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Friday, May 31, 2013

Planned Parenthood should not get corporate welfare

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

But this was not just a defeat for Indiana’s legislation. This was a defeat for state sovereignty and another expansion of federal power at the expense of the states and the people. Once again, the federal government is telling us how we must manage our own affairs and is taking away a little more of our right to self-government.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Observations on Yahoo buying Tumblr

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

Yahoo created quite a bit of interest when they announced they were buying Tumblr. Yahoo has tried to get into the social media game before, with the aborted Yahoo 360 effort, but that fizzled quickly and was never a serious threat to the supremacy of MySpace (which has since declined) and Facebook. Tumblr is a popular service, especially with Millennials, so Yahoo is obviously hoping that this will launch them back into the top tier with Facebook and Google.

Here are three things that Yahoo can do to improve Tumblr:

  • Add a native comment system. Tumblr users can install Disqus, but there is no native comment system for the platform. Yahoo already has comments enabled for their Yahoo News articles, so this is the most obvious solution. Now that Google has enabled Google Plus comments for Blogger, this would be a step to help Tumblr compete.
  • Add a "Theme Builder" so users can design a theme without knowing HTML or Tumblr's specific code for various types of posts. Google's Blogger already has this feature if you upgrade your blog to the new format. WordPress.com, another popular blog hosting service, only allows users to pick from a series of templates. Pre-built templates, a theme builder application and allowing users to build their own template by hand would be a perfect storm of features.
  • Allow Tumblr blogs to import posts and comments from other blogs so people who have been blogging for some time with another service do not lose their archives when they move to Tumblr. Other blogging services already allow this, and more people using other services might make the jump to Tumblr if they did not have to start from scratch.

Tumblr is a unique blogging platform, combining features of Twitter and Facebook with a traditional blogging service, plus multiple different types of post templates (text, video, links and pictures) and an easy-to-use interface. Adding a few more features could make it a big plus for Yahoo. Hopefully, they will not drop the ball.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reality check on the GOP of 1996

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

Back in 1996, when I was 23 years old, I said in an editorial for the Indiana Daily Student that Bob Dole was too moderate. I was far from the only one grumbling about him being too moderate. Criticism of Dole from the right is not new, regardless of what Rachel Maddow thinks.

County government throws $22,000 down the drain

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

On May 17, the County Commissioners approved a request by the Monroe County Council to pay a former county employee $22 per hour for 1000 hours of work as a contract employee working on the county budget.

It could have been worse, and the attention paid to it by members of the public has probably been a factor in mitigating the damage. The council originally wanted a full-time staff position. The salary for that would certainly be significantly more than $22,000 a year and would also bring in costs such as unemployment insurance, retirement benefits and health insurance. None of that is the case here, and that is a good thing.

But this is still an unnecessary, wasteful expense and I am very disappointed in the two Republicans on the council for voting for it. I realize they cannot stop it but they need to vote like Republicans rather than go along with this wasteful spending. If they do not oppose things like this, what is the point of electing Republicans at all? (In fairness, the two of them are generally solid votes for fiscal sanity. Both of them completely dropped the ball here, though.)

The underlying problem is that the county council (with a 5-2 Democratic majority) clearly does not have confidence in the Democratic Auditor to fill the need they have for budget analysis, despite the fact that this is a basic responsibility of the Auditor's Office. Under the previous two Democratic Auditors, this was certainly justified. But this position was being debated when the newly-elected Auditor had been in office for less than two months. I have been very critical of Steve Saulter (and I stand by that criticism) but let's allow him a chance to fix the problems in his office before we wastefully throw money at the problem.

It has been said that the Auditor is underpaid relative to similar positions (such as Bloomington's city controller) and that reduces the number of qualified candidates willing to run for the position, especially given the charged partisan nature of elections and the personal attacks on candidates. But this position should not be elected at all. No reputable private business hires a CFO based on the results of a partisan election. They hire the best person for the job after a thorough vetting process. The structure of county government is stuck in the 19th Century and badly needs reform.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cancer prevention and celebrity worship

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

On May 14, a famous actress wrote an editorial in the New York Times about her decision to have a preemptive double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer. While I applaud this actress for sharing her story as a means of educating the public about this procedure and the genetic abnormality that put her at a higher risk for cancer - discussing one's medical issues in public is not an easy thing to do - I am disappointed (but completely unsurprised) that the news media has focused on her as a celebrity instead of the issue itself.

The issue itself is an important one for the media to cover, and educating the public about it can save lives. Women carrying the BRCA1 genetic abnormality are at a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer and it is good for the media to educate the public about it. The subject is not the problem - the focus is.

