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Sunday, March 31, 2013


Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:15 AM (#)

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty power o'er His foes!
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign!
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reality check on background checks

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:15 AM (#)

Senator Blumenthal said on the March 28 Rachel Maddow show that we need background checks to prevent people like Adam Lanza from getting guns.

Reality check: Background checks would have done nothing to prevent him from having access to those guns, because they were not his guns. They were his mother's guns.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The militarization of police and overuse of SWAT

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

Radley Balko has been writing about the militarization of police for many years now. He has done extremely valuable work exposing the overuse and abuse of paramilitary SWAT teams, though he has often been the lone voice in the wilderness about this frightening assault on our civil liberties and abuse of government power. Balko has a book coming out this summer about the militarization of law enforcement, and if it is half as good as his editorials on this subject at Reason.com and HuffingtonPost.com it is a must read.

Following is a list of links to Balko's "Raid Of The Day" series.

  • James Hoskins went into a coma and had to have his leg amputated after a trigger-happy SWAT officer shot him.

  • Rusty Windle was shot to death by SWAT officers after being set up by a known felon.
  • An entire family was held at gunpoint for hours in a 1985 SWAT raid - the police had the wrong house.
  • Jose Colon was a 19 year old with no criminal record who died after being shot in the head by police - who found 8 ounces of marijuana.
  • Leland Elder and his wife Mary Schultz were raided by 85 agents using military equipment when they mistook the florist's perfectly legal plants for a marijuana growing operation. Why not execute a simple search warrant?
  • 80-year-old Isaac Singletary was shot to death when he tried to scare two men off his property because they were dealing drugs. The men were undercover police officers who shot and killed him.
  • Anthony Diotaiuto was shot ten times and killed during a SWAT raid that featured a flash-bang grenade. Conducting a SWAT raid instead of serving a search warrant was necessary because it's obvious that only a hardened criminal would "undergo a criminal background check, allow himself to be fingerprinted, pay a fee, and enroll in a class on gun safety and firearms law" to get a concealed-carry permit.
  • Cheryl Lynn Noel was shot to death in her own bedroom by SWAT officers. She was holding a gun to defend against what she thought was a home invasion. Again, a paramilitary SWAT raid was necessary instead of a simple search warrant because... why, exactly?
  • The Los Angeles Police Department conducted an especially heavy-handed raid against an entire apartment complex in 1988. The raid included some vicious police brutality.
  • Andrew Leonard had SWAT officers break down his door with a battering ram and hold him at gunpoint in a raid that targeted the wrong house.
  • Lloyd Miner was clubbed with a flashlight by SWAT officers who also "smashed his toilet, turned over his furniture, pried the doors off of his cabinets, and destroyed some of his kitchen appliances" before taking him to jail. They had the wrong house. You might be noticing a pattern here.

Three weeks from now will be the twentieth anniversary of the massacre in Waco, Texas, when the federal government used military force - including tanks - against American citizens on American soil. But the problem of government using overwhelming military-style force against our own citizens goes far beyond the tragic events of April 19, 1993. We have been treating the War on Crime as a literal war for decades, and putting a soldier mentality into law enforcement has had frightening consequences. Reform and restraint are needed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Modernizing" the Roman Catholic Church

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

The New York Times carried another column calling for the Roman Catholic Church to allow priests to be married. The ban on marriage by priests has always been contrary to the teaching of Scripture - a human tradition that goes beyond the Word of God and has had destructive consequences. It is interesting (though not surprising) that Peter Manseau does not cite Scripture at all, since the Word of God is supposed to be the final authority for Christians.

And thus is the problem with the discussions about what the Roman Catholic Church needs to do to "modernize" and attract younger people. The RCC is being treated like a political party that is looking for ways to win elections instead of existing for the sole purpose of worshiping God, creating converts and teaching them to obey His commandments. The church - Roman Catholic or Protestant - is not and should not be a political organization. It is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth as described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15.

This is why calls to "modernize" by loosening standards on sexual morality and ending opposition to abortion is foolish. A church that "modernizes" on abortion and sexual morality is not a "church" at all. It is a pagan religion that is in open rebellion against Almighty God. Such a "church" is founded upon pure hatred - hatred for God and His commandments and hatred for sinners on their way to Hell. "Modernizing" by calling evil good is the ultimate act of hatred because it damns people in bondage to sin to eternal damnation in Hell fire.

So how does any church "modernize" to attract younger people and keep people from leaving? The solution is very simple - do the same thing the church has been called to do for over two thousand years now. The way the church is to remain relevant for modern times is to submit fully to Scripture, call sinners to repentance, instruct Believers in our obligations to Him and aid in our sanctification, and serve as salt and light in a fallen world.

