will try to convince you to stop smoking elsewhere. But it is not my place to use the power of government to force you to live your life the way you please, including consumption of legal products.

The most discouraging thing about the latest nanny-state intrusion into personal choice, business and private property rights is the fact that both chambers are dominated by Republicans swept in by the 2010 Tea Party wave. Despite the revival of constitutional conservatism federally and serious efforts at conservative reform in the states, it appears that we have lost this battle. And that is sad.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Social programs, tax cuts and the deficit

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

You know, I hear Leftists like Rachel Maddow talk about how soldiers have made sacrifices while people at home get tax cuts, so we put the war on the deficit. What I never hear about is how social programs are not only never cut, but expanded while we are at war. Somehow, all of this social spending does not cause the deficits (because it takes place in an alternate universe apparently) but allowing people to keep more of what they earn does lead to higher deficits. How does that work?

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Respecting authority

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

As Americans, we hate authority. And that's why Tim Tebow's response to news that students had been suspended for imitating his signature pose in school is so jarring. From Fox News:

"You have to respect the position of authority and people that God's put as authority over you," Tebow told the media.

There's already a growing unhinged hatred for Tebow, so this will only increase that.

Previously: Respecting authority.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Making county commissioner meetings accessible to the public

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

Note: This is an open letter to the Monroe County Commissioners. I sent this by e-mail on 12/3/2011.

Commissioners,

It is time to move your meetings to a time where it is more accessible for all Monroe County residents.

This is especially important now, as you prepare to vote on the comprehensive plan for development next month. Whether one supports the plan or opposes it, there's no question it will have a significant impact on what people are allowed to do with their property and what future development will look like as it serves as a guide to code that will be written and passed later.

For this reason, the meeting needs to be as accessible as possible. Even if you do not change your regular meeting time, you should seriously consider changing the time of your January meeting to take place in the evening where more people can make it and express their views directly to you during public comment.

As I noted yesterday when I spoke at your meeting, the 9:00 am start time is a barrier for most Monroe County residents who work during the day. Yes, it is possible for people to take time off for a specific meeting, but it is impossible for most working people to attend every meeting.

There is no need for this to be the case. Bloomington City Council meetings are at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Monroe County Council meetings are at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. The city and county planning commissions meet at 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. respectively. There is no reason that the county commissioners cannot also meet in the evenings instead of during the work day.

I do not have to remind you that next year is an election year and two of you are up for re-election. You can show the voters that you deserve to be re-elected by making your meetings more accessible to the people who will decide whether or not you continue to serve in 2013.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The most offensive 4-letter word in America

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM

Last week, ABC News interviewed Syrian tyrant Bashir Assad.

Assad is lying to their face by claiming that there are no atrocities being committed. He is lying so obviously and brazenly that both ABC and the State Department (which was quoted in the story) have to admit that the facts don't match what Assad is spewing.

At least they recognize there is objective truth, which our postmodern society hates. That is a small victory.

But both the state department and ABC News said there is a "disconnect" between Assad and reality.

No, there's no disconnect, you morons. He is a LIAR. Name it.

I realize the L-Word is the most offensive 4-letter word in our society, but this is one "obscenity" we need to stop being so bashful about using. When someone says something they know to be false, that person is a liar.

Say it with me. It feels so good to shed postmodernism and speak truth.

LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR. LIAR.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Internet secrecy: A license for depravity

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

The Indianapolis Star is facing a lawsuit, with the plaintiff seeking to force the newspaper to reveal the true identity of an online commenter. There should not even be a lawsuit, as the Star should freely turn over this information. As I have said in the past, anonymity on the internet is almost always a license for depravity, and newspapers should never protect the identity of someone who is defaming a real person. (Read the text of the article here.)

I posted a comment on the article on HeraldTimesOnline. One of the responses:

Yet many of us now know that Scott Tibbs posted for a long time as "ST" at www.mobtalk.net Watch how you quote scripture ST. You are speaking with a forked tongue!

This is what I like to call a "factually correct lie." As I said on Twitter over the weekend, it is not possible to be truthful without being factual, but it is possible to be factual without being truthful.

My username on MOB-Talk is "ST." However, every single person on that forum knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am Scott Tibbs. I have never been anonymous there, so he is accusing me of doing something I have not done. This is the dictionary definition of libel. Accusing me of being anonymous for the purpose of attacking my honesty and credibility is clearly and plainly libelous. Not surprisingly, the so-called "moderators" on HTO have refused to delete this comment. They have no honor and they have no integrity.

