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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Political caucuses are operating as intended

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

My latest editorial on Hoosier Access:

It is important to remember that the party officers who choose replacements – either to fill a vacancy on the ballot or to replace an incumbent – are often elected officials themselves. Precinct committeemen run for office in the party’s primary, and are elected by their neighbors.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

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Happy Howl-oween!!

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

Cute pictures of the day:

:-)

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rape culture, victim blaming and the need for real men

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

The debate between teaching women to protect themselves from rape and teaching men not to rape - a debate that flared up in the New York Times and the Washington Post last week - is a false choice. It should not be one or the other. It should be both. In fact, it really needs to be all three, because a critical component is far too often ignored.

No one thinks twice about other security precautions - No one is accused of enabling thieves by advising people to have anti-theft protection for their smartphones, not to leave their valuables unattended and lock their cars. Yet somehow, when women are advised in good faith to take precautions to avoid being victimized, the person giving the advice is lambasted as enabling rape culture, blaming the victim or excusing the rapists.

It does not help women for feminists to shout down legitimate advice on self-protection. At the same time, it does not help when all men are cast as rapists, with messages in men's urinals telling them that they hold in their hands the power to stop rape. (Grow up, by the way.)

It should not be either/or. It should be all three. Women should be advised not to put themselves in a position where they could be attacked, and if they are attacked it should be very clear that the rapist, and only the rapist, is responsible. Parents should teach their sons to respect women and not take advantage of them, and both high schools and universities should teach the same message.

But we always ignore the critical third component, something that could stop a lot of this from happening - especially at parties where alcohol is flowing. Men should protect women. Instead of laughing and taking pictures or video, real men should step in if they see a woman being victimized and stop it. Men who see women who are inebriated and unable to protect themselves should make sure that woman is safe. That is what a real man does, and sadly many of the high-profile rape cases over the last few years has demonstrated that there is a lack of real men.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Working together" is a childish solution to gridlock

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

The most annoying and frustrating part of the government shutdown earlier this month was the mainstream news media's childish and simple-minded coverage of the debate between the two parties. There was some more adult-oriented coverage by pundits and columnists, but overall it was a shocking failure by the media to do its job.

The gridlock in Washington that led to the shutdown is about much more than the two political parties refusing to "work together" or being unable to "do their jobs." There are real and deep philosophical differences between the parties that cannot be glossed over by simply saying the parties should "work together." The news media cast the whole debate though the lens of relationships and did not delve deeply into the issue and explain what the parties' positions were.

A significant opportunity to educate the public was lost.

Let's boil it down to the basics. If a Political Party 1 believes Policy A to be destructive to the country, you can and should expect them to work against it. That can be done by not providing funding for the implementation of the law or by outright repealing it. When the latter option is not viable, the former option is one way to pursue the goal of eliminating the destructive policy.

Meanwhile, Political Party 2 passed Policy A believes it to be necessary to solve or mitigate a problem we face to simply give up and allow it to be repealed or de-funded, so they will fight to make sure it is fully implemented. We cannot expect Party 1 or Party 2 to abandon what they believe is best for the county simply in the interest of "working together."

The news media reports that trust and confidence in Washington to be at an all-time low, but to a large extent they are directly responsible for the public's dislike of Washington by refusing to do their jobs and report on the complex issues the two parties are debating, the solutions each party has to solving the problem, and explanations as to why each party is using particular tactics in the legislative impasse. Those who rely on the mainstream media, then, are left ignorant by this populist garbage and throw their hands up in disgust.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Hitting a milestone

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

Well, this is it. I am 40 years old today.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stop obsessing about party unity!

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

We're hearing more about "party unity" at the national level, and that has trickled down to the local level. This continues a common theme, and shows that Republicans can be very short-sighted. Republicans' obsession with "party unity" ignores political reality, creates missed opportunities and actually divides the party further. It needs to stop.

The reason the obsession with "party unity" ignores political reality is because you cannot have "party unity" and a big tent. It is impossible and will never happen. A big tent means that all kinds of people are welcomed into the party, including people that disagree (sometimes vehemently) on core philosophical issues. You will always have factions within a political party that has a big tent. We can be unified or we can have a big tent, but we will never have both.

The missed opportunity comes from focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Suppose Bubba will not support Republican A, but will support Republicans C, D and E. Bubba is very motivated to help F. Instead of obsessing about Bubba not supporting A, channel his energies into supporting C through F, and especially F. Browbeating Bubba is a waste of energy, because you will not change his opinion about A.

Here is where the division comes in. By obsessing about "party unity" and bitterly complaining about any disagreement within the party, we only highlight those divisions and make them more visible. By browbeating Bubba or even attacking him, you make him resent the party leadership and harden his opposition to A. Minimizing what Bubba considers to be a core issue alienates him further and hardens his opposition to A even farther. Why not focus on where we are united, namely Bubba's support of B through F?