The church is to "modernize" by trusting the Holy Spirit to convict and change the hearts of fallen men and women, and call them to the cross of Jesus Christ. Our Father in Heaven has already won the battle. We simply need to be faithful in witnessing for Him as we wait for the inevitable ultimate victory by God.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The shocking Steubenville rape case

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

And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth. -- Job 29:17

The most shocking thing about the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio was not that two young men raped a 16 year old girl who was so drunk she blacked out. Sadly, the fact that men sexually assault and rape women and girls is not exactly new, nor is it in any way uncommon. What was shocking was that this crime was committed in public with many other teenagers watching and laughing at her, while taking pictures and video on their smartphones and posting it to social media websites in addition to sending it around.

Why did no one intervene and say "no" to this act? Did none of the young men at the party think of their sisters in that position? Did none of the young women at the party not think of themselves in that position? It would have been incredibly shameful for the young men at the party to be silent (or encourage it) while a young woman stands "no" to this abomination, but one would think that someone would have felt a pang of conscience.

The fact that the two rapists got off so easy is infuriating.They got at least a year in juvenile hall, but they should have been charged as adults. I have been 16 years old, and I knew that sexually assaulting and publicly humiliating a teenage girl was an evil thing to do. Charging them as juveniles instead of as adults only enhances the perception that these young men got off easy because they are football players. And while those who stand and watched may be charged, how much will they actually be punished? When you hand out such a light punishment for the actual rapists, how can you justify harsher punishments for the spectators?

I am not sure that parents or school officials should be charged in relation to the rape, unless it can be shown that they attempted to cover it up after the fact. But one has to ask - where were the parents that night? Even if no crime had been committed, you have a large number of teenagers getting wasted drunk at several parties around town. You cannot expect me to believe the parents did not know what was going on. Their refusal to control their offspring - something that almost certainly dates back to when they were toddlers - is disgusting and shows how much they truly hate their children.

There is a lot wrong with this case: The spectators who laughed and took pictures during a violent crime, the worship of football that led these young men to believe they could get away with a felony, and the complete and total breakdown of parental discipline that allowed the environment for this assault to take place. Parents who refuse to say "no" to their children do not shelter those children from the consequences of their action. Instead, they only ensure that the lack of loving corrective discipline will eventually be replaced with much stronger sanctions from the civil magistrate. This is a lesson for all parents - train your children to be respectable and responsible.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Abortion: America's Holocaust

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen and it can't get up!

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

Olympus Has Fallen sets up a great mystery and political thriller, hinting at a wide-ranging political conspiracy and a fifth column within the U.S. government, only to become a silly action movie at the end. It is almost like they pasted the end of a completely different movie onto the beginning of a much better movie.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

We start off with a vacation at Camp David that ends in a tragedy that really does not contribute to the overall plot. The consequences of the tragedy for main protagonist Mike Banning contributed virtually nothing and it could have been left out completely, but the scene does do a good job of establishing the emotional bond between Banning and the President's son, Connor. But even that was not necessary - Banning would set out to rescue Connor regardless.

Where the action really starts - and where the movie could have started - is with the terrorist / fifth column attack on the White House. The terrorists are flying an Air Force bomber, which shoots down two fighter jets and then randomly butchers people in the streets of Washington DC. How exactly did they get this? How did they get access to a top secret anti-aircraft weapon that they use to repel an attempt to re-take the White House later? Did they infiltrate the Air Force? Is there a fifth column that is looking to stage a coup?

What is interesting is that House Speaker Trumbull suggests threatening North Korea with a military strike, and when asked what happens if they call our bluff he says "Who's bluffing?" President Asher rejects this course of action as he wants to avoid an unnecessary war. Between the terrorists holding two major pieces of equipment and the fact that they have sensitive and highly classified knowledge of U.S. national defense, are there forces within the U.S. government looking to force a war with North Korea?

None of this is followed up on at all. The obvious questions about how the terrorists acquired U.S. military equipment and highly classified information are never answered. All of the setup for this is wasted as the movie becomes a Die Hard clone, with Banning serving as a one-man army taking down the terrorists - who go from an unstoppable force that easily massacres security forces to cannon fodder unable to do anything against Banning.

This could have been so much better.

Final Grade: C.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Campaign finance reform, revisited

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

A letter to the editor last weekend in response to my letter about campaign finance reform from a few days earlier argues that we "have never embraced an absolutist interpretation" of the First Amendment.

