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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Barack Obama is a liar and a hypocrite

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

Barack Obama claimed that the health care mandate was not a tax - then claimed it was a tax to get the Supreme Court to uphold it. Barack Obama is a liar and a hypocrite.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Montana waterfall and stream

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

We were in Montana last week, and got the chance to see a beautiful waterfall and stream at Palisades Falls park. Picture and videos are below.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Discernment is a good thing

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:25 PM (#)

OK, this is laughable.

You gotta watch for those terrorist toddlers, according to some really stupid people.

Honestly, how difficult is it to practice a little discernment and ignore the "no fly" list in this case? Did they actually think she could be a terrorist? Just like boneheaded "zero tolerance" policies in government schools, this demonstrates that being so slavishly devoted to regulations leads to insane outcomes. The airline employees should have simply ignored the "no fly" list when they saw the "terrorist" was EIGHTEEN MONTHS OLD.

Good grief!

A shameful cover-up by the Herald-Times

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:45 AM (#)

What would you say about a so-called "newspaper" that actively covers up the political activity of a member of the county economic development commission as well as the political connections of at-large candidates for county council?

Greg Travis, who was appointed to the Monroe County Economic Development Commission by the Monroe County Council in 2005, posts on HeraldTimesOnline.com as "Nitpick." His wife, Sophia Travis, voted for his appointment, and she is running to reclaim her seat on the county council in the November election. I am not permitted to say this on the Herald-Times website, as my post will be deleted. The Herald-Times is protecting Mr. Travis' anonymity, so he can say what he wishes without being held accountable by name for what he says.

This is simply shameful. You have a person in a position of authority in county government who is spewing filth in HTO comments and the so-called "newspaper" is protecting his identity. His wife (Sophia Travis) voted to place him in that position of authority, and the so-called "newspaper" is covering up her political connections - after all, her husband is her most enthusiastic supporter.

This is why anonymity should not be permitted on HTO. Public officials and candidates for elective office should not be allowed to hide behind a fake name to escape accountability for what they say in a public forum. By fiercely protecting Greg Travis' identity on HTO, the Herald-Times is engaged in a cover-up, plain and simple. It is a shameful dereliction of duty by a "newspaper" that is supposed to hold the powerful accountable for their behavior.

But that is not all. Greg Travis posted the following under his "Nitpick" handle:

My wife is one of the 129 million americans who cannot get health insurance, at any price, because of a pre-existing condition.

In a very bizarre letter to the editor in April, Greg Travis whined that he had "paid out $4,200 in health insurance premiums" over three months. County Council members have access to the county's health insurance plan, and Sophia Travis is running for County Council. After this comment, a reputable newspaper would ask the obvious question - is Sophia Travis running for elective office so that she can have access to the county's health insurance plan? Given his whining about it, this is a legitimate question.

Of course, the so-called "newspaper" petulantly refuses to address the question of whether Sophia Travis is running for office in bad faith, so I don't expect them to ask a logical follow-up question. The fact that a candidate's spouse is looking for employment in another state raises serious questions about whether she will complete her term and whether she is running for office knowing she probably won't complete her term.

The behavior of the "newspaper" here is simply shameful. These are legitimate issues that deserve further examination by a reputable newspaper - something we do not have in Monroe County. Right now, the only place you can find real investigative journalism in this matter is a blog that very few people read, because the "newspaper" will not even allow readers to expose the truth in story comments.

If the Monroe County Republican Party or the Republican candidates for County Council had a spine, they would be forcing the Herald-Times' hand by making an issue out of it. I don't hold out much hope for that either.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More unethical behavior by the Democratic county auditor

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

When beleaguered Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman (a Democrat) wanted to keep some part time workers on staff, she transferred $7,000 from the budget for her own salary to pay those employees in a sneaky and underhanded attempt to increase the budget for her department.

The ability to move funds within a category is a good one, because a department with a surplus in one line item can move funds to cover another one without needing an additional appropriation. But there was no surplus in Gerstman's line item and she was certainly not taking a pay cut - she knows the county is still obligated to pay her full salary. By spending that money elsewhere, she could force the county council to approve an additional appropriation later in the year. Gerstman then moved the money back after being called out for her unethical behavior.

