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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The botched raid in Waco - 20 years ago today

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

Twenty years ago today, the federal government conducted a military-style raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. This set up a standoff that lasted nearly two months, and the horrific conclusion to that standoff is much more famous. But the initial raid should not be forgotten as we look forward to the twentieth anniversary of the April 19 massacre where the federal government used military force against American citizens on American soil.

The Branch Davidians were a doomsday cult that was expecting a violent confrontation with the government. When you send heavily-armed federal agents to storm the compound through the second-floor windows, what did you think was going to happen? The federal government wanted to search for illegal weapons, but why could that not be done without using the paramilitary tactics that we saw on February 28, 1993? Would this have gone down differently had the feds opted for a peaceful rather than confrontational approach?

David Limbaugh reports in his book Absolute Power that "(David) Koresh was seen many times off the Mount Carmel premises, jogging, shopping, and frequenting restaurants in town." If the federal government wanted him specifically, why did they not seek to take him in peacefully away from his cult, instead of storming the compound and provoking an unnecessary confrontation? Given the mentality of who they were dealing with, was a more gentle approach not a much wiser course of action than a cowboy raid?

I do not necessarily subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the federal government wanted a confrontation - I think this is simply an example of the militarization of law enforcement that Radley Balko has done such an exemplary job exposing over the last several years. Creating a "soldier" mentality in law enforcement is dangerous and has resulted in unnecessary loss of life and threats to our civil liberties.

What makes the raid even more nonsensical is that the federal agents had been tipped off when Koresh told an undercover agent he knew the raid was coming - it went ahead anyway. Once the firefight had happened, a tragedy may have been inevitable. After all, many of the Branch Davidians could have been charged with murder or other felonies that would put them in prison for decades.

The siege of the compound did not help calm frayed nerves, and it would end in disaster 50 days later.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drug tests for people on welfare?

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

The Indiana legislature is considering drug tests for people on welfare - a populist proposal that may sound good on the surface, but is more complicated than it appears. Obviously, we do not want to subsidize drug use, and limited state funds need to go where they will do the most good, but there are other factors to consider.

First, while someone makes a deliberate choice to start taking drugs, once a person is addicted he or she needs help getting away from drug use - there are physical problems that come with addiction that cannot be overcome with simple willpower. Second, do we really want to deny assistance to the children of a drug addict, for something that is not their fault? Do we want to victimize them twice?

That is why I do not believe this legislation is a good idea.

Denying assistance to drug addicts is not the answer - offering treatment for their addiction is. If our goal is to move people off welfare into the workforce and make them productive taxpaying citizens (and keep them out of prisons, which is really expensive) the best option is to help addicts beat their addiction and stabilize their lives.

What this requires is a change in our orientation to illegal drug use. Drug addiction needs to be treated more like a public health problem and less like a criminal problem - and we certainly should not be treating illegal drug use like a "war" complete with paramilitary SWAT teams knocking down people's doors in the middle of the night.

Our "War on Drugs" has led to tragic consequences and the frightening militarization of law enforcement.

In sum, a "good citizen" defended his property from what he thought were criminals in a manner consistent with Florida law. He did nothing illegal. And the police officers who trespassed on his property, then attempted to sell drugs on his property, then killed him for attempting to defend his property, not only broke no laws, but their actions were also consistent with sheriff's department policy. Finally, those policies, the ones that caused all of this to happen... were not going to change.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Clearly, a different approach is needed.

One of the common populist defenses of the drug tests is "I have to take a drug test for my job, so why should people on welfare be treated differently?" I believe I addressed the problems with drug tests above, but the logical flaws in this argument should be addressed.

First, government assistance and employment are not the same thing. Employers drug test because they need to know their employees will be reliable and because they do not want to be liable in case an employee using drugs causes an accident that harms someone. Government assistance does not carry the same issues.

Second, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" might be a popular argument, it's a poor basis for public policy when there are other factors to consider - especially when at-risk children are considered.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Twenty years ago today

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Nearly a decade before 9/11, Muslim Terrorists bombed the World Trade Center with a truck bomb - the explosion "carved out a nearly 100-foot crater several stories deep and several more high." Now there is a push by wicked men to release the mastermind of this war crime on "humanitarian" grounds. This is evil and must be resisted.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Filibusters, precedents and Chuck Hagel

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

Last week, Republicans in the Senate took an unprecedented step, blocking Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. This will come back to haunt the next Republican elected as President, and (more importantly) is both bad policy and bad politics. Republicans should not have blocked a vote.

I find it strange that there is such strong opposition to Hagel while John Kerry sailed through the nomination process to become our new Secretary of State. The same philosophical objections to Hagel could have also been used to justify blocking Kerry's nomination, especially given Kerry's long record of Leftist positions on foreign policy. Yet while Kerry was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 94 to 3, Hagel is being blocked. Why the double standard?

Last November, I argued that unless there is evidence of gross incompetence or corruption, "the President should have the ability to appoint whoever they want for positions in their administration." That isn't the case with Hagel, a decorated combat veteran who is clearly qualified for the position. The opposition to Hagel is ideological, which is reasonable. But let's be realistic here: Obama is going to choose someone who represents his views on defense policy. The objections to Hagel are really objections to Obama, and Obama's nominee is going to implement Obama's policies.

Like it or not, Barack Obama is the President. The Senate needs to review and question Obama's nominees for his cabinet, but the President's choices for who he wants should be respected - again, absent evidence of gross incompetence or corruption. The Republicans are playing a dangerous game here, giving Democrats a built-in excuse to block the cabinet nominations of the next Republican President and exposing themselves to charges of hypocrisy when they object. Senate Republicans should reverse course and allow an up-or-down vote on Hagel.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A very special message for PETA

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

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Government jobs

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:00 AM (#)

So I am listening to Rachel Maddow's podcast. She claims that Obama is a small government guy because the total number of people working for state, local and federal governments has shrank.