This is true. There are limits to First Amendment freedoms - freedom of religion does not include human sacrifice and the freedom to petition government for redress of grievances (lobbying, in other words) does not include screaming into an elected official's bedroom window through a bullhorn at 3:00 am. But we would be better off if we took a much more uncompromising position on limiting government's ability to censor free speech.

The author argues that we have a legitimate interest in ensuring our elected officials are not beholden to the people who finance their campaign. We can accomplish that through full disclosure. There was a lot of legitimate concern over "dark money" in the 2012 election cycle, because of weak reporting requirements. This led many to worry that we do not know who is funding the advertisements to support or oppose candidates, and the loyalty that inspires for the candidates who win the elections with support of contributions and independent spending.

My solution to this is to abolish all contribution and spending limits (both hard and soft money) and report every contribution and expense over $200. This would apply to the 527 groups, political action committees, political parties and campaign contributions - even independent expenditures by private individuals. The public has an interest in full disclosure of all campaign contributions and spending. Sunshine is the most effective way to fight corruption.

Some people may object to full disclosure because it exposes donors to harassment for political activity. While this is a legitimate concern and while it is true that campaigns are private rather than public entities, the public's interest in knowing who funds campaigns and the public's interest in fighting corruption overrides these concerns. And, yes, the $200 line for reporting contributions and expenditures is arbitrary, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Without an arbitrary line you are forcing campaigns to report every little thing down to the $5 coffee from Starbucks.

The primary problem with campaign finance reform is far more sinister. While some people have legitimate concerns over the influence of money in politics, cynical politicians push "reform" as a way to silence opposition and protect their positions. After all, incumbents have a built-in advantage that challengers do not have - including access to the news media and government resources to promote their offices but that also expand their name ID. This is why many campaign "reform" measures (especially McCain-Feingold) could easily be called the Incumbent Protection Act. We must vigorously oppose the efforts of politicians to hold onto power by silencing political opposition.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Testicular cancer's warning signs

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

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer 16 years ago today. Following is a guest column I had published several years ago about the warning signs of TC.

Published in the Bloomington Herald-Times on March 18, 2007

It was the week before spring break 1997, 10 years ago. Like thousands of other college students, I was looking forward to relaxing for a week before getting back and finishing up the semester. I would not come back to finish the semester, however.

Over the previous couple weeks, I had noticed something was wrong. One of my testicles was swollen and significantly larger than the other one. A few years earlier, my brother-in-law’s younger brother had died of testicular cancer, so all the men in the family were educated about the warning signs of the disease. I knew that I would need to take a trip to my doctor when I got back. The signs were clear enough that I knew I had cancer, so I was more than a little stressed on the final day of classes before vacation. By Friday of spring break, I was in Parkview Hospital having an inguinal orchiectomy.

Thankfully, the surgeon got all of the cancer when he removed the diseased organ. Ten years later, I am still cancer-free. When caught early, as mine was, testicular cancer has a survival rate of over 95 percent, according to www.nih.gov. Even if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, the survival rate is over 90 percent, according to www.cancer.org. As with any cancer, the chances of survival go down significantly if the cancer is allowed to spread.

The good news is that testicular cancer, unlike some other cancers, shows warning signs that can be noticed by laymen. According to health.rutgers.edu, these warning signs include:

  • A lump in the testicle

  • Change in the consistency of the testicle

  • Enlargement of the testicle

  • Heavy feeling in the testes

  • Pain in the testicles (not always associated with cancer)

  • Swelling or tenderness of the breast

  • Swelling, hardening, or painful inguinal lymph nodes.

The two general types of testicular cancer are seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma cancers are vulnerable to radiation (basically a very high dose of X-rays), so they are easier to treat. Radiation is not effective against non-seminoma cancers, so a second surgery may be needed to check the abdominal lymph nodes. Chemotherapy is quite effective against non-seminoma testicular cancer. One sign of non-seminoma cancer is an unusually high level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the blood. AFP is a hormone normally associated with pregnancy.

The number of new testicular cancer cases is fairly small: medicinenet.com states that there are between 7,000 to 8,000 new cases annually. If Monroe County follows the national trend, there would be between 1.4 and 1.6 cases of testicular cancer annually, assuming that half of the approximately 120,000 people in Monroe are male. It is possible, therefore, that someone reading this column could contract testicular cancer this year.

TC is the most common form of cancer for men between the ages of 15 and 35 years old, however, and can strike any man at any age. It is essential, therefore, for men to perform a monthly Testicular Self Examination (TSE), just as women are advised to perform a monthly Breast Self Examination. Ask your general practitioner for information on how to perform this exam.

