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Monday, June 30, 2014

Eugenics, vasectomies and minimizing harm

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

The case of Jessie Lee Herald being offered a lesser punishment if he gets a vasectomy absolutely does raise troubling questions and is a reminder of a very dark and shameful chapter in American history. We need to be very worried about government abuse of power, the precedent set by this case and the real possibility of a slippery slope. If this is to stand, any and all such cases must be completely transparent and open to the public.

With all of that said and recognizing the danger, I do not have a problem with asking Herald be voluntarily sterilized in order to prevent him from fathering more illegitimate children with more women. He already has seven children with six women. Should taxpayers be on the hook for the results of his promiscuous sexual behavior? Or should the future harm he will do be minimized, for the good of society?

The primary reason I do not have a problem with this is that it is not eugenics in the traditional sense. Herald is not being targeted for his race or ethnicity, nor is the sterilization due to being mentally "feeble." It was a part of a deal offered to him to reduce his time in prison for the crimes he committed. He is not being deceived (as many women of color were under previous eugenics programs) or forced to consent to the operation, and the details of the deal are public.

Where I draw the distinction between this and true eugenics is that Herald was offered the deal because of his reckless and irresponsible behavior, not because of an innate quality. He committed a crime and was offered a deal to reduce his time behind bars - and this deal has the potential for long-term benefits to the entire community.

But the real problem here is the culture of sexual anarchy where a man fathering multiple children with multiple women is not seen as an immoral, shameful or dishonorable thing. When men can have sex and then leave the mothers (often multiple mothers) of their children in the lurch, it perpetuates a cycle of generational poverty as well as the many other destructive consequences of sexual immorality. If you are looking for a "war on women," Herald is the face of it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Absurd, pathetic and depressing - if this is real.

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

I hope this is some sort of elaborate hoax. Please tell me we have not become so pathetic as a society that this is actually happening. The fact that this is even plausible is depressing enough.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Excellent news on abortion "clinic" buffer zones

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:30 AM (#)

It is excellent news that the buffer zones around abortion "clinics" in Massachusetts have been ruled illegal.

The stupid... It hurts!!

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

I am just shaking my head at this idiotic editorial.

It is amazing how stupid some people are.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Twenty five years of dominance in San Antonio

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

The San Antonio Spurs' dominating 4-1 win in the 2014 NBA Finals was certainly a significant achievement. This was a team that proved it really is the best in the world. But even more impressive is how good the Spurs have been for twenty five years now, since the arrival of #1 draft pick David Robinson. With only three exceptions, the Spurs have won at least fifty games every year since 1989-1990. (The lockout-shortened 1999 season should be counted, because of San Antonio's winning percentage.) Here is their record:

  • 2013-14 -- 62 - 20
  • 2012-13 -- 58 - 24
  • 2011-12 -- 50 - 16
  • 2010-11 -- 61 - 21
  • 2009-10 -- 50 - 32
  • 2008-09 -- 54 - 28
  • 2007-08 -- 56 - 26
  • 2006-07 -- 58 - 24
  • 2005-06 -- 63 - 19
  • 2004-05 -- 59 - 23
  • 2003-04 -- 57 - 25
  • 2002-03 -- 60 - 22
  • 2001-02 -- 58 - 24
  • 2000-01 -- 58 - 24
  • 1999-00 -- 53 - 29
  • 1998-99 -- 37 - 13
  • 1997-98 -- 56 - 26
  • 1996-97 -- 20 - 62
  • 1995-96 -- 59 - 23
  • 1994-95 -- 62 - 20
  • 1993-94 -- 55 - 27
  • 1992-93 -- 49 - 33
  • 1991-92 -- 47 - 35
  • 1990-91 -- 55 - 27
  • 1989-90 -- 56 - 26

If you look at other championship-caliber teams over the last twenty-five years, none of them have had the kind of unbroken success that San Antonio has enjoyed. They have either fallen into mediocrity or the lottery. And while the players on the court (and the coach devising the strategy needed to win games) deserve the credit in each individual season, the unbroken streak of excellence is due to an incredible front office.

Think about this for a minute. Scores of players have come and gone. They have been traded, retired, or cut. But the Spurs front office has managed to keep the team near the top of the NBA every single year (with the exception of the arguably tanked 1996-1997 season) without needing to tear everything down and spend years rebuilding.

That cannot be said of NBA teams in Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Miami, Indianapolis or Boston - all of which have been very successful at one time or another (and sometimes for years) in that time frame. Each and every one of those teams has suffered through rebuilding phases. Not the Spurs.

Say what you will about the 1996-1997 season and how the Spurs got Tim Duncan, but it is nothing short of front office brilliance that has led San Antonio to be near the top of the NBA not only since he arrived, but for several years before that. The Spurs front office added the pieces they needed to add to keep the team relevant, often finding talent overlooked by the rest of the league that has been critical to their championship aspirations.