She does realize how silly it is to credit the President for lower workforces in state and local government, which he has no control over, right?


Friday, February 22, 2013

A yearly maximum on pseudoephedrine purchases?

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

Note: This letter was sent to all 50 members of the Indiana State Senate.

"Indiana State Police estimate that 80 percent of the illegal meth in Indiana comes from Mexico." -- Bloomington Herald-Times, December 12, 2010.


I was dismayed to see that the Indiana Senate approved an annual limit on pseudoephedrine sales in Indiana, in addition to the monthly limit already in place. I thank the four senators who voted "no" on this legislation, and I would ask the other forty four senators to reconsider their votes.

I do not deny that methamphetamine labs are a problem - from the incredibly dangerous explosive "shake and bake" labs to the contamination of houses (both owner-occupied and rental properties) for years. However one feels about the "War on Drugs," these labs represent a threat to the lives and property of other citizens, not just the people who are foolish enough to use methamphetamine recreationally.

However, my problem is that we are once again punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. Most people will not hit the annual limits on pseudoephedrine you have approved, and fewer will hit the monthly limits already in place. Some, however, will hit those limits (especially people buying the drug for their family if everyone gets sick at the same time) and their liberty to purchase a perfectly save over-the-counter remedy for cold symptoms will be restricted because some people use it in an irresponsible and illegal manner.

I respectfully submit that this is not a solution. Considering that the vast majority of the methamphetamine in Indiana comes from the hyper-violent Mexican drug cartels, this will not make much of an impact on methamphetamine use in our state. Furthermore, it will not do much to even prevent people determined to "cook" methamphetamine from doing so. It is a relatively simple matter to outsource the purchase of methamphetamine to other people so that no one hits their monthly or annual limit.

As much as I disagree with this, there is a far worse proposal that was considered in the 2011 legislative session - making pseudoephedrine (which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe for over-the-counter sales) a prescription-only drug.

This would cost Hoosiers a huge amount of money by forcing them to make a doctor's appointment for simple relief from congestion, clog up doctor's offices with unnecessary visits and increase waiting time for people who truly need medical assistance, and line the pockets of the medical establishment at the expense of working Hoosiers - once again punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. I hope you reject this terrible proposal.

I respectfully submit that these nanny state proposals should not be implemented. Thank you for your time.

Scott Tibbs

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lifting the Sunday alcohol sales ban

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

The people of Indiana are well aware of the fact that you cannot purchase alcohol on Sundays - at least not packaged alcohol from a supermarket to take home with you. You can go to a bar and buy various drinks to consume on the premises, and you can drink a beer at a Colts game in the fall. You can go to a casino or a strip club on Sundays. So why do we still have a partial ban on Sunday alcohol sales? Is it a relic of the Blue Laws of years past?

Not really. As Matt Tully pointed out in the Indianapolis Star, this has nothing to do with having the law represent a code of morality. This is because of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, who have successfully lobbied the Indiana General Assembly to prevent the law against Sunday alcohol sales from being repealed. If the ban were repealed, liquor stores would need to be open on Sundays (and incur the extra costs of being open, the biggest of which is labor) to compete with supermarkets, which are already open seven days a week.

So the real problem here is that the Indiana General Assembly is using state law as a means of protecting special interests from competition. It is the worst form of special interest pandering - regulating the market as a way to pick winners and losers instead of simply allowing market forces to determine which businesses will be successful and which will not. Government should not be protecting business from competition.

There are other silly aspects to the relics of Indiana's blue laws - such as the fact that supermarkets may not sell alcohol pre-chilled. However, they can (and do) have a chilling machine with swirling cold water that you can use to manually chill your bottle of wine. This may be obvious and should not need to be said, but this is really stupid.

So yes, let's get rid of this silly law. Let's have the Republicans take advantage of the supermajority they won in both houses of the legislature to get government out of the business of protecting the beverage industry at the expense of the supermarkets. Let's have the Republicans embrace and implement the limited-government principles the party has been espousing since the Reagan revolution in 1980 and the Tea Party wave of 2010.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Encouraging incompetence and corruption in county government

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

Why is it that the Monroe County Council, instead of demanding competency and efficiency in county government, is prepared to throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars by creating a new position? Do we really need to throw money at the problem?

I understand why some members of the county council support the creation of a new a Financial Analyst position to review the county budget and help the council in their duties. After all, county council is a part-time position with a fairly small stipend, and councilors do not have the time to fully review the budgets. After all, an error in the county Auditor's Office cost the local government over $990,000 last year, and a second error resulted in the lost of another 120,600. It makes sense why the council wants another set of eyes looking at the numbers.

The problem with creating the Financial Analyst position is that it just encourages and enables more corruption, incompetence and lack of accountability. We do not need a new position costing taxpayers another $40,000 to $50,000 every year from now on, plus the significant cost of benefits like health insurance and retirement, along with the added cost of unemployment and payroll taxes. We need to have the county auditor do his job - advertising the budget properly, calculating the levy properly and making sure that exempt properties are calculated correctly.

For the last eight years, we have not had a county auditor who was able to perform the duties of the office. The Democrats have made a complete and utter disaster of the office, from errors like the ones I mentioned above to the shameful credit card scandal that broke in December of 2011. That is likely to continue over the next four years with the election of a new Democratic county auditor who was hip-deep in the scandals of the last Democratic county auditor. Creating a new position and taking pressure off the Auditor's Office is most certainly not the way to fix the systemic problems in that office - meaning, the voters' foolish choices to elect three consecutive Democrats.