Having these arguments in public - as was done last week with an ill-considered blast e-mail - makes it even worse by making the Republican Party look inept and in chaos. All of this needs to stop.

If we are serious about winning elections in Monroe County, we need to put aside this foolhardy and counterproductive obsession with "party unity" and stop worrying about divisions within the party that will always exist. This is especially true for a party that has not won countywide since the huge Republican wave in 2002, where we picked up a 2-1 majority on the county commissioners and a 5-2 majority on the county council. (Individual candidates have won, but the party overall has done poorly.) Instead, we should focus on where we are unified.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

"This is my town hall meeting and I set the rules"

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

Here is a reminder of Baron Hill's arrogance.

Shameful.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Sounding the alarm over Facebook privacy... Yawn

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

A headline in The Register sounds the alarm: "TEENS in TROUBLE as Facebook EXPOSES them to the entire WORLD." The warning in the Christian Science Monitor is a little more subdued, warning that "Facebook pulls back privacy curtain on teen posts." Parents should be very worried about their teens, right?

Wrong.

All Facebook has done is allow teenagers to share their status updates and so forth as "public," something they can do (and many actually do) by simply lying about their age in the sign-up process. It is not unusual for pre-teens to have Facebook accounts (with the support of their parents) by claiming to be at least 13. In other words, posts are no more public than they were before, and people can lock down their privacy settings to limit the audience of their posts. They can even (gasp!) close their Facebook accounts.

Teen activity on the Internet should be monitored by their parents. They should watch what their teens are posting. It does not hurt to be your teen's "friend" and having access to their account is not unreasonable. With proper parental monitoring, there is no need to worry about this new setting. As always, parents should teach their teenage sons and daughters this lesson: Never post anything on Facebook you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper or as the lead story on the nightly news.

If they are not behaving properly, limit access to the computer or take away the smartphone. Be a parent.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Government e-mails and public records

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

From an article in the Herald-Times on Sunday, regarding what e-mail messages on government e-mail accounts should be public records and which should be retained::

In Bartholomew County, things like personal correspondence, meeting reminders, non-email communications or routine information requests that do not result in administrative action, policy decision or special compilation are not considered part of public record.

All e-mail sent and received by government e-mail accounts should be public record, including personal correspondence. That account belongs to the taxpayers. Obviously, there should be exceptions for things that are specifically protected by law, but that is very limited. (And sensitive information should not be sent via e-mail anyway, because of security.)

As far as retention, there is the issue of storage. You can crash an e-mail server by having too much on there.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barack Obama, civility, and the government shutdown

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

After a deal ended the debate over the government shutdown and raising the nation's debt ceiling, President Barack Obama actually said this in a speech:

When we disagree, we don't have to suggest that the other side doesn't love this country, or believe in free enterprise or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.

This is amazingly hypocritical, considering the Obama regime's comments during the shutdown.

After accusing Republicans of terrorism, hostage taking and extortion, Obama now tries to take the high road by calling for more civility. This is laughable and absurd, given Obama's own uncivil behavior.

I said on Hoosier Access last week that the Republican strategy was flawed from the start, but Obama's stance that he will not allow the debt ceiling or the government shutdown to be used as a negotiating tactic is disingenuous.

Obama knows the Republicans, who control one branch of Congress, have no leverage in discussions about delaying or defunding ObamaCare, cutting spending, or any other legislative or budgetary matter because any legislation passed by the House is dead on arrival in the Senate. So if the Republicans are to get Obama and Senate Democrats to concede anything, they need to find a way to use the legislative process to try to get concessions.

That is not hostage taking, terrorism or extortion, despite Obama's hysterical rhetoric over the last month. That is basic political tradeoffs - Obama gets something he wants in exchange for the Republicans getting something they want. The way he has behaved over the last month demonstrates how immature and petulant Obama is, and how emotionally unqualified he is the be President of these United States.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cannon fodder bad guys and lazy writing

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

A common theme in movies is that the protagonists must face waves of "cannon fodder" enemies. These nameless antagonists who pose little threat represent lazy writing and are ultimately bad for the story.

One of the worst examples is the Orcs in the Lord of The Rings movies. Wave after wave of soldiers from this "fearsome" warrior are easily dispatched by the heroes, with little effort or difficulty. One human should not be able to kill several Orcs by himself. The LOTR movies are masterpieces of cinema, but having the Orcs dispatched so easily even when they have a significant numerical advantage in a fight completely buries them as a threat.

The Jem'Hadar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are another example. Genetically engineered by shape shifters to be perfect warriors, they are far too easily dispatched. A Klingon should be able to defeat a Jem'Hadar soldier in hand-to-hand combat, but humans should consistently lose, only winning with a heroic effort. The human characters certainly should not defeat several Jem'Hadar soldiers in hand-to-hand combat as easily as they do.