Testicular cancer can be a difficult subject to discuss, but being diagnosed with TC is far from the worst thing that could happen to someone, especially with today’s advanced medical technology. In addition, losing a testicle will generally not impair sexual function or the ability to have children. Men, if you notice the warning signs of TC, do not delay making an appointment with your doctor. You will be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shut up about the mythical "War on Christmas" already!

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

Don't we have enough conflict in our society without looking for things to fight about where no fight actually exists?

Sarah Palin is writing a book about the mythical "War on Christmas."

I absolutely hate this "war on Christmas" nonsense that we hear about every year in November and December. Yes, there are a tiny number of people who object to things like people who say "Merry Christmas" - whiny crybabies who need to grow up. Why is it offensive when someone sends a seasonal wish of goodwill to you, whether you personally believe in the holiday or not? Get over yourself and move on.

I am just as irritated with the childish and petulant Christmas "warriors" who loudly announce they will say "Merry Christmas" to the crybabies who object to it. In this case, what should be a heartfelt expression of goodwill is basically a double middle finger in the face. Yes, the militant atheists are being childish, but that is no excuse to join them and to degrade what should be a heartfelt expression of goodwill in the process. Be the bigger person.

I love the Christmas season, but when Christmas is over I am glad that I do not have to see "news" stories or opinion pieces about this foolishness for the next 10 months. Now, thanks to Sarah Palin we do not have to wait until November to start our annual childish nonsense, because we can start the fight in March! Thanks, Sarah. Now please shut your mouth turn off your word processing program until you have something productive to say or write.

Folks, this is ridiculous. Over 3,200 unborn babies are murdered by our abortion industry every single day - one murder every 30 seconds. Instead of working on issues that actually matter, some Christians are fighting over a "War on Christmas" that is 99% fantasy and 1% the ranting of deranged militant atheists who no one takes seriously. Can we please lay this foolishness to rest once and for all?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A necessary change to county government policy

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

There have been a number of problems in county government over the last several years, from the abuse of county government credit cards to significant loss of revenue from improperly filing paperwork with the state. One of the reasons for this (but not the only reason for it) is the loss of institutional knowledge and experience from newly elected officials removing county employees and installing their own people.

This is a relatively easy problem to fix. Simply change the county's personnel policy to forbid elected officials and department heads from removing employees without cause, and implement a mandatory progressive disciplinary policy for termination of employees. This would protect both employees and taxpayers by preventing abuse. Obviously, exceptions would be needed for severe violations of workplace rules or ethics.

So why has this not been done? There are some within county government who have actually argued that it is impossible because Indiana is an "at will" state. This is just plain stupid.

The fact that Indiana is an at-will state in no way prevents private or public-sector employers from implementing personnel policies that prevent unjustifiable terminations. In fact, the county implemented an anti-nepotism policy in 2005, despite the fact that state law did not mandate it.

It has not been unusual for elected officials in administrative positions (which should not be elected at all, but that is another issue) to remove existing employees and bring in their own people for reasons of patronage. But county government is not what it was even thirty years ago. Government has grown bigger and the tasks employees are asked to do are more complicated, and technology has become more important. We need to move away from this cycle, both for the sake of employees and for the taxpayers they serve.

So why has this not been done? Why are some people in local government - including some elected officials - unwilling to even acknowledge the problem, much less attempt to solve it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The hysteria over imaginary "guns"

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

When I was in fourth grade, a group of us played "war" every day during recess for a week or two. One group would hold the slide as a "fort" while the other group would charge and try to take the slide. We used our hands and fingers to form imaginary machine guns, rifles and pistols to "shoot" each other. We sold it when we were "shot" and that rule was enforced. If a group of fourth graders did that today, they would be expelled from school. But before that, a SWAT team would be called out to pepper spray them, arrest them and take them to jail.

The part about the SWAT team was a joke. (At least I hope it was.) The part about being expelled? Not so much. (See more about insanity in the government schools here, here and here.)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably familiar with the seven year old boy who shaped his pastry to look like a gun, pointed it and said "bang." For doing something harmless that little boys have been doing for generations, he was suspended by a hysterical administration. It has gone viral as an example of political correctness and anti-gun paranoia run wild.

There are legitimate issues to consider. In the aftermath of the Columbine massacre fourteen years ago next month, there were many questions about what could have been done to identify that the shooters were disturbed in advance of the mass shooting and whether early intervention could have prevented it. We have seen similar questions asked after many other mass shootings, especially when the mass murderer has a history of instability that has been documented.

There are probably things we can do to more quickly identify potentially dangerous persons and intervene - but it is a dangerous path that raises concerns about due process, civil liberties and overreaction. Striking a balance between public safety and individual liberty is never easy, and we must be wary of government as it is run by men and women who are every bit as sinful as anyone else.