Frankly, the voters need to feel the consequences of their actions. If the Democrats continue to make a mess out of the office (and they will) the council should not bail out their auditor with a new position designed to do the job of the auditor. The County Council should make no effort to fix the problems created by the auditor, certainly not by costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The voters need to be taught a lesson about electing incompetent people, and the loss of revenue that forces a loss of services is one way to teach the voters that lesson. Voters should not be insulated from the results of their choices in the last three elections.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Banning anti-abortion arguments on HeraldTimesOnline?

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

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. -- John 3:19-20

On February 17, I said in the comments section for a letter to the editor on HeraldTimesOnline.com that "abortion always kills an innocent human being" and "abortion ends a human life." One of the responses to my comment was very interesting, and very telling about the commenter's personality:

I have decided to start reporting his abuse using the HTO red flag. Perhaps if others do the same, we can get some results.

In the abuse report, I wrote "How much longer are you going to allow this speech which greatly harms women who have had abortions? He is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. No "innocent human beings" have been killed. A human being is defined as "an individual of the genus Homo." For example, a zygot is not individualized and is not an individual and is not a human being. These hateful, hurtful lies should be taken down."

After some shrill whining by Leftists a couple years ago, the Herald-Times invented a new rule that disallowed the use of the word murder to describe abortion in HTO comments, though the editor specifically allowed the use of the word killing. (Application of that policy has been wildly inconsistent.)

But banning the legal term murder is not enough for pro-abortion HTO posters, who are now openly pressuring the HTO moderators to ban the word killing as well, spamming the "red flag" button to silence my opposition to the killing of unborn babies in our city and elsewhere. I am sure the HTO moderators have nothing better to do than read through dozens of spam reports from Leftists who are trying to silence any and all dissenting views on abortion. I am sure that some of the reports will be acted upon and posts will be deleted in violation of explicitly stated HTO policy.

What this hysterical attempt at censorship does is demonstrate once again the Left's intolerance for free speech. Only approved speech should be allowed, while speech that falls outside the very limited confines of Political Correctness must be silenced or punished. We see this in the absurd "speech codes" in higher education as well as efforts to criminalize so-called "hate speech" - something that has already happened in Canada and much of Western Europe. Often the Left tries to justify prohibiting dissent by classifying it as harassment, inciting violence or libelous, but that is just a smokescreen. The purpose is to eliminate dissent.

Yes, abortion does kill a human being, and we have the photographic evidence to prove it. The unborn baby is not a part of the woman's body - he or she resides inside the mother's body as a result of a choice she freely made. (Rape and incest "hard cases" account for less than five percent of all abortions in the United States.) That baby has a completely unique DNA code from the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg and is simply in the process of growing and developing through the early stages of life.

Making it against HTO policy to use the word killing to describe abortion would effectively ban anti-abortion arguments from HTO. The entire point of the anti-abortion movement is that abortion is the willful and intentional termination of an innocent human life. Banning the word killing as they banned murder would rip the foundation out of the anti-abortion argument and give the pro-abortion commenters unhindered ability to express their point of view with no opposition permitted. Of course, this is exactly what my critic wants to see happen.

Supporters of legal abortion want to silence anti-abortion arguments (as shown by the wining about the use of the stronger term murder two years ago) because they do not want to be confronted with the reality of what they support. They have blood on their hands, either by indirectly supporting the slaughter of the unborn and sometimes by directly engaging in abortion. It is understandable - those who do evil hate the light.

Of course, the Herald-Times can implement whatever policy they want for their comments section, and no one's civil rights have been violated. HTO is their property and they can run it however they choose. But if the Herald-Times is truly interested in having sensible debate in the comments, they should reject the hysterical demands of a few crybabies to censor arguments those crybabies find uncomfortable.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Another tragic death caused by overuse of SWAT

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Another tragic death due to the excessive and unnecessary use of paramilitary force by police:

It was a question of tactics--about whether sending a SWAT team into the home of a guy who was at worst a small-stakes pot dealer was an appropriate use of force. As Eleanor Shockett, a retired Miami-Dade circuit judge, told Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo. "What in the hell were they doing with a SWAT team? To break into someone's home at six in the morning, possibly awaken someone from a deep sleep, someone who has a concealed weapons permit? What did they expect to happen?"

I highly recommend the Raid Of The Day series by Radley Balko, illustrating how much we have given up in our paranoia about crime and drugs.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Movie Review: Death Wish

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

Many people mark Halloween as the birth of the modern "slasher" movie, where the main character is a villain killing people out of obsession or pleasure. But I respectfully submit that the modern slasher genre did not start in 1978 with Halloween - it started in 1974 with Death Wish, which I recently re-watched.

The movie starts out well enough. Paul Kersey is a Korean War veteran who served in a medical unit because he was a conscientious objector. He argues with his Nazi coworker over treatment of the poor and underprivileged, expressing concern about people who do not have the financial resources to move out of the city. And no, I am not exaggerating when I say the guy is a Nazi. He actually says the poor should be in concentration camps. Not murderers, rapists or muggers - the poor. Is this a character we should sympathize with as the audience?

Kersey's murderous rampage starts with three thugs breaking into his apartment and attacking his wife and daughter. The brutality of the scene is shocking and disturbing, even by today's standards. I imagine it was even more so in 1974. Kersey is told by the NYPD (in this movie they might as well be the Keystone Cops) that there is little to no chance that the three murderers will be caught, and that is just the way things are in this city.