There is no question that the Spurs have by far the best front office in the NBA over the last twenty-five years, and perhaps the best front office in NBA history.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A very important link

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

From the Washington Post:

New ACLU report takes a snapshot of police militarization in these United States.

There is an urgent need to rethink police tactics and drastically limit paramilitary SWAT raids.

NAFTA was a Clinton policy

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

A helpful reminder from 2009: NAFTA was a Clinton policy. That is absolute truth.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Print edition vs. online edition

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:45 AM (#)

The only advantage of subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper instead of the website is that the print edition does not lock you out if there is a problem with the subscription database.

Washington Redskins, property rights and free speech

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

To follow up on a short post from last week, and the comments under that post, here are some additional thoughts about the Washington Redskins' trademark being stolen by the Obama regime.

First of all, intellectual property rights are property rights. The team has been the Washington Redskins since 1937, and has had its trademark for decades.Taking away the trademark protection and allowing others to use the name without paying a royalty to the team is government-enabled theft, pure and simple. This was a purely political decision, and no matter what trademark law says the Obama regime does not have the legal authority under the Constitution to punish the Washington Redskins because he does not like their name.

Second, I used the wrong term: It is a trademark, not a patent. To which I say: Whoop de diddly do. I am sure none of my critics have ever used the wrong word in either conversation or something written. Yes, I made a mistake, but it is patently absurd to argue that one wrong word affects my credibility one way or the other. Get over it.

Third, of course this is a free speech issue. The Obama regime has encouraged theft on a grand scale because of an offensive word, and has moved to deny the Washington Redskins equal protection under the law for their intellectual property. The fact that this is a shamelessly political decision by Obama regime activists is illustrated by an excellent column by Brent Bozell. It is absurd that the abbreviation for "Mothers I'd Like to F***" is given trademark protection but the name of a football team that has had the same name for nearly 80 years is not.

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office... approved the phrase "Dago Swagg," despite the insult to Italian-Americans, as well as "Uppity Negro."
  • Nine uses became registered trademarks, including "Diary of a MILF," "MILF Magnet," MILF Next Door," "Backroom MILF," "MILF Workout" and even "Fat MILF."
  • The PTO found insufficient evidence that the term "Cumbrella" for condoms was scandalous.

Fortunately, the Redskins' trademark protection will remain in place as the Obama regime's decision is appealed. While I personally think the name should be changed, that decision should be made by the National Football team and the Washington Redskins, not by bureaucrats in the Obama regime. And yes, this is an Obama decision. He has made absolutely no effort to stop or reverse this decision by his own Executive branch. Obama apologists need to own this decision, especially since they are praising it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Planned Parenthood funding scandal continues

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

The latest shameful chapter in the long-running scandal of Democrats on the Bloomington City Council appropriating a "social services" fund for political purposes played out last week, with a surprising admission. This farce has been going on for fifteen years now, and I have opposed and exposed it every year as the funds have been unethically spent.

The surprising admission came from councilor Marty Spechler, who admitted that the decision to fund Planned Parenthood was a political decision. This is something that opponents of this handout have been saying for twelve years now. PP made it obvious that this was a political game with their antics in 2002, refusing the offer of a private donation in the amount of the handout they requested from the city, instead demanding a vote by elected officials to subsidize them. For a sitting member of the city council to admit that money that is supposed to be for helping those in need is being used for political purposes is refreshing in its honesty, though still scandalous.

Spechler also said that since abortion is legal, the city council has an obligation to uphold the law. His premise and his conclusion do not logically follow. The fact that abortion is "legal" due to legislation by judicial oligarchy does not require the Bloomington City Council to give thousands upon thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood every year for the past fifteen years. The people of Bloomington deserve better from our elected officials than this illogical nonsense.

Darryl Neher whined that so much attention was going to Planned Parenthood funding, despite all of the other projects funded by the Hopkins grant. It is a silly thing to whine about, because Neher and the council have known for twelve years how controversial funding Planned Parenthood is in this community, and he knows that people will show up to object. If Neher wants the attention focused on the other grants, then he should have pushed for PP to be excluded this year. With over $400,000 in requests denied, it would have been easy to distribute the money elsewhere.

Susan Sandberg dishonestly whined about people saying all of the organizations wanted a handout, when the only objection in public comments was to the grant to Planned Parenthood. Again, the people of Bloomington deserve better than this. If Sandberg has an objection to what was said, she should address what was said instead of creating arguments out of whole cloth that were never made.

Sandberg also whined in response to my criticism of giving Planned Parenthood money for computers and office furniture in years past (before Sandberg was on the council) that the council gives the organizations what they ask for, not what the city council determines they need. But it is the job of the city council to screen these applications, and appropriate the limited funds in the way that will help people. Giving Planned Parenthood computers and office furniture hardly qualifies as an urgent social services funding need.