The problem is that we have gone too far in the other direction, and it has become so absurd that people cannot take these "safety" policies seriously. Does anyone really believe that the seven year old "pastry bandit" was actually threatening his fellow students or his teacher? Does anyone believe he was going to bring a gun to school and kill someone? Come on people, this is just laughable. It is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars and a waste of time. There is no justification for this hysteria, and the teachers and administrators responsible for it should be fired.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Charles Krauthammer is wrong

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

"Except on American soil, the Constitution does not rule" -- Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer is simply wrong here. The Constitution most certainly does apply worldwide, because it is a restriction on the U.S. Government. The federal government does not magically gain the right to violate the rights of American citizens simply because we step over the border. This kind of attitude is frightening.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday morning links

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

♣ Barack Obama was supposed to move us away from the policies of George W. Bush and the erosion of civil liberties we saw under the Bush Administration and the so-called "Patriot Act." So I just have to ask: How's that hope & change workin' out for ya?

♣ Joseph Bayly talks about how our wicked culture permits legal traffic of babies in the USA over at BaylyBlog.

♣ "I will speak until I can no longer speak, I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our constitution is important, that your right to trial by jury is precious, that no American should be killed on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court." -- U.S. Senator Rand Paul

♣ LeBron James is a great player, but it is way too early to be talking about whether he is the best ever.

♣ When you hear "zero tolerance" it almost always translates to zero intelligence. The idiots responsible for this should be fired from their jobs.

♣ Kermit Gosnell is an incredibly evil and wicked man - but that should be expected from an abortionist.

♣ Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large soft drinks, "Starbucks customers can order, say, a Venti White Hot Chocolate with whole milk and whipped cream (640 calories) but not a venti black coffee with four teaspoons of sugar (60 calories)." This is insane.

♣ I would hope that columnist Doug Giles recognizes that the video he posted on his website is obviously satire. If the other four bullet points didn't make it obvious, teaching boys to be homosexual should make it abundantly clear!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sobriety checkpoints and the Fourth Amendment

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

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" -- The Fourth Amendment.

March 8 marked the beginning of a 17-day campaign by the state police to fight drunk driving. Increased patrols and putting more officers on the road are good responses and will hopefully save some lives by taking drunk drivers off the road or acting as a deterrent to people who might otherwise drive drunk. The problem is that these will not be the only tactics used - law enforcement will also be conducting sobriety checkpoints.

When a similar checkpoint was conducted back in 2010, I asked the state police what motorists could expect. The response sent to me via e-mail explained it as follows: "Vehicles that come through the checkpoint will be stopped. The driver will be asked to produce their driver’s license and registration for the vehicle." Motorists can expect to be delayed for a couple minutes if they have not committed a violation.

This was a couple months after the state of Arizona started a national debate by requiring law enforcement check immigration status of people who might be in the country illegally. Yet many of the same people who strenuously objected to having people "show their papers" had no problem with all drivers being stopped by law enforcement and being required to "show their papers" simply because they happen to be driving on a certain stretch of road at a specific time.

How can this not be a violation of our rights under the Fourth Amendment? Every single driver is stopped and asked to provide "papers" to law enforcement, even though they have committed no wrong and there is no reasonable suspicion they have done anything wrong. How is that not an "unreasonable search" prohibited by the Constitution of these United States? At what point does a search of random citizens become "unreasonable" to defenders of checkpoints?

Some defend the checkpoints because the courts have not struck them down. Setting aside the fact that it is dangerous to ignore the clear text of the Bill of Rights simply because of what some judges say, just because checkpoints are "legal" does not mean they are necessary or proper. It would be a simple matter for the General Assembly to pass a law prohibiting sobriety checkpoints, or for it to be decided administratively that these tactics will not be used.

Others say that it is "selfish" to defend our rights because the checkpoints may save some lives. But at what point does it not become selfish? What limits - if any - exist on the authority of government to take actions that might prevent crime? Should random searches of houses be OK? Should law enforcement be allowed to stop people walking down the street in case they are carrying contraband? Should people leaving a supermarket be patted down in case they are shoplifting?

At worst, sobriety checkpoints are an illegal violation of our rights as American citizens. At best, they are a government overreach that should be prohibited by law. Either way, this tactic should be ended. Our representatives in Indianapolis can show their commitment to limited government and individual liberty by banning sobriety checkpoints and placing civil liberties over the need to "do something."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Limiting the student vote in Indiana

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

Some Republican state legislators (and some Republicans in Monroe County) are supporting House Bill 1311, which declares that "a person does not gain residency in a precinct into which the person moves for educational purposes if the person pays a nonresident tuition rate." I've seen two lines of argument on this bill: First, out-of-state students have little interest in local government but local people have to deal with the choices they make after those students are gone. Second, the legislation is needed to prevent voter fraud.

