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Friday, July 31, 2015

Donald Trump is not qualified to be President

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

What Donald Trump said about John McCain - smearing McCain's war record because he was captured, despite McCain's well documented heroism in captivity - is completely inexcusable and morally repugnant. I call on all decent Republicans (especially Republicans seeking the 2016 Republican nomination for President) to condemn and denounce Trump's despicable smear on John McCain.

And this is about much more than John McCain. Trump smeared all veterans by extension, not just McCain. Trump said "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." That is a statement that applies to McCain, but is a statement of general principle too. The words trump willingly chose - in the heat of the moment or not - are a smear on all Americans who have ever been prisoners of war.

Plus, why should Trump's statement not be applied to war dead? Trump could have said "They're war heroes because they died for their country. I like people who weren't killed by the enemy." That could also apply to severely injured veterans, like the many who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan maimed. After all, according to Trump's "logic," shouldn't we honor those who were not injured over those who were?

And yes, obviously Trump has free speech rights. I cannot believe I actually saw that argument in his defense. There are consequences for smearing veterans, though, and one of those should be loss of political support from all decent Republicans who actually respect our veterans. I also have free speech to point out that Donald Trump is a morally repugnant clown who will never get my vote under any circumstances.

Yes, Republicans are longing for someone to be as aggressive as Trump has been, willing to take it to the Democrats and not back down when attacked. I addressed that issue earlier this month. It is too bad that so many Republicans have been blinded by his celebrity status and his willingness to say things that are "politically incorrect" that they see that need filled by a pro-abortion, gun grabbing, racist hate monger, liar, thug and thief.

Wake up, Republicans! Donald Trump is not a conservative. He has a long and well documented record of taking Leftist positions and supporting Democratic politicians. He's only saying the "right" things now because he knows he cannot get out of the Republican primary if he says what he truly believes. He is a shyster and a fraud of the highest order. In fact, I do not believe Trump has any principles at all, other than his own ego. At least Barack Obama believes in something. I do not agree with Obama's beliefs, but at least he has beliefs.

If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, I will vote for the Libertarian candidate for President.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Accidental Garden

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

The summer of 2008: We had sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. When some of them dropped to the ground as the birds ate, the seeds sprouted into big sunflowers. This was quite a surprise, and very cool.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sandra Bland presents a teachable moment

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

The sad, tragic Sandra Bland situation represents a teachable moment in an age where we hate legitimate authority.

It may well be that the police officer who arrested Bland was on a power trip. It may be argued that he was a jerk. However, he issued a lawful order when he told Bland to get out of her vehicle and she should have complied. Police have this authority for a reason, and there is no legitimate reason not to exit the vehicle. If a police officer tells you to get out of your car, just get out of your car. This is not rocket science.

Obviously, a police officer's authority is not unlimited. But there is no reason to be confrontational, even if the cop is acting like a jerk. Simply comply with lawful orders, be polite and courteous, and be on your way without incident. If Bland felt the officer was acting in an egregious or unprofessional manner, she can always file a complaint later - and take her complaints public if she is not satisfied with how her complaint was handled. I filed a complaint against a Monroe County Sheriff's deputy a few years ago when I thought he was behaving in an unprofessional way.

This does not excuse the behavior of the officer, who could have and should have de-escalated the situation. From what I have seen, this is far from an example of stellar police work. This does not excuse the jail staff not checking on her to make sure she had not harmed herself. But had Bland simply cooperated with the officer's order and submitted to his lawful authority, a horrible end could have been avoided and a family would not have lost their daughter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It is long past time to de-fund Planned Parenthood

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

Note: This is the speech I delivered at the rally to de-fund Planned Parenthood on July 28, 2015

I stand here before you today, as a citizen of Bloomington and an official write-in candidate for Bloomington City Council, calling for the end of city and county funding of this deplorable organization. The videos showing that Planned Parenthood was selling the body parts of aborted babies shocked the conscience and reminded many who would rather ignore the reality of abortion just how brutal and barbaric this procedure is.

When I announced my candidacy for Bloomington City Council, I said I was opposed to city funding of Planned Parenthood, though I did not expect the issue to become as prominent as it has been the last two weeks. Yet here we are, in response to some truly gruesome revelations.

But the fact that Planned Parenthood has been selling the body parts of aborted babies is far less serious and far less abominable than the fact that they are killing little human beings made in the image of God. And because of the city council and county council's actions, we have all been forced to subsidize this organization that exterminates human lives and corrupts our youth sexually. What does God think of this?

"Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?" -- Ezekiel 16:20-21

The baby parts selling scandal comes on the heels of this clinic, right here in Bloomington, being written up for severe and disturbing violations by the Indiana health department. The lack of concern for women's health detailed in the citations is just as disturbing as the videos that have caused a nationwide firestorm, and should be more so for those of us gathered here because this is happening in our own community.