There are more examples of this than I can count. But here is the basic problem: When enemies are basically cannon fodder for the hero of the story to mow down at his leisure, there is no sense that the heroes are in any real danger when they go into combat. In the worst-case scenario, the enemies the protagonists face are a joke. The only time the hero is in any real danger is when he faces the big bad of the movie.

In my opinion, the stories would be better if the henchmen were more competent, especially if they are supposed to be fearsome warriors like the Orcs. While we know the hero is going to make it through the fight alive if we are only an hour into a ninety minute movie, it should not be an easy one, because that is just a waste of time. Giving the protagonist competent enemies to defeat not only makes the bad guys look like more of a threat, it also makes him seem much more heroic, because the odds he overcomes are much worse.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Equal rights or special rights?

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

Does Jason Collins deserve a spot on an NBA roster simply for having sex with men? One would think that advocates of "equal rights" would not be arguing for affirmative action, but would instead only argue that Collins deserves an opportunity to play. He has that opportunity and no one is denying it to him - he is simply not a very good player.

Enter Jeff Pearlman, who argues that the "NBA should let him play." Pearlman whines that this is an "opportunity" and that the NBA is "letting this one slip away." But even Pearlman himself admits that a "similarly submediocre player in any other sport" would not be noticed or missed if he did not get a contract. Collins is no longer ordinary because he publicly announced that he has sex with other men, according to Pearlman.

This is ridiculous. People either believe in equal rights or they do not. Pearlman and others of his ilk most certainly do not believe in equal rights - they believe in special rights. Thus, they argue for affirmative action for a player well past his prime who has already played twelve seasons in the NBA, simply because of his sex life. It's not good enough that the reaction to Collins "coming out" was overwhelmingly positive. He must be offered a contract too.

What we have here is another example that militant homosexual-rights advocates do not want "tolerance" of homosexual behavior. They want mandatory acceptance of that behavior. In this case, some NBA team should commit a large sum of money to a player they would not consider under any other circumstances, simply to be politically correct.

It is absurd.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Post this as a status on your Facebook wall

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

Please copy and paste this to your status if you're constantly being asked to copy and paste things to your status by friends who copy and paste things to their status. Many people won't copy and paste this, but my truly sarcastic friends will copy and paste it, because they know this was copied and pasted from a dear friend in need of more stuff to copy and paste. And if you don't copy and paste it, then this means you hate puppies and bacon. And if you hate bacon, the terrorists win.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Beware what we love in our hearts

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

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. -- Proverbs 5:18-19

In Deuteronomy 17:17, the Lord commands the nation of Israel that when they are given a king, he shall not multiply wives to himself. King Solomon is famous for violating this commandment in a flagrant way, but his father was also weak in this regard. When you look at King David's life, his adultery with Bathsheba should not be surprising. Here are some examples:

  • 1 Samuel 18:27 -- Therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
  • 1 Samuel 25:42-43 -- And Abigail hasted, and arose and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.
  • 2 Samuel 3:1-5 -- Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
  • 2 Samuel 5:13 -- And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.

David always had a wandering eye, and was not satisfied with only having one wife. Before Bathsheba, his actions were honorable even if he was disobedient. Even with Nabal's wife, David did not take her as his wife until after he died of natural causes. But we can see the pattern in David's life that his adultery with Bathsheba should not have been a surprise.

The creation ordinance (established in Genesis 2:24 and reinforced in Ephesians 5:31) was for a man to cleave to his wife, and the two (not three or more) shall become one flesh. Scripture establishes the standard for elders and deacons as being the husband of one wife in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1. Polygamy is a rebellion against this standard.

It's easy for us to be judgmental of King David, but we need to be wary of what we hold dear in our own lives. Even if that thing is not causing us to sin now, will it cause us to sin at some point in the future? Is there something in our life that we would not be willing to live without? Is there something in our life we want more and more of, even though we have enough? Are we willing to discipline our love of the things we hold dear and put them under the authority of Jesus Christ?

These are very serious questions we must answer if we are to truly serve Jesus Christ.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whether you like it or not, money is speech.

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

Imagine the government tells you that you can travel as much as you want, but strictly rations the amount of gasoline you are permitted to use in your vehicle. You are technically allowed to go where you want, but your real ability to travel is limited because you need gasoline to go places efficiently. The same is true with both contribution and spending limits in political campaigns - candidates might be allowed to speak but they need to spend money in order to send direct mail, buy radio and TV advertisements, put up billboards, print campaign literature and so forth.

Whether you like it or not, money is speech.

The Supreme Court is considering arguments about whether the aggregate contribution limits to all candidates should be illegal or whether they should stay in place.