Kersey's descent into madness is handled well. He is visibly shaken and shocked with his own actions after hitting a would-be mugger in the face with a sock filled with quarters. He travels to the west, where he is introduced to frontier "justice." His friend out there sends him back with a gun. The next would-be mugger that confronts Kersey is shot to death, leading to Kersey in tears and then vomiting in his apartment after the fact.

This is man who, confronted with the brutal reality of crime in New York City, the helplessness of many victims and his own personal tragedy, questions and then abandons his pacifist beliefs. His grief, frustration and rage over the attack on his family leads him to seek out muggers to attack him so that he can murder them in "self-defense." (Of course, seeking out these situations is actually premeditated murder.)

The police do not like this, and the movie portrays them more as defending their turf than seeking justice. At no point is the philosophical foundation for why vigilantism is wrong explored in any kind of depth, and the police actually cover up crime statistics showing that muggings have been cut in half by Kersey's murder spree. It is very one-sided.

When Kersey is caught by police, they do not want to prosecute him for fear of making him a martyr, so they simply ask him to leave town in exchange for not prosecuting him. He does, and when he lands in Chicago he sees some thugs roughing up a woman. He points his finger at them in the shape of a pistol and smiles, setting up a sequel. It is here where it is clear that Kersey enjoys killing. He is not seeking justice. He is committing murder for pleasure.

Death Wish is a compelling movie on its own, detailing the grief and decent into madness of our protagonist. Charles Bronson (as always) does an excellent job playing Kersey, and is believable in his fights with criminals despite being fifty three years old. This is why it earns a high grade.

Nonetheless, the political message it sends is downright disturbing. We do not need due process or civil liberties for criminals. We need to simply kill them, to maximize the efficiency of punishing them and to protect innocent people. A vigilante is not someone acting outside the law and committing murder; he is a hero of the people. It is the popular attitude represented by Death Wish that has seen the escalation of the War on Crime, steadily increasing use of force by law enforcement, and the encroachment of civil liberties.

The attitudes this movie represents and endorses are just plain scary.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Frivolous lawsuits against Kroger

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

Imagine you are in the middle of an armed robbery, and you are taken hostage. A man rescues you from the robber by shooting him - perhaps saving your life from the gunman. What is your reaction? A normal person's reaction would be to express gratitude for the man who risked his life to save yours, but the reaction of Christine Nelson is to file a lawsuit against him. I wonder if Elijah Elliott regrets saving Nelson's life?

It actually gets worse. This is the second lawsuit filed in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Jeremy Atkinson, the armed robber who took Nelson hostage. Atkinson's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kroger, claiming that the store "owed Atkinson a duty to exercise reasonable care for his safety." Yes, someone committing an armed robbery should expect that his victims will care for his safety, so he can steal and take hostages without concern that he will be harmed. That is just brilliant.

Elliott resigned from his job after the shooting, despite public outcry in support of his actions. Had he not resigned, his employment may have been terminated - something I do not have a problem with. Kroger's policy on employees bringing firearms into the store is clear, and Elliott knowingly broke company policy. When you break company policy, you can expect discipline up to and including termination. Furthermore, while Elliott's actions may be seen as heroic by many, but virtually every large chain has a clear policy on armed robbery: You do not resist. You cooperate fully with the robber. Material items and money can be replaced, but human lives cannot.

But Elliott losing his job is a far cry from being sued, in what is a cynical grab for cash by Nelson and her attorney. The shyster representing Atkinson's mother is even worse, and should be disbarred. I do not judge Mrs. Atkinson, regardless of the moral depravity of her son. I am sure she is experiencing a great deal of grief over his death, whether he deserved it or not. (And he did.) But the attorney representing her is a shyster who is wasting the time and resources of the legal system and should not be permitted to practice law in the state of Indiana. This is a cash grab, nothing more.

I am not a fan of tort reform, as I believe it unnecessarily restricts the ability of people to get the damages they are owed when legitimately wronged. We see a Biblical precedent for punitive damages in Exodus 22:1, where someone who steals and kills someone's ox must pay back five oxen as damages - certainly more than the damage actually done. But this is an area where tort reform is needed. It should be illegal to file a wrongful death claim when someone is killed in the commission of a violent crime, especially if law enforcement determines that the person who kills the criminal acted in self-defense and committed no wrong.

Republicans have a 69-31 supermajority in the Indiana House and a 37-13 supermajority in the Indiana Senate to go along with a Republican governor. It should be a slam dunk to pass this common-sense reform, and it should be passed in the 2013 legislative session.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Obama, drone strikes and extrajudicial assassinations

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

Last week, a white paper was leaked to NBC News regarding the President's alleged legal authority to order drone strikes to assassinate American citizens. Reason.com published an excellent follow-up analysis of why the justification is scary and should worry everyone who values our civil liberties.

While I have been very critical of Barack Obama on this drone strike policy, and while it is true that Obama has dramatically expanded the use of drone strikes over what the Bush Administration had done between 2001 and 2008, Republicans are just as bad on this issue as Obama has been. After all, when Obama ordered the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen in the fall of 2011, the Republicans running for President practically shoved each other out of the way to run to the microphone and endorse this extrajudicial assassination - with the notable exception of Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

But even with the Republicans' compliance and support, Obama is the President and therefore deserves the most criticism. This is his policy and he is the one who has made the decision to expand the drone strikes, including killing American citizens who have not even been charged with a crime, much less convicted. Say what you will about George W. Bush and indefinite detention of alleged terrorists captured by American forces, at least those people have the opportunity to get due process at some point. Once someone is killed, they have no chance to prove their innocence or petition for release.