What this represents is our culture's idolatry of celebrity. The "news" stories have downplayed the medical issue and relevant details about it - such as what research is being done into cancer prevention and public policy that is addressing it - in favor of discussing the medical history and personal life of a popular actress. The news media has done a disservice to viewers and readers by doing this.

Of course, the reason that this important issue is being covered as a celebrity story instead of a medical story is because celebrities are the gods of modern American culture. It is a failure of the church that we are not warned against and taught about how idolatry involves much more than simply bowing down before a carved wood or stone image. As is the case with so many of our public sins, the blame for it can be laid directly at the feet of pastors and church officers who simply refuse to put God's no alongside His yes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

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

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Does Barack Obama realize he is the President?

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

After being interrupted by a Code Pink protester during a speech on national security, President Barack Obama said this:

Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I'm willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.

Seriously, President Obama?


Are you campaigning for office, or are you the President of the United States? You could end the force-feeding policy with the stroke of a pen, yet you speak about it as if it was still 2008, when you were a U.S. Senator running for President instead of a President who was re-elected to a second four-year term in November of last year.

Take some responsibility for your policies, man!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Disclosing money in politics is good for democracy

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

Because so-called “Super PACs” and other groups have been a larger part of the last few election cycles – and will likely expand their influence in 2014 and 2016 – it is important for voters to know who is funding these groups as elected officials will be influenced by the support they are getting from those groups, either in the form of negative or positive campaign advertisements. This is true even though campaigns are usually prohibited from coordinating with outside groups – it is human nature to view your supporters in a favorable light.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Of course Rush Limbaugh is still relevant.

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

Dean Obeidallah asks if Rush Limbaugh is still relevant, and the answer to that question is obvious - yes. This is a silly question. Limbaugh is the most popular radio talk show host in the nation with millions of viewers daily and an estimated 20 million people tune into Limbaugh's program at some point during the week. (It would be interesting to see how many people listen only electronically - I have listened via my Rush 24/7 subscription exclusively for the past four years.) Someone with an audience of that size is not irrelevant.

Limbaugh is far and away the most popular radio talk show host in the country. President Obama whined last week that Republicans are afraid to work with him for fear of what Limbaugh will say about them. Obama has spent a lot of time whining about Limbaugh for the last four years, much like the previous Democratic President, Bill Clinton. When the President of the United States is whining about your criticism of him, you can be assured that you are anything but irrelevant.

Leftists have been fantasizing for years about Limbaugh being marginalized or even forced off the radio. When Clinton was elected, Leftists squealed with delight that it meant Limbaugh would me marginalized, and when George W. Bush took office people wondered what Limbaugh would complain about. Limbaugh has continued to be Limbaugh, and he has maintained his loyal audience. While a sustained campaign by Leftists against Limbaugh's advertisers has had an effect, it is obvious that advertisers who drop Limbaugh are doing so for political rather than business reasons - Limbaugh's audience numbers are proof enough of that.

In fact, if Limbaugh was not relevant you would not see people like Obeidallah "questioning" (actually fantasizing about) Limbaugh's relevance. The reality here is that a large number of Leftists are intolerant of any dissent and are desperate to silence those who dare oppose them and their agenda. They have not been able to do with federal action because the First Amendment has so far blocked their path, so they have tried other means. They won't succeed - and that drives them to distraction.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homelessness is not the new civil rights struggle

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

My posts at Hoosier Access are going to be exclusive to HA from this point forward.

Putting advocacy for the homeless on the same level as fighting for civil rights for blacks is absurd and insults the memory of those who fought for those rights. Yet modern-day activists in Bloomington see themselves as the heirs to the civil rights struggle and are determined to stand against "oppression" from "The Man."

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Planned Parenthood presents their request for a handout

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

Planned Parenthood reported a profit of $351,883 in their fiscal report, but that did not prevent them from going to the Bloomington City Council to request $5,000 in corporate welfare. Since a total of $383,786 was requested from a fund that will distribute $257,500 to local social service agencies, giving more corporate welfare to PP will deprive local social service agencies that truly need the money from getting a grant that could help them in their mission.

Theoretically, the Hopkins fund is supposed to help with one-time requests. Some of the requests by the other organizations include heating and cooling systems, replacement of carpet, refrigeration units and repairs to the facility. The council has said in the past that the fund is not to be used for operational expenses of the organizations. Let's be honest here - this request, like many before it, is to subsidize Planned Parenthood's operational expenses.