Gerstman's aborted transfer of funds is small potatoes compared to the mess she is facing regarding the county credit card scandal. She used her county credit card to pay for personal expenses, including connecting it to a PayPal account for the purposes of paying tuition for her children to attend private school. She also had the county pay over $2,500 for a training trip she did not take.

The Democrats' mismanagement of the Auditor's Office predates Gerstman. Sandy Newmann's arrogance was so obscene in hiring her daughter to process payroll that the County Commissioners amended the personnel policy to prohibit nepotism shortly thereafter. Major problems with payroll followed, leading to several Democratic elected officials calling on Newmann to resign from office.

Do we really want to elect yet another Democrat to run this office, after the Democratic Party has driven it into the ground? Let's not forget that the Democratic candidate for Auditor, Steve Saulter, is the chief financial officer in that department and went along with the unethical transfer of funds. Furthermore, if Saulter is such an asset to the office, why didn't he put a stop to the abuse of county credit cards? Given that Saulter already has a long string of personal financial problems - just like his boss - this is just another strike against him.

We need to clean up the Auditor's office, and the only way to do that is to elect a Republican. The Republican candidate has 25 years of experience in that office and a great deal of institutional knowledge. If voters pull the "D" lever simply because they like Barack Obama (which is what happened in 2008) then the 8-year Democratic reign of error, incompetence and corruption will be extended to a 12-year Democratic reign of error, incompetence and corruption.

We must not allow that to happen!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We need to stay out of Syria

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

Bashir Assad is an evil man, and the world will be a better place when he's dead. The best outcome for Syria would be for someone to put a bullet in his head. He has committed mass murder on a horrific scale against his own people, going to the demonic extreme of putting human shields on tanks to prevent rebels from firing on those tanks - an act that is not only evil, but also the act of a despicable craven coward. Assad is little more than a serial killer in an official position - as if Jeffrey Dahmer was the president of a nation. All of this is obvious.

That having been said, I disagree with calls for U.S. military intervention in Syria, just as I opposed military intervention in Libya last year. We do not have a national security interest and we cannot be the world's police force.

If we are going to commit U.S. military power in another nation, we need to have a couple things established before we intervene. First, we need to have a clear threat to our national security interests. As terrible as Assad's actions are and as evil as he is, I would not be able to justify telling the wife, daughter or mother of an American soldier that we should intervene without a clear threat to national security. Second, we need a clearly defined goal where we know what "victory" means - we need a clearly defined mission so we can keep our intervention limited.

I have seen no strong argument that the first condition has been met. But what would our goal be? Would it be to stem the civilian casualties? Without regime change, that is an open-ended mission that could go on for decades. Would the goal be to remove Assad from power? Perhaps, but what do we do after that? It certainly would not be good to see Syria devolve into chaos more than it already has if there is a power vacuum - and any American-backed regime would meet with resistance and be seen as empire-building.

This does not mean we cannot do anything at all. We should consider arming the rebels in order to give them a better chance at defending themselves from Bashir "Dahmer" Assad's forces- but we need to be very careful about doing this. After all, some of the rebels in Libya were affiliated with al-Qaida and we do not want to be arming our enemies. Can we arm the Syrian rebels without it coming back to harm us? We can also offer some humanitarian assistance.

But military intervention needs to be taken off the table unless Assad is foolhardy enough to threaten us or our allies directly as a way to distract from the crisis. We have spent too much blood and treasure with by using military force around the world, and we have created resentment and ill will in the process. We need to stop trying to be the world's police force and start minding our own business.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bloomington's anti-vehicle bias

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

Bloomington Herald-Times, June 23, 2012 (Comments)

To the editor:

The anti-vehicle bias of our city government has to stop. Two years ago, the city installed a completely unnecessary and wasteful traffic island in front of the business school at IU, which only serves to snarl traffic. The island is so poorly designed with a dangerous bump-out that it had skid marks and a chunk of concrete missing while it was under construction.

Then we get into the insanity of the traffic impeding devices (not traffic "calming" devices) on West Third. A politically favored neighborhood was given special treatment by city government to keep the taxpaying public off "their" road - but it is not "their" road at all. It is a public street, not a private driveway.

Now we have the summer of construction, which has been so poorly planned and executed that one has to wonder if it was intentionally designed to make driving so miserable that more people would bike or walk.

