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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty

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

Eighty percent of the illegal meth in Indiana comes from Mexico, with the remainder produced locally. Yet Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury wants to further limit the sale of pseudoephedrine, punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty while not even touching 80% of the problem.

From the article in Wednesday's newspaper:

The law was backed the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance.

Of course it was. It gives them more business when it isn't sold over-the-counter.

(Yoder) said someone who needs more than an 8-months supply should probably consult a physician.

So is he willing to pay the cost of the doctor's visit out of his own pocket? I hope Yoder is defeated in the next Republican primary election.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I do not do business with liars!

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

Dear telemarketers: If you mask your phone number like a sniveling, spineless, pathetic coward, what makes you think I would ever want to do business with you? In your very first contact with me, you proved yourself to be a despicable, untrustworthy liar with absolutely no honor or integrity. I do not do business with people I cannot trust.

Friday, June 28, 2013

XBox One, DRM, and the future of consoles

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

Two years ago, I predicted that games for the next generation of consoles - the third Xbox and the fourth PlayStation - would be distributed via digital download instead of physical media. Obviously, I was wrong. But it is worth reviewing Microsoft's major blunders into the world of digital distribution and what it means for gaming.

Microsoft had the right idea with digital distribution, which I maintain is the future of gaming - especially as hard drives get bigger. The current generation of consoles (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii) all have extensive libraries of games that are available via digital download, and games for iOS and Android are distributed only by digital download. The PC game market also relies heavily on digital downloads thanks to services such as Direct2Drive and Steam.

The idea of buying games from the comfort of your living room for your favorite console remains an intriguing possibility, but the reason Microsoft flopped so badly is that they announced it in such a halfhearted manner. Switching to a download-only distribution system would be an innovative change, but that is not what Microsoft did. They proposed digital downloads alongside physical media, and that is what killed it.

People are used to being able to play physical media right out of the box, with no restrictions on the ability to use it. Movies on VHS or DVD, games on cartridges or discs, and music on CD have always had this option with no restrictions. Telling gamers that they have to validate the game they own legally on disc was a surefire way to annoy or even anger them. Cutting off the used game market hurt the idea badly. The fact that Sony kicked Microsoft while it was down by announcing no restrictions on PlayStation discs was the end of the experiment.

It is unfortunate. No one expects to be able to re-sell a game they download from Direct2Drive or Apple's app store. It would have been a transition that most gamers would have been willing to make - especially given the option of accessing your entire game library from a friend's house by logging into your account, or digitally loaning games to friends and family. Where Microsoft failed was being unwilling to go all the way and have games be distributed only by digital download. Restrictions on the use of physical media that people have purchased was a huge blunder.

Between the current generation of consoles, PC gaming and mobile devices, the gaming industry has shown that it is ready for a dedicated game console where you only buy games digitally. Digital distribution is still a possibility for the next generation, but it will have to be implemented slowly and more carefully than Microsoft's haphazard and halfway effort with the Xbox One. It will be interesting to see where digital distribution is in five years.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Understanding why we need due process...

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

When this nation was founded, the men who wrote the Constitution had just fought a war with the world's most powerful empire. They seceded from Great Britain to preserve the blessings of liberty for themselves and the generations that would come after them, and they distrusted government and feared government would abuse its power. Our Constitution reflects the founding fathers' belief in the depravity of man.

They knew the potential for abuse of power was very high in criminal cases, which is why (among other things) the first ten amendments prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, prohibits double jeopardy, makes it illegal to force someone to be a witness against himself, protects the right to a speedy trial and bans excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments. The fact that the founders enshrined protections for those accused of crime in four different amendments to the Constitution is instructive in how much these wise men saw potential for abuse here.

This is why it is so unfortunate to see comments like the ones following in a letter to the editor and story comments for two articles about two men who allegedly planned to rape and murder a random woman.

  • They deserve the death penalty without a trial or should never see daylight again!
  • i agree but theses guys are money in the bank for some attorneys and judges, they will cost millions to prosecute. I think the girls dad can save the county a lot of money.
  • It would be tough to be a peace officer taking these scumbags into custody. I silently hope they can institute some personal justice; when no one is looking.
  • Maybe they will become punching bags for inmates with daughters who have been raped, that would be very good
  • Kill them. Now. In the street. In public. Violently and painfully and slowly. I will buy a ticket at any price to watch. Please. There is no point in "justice" or a trial.
  • Most people hire a lawyer when they have done something wrong or they want to prove that someone else has done something wrong.

I could easily find literally hundreds more similar comments, just in HTO comments - not counting comments on TMNews.com or thousands of other news website comment sections, discussion forums and so forth.