In the past few years, PP has requested money for things such as colposcopies, HIV test kits, and distributing birth control - things that PP does all the time. In the past, PP requested money for things such as a medical exam table, an autoclave and office furniture. While they have never needed the money, at least PP was going along with the spirit of the funds. Now, they are asking for funding for the purpose of asking for funding. This is not a legitimate request. They want a political endorsement from the City Council.

This is an abuse of the process and an insult to both the taxpayers and the other social service organizations and it is long past time for this farce to end. Planned Parenthood is far too childish to stop going to the City Council with their bloodstained hands out, so our city fathers need to tell them "no." The council should tell PP they can apply, but they will not be funded and they will not be invited to present. It is time to de-politicize the Hopkins fund.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back to classic template...

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

I decided to revert to a classic template as I really do not like the "upgraded" templates on Blogger. This means Google Plus comments are not currently possible, however. Since I am not a huge fan of BlogSpot's comment system, I will look into what I can do to install Disqus on the classic template.

6:35 p.m. Update: Disqus has been installed, but comments are not synced. Existing Blogger comments are still there and I will be updating the template with a link to those comments.

Barack Obama is not an American!

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

Despite the whining from the Obama administration, Republicans are right to pursue the truth about the disaster in Benghazi on September 11 last year. The American people deserve the full truth about what happened in Benghazi and the Obama administration needs to explain why they made such despicable statements taking the side of the terrorists who murdered our ambassador.

A shocking part of the story is that military personnel were ready to go to the aid of the embattled consulate and were told to "stand down." (See here and here and here.) Obama apologists have whined that there was not enough time to intervene.

Bovine feces.

There are only two ways to know there is "not enough time" to react in an emergency situation. You can look back in hindsight and realize you would not have made it, or you can attempt to intervene and not get there in time. There is no shame in attempting to rescue the Americans under attack and be unable to do so, but it is inexcusable and morally depraved to not even try. I do not believe there was any conspiracy here, but the response was so badly bungled that Obama should personally apologize for it.

Of course, the Obama administration knew that the Benghazi attack was a preplanned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous response to a stupid YouTube video insulting Islam. So why lie about it? Why send failed Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice to lie about it on the Sunday talk show circuit? What could possibly be gained by lying about why our embassy was attacked and why our people were murdered? What was the agenda behind these lies? Americans know that Muslim terrorists hate us and want to do us harm, especially on September 11. Obama would not be blamed for an organized and preplanned, terrorist attack. So why claim it was a spontaneous protest?

What is plain to see is that there is a dark and sinister agenda behind these lies - an attack on free speech. Obama and Hillary Clinton rushed to damn the silly YouTube video, siding with the Muslim terrorists who demanded it be censored and that the maker be punished. The fact that Obama rushed to side with the terrorists and agree with our enemies about how "terrible" and "offensive" this video was - even going to the frightening extreme of pressuring Google to take it down - shows that Barack Obama is not an American. He does not believe in the liberties this nation was founded to protect - and neither does Hillary Clinton.

See previous blog posts here and here and here and here and here and here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thunderstorms are scary!!

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

I was reading the news on my iPod Touch when Nano came into the room. He never jumps up in my lap uninvited unless he is REALLY scared of something. Thunder completely freaks him out and he really needed to be held. So he jumped up. Poor Nano. Life is hard.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Planned Parenthood's tiresome demands for welfare

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, May 17, 2013. (Comments)

To the Editor:

When Planned Parenthood applied for another handout from the city's Jack Hopkins social services fund last year, the city council rejected the request and instead disbursed the limited funds available to other organizations. It was a wise and fiscally prudent decision that should be repeated this year.

In the report currently available on Planned Parenthood of Indiana's website, they report $14,336,668 in revenue and $13,984,785 in expenses - a profit of $351,883. Do they really need another $5,000 handout from Bloomington's city government? Clearly, the answer is no.

This annual game by PP is tiresome and disrespectful. Every year, they go to our representatives with their hands out, depriving other social service agencies that actually do need financial help with their cynical effort to get a political endorsement from the city council.

In just four years between 2008 and 2011, there were 3,213 abortions in Monroe County - an average of over 800 per year according to the Indiana Department of Health. That is over three thousand precious lives exterminated - a tragic number that illustrates why not one dime of taxpayer dollars should go to the Planned Parenthood abortion "clinic," whether or not the money goes to abortion "services."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Obama’s obvious hypocrisy on AP phone records

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:52 AM (#)

Connect the dots...