This annual farce has gone beyond absurd, especially now that it has been admitted that this is a political statement. It is a slap in the face to the organizations that were denied funding to continue to make a statement in favor of pro-abortion politics by giving Planned Parenthood money they do not need. It is time for this to stop, especially with the amount of money that is being denied each summer. With $400,000 in requests that were denied, the money that went to Planned Parenthood should have gone to a more deserving organization.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moral issues on which there can be no ambiguity?

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

In a Typically haughty editorial, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow bemoans the allegedly increasing partisanship and the allegedly increasing intensity of that partisanship. Then he writes the following:

There are some moral issues on which there can be no ambiguity. For instance, people cannot be treated differently because of the way they were born, developed or identify; women must have access to the full range of reproductive options; and something must be done about the continued carnage of gun violence in this country.

So we need to be flexible and see the other side's point, but we can have no dissent on Blow's pet issues. Right.

Of course, whether the American political system really is worse than it has been in the past is up for debate. Politics has always been a blood sport, and it has always been brutal. Students of history might remember "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" This was meant to accuse a candidate for President of fathering an illegitimate child - and this was in the 1800's. People today would be truly shocked if the things that were said 200 years ago were said today. But, with a few exceptions, our politics is a blood sport rhetorically. We do not have the real violence and brutality we see in other nations.

But back to what Blow said, on only one of his pet issues: Does he really expect people to agree on the alleged moral imperative to protect the right to abortion? After abortion has been one of the most hot-button issues in this nation for over four decades, the idea that a New York Times columnist would declare the right to have an abortion as an area where no compromise is possible while bemoaning partisanship and ideological rigidity is patently absurd.

Like Blow, I do not believe compromise is possible on abortion. When it comes to allowing human beings to be murdered, and protecting that right under federal law, there can be no compromise if we are serious about protecting basic human rights. It is fine for Blow to believe in the "moral" imperative in protecting the "right" to have an abortion - but he should at least be honest and consistent in what he is saying. You simply cannot bemoan partisanship and ideological rigidity and then demand that your position on the most polarizing issue of the last three generations is sacrosanct. It is absurd hypocrisy.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

And now a few words from Hillary Clinton

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

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.

Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

Friday, June 20, 2014

Speaking against funding for Planned Parenthood

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

Audio of my speech on Wednesday night to the Bloomington City Council against yet another handout for Planned Parenthood.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Washington Reskins

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

Stripping the Washington Redskins of their patent is a shamefully brazen and clearly illegal assault on free speech by the Obama regime. If this is not reversed, Obama should be impeached.

Universities making Christian faith mean nothing

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

Would it make sense for a university to force the college Democratic club to accept a Republican activist as an officer, even as he is actively going door to door and making phone calls for Republican candidates? Should the campus abortion-rights group be forced to accept a pro-life activist as an officer, while he is actively picketing the local abortion clinic each week? Should a black student union be forced to have a white racist as an officer? Of course, all of that would be silly, but for some colleges, forcing Christian groups to have officers opposed to the group's theological commitments is a reasonable and "compassionate" thing to do.

Freedom of association necessarily includes the freedom not to associate, and freedom of religion means that campus Christian groups should be able to restrict leadership to those people who agree with the group's theological commitments. It is illegal for state universities to violate either liberty protected under our Constitution, but many college administrators are lawless rebels. It is never surprising when those who refuse to submit to the proper authority over them are then tyrants over people under their authority - and this is true in all aspects of life.

What these colleges and universities are doing is forcing Christian groups to accept the administration's values and subvert their own. This is because of an alleged commitment to "diversity," but this "diversity" is a fraud and a lie. If you step outside of what these lawless rebels narrowly define as "diversity" then you are punished, censured and censored. When no dissent is permissible in pursuit of "diversity," that "diversity" is a lie. Administrators have abandoned the very foundation of modern American education in order to force their narrow agenda on everyone.

The solution to this is simple. Any state university found to be violating the freedom of conscience or freedom of association rights of any student group should see state funding cut or eliminated. Congress should move to end federal funding for any university violating freedom of conscience or freedom of association, and the fifty state legislatures should do the same. The power of the purse strings is the most effective way to terrorize state schools into respecting the Constitution and submitting to the authority of the nation's founding document.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where to publish letters to the editor?

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

About four years ago now, after a flood of complaints about the letters to the editor section hosting theological debates, Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg wrote the following announcing a change in policy:

Letters that simply attempt to interpret the Bible will no longer be published in The Herald-Times editorial pages.

That does not mean the Bible or an interpretation of it will never again be allowed in the letters column. But the reference to the Bible must be part of a larger argument or opinion about an issue of some current relevance.

This past Sunday, a letter to the editor was published dealing only with theological arguments, leaving some in the comments to complain that the letter should have been published in the Saturday religion page.

Thus is the problem with these types of letters. The June 15 letter, taken on its own, probably belongs in the Religion LTTE section on Saturday. What makes this a thorny issue is that it was in response to a LTTE that addressed religious arguments on a political/social issue published two weeks earlier. That letter met the standards for the editorial page established by Zaltsberg a while back, allowing authors to use religious arguments in support of positions on political and social issues. While the June 15 letter does not do that, it was in response to another letter that did.