Do people really not understand, as the founders did, the potential for abuse in cases like these and the reason why we have protections for people accused of a crime?

Do they not know about the Central Park Five, who were convicted of brutally beating a woman and sent to prison for a crime they did not commit? Do they not know about Christopher Clugston, an innocent man who spent 13 years in prison before he was cleared - but not before he was gang raped and infected with AIDS? Do they not know about the Duke "University" lacrosse team, who were nearly framed for a fabricated "rape" by thoroughly corrupt prosecutor Mike Nifong in a criminal conspiracy with Crystal Gail Mangum?

There are many more examples other than the three cited above, and you can read about some of them at the Innocence Project's website. Radley Balko has a good series on abuse f power by prosecutors, in addition to his work on the overuse and abuse of paramilitary SWAT teams. Click here and here and here for more.

We have due process not because criminals "deserve" it, but because of the potential for abuse of power by government. God has given us the civil magistrate to protect us from the wicked (see Romans 13:1-4) but we must always remember that the men in charge of government are also corrupted by sin and prone to abusing their authority. A righteous and godly civil magistrate is a blessing, but a wicked civil magistrate is a terrible curse. We have limited government, civil liberties and due process in order to limit the damage sinful men can do if they abuse their authority.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"But now are they many members, yet but one body..."

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

I have been very critical of the church, in general, for not standing more strongly against the wholesale slaughter of unborn children. I stand by this criticism, and I think it is a terrible failure for the Body of Christ to not be a witness against the murder of precious babies made in the image of God. If the church will not speak against the worst mass murder campaign in human history, who will? Certainly not pagans!

It is important, though, that we make a distinction between the body and the members of the body. As the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians chapter 12, there is one Body of Christ, but many members of that body. Not everyone in the church has the same spiritual gifts or the same calling. Some people may be called to stand in front of the abortion mill and witness against the murder that goes on inside, and some may be called to hold the civil magistrate accountable for empowering baby-murder, but not everyone has been called to do that.

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. -- I Corinthians 12:17-18

Some Christians are called to care for the sick or the elderly, some are called to care for the poor, and some are called to counsel and comfort brothers and sisters in Christ. Some are called to administration within the church, and the job of collecting receipts and keeping records may not be one that brings a lot of public praise but it is absolutely essential. It is also important to have people cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the floor, making coffee, taking out the trash and working in the nursery.

It is easy for anti-abortion activists to get frustrated in our work when we do not feel support (and are sometimes openly opposed) by other Christians. But just as the entire body cannot be made up of noses, the Body of Christ has many different people doing many different important things. While the church as a whole should be shamed and rebuked for not standing against well over a million murders in our abortion mills every year, we should be careful not to judge individual Christians who are called to do something different.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A food and beverage tax in Monroe County?

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

The food and beverage tax is crony capitalism at its worst. This is corporate welfare for a project that has not shown to be supported by a market need, by virtue of the fact that the market has not built it. The county council is looking to raise taxes on all of their constituents to benefit a few special interests. The fact that this vote is timed to shut out the voices of the student voters who were critical in electing the Democratic majority in the first place makes it even more shady.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Movie Review: "Man of Steel"

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

The excitement surrounding Man of Steel is palpable and I would recommend it to any fan of action movies and especially superhero movies. The Superman franchise peaked with Superman II but fell off with the third and fourth movies, with the fourth movie being especially bad. After the disastrous movies of the 1990's (specifically Batman and Robin and Steel) and some bad movies in the early 2000's (Catwoman and Superman Returns) DC hit a home run with the Batman movies. Now Man of Steel may do the same for Superman. When I saw it at 10:00 am on a Saturday, the theater was packed.

Let me address a couple criticisms of the movie. First, the scale of destruction in both Smallville and Metropolis has been criticized. That criticism misses the point. The evil Kryptonians were attempting to destroy all life on Earth and make it into a new Krypton. Obviously a machine that would terraform earth would cause a massive amount of destruction. The battle between Superman and the evil Kryptonians would also cause a lot of destruction if these characters existed in the real world. Superman's strength has varied wildly in the comics (he has been known to literally move planets but other writers have toned that down) and characters who are as immensely powerful as Kryptonians are going to cause a lot of collateral damage

Superman killing General Zod was highly controversial, but it makes sense. A female Kryptonian said she would kill millions of people for every one Superman saved, and Zod was trying to incinerate several humans when Superman broke his neck. Sometimes, the only way to save innocent lives is to kill the bad guy. This has happened in the comics too: Superman killed three alternate-universe Kryptonian villains in the comics in the 1980's to prevent them from coming to his universe and exterminating all life on his earth like they did in their universe. That story may or may not have happened (and probably did not) in the post-Flashpoint "New 52" timeline.