Last week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the following statement in the New York Times:

"By having these limits, you are promoting democratic participation," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. "Then the little people will count some and you won't have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections."

This is shameful. Ginsburg is making a policy argument here, not addressing any legal or constitutional issues. It is not Ginsburg's job to decide policy and it is wholly inappropriate for her to be basing her legal rulings on her public policy preferences. If she wants to shape public policy, she should have sought elective office as a member of Congress or she should have ran for President. Deciding this case based on her views onj policy rather than the law demonstrates Ginsburg is in open rebellion against the authority of the Constitution. She should be impeached.

One of the reasons for contribution limits to individual candidates is to prevent corruption. But because the contribution limits are so low, members of Congress must spend a great deal of time fundraising. This is compounded by the fact that they are elected every two years and races for Congress can be very expensive, especially if there are a couple of large media markets that serve the district. The 8th District in Indiana is served by Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Evansville, for example. As is so often the case, government creates more problems by "solving" another one.

Even if the contribution limits were abolished, it would not "legalize corruption" as some claim. Pay-to-play is already illegal. The last 15 years has brought something to campaigns that was not there before - reporting of campaign contributions on the Internet via the FEC website. In the past, people had to count on newspapers to report who was donating money and how the candidates were spending it. Now any individual with a computer can look it up himself and immediately share it on Facebook.

The rationale for overall limits on contributions, however, is weaker. Spending money on multiple candidates in multiple races is much less likely to promote corruption than contribution limits to individual candidates. If the government is going to restrict our rights, it needs to provide a concrete explanation as to why the civil magistrate needs to step in and back up those claims with hard evidence.

The evidence is not there in this case and the overall contribution limits should be struck down.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Defunding ObamaCare and tilting at windmills

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

New blog post on Hoosier Access: Defunding ObamaCare and tilting at windmills.

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Zero Tolerance = Zero Intelligence

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

From the archives: Zero Tolerance = Zero Intelligence.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Social Services funding schedule for 2013

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

Monroe County government has released the schedule for the 2013 social service grants process.

The schedule is as follows:

  • October 21, 2013: Deadline for submitting applications.
  • November 5, 2013: Invited agencies present their case to the council for a grant.
  • November 12, 2013: Council votes on distributing the grants.

I have been lobbying city government to stop funding Planned Parenthood for 14 years. Now county government has joined city government in doling out corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood through their own social services fund, which is a disgrace. PP got a handout from county government in 2009, 2010 and 2012. They were not invited to present in 2011, much to my surprise.

Previous blog posts on this topic are here, here, here, here and here.

I assume that PP will be applying for a handout again this year, because their requests for funding have nothing to do with need and everything to do with getting a political endorsement from county government. It is a shameful show of disrespect to the other social service agencies that have a legitimate need for funding, and it is a show of disrespect to taxpayers who are forced to fund an organization we find abominable.

The application deadline is not for another week, so I will examine that when it becomes publicly available.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Random thoughts of the day

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

♣ - The New York Times quotes an Ohio woman who objects to new abortion restrictions passed by the state legislature: "To make (abortion) more difficult by passing these laws and making women feel guilty is terrible." Perhaps there is a good reason that you feel guilty when you look at an ultrasound image of the baby you're about to kill?

♣ - You can feel the snobbishness in the air as you read David Carr's editorial this but he nonetheless makes a good point: It is a good idea to get your news from different perspectives. I read conservative media, but I also read the mainstream media and I listen to the podcast of Rachel Maddow's show daily.

♣ - I simply cannot see how law enforcement can declare Kendrick Johnson's death was an "accident."

♣ - The Muslim terrorists fighting Bashir Assad massacred 190 civilians, including 57 women and 18 children. Assad is a brutal tyrant and has certainly committed war crimes, but do we really want to pick sides in this fight?

♣ - Deroy Murdock describes Barack Obama as "a sadist-in-chief who abuses the American people purely for partisan gain." He's right. Obama's childish and petulant behavior during the shutdown has been shameful.

♣ - Pastor Tim Bayly reminds us again that homosexual marriage is a threat to religious liberty. When Christians are forced to rent rooms to homosexual couples (or unmarried heterosexual couples) or provide services to homosexual weddings, the mask is stripped away. This is not about "tolerance." This is about forcing acceptance.

♣ - With today's technology there is no reason the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program cannot go all-electronic, just like food stamps became the EBT card. Texas has already done this.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Government e-mails and open government, revisited

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

Thanks to Doug Masson for highlighting my post at Hoosier Access. Here's the comment I posted:

If you recall, this is what got Sarah Palin in trouble back in 2008, when it was discovered she was using a Yahoo account for official business.

Also, public email accounts (and anything on a public computer, unless it's specifically protected by law) is public record. Not just elected officials, but public sector employees can have their email accounts subjected to a public records request.

It's simply an extension of paper records being public.