Allowing the first author to make a theological argument about Christian doctrine while not allowing a direct response on the same page does raise issues of fairness. Furthermore, the interpretation of that rule has been just plain strange at times, though the problem I had in 2011 was resolved quickly.

So what is the solution to a situation like this? One obvious solution would have been to ask the author of the June 15 letter to tie his theological argument to a political or social issue, to meet the standard. But where do you draw the line? If 20 words of a 200 word letter are about politics and the other 180 are about theology, does that meet the standard? The easiest solution would be to abolish the religion letters rule, though I cannot imagine that would be popular after readers complained about the letters in the first place.

It is certainly an interesting question, and I am glad I am not the one implementing this policy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

No-knock paramilitary raids and the War on Drugs

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

Bloomington Herald-Times, June 16, 2014 (Comments)

To the Editor:

When I wrote a letter to the editor last October about excessive force by law enforcement and the militarization of police, a HTO commenter said he does not live his life "under paranoid delusions of things over which I have no control and can do nothing about."

What are these paranoid delusions? The cases of Kathryn Johnston, Cory Maye, Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Cheye Calvo actually happened.

More recently, 18-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh suffered terrible burns and was put into a medically induced coma after a highly dangerous "flash bang" grenade was thrown into his crib during a no-knock drug raid in the middle of the night.

Police said that the paramilitary SWAT raid was justified because the suspect was dangerous. Police found no weapons in the home and only drug "residue" according to the Washington Post. The suspect was not even home, having been kicked out earlier. He was arrested at a separate location.

Speaking against injustice and abuse of power is not a paranoid delusion. The militarization of law enforcement is real and worrisome. Does Morgan County really need an armored military vehicle straight from a battlefield for common criminals?

The War on Drugs is a threat to our liberty.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The frightening militarization of law enforcement

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

After years of working on alerting the public to the militarization of law enforcement, Radley Balko is no longer alone. (See Balko's archives at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Reason magazine, TheAgitator.com and The Cato Institute.) The mainstream media is finally highlighting this dangerous trend. Take special note of paramilitary SWAT raids being used for regulatory enforcement, which is really disturbing:

Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of "barbering without a license."

Source: The New York Times.

Local media is doing some investigative reporting on this issue as well. This from an article about how law enforcement in rural Indiana are getting armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles more suited for fighting militants on a battlefield than for domestic law enforcement:

"The United States of America has become a war zone," (Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer) said. "There's violence in the workplace, there's violence in schools and there's violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that's what I'm going to do."

Source: The Indianapolis Star.

A war zone? Really? How can any rational person look at modern-day America and see a "war zone" comparable to Europe during World War II or Syria today - especially given that violent crime has been dropping for twenty years? If Gayer actually believes that the USA "has become a war zone," then he is too mentally unstable to be a sheriff. Violent crime in the USA is nowhere near a "war zone" and it is just this sort of paranoid militaristic mentality that leads to flash-bang grenades exploding in toddlers' faces.

The United States has a long history of wariness about using the military as a law enforcement agency - a practice that is common in totalitarian regimes. Who can forget liberty activists facing down tanks in Red China in 1989? In fact, former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned Latin America against using the military as a police force: "The use of the military to perform civil law enforcement cannot be a long-term solution... ultimately civilian authorities must be able to shoulder this burden on their own."

The warning is ironic, given the militarization of our own law enforcement, especially in the War on Drugs.

It is good that we are finally waking up to the real dangers presented by militarizing the police - or worse, using the military itself for domestic law enforcement. Hopefully, we have calmed down after the paranoia-fueled days of the 1980's and 1990's served as a way to convince us to surrender our civil liberties to "more effectively fight crime" or execute the failed War on Drugs. We have much more reason to fear a government that does not respect civil liberties or the rule of law than we will ever have to fear criminals.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Nintendo makes PlayStations now?

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

OK, folks. This is why you cannot trust the mainstream media's so-called "reporting" on controversies surrounding video games. They cannot even get basic facts right - like who makes the PlayStation.

Every single time you read an article in the mainstream media about a new controversy in the video game industry, take it with a 50-pound block of salt, and then do some independent research with news sites where people actually know the difference between the consoles.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Defective product or defective parents?

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

I came across a picture on Facebook last week, which is actually a rehash of an old story about the now-discontinued Nap Nanny product. Once again, we have nanny-state overreach and cultural overreaction to a lack of common sense and an inability to follow simple directions. A couple pull quotes:

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, the latest tragedy involved an 8-month-old girl from New Jersey. The baby suffocated while secured by a belt, trapped between the product and a crib bumper. CPSC officials said the infant was found stuck over the side of a Nap Nanny.


In a statement, an official with the company, now out of business for two years, told ABC News it was heartbroken for the families who have lost a child, but said the Nap Nanny was never intended for use in a crib.