Furthermore, the troll on HTO obliterates his own argument, since I am obviously not anonymous if he knows who I am. This demonstrates an astonishing lack of critical thinking skills. That is far too common in this country and makes me fearful of how long we will be able to survive with so many stupid people in the population.

And, as is so often the case in debates about Internet secrecy, you have people wailing and screaming about how they have to be anonymous because they will be threatened, stalked or harassed offline. But I don't believe for one single solitary second that 99.9% of the people screeching and shrieking about the "danger" of using their real name are actually in any real danger. I simply don't believe it. The only way I would ever believe this claim is if Jesus Christ came to earth Himself and told me to my face that this is the case.

I say this as someone who has been viciously attacked personally, offline, for things I have said online. I have had political opponents attempt to blackmail me into silence on a number of occasions because they found what I said politically inconvenient.

But the fact of the matter is that the alleged "threat" that comes with using one's real name is dramatically overblown. The reality is that the "danger" that comes with using your real name (guffaw!) is nothing more than an excuse for sniveling, spineless, pathetic cowards to spew filth at real people and murder their reputations without ever being subjected to the same scrutiny. It's pure cowardice and these people have no integrity or honor.

As I said last week, there is no reason that story comments are any more "dangerous" (guffaw!) than letters to the editor, and the Herald-Times has always required that LTTE be signed with the author's full name. While there have been false accusations and personal attacks in LTTE, the H-T usually edits for defamation and good taste.

Another commenter said " It's the publisher, not the anonymous jerk, who's responsible for content."

This is obviously wrong. People are responsible for what they post. Simply saying "the newspaper allows it" should never be used an as excuse to spew filth at others from behind a fake name like a pathetic coward.

Finally, this is not a free speech issue. If all newspapers (including the Herald-Times) decided to require posters to reveal their real names (which will never happen) no one's free speech rights will be violated. The government is not going to prevent you from posting your opinion. What will happen is that you will no longer be able to do it from behind a mask. Furthermore, legally actionable speech (such as libel or threats of violence) has never been protected under the Constitution - and newspapers should not protect the names of those who post such filth.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Discernment is necessary

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 1:15 AM

Joshua Komisarjevsky claims he was abused as a child. Give me a break. The guy mercilessly tortures and slaughters a woman and her two daughters and savagely beats the husband. Then all of a sudden (Shazam!) he has this convenient back story that is supposed to bring sympathy and mercy.

I don't believe it for one second. Not one single second. And neither should anyone else.

The dude is a mass murderer. Don't you think he's capable of lying in order to save himself from the death penalty? Does anyone even think to question his credibility? Does even one person in this entire country (other than me) have any discernment whatsoever?

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Welch should denounce Monroe County Democrats

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 AM

In the state of Indiana, it is a felony to have sexual contact with anyone 13 years old or younger. So why did the Democrats on the Bloomington City Council and the Monroe County Council vote to give a total of $10,000 to Planned Parenthood in order to distribute birth control to girls as young as 13?

When a 13 year old is pregnant, that is prima facie evidence that a felony has taken place. That should bring an immediate investigation from law enforcement. But if a 13 year old gets taxpayer funded birth control from Planned Parenthood, sexual predators are able to cover up their crimes. Perhaps neither Planned Parenthood nor the Monroe County Democratic Party intend for this to happen, but in the real world there are consequences for bad decisions.

In the 2012 election, this is an issue for Monroe County voters as we choose who will serve on the county council, but it is also an issue for Morgan County voters, who have recently been drawn into District 60. Bloomington Democrat Peggy Welch currently represents that district. Morgan and Monroe County voters will choose between Welch and the eventual Republican nominee for who represents them in the state legislature.

Welch has campaigned as a staunchly anti-abortion, socially conservative candidate and has managed to win a district with a large Republican majority seven times in a row - usually by a large margin. Morgan County voters should hold Welch to her stated socially conservative views by demanding that she denounce her fellow Democrats on the county council and city council, who unanimously supported this welfare to Planned Parenthood.

Disagreement is not enough. We are talking about a vote to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize felony child abuse. Welch needs to denounce her fellow Democrats for this abomination. If she really wants to show she is serious, she should advocate that the Democrats running for county council be defeated in the 2012 general election.