I voted here when I was a student - the first election I voted in was the 1995 city election. (Much to my shame, I did not vote in 1992 or 1994 despite being of legal voting age. I have voted in every election since, however.) City government affects students on matters such as trash collection, fire protection, road construction and new apartment complexes. Even township government affects students, as we saw when the Bloomington Township Fire Department's hazmat team responded to bioterrorism alerts shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The proposal to limit voting by students who pay out-of-state tuition is not a good idea, and we need to be realistic here: the law will be thrown out if it is passed and signed into law. Beyond the Supreme Court case on student voting rights from the 1970's, the Indiana Constitution is clear that "A citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen (18) years of age and who has been a resident of a precinct thirty (30) days immediately preceding an election may vote in that precinct at the election."

If we are concerned about fraud and/or double voting, we can require that students who come here from another county or state prove their registration at home has been canceled, and we can implement reforms to allow for easier purging of students from the voter rolls after they have moved away - perhaps by requiring that they show they have an active lease, either with a private landlord or university housing. Those measures would be more sensible (and more legal) than a blanket ban on voting by out-of-state students.

Furthermore, this is politically unwise. Telling students we do not want them to vote here will not help Republicans convince students to vote for our candidates. It is not like the Republicans have never fared well with students. After all, it was only ten years ago when Democrats were in a panic about student votes costing them the 2003 city election. Republicans may never win the student vote outright, but we can reduce our margin of loss on and around campus, putting our candidates within striking distance.

This politically short-sighted and legally indefensible legislation should never have been proposed.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Clinton Shuffle

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

Political Reality 101 - money is speech

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, March 12, 2013. (Comments)

To the Editor:

It is a common misconception that the First Amendment grants the five freedoms listed therein. This is actually not the case. What the First Amendment does is make it illegal for government to restrict the freedoms our founding fathers assumed were ours naturally. We see this mentality with the statement that we are "endowed by (our) Creator with certain inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence.

It is because our natural rights are sacred that the agenda of "Move to Amend" - while well-intentioned - is nonetheless counterproductive. The point of the First Amendment is not to grant rights to "persons" but to prohibit government from restricting our natural rights.

While some fret about the amount of money in politics, we actually spend less money on political contributions in an election cycle than we spend on potato chips. (The Economist, Nov 24, 2012.)

And like it or not, money is speech. Campaigns cannot send direct mail, buy TV or radio advertisements, run a phone bank, hire campaign staff or host a campaign Web site without money. To say that limiting campaign contributions or spending does not limit speech is like saying that rationing gasoline does not inhibit freedom of travel.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Jack Hopkins social services funding schedule

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

City government has released the schedule for the Jack Hopkins social services funding program. Local social service agencies can apply for a grant from this program, and after a committee (made up of council members and a couple community members) whittles down the applications and eliminates some of them, the City Council votes on the funding package in June.

Since 1999, the process has been marred by the selfish requests of Planned Parenthood, which does not need money from local taxpayers but nonetheless seeks a grant nearly every year in order to get a political endorsement from city government. Shockingly, the city did not give PP a handout last summer, but I am sure they will be back with another request for corporate welfare. The schedule is below, along with a history of the grants to Planned Parenthood approved by the City Council.

Technical Assistance Meeting (optional)Tuesday, 19 March 2013
5:30pm, McCloskey Room
Application DeadlineMonday, 01 April 2013
Invited Agencies Present ApplicationsMonday, 13 May 2013
5:30pm, Council Chambers
Committee Recommends Allocation of FundsThursday, 30 May 2013
5:30pm, Council Chambers
Agencies to Sign Funding AgreementsEarly June 2013
Common Council Acts on the RecommendationsWednesday, 19 June 2013

1999Medical exam table$5,000
2000Teen education (Community Development Block Grants)$2,000
2001Equipment to test for anemia$1,394
2002Autoclave for the purpose of sterilizing instruments.$1,495
2003Four computers$3600
20046 sets of cervical biopsy equipment$2,923
2005Security cameras and equipment$1,500
2006Install cabinetry and purchase files and furniture$2,440
2007Friend to Friend Patient Pass program $5,000
2008Colposcopies for women with abnormal Pap test results$2,500
2010Distribute birth control to women & girls as young as 13$5,000
2011HIV test kits$4,200

Let's hope our city fathers continue with the wise decision they made in 2012.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Al-Qaeda operatives in law enforcement

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

A government that ignores the rule of law is more dangerous than any terrorist or foreign aggressor can ever hope to be.