Recording phone conversations doesn't follow. We weren't recording phone conversations in 1950 or face-to-face conversations in 1850. No reason to do so now.

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Flashback: Monroe County Council funds Planned Parenthood

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

Note: I originally posted this in December 2009.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The County Council's vote to fund Planned Parenthood
Date: Wed, 02 Dec 2009 19:54:25 -0500
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: vkelson@co.monroe.in.us, cnewmann@co.monroe.in.us, mhawk@co.monroe.in.us, jlesh@co.monroe.in.us, whenegar@co.monroe.in.us, gmckim@co.monroe.in.us, councilorthomas@gmail.com

Dear Councilors,

Planned Parenthood's finances

♦ Revenue of Affiliates -- $966.7 million
♦ Revenue of National Office -- $84.7 million
♦ Eliminations - $13.3 Million
♦ Total Revenue -- $1.0381 billion

♦ Expenses of Affiliates -- $892.8 million
♦ Expenses of National Office -- $73.6 million
♦ Eliminations - $13.3 Million
♦ Total Expenses -- $953.1 million

♦ Profit of Affiliates -- $73.9
♦ Profit of National Office -- $11.1
♦ Total Profit -- $85.0 Million

I was very disappointed to see that you have chosen to fund a corporation with over $1,000,000,000 in annual revenue when you disbursed social services funds back in October. I was very pleased to see that Planned Parenthood did not even apply for funding from city government over the summer. I was not surprised to see PP ask for funding from county government, with meeting times that are much less open than city government's meeting times. While I approve of the change that has the County Council disburse these funds instead of the County Commissioners, your meeting time necessarily excludes many concerned citizens.

As I have said to the City Council for many years, Planned Parenthood did not come to you for money that they actually need. They came to you for a political endorsement from county government. As you can see from Planned Parenthood's own fiscal report, the organization took in over one billion dollars in revenue in 2007-2008, and the organization enjoyed an overall profit of $85 million dollars. Planned Parenthood certainly does not need the cash-strapped Monroe County government to be giving it a slice of the limited social services funding available.

What I find most disappointing is that you granted this money to Planned Parenthood less than a year after a sex abuse scandal that rocked the organization and made national headlines. As you know, a Planned Parenthood employee right here in Bloomington was caught on tape by Live Action Films helping what that employee clearly believed to be a 13 year old girl cover up sexual abuse by a 31 year old man. Just 50 miles north in Indianapolis, another Planned Parenthood employee was caught doing the exact same thing. I am saddened, but not a bit surprised, that you have chosen to take the hard-earned money you have confiscated from your constituents and given it to an organization that has been caught on tape attempting to cover up sexual abuse.

Giving taxpayer resources to a billion-dollar corporation recently mired in a sex abuse scandal was a slap in the face to all of the other organizations, especially those organizations that applied for but did not receive funding from county government. For no other reason than cynical politics, you have insulted your constituents, disrespected legitimate social service agencies and degraded the social service funding process. The reality is that you have placed your official stamp of approval on the predatory practices of Planned Parenthood.

What makes this decision so obviously political is that county government has its own family planning clinic. You could have easily voted to have your own family planning clinic fund annual exams, STD testing and birth control rather than subsidize a billion-dollar political organization that operates an abortion clinic downtown and is less than a year removed from a sexual abuse scandal.

There are many taxpayers in Monroe County who would never voluntarily fund an organization that performs the barbaric act of abortion every Thursday, especially after the sex abuse scandal last December. You have taken that choice away from us and forced us to fund an organization we believe to be morally abominable. I want to thank Marty Hawk for her fiscally responsible vote against the social services funding package, and strongly encourage the rest of you to be pro-choice in the decisions you make with the money you have taken from us by force.

(0 Comments)


Friday, October 11, 2013

14 ways to improve HeraldTimesOnline

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

The new HeraldTimesOnline.com launched on July 1. The new website is noticeably inferior to the site developed in-house by HTO staff, and the change to the inferior content management system was mandated by Schurz Communications. If the Herald-Times is stuck with an inferior CMS, here are a few ways to improve it.

  1. Disable crowd moderation, also known as censorship by mob rule.

  2. Speed up the website. HTO is painfully slow when you open multiple articles from the today's news page. I have not played Solitaire while waiting for a website to load since I was on dial-up in 2002.

  3. Change the comment rating system to show which posters a user has rated positive or negative, like it was on the old HTO. This is helpful in determining what comments have been read.

  4. Require that online comments be attached to a real name, as is the case for letters to the editor.

  5. Disable threaded comments. Discussions are easier to follow when all posts are chronologically, like in the old system - especially in a thread that has a lot of posts.