I understand these projects need to be done and that it will be better when they are done, but it is unnecessary and wasteful to do all of them at once. All that does is unnecessarily snarl traffic to the point of absurdity. Stop it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Enforce the law, Mr. President.

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

It is unfortunate that Barack Obama has unilaterally decided not to enforce immigration law. Reform is certainly needed, but Obama has abandoned his responsibility under the Constitution to enforce the nation's laws. This is one more reason why he must be defeated.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sunshine is the ultimate disinfectant

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

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

On June 10, I posted a comment in response to a guest column in the Herald-Times. Within hours I was viciously personally attacked by an anonymous poster who attempted to threaten and blackmail me into silence. (Fortunately, the comment was deleted, though I kept a screenshot.) I am no stranger to this kind of blackmail, as I have been subjected to it for ten years. Ironically, the very next day H-T editor Bob Zaltsberg had an editorial published in which he praised the "civil" tone of comments on a specific story.

Ironically, the comments in that story were not all that civil, as "hmmmm" pointed out. "DRM" opened up his thesaurus to find some insults to use, calling another poster a a "clueless smatchet" and followed it up by saying those who disagreed with him were sophomaniacs, quibblerdicks, smatchets, and klazomaniacs - all several days before Zaltsberg's editorial was published. Oops. You might want to read the whole thread next time, Bob.

But this leads to an obvious question: Would HeraldTimesOnline.com posters be so willing to toss insults, much less spew threats and attempts at blackmail, if they were forced to reveal their real names? Would the spouses of elected officials and candidates for elective office be willing to spew filth if they were held accountable by name in a public forum? Would members of the Monroe County Economic Development Commission or the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission be willing to personally attack people who make innocuous policy oriented comments if they had to reveal their real names when doing so?

What the Herald-Times is doing by allowing such people to post anonymously - especially when they post vicious personal attacks - is covering up the political activity of public officials and hiding the political affiliations of candidates and elected officials. That is simply unethical, and that alone should be reason enough to require that everyone who posts on HTO post under his/her/its real name or publicly tie every pseudonym to the poster's real name.

As I have pointed out many times in the past (see here, here, here, here, here and here) the H-T could easily clean up 99% of the filth in HTO comments by taking away the veil of secrecy surrounding HTO comments. If the Herald-Times is serious about having a civil comment section, they could easily achieve that goal. If they are not willing to implement the obvious solution, they should never publish another editorial whining about it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Penn State sex abuse scandal

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

If the NCAA had any integrity at all, Penn State "University" would be banned from competing in any sport for the next ten years. Of course, it's all about money so that won't happen. They worship the demon Mammon. God damn this wicked idol worship.

See my previous editorial on this scandal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The reality of AIDS in the United States

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

In a June 11 human interest story about a student living with AIDS, the Indiana Daily Student reports the student "does not want to perpetuate the stereotype that only homosexuals contract HIV, he said. Anybody - straight, gay, male, female - can become infected. He just happens to also be gay."

The problem is that statement is simply not true.

There are two facts about HIV and AIDS in the United States that too many people try to ignore in an attempt to be politically correct. First, AIDS is a behaviorally spread disease. Second, male homosexuals are at a greatly elevated risk compared to the rest of the population.

The statistics available on the Centers for Disease Control's website are striking. According to CDC statistics for 41,087 HIV transmissions in 2008, 22,469 infections were from male-to-male sexual contact. This is 54.7% of HIV infections. "Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use" accounted for another 1,141 HIV transmissions in 2008, according to the CDC. Furthermore, male-to-male sexual contact has accounted for 513,138 of AIDS diagnoses through 2008, or 48% of the 1,063,778 diagnoses tracked by the CDC.

When newspapers like the IDS perpetuate the lie that everyone is equally vulnerable to infection with HIV, they are not just shirking their professional responsibility as journalists to report the facts. This is not just any lie - it is a deadly lie. It is a lie that downplays the very real risk that comes with male-to-male sexual contact, leaving people with a dangerous false sense of security. All people are not equally at risk, and it is hateful to pretend otherwise.

