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Friday, October 31, 2014

NBA Draft lottery reform is dead... for now.

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

Chris Mannix argues that the NBA made the right decision by voting against draft lottery reform, and he does have a good point. With any change as drastic as this one is, it is inevitable that there will be negative externalities and unintended consequences associated with that change.

The biggest potential problem is how changing the draft lottery to reduce the odds of the worst teams getting the top pick will impact small-market teams. While the Oklahoma City Thunder was the most vocal team in pointing this out, this is a particular item of concern for the Indiana Pacers. The big markets will always have an advantage in building through free agency, while the smaller markets are often forced to rely on the draft.

But while Mannix makes a good argument that the worst team rarely actually gets the #1 pick in the draft, the odds of getting that pick still present a strong incentive to intentionally lose games. When a team knows it has a one in four shot at getting a player that could transform the franchise by having the worst record in the game, it is difficult to pass that up - especially when that team already has a bad roster anyway.

The problem is that when a team is intentionally bad, it harms the integrity of the game and causes the fans to be cynical. Everyone knows that professional wrestling is "fake" in that the outcomes are predetermined. That should not be the case in a real sport with real competition. When a team like the Philadelphia 76ers are intentionally taking, the NBA looks a lot more like World Wrestling Entertainment than a legitimate sport.

Perhaps the proposal that was being considered by the owners was not the best solution, and a modified system can be put in place that will discourage tanking while not making things too difficult for small market teams to build a contender, or at least get into the playoffs. It is sensible to table this reform for the moment and try to build a better system, but the need for reform to preserve the integrity of the game is clear.

See previous articles here and here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Christians and Halloween

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

Tomorrow is Halloween. Some Christians have serious objections to participating in Halloween, and will not do so. Others do not see a problem, and allow their families to participate in trick or treating and other activities associated with October 31.

I understand that the history of Halloween involves superstitions about demons and such. To this day, some who dabble in or actively worship the occult see Halloween as a religious holiday. For the vast majority of people in this country, though, that is not the case. Halloween has become a money-making operation. Candy and costumes are sold and people go to parties. There is little if any occult influence today in the wider culture.

But that does not mean that sincere objections to Halloween should not be respected.

The answer for Christians, in my opinion, is to follow their conscience and be respectful of others' choices, regardless of their particular stance on Halloween. Those who do not celebrate Halloween should not judge those who do, and those who do celebrate Halloween should not judge those who do not. Absent a clear commandment from Scripture, we should respectfully agree to disagree and not fight about or divide over this issue. We should love each other and be unified in Christ.

In fact, this should be the position of Christians on any matter of conscience when there is no clear commandment of Scripture - to not judge, fight or divide over these differences. (Obviously, if there is a clear commandment in Scripture, that is a completely different matter.) We have enough to deal with in our lives without splitting into factions over the celebration of this day on the calendar.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Marriage equality" on a collision course with religious liberty

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

Printed in the Herald-Times, October 28, 2014 (Comments)

State recognition of homosexual marriage is on a collision course with freedom of religion, and I fear that freedom of religion is going to lose.

We are already seeing erosions of our cherished freedom of religion. A bed and breakfast in Hawaii lost a discrimination lawsuit when the owner declined to rent a room to a lesbian couple. A baker in Colorado was sanctioned by government because he did not want to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. A photographer in New Mexico was punished for not photographing a same-sex wedding.

Defenders of homosexual marriage argue that these cases have nothing to do with whether or not homosexual marriage is recognized by the state. (They also enthusiastically support government sanctioning these business owners for following their faith.) But we need to be clear here: When homosexual marriage is declared by government to be identical to the union of a man and a woman, do you think these cases will become more or less common? The question answers itself.

Those who think the state should force business owners to violate their consciences on sexual morality proclaim that freedom of religion is not at stake, because one is free to worship in one's home or church, but not in a "public accommodation." But faith is not so simple. People who are serious about their faith see it as interwoven into everything they do, not just an activity they engage in while in private.

Forcing private individuals who believe homosexual behavior to be an egregious sin to participate in a homosexual wedding is unconscionable and un-American. Forcing a bed and breakfast owner to rent a room that he knows will be used for behavior his faith declares to be sinful is a direct assault on freedom of conscience. Freedom of association necessarily includes the freedom not to associate, and freedom of religion means little if it is confined to your home and church.

If homosexuals were truly interested in tolerance, they would not try to force others to endorse their lifestyle.