The death of any infant is tragic, especially when that death is so easily preventable. The Nap Nanny product, when used as directed, will not cause the death of infants sleeping in them. The directions are clear: Do not put them on a raised surface or table (because infants can kick themselves off of the raised surface) and do not place the nap product in the crib. Parents ignored safety instructions and used the product in a way that was not intended. That is not the fault of the manufacturer or an indication of a faulty product.

Compare this to the often-derided McDonald's "Hot Coffee" lawsuit, where the coffee was kept at a significantly higher temperature than industry standard. It was not just hot - it was dangerously hot.

What we have here is the Obama regime driving another legitimate business to close, because consumers are misusing the product. We saw this two years ago with BuckyBalls, which faced pressure from the Obama regime because of the alleged "danger" the product presented to children. Of course, BuckyBalls were never dangerous to children, provided the people buying them could follow simple instructions - like the fact that they were meant for adults and small children should not be allowed to play with them!

Now we have two companies that have gone out of business thanks to Barack Obama and his collection of nanny state ninnies in his regime. Because of Obama, a number of families lost their livelihood, and suppliers and retailers lost a revenue stream. Not because either product was defective or dangerous, but because some consumers simply did not care enough to follow instructions. The children harmed were not harmed by the products, but by bad parenting. That should not be a reason for Barack Obama to attack and drive legitimate companies out of business.

This kind of nonsense needs to stop. But it will never stop as long as people like Obama are in power.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

MyFamily.com comes to a sad but expected end

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

About thirteen years ago, I became a member of MyFamily.com, setting up a website for my family and purchasing an annual subscription shortly thereafter. It was a great way to keep up with family, and I was able to watch family (especially little ones) grow. I was able to keep up with family members on at least a weekly basis, whereas I would otherwise have spoken with them perhaps once a year.

Now comes the news that MyFamily.com is going out of business. I cannot say I am surprised. MyFamily.com has had absolutely horrible customer service the last couple years. MyFamily.com was a great service for a long time, but that time has come and gone. The fact that a database error obliterated all of the member data on the MyFamily.com site I managed did not help, nor did the refusal to help me get it back. Accusing me of deleting the members myself was the final nail in the coffin. They would never get another dime from me.

MyFamily.com was a great concept back in 2001, but the advent of modern social networking sites (especially Facebook) was the death knell for MyFamily.com. More and more, people who used to post regularly on MyFamily.com were posting updates, pictures and news (especially pictures) on Facebook instead of MyFamily.com. When Facebook opened to the world in 2007 the end was near for MyFamily.com.

It is unfortunate that MyFamily.com ended the way it did. In some ways, MyFamily.com was actually more user-friendly than Facebook, especially for its intended purpose. I know some people actually prefer the MyFamily.com interface to Facebook, which is understandable. I know I certainly got a lot of use out of the product, before MyFamily.com gave up on the concept of customer service. Good bye, MyFamily.com. It was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

And now for something completely random...

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:20 PM (#)

I should dye my hair blue. Then the balding spot will look like a whirlpool.


Just kidding.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rumors floating around the courthouse

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

So there is apparently a rumor going around that I am running for Monroe County Auditor.

Let me clear that up. I am not running for Monroe County Auditor.

In fact, I am not planning on running for any office anytime soon.

I have no idea how these things get started. I have not told anyone I was even interested, much less that I am running. I have a two-month old baby and a two-year-old toddler, so that is where my focus is for the foreseeable future. And quite frankly, I do not want to be Auditor.

Pathetic and dangerous excuses by Obama apologists

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

A recent discussion about the Bowe Bergdahl situation on HeraldTimesOnline.com brought forth some typically childish "arguments" as well as one very dangerous argument. First, let me summarize the childish argument:

Waah! Waah! Waah! Waah!

Bush did it toooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

Waah! Waah! Waah! Waah!

Seriously? This is what Leftists are reduced to arguing?

Look. I do not care what George W. Bush did or did not do. Bush has not been President for over five years now. It is time for Obama and his apologists to grow up and stop whining about Bush every time Obama faces legitimate criticism for his policies. Bush was far from a perfect President and deserves a lot of criticism, but that has absolutely nothing to do with Barack Obama's policies and whether they are good or bad.

Some Leftists have even whined about Ronald Reagan, who has been out of office for 25 years. That is really pathetic.

To use one of Obama's favorite phrases, let me be clear: Barack Obama is the President. George W. Bush is not President. Ronald Reagan is not President. John McCain is not President and never will be. Mitt Romney is not President and never will be. The decisions made by Barack Obama belong to him and him alone, not anyone else. It is long past time for Obama apologists to own his policies.

Now for the dangerous argument:

Now shut up and go away because unless you've served, you have no place to be discussing what is and isn't too high a price to pay for one of ours.

This extreme glorification of military service reminds me of the 1998 movie Starship Troopers, where the only people who are full citizens are people who have served in the military. I think some folks do not realize that Starship Troopers is supposed to be a parody, not a serious movie.