In fact, there are some people who have virtually zero risk of contracting the virus. Those people are the ones do not have sex until they are married, stay faithful to their spouses after they are married, and choose spouses who make the same choices. This lifestyle of monogamous, lifelong heterosexual marriage just so happens to be the one presented to us in the Bible as the ideal. For those longing to escape sexual sin, I invite you to visit ClearNoteBloomington.com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

City government intentionally causes traffic chaos

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:20 PM (#)

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that the chaos caused by Bloomington's summer of construction is 100% intentional. There's not one person on the planet who would schedule every single major street to be repaired at the same time unless he is intentionally trying to sabotage traffic. The city is intentionally making driving so miserable that people will walk or bike. They need to put the bong down and join the real world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It is homosexual marriage advocates who are intolerant!

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

In the comments for a letter to the editor lecturing Herald-Times readers about what they should drive, I said "It's none of your business what someone else drives." Leftists really hate it when I say "mind your own business" in response to a call for some sort of nanny state regulation. But there were a few responses to my statement by advocates of homosexual marriage that offer an opportunity for a clarification.

  • studentparent wrote: "It's none of your business who someone else marries."
  • rm wrote: "Given that Tibbs feels this way, though, it's hard to imagine why he thinks it's his business who someone else marries."
  • Mary Lane wrote: "Just like it's nobody's business who you choose to marry. That's in the Bible."

Mary Lane's response is laughable. If anyone believes that the Apostle Paul was arguing for same-sex marriage, they are completely ignorant of the Apostle Paul's other writings about homosexuality. Of course, "Mary Lane" doesn't believe that as she knows perfectly well what the Bible (including the New Testament) has to say about homosexuality. She is simply being dishonest. It is impossible to have a reasonable discussion with someone who is so shamelessly dishonest.

Now, to the issue of "It's none of your business" who people marry. Same sex couples can get married right now in every single state of the union, without exception, if they find a "church" that is in rebellion against God's Word and will perform a union that is contrary to scripture. This is not illegal and almost no one is calling for that to be banned. This has been the case for decades, and no one is being denied equal rights under the law - homosexuals have the same protections under the Bill of Rights as everyone else.

What same-sex couples cannot do is have the government recognize their union, and that should not be the case. For one thing, as I have pointed out before, this has serious and frightening implications for religious liberty. This is because marriage as a social contract recognized by law has wide ranging legal ramifications. I would be interested in seeing advocates of homosexual marriage honestly answer the following concerns, rather than dismiss them as "paranoia" or simply refusing to acknowledge them at all.

  1. Does anyone think employers (including parachurch organizations) will be allowed to discriminate against same sex married couples in providing health insurance and other benefits to married couples?
  2. What about housing, especially regarding private landlords? Will Christian landlords be forced to rent to a same-sex couple?
  3. Does anyone really think there will be two tiers of marriage, one for same-sex couples and one for everyone else? Or is it more likely that all marriages will be treated the same under the law - including requiring everyone to treat same-sex marriages equally?

I could go on and on, as that is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg regarding the legal ramifications of having the state officially recognize a same-sex union as a marriage. Furthermore, how much will providing equal access to health insurance and other benefits for homosexual public employees cost taxpayers? You can bet it will not be cheap.

Let's be honest here. This debate has absolutely nothing to do with whether someone is legally permitted to choose to spend their lives with someone of the same sex in a "marriage" relationship. This debate has absolutely nothing to to with tolerance, at least not in the way "tolerance" is being defined. This debate has absolutely nothing to do with keeping government out of people's bedrooms. This is about acceptance of same-sex unions, and having government force acceptance of same-sex unions on those who disagree. It is not the opponents of same-sex marriage that are intolerant. It is exactly the opposite.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Where are you when we need you, Joe McCarthy?

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

I went to McDonald's last week and grabbed a meal. I made a mental note as I drove away to be sure to ask for the smallest meal, because I cannot finish the large size and it winds up going to waste. Now, thanks to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (officially an Independent because he fears the public's reaction if he reveals his real party affiliation) I do not need to do that if I go to New York City. Thanks Mike! I appreciate you deciding you know how to run my life better than I do, because I am thoroughly incompetent to make my own choices.

Bloomberg has decided to ban the sale of soft drinks (and other similar beverages) in containers greater than 16 ounces, in an effort to fight obesity. This is the latest in a long line of authoritarian behaviors by the nation's most prominent nanny state ninny. Meanwhile, first lady Michele Obama applauds Bloomberg's authoritarianism, although she graciously said that there is no need for a federal ban.