Obama justifies his extrajudicial assassination by arguing that he has the authority to exterminate someone who represents an "imminent threat" and capturing the alleged terrorist is not practical. But Obama's definition of "imminent threat" is very elastic, because an American citizen can be targeted for assassination without any evidence that a terror attack is being planned at all, much less is actually imminent. Furthermore, if Anwar al-Awlaki was indeed enough of a threat that he needed to be killed, why was he not even charged with a crime?

What of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki who was assassinated while he was eating in an outdoor restaurant? Was the teenager a terrorist? Was there any evidence he presented an "imminent" threat to our national security? What was the justification for killing him, other than his father's status as an enemy of the state? Have we sunk so low that we are now killing the children of suspected terrorists to intimidate them - even when those children are American citizens, born in the United States?

It is good news that Obama has agreed to share his legal reasoning for why the drone strikes are "legal" with Congress, but that's not enough. This document needs to be public. While it is understandable and necessary for some actions of our government to be secret in the interest of national security, we must not be a nation of secret laws. We need a full and robust debate about the use of drones, especially when used to kill American citizens.

If Barack Obama is serious about protecting civil liberties and following his oath to uphold and protect the Constitution, he will welcome a much more open debate about the use of drones, and he will be honest with the American people about why he feels it is appropriate to assassinate American citizens without bothering with that little thing called "due process." Meanwhile, I have a very simple question for all of the Democrats who were furious with George W. Bush for his record on civil liberties and were convinced Obama would be better:

How's that hope & change workin' out for ya?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mayor Doomberg's attack on parents' rights

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

"This was population control on blacks and Latinos without our knowledge." - Mona Davids, president of the NYC Parents Union

Last week, I wrote about America's most obnoxious nanny state ninny, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Bloomberg thinks emergency room physicians in New York's hospitals are too stupid and/or corrupt to determine when a patient needs legitimate pain relief and is implementing policy to restrict the distribution of painkillers. Bloomberg (who has never had any medical training) also moved to restrict the use of baby formula in hospitals as a way to promote breastfeeding, even though there are times when formula is necessary.

Despite his arrogance toward physicians, Bloomberg thinks government school bureaucrats are qualified to give birth control to teenagers. Government schools in NYC distributed 12,721 doses of the abortifacient drug Plan B during the 2011-2012 academic year - without the knowledge or consent of parents. When Mona Davids said that this was "population control" of non-whites, she hit a perfect bulls-eye. After all, 60% of black babies and 41.3% of Hispanic babies are aborted, while 21.4% of white babies are killed by abortionists in New York City. Bloomberg apparently does not believe surgical abortions are doing enough to keep the black and Hispanic population low, so he's relying on abortifacients as well.

It is instructive that Bloomberg feels physicians in hospitals are incompetent and/or corrupt and must be limited in disbursing painkillers and baby formula, but government school bureaucrats are qualified to distribute abortifacient drugs without parental consent. This illustrates the Communist mindset of Bloomberg and his kind. To Bloomberg, people in general are stupid, incompetent and corrupt and our lives must be directed by an all-powerful central government. Bloomberg sees himself as a kindly regent while the peasants under him must be controlled. We cannot allow the unwashed masses to run their own lives!

This is a despicable and evil policy. Neither city government nor the government schools have any moral authority to be distributing birth control to vulnerable teenagers, especially considering that the age of consent in New York is 17 years old. There can be little doubt that there have been cases where young teens are being sexually exploited by adult men, and that exploitation is being covered up by the government school system and Mayor Bloomberg, away from the watchful eye of parents who love those teens far more than the mayor or any government school bureaucrat. Bloomberg is almost certainly an accessory to criminal sexual abuse of minors.

I've said before that we need a new Red Scare in this nation. We need another Joe McCarthy to step up and work to shame Communists like Mayor Bloomberg out of public life. His anti-American attitude and policy are far more dangerous to our liberty and our way of life than any terrorist for foreign aggressor could ever hope to be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movie Review: Judge Dredd (2012)

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

I watched Judge Dredd (the 2012 remake) on DVD, and I was not impressed. Here is one problem right off the bat: I have never read a Judge Dredd comic book. They do very little to explain the universe, so I am not familiar with the universe, the history of the fictional world or the characters. With a comic book movie for Batman or Spider-Man, people are familiar enough with the character that they can jump right in. That's not the case with a lesser-known character like Dredd. Two or three minutes of exposition would have done wonders.

Basically, the premise is we have a post-apocalyptic world where the "Judges" (basically the police) are empowered to judge and punish on the spot, including using capital punishment.

While the setting, technology and action were all fine, the problem is that the characters behave in a way rational people would not behave in this world. For example, one of the bad guys has the drop on Dredd after shooting him through the back, and the bullet comes out of his stomach. He stands there gloating for a full 45 seconds before Dredd's backup (Judge Anderson) comes in and shoots him in the back. Dredd has killed two of his teammates, and is extremely dangerous. Why would you not finish him off?

Never mind that Anderson had previously been captured by the Ma-Ma gang, and the gang members were given orders to execute her on two different occasions, by Ma-Ma herself and the evil Judges. Did they do it? Of course they did not, because they are stupid. Anderson is not only a Judge, she is a mutant with psychic powers. The intelligent thing to do is to shoot her in the face before she figures out how to overpower or trick you.

Of course, she does, when her gun recognizes that the person firing it is not a Judge and explodes, taking his hand in the process. The "exploding gun" gimmick makes Anderson being taken hostage in the first place completely nonsensical, because she would not be concerned that he would be able to shoot her with it. Furthermore, The criminal executing her with her own gun should have known he could not use the gun - surely criminals have stolen Judge weapons before and discovered they would self-destruct in the event of use by unauthorized persons.