The framers of the Constitution set the military under civilian command for a reason. While those who bravely fight the nation's enemies are honored, the idea that only the military itself is qualified to comment on military policy, war policy, national defense or related matters is antithetical to the concept of civilian rule of the military and is a ruse to silence the free speech of those who oppose whatever administration is in power. And yes, Republicans have done this too.

Of course, it is also an ad hominem logical fallacy. The validity of an argument does not hinge on the characteristics of the person making the argument. An argument is either logically sound or unsound, regardless of who is making the argument. This is basic logic, and not difficult to grasp when one is thinking instead of feeling.

Whatever one thinks of the Bergdahl trade, these fallacious arguments should be rejected.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Breaking News -- Barack Obama is the President!

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



It is just plain sad that people are so stupid that I have to keep reminding them of this basic fact.

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

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

In the discussion of the Bounkham Phonesavanh case (the 18-month-old baby who suffered horrific burns due to a flash-bang grenade exploding in his portable crib) I have seen arguments that paramilitary SWAT raids may make things safer both for police and suspects, because people faced with overwhelming force may be less likely to engage in a shootout with police. Because nationwide data on police shootings is rare (more on that later) we have to employ common sense in examining these tactics and the risks they present.

Does it make sense that a paramilitary unit bursting into someone's home in the middle of the night, armed with assault weapons and setting off flash-bang grenades, would be safer for the people being raided? Or would sending an officer to arrest a suspect with the minimum force necessary be safer for both the suspect and innocent bystanders? Is not one of the principles of law enforcement to not use more force than is necessary?

Keep in mind that police have been shot and killed because the occupants have assumed a paramilitary SWAT raid was a home invasion. It was just such a scenario that put Corey Maye on death row for killing a police officer when he mistook a paramilitary SWAT raid for a home invasion.

We also need to examine some critical facts about this raid: The target who the SWAT team was after was not even living at the residence at the time. He had been kicked out of the house. The target of the raid was arrested later without incident at a separate location, and he had no weapons on him. The police found no weapons or drugs at the home where SWAT officers horribly maimed an 18-month-old baby.

Putting aside Phonesavanh case, are SWAT raids safer overall? I do not know, but I do know this: The burden of proof should not be on those who object to paramilitary raids to prove they are more dangerous than traditional police work. The burden of proof should be on the government to demonstrate that the paramilitary raids they are conducting makes things safer for both sides. The government does not get to violate basic civil rights and then say "prove what we're doing is not safer." In a constitutional republic built on individual liberty, it just does not work that way.

For more on police shootings of civilians, see here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

But while we know how many police officers are killed annually, we do not have similar data for civilians killed by police - whether they are armed criminals or unarmed innocents who make a "furtive movement" that causes officers to assume they are in danger. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that use of deadly force is increasing - but, again, we do not have hard data. We do know, thanks to Radley Balko's work, that the total number of paramilitary SWAT raids have dramatically increased over the last 30 years

Also, the problem is not the lack of sensible gun control. We had the right to own guns well before the militarization of police kicked into high gear in the 1970's and 1980's, and we did not have paramilitary strike forces breaking down doors at 3:00 am looking for some weed. The problem is police militarization, not allowing law-abiding citizens to own firearms. Politicians have exploited the fear of crime to boost police budgets and even outright steal from citizens - asset forfeiture abuse is rampant, even when people are not even charged with a crime.

Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex. We are facing a militarized police-industrial complex.

For the last forty years, we have been fighting a "war" that we cannot possibly win. We have demonized drug users and fear-mongering politicians have stoked public fear of the drug trade. Hollywood movies and TV shows have not helped, casting drug users and dealers in the worst (and most violent) light possible. We have rural police departments - such as the Morgan County Sheriff's Department and the West Lafayette Police Department - getting armored vehicles straight from war zones that are designed to withstand military grade explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices.

Paramilitary SWAT raids, flash-bang grenades exploding in a baby's face, and other outrages are just symptoms of the problem. The real problem here is the War on Drugs itself. If we want to back down the militarization of law enforcement, greatly reduce paramilitary police raids, and restore the civil liberties we have lost over the last forty years, we have to end the War on Drugs. We need to start treating drug abuse as a public health problem and not as a military threat. (Note that the suspect in the Phonesavanh raid was described as a domestic terrorist by the drug warriors.)

We have gone so far over the edge in the War on Drugs that we cannot fix the problems it has caused by tinkering with it. We have to completely tear down the way we deal with drug abuse and rebuild a new policy from scratch.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Protecting the basic human rights of prisoners

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

I was dismayed when I learned that Indiana would not be complying with federal guidelines to fight against prison rape, which came about as part of a long process after the Prison Rape Elimination Act passed both houses of Congress without objection in 2003. Indiana's governor was a member of the House of Representatives at the time.