My primary problem with Man of Steel is that it is another origin story. It was a well-done origin story, but it did not need to be done. Even people who have never picked up a comic book in their lives know Superman's origin story, as it has become a part of American culture. Why can't we jump right into General Zod and his forces invading Planet Earth with an already-established Superman stepping up to protect the planet? Now we have to wait a few years for another movie to advance the story after Man of Steel re-told the same story we have all seen or read many times.

Having Zod show up with multiple Kryptonians raises an interesting question that was never answered in the movie: Why not have all of the Kryptonians leave the ship and go to earth? Superman fights Zod and two other Kryptonian villains in separate fights, but with the number of Kryptonians on Zod's ship he could have sent all of them to overwhelm Superman and beat him to death.

DC missed a huge opportunity by not including a scene establishing a shared universe with other characters. (Easter eggs do not count.) Marvel did that very well, using after-credits scenes to build each solo movie to 2012's blockbuster team-up. The Avengers showed that there is a potential gold mine for a Justice League movie, and Batman is already established as a franchise. Why not have Amanda Waller (a top government agent in the DCU) be the DC movie franchise version of Nick Fury, to tie everything together?

My complaints aside, this was a very good movie and well worth seeing in the theater.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Speaking against Planned Parenthood funding

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

This is the audio of my remarks to the Bloomington City Council in opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Elbert Guillory: "Why I Am a Republican"

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

Friday, June 21, 2013

The City Council's shameful subsidy of Planned Parenthood

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

On June 19, the Bloomington City Council made a mockery of the Jack Hopkins Social Services fund by giving a $5,000 handout to Planned Parenthood. The council showed great disrespect to the taxpayers of Bloomington and the other social services organizations that requested funding, and all nine councilors should be thrown out of office in 2015. Let's break it down by the numbers, from PP's fiscal report and the Hopkins fund:

  • Planned Parenthood's revenue: $14,336,66
  • Planned Parenthood's expenses: $13,984,785
  • Planned Parenthood's profit: $351,883
  • Total amount requested from the Hopkins fund: $383,786
  • Total amount distributed by the Hopkins fund: $257,500

Planned Parenthood's excess of revenue over expenses for their most recent fiscal year is $94,383 more than the total amount distributed to social service organizations by the Hopkins fund. This is utterly shameful. Planned Parenthood clearly does not need the $5,000 they requested from the City Council and was seeking these funds for the sole purpose of getting a political endorsement from the city council. It is shameful that the council is perverting the purpose of the Hopkins fund by using it for political purposes rather than assisting social service agencies in their efforts to help those in need.

Planned Parenthood's grant does not even meet the criteria for funding that agencies are supposed to meet. The Hopkins fund is supposed to be for one-time projects. Things like fixing air conditioning or providing refrigeration units meet that standard. Planned Parenthood's grant will pay for STD tests, same-day HIV tests, pregnancy tests, pap tests, and colposcopy & biopsy procedures - all things that Planned Parenthood already does when they are not murdering babies.

Several of my friends and I attended the meeting and spoke against the funding for PP because the organization murders babies every week at their "clinic" on South College Avenue. Even though this corporate welfare supposedly does not go to PP's abortion business, we object to our tax dollars being given to an organization that murders babies in their mothers' wombs. Jim Billingsley offered an excellent rebuttal to the handout for PP with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

One of the people who spoke in public comment said that the city should not be pushing a specific religious belief or interpretation of the Bible. But by funding Planned Parenthood, the City Council is doing just that. They are taking taxpayer dollars confiscated by force and giving it to an organization that thousands of citizens find morally repugnant. If we are interested in not taking sides in the abortion debate, there should be no subsidy for Planned Parenthood.

This nonsense needs to stop. Planned Parenthood is not even pretending to follow the guidelines any longer, and other organizations that could use the money for legitimate needs are being shut out so the City Council can make a political donation with taxpayer dollars every June. Since Planned Parenthood will not stop asking for money forcibly confiscated from taxpayers, the City Council needs to tell them they will not get one more dime - or the voters need to replace them with a new council that will.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The frightening implications of Plan B for children

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

I think it is unfortunate that people do not see the dark and sinister agenda behind selling the morning after pill (also known as Plan B) over the counter to girls as young as 11 years old. I am convinced this is part of a wider Satanic conspiracy to decriminalize and normalize pedophilia. No, I am not saying that is the goal of most of the people pushing this unprecedented decision, but we have to realize that Satan's influence on the heart of sinful man is very powerful and our Enemy is determined to destroy everything that is pure and good.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. -- Ephesians 6:12

Given how depraved our culture has become, I am not surprised that we have lowered ourselves to allowing 11 year old children to buy an abortifacient drug without their parents' knowledge or consent. I am somewhat surprised at how quickly this has taken place and how little opposition this has generated outside of the pro-life community. At best, a number of Leftist commentators have said they are "uncomfortable" with little girls having access to Plan B.