The good news is that the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case provides a template for Christian business owners who do not want to be forced to participate in homosexual weddings or provide space for homosexual behavior.

Some would compare this to racial discrimination. That logic is flawed for two reasons: First, behavior is hardly identical to skin pigmentation. Behavior is not an immutable characteristic, unlike race. Second, the issue is not refusing to do business with all homosexuals, but that Christians should not be forced to endorse and participate in homosexual behavior, regardless of what Scripture says about that behavior.

The big difference between freedom of religion and "marriage equality" is that the former is explicitly protected by our Constitution, while the latter is not. If we take our Constitutional liberty and the rule of law seriously, we must begin to establish conscience protections for Christians who continue to submit to God's declared law on sexual morality.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hash marks on HTO comments

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

Some people continue to ask why I put several rows of # symbols in my comments on HeraldTimesOnline.com. I have answered this question repeatedly on HTO, and yet the question continues to be asked. Therefore, I am putting this answer here on the blog so I can easily reference it and not need to answer the same question over and over again.

The reason I do this is to separate text I am quoting from what I am writing in response to that quoted text. The hash marks provide a clear separation between the quoted text and my response. On the old HTO, the "block quote" function was very useful for quoting text, and there was even a button for it. That functionality does not exist on the TownNews.com template installed in July 2013.

I am making the best of things with the tools provided.

Happy Birthday to me

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

I am 41 years old today. Forty seemed so far away not too long ago, but here I am.

My life today is certainly not what I imagined it would be at 20, but it is much better than I would have expected. I have been blessed more than I could have ever dreamed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A quick note about Ebola

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

Ebola is a crisis in the "hot zone" - the three African nations that are now seeing the worst outbreak of the virus since it was discovered in 1976. This outbreak has killed more people than all other previous recorded outbreaks combined. Ebola is not a "crisis" in these United States. Stop calling it a crisis! When everything is a crisis, nothing is a crisis.

When government solves a problem it created

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

Last week's Bloomington City Council agenda was an example of how a little forethought can prevent a problem and the need for more action.

Eleven years ago, the city of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals approved a setback variance for Bloomington Paint and Wallpaper, and the store was built almost on the street. (See here here here for more.) At the city council meeting last week, councilors considered whether to add a "no turn on red" sign at Grimes and Walnut, where the store sits. The store all but eliminates visibility of northbound traffic for westbound drivers.

So city government created a problem - in this case allowing a dangerous line-of-sight obstruction - and now belatedly addressing the problem over a decade later. The Bloomington Paint and Wallpaper store should never have been allowed to sit directly next to the street. Had the building been set back a farther, there would be no obstruction and therefore no need for the "no turn on red" sign. This would have improved traffic flow and safety.

It is what it is. The building and parking lot cannot be ripped out and re-built in a more sensible configuration, but it never should have been built that way to begin with.

I am normally one to oppose government restrictions on land use and development in the name of private property rights, but there should be reasonable limitations on property rights in the name of public safety and protecting the property of neighbors. This was one of those times. The placement of the BPAW building created an unnecessary traffic hazard that should have been avoided in 2003. It should have been obvious to the BZA that this would create a line-of-sight problem. Better decisions need to be made in the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How to lose a bone

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

Nano had the bone. Now Tera has the bone.

Nano is not very happy about this.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I really hate spiders

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

While I know that spiders are valuable to the ecosystem, my arachnophobia still forces me to say "the only good spider is a dead spider." I cannot imagine coming across one of these monster spiders. Smashing it wouldn't be good enough. I would want to obliterate it with a Daisy Cutter to make sure it is really dead.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cord cutters and subscription services

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

HBO's announcement that they would be offering a stand-alone subscription service demonstrates how so-called "cord cutters" (people without a traditional subscription to a cable or satellite service) are shaping the entertainment medium. Will this change how cable and satellite TV companies do business? If they do not, will they be left behind?

Some cable subscribers have complained for years that they have to buy the entire cable package for only a few channels they actually watch. If the cable company that serves your area (and there is often only one) does not carry a channel you really want, you either have to do without or look into satellite. Both customers and pundits have argued for a la carte services - allowing consumers to pick and choose which channels we want - for years.

I have heard the arguments against this many times - big channels subsidize small channels, which could not survive unless they were bundled into a package deal. But why should consumers be told that in order to get the channels they want, they have to pay for channels they do not? Why not expand the market to people who do not subscribe to cable or satellite at all, but would do so if they could just pay for what they want?