To be fair, not following the federal guidelines does not mean that Indiana will be doing nothing to prevent prisoners from being raped. The Indianapolis Star reports that the state Department of Corrections "already has put many rape prevention measures in place on its own," including a position in each prison to make it easier to report violations. The federal government should not be automatically assumed to be the ultimate authority on this matter, and if states can be as effective in protecting basic human rights without spending as much money, that is commendable.

But protecting basic human rights is one of the most basic responsibilities of state government, or government at any level. If we are going to hold people in prison (and we must do so to protect the innocent from violent criminals) then we have a responsibility to protect them from predators while they are in our custody. Jesus warns us in Matthew 25:31-46 that if we do not protect "the least of these" (specifically mentioning prisoners) that we are in danger of damnation.

In fact, I cannot think of anything state government does that is more important than protecting the human rights of prisoners in our custody. There are other things that state government does that may be as important - putting criminals in prison in the first place, for example - but none of them are more important than making sure that our prisoners are not subject to sexual violence. We must not shirk this critical duty.


♣ - The human rights crisis in American prisons -- July 20, 2009

♣ - The human rights crisis in American prisons -- March 17, 2011

♣ - We must put a stop to sexual abuse of prisoners -- May 29, 2012

♣ - Opposing the evil of prison rape -- June 8, 2012

♣ - Rape is not a joke. It is a crime. -- July 2, 2012

♣ - The human rights crisis in American prisons -- March 7, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Confused or transgendered?

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

Here is an excellent article by Matt Walsh:

This poor child is confused, not transgendered.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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

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

As the father of a baby and a toddler, there are few stories in the news more horrifying to me than small children being maimed or killed. When that happens as a result of bad policy by government, it is even more horrifying. If the horrific burns suffered by Bounkham Phonesavanh have convinced me of anything, it is that the War on Drugs is a terrible mistake that needs to end. We are doing far more harm than good at this point.

I said on Monday that while less aggressive methods of arresting a drug dealer might have put innocents at risk the no-knock paramilitary raid did result in an innocent being maimed. This is not to sau that the maiming of a toddler was guaranteed, but even if no one was hurt the raid would have been excessive force. Raids like this create an unnecessarily dangerous situation and create the potential for fatalities or serious injuries that would not exist if less aggressive methods were used. No-knock paramilitary raids are vastly overused.

In addition to the raids themselves, the use of flash-bang grenades for domestic law enforcement needs to be severely curtailed if not banned outright. Had there been no flash-bang grenade, Phonesavanh would not have been maimed. As Radley Balko points out, flash-bang grenades are dangerous, potentially lethal explosives that have killed and maimed a number of people - including law enforcement agents themselves.

These are not the harmless devices in video games that make the enemy AI characters cover their eyes for a few seconds - they can cause severe burns and start deadly fires.

Are these raids necessary because of the "need" for more gun control? No. A large portion of SWAT raids are on nonviolent, unarmed drug users, not against armed-to-the-teeth gangsters. Sometimes SWAT gets the wrong house, and sometimes they act on a bad tip - as was the case with Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old woman gunned down in her own home. Too many innocents and nonviolent "criminals" have been mamed or killed by paramilitary raids. Police have also been killed because the violent and disorienting nature of the raids can lead people being raided to believe the people entering their homes (especially at 3:00 am) are criminals instead of police.

Furthermore, as Radley Balko pointed out last year, the evidence suggests that the threat to police is overblown. In 2008, there were 461,000 sworn officers, and 158 fatalities - a fatality rate of 0.034%. As in 34/1000 of one percent. And the number of fatalities has been a lot lower than that over the last two years. Does this mean police work is not a dangerous job? Of course not. Police definitely face risk of death or serious injury at the hands of criminals. But by being alarmists about the threat, we are creating a dangerous situation.

We are dramatically ramping up the use of force by law enforcement while violent crime has sharply decreased over the last 20 years. There is a good reason that Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in the 1800's - they understood then (as some still do now) that using the military for domestic law enforcement is extremely dangerous to our liberty and our system of government. The role of a police officer is (or at least should be) completely different from the role of a soldier. Police are not soldiers, and there should be a clear distinction between the two.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Movie Review: Days of Future Past

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

The fifth installment of the X-Men franchise was a good (though not great) movie. It certainly was not without flaws, and it makes me wonder about the MPAA ratings system.

First of all: This movie is way too violent for a PG-13 rating. Some of the things that happen in this movie:

  • Iceman is decapitated and has his head stepped on and crushed.
  • Sunfire has his arm ripped off before he is killed.
  • Colossus is ripped in half by two Sentinels.
  • Blink is impaled three ways by the Sentinels.
  • Storm is impaled and thrown off a cliff.
  • Bishop is overloaded by Sentinel death rays and explodes.
  • Wolverine is impaled multiple times by rebar and drowned.
  • Magneto is nearly drowned in a water fountain, and sews the wound on his head back up.
  • Another character has his face burned off by a Sentinel death ray.