Obama could have simply issued an executive order instructing federal law enforcement not to look into journalists’ phone records without following the procedures he claims to support... there is nothing preventing the Obama administration from voluntarily restraining itself between now and 2017.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thoughts on the new Google Plus comment system

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

I have experimented with other platforms, but I have ultimately decided that Google's Blogger is the blog platform that best meets what I want to do with my blog. If I had the whole thing to do over again from back in 2003, I would have stuck with Blogger the entire time instead of jumping around.

Blogger's comment system has needed an upgrade for some time now. You can use third party commenting systems such as Disqus and IntenseDebate with Blogger, but Blogger's commenting system itself has been stuck in the past for a while now. Google has finally stepped up with the new Google Plus commenting system. As cool as it is, though, I cannot help but think of this as a huge missed opportunity.

When Google Plus launched two years ago, there was some huge buzz surrounding it. I signed up right away but I didn't do anything with it for several months. Google eventually allowed you to merge your BlogSpot profile with your Google Plus profile, and you were given the option of posting to G+ when you posted something to your blog... but posts would not be shared on your G+ profile automatically. Furthermore, Google never opened its API to allow things like Hootsuite, Twitterfeed or NetworkedBlogs to post automatically to a G+ profile.

Google Plus has a large number of users, but it has not come anywhere close to challenging Facebook's supremacy in social networking. Part of the reason for this is the bungled rollout for the service. Blogger already had a large user base, so G+ should have had full compatibility with Blogger the day it launched when the buzz was the highest. Had this been done then, that would have had a much bigger impact than it has to this point.

It does not help that the "circles" system on Google Plus is not at all intuitive like "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter. "Circles" does not pass the "grandmother" test - if your grandmother cannot figure it out in less than a couple minutes, you need to simplify it. I consider myself to be a tech-savvy person, and it took me a while to wrap my head around the "circles" concept on Google Plus. I still don't think I can explain it in ten words or less.

As to the comment system itself: It is really cool but it definitely needs improvement - especially if Google wants the comment system to challenge other third-party comment systems for platforms like WordPress. (There is a Google Plus plugin for WordPress.)You must have a Google account to comment using the Google Plus comment system, while Disqus and IntenseDebate allow you to log in using an existing account with another service. There is no way to comment without logging in, which is allowed by Disqus and IntenseDebate and even Blogger's old comment system. This should be fixed right away before people lose interest.

The integration of comments with Google Plus is really cool though, and shows some real potential. If I share a post on my Google Plus profile, it shows up as a comment on the blog, and any comments to my post on Google Plus also show up on the blog. Furthermore, if someone else shares the post on Google Plus, it also shows up as a comment on my blog, as to the comments to that post on Google Plus. This accomplishes two things: It allows you to see comments from multiple sources in one place and can be used to increase traffic to the blog.

It actually gets better. The cross-platform comments between Blogger and Google Plus is retroactive! So if you shared a post from your BlogSpot blog on Google Plus in December 2011, all of the comments on that post now show up as comments on the blog. Now that is really cool and a very nice feature.

Like I said before, this commenting system should have been implemented two years ago when interest in Google Plus was at its peak. That said, if Google makes it possible to comment without logging into Google, and more heavily promotes it as a commenting system, this could help overcome the bumbling manner in which Google Plus was launched - but the opportunity to maximize the new social network's reach has been lost forever.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Final Fantasy V for iOS - First Impressions

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

Though I do not have nearly as much time to play video games as I did a year and a half ago, I have been a big fan of Square-Enix role-playing games for a while now. Final Fantasy VI (released for the Super NES as Final Fantasy III) is my favorite game of all time and Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece. I had played the Game Boy Advance version of Final Fantasy V but never got all that far, so I purchased the game for the iPod Touch.

Right off the bat: The biggest complaint about this adaptation of FFV is that the controls are "broken." I agree. It does not ruin the game, but it can be very annoying. This, like the 8-bit and 16-bit versions that came before and after, is meant to be played with a four-direction control pad, not in eight directions. Making it eight-direction makes it too easy to get hung up on doors and environmental hazards that were easy to avoid on consoles are more difficult to avoid on the touch screen - especially without the tactile sensation of the control pad on your thumb.

Like I said, this does not ruin the game. This is not a fast-reaction game where precise control is required, like a platformer would be. Your challenge here is strategy and figuring our where to go and what to do, as well as making sure your party is sufficiently leveled up and equipped for the task ahead. However, this would definitely be a better game if you moved in four directions. Perhaps Square-Enix can release an update allowing this option, but this mistake definitely needs to be avoided if Final Fantasy VI is to be released for mobile devices.