Twenty or thirty years ago, this was a fruitless discussion, but the advent of ubiquitous broadband internet is changing the market. People can watch their TV shows on Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus or Netflix. A subscription to all three is less than $30 a month, compared to $50 - $100 for a common cable TV package. All three have smartphone and tablet apps that allow subscribers to watch anywhere, whenever they want. Many of the networks' websites have their popular shows up the next day.

Millennials and younger are more likely to be "cord cutters," and that population will likely expand as tech-savvy generations establish their own households and subscription services expand. Will cable and satellite TV providers be forced to offer a la carte service to keep from losing too many customers? We will see.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The county council's shameful handout to Planned Parenthood

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

If Planned Parenthood genuinely "needs" the $4,500 they got from Monroe County government last week, why can't they ask the national PP office to give them a little bit of the $11,700,000 budget surplus it reported in its most recent fiscal report? That way, the local abortion "clinic" can get the money it "needs" while the Monroe County Council can distribute that $4,500 to one of the organizations denied funding - a total of $75,000 in funds that were denied.

But see, this is not and has never been about funding a need. This is PP seeking a political endorsement from county government. Planned Parenthood already gets funded by the Bloomington City Council every June, but fleecing city taxpayers every summer is not enough. They need to fleece county taxpayers too, while truly local organizations that could actually use funding are left out in the cold. The idea that PP's request was more worthy than any of the organizations that were denied is laughable - unless your goal is to make a pro-abortion political statement.

This is shameful.

Even worse, both the city and county social services funds are designed to help charitable organizations get funding for a one-time expense such as a refrigeration unit or a delivery truck. But Planned Parenthood is not acting under that pretense any more. PP wants (and gets) money to subsidize its operating budget, and they got that money from both the city and county councils this year. They will be back to fleece the taxpayers at both the city and county levels again next year, and will continue to come back until our elected leaders say "no."

As usual, I spoke at the meeting opposing the grant. My speech started off poorly - I knew what I was going to say and I had notes but I stumbled over my words. I said I was in the fourth city council district, but I meant to say I was in the fourth county council district. (You can listen to my remarks on YouTube.)

Fortunately, corporate welfare for the local abortion "clinic" did not pass unanimously, as the two Republicans on the county council voted against it. That is a better outcome than we have gotten from the city council the last two years.

I like the fact that the council votes individually on each grant application, rather than taking one vote on the whole package. This way, if there is disagreement on specific grants, councilors can vote "no" on one grant while supporting most of the others. This also prevents dishonest hacks like 2007 city council candidate Jillian Kinzie from falsely characterizing a councilor's opposition to one grant as opposition to all grants.

But the county social services funding process needs to be more open. With the city, the process is predictable. The dates are all set months in advance and the vote always takes place in June. The applications are all posted to the city website, so voters can download and read them. County government could take lessons from the city. None of the applications were on the county website, and the date of the final vote was not posted either. It was on the council's agenda, but unless you check every month's agenda (or call and ask, as I did) you will not know.

I suspect this is because the county council wants to blunt public opposition. They demonstrated this a couple years ago, when they voted on the Planned Parenthood funding two days after Christmas and the day after a blizzard snarled Bloomington. What are they afraid of? Are they really this upset that the people who pay for their salary and health care benefits will disagree with them using county tax money to make a pro-abortion political statement?

Voters need to demand that the process be open, with all of the relevant details on the social service funding committee website, like it is with city government. Nothing less than full and complete transparency should be accepted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Democrats scrape the bottom of the barrel

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

Democratic turnout flyer: "If you want to prevent another Ferguson…"

Utterly disgusting.

Opposing corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Using laptops in class, and common courtesy

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

I am pretty sure that whoever wrote this staff editorial for the Indiana Daily Student was being sarcastic with the claim that banning laptops in classrooms could have "potentially catastrophic consequences," but the issue of allowing students to use laptops in class is not as clear-cut as the IDS editorial would suggest.

First, there is evidence that laptops not only hinder learning for the students who are using them, but also interfere with the students around the laptop user. This makes sense - browsing Facebook on a computer screen is going to be more visible to surrounding students than doodling in a notebook or working on a crossword puzzle.

I do not think it is necessarily appropriate to ban laptops all together, but students should be expected to be adults. Expecting students to not check Facebook for fifty minutes is not too much to ask. I took a class for fun a few years ago, and the professor's laptop policy was simple: Students were allowed to use laptops but were expected to use them for class work. If they were caught on Facebook, they would be told to close their laptop. If the privilege was consistently abused, all laptops would be banned.