Why thanks, Mrs. Obama. I appreciate that you do not think the federal government needs to regulate the size of my soft drink. I guess I will not have to worry about predator drones shooting the Big Gulp out of my hand. At least not yet, anyway. After all, Obama will have more freedom in his second term, as he told Russian President Medvedev.

Folks, this is ridiculous. Yes, obesity is a public health problem. There are too many people carrying too many pounds, and it's leading various diseases and causing people to live shorter lives. But obesity is not a public health problem in the same way that measles or other contagious diseases are public health problems. This is a condition that is brought about by private choices in one's life - and not simply one choice, but literally hundreds of thousands of choices made every single day. Obesity is a problem that can also be reversed by making different choices.

We should not expect government to micromanage every single one of those choices. That is the road to authoritarianism, further eroding the freedom we have to live our lives and make what reasonable people consider to be even the most simple and harmless choices. One "expert" interviewed by PBS even suggested that soda be treated like alcohol and tobacco, with merchants forced to check for proof of age in order to buy it. Are we now going to have people using fake ID's to purchase a can of A&W Cream Soda? Really?

I can take potshots at Democrats like Obama and "Independents" like Bloomberg, but there are nanny state ninnies in both parties. After all, President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress passed a law mandating that every pharmacy in the nation restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine, because people apparently cannot be trusted to take it for cold symptoms and will instead make meth with it. I do not appreciate the Republicans who have so little trust in and respect for me, and this insanity is one of many reasons Republicans deserved to lose the House in 2006.

What we really need here is a new Red Scare. We need someone to take the role of Joe McCarthy and go after these Communists. Sadly, McCarthy is not with us any more, but his legacy lives on. Who will be the next McCarthy? We need someone to take a stand for liberty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Pro-Life" Gregg slams Pence for being Pro-Life

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

As I have pointed out in the past, John Gregg claims to be a "pro-life Democrat" on his website. Of course, the "pro-life" Gregg also picked an uncompromising advocate for abortion "rights" as his running mate. Gregg has demonstrated again that his claim to be "pro-life" is a lie by attacking Mike Pence for his pro-life stance.

Apparently Gregg (or Simpson) is unhappy with Pence for working to de-fund Planned Parenthood at the federal level. You simply cannot be pro-life and oppose efforts to take away the corporate welfare that goes to the nation's #1 abortion provider and strongest advocate for abortion on demand.

Closer to home, Gregg should be more concerned about Planned Parenthood's shady activity, because Planned Parenthood "clinics" in both Bloomington and Indianapolis were caught on video in a sting operation by Live Action Films attempting to cover up the felony sexual abuse of a 13 year old girl. Planned Parenthood of Indiana openly brags about using tax money to distribute birth control to 13 year old girls. Keep in mind that any sexual contact with a child that young is a felony under Indiana law, so that birth control only serves to cover up felonies.

Again, John Gregg claims to be a "pro-life Democrat." Yet he attacks Pence for advancing a pro-life cause?

So why is John Gregg working to defend Planned Parenthood's ability to feed on corporate welfare from state government? Well, his running mate got $2,000 from PP in 2010 and another $5,000 from PP in 2011. Perhaps Gregg is looking to get a little of that action himself. After all, he trails Pence badly in fundraising. Pence reported $4,929,847.43 on hand as of March 31, while Gregg only had $1,512,047.64, according to the Indiana Campaign Finance Database. In the first three months of 2012, Pence raised $1,801,837.02 while Gregg raised $584,570.61.

John Gregg clearly needs all the help he can get.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The EPA is an abused child? Really?

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

Whatever can be said about the criticisms of the Environmental Protection Agency, comparing those criticisms to child abuse shows extreme insensitivity to abuse victims, does a disservice to rational debate over the EPA's actions and suggests that the author might be a drama queen.

A professor with the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs wrote a guest editorial in the Herald-Times on May 30 complaining about the criticism the agency gets for its efforts to protect the environment through regulations and enforcement of law. After opening his editorial comparing the EPA to "an abused child too terrified to perform normal tasks," Marc Lame had more to say about the "abused" agency:

  • What I am actually hearing from the agency is "they are coming to hurt me again."
  • Dysfunctional, co-dependent and functionally paralyzed describe some children who have been physically abused by their parent. These situations are made worse when the victim realizes those who are supposed to protect them will not.
  • At this point, the victim becomes damaged and confused to the point where they seek attention from the abusers.