This may make me sound old, but this movie would have easily been R-rated twenty years ago. I have actually seen older R-rated movies that are significantly less violent than this badly mis-rated PG-13 movie. Days of Future Past is not child-friendly in the least, and it is irresponsible to put that much graphic violence in the movie (especially with the heroes being killed in horrible ways) knowing there will be a number of children in the theater.

As to the plot: While Kitty Pryde was a major part of the original 1980 storyline in the comics, it makes no sense to have her send Wolverine's mind into the past. In the comics, Rachel "Phoenix" Summers (the alternate-future daughter of Scott Summers an Jean Grey) was the one who sent Pryde's mind into her younger self. Introducing Rachel Summers would have been too complex for this movie, but there should have been another psychic character to do it.

Professor X is the obvious choice, or perhaps Psylocke could be introduced. It could even be explained that Blink can create portals to send someone's mind back through time in addition to creating portals to teleport matter. That would be a stretch, but would make more sense than using someone who has not shown any psychic abilities whatsoever. It makes no sense that she should be able to do that with her established power set.

My other problem was the ending. While some may appreciate that X-Men 3 was undone, the universe's timeline has been completely rewritten. I strongly dislike reboots in general, but if the franchise is going to get a reboot it would be better as a hard reboot that starts everything from scratch instead of a soft reboot where some things happened and some did not. All that does is make things unnecessarily confusing.

Despite my complaining, this was a good (if badly mis-rated) movie. The acting and action were both good, and the time travel was handled well. Seeing Stryker was fun, even if his history is different. It did show how hopeless the Sentinel-ruled future was. It was a classic storyline brought to the big screen, and the Sentinels were very menacing - not like the pushovers they have become in the comics.

Final Grade: B-

Monday, June 2, 2014

Baby suffers horrific burns thanks to the War on Drugs

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

From Atlanta, here is an absolutely horrifying story about a no-knock SWAT raid when a flash-bang grenade was thrown into his crib and detonated, leaving the baby with severe burns and in a medically-induced coma. (See more on flash-bang grenades here and here.)

This is outrageous. There is literally not one single legitimate reason to conduct a no-knock raid using a paramilitary strike force in the middle of the night for a situation like this. SWAT should be used sparingly, for special situations where normal police response is not adequate for the task - for things like hostage situations, an active shooter, or a terrorist act. Paramilitary SWAT raids should not be used on idiots who are using and/or selling illegal drugs.

As infuriating as this is, forget the SWAT team. The police were doing their job, as defined by the politicians.

Do not blame the police. Blame the politicians.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama might as well have personally dropped the flash-bang grenade into the baby's crib. They are all to blame for this. From the federal level to the local level, the guilty parties in this damnable crime are the politicians who have passed laws and implemented policies that have made the "solution" to the problem of drug use much worse than the problem of drug use itself. We are smashing spiders with sledgehammers.

All of the politicians, at all levels of government, of both political parties who have pushed the expansion of the increasingly literal War on Drugs are to blame for this atrocity. The politicians who have turned what should be a law enforcement action into an increasingly a literal war with military equipment and battlefield tactics are the ones who are guilty of this terrible crime against an innocent baby

The reason this abomination happened is because of public policy. This is because we have gone off the deep end in the War on Drugs, and we did that decades ago. In what rational world does it make sense to send a paramilitary strike force to raid someone's home at 3:00 am because idiots are using/selling drugs? Did they even consider that there might be children in the home who could be seriously injured or killed as a result of the raid? Go to the druggies' workplace and arrest them, or send some police officers to arrest them during the day.

If the druggies had weapons, police officers could have been killed too, because of this needlessly aggressive policy. If someone breaks down your door at 3:00 am with assault weapons and body armor and proceeds to set off an explosive in the middle of your living room, are you likely to assume that it is the police - in a raid designed to confuse and disorient the targets? Or are you likely to assume you are the victim of a home invasion by dangerous criminals and start shooting? Even if you know the attackers are police, when you see this happen to your child, are you likely to act out in a vengeance-fueled rage?

Yes, it is true that had the police went to his house and served a warrant for his arrest, the dealer might have opened fire on them. Of course, then he would be facing much more severe charges than drug dealing. He might have taken the children as hostages. (So setting off a grenade in a baby's crib somehow better than the baby being a hostage?) If the dealer has a job, arresting him at work might put innocent bystanders at risk. But innocent bystanders were already put at serious risk - and an innocent baby suffered severe burns - by the police conducting an unnecessary and excessive no-knock paramilitary SWAT raid. No, there is no way to justify this.

Do we even live in America anymore? We are sending paramilitary strike forces to raid people's homes at 3:00 am when there is no active danger - the only danger is created by the SWAT raid itself. Why did we bother fighting the Cold War for decades and spilling rivers of blood in Korea and Vietnam if we are going to voluntarily embrace a Communist form of government and become the Soviet Union?

End the War on Drugs. We are doing far more harm than good at this point, and we have for a long time.