I am sure that for some students, laptops can be useful. But that usefulness must be combined with respect for fellow students, as well as respect for the professor's authority. A little common courtesy goes a long way.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Some perspective on Ebola

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

It has been said that we are not equipped to deal with Ebola here in these United States.

Yes, the outbreak is out of control is West Africa. It will probably get worse.

There are a lot of reasons why the outbreak is so bad in West Africa.

  • West Africa does not have experience dealing with Ebola or how to combat it.
  • Cultural burial practices have helped spread the disease
  • The governments of the countries affected are corrupt
  • In some cases aid sent to the "hot zone" is not getting in
  • The people in the "hot zone" do not trust their governments (and rightly so)
  • In some cases, the people do not trust aid workers either, accusing them of actually bringing Ebola the "hot zone." Aid workers are being attacked by a distrustful population.

But there have been multiple outbreaks in East Africa that have been controlled, and eventually eliminated.

If they can control and eliminate outbreaks in East Africa, what makes you think it would not be controllable in these United States of America?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Malala Yousafzai wins the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM (#)

When Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating for the education of women and girls, it was a great moment. It also serves to remind us of what our enemies are.

Miss Yousafzai almost never saw this day. It was two years ago that Muslim terrorists stormed the bus she was riding and shot her in the head at point blank range. Why did they do this? They wanted to silence her and they were angry about her blog advocating for educating women and girls.

Now think about this for a minute. These Muslim terrorists are such a bunch of spineless, pathetic wimps that they were literally terrified of a fifteen year old girl and they needed to violently silence her with a bullet to the head. The threat they needed to eliminate this day was not a Pakistani army unit or the American forces across the border in Afghanistan, but a scary, threatening and intimidating fifteen year old girl.

Oh. Wait. Malala Yousafzai was not going to shoot back. That explains it.

This is who Muslim terrorists are. People who are so pathetic that they are terrified of a fifteen year old girl, but people who are so barbaric that they will not hesitate to violently assassinate that teenage girl for the "crime" of having an opinion that differs from theirs. Muslim terrorists are mindless savages.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reaping the whirlwind

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

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. -- 1 Corinthians 6:18

Much has been said about the "affirmative consent" law in California, whether it will be effective in preventing sexual assault and whether such a law is appropriate. What is not being talked about as much (but what needs to be addressed) is the rebellion that got us here in the first place.

The underlying problem is that sex, instead of being special, has been trampled under foot and is ordinary and commonplace. Instead of teaching young men that they are to respect and honor women, we have created a culture of sex on demand without consequences. Our culture gorges on a never-ending stream of pornography. The female body is "available" because the Sexual Revolution has made it so.

Is it any surprise, then, when men go too far? Is it a surprise when fraternities create lists of which women will be drugged with "roofies" so they are vulnerable? Sex is a fundamental human right, after all. Eliminating what used to be an ingrained cultural disapproval of fornication has largely vanished, replaced by an anything-goes mentality. The few remaining cultural restrictions on sexual behavior are being chipped away.

If we are serious about fighting rape culture, then we need to teach our young men to respect and honor women. We teach young men to show these women respect and honor by refraining from having sex with a woman until she is his wife. We teach young men to be sexually pure and that sex is a gift from God that is meant to be shared and enjoyed within the boundaries He has set for that activity.

This is not something we can do by having the state legislature pass a law, or having the state university run educational programs. This is something that must be done family by family, and church by church. This means it must come from the pulpit, from fathers and mothers, and from church youth groups and college ministries. We have spent generations creating this mess, but it can be cleaned up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We should not be celebrating suicide

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

Matt Walsh raised some excellent points in his October 9 editorial about the impending suicide of a 29 year old woman with terminal cancer. The fact that this woman is being described as "brave" and that she is being publicly admired and praised for her decision to kill herself is deeply troubling.

It is easy to see this woman's perspective. She can die sooner on her own terms, without pain. Or she can hang on for a few more months and likely die after going through a great deal of pain and suffering. If the battle is indeed not winnable, it is easy to sympathize with her decision, regardless of whether you agree with assisted suicide or not.

However, this is not a decision that should be praised and admired. It is a tragedy, and her death should be mourned regardless of how she dies. As Walsh points out, if she is dying with "dignity," do people who fight cancer until the end not have dignity? If she is "brave," are the people who fight to prolong their lives to the bitter end not brave?