You have to be kidding me here.

There is no question that we need government to protect the environment, even from a libertarian perspective. After all, pollution damages the health and property and others, and the libertarian view of government is that "you can do pretty much whatever you want unless you harm someone else." Because pollution crosses state lines to harm other states where the polluters are not located, pollution falls under interstate commerce and it is therefore reasonable for the federal government to get involved. Few reasonable people dispute this.

Once that is established, we then get into the debate over what should be regulated, how strict the regulations should be, how the regulations should be worded, how the regulations should be enforced, what is an unreasonable burden on economic growth and so on and so forth. The point of this post is not to get into all of those issues, though feel free to do so in the comments.

The point of this post is that the kind of language Mr. Lame uses is counterproductive, accusatory and needlessly confrontational.

Businesses that are concerned about the economic impact of regulations are not acting to protect their business and their employees or trying to keep prices low for their customers. Businesses that disagree with certain regulations do not believe they can care for the environment in a different way. They are profiteers that do not care about who they hurt. They are bullies. They are child abusers. Yes, child abusers. Really?

This is the kind of oversimplification that one would expect from a Captain Planet cartoon twenty years ago. There are no competing interests or people of good faith that want to protect both the environment and economic prosperity. No, there are only the profiteering child abusers and the regulators they are bullying. We clearly need a superhero with a mullet to come rescue us.

Who is this editorial trying to convince? You're not going to sway critics of the EPA by calling them child abusers any more than you're going to persuade environmentalists by claiming they are all Earth Liberation Front terrorists. You're not going to move moderates to your position. You could rally your most fervent allies, but those people already support you. What will that accomplish? A more reasoned and less hysterical approach would have been far preferable both in terms of argumentation and civility.

Overall, this was a very Lame editorial. Very Lame indeed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Funny Beagle story

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 2:30 PM (#)

February 2012 - I am trying to get my extremely stubborn Beagle to "park" in the back yard and she doesn't want to be out there in the cold. She fakes to one side, then runs past me to the back door and wants to go back inside. So I have to pick her up and carry her to the other side of the yard. Then she does what she is supposed to do. If she would do that the first time we would both be inside where it's warm a lot sooner.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Opposing the evil of prison rape

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

My guest editorial about prison rape was published in the Herald-Times last week. When I was trying to find an article to link in the comments about how women are vulnerable to abuse as well as men (I found the article) I stumbled across a horrific article about a prisoner that had been sexually tortured by a prison guard. I was literally nauseated to the point that I was close to vomiting. Then I got angry.

I have written about the human rights crisis in American prisons before, back in 2009 and again in 2011. Every time I look into this issue, I become more horrified. I cannot understand how anyone could think this is "funny" or that anyone (even the worst criminal) "deserves" this kind of abuse.

Our lack of effort in protecting our prisoners has foreign policy implications, because our hypocrisy is just incredible. We lecture Red China and other nations about the treatment of their prisoners (as well we should) but we look the other way when it happens domestically. When we try to intervene on behalf of abused prisoners in other nations, they can point back at us and the terrible human rights record we have in our prisons.

It is not only a public policy issue, but a cultural problem as well. Prison rape is a subject of jokes both online and in pop culture, as if the savage abuse of prisoners is a punch line. A 1989 Charles Bronson movie in ended with a strong implication that a villain who sold young girls into sex slavery would soon be raped in prison. (This is another example of Hollywood's right wing fantasy world.) There was a really depraved 7-UP commercial about a decade ago making light of it. 7-UP eventually pulled the commercial after bad publicity.

But this is not a joke and it is certainly not "justice." It is a brutal reality. Inmates sexually abuse each other and prison guards sexually abuse inmates. The perpetrators often get little more than a slap on the wrist for their crimes and the prisoners fear retaliation if they report the assaults - and that fear is intensified when the rapist is a guard.