  6. Make story comments searchable.

  7. Send an automated e-mail to users when a comment is deleted.

  8. Improve text formatting. It is possible to use HTML tags to link or format text, but there is no how-to guide for it, and the buttons to automatically insert the tags are gone. The <blockquote> tag makes quoted text way too big.

  9. Move the "report comment" link away from the link to a specific comment. It's not difficult to click the correct link, but reporting a comment by mistake is easier than it should be.

  10. Speaking of the "report comment" link, change it back to the way it was done with the previous website, where someone explained why a comment was in violation of the rules. That helps moderators, and also prevents reporting by mistake because you have to click twice (on two different pages) to report a comment.

  11. Restore the ability to have two usernames per account.

  12. Make comments visible to people who are not logged into HTO, which was a great feature of the old HTO. User comments were the most popular section of HTO before the new site was launched, and now they are behind a paywall - unless you paste ?mode=jqm_com onto the URL for an article on the mobile site.

  13. Change the user history page for commenters to include links to the articles where they posted comments, like it was on the old HTO. This makes it easier to find active discussions.

  14. Fix the glitch that sends users to the home page when one clicks on a link from an external source but is not logged in. This is very annoying - have the article load and ask for the login.

The old HTO was superior in every way to the new HTO, which is why it is so disappointing that Schurz Communications has forced an inferior CMS onto the Herald-Times when the website designed in-house was so much better. Before July 1, HTO was perhaps the best news website I used from a pure technical standpoint - better than the Washington Post, CNN.com, the New York Times, FOX News and many more.

As many complaints as I had with the moderation of comments (and I had many) and the content of news stories, the website itself was excellent from a technical standpoint. Schurz bungled badly by mandating this change, but it is never too late to admit a mistake and change course.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mob attack follow-up

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

Following up on my October 4 post: It turns out that an off-duty police officer participated in the mob attack on the SUV driver and his family. The family should be permanently exempted from paying city taxes, they should get at least an eight-figure settlement from the city, and they should get a refund of every penny they have ever paid in taxes to the city.

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E-mail forwarding, open records and local government

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:00 AM (#)

My latest editorial at Hoosier Access.;

This should actually be rather simple, with no real gray area. Matters relating to official duties should be handled exclusively from the official e-mail account, and everything on an official account (including jokes, forwards and so forth) is subject to public record requests unless it is specifically protected for some reason.

Read more at Hoosier Access.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Barack Obama, do you have no shame?

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

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Barack Obama, do you have no shame?
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, October 02, 2013 6:13 pm
To: "President@WhiteHouse.gov" <President@WhiteHouse.gov>

Mr. Obama,

Do you have no shame? Is there any depths to which you will not stoop to score cheap political points? Is there any group of distinguished Americans you will not disrespect as you wage jihad against Republicans?

I was literally stunned when I found out you had ordered barricades be placed around the World War II memorial in Washington, DC. This is a transparently political and disgustingly childish move. You should be ashamed of yourself!

The World War II memorial is an open-air memorial in the middle of public space where people walk through. There is literally not one single legitimate reason to close it off, Mr. Obama. Not even one. The reason you ordered barricades be places around it is to place political pressure on the Republican Party for the disagreement you have that led to the shutdown.

Mr. Obama, at this point I do not even care who is to "blame" for the government shutdown. The point is your willful and despicable show of disrespect to the American people, especially World War II veterans.

Thankfully, some patriotic Americans moved your childish barricades so that World War II veterans - elderly men who may never have the opportunity to visit the memorial built to honor their heroic sacrifices - could visit the memorial. I am thankful that they defied you out of compassion for these veterans.

Mr. Obama, you should be ashamed of yourself. The American people understand that there is harm done by the government shutdown. They do not need to have a man-child President act in such a disgusting and petulant manner, sacrificing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for heroic Word War II veterans so that you can score some points in your political jihad. I am literally ashamed that you are the President of this great nation. You need to apologize to the American people for your antics.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The frightening overuse of paramilitary SWAT teams

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

Printed in the Indiana Daily Student, October 02, 2013

To the Editor:

The original idea behind SWAT teams was a good one - go in with overwhelming force to defuse things like hostage situations, bank robberies or terrorist attacks. The problem is that the use of SWAT has been greatly expanded to the point where they are now used primarily to raid non-violent drug offenders.

Radley Balko spoke on September 26 at Indiana University's Woodburn Hall, giving an overview of this frightening escalation in the use of force by law enforcement.

Balko explained that our founding fathers knew the dangers of having the military act as law enforcement, which has led to things like posse comitatus. But when law enforcement is given weapons more appropriate for a battlefield than domestic policing (including tanks) and told they are fighting a "war" on crime or drugs, we are setting up a dangerous situation.

Now SWAT is used well over 50,000 times a year, almost entirely on nonviolent drug offenders. A wise man once said that in a free society, if someone is knocking on your door at 3:00 am, it is probably the milkman. Today, it is likely to be a paramilitary strike force, and they might not even have the right house.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

"Facebook promotes vulgar hate..."