We should also be concerned at how this is corrupting the medical profession. Doctors are supposed to save lives and relieve suffering, not kill their patients. And given the amount of space devoted to discussing the exorbitant cost of end-of-life care, it is easy to see this evolving from a decision individuals make to an obligation to avoid being a burden on one's family or on the health care system. Death panels, anyone?

Life is a precious gift from God, and we are made in God's image. This is why suicide is wrong and should be discouraged. While there is life, there is hope. Who knows what blessings will come in the last days of a terminally ill person's life - both for that person and for that person's family and friends? Perhaps a terminal illness is a chance for someone to repent and be redeemed - or for someone else to be saved upon recognizing their own mortality.

Murder is wrong, and should never be celebrated. That is true whether it is self-murder or the murder of another.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The myth of "animal rights"

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

Blast from the past:

The myth of "animal rights" - Part I

The myth of "animal rights" - Part II

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monroe County Commissioner: Libertarians vs. Republicans

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

Despite being a Republican (or perhaps because I am a Republican) I like the Libertarian Party. Libertarians keep Republicans honest on matters of limited government, low taxes and government regulations. But while Libertarians can be valuable, they can also be counterproductive to the cause of a (small L) libertarian form of government. One such case is the race for Monroe County Commissioner.

In this countywide race, we have a Libertarian and a Republican trying to unseat an incumbent Democrat. The last time an incumbent Democrat was removed from that office was 2002, when Brian O'Neill was sent home by voters. Removing Pat Stoffers will be an uphill battle, and splitting the conservative/libertarian vote will only make that more difficult. This is why (small L) libertarians should be voting for the Republican, Bob LaGarde.

Libertarians argue that they take votes equally from both Republicans and Democrats. That might be true, in national and state elections. In local elections - specifically the race for Monroe County Commissioner - I very much doubt that will be the case. This is because arguably the most important issue facing the commissioners is land use policy, with the vision laid out in the comprehensive plan and implemented by various zoning laws. These laws and regulations have a huge impact on private property rights.

When asked about the comprehensive plan that has caused concern among landowners and business owners, LaGarde offered the following quote from President Taft:

"Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race."

That is certainly a strong defense of private property rights. Dave Nakarado, as a Libertarian, also is a strong defender of private property rights. So with two candidates who strongly defend private property rights, the question for (small L) libertarians and conservatives is how our vote will be most effective in preserving our private property rights against a county government that always seems to be looking for ways to restrict those rights.

The best way to look at this is to look at the 2012 election. Nakarado got 11% of the vote two years ago, with the incumbent Democrat getting 51% and the Republican candidate getting the rest. Most voters are going to choose one of the two major parties, and it is a rare occasion when a third party or independent candidate has a legitimate shot at winning, especially in a three way race. Realistically, the best Nakarado can hope for is splitting the conservative vote and causing Stoffers to win with a plurality.

Nakarado is a good candidate and would be a great county commissioner. Monroe County could use someone like him in elective office, especially in a legislative capacity. But if we are going to have a realistic chance of replacing Pat Stoffers with someone who respects private property rights and believes in limiting county government's reach into our lives and wallets, we need to support and vote for the Republican candidate, Bob LaGarde.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The diva cannot allow herself to get wet

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

So I get home the other day and let the dogs out... Or one of them anyway. The other one looks at the rain, balks and runs away. She is too much of a diva to get wet. So the diva Beagle gets picked up and physically carried outside, all the way to the far side of the back yard, so she will do what she needs to do.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

A serious question

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

When did we get to the point that rape is an appropriate tool for law enforcement?

Are we living in some kind of twisted alternate reality?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Random thoughts of the day

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

♣ - With the paranoia about police not being able to do their jobs if they do not have a way past smartphone encryption, I have to ask: How did police do their job ten years ago, before the modern smartphone market existed?

♣ - I said a year ago that if Barack Obama's justice department files charges against George Zimmerman, Obama should be impeached. If we take our liberty, our Constitutional rights and the rule of law seriously, Congress must begin impeachment proceedings in the event such charges are filed.

♣ - Here is an excellent article at Reason.com about "stranger danger." The reality is that crime statistics just do not justify this level of paranoia that produces so many false alarms. We should be careful and take reasonable precautions to protect children, but we should not be living in terror.