The families of those inmates have to deal with the aftermath of those assaults and the permanent damage done, and those families are often helpless to protect their loved ones as they face this injustice. We all become less safe when an abused inmate re-enters society filled with resentment and anger over the abuse he has suffered. We've allowed this to go on far too long and we need to get serious about stopping it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homosexual marriage and religious liberty

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

Those who say government should recognize homosexual marriage claim that this will have no impact on anyone else. That is simply not true. Mike Adams writes on Townhall about the motivation of many supporters of homosexual marriage:

Most do it out of a hatred of Christians. Faulkner, who has a well-documented history of making hate-filled and defamatory statements about Christians, has a political motive for supporting same-sex marriage. He wants marriage re-defined. Then he wants to see churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies stripped of their tax-exempt status. Finally, he wants to see churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies shut down in the name of "equality" and "tolerance." The result would be a nation in which the only Christian churches remaining would be those that have abandoned basic Christian principles.

I said last month that homosexual marriage "has serious and frightening implications for religious liberty." Adams' editorial reinforces that point.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vi Simpson and video games

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

Now that Vi Simpson is the Democrats' candidate for lieutenant governor, gamers in Indiana should take a look at her record. In December 2005, she issued a news release that was quoted by the Herald-Times, explaining why she was proposing new restrictions on the sale of violent video games:

Right now, kids can walk into just about any store and get their hands on a video game in which they can shoot police officers, use drugs, steal cars, rape women or even assassinate a president.

The first three claims were accurate. Grand Theft Auto allows players to steal cars (duh) and shoot police officers, while the critically panned NARC allowed drug use. The last two claims were not accurate.

There is no question that video games are much more violent and have much more sexual content today than 25 years ago, and that was also the case in 2005. That said, I do not know of any game on the market in 2005 - or today, for that matter - that allows the player to engage in sexual assault. I sent an e-mail to Senator Simpson questioning her about this and her legislative aide was unable to provide the name of one video game that allows the player to do that. The aide suggested that Senator Simpson was misquoted.

That's right. Vi Simpson was allegedly misquoted in her own news release.

The claim that players can "assassinate a president" is misleading and factually inaccurate. There was a PC game released in 2004 that allowed people to re-enact the JFK shooting, but no one could "walk into just about any store" and buy it - or any store at all for that matter. The game was only available via download. Again, we have a politician proposing regulations on an industry while not having all of the facts about what she is regulating.

Here's the problem with using games like that to attack the video game industry. The PC game market and the console game market are completely different animals. No one can make a game for any console without the permission of the console's manufacturer. In the 1980's, Atari lost a lawsuit in which they tried to prevent others from making games for their system. They lost because the Atari 2600 had no custom hardware. Every console since then has had custom hardware that allows console manufacturers to control what games come out on their system.

The PC market is completely different. Anyone with programming skills can make a PC game right now. We have seen this with an explosion of flash-based web games, as well as games that can be downloaded. If you have the programming skills, you can market a PC game literally form your home - but you cannot do that on a console. Think of it this way - no one needs permission from Microsoft to write a program that will run on Windows, but they cannot make an X-Box game unless Microsoft approves. Because of this, it is either ignorant or dishonest to attack the console market based on games only available on the PC.

This is the problem when politicians try to regulate video games. They often do not have the facts about what they are regulating, and sometimes (as was the case with the hysteria over "Night Trap" in 1994) they simply make things up out of thin air. The fact that Simpson made a claim about specific content in games while being unable to name a single game with that content is troubling, especially since she was proposing legislation to regulate it.

This is not the kind of lieutenant governor we need!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Traffic impeding devices installed on West Third

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

On May 24, the Herald-Times criticized Mayor Kruzan for deciding to install the traffic impeding devices that the city council had approved on a 5-4 vote, only to be rejected by the Board of Public Works. The H-T wrote:

Mayor Mark Kruzan, who was not in favor of the installation, this week decided to order the four bumps put in to avoid a lawsuit he believed would cost way more than the $800 cost of installation.

This tiresome soap opera says a lot about the often narrow-minded decision-making that goes on in Bloomington.

I have been a critic of Mayor Kruzan since he was in the state legislature, and I am far from the first person to defend him. I would love to see him removed from office in 2015. It is very disappointing that the Republicans did not even bother to challenge him in 2011, despite his dominating wins in 2003 and 2007. But he made the right decision.

The H-T editorial is narrow-minded in claiming that Kruzan's move is narrow-minded, given that he compromised and ordered the installation of traffic impeding devices he opposed. A lawsuit would have been very expensive, and Kruzan decided to prevent the taxpayers from having to pay for an expensive court battle.