The Alliance Defense Fund has been trying to educate people about the destructive agenda of Planned Parenthood, including their support for giving Plan B to little girls. When I shared one of their images (with their permission) on Tumblr, my post went viral quickly and it got a huge reaction - virtually all of it negative. I do take it as a hopeful sign that people are reacting so strongly, because perhaps this means God is working to soften their hearts.

And yes, I am serious when I say this is part of a wider movement to decriminalize and normalize pedophilia. See the previous two links for an explanation of this movement, which as a father I find absolutely terrifying.

This is another example of power flowing from the church and the home to the state. When a single renegade federal "judge" decides you do not have the authority as a parent to decide whether or not your daughter should have access to the morning-after pill, that is a serious infringement on our liberty and a significant expansion of power by the state. At what point will we resist this tyranny? At what point will we say "no" to the ever-expanding power of the state over our most intimate personal decisions?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Phone records, PRISM, leaks and national security

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

How many time have you seen a story about a high-profile divorce case where a party was caught committing adultery because the adulterer's calls to the cell phone plan were suspicious? How many times have text messages implicated someone committing adultery? These are relatively low-level ways to expose misbehavior, and the investigations were done by your average person-on-the-street, not national security professionals.

House Speaker John Boehner had this to say about the man who leaked the information to the media: "He's a traitor. The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it's a giant violation of the law."

Come on, let's not be drama queens about this. The question here is obvious. Do you really think that Muslim terrorists don't think that the U.S. government might be monitoring their cell or land-line phones, Skype conversations, text messages, electronic mail and other things?

The idea that the government could be collecting "metadata" on phone calls made or monitoring Internet traffic is not exactly a new thing. None of us should be surprised that the government has this capability or could be using it against Muslim terrorists or state actors (such as Iran) that we deem hostile. We already know that China has been hacking into our computers and stealing data, so of course we would do that to foreign enemies.

What is new here (though not exactly surprising) is that the government is collecting this data on American citizens who are suspected of no wrongdoing. That is why this leak is valuable, because it shows how little respect the Obama administration has for our privacy and our Fourth Amendment rights. Frankly, it is none of Barack Obama's business if I make a phone call to Jimmy John's and order a sandwich.

Ideally, Congress should act and pull back the administration's powers, especially relating to collecting data on tens of millions of American citizens who have committed no crime and are not even suspected of doing so. Law enforcement has been able to wiretap for years, but (at least before 9/11) it was generally thought that a warrant was necessary. Let's restore the rule of law and respect the Constitution.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NBC needs to grow up, be adults and admit their lies.

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

After a report on the June 9 edition of NBC Nightly so-called "News" regarding the trial of George Zimmerman, the anchor said this: "We should note that George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal, the parent company of this network for defamation. The company has strongly denied his allegations."

There is nothing that can be denied with any credibility.

In the days following the confrontation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that resulted in Martin's death, there was a media frenzy painting Zimmerman as a racist murderer. (Much to my shame, I bought into the hype.) NBC so-called "News" fueled it by maliciously mutilating the recording of Zimmerman's 911 call. This is what was actually said on the 911 call:

  • Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."
  • 911 Operator: "OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?"
  • Zimmerman: "He looks black."

After NBC's malicious mutilation of the recording, it sounded like this: "This guy looks like he’s up to no good... He looks black."

If NBC so-called"News" had any integrity whatsoever, they would not deny any allegations, because the malicious mutilation of the recording has been extremely well-documented for well over a year. They flagrantly lied about what Zimmerman said in order to advance an agenda - an incredibly stupid and clumsy lie, because the 911 tape was public record and their lies were almost immediately exposed and universally condemned.

Does NBC so-called "News" want to be seen as a credible source of information, not mutilated or fabricated to advance a political agenda? Then they should settle with Zimmerman and compensate him for the harm they caused with their shameless and despicable lies. The fact that they have "strongly denied" the allegations that everyone knows are true proves to the world exactly who and what they are.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Disingenuous and self-serving

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

The president of the Indiana Beverage Alliance recently wrote a guest editorial that was published in various newspapers around the state, defending the state's alcohol laws - specifically the ban on Sunday sales of alcohol - by making the argument that such laws prevent alcohol abuse.