♣ - Mandatory minimum sentences are an outgrowth of our paranoia about crime and drugs, and have done more harm than good. It is time for them to be abolished. We should trust judges to judge.

♣ - Is there anyone so deluded as to believe Greg Orman, the "independent" U.S. Senate candidate in Kansas, will not caucus with the Democrats if he is elected? Otherwise, why would the Democratic candidate drop out?

♣ - Yes, internet trolls exist. This is not a surprise. Trolls who actually make a false police report because they are angry about "open carry" should be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. But a few internet trolls ranting on Facebook and Twitter is hardly cause for alarm.

♣ - One can support law enforcement while also condemning excessive force, opposing overly intrusive police tactics and defending civil liberties. That is not an either/or proposition.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gender insanity in government schools

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

In the middle of the politically correct gender politics nonsense in Nebraska is one particularly disturbing statement:

  • Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of "boys and girls" so the student can learn that this is wrong.

The so-called "school" has absolutely no business doing this.

No charges for police who maimed Bounkham Phonesavanh

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

Some people are upset that the SWAT officers who maimed Bounkham Phonesavanh will not face charges. While I share that frustration at this criminally reckless raid, the real problem is not the police. The real problem is the politicians who set the policy in the failed War on Drugs.

Baby suffers horrific burns thanks to War on Drugs, Part I.

Baby suffers horrific burns thanks to War on Drugs, Part II.

Baby suffers horrific burns thanks to War on Drugs, Part III.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

School lunches, Seven Oaks and personal responsibility

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

At what point do we expect parents to actually take care of their children, instead of shoving that responsibility off on the taxpayers? Should the schools be a secondary (or even primary) parents? At what point does parents' irresponsibility become criminal child neglect?

In a September 30 article in the Herald-Times, a teacher at Edgewood High School (who is also a member of the board that votes on charter applications) expressed concern that students at Seven Oaks Classical School would not be provided lunch by the school. H-T reporter Mary Keck summarized his concern, that "in some cases, the lunch that students get at school is the only nutritious meal they may have that day."

It is safe to assume that such students are from low-income families. What about food stamps? What about WIC? What about AFDC? Are these families not using those programs? Are the parents so helpless, uncaring or incompetent that they cannot provide food for their children before and after school? How are these children eating on the weekends? If this situation is as dire as the teacher claims, then it appears we have a case of criminal child neglect. Maybe the parents need to lose custody of their children or even be criminally prosecuted for neglect.

And really - if anyone actually believes that Seven Oaks teachers and staff are going to be completely unconcerned with children not able to eat lunch, that person is far too cynical.

The complaining about SOCS not providing lunch or transportation is typical of our victim society, and our envious nature. If someone else has something we do not have, or cannot take advantage of, our natural urge is to desire the other person be denied that item or service. There will always be things - yes, even in our government school system - that some people take advantage of while others cannot or do not. That does not mean we should not allow families the choice to have their children educated free of charge by an alternative school that has been chartered by the state.

No, not every family in Monroe County will be able to take advantage of SOCS. Limited enrollment alone guarantees that will be the case - but that is the case with every charter school. Resources are not unlimited. But that does not mean we should not allow this opportunity for parents who want to try an alternative educational method by denying this charter. The charter application should be approved.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yesterday's SCOTUS decision on homosexual marriage

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

With yesterday's decision by the United States Supreme Court, here are three editorials I wrote about how government recognition of homosexual marriage threatens religious liberty:

Below is a press release from the American Family Association of Indiana. Reprinted with permission.

For Immediate Release 11/6/14 (4:25 pm EST)

The following is a statement from Micah Clark, Executive Director of the American Family Association of Indiana on the news today of the Supreme Court's refusal to consider the future of natural marriage and voter referenda in America. The Supreme Court surprised most observers when they refused the consider an appeal of lower court rulings from Indiana and four other states.

"This is not the final resolution to this issue. The 5th, 6th, 8th, and 11th Circuits can still rule for natural marriage or state's rights. The Supreme Court could, and would likely, take this matter up, if any of these circuits recognized marriage as a gendered institution deserving legal protection from the legislature or the ballot box.

It is worth noting that the Supreme Court did not rule on this issue, they simply took a pass for now. In the end, however, no matter what any court says, the needs of children to both a mother and a father will never change. Marriage is an institution that protects the interests children and society. It predates Indiana law and US law. It is not a tool for applauding the desires of activists attempting to use the courts to rewrite what marriage has always been.