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

When I see conservatives whine about being persecuted, I often sigh and shake my head. Such was the case with the recent column by David Usher on Townhall.com. Let's examine a couple of Usher's statements:

Facebook does not have a way to remove or block “Like” spammers injecting hate into the pages of others.

Actually, they do. When someone is banned by a page administrator, they are not able to comment on timeline posts or even "like" them. Banning both users and pages is actually very easy. The fact that the people running the Facebook page Usher writes about had not yet discovered the "ban" option is not Facebook's responsibility. It also makes Usher look very silly to whine about it when his organization already has the ability to do what he wants to do.

We are looking into a lawsuit against Facebook. Facebook has a duty to provide software so that we can protect our corporate image.

Good luck with that. First, a actually filing a lawsuit demanding access to software that you already have access to will not get very far. Second, even if Facebook did not provide the opportunity to block people, I doubt you would get very far. You can always delete your Facebook page if it is causing your that much of a problem. A better option, though, would be to learn to use the software before you threaten to file a lawsuit.

Finally, Facebook is not necessarily "endorsing" the anti-Christan hate speech that you have not taken the effort to block. Facebook takes a pretty laissez-faire position toward speech on their site, even speech that is vulgar and hateful. I personally think they should crack down a little more (and sometimes a little less) but not deleting objectionable content is not necessarily an endorsement of that content.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Unbelievable audacity

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:57 PM (#)

From Fox News:

"A mentally disturbed suburban New York woman who drowned her three young children in a bathtub is going to court to ask a judge for a cut of their $350,000 estate."

If she gets even a penny of this money, the judge should be impeached and disbarred.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hello there, DU

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 AM (#)

Just wanted to say "hello" to the folks from Democratic Underground who are visiting the blog.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Self-defense is a God-given human right

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

The scene was right out of a horror movie: a driver gets in a minor fender bender and stops. He is surrounded by a gang of thugs who are threatening him. One of them slashes his tires. He does what any normal person would do - he flees from the situation. In the process of trying to protect himself and his family, he runs over and seriously injures a biker.

It was suggested on ABC World News that the SUV driver should have waited for the police. There was a time in my lifetime when no one would dare say something like that in public, because the person saying it would be judged as either evil or insane. Someone should wait for police when he is being assaulted by a mob of thugs, rather than attempting to escape? Are there people so deranged that they actually believe this?

The bikers are lucky the victim did not have an AR-15 or similar weapon, and started firing into the crowd. The carnage could have been a lot worse than one biker who was hit by the victim's SUV as he was trying to escape the violent gang. By the way, I do not have one shred of sympathy for the injured biker, Jeremiah Mieses.

Self-defense is a God-given human right. The SUV driver (who I will not name because he is an innocent victim, unlike the gang of thugs and criminals who violently attacked him) had every right under the laws of God and man to attempt to escape. He would have had every right under the laws of God and man to kill several of them, if he had a firearm, because he had reasonable cause to believe they were a threat to his life and is family's life.

Frankly, the gang of thugs and criminals who violently attacked a family's SUV and brutally beat the driver once they chased him down do not deserve any sympathy. They should thank their lucky stars that none of them were killed, especially since it would have been justifiable homicide in self-defense.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughts on the New 52 and Green Arrow

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

I have picked up a few collections of the New 52 series published by DC. I am not a fan of universe-wide reboots and I think the DC Universe was better before Flashpoint resulted in the new universe. That said, several of the books I have read are quite good. There are good and bad titles, of course.

I'll start with one of my favorite characters, Green Arrow. I became a Green Arrow fan with Identity Crisis and I collected several volumes of the pre-Flashpoint Green Arrow series. (His battle with Dr. Light and Merlyn leading into Infinite Crisis was especially good.) Before I complain, let me say I am enjoying the books. The character is likeable and the stories are mostly well written.

Here is what I do not like. The old grizzled veteran is gone, replaced by a younger and "hipper" character. Oliver Queen is no longer a liberal activist - his politics barely enters the series at all, while it was a defining trait pre-Flashpoint. His friendship with Green Lantern has been wiped from history, and Roy Harper is a former partner instead of a former ward. The newest Speedy, Mia Dearden, is nowhere to be seen. Connor Hawke does not exist - at least not as an adult. The new Oliver Queen is far too young to have an adult son.

Basically, Green Arrow has been rebuilt from the ground up - he is essentially a completely new character. As a fan of the old character, this is not something I would have done. I wish DC had managed to keep more of his history. If DC can have three former Robins before Damien Wayne, they could have kept much more of Oliver Queen's history intact. Keeping Batman's history is no more cumbersome than keeping Green Arrow's history.