Unlike the game immediately preceding and following this one, there are very few characters - only five of them. Final Fantasy IV had 11 characters and Final Fantasy VI had 14. To make up for this, there are a number of "jobs" that you can master. You can even carry skills over from job to job - you can have a Knight who hurls black magic spells or a Monk who can use the "Jump" command. The possibilities are not infinite, but it will feel that way.

Twenty years ago, a game like this would have sold for $60 for the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis - and when you factor inflation it is even more. So while $16 may seem like a lot in the App Store, it actually is not. If you are a fan of role-playing games, I would recommend downloading this one. It is well worth it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Activism for a cause or activism for fun?

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

Are homeless advocates in Bloomington serious about solving the problem of homelessness, or are they satisfied with making themselves feel morally superior? What is the endgame of this activism?

Last week, several activists were arrested when they camped out in a parking garage. They had signs with slogans such as "Sleeping is a human right," mirroring a similar protest the previous week where they laid sleeping bags in the hallway and camped out during a City Council meeting. A couple days before that, the city ordered Occupy Bloomington to remove a tent they had erected for the homeless after complaints from neighbors about trespassing, vandalism and "verbal confrontations." After the parking garage protest, a friend posted on Facebook on Tuesday morning that the garage "had vomit and fecal matter in it this morning."

I understand the concern that homeless activists have, and the frustration they have with city government. But from the way they are behaving - making a spectacle of themselves in city hall, a downtown march after their tent was removed and getting arrested for squatting on city property - it appears they are much more interested in being activists for the sake of being activists than they are in actually working to reduce the problem of homelessness in Bloomington. They have managed to make themselves feel morally superior to city officials, but what concrete steps are they willing to take?

One of the main concerns appears to be the lack of a low-barrier shelter - meaning a shelter that does not turn people away because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While people addicted to drugs or alcohol also have physical needs, it is those very addictions that are major contributors to homelessness in the first place. The problem is much more complicated than simply providing a temporary structure. The most loving and compassionate option is to train the homeless to be self sufficient.

There are often beds available in traditional shelters.

Furthermore, with as many people participating in the marches and other forms of protest, they should be able to pool their money to at least begin the process of fundraising to establish the kind of shelter they are advocating. But if I may be cynical, that work is a thankless behind-the-scenes task that does not generate publicity or allow activists to claim moral superiority in the streets or on the Internet. If activists are truly interested in helping the homeless, some of the effort that now goes to activism should be instead funneled into concrete solutions.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This man is my hero

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Children are a blessing...

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

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. -- Psalm 127:3

One of the biggest challenges the pro-life movement has as it attempts to reduce (and eventually criminalize) abortion is the popular view that children are not a blessing from the Lord (as God tells us in His Word) but that they are a burden, a hindrance and maybe even a curse. Barack Obama famously said a few years ago that if his daughters "make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." A new life is not a precious thing, but a punishment.

There are certainly other problems we have to deal with - one them being that a lot of people simply do not know what abortion really is - but even that is less of an issue than the basic orientation of our culture against children. We see this in our pop culture and our Internet memes, and we see it in our political debates. We see it from feminists who argue that unless women have the right to kill their children they cannot have the same rights as men.

Children do bring challenges. Waking up at 3:00 am to change and feed a baby can play havoc with your body and sleep schedule - something I became very familiar with 15 months ago. The child needs to be fed, cared for, changed and dressed, and taken to the doctor. No one is saying it is all hugs and laughs. Furthermore, undisciplined children can indeed be a burden - though well-trained children are a joy to be around.

But the basic problem is that we are trying to stop the termination of an innocent life when all of American culture is telling us that babies are bad. We hear a never ending drumbeat of claims that babies are bad for our independence and our quality of life, they are bad for the environment and they are bad for the economy. As long as we're fighting a culture oriented toward hedonism, we are not getting to the root of our problem.

The solution, as usual, is with the church - because the church is the problem. The church has said that the God we supposedly worship is a liar and our post-Christian culture is telling us the truth. We need to reject the teachings of these false prophets and demand our shepherds be faithful to God and His Word.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Most adorable baby ever:

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:30 PM (#)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The simple dog's adventure

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

The story of the simple dog's adventure at Hyperbole and a Half had me laughing so hard it literally brought me to tears when I first saw it a couple years ago. The simple dog reminds me very much of Nano, who is also not very bright. Nano also has sudden unexplained phobias of random things.

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's open line Friday!

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

It's open line Friday! Any topic is fair game for the comments in this post. If you have any questions for me, or any topic you wish to discuss, have at it.