Marriage is not merely the union of any two people, but the special union of a man and a woman that benefits children and society like no other relationship. No court can ever change that truth.

No judge in the world can override the Judge of the Universe. God designed marriage as the special union of both genders. He created men and women as complimentary human beings and scolded against anyone separating them in marriage. We enter uncharted territory as a nation if we allow less than 2% of the population to force a new definition of marriage upon every person, institution, business, and church.

In states impacted by the court's notice today, legislators should consider protecting the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of association of those millions of individuals who hold to the traditional view of marriage which has served children and societies well since the beginning of time."

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Willie Horton ad was 100% true and fair

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

No matter how much Leftists whine about the Willie Horton attack ad from the 1988 campaign for President, it was a completely fair and truthful ad. It is not racist whatsoever.

You can see it for yourself on YouTube here and here and here.

Susan Estrich is still bitter about the ad, 26 years later, and she brought it up in a recent column. After almost three decades, the Left is still trying to rewrite history, claiming that the ad was somehow "racist," or "unfair" to Michael Dukakis. It was neither racist nor unfair.

Let's review. Horton actually was a convicted murderer. That is true. Horton actually did get a furlough from prison as part of a program supported and defended by Dukakis. That is true. Horton actually did brutally attack and terrorize a young couple while on furlough, repeatedly raping the woman. That is true. All of those facts have been well-documented over the years.

So how is the ad "racist," as Democrats allege? Is it because Horton is black? That has nothing to do with it. If anything, attacking the ad on racial grounds is in itself racist. Horton's skin pigmentation had nothing to do with his crime, or the foolishness of letting a convicted murderer have a furlough from prison.

Horton's skin pigmentation does not change the fact that if not for Dukakis' irresponsible and foolish policy, a young couple would never have been terrorized, stabbed, raped and traumatized. Keeping the public safe from dangerous criminals has nothing whatsoever to do with skin pigmentation.

The cries of "racism" are meant to silence legitimate debate about public policy. Democrats knew they had been caught, and they knew the consequences of their policies were out in the open and being debated. The cries of "racism" were meant to distract from the debate over Dukakis' record, and smear the people who were truthfully pointing out what Dukakis had done as governor.

It is true that the Horton ad fed the national paranoia about crime, and our paranoia about crime has led to the erosion of our civil liberties as well as the frightening escalation in the use of force by law enforcement. We have decades of bad policy, at the national and state level, that we need to roll back in order to reclaim our liberty.

However, rational people are capable of doing the intellectual equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time. It is possible to recognize and seek to roll back the abuses of the War on Crime and the War on Drugs and recognize that Dukakis' policy was dangerously stupid and foolish. One can see the need for the criminal justice system to protect us from criminals and carefully guard our civil liberties from abuses by that same system. This is not an either-or question - that is a false choice. The answer to whether we should protect society from evil monsters like Horton or from abuse of power by government is "both."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

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

Link for today:

Once again: police work is NOT getting more dangerous.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ebola in Texas

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:00 AM (#)

It was inevitable that a sick person someone from the affected area of Africa would get here. Our world is too interconnected for that not to happen.

If we really want to be safe, we are going to have to spend some money to kill the outbreak in the hot zone. And because we did not spend money 6 months ago, it is going to be a lot more expensive now.

A billion dollars, in our budget, is chump change. It is a rounding error.

Let's spend that money and fix this mess before it gets worse.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Political Correctness endorses man-on-woman violence

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM (#)

If only Baltimore Ravens star player Ray Rice had publicly declared himself to be a "transgender" woman, perhaps he would still have a job after brutally knocking out his fiancé, Janay Palmer.

Female MMA fighter Tamikka Brents recently suffered a broken eye socket that required seven staples, as well as a concussion due to a violent beating by her opponent - a man named Fallon Fox. While Fox claims to be a woman - and has had himself surgically mutilated - he is in fact a man. As a man, he has definite (and unfair) advantages against a woman in a sport like mixed martial arts.

Put aside for a moment the morality of transsexualism. If someone chooses to live as the opposite of their natural sex, that is one thing. It is something altogether different for a man (with all of the physical advantages being a man brings to hand-to-hand combat) to dishonestly pretend to be a woman and then brutally beat and injure a legitimate woman who was expecting to fight a woman rather than a man.