My biggest complaint is the villains in the first major story arc of Green Arrow. The concept for these new characters was interesting: Super-powered villains who attract followers on social media for what is essentially a modern-era snuff film. Green Arrow needs a good rogues gallery, and this had potential to create a new set of enemies for him.

The problem is that all of these villains are handled poorly, and the story suffers for it. Their powers are not explained, their backstory is not explained, and some of them are not even named. I had no idea who these characters were. It would have been far better to slash the roster of ten villains to a more manageable four or five and then explain who they are, what powers they have and how they got those powers.

The new Green Arrow is likeable, and his origin is very similar to his pre-Flashpoint origin. But because DC stripped away so much of what made Oliver Queen unique in the old DCU, he is more like a shadow of Iron Man in the Marvel universe. Hopefully DC will start to work the social consciousness of the old series back into the new series, especially if they could introduce Mia Dearden as a former prostitute with AIDS. There is a lot of potential with this character, so hopefully this will get better,

There are other books I enjoy, especially Earth 2 - though I am unimpressed with the Teen Titans. I do miss the old Justice Society, which was far and away my favorite series in the pre-Flashpoint DCU. I am curious if the Apocalypse that invaded Earth 2 is the same Apocalypse that invaded Earth 1 in the first Justice League story arc, and the two earths have already crossed. I am actually warming up to the post-Flashpoint DCU, so it will be interesting to see where my favorite characters are taken by the writers.

My main problem with the New 52 is it should have been a clean reboot of every character. Earth 2 is a perfect example of how to do a clean reboot correctly. But because DC kept some of the pre-Flashpoint history and erased other parts in the primary universe, it can be very confusing to figure out what of the pre-Flashpoint stories happened and which did not, and that is likely to require another "fix" at some point.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Should all sermons be John 3:16?

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

It is a common belief that whatever text of Scripture is being taught in a sermon, the pastor should find the quickest path to Jesus and then preach how Jesus died for our sins and how we can be saved. But are we ignoring an infinite number of incredibly valuable lessons for our daily lives if we boil every sermon down to John 3:16 and how we can move from condemned to redeemed? What happens after we are redeemed?

If you read the New Testament epistles, there is a huge amount of basic, practical, day-to-day instruction on how to live as a Christian and glorify God, not to mention warnings written to Christians about the dangers of sin. There are numerous warnings in both the Old and New Testaments for parents (especially fathers) to discipline their children, and at the same time to balance that discipline with love and affection.

There is a reason the Apostle Paul wrote this with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. -- II Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, provides us with an incredible treasure of lessons for us to learn, heroes for us to imitate, and villains to teach us how not to behave. All of this is done to point us to the Gospel, to be certain, and that should always be preached. But it would be a disservice to the Body of Christ not to spend a great deal of time on those lessons and preach exclusively on Christ's substitutionary atonement.

Obviously, the Gospel is the critical point in the life of any believer, and it is critical for us to be reminded that Jesus died for us so we can be free from the bondage of sin. Evangelism is a core duty of every Christian, including (and especially) preachers. But for a Believer, accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior is the starting point, not the end point. Sanctification continues throughout our entire life, and our pastors need to help us learn how to obey God, kill our sin, love our neighbors and be salt and light.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jesus was not a vegetarian!

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

Note: I originally wrote this in 2007.

If the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals want to make a theological argument regarding animal rights, they might want to spend a little more time studying Scripture and a little less time fantasizing about what their man-made "god" would do.

If God commands nonviolence toward animals, why did He command the nation of Israel to sacrifice animals to Him? In fact, when Abel sacrificed an animal from his flock and Cain "brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground", God accepted Abel's offering while rejecting Cain's. (See Genesis 4:1-5.) Later on, God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Abraham's son Isaac in Genesis 22:1-18.

The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are one and the same. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." In the New Testament, we read the following passages:

  • In Acts 10:10-17, the Apostle Peter receives a vision from God, where God commands him to "kill and eat" animals that had previously been considered unclean.

  • In Matthew 15:32-38, Jesus feeds the multitude with fish.

  • John 21:1-11, Jesus performs a miracle, helping His disciples catch a huge number of fish. This was after He rose from the dead.

  • In Luke 24:41-43, Jesus ate broiled fish. This was also after He was crucified and rose from the dead, and presumably no longer needed to eat.

1 Timothy 4:1-4 warns against "doctrines of devils" and those who are "speaking lies in hypocrisy". Paul writes that "every creature of God is good". This is a clear warning against the counterfeit "Jesus" of PETA. Furthermore, Revelation 22:18 warns against adding to the Word of God.

PETA's attempt to pervert Scripture and hijack the teachings of Jesus for their own narrow and extreme agenda is not just dishonest, it is blasphemous. Christians must not be fooled by Ingrid Newkirk's doctrines of devils.

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