The idea is shamelessly stolen from Rush Limbaugh.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trusting in God

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

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

Fifteen years ago today, I graduated from Indiana University. This coming August, it will be twenty years since I moved to Bloomington to begin my college career. (I took an extra semester to graduate, and lost an entire semester when I had to drop out to deal with having cancer.) My life today is not what I had imagined it would be in 1993 or 1998. Instead, it is far better than I expected. God's plan for my life was far better than mine.

Four years ago, when I was contemplating the ten year anniversary of moving back to Bloomington as a "townie" instead of as a student, I was floored when I saw how God's plan for my life had unfolded. It amazed me how one thing had led directly to another to put me in a wonderful position. Even a particularly disappointing hardship I experienced was necessary for God to open a different door in order to put me in a better place.

The path that I have traveled is not something I could have possibly planned myself. The only explanation is that my Father was guiding my life. Through the last fifteen years (and indeed the last twenty years) I have seen how God's loving discipline in my life has been necessary for me in so many ways. I look back at God shattering my pride and arrogance, especially when I was doing something I swore I would never do again - because I was "too good" for that. I could almost feel Jesus standing at my side saying "You're not too good for that after all, are you?"

Trust God. When things happen that you do not think you can handle, and when life takes a turn that you do not expect and did not plan, trust Him. Our Father loves us and His sovereign will is perfect.

I cannot (and will not) say that everything will work out for the best from a human standpoint. We are not better than our Master, who was brutally tortured to death by the Roman authorities after being handed over by His own people. We are not better than the Apostles, who suffered brutal deaths for their faith in Jesus Christ. We are not better than the countless Christians who have suffered for their faith over the last two thousand years.

We may lose our children, our health, or our homes, and we may suffer in many other ways. If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is this - the blessings I have in my life (including the incredible blessing of being a father) are not things that I have earned and are certainly not things I deserve. Even my own earthly "accomplishments" are a gift from God because He is the one who gave me the talent to do those things. Whether we are comfortable or suffering, God loves us, God is faithful, and we should always trust Him.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This is why we can't have nice things

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

ClashDaily.com sent out their "Liberal Chick" parody to get students to sign a petition to ban pressure cookers. In the state of Florida, a 16-year-old girl is facing felony charges for an unauthorized science experiment on school grounds that caused a reaction that was not much more severe than mixing vinegar and baking soda.

This is literally insane. We live in a nation of paranoid, hysterical wimps.

Regarding the pressure cookers, a friend of mine mentioned recently that the improper use of a tool does not invalidate it's proper use. I thought at first he was overreacting with the example he used, that no one would be that stupid. It turns out that many people - including university students who are supposed to be the future leaders of America - actually are that stupid. There is no reason to ban product (pressure cookers) that presents no inherent danger because some people have criminally misused the product. But given the hysteria surrounding over-the-counter cold remedies, I never should have doubted him.

So do I really need to comment further on this nonsense? How far are we going to go to eliminate common household items that could be used criminally? Are we going to have to invent heat-resistant Nerf skillets so that we can ban the use of metal skillets? After all, a heavy metal skillet can cause quite a bit of damage - and may even be lethal - if you bash someone over the head with it.

As to the other case, if this were 25 years ago Kiera Wilmot would have been dressed down by the principal and (hopefully) her parents for making a foolish decision, and may have been suspended from school. Perhaps she might have even faced a citation from the civil magistrate to drive the point home. The punishment would have been reasonable and proportional to the offense. In today's insane world, she is charged with a felony and could have this mistake haunt her for the rest of her life, including future employment opportunities.

If I was the governor of Florida, I would announce that if she is convicted I will immediately pardon her. I would also do whatever I could to end the employment of the law enforcement and school officials responsible for this nonsense and cut off every penny of state funding to the school and law enforcement agencies - including salaries for anyone paid by the state. Cutting off the money is the most effective way to terrorize government officials into not abusing their authority.

The best solution, though, is for everyone to grow up and not react hysterically to every little thing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No corporate welfare for the merchants of death

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

The following is an open letter to the Bloomington City Council.


I am writing you to once again express my opposition to Planned Parenthood's request for funding through the city's John Hopkins social services funding program. I would like to draw your attention to two statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives:

When Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa LaPolt Snow was asked what should happen to a baby that survives an abortion and is born alive, she said "We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician."

This is shocking extremism. While I oppose abortion, there are well-intentioned people who legitimately believe the fetus is not a "person" and does not have the rights that go along with "personhood." But Planned Parenthood's ideology is so extreme that they actually believe it should be legal to kill a newborn baby. This is no different from the practices in the house of horrors operated by notorious butcher Kermit Gosnell. Should city government really be funding an organization that embraces such extremist ideology, that is so radically out of the mainstream even in famously liberal Bloomington?