Why did Dredd or Anderson not simply kill Kay much earlier in the movie, when it was obvious he was a liability - that he could give away their position or try to kill them? They want to take him to their headquarters for interrogation. Good idea, except for the fact that Anderson is a psychic who can simply take the information from his mind. Why did they not do that the minute they captured him, instead of dragging him around the building? Did they forget she has this power, only to suddenly remember it when it's convenient for the plot?

Once he is rescued, Judge Dredd staples the entry an exit wounds shut. That is fine as basic first aid, but the bullet passed clean through his back and abdomen. Unless Dredd has instant regeneration superpowers like the X-Men's Wolverine, he has massive internal injuries. Dredd is no-selling the gut shot as if he was never hurt, and the injury is completely forgotten within five minutes. You can't do that!

The scene where the Ma-Ma gang is attacking Dredd and Anderson with incredibly destructive mini-guns is effective in getting across how evil Ma-Ma is as she mows down innocent men, women and children. But there is just no way Dredd and Anderson should survive that unscathed, especially with bullets flying past them on all sides. They were not even grazed! It is one thing to have Heroic Luck, which is common in action movies. It's another thing entirely to have the hero be playing a video game with God Mode turned on.

Four Judges turn evil and take a bribe from Ma-Ma to hunt down Dredd, and Anderson after she escapes. (The Judges reminded the gang of Ma-Ma's orders to kill the captured Anderson.) There were two times where the evil Judges could have killed Dredd or Anderson before our heroes realized they were evil - the female Judge had several seconds to shoot Anderson before Anderson read her mind. Why did she wait, when she explicitly told Ma-Ma that she would shoot Anderson when Anderson hesitated? What was the point of that?

Furthermore, the use of the technology was suspect. Why did the two evil Judges not use incendiary rounds when fighting Dredd in the drug lab? Did they forget they had the same special ammunition Dredd has? What was the point of having the plot thread about Dredd being low on ammo - and then completely running out of ammo - when he could have reloaded from the extra ammo he has in his belt at any time? Did we forget about his extra ammo until it was convenient for the plot?

Judge Dredd was a summer action blockbuster, so I was not expecting an artistic masterpiece. I did expect better than for the movie to make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Final Grade: D

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blaming the victim of sexual assault

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:00 AM (#)

The Indiana Daily Student had a very good article about the unfortunate tendency to blame victims of rape and sexual assault for the crimes committed against them.

People working to prevent sex crimes always walk a fine line. It is important to educate people on how to be safe, but because of the cultural issues surrounding sex crimes it is a hazardous proposition that can easily devolve into blaming the victim. No one thinks twice about warning people to install security programs on mobile devices, keep track of valuables and cash, lock your automobile or offering other advice. But even when something is stolen, people usually do not say a victim of theft is "asking for it." But at the same time, there is nothing inherently wrong with warnings on how women can keep themselves safe from sexual assault.

This, of course, is not to say that theft is equal or even comparable to sexual assault and rape. Obviously, sex crimes are many orders of magnitude more severe and more traumatizing than any loss of material possessions.

One problem I had with the article is the stuff about "gender roles," specifically the assertion that men are seen as "hormone-crazed and unable to control sexual desires." That's generally not the case in Christian societies, where men are expected to exercise self-control. A man who behaves as a gentleman rather than a barbarian will not force himself on a woman, in any way. In fact, there are examples in Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:18 and Genesis 39:7-13, along with many others) where men are expected to control themselves. Of course, as we have become an increasingly post-Christian society, notions of self-control and respect for women have been eroded.

The problem is not "gender roles." The problem is that we have left our traditional Christian sexual morality behind in a sewer of hooking up, no-fault divorce, shacking up and the unprecedented use and availability of pornography. We have created a sexual entitlement mentality where people believe that sex is only about personal physical gratification, not about commitment to one's partner or producing offspring - and certainly not honoring Almighty God in the way we treat our bodies sexually. Even the church has failed to preach and teach on Biblical sexual morality. If we're going to deal with rape and sexual assault, that is where it needs to start.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Completely random observation

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

SWAT 4 for the PC is a fun game, and what is interesting is the way to get the best score is to take in the criminals and/or terrorists unharmed. You do not get as many points for killing a bad guy as you do for arresting them. But if I die a lot I tend to start racking up "unauthorized use of deadly force" penalties as I become less likely to wait for bad guys to surrender, shooting first and asking questions later.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Women in combat, revisited

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

It is sad that the Obama regime's unilateral decision to lift the military's ban on women in combat has produced so little opposition, especially from Republicans in Congress. The Obama regime is making a fundamental change to our military that will damage military readiness and make us a lot less civil as a nation with almost no real opposition. It is sadder still that a majority of the public supports this barbaric decision.

There are a number of excuses used for this policy, none of which are valid reasons to send women to war.

Yes, women have been serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade now, because these are nontraditional conflicts against an insurgency where the concept of a "front line" does not exist. This should never have happened. The Bush administration was foolish to allow women to serve combat missions and that foolishness has led to more support for Obama's barbarism. George W. Bush's foolishness should not be a reason to expand the foolishness further.

Commenters on HeraldTimesOnline.com objected to my use of Scripture as a justification to protect women from the horrors of combat, accusing me of advocating for a "theocracy." This is silly. Many of our laws are already based on Biblical principles. That's why most states do not allow same-sex marriage and why we do not allow polygamy. Laws against murder, perjury and theft are based in the Ten Commandments. Simply because many of our laws are based on Biblical principles does not mean we have a "theocracy."

In my letter to the editor, I cited Judges 19-20 as an example of men protecting women. These chapters are an account of the nation of Israel going to war with the tribe of Benjamin after the Benjamites would not turn over the wicked men who gang raped and murdered a man's concubine so the "sons of Belial" could be put to death.