An Ohio man who spent 13 years in prison for a murder that DNA testing later proved he didn't commit was crying as a federal jury found that two police detectives violated his civil rights by coercing and falsifying testimony and withholding evidence that pointed to his innocence.

Source: FoxNews.com

Friday, March 8, 2013

Taking another look at immigration reform

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

A lot of the talk about immigration reform is about the political impact of it and how embracing or rejecting reform will impact the chances for Republicans to win elections, but little time is spent on discussing the actual policy merits of it and the moral implications of immigration policy. This is unfortunate because the political ramifications should be a very distant second to discerning what the right thing to do is on this matter.

The first thing to do is look to Scripture. God commands the nation of Israel in Leviticus 19:34 that the "stranger that dwelleth with you" must be treated well, because the Israelites were strangers in the land of Egypt. This means that immigrants - including those who came here illegally - must be treated with respect, and that we must be merciful to them. Unfortunately, this Biblical principle is ignored far too often by the conservative side in the immigration debate.

Now, this does not mean that we need to allow anyone and everyone to come into the country with no limitations on immigration. We certainly need reasonable controls and limits on immigration, for a number of legitimate reasons. Clearly, we need to control our borders, because a country that cannot control its borders is not fulfilling its responsibilities on national security. But we can do this in a way that is humane, respectful and merciful.

It is also clear that we should respect the rule of law, as we see in Romans 13. Illegal immigrants are breaking the law, knowingly and intentionally. (With some exceptions, which I will address next.) We should make it clear that we welcome people into our great melting pot, but that they are required to obey the civil magistrate and come in an orderly manner.

One of the places where we obviously need reform is in how we deal with the children of illegal immigrants. People brought here as children and grow up here are in many cases Americans in every way except for paperwork. Does it make sense to deport them to what is for all intents and purposes a foreign country to them? The way we implement reform on this issue needs to be wise and discerning, but clearly there needs to be some way to grant permanent residency (or perhaps citizenship) to "illegal immigrants" who came here as children and grew up here.

There is also some silliness on the Left, as the Obama administration is conducting training for federal employees that describes the Pilgrims as illegal aliens. This is silly. They could not have been illegal aliens because it was not illegal for them to come here. This is political correctness run wild and the Obama administration should immediately stop distributing this politically-motivated propaganda to federal employees.

You will notice that I did not get much into specifics as to what I think should be implemented. That is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to lay out some general principles - especially from the Word of God, which we should always consult - in how we are to deal with this issue. Above all else, we should be concerned about doing the right thing, not forming public policy based on how we can pick up a few more votes in elections. That is exactly what is wrong with Washington politics these days.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

School of Journalism merger, explained

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 AM (#)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Statistics for setting screens?

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

Should very well-paid NBA players be rewarded in the stats for doing basic fundamental things during the game, or should they be expected to do those things as part of their job, whether it is tracked or not?

Bloggers for the Point Forward and HoopSpeak have put forward an interesting idea - tracking screens in the box score as a way to motivate players to do it more. This is not the most glamorous thing to do, but is often critical to the offense. Should players be officially recognized for it?

Here's the problem. If you're going to go down that road, there are many other basic things that could be tracked in the box score. Challenging a shot, staying in front of your man on defense, cutting off the passing lanes, boxing out for a rebound, diving for a loose ball, taking a charge, or tipping a rebound to a teammate could all be tracked in the box score to provide motivation to do those things... but should they be tracked?

Here is a better solution. Players making seven and eight figure salaries should be expected to do the little things simply because it is their job to do them. You should not expect to be officially recognized for doing the "little things" in a basketball game any more than you should be expected to be officially recognized for the "little things" in any other place of employment. Players should be expected to do the "little things" because they are paid to do it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Celibacy, the priesthood and the authority of Scripture

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

Frank Bruni has an an interesting column about celibacy and the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. However, for all the arguments he makes, he completely misses the point. Human logic, reason and practical concerns should have nothing to do with whether or not Roman Catholic priests are required to be celibate. The only consideration should be what the Word of God has to say about the matter.

The church - whether it be Catholic, Orthodox or any number of Protestant denominations - is not a social club where the rules are decided by what is best for the organization or the membership. The church is the Bride of Christ, devoted to worshiping Him, leading souls to saving faith and working toward the sanctification of believers. The primary authority for the operation of the church is the will of God, given to us in Scripture.