This is a new district, and Morgan County voters are unlikely to want a Bloomington Democrat representing them in Indianapolis. The outrage perpetrated by the city and county councils in 2010 should raise questions about why any socially conservative candidate would be a member of the Monroe County Democratic Party.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Internet anonymity: Shooting from the shadows

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 AM

Last week, an anonymous poster on HeraldTimesOnline.com posted a vicious personal attack on Indiana University professor Charles Trzcinka, smearing his professional reputation. I sent an email to Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg and several other members of the H-T staff. I also carbon copied other news organizations and media watchdog groups. The libelous comment was finally deleted about 8 hours after it was posted.

Once again, this raises the issue of internet anonymity, which I maintain is almost always a license for depravity. Anonymity on the internet has been the single worst thing to happen to political discourse in the last 100 years. Because they cannot be held responsible for what they say, anonymous cowards shoot from the shadows and murder the reputations of real people. Much of the filth posted in newspaper comment sections, blogs, forums and the like would never be posted if the trolls were subject to the disinfectant of sunshine.

In comments for my blog, one of my rules is that "direct criticism of a person by name cannot be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you have to subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted."

Realistically, with hundreds of comments each day, there is no way the Herald-Times could implement a rule like this. Nevertheless, anonymity is clearly a problem in HeraldTimesOnline.com comments. What the H-T should do is require that all usernames on HTO be the poster's first and last names, or require that every user submit his real name to the newspaper which would then be matched to the handle on an easy to find website.

I can hear the wailing now. "But I am afraid of using my real name because I will be harassed! I can't subject my family to that." Oh, boo hoo. Cry me a river. The H-T already requires that letters to the editor be signed, and there are hundreds of letters published each year. All LTTE comments are public, so the writer's name usually shows up online. There's no reason that story comments are any more "dangerous" than letters to the editor.

Requiring real names may well reduce the quantity of posts, but it would dramatically improve the quality of discourse in the HTO comments. Anonymous trolls would no longer be able to shoot from the shadows and smear real people's reputations without being subjected to the same scrutiny. The vast majority of the filth would vanish immediately.

Previous editorials

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Mr. Zaltsberg,

This is simply unacceptable. Anonymous accusations of poor conduct in a professional setting should never be permitted in HTO comments. "Gonzo" should be banned from HTO.

This is exactly why permitting anonymous comments is wrong. People should not be permitted to shoot from the shadows and malign someone's character and professional reputation while their anonymity prevents them from being exposed to the same criticism.

At the very least, those who attack another person by name should be forced to reveal their own names, first and last. This would allow people the opportunity for anonymous speech up to the point they use it irresponsibly.

Mr. Trzcinka is a distinguished professor at a world-renowned business school. He deserves better than to have his professional reputation maligned by a bunch of cowardly internet cranks like "Gonzo."

Sincerely,
Scott Tibbs
http://www.ConservaTibbs.com

Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen. - Deuteronomy 27:24

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Obama's anti-logical argument

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:21 PM

President Obama whined in his speech that unethical banks "trick" people into loans they cannot afford. This makes absolutely no sense. Why would banks give you a loan you can't afford? All that does is cause them to lose money.

If I know you can't afford to pay me back, I wouldn't loan you $100, much less $100,000 or more! That's just stupid! And if it was about getting the house and flipping it, they could do that much more efficiently by just buying the house instead of giving some dude a loan he will default on in 5 years, so the bank gets the house.

Do people even think about this crap logically?

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sam Brownback is an even bigger crybaby than Rick Santorum

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM

Back in September, I said that Rick Santorum needs to stop whining about his "Google problem." Basically, Santorum is being trolled by people who are too intellectually feeble or emotionally unstable to address his arguments directly, so they instead engage in juvenile name calling. Now Kansas governor Sam Brownback has proven himself to be an even bigger crybaby than Santorum.

Now, let me be clear: As with Santorum, I respect Brownback as a person and I respect that he has been on the front lines fighting for conservative values for decades - especially in terms of protecting the unborn. I think it is great that he has led the fight to shut down Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in Kansas. He is truly doing the Lord's work in protecting the little ones.

But Brownback should not be seeking protection from being mocked by teenage girls.

When a high school student posted a juvenile but harmless tweet taking a shot at the governor, Brownback's staff tattled to her principal. That's right. When Brownback was mocked by a high school girl, his staff tattled to her principal. The principal asked her to apologize, and she refused.

The good news is that when the scandal blew up on social media, Brownback immediately backed down and apologized. The girl will not be punished by her school for her political speech, which would have been illegal.

But I have to think: What was the governor's office thinking? Brownback has made national headlines for Kansas' abortion restrictions, and much harsher things have been said. Brownback's office should not have even noticed the tweet. What would possess anyone to try to get the girl in trouble at school?