It is true that the man gave his concubine to the mob so he himself would not be gang raped by them - and this cowardly act was a terribly wicked and evil thing to do. Many times in Scripture, wickedness and righteousness exist cheek by jowl, and the man's wickedness in sacrificing his concubine to save his own skin does not negate the righteousness of the Israelites in seeking justice for the murdered woman.

Implementing foolish egalitarianism in the military does not limit anyone's freedom. No one is denied the right to vote, worship, own firearms or any other protection in our Constitution or our system of laws by keeping the ban on women in combat. Serving in the military - and especially serving in combat - is not a "right." It is right and proper for the civilian leadership to set standards for the military as well as be compassionate and prudent in military policy.

One of my favorite arguments is the foolishness that I should accept the barbaric policy of women in combat so I am not "left behind" as society moves forward. The basic assumption of this argument is that we should simply go along to get along whenever society changes, so that we are not stuck in the past. So if human sacrifice or cannibalism is normalized, should people who oppose it today drop their opposition in the name of progress? No. That would be stupid.

The Obama regime is not even pretending this barbaric policy is about improving military readiness or capability. This is political correctness for its own sake, nothing more. In a culture that has already been coarsened so much, allowing women to serve in combat - and experience the inevitable horrors that will come when women are captured and brutalized by our enemies - will only degrade us further. Christians need to say "no" to this policy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dani the deer and state government overreach

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

Citizens of the state of Indiana need to obey the law and state government has an obligation to enforce the law. But many times, government officials need to use wisdom and discernment in how they deal with violations of the law and the intentions of those who have broken the law, and make a compassionate decision about what is the best way to proceed in a way that honors the law and is prudent policy.

Indiana's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has filed in every level to do this in the case of Dani the deer. (See stories from the Indianapolis Star here, here, here and here.)

It all started when a Connersville police officer and his wife rescued a young deer that had been attacked by a predator. Rather than "letting nature take its course) and allowing the deer to die a slow and agonizing death, they cleaned the deer's maggot-infested wound and nursed it back to health, intending to release it when it was strong enough to make it alone in the wild. For this, the DNR wants them put in jail for 60 days.

Two months in jail for having compassion on a dying animal? Really?

Look, I understand the DNR's position. We have laws against keeping wild animals for good reasons, both to protect human health against disease and parasites carried by wild animals and to protect the animals themselves as they are not meant to be domesticated. And as we hear many times, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. Clearly, some sort of sanction is appropriate - perhaps a fine and a warning.

But two months in jail? That is excessive, extreme and insane.

Newly elected governor Mike Pence said in remarks to the media that "it appears our conservation officers acted appropriately and in a manner consistent with Indiana law."

No, Governor Pence, they did not. They could have simply got a warning and a fine. Instead, the DNR was overly aggressive and decided to "make an example" out of them. The DNR wants to put these people in jail for two months, wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars and creating a severe disruption for their lives and careers. The employees responsible should be fired. We do not need authoritarian ninnies like this working for state government.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Metered parking in downtown Bloomington

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

Mayor Kruzan's proposal to implement meters for on-street parking in downtown is on tonight's City Council agenda, although the council may delay the vote for a few weeks. In the committee of the whole meeting, three councilors voted for Ordinance 13-03 while six abstained. (All nine city councilors are Democrats.)

A number of downtown merchants are worried that charging for parking will hurt their businesses specifically and hurt the vibrant downtown generally. I am not too concerned about attracting shoppers downtown. There are a lot of people who live downtown and within walking distance of local business thanks to development of new apartment complexes, and people accustomed to shopping and eating downtown will probably continue to do so.

My main concern with this proposal is the cost to people who work downtown. On street parking will be out of the question for most people, because it will cost them $45 per week, or over $180 per month. (Recognizing that there are more than 4 weeks in a month and rounding down.) That is far too much of a financial burden to expect most people to be able to absorb into their monthly budget.

People who work downtown will be pushed into the parking garages, which is exactly what the city wants - the garages are a financial drain for the city. That is a lot less expensive than on-street parking, but there are a lot of people who simply do not have an extra $40 every month to plow into a parking permit for one of the garages.

To put that in perspective, that is more than the cost of an "A" permit for Indiana University faculty and staff. Most university staff purchase a "C" permit, the cost of which is $131.64 per year - and university staff frequently complain about the cost of parking. But the cost of a "C" permit for a full year would buy a parking spot in one of Bloomington's parking garages for less than four months.

Let's be honest here. This has nothing to do with making sure there is ample on-street parking downtown. The city is losing money on the parking garages and Mayor Kruzan is looking for a way to increase revenue to a city budget that is feeling the pinch. I am not saying that automatically makes this a bad idea, but we need to be honest about why this is being considered. This is about money, not parking policy.

One possible good-faith effort is to revise city government's personnel policy to prohibit city employees from using on-street parking during the work day. This would free up all of the spaces currently used by city government employees, and county government could implement a similar policy in solidarity with the city.

But with all of the issues surrounding city parking, the one that will have the biggest individual impact is the cost to people who work downtown. There needs to be some sort of compromise to lessen the financial burden those employees will face if this plan is implemented. Perhaps the city could issue reduced cost permits to people who can document that they work downtown. Absent something to prevent a significant burden on downtown workers, Kruzan's paid parking plan should be either rejected or postponed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

America's most obnoxious nanny state ninny

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

If there is one thing that nanny state ninnies have in common, it is that they do not trust you. They think you are too stupid, uneducated and/or corrupt to manage your own affairs. That is why your life must me micromanaged by the elites. Nowhere is this more obvious than with America's most obnoxious nanny state ninny, Michael Bloomberg.