CNN.com reports that Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said "Age barriers to emergency contraception are not supported by science, and they should be eliminated." This is also shocking extremism. Richards (and by extension Planned Parenthood) is openly lobbying for the government to take away parental authority and violate the God-given right and responsibility of parents to protect their daughters from sexual predators. This is the ultimate "nanny state" move by government, and Planned Parenthood's support of it demonstrates their lack of trust in and respect for American families.

Again, is an organization with such extremist views something that city taxpayers should be supporting?

My other objections should be familiar to you. In my letter to you last year, I pointed out that Planned Parenthood of Indiana reported taking in over $900,000 more than they spent in what was then their most recent fiscal report. In the report currently available on PPIN's website, they report $14,336,668 in revenue and $13,984,785 in expenses - a profit of $351,883. Do they really need another $5,000 handout from city government, given the amount of money they have. I do not need to remind you that many local charities who are seeking funds from you do not have the backing of a highly profitable state and national organization.

The only reason they are seeking a grant is to get a political endorsement from city government. This is shameful. They are showing a grave disrespect to the taxpayers of Bloomington and the other social service organizations by seeking funding they do not need and could be much more helpful were it given to a worthy organization that actually needs it.

A year ago, Planned Parenthood's request for funding was not approved by the city council. I thank you and praise you for making this wise and fiscally prudent decision. I respectfully ask you to make the same decision in 2013 and reject PP's request for funding.

Scott Tibbs
Resident of City Council District I.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Authoritarian Leftists and censorship of abortion opponents

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

It is interesting how often Leftists try to silence dissent, demonstrating their authoritarian streak and the lack of confidence they have in the validity of their own positions. In the comments for my letter to the editor (which had nothing to do with abortion) last month, the following three comments were posted:

The First Amendment is a one-way promise from the Federal Government to the People and the Press. It imposes no requirement on the Press. It should not be misinterpreted by any Editor as requiring an equal voice to every jackass in the community.

Who is the HT responsible to? Its readership?

The question before the Editor is this: is it reasonable for the HT to continue to provide a podium for Tibbs to continue to attack the women’s clinic in our community? When is enough, enough?
I think it should be HT policy, forthwith, that in light of the alleged violent attack on the women's clinic in our community, the HT and the HTO will no longer facilitate any type of attack, dialog, or whatever, on Planned Parenthood, or settled law, regarding the right of women to seek legally protected medical services. Enough is enough.
I think what the HT has to decide is whether or not they feel they are being used by this individual and his "church" to incite violence against women and homosexuals, or if it is merely a speech issue. Given the amount of times this individual spews his hatred on these pages and links back to his own extremist, hate filled blog, I fear that the HT is just being used as a vehicle to incite the kind of violence we saw perpetrated against PP.

Again, it is interesting to note that my letter to the editor had nothing to do with abortion. I used the 20th anniversary of the massacre of the Branch Davidian cultists in Waco to warn against the use of force by government - not only with the use of military force (including tanks) against the Branch Davidians but also paramilitary tactics by local law enforcement. The overuse and abuse of SWAT teams has terrorized many and resulted in unnecessary deaths for both law enforcement and (much more often) innocent civilians - including children.

So, in the comments for a letter that had nothing to do with abortion or Planned Parenthood, why are local Leftists publicly lobbying the Herald-Times to ban me from commenting on HeraldTimesOnline.com and stop publishing my letters to the editor in the print edition?

What is evident here is, once again, the totalitarian wing of the Left cannot abide any dissent. (Though to be fair, other Leftists disagreed with the above calls for censorship.) They clearly do not have confidence in the validity of their own arguments, or they would not be openly advocating for censorship of arguments they dislike. It is typical behavior of the authoritarian Left, as we have seen with illegal "speech codes" on college campuses for decades now. Speech the authoritarian Left dislikes must not only be countered, it must be silenced.

The whining about "violence" against Planned Parenthood (or abortion providers generally) is a fraudulent smokescreen. No one at my church is inciting violence against anyone, and I have been very clear for many years that violence in the name of stopping abortion is not acceptable. If the authoritarian Left was serious about rhetoric "inciting" violence, they would silence their own advocacy of abortion rights and criticism of abortion opponents. After all, the violence against actual people at Planned Parenthood has been perpetrated by pro-abortion terrorists.