This is a disingenuous, self-serving argument. The IBA's purpose in defending the state's "blue laws" is to protect liquor stores from competition, not to prevent alcohol abuse or prevent watering down regulations for the public good.

Liquor stores are closed on Sundays, while grocery stores are not. If the ban in Sunday sales was repealed, they would have to open on Sundays in order to be competitive, and with that comes costs such as salary and utility expenses. So the liquor aisles of supermarkets that are open twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week sit idle so the liquor stores do not need to compete. This is corporate welfare by regulation, nothing more.

In the years after Prohibition was repealed, the laws might have made sense. The laws do not make sense in 2013, when bars are open on Sundays and people can easily stock up on alcohol on Friday or Saturday. Alcohol abuse is not going to increase if the Sunday sales ban is repealed, and families will not see a significant portion of their breadwinner's earnings going to "demon rum" instead of paying for food, clothing and shelter.

It should not be the role of state government to play favorites in the market with laws and regulations that tilt the playing field in favor of some businesses over others. The "blue laws" have been out of date for decades now and serve only as regulatory corporate welfare. This should be fixed, both for business and consumers. The Republican Party has a supermajority on both houses and a Republican governor, so there is no reason this should not be repealed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Barack Obama is the President!!

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

One would think that people would not need to be reminded of these facts, which should be common knowledge. But with the coverage of and debate over the government tapping into phone records – something that the Obama administration has defended – and allegedly snooping on Internet traffic through Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft, you would think it was still 2008 and candidate Obama was running for office and assuring us that he will respect civil liberties and change the course of the Bush policies.

So let us make something very clear. The snooping into our private phone records is an Obama program.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Planned Parenthood's Plan B perversion

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

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two observations about Star Trek 2

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

I went and saw the new Star Trek movie on opening weekend, and I wore my red shirt. (Yes, I am a nerd.) It is an excellent (if imperfect) movie, and I would recommend it to any Star Trek fan or science fiction fan in general. While I normally hate reboots, establishing this as an alternate universe was a good move as it keeps the existing timeline intact. It also gives Kirk and company an opportunity to interact with some of the races that were not created until decades after the original series, such as the Cardassians, the Borg and my favorite, the Ferengi.

This will not be a full review, just a couple observations.

First, bringing back the old style "flip" communicators was a bad decision that strains the suspension of disbelief. We have smartphones today that can browse the web, support video chat, send electronic mail and do a wide variety of other things. The voice-only communicators are several steps behind my basic cell phone that is a half-dozen years old. This is supposed to be a futuristic, science fiction setting where technology is 250 years ahead of where we are today, yet the "cell phones" of the future are nowhere near as advanced as an iPhone?

Second, the way the Prime Directive is handled makes the Federation look completely and totally evil. Spock sets off a cold fusion device in the middle of a volcano that will wipe out all life on the planet if it erupts, and manages to prevent the eruption. Kirk is reprimanded and demoted for revealing the Enterprise and saving Spock because it is impossible to beam him out.

It makes sense that Kirk would be expected to allow Spock to die, but reprimanding Kirk for stopping the eruption makes no sense. Is the Federation's devotion so complete that they will allow hundreds of millions (if not billions) of sentient beings to be annihilated by a planet-destroying volcano? Does the principle of non-intervention with less advanced species include standing by silently and watching a global extermination event happen and not doing anything to stop it, despite having the technology to save those lives?

The principle of non-intervention makes sense, but taking it to that extreme is evil. It makes no sense that nobody would call out the federation on this evil philosophy. It would have been more realistic for Kirk to resign his commission in Starfleet rather than go along with this evil policy, and have a serious debate about the limits of the Prime Directive. Simply casting Kirk as reckless and insubordinate is lazy, sloppy writing that could have been much better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Our rights should not be decided by polls

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

If 78 percent of people responding to a poll said that criticism of government officials should be limited or prohibited, would that justify infringing on the right to free speech? If that same 78 percent argued law enforcement should be able to enter and search our homes at any time for any reason without a warrant, would that justify government ignoring our Fourth Amendment rights?

I would hope most people would say no to those questions, though I am far from confident that a majority would. But even if that was the case, the reason our Constitution makes it illegal for government to infringe on our rights - and the reason that the amendment process is long and difficult - is so that popular whims do not enable government to overstep the boundaries of its authority.

If we say "no" to the above questions because we value our right to privacy and our right to free speech, why are we willing to cede our private property rights on the basis of a poll?