Last summer, I ranted about the laughable proposal by Mayor Bloomberg to ban large sodas, which has recently been opposed by the NAACP - leading Bloomberg to immediately personally attack the organization's leadership. In an editorial about the dustup between Bloomberg and the NAACP, Katherine Connell makes an interesting point:

And not all types of sugary drinks are equal in Bloomberg’s eyes, either. Alcoholic beverages, fruit juice, and dairy-based products are exempt. So Starbucks can go on serving 610-calorie venti iced white chocolate mochas with whip cream on top, but a Coke with fewer than half the calories is verboten.

Do I really need to comment on how absurd this is?

But Bloomberg's arrogance does not end there. Last month, he decided that New York City's public hospitals need to be strictly regulated in distributing prescription painkillers, because some people abuse the drugs. Bloomberg's proclamation is part of a wider war on prescription painkillers, but it is useful to examine the arrogant mentality behind these proposals in addition to the arguments about why the policy itself is bad for sick people.

Bloomberg (who has no medical training, much less a doctorate in any kind of medicine) actually believes he knows better than the trained professionals who staff hospitals in New York. He actually believes his judgment from his chair in the mayor's office is wiser and more informed than the people who are directly dealing with patients dealing with pain, especially those in chronic pain. When he looks at this problem, he sees a medical profession that is at best incompetent and at worst corrupt drug dealers selling a legal "high."

This is the mentality of the authoritarian: They do not trust anyone but themselves and other approved members of the ruling elite. People cannot run their own lives because they are incompetent or corrupt, and even people with specialized professional training (like doctors) are a step below the ruling elite. It is a mentality that causes Bloomberg and his ilk to look down on the peasants under his care.

This kind of totalitarianism is deadly. It should not be surprising that some of the worst butchers of the twentieth century - Hitler, Stalin and Mao - were totalitarians who were obsessed with controlling every aspect of the lives of the people they ruled. It should not be a surprise, then, that Bloomberg endorses abortion and has even used his authority to harass crisis pregnancy centers in his city. In fact, 41% of all pregnancies in New York City are terminated through the brutality of abortion, and 60% of all black babies in Bloomberg's city are aborted. The Ku Klux Klan could not find a more reliable ally than the "tolerant liberal" Mayor Bloomberg.

As Americans, we need to stand up against this kind of bloodthirsty totalitarianism. We need to tell people like Michael Bloomberg that he and his extreme views are not welcome in the arena of shaping public policy. Thankfully, Bloomberg will not be mayor of America's largest city after 2013 because of term limits, but every effort needs to be made to keep him out of any other elective office.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Will Obama's defenders admit they were wrong?

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

Obama's supporters repeatedly mocked those who said that he would pursue a gun-control agenda in his second term, because he "had not taken any action" on gun control in his first term.

Looks like the critics were right. Will those who were mocking the predictions of a gun control agenda in the second term - specifically Rachel Maddow - now admit they were wrong?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Obama's barbaric decision on women in combat

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

Bloomington Herald-Times, January 31, 2013 (Comments)

To the Editor:

It is sad that our President has unilaterally repealed the ban on women in combat, placing women in increased danger of being raped, maimed and killed in battle. Women are uniquely vulnerable to being abused in captivity, something that our enemies will enthusiastically exploit.

This is not the plan of the God that Obama claims to worship. In Scripture, men are specifically commanded to protect women, not the other way around.

In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are specifically commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. In Judges 19 and 20, the nation of Israel went to war with the tribe of Benjamin to seek justice for a woman who had been gang raped and murdered.

This will not increase military readiness. It will make it worse. The Huffington Post reported on January 24 that military physical fitness standards are already gender-normed.

Does anyone really believe that feminists will not seek to have standards for specific jobs lowered so more women can make it in, especially since the Obama regime has already promised to review standards to see if they "make sense?"

Obama's decision is uncivilized and barbaric and should be reversed.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A nation of deadbeats, Mr. President?

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

Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills. And we are not a deadbeat nation. -- Barack Obama, January 14, 2013

According to the historical tables on Barack Obama's website, the sum total of budget deficits from 2001 to 2008 was $2.133 trillion. The estimated total of budget deficits from 2009 to 2012 is $5.332 trillion. The total outlays of the federal government in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were $2.471 trillion, $2.655 trillion, $2.728 trillion, $2.982 trillion, respectively. The total outlays of the federal government in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were $3.517 trillion, $3.456 trillion, $3.603 trillion and $3.795 trillion, respectively.

If Obama is concerned about us being a "deadbeat nation" then he would get serious about cutting spending, which has gone up dramatically during his first term in office. It's not enough to whine about George W. Bush, Mr. President. The problem facing us needs to be solved and you need to take leadership in solving it.

We are a deadbeat nation under Obama, because we have passed over $5 trillion in debt onto future generations. Obama's plan is like a family living above their means for years under the guise of paying their bills, then dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt on their children when they turn 18. It is simply irresponsible.

We are rapidly hurtling toward fiscal insolvency, and it is an unsustainable path. This is what the Tea Party movement has been warning about for the last four years - the point at which we cannot dig ourselves out of this hole. We have reached the point where it is probably impossible to ever actually pay off the national debt, but we simply cannot afford to continue to add over a trillion dollars to our national debt every single year!

Folks, this is insane. We need deep and dramatic cuts in spending. Unfortunately, it seems that no one in Washington - Republicans or Democrats - has the courage to do what must be done to save us from fiscal insolvency. We need real leadership and we are simply not getting it. Where have all the statesmen gone?