The reality is actually very simple. Advocates of "abortion rights" know they are advocating for the "right" to commit a terrible evil. Their consciences are tormented by this, so they want to silence any speech that exposes this evil.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Google Plus comments

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:15 AM (#)

Google Plus comments have been enabled for the blog. Now when I share a post on Google Plus, any comments under that post will automatically appear as comments on the blog post that was shared. You will need a Google account to post, though I am not sure if you need to have a Google Plus profile or not. I experimented last night with a brand new "dummy" account that did not have a Google Plus profile, and it created a Google Plus profile automatically when I tried to post a comment.

As always, please follow the comment guidelines.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Russia and Chechnya

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

Russian rule over Chechnya is a holdover from the days of Soviet imperialism and we should take what the Russians say about it with a grain if salt - not that what they are saying isn't true but we certainly should not blindly accept it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

We need to stay out of Syria

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

The world will be a much better place when evil Syrian tyrant Bashir Assad is dead. It is possible (though not certain by any means) that the Syrian people will be better off if and when his regime falls - especially if he is using chemical weapons against his own people, as is suspected. But should the U.S. intervene militarily?

The answer is no.

We do not have a vital national security interest in the outcome of Syria's civil war - certainly not one that requires that we spill the blood of American soldiers to shift the outcome in a way that we currently see as preferable. We need to be careful that we are not simply replacing one tyrant with another. As terrible as the Assad regime has been, revenge is human nature and we can expect retaliation if his opponents take power. That probably will not be confined to the actual perpetrators of war crimes against civilians.

Our lack of a vital national security interest is what makes the remarks by John Boehner so irresponsible. Boehner accused President Obama of "outsourcing" our national security to the United Nations. As evil as it is for Assad to use chemical weapons against civilians, that is not a threat to our national security. Boehner's political grandstanding and exaggeration of the threat is not helpful.

Obama said months ago that use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" that would require a response from these United States - but he was not clear what that response would be. It was a bad gamble by Obama. As Assad grows increasingly desperate to hold onto power, the odds that he would ramp up force on his own people grows. After all, Assad knows what happened to Moammar Gadhafi when the Libyan rebels won their civil war. By laying down a "red line," Obama set the stage for us to get involved in another nation's civil war (where we do not have a national security interest) or to have our credibility damaged by issuing empty threats.

If we have a national security interest here, that interest is to keep it from spreading to other nations, as well as preventing either side from threatening our allies, such as Turkey and Israel. That should be our focus here. But we cannot be the world's policeman and we have sacrificed too much blood and treasure (and brought too much hatred and resentment upon on ourselves) by appointing ourselves to that role.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fundamentalism is not the problem

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

While both are evil, it is absolutely absurd to equate "Christians" who assassinate abortionists with Muslim terrorists. The number of people murdered by Muslim terrorists is exponentially higher than the number of abortionists murdered by "Christian" abortion opponents. It is not "fundamentalism" generically that is the problem in this War on Terror. It is Islamic fundamentalism.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Junk science and moral responsibility

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

I found two statements about "scientific research" in the news media objectionable last week. First, an editorial in the Herald-Times about an IU sorority that was roundly criticized for holding a party that mocked the homeless:

According to Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, these kids didn’t yet have the ability to think properly about their idea. Research shows the brain develops such abilities later than you might think — between the teens and the mid 20s.

This is nonsense. Age does not excuse bad behavior. Furthermore, these young women are not "kids." They are legal adults and perfectly capable of knowing right from wrong.

Then, a report from ABC News about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's role in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing:

Now, science has confirmed that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. The brain develops from back to front – from the emotional limbic system first to the rational frontal precortex last.

This is not legitimate "science." This is junk science.

I have been 19 years old. Well before I was 19, I knew that setting off a bomb in a crowd and murdering an eight year old child was a morally reprehensible thing to do.

I am 39 years old. in my decades of observing human behavior in children and teens (as well as my own teen years, which were not that long ago) it is obvious that from a very early age people understand what is right and wrong. This is well before one becomes a legal adult at age 18.

Here is the problem I have with this "research." It is part of trend in our society for many years to reduce moral responsibility for bad behavior. Instead of moral judgment for bad acts, we make the decisions people make a product of chemical reactions or a bad social environment during childhood. We do not want to judge bad behavior and we certainly do not want to point out that anything is sinful or that there is some sort of higher moral code.

This is a symptom that we as a society have rejected Almighty God and His authority over us. Part of our rejection of Him is a rejection of any higher moral authority, a rejection of objective truth, and explaining away immoral choices as the products of forces beyond our control. Ironically, orthodox Christian doctrine as explained in the Bible is much stronger on the doctrine of Free Will than the humanists are.