Of course, I am referring to a report by the Indianapolis Star that 78 percent of people in Marion County support the smoking ban that was enacted in Indianapolis one year ago, banning smoking in public places (including bars) with a few very limited exceptions. The state has a weaker smoking ban, passed by a Republican legislature and signed into law by a Republican governor two years ago.

No serious person questions the harmful effects of smoking, both on smokers themselves and those who inhale secondhand smoke. But the fact remains that the state of Indiana and many local units of government statewide have banned the use of a legal product on private property by consenting adults. Property owners do not have the choice of whether to allow consenting adults to use this product, as government has made the decision about what legal substances may be consumed on private property.

This is a bad law. This decision should not be made by property owners, not government. We have ceded too much authority to government to police what we may and may not do "for our own good." If you think this will stop with "public places," you are mistaken. The next step will be apartment buildings, and who knows where after that. Is this nanny state micromanagement really what we want?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Outdated MCCSC School Board districts should change

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, June 9, 2013. (Comments)

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that the MCCSC School Board has decided not to redraw the school board district maps that were approved in 1994.

In the time since that map was approved, two population counts by the U.S. Census have mandated redrawing of city and county council districts as well as state legislative and Congressional districts, but MCCSC is sticking with a map that is nearly twenty years old.

One of the reasons that the map was re-drawn in the first place is to balance population, and the populations of districts in the 1994 map are now wildly out of balance.

I simply cannot understand how one can look at the existing map and see it as defensible. The maps do not even pretend to be contiguous, with several islands of one district surrounded completely by another district and not touching the rest of the district.

You can see images of the full map and a more detailed map by following these two links: http://bit.ly/11IcNEn and http://bit.ly/15Fp68R.

If changing the map is really as expensive and time consuming as opponents of change say, why not replace districts with an at-large system? School Board members are already elected across all of MCCSC.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teach your son to be a gentleman...

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

Teach your son to be a gentleman. If he's not a gentleman, he won't be able to attract the kind of woman you want for him, and the women who would be interested in him are not the kind of women you would want him to be with.

To win elections, Republicans need to… (fill in the blank)

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

The Republican Party has done a lot of soul-searching after Mitt Romney’s loss last year, and there have been many arguments about what needs to be done to help the GOP win future elections. The most prominent recent entry into this debate is a report by the national College Republicans, which Abdul-Hakim Shabazz commented on last week in the Indianapolis Star. But the most important question has been pushed aside.

What is the right thing to do?

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Monday, June 10, 2013

MCCSC school board districts need to change

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

The MCCSC School Board voted against reviewing the districts for school board members on May 29 after board member Sue Wanzer brought the issue up. Wanzer wanted to change the maps that were approved in 1994 - nearly twenty years ago - because of significant shifts in population. Wanzer pointed out that there is a range of population from 9,000 voters to 16,000 voters in the districts.

When the districts were approved in 1994, there was a lawsuit against the change, but the courts ruled in favor of MCCSC. At the time, the Herald-Times editorialized in favor of the maps, in part because of the balanced population of the districts. The population balance, of course, was one of the justifications for changing the maps.

That is an important point - districts that were redrawn twenty years ago to balance population are completely out of whack because of population shifts in the city and county. In the time since the MCCSC districts were redrawn, we have had two population counts from the U.S. Census that required state legislative and local government districts to be redrawn. It would be best practice to redraw the school board districts every ten years as well to ensure you do not have districts with dramatic differences in population.

I cannot see how anyone can look at the existing maps and defend what has been drawn, especially the fact that the districts are not contiguous. Was it really necessary to leave islands of one district inside another district? What purpose does that serve, in either policy or representation? Again, given that one of the purposes of redrawing the map in the first place was to balance population, what justification does this 1994 map have for 2013?

It is true that board members are elected at-large, so it is not the same situation as a county council or city council district map. Why have districts at all? Why not just dump the district system and allow everyone to run for the board? Some have complained that redrawing the map is a time-consuming and expensive process, and that problem would be eliminated by electing all members from a single pool of all voters in the county. Maps become outdated as our population grows, so that problem would be eliminated as well.

Whether the district map is redrawn or whether we go to an at-large system of electing board members, the current map is simply unacceptable and needs to be changed. In fact, it is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Redrawing the district map or going to an at-large system voluntarily would be less expensive than doing so after a lawsuit forces the school system to do so. Wanzer should bring it up again, and one of the four "no" votes needs to flip.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Oh, for crying out loud.

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

Every single time the dogs get a rawhide treat, it goes like this:

  1. Nano whines and waits until Tera is finished with her treat.

  2. Tera finishes her treat and Nano proceeds to eat his in front of her.

  3. Tera sees that Nano has a rawhide treat and takes it for herself.

  4. Nano whines at me because Tera took his treat.

  5. Nano gets banished into a closed room with his treat so I don't have to play bodyguard for 20 minutes.

Every single time, without exception.