It shows how absurd our society has come that we are actually having a debate about this. In a time when we were sane, Fox would have been permanently banned from competing in MMA fights as a woman. There would have been no question about the propriety of his behavior. Again, setting aside the morality of transsexualism, it is simply unsafe to pit a woman against a man in a mixed martial arts fight.

It is sad that we as a society have gone so far over the edge, and that we have become so pathetic, that we refuse to recognize and name the plain and obvious truth: Fallon Fox is a man, not a woman.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

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

A quick note:

Let's everybody take the panic about the Enterovirus down a couple notches.

Pseudonyms for letters to the editor? Absolutely not!

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

For much of the internet, online comments are a virtual sewer. This is because when people can comment anonymously, they will say things they would never dare say if their real name and reputation were attached to their comments. We see this in action at the local newspaper, the Herald-Times.

Letters to the editor, which require a real name to be attached to the article, are generally much more civil than anonymous comments for stories - and this is despite the fact that the comments are moderated. The use of real names is important to the civility of discourse. The quality of comments and the civility of discussion on HeraldTimesOnline would be greatly improved if the fake names were abolished.

Losing the "three strikes" rule that HeraldTimesOnline implemented in 2012 by adopting the vastly inferior TownNews.com template in 2013 has hurt civil discourse badly. The "three strikes" rule was incredibly valuable in keeping the trolls contained, because they knew they would be gagged for two weeks if they refused to control themselves and had three comments removed in fourteen days. The only stick the H-T has to discourage trolls now is banning, and that is done so rarely (even for the most egregious trolls) it has no real value in maintaining order.

Last week, a letter to the editor was published encouraging the Herald-Times to allow publication of anonymous letters to the editor. Allowing fake names for LTTE would be a huge step backward for civil and rational community dialogue, pushing the LTTE section towards the often nasty (and always rowdy) story comments.

If you want your opinion published in the newspaper, you should be willing to take responsibility for your words by attaching your real name to it. Allowing people to sign LTTE with fake names would not even address the problem that the author presents: His first and last name is identical to another person who has letters published on a regular basis, including one that was published three weeks earlier and within the same calendar month. If the other person continues to write letters to the editor, there will still be the opportunity for people to confuse the author of the September 24 letter with the author of the September 3 letter.

Name confusion is a legitimate point. Even in a small city like Bloomington (with about 81,000 people) there will be a number of people with the same name. If you have one of those old-fashioned telephone books lying around, take a look under the name "Smith" and see how many people share the same first and last name.

Perhaps the Herald-Times could do a better job differentiating between people with similar names, but the reality is that most people are not going to know the unique identifier attached to people who share a name. Most people do not follow LTTE closely enough to make that distinction.

The suggestion of having each writer be assigned a pseudonym, though, would be a radical and unprecedented departure from the way letters to the editor are handled by the newspaper industry.

Like it or not, sometimes community debate with real names is messy, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Supporting Seven Oaks Classical School

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

This is a letter I sent last week supporting the charter application for Seven Oaks Classical School.

To the charter school board,

As the father of two sons, I write you today in support of the Seven Oaks Classical School's charter application. While I understand that some in MCCSC (including the school board and employees) are opposed to the application, I believe it should be approved.

I have two primary reasons why I support this application. Their names are Timothy Tibbs and Rob Tibbs. When my sons get older, I want to provide them with the best education possible, and I am excited at the possibility of learning in a classical environment. I am especially excited about instruction in Latin, which will help my boys develop an extensive vocabulary.

I am opposed to vouchers for private schools, because "with government money comes government strings." SOCS is not a private school, despite the dishonest attempts to mischaracterize it as such. It is a public school, bound by the laws of the state of Indiana.

Some have worried about the values this school will teach, and are worried about this being an enclave of conservative thought. As you know, the primary place where children get their values is their parents, not their school. Children from conservative home swill be taught conservative values, regardless of whether they are at SOCS or MCCSC.

For example, Seven Oaks will not be teaching creationism, but many SOCS students will be taught that anyway - by their parents, not the school.

Some within MCCSC have worried about "losing" money to SOCS, but that carries an assumption that that money belongs to MCCSC to begin with. It does not. That money belongs to and follows the students. The objection to losing the money looks more like turf protection than a real concern for the students at MCCSC.

As you know, all children are different. Different methods work for different families. This is a method that will work for many families, and will greatly improve the learning for students. I ask you to allow us this choice, so we can try this method. No one is forced to attend SOCS, but I ask that you be pro-choice and allow Monroe County parents this opportunity.