And, again, I am 100% opposed to the new traffic impeding devices. They are a completely unnecessary show of political favoritism and they fly in the face of sound traffic policy. I cannot see how anyone could take a look at the existing traffic impeding devices on West Third and decide we need even more impediments to traffic.

Nonetheless, the city council voted for the new traffic impeding devices. The Board of Public Works should not be allowed to override the decisions of elected officials.

But the question remains... why did Kruzan not veto the council's decision? The mayor has the authority to veto legislation under IC 36-4-5-3 and it takes a 2/3 majority to overturn the veto according to IC 36-4-6-16. Speed bump proponents would have needed to change one of the "no" votes to a "yes" to get them installed, and we could have avoided the whole conflict between public works and the city council.

If Kruzan deserves criticism, it is for not showing political courage with his veto pen.

Monday, June 4, 2012

We must put a stop to sexual abuse of prisoners

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, May 29, 2012. (Comments)

When photographs depicting terrible abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq surfaced in 2004, many people were shocked by how these men were treated. The sad thing about this is we should not have been at all shocked by these images. After all, it is estimated that 60,000 prisoners are sexually abused annually in our prisons right here in America. When we allow this kind of abuse of American citizens, why should we be surprised at the abuse of prisoners of war?

When horrific crimes happen (especially against children) too many people view the concept of "jailhouse justice" with smug satisfaction. We saw this phenomenon recently in the comments on Herald-Times Online regarding the evil crimes of Michael Plumadore, who bludgeoned a little girl to death before dismembering her corpse.

I admit it is difficult to have sympathy for monsters like Plumadore should he become a victim of "jailhouse justice." But the issue is not whether people like Plumadore "deserve" what they get. The issue is what kind of society we want to have. Do we want to live in a society where we look the other way to people being subjected to extrajudicial punishments, vigilante "justice" and the savage brutality of abuse by fellow inmates - including gang rape?

I would hope that the answer is a loud, emphatic and uncompromising "NO" when we are faced with this question. Cases like this test our humanity, our commitment to justice and our devotion to the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments in our Constitution. Are we a nation of laws, or are we anarchists?

Furthermore, the brutality of American prisons makes all of us less safe. In the findings of fact for the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act, it was determined that sexual abuse of prisoners increases recidivism, including violent crime, when someone is released from prison. After all, it is not just the worst offenders who are subject to abuse by other prisoners, and those people will eventually be released. After years of brutal abuse, is it not likely that prisoners would be looking to take out their rage on innocent people?

Do not misinterpret my arguments on this issue. I am no thug-hugger. I am an enthusiastic advocate of capital punishment for the worst crimes. I was filled with rage when a so-called "judge" released the war criminal responsible for the Pan Am 103 bombing on "compassionate" grounds. It is not compassionate to allow people like this to escape justice, and it in fact encourages more terrorism.

But putting someone to death in a humane manner is a far cry from years of barbaric abuse at the hands of other prisoners. As long as these people are in our custody, we have a moral responsibility to protect them from abuse to the best of our ability.

We have to put a stop to the practice of looking the other way to sexual abuse of our prisoners. Our commitment to justice and our humanity demands it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An abuse of language

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

CNN reports that the House of Representatives "rejected" a ban on abortion for the purpose of sex selection. The vote totals - 246 voted for the ban while 168 voted against it.

You might want to check your math there.

A more honest description would be that the measure "failed to pass" as it got a large majority.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some excellent advice:

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

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, June 1, 2012

CCFL to participate in nationwide Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally at the Monroe County Courthouse on June 8, 2012

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

Christian Citizens for Life issued the following press release on May 28.

BLOOMINGTON - Christian Citizens for Life announced today that it will be participating in the nationwide Stand up for Religious Freedom rally on June 8. The local rally will be at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, June 8, 2012 on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced that employers would be forced to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, and did not exempt Christian parachurch organizations. Therefore, Christian organizations nationwide are being forced by the Obama administration to pay for contraception against their Christian convictions.

A number of local pastors will be speaking at the event and urging our government to submit to the First Amendment and not infringe upon our liberty.

It is important to note that some "contraceptives" actually act as abortifacients, preventing implantation of a newly-created embryo and causing that new person to die. CCFL believes that all life is sacred and should be protected from fertilization to natural death.

For more information, visit www.standupforreligiousfreedom.com.

See the Facebook event at www.facebook.com/events/417592224942245/.