This was a truly boneheaded move, but some good may come of the scandal if it teaches politicians to develop a little thicker skin when it comes to citizen criticism. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine that politicians already prone to authoritarian overreaction will learn much other than "don't get caught."

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Monday, December 5, 2011

God will judge Penn State "University"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM

The Penn State "University" sex abuse scandal was a failure and a betrayal on every possible level. Fundamentally, it is a scandal of idol worship, as everyone involved abandoned the One True God to play the whore with other false gods - and those folks are in fact worshiping demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21)

First, the Penn State "students" who engaged in a pagan ritual following Joe Paterno's termination are despicable. The "students" rioted when they learned that Paterno was fired. This reminded me of the Muslim terrorists who rioted at the disrespect of the Muslim "prophet" Mohammed in newspaper cartoons. I actually have exponentially more respect for the Muslim terrorists than the Penn State "students" though, because (while their religion is false) the Muslim terrorists are at least rioting in defense of their god's honor, instead of something so meaningless as college football.

Second, I became filled with rage when I learned of the rape victim who was forced to change high schools because he was being bullied by "students" who blamed him for Paterno's termination. It blows my mind in the age of Columbine that this type of thing would take place and would not be immediately stopped by the school. This teenager has been brutally tortured. How much would it take for him to snap and make the bullies pay in blood? Obviously, that would be a wicked thing to do, but would it surprise anyone?

Third, Joe Paterno, the assistant coach who caught Jerry Sandusky brutally raping a child, and the other authorities failed miserably in not going to law enforcement with this criminal behavior. As men in positions of authority, they are charged by God to defend those who cannot defend themselves. In covering for Sandusky, they abandoned their God-given responsibility and our Father in Heaven will judge them harshly for what they failed to do. Instead of protecting God's children, they protected the football program at Penn State "University." It is clear what god they worship.

Fourth, while the primary failure was to the victims a predatory coach, those in authority at Penn State "University" also failed Sandusky. The most hateful thing that anyone could have done to Sandusky was cover up his crimes. If he is confronted with his crimes, he at least has the opportunity to repent and be forgiven, having his sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Those who covered for him are damning him to eternal torment in Hell fire. There's nothing more hateful than that. Now that his crimes have been revealed, he has the opportunity to repent, though all indications are that he stiffened his neck and refuses to do so. God will deal with him. (Proverbs 29:1)

Fifth, let's not forget the culpability of our own city and county leaders in a similar scandal. In 2010, the Democrats on the Monroe County Council and Bloomington City Council voted to give thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood to that PP could provide birth control to girls as young as 13 years old. It is a felony for anyone to have sexual relations with anyone 13 or younger, and a pregnancy is prima facie evidence that a felony has taken place. The Monroe County Democratic Party is spending tax dollars to help sexual predators cover up felonies.

May God have mercy upon us, by bringing conviction and causing this city and county to turn to Him for forgiveness.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rules for Blog Comments: A Reminder

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:35 PM

Below are the rules for commenting on ConservaTibbs.com.

  1. A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

  2. This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

  3. Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name cannot be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you have to subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

  4. All moderation decisions are final. I may post an explanation or I may not, depending on the situation. If you have a question or a concern about a moderation decision, e-mail me privately rather than posting in the comments.

In order to comment, you will need to be a registered user. You can comment with OpenID or your Google account. Thank you for your cooperation.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Crybaby "feminists" turn feminist movement upside down

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:15 AM

1972 - I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore!

2011 - I am woman, see me weep, for I am being taunted by a creep!

When early feminist activists protested for the right to vote, they were arrested and put into prison. Some of them were force-fed raw eggs until they vomited blood - all for attempting to use the right to vote that many women take for granted. Does this sound like a gulag in the former Soviet Union? It happened right here in the United States of America.

This utterly absurd article demonstrates how far the feminist movement has fallen. Because some juvenile trolls are publishing a "newsletter" taunting students and faculty, Cal State "students" are seeking to have the federal government step in and force the university to censor the "newsletter."

This is ridiculous. Is this what the "feminist" movement represents today? Does "feminism" require the federal government to intervene to protect adults from having their feelings hurt by a bunch of jerks? (Then again, this is a movement that has the chief objective of preserving the "right" to murder unborn children.)

This is just laughable, folks. If this is what the "feminist" movement is fighting against in order to guarantee that women have "equal rights," it is time to shut down the feminist movement. There is clearly nothing more to do.

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