Nano will never learn that taunting Tera with his rawhide treat results in her taking it away.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Two quick thoughts about Microsoft Office 2013

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

I hate having to change my font settings in Word and Excel when I get an upgrade to Microsoft Office! Why can't Microsoft figure out how to keep user settings the same when the office suite is upgraded?

I will say this: The fact that I can now view spreadsheets side-by-side is an excellent and much-needed new feature and a big improvement over the last version of Office. It was possible to do that before, but only by opening Excel a second time. It's much more convenient now.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Who is the tattletale at the Herald-Times?

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

Leftists on HeraldTimesOnline.com are furious when their posts get deleted and often whine about getting deleted. But an issue has come up regarding those of us who flag offensive content on HTO that raises serious questions about the newspaper. Specifically, who is the tattletale that is leaking abuse reports?

I have flagged posts that I believe violate the Terms of Service on HTO and I will continue to do so. Some of the posts I have flagged have been removed while others have not. One particular Leftist complained bitterly about a post that was deleted, but he is intelligent enough to know that posting crude and perverted fantasies about other posters' sex lives will likely result in his post getting deleted. Obviously the moderators thought it was over the line, as they removed it.

But there is an important question that the Herald-Times needs to answer.

Some posters have whined about specific posts I have flagged, especially posts that are a week or so old. Are reports to HTO moderators internal to H-T, or are they available to the public upon request? Are certain HTO moderators leaking abuse reports to sympathetic HTO subscribers to use against other HTO posters in the comments? If so, which HTO moderators are doing that? I sincerely hope that is not happening, but I see no other explanation for the knowledge certain HTO posters have about abuse reports.

One anonymous poster has twice referred to an e-mail that Bob Zaltsberg sent to me, copying Sarah Morin. Who has seen this e-mail beyond Herald-Times staff? Who is leaking these internal communications? Was it Zaltsberg, Morin, or someone else? Is this anonymous poster a Herald-Times employee? If so, does Zaltsberg understand how this kind of snitching creates extreme distrust of the Herald-Times by his customers? I wonder what Poynter would say about this from an ethical standpoint?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Can we all grow a thicker skin please?

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

My latest post on Hoosier Access:

It is absurd that Hibbert's "no homo" comment is getting more press than saying "MF." You would think he started screaming that "God hates fags" with Fred Phelps at his side from the reaction he is getting. I listened to that clip three times and never could hear the "no homo" comment. I had to listen with the transcript in front of me to hear where he said it.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"This war, like all wars, must end."

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

President Obama stirred up wrath from the right when he said this on May 27: "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end." But does Obama's statement show a dangerously naïve attitude toward terrorism, or a realistic view of how we are to move forward?

It is true that we have enemies who want to do us harms and we will have enemies well into the future. This is and will be the case regardless of the reason why, and we need to be vigilant against these threats to our national security and the lives of our citizens. Furthermore, given Obama's record on dealing with Muslim terrorists, it is wise to be skeptical of his policies and his arguments.

But there is significant danger in being on a constant war footing - something conservatives who are generally skeptical of big government should be (but often are not) the first ones to recognize. A continuous war footing gives government a convenient excuse to restrict or trample civil liberties, which too many simply go along with because of a desire to be "safe." The question we need to ask ourselves is whether Muslim terrorists or our own government has the greater potential to do us harm and take away our freedom.

There is a good reason that the framers gave Congress the power to declare war, instead of the president. There is and has always been tension between the authority of the President and the authority of Congress regarding the use of military force, but there is no question that the President can use military force in the event of imminent military threat. Even Obama has recognized the need for continued use of force to dismantle terrorist organizations.

That said, the framers clearly intended to give Congress authority in declaring war, and simply allowing a nebulous authorization to use force to continue indefinitely has an enormous potential for abuse.

Krauthammer is correct that we live in a very violent world, where many wars are being fought at any given moment. But the vast majority of these wars are not our wars, even if we do have one side we prefer to another. We also need to be very careful in picking those sides, especially given the affiliation of some rebel factions in Syria with al-Qaeda. But he errs in equating the War on Terror with the Cold War, which were very different conflicts with very different enemies.

I am no supporter of Obama. He is one of the worst Presidents we have ever had, and we would have been much better off had he been removed from office last year. But he is correct that we should not be on an endless war footing with a very amorphous enemy. Clearly we need to have security measures in place to guard against terrorist attacks, and we need to respond with force when we are attacked. But a permanent state of war is a terrible idea fraught with danger, and Obama is correct to reject it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You are entitled to your opinion...