So what does Scripture say about this matter? Does God require that priests be celibate? No, you will not find any support in the Bible for this requirement in the Catholic Church. The Apostle Paul assumes that ministers of the Word will be married, though they may not have more than one wife. (See Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2.) They are required to have well-disciplined children. The requirement for priests to be celibate is a human tradition that is not founded in the Word of God, and Jesus warned against holding to human traditions.

You see, God is practical. That's why He assumes in His Word that ministers of the word and sacrament will be married. He knows that men and women are made to be together (because He made us that way) and very few people have the gift of celibacy. That's also why God inspired the Apostle Paul to write the Corinthians urging husbands and wives to not deprive each other of sex, because of sexual temptation. We should not assume that we are wiser than God by implementing a human tradition that we find nowhere in His Word.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A split within the Monroe County GOP?

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

The Herald-Times wrote the following in an editorial yesterday regarding today's contested caucus for Monroe County Republican party chairman:

As Monroe Republicans head into a leadership caucus this weekend, his own vice chairperson maintains there is a moderate/conservative schism among local party members

I think Ms. Jeffries makes a bigger deal of the "split" than needs to be. And frankly, she increased the divisions in the local party by magnifying it to the paper. It was a very unwise thing to do.

Here's the political reality: You can have party unity or you can have a big tent. You cannot have both. You will never have both. Having a big tent means that you have people in the tent who disagree. And sometimes they will vigorously disagree.

There isn't a lot of daylight between Mr. Hogan and Mr. Hall ideologically, so the conservative/moderate split is not as severe as Ms. Jeffries believes.

The Herald-Times was just stirring the pot asking Mr. Hall about his views on social issues. The MCGOP chairman has virtually nothing to do with the two big social issues of the day, abortion and homosexual "marriage." Neither does local government, and the chairman will spend most of his time helping local candidates. You might as well as him his views on foreign policy.

No, the focus here is organization. Mr. Hall helped organize the most active group of volunteers I have seen in ten years. He focused on getting people to call their precincts, go door to door, etc. Thanks in part to his efforts, straight-ticket GOP voting increased dramatically over 2008.

Local Republicans supporting Mr. Hall believe he has the organizational skills to continue building the party's grassroots and activist base, and that's why they support him.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Blaming the victim and anonymous LTTE

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

In the February 13 Indiana Daily Student, there was a letter to the editor by Michael Barbieri that a number of people found offensive, coming close to (if not explicitly) blaming the victim of a rape for the crime committed against her. A rape survivor wrote a letter to the editor in response criticizing the original letter and the author.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with educating women on how to be safe from sexual assault and how not to put themselves in dangerous situations, any more than it is wrong to educate people about keeping their valuables from being stolen. (Obviously, rape is many orders of magnitude worse than theft.) But there is a fine line where encouraging women to be safe becomes casting blame on the victim for the crimes committed against her.

Both letters have problems. The first letter complains that the victim " is portrayed as a completely innocent victim who had no part in the events which occurred" and that "she had a role to play in the assault as well." In the story he is responding to, the victim acted unwisely - taking a man she had just met back to her home to "make out." But acting in an unwise manner does not equate to having a "role" in the crime committed against her. There is only one person responsible for forcing sex on the victim, and no one else played a role - the blame belongs only to the rapist.

The second letter has problems too. Barbieri clearly said that the man "should go to jail." The LTTE submitted by "Rachel" in response argued that "nothing a rape survivor could have or could not have done justifies being raped." She continued to accuse Barbieri of holding the belief that "men are superior to women, and that women are only here for men’s sexual desires." Barbieri did not say anything of the sort in his letter - "Rachel" is making a lot of assumptions without any evidence. It is unfortunate that the IDS allowed those specific accusations against Barbieri to be printed without evidence to back them up.

But that is not my primary problem with this LTTE. My primary problem is that "Rachel" was permitted to be anonymous. The editor's note on the LTTE explained that the IDS does not publish the full names of sexual assault victims due to their code of ethics. In most other situations, this is perfectly fine. In this case, "Rachel" is harshly criticizing another individual by name, and yet is not required to reveal her own name.

I have long been critical of anonymity on the Internet, as the lack of accountability enables and encourages people to say things they would never say if they were held accountable by name in a public forum. One of the advantages that a newspaper's LTTE section has over online comments is that if you are going to criticize someone else by name, you have to subject yourself to the same level of criticism.

It is fine to allow rape survivors who are telling their stories to remain anonymous, as they can be performing a public service by speaking out - even anonymously. But criticizing someone by name in the newspaper is another matter entirely. This was a bad call by the Indiana Daily Student. They should have told "Rachel" that she either needs to allow her full name to be published or her letter would not be printed.