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

One of the most contemptible aspects of modern society is the postmodernist-influenced rejection of objective truth. (Closely related to this is the rejection of absolute right and wrong, which is the most evil philosophy in human history.) Postmoderns see truth as a reflection of societal biases, filtered through our subjective belief systems and experiences.

This is absolute nonsense.

Now, let me tip my hat to the immediate objection to my statement - yes, our perceptions are influenced by the society where we live, and our experiences. However, this should be a motivation to seek objective truth as supported by verifiable facts, not a rejection of truth altogether.

Here is the problem with this philosophy - it obliterates any chance of reasonable dialogue, as well as any chance to compromise and see things from another person's perspective. If we cannot agree that there are verifiable facts - objective truth - then we cannot even have a starting point from which to have a discussion. Instead of advancing tolerance, it instead deepens the divides between us.

This is because we all know, inherently, that objective truth exists independent of our own beliefs and biases. When someone lies to us or lies about us, especially on a matter important to us, we are annoyed or even angry regardless of whether we call them on it. We can object and pretend we really believe that "I have my truth and you have your truth" but deep down none of us actually believe that.

A difference of opinion is not the same as a dispute over facts. In a difference of opinion, one side may be right and one may be wrong, both sides may be wrong, or both sides may be both right and wrong. With objective, verifiable facts, one side is right and one side is wrong. This is where the local newspaper has failed the last couple months.

I reported a comment that accused me of doing something I did not do, and I got an e-mail from the Herald-Times editor saying he would not take down a comment because of the author's "opinion." I also criticized the editorial page's decision to print two letters accusing the Boys and Girls Club of neglecting girls on the basis of a program they were running for boys. Another commenter said the H-T should not be the arbiter of which opinions are true and false - something the H-T editor would likely agree with.

The problem with these arguments is obvious. The accusation against me was not an "opinion" - it was a fabrication with no factual evidence to back it up. The accusations against the Boys and Girls Club were false accusations based on nothing but speculation. There are objective, verifiable facts on both cases - that I did not do what I was accused of doing and that the Boys and Girls Club does not neglect girls.

The Herald-Times allegedly has a policy of screening letters for factual statements, as well as removing comments that make defamatory accusations. They failed in both cases.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kaitlyn Hunt and equal enforcement of the law

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

If Kaitlyn Hunt was a man instead of a woman, would there be a national outrage over her arrest on felony charges for sexual abuse of a minor? Would the hacktivist collective "Anonymous" be writing open letters to prosecutors that begin with the greeting "Dear Bigots?" Would the American Civil Liberties Union issue a statement condemning the "persecution" of an 18 year old with a bright future?

The Hunt case has stirred controversy because the high school senior was in a "consensual" relationship with a freshman girl, and her arrest has spurred attacks on her girlfriend's parents and law enforcement. But the reality here is that if she was in a sexual relationship with a 15 year old, she broke a law in place to protect children and young teens. That has nothing to do with the morality of homosexuality, and a number of men are prosecuted each year all over the country for having sexual relationships with younger teenage girls.

Homosexual-rights advocates cannot have it both ways. Either they believe in equality or they do not. Hunt should not have special rights because her relationship was a homosexual relationship as opposed to a heterosexual relationship. She should be treated the same way as a man would in this situation. Furthermore, I have been specific with my language here - Hunt is a woman, not a girl. She is a legal adult in every state in the nation with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with that. Her partner is a girl.

We have age of consent laws for a reason. As a society, we have determined that people under a certain age cannot fully consent to sexual activity because of their lack of maturity, life experience, brain development and so forth. We have these laws in place to protect younger teens from being sexually exploited by older teens and especially by adults. This is why the two men in Torrington Connecticut who allegedly had sex with 13 year old girls are being prosecuted for statutory rape, even though the girls allegedly wanted sex. That is not bigotry or heterophobia.

What worries me is that this case will be used to break down the age of consent barriers we have in place to protect children and young teens from sexual abuse and exploitation. That is not the proper course of action. We already have assaults on those barriers from "judges" who demand that "emergency contraception" be available to any child over the counter without a prescription or parental consent. We must resist efforts by political activists to eviscerate good and necessary laws for the purpose of their agenda.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bible verse of the day

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:32 AM (#)

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. -- Romans 3:10-12

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let's call a spade a spade.

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

If there is a legitimate business need for a new convention center, why has the private sector not built one already? A look at all of the new apartment buildings downtown clearly shows there is a lot of money available when there is a legitimate business interest. Let's call a spade a spade - the food and beverage tax is corporate welfare.