How much more evidence do we need that this organization does not deserve funding from our local tax dollars? If Planned Parenthood applies for a grant from the county council's social services fund, that application should be rejected. And city councilor Dorothy Granger, who works as a clinic escort at Bloomington's Planned Parenthood facility, should have disclosed that fact and recused herself from the vote this past June.

No more corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood!

Sadly, not a surprise.

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:00 AM (#)

Sadly, this is not a surprise:

The rationale for a SWAT raid that left a baby with horrific burns was completely fabricated.

The War on Drugs is more of a threat to our liberty than Muslim terrorists.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A plea for unity

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

There has been a lot of bickering in the Monroe County Republican Party lately, and if we want to be a viable alternative to the Democrats people need to cool down and learn to work together. Whether we should have had this or should have done that is irrelevant and not worth worrying about. You have to play the hand you are dealt, not the hand you wish you had. Republicans need to push ahead and keep our eye on the goal.

And we learn from how things were done this year and in past years so we can think about how we can improve it in the future. This is positive, rather than negative criticism.

Republicans have been in a major drought in city elections for sixteen years. A lot of people do not think there is a point to being active in the GOP at the city level. Many qualified candidates are especially reluctant to run for office, as it can make one a target without having any election results to show for it. When Republicans are fighting amongst ourselves, that makes it even more difficult while not accomplishing anything.

I, for one, do not buy that Monroe County is totally, unredeemably blue. The Republican Party was within about 200 votes of a 5-4 majority on the city council in 1999. Yes, the city council. If we had approximately one hundred more votes in District 6, and about another hundred in District 4 would have won both of those districts and would have put one of the at-large candidates on the council. (The top Republican finished 100 votes behind the third-place Democrat.) Then Republicans ran the table here in 2002 - only thirteen years ago.

We have to register more voters and turn out the Republicans who have stayed home. We have to get more young people involved - people in their 20's and 30's. But if we are going to fight amongst ourselves, we are never going to win anything because we cannot win with a splintered coalition. And infighting is going to drive people away.

We are always going to have disagreements - sometimes strenuous and heated disagreements - on issues, policy and ideology. That's to be expected, and it is healthy for a Big Tent party to have these disagreements. But the personal bickering that has gone on, especially for the last couple years, needs to stop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Ferguson Effect

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

In what should be a surprise to no one, the "Ferguson Effect" is a myth.

A quick common sense reminder

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

Never post anything on Facebook (or any social media website) that you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on the nightly news, or as the lead headline on your favorite news website.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Third Party?

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

ABC World News reported last night that Donald Trump is considering running for President as a third party candidate - guaranteeing that Hillary Clinton will be our next President.

(Remember, Trump has donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to Mrs. Clinton.)

So, Republicans: Still think Donald Trump is a genuine conservative?

He's not.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Planned Parenthood's body parts selling racket

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

Last week, my news feeds on Facebook and Twitter have exploded with the news that Planned Parenthood was caught in an undercover video arranging to sell the body parts of aborted babies. This is awful and this is horrible, but this is not a surprise. Planned Parenthood traffics in the extermination of innocent human life. That they would be caught on video selling the mutilated corpses of their victims is a lesser evil.

Planned Parenthood is corrupt all the way to the core. This is why the Bloomington City Council should commit to never giving this organization even one penny of the money city government forcibly confiscates from taxpayers.

While the selling of mutilated body parts is horrifying, it is far less horrifying than abortion itself - the willful, intentional termination of a human being made in the image of God. We have seen over fifty million babies slaughtered in our abortion clinics. Every week, our own Planned Parenthood "clinic" kills innocent unborn babies, and that "clinic" is supported by the Democratic supermajority on the Bloomington City Council.

We are all under the authority of Almighty God, who in His Word speaks of those who kill children and babies:

  • Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? -- Ezekiel 16:20-21
  • And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. -- Jeremiah 32:35

City government does not have the authority under our legal system to close the abortion "clinic" on South College Avenue, as much as I wish we did. But what we can do is never give another penny to an organization that corrupts our youth sexually, kills babies made in the image of God and then sells their body parts for money. This abominable abuse of the tax money entrusted to the city council needs to stop.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Basic principles on planning, zoning and land use

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

As I run for city council, one of the biggest issues in local government is land use policy. What should be built where and how should the city grow over the next five, ten and twenty years? What used should be allowed and where? There are a lot of specific issues with specific developments, but here is my basic philosophy on land use policy:

I do not know best.

My basic assumption on land use policy is that I do not know better than the property owner when it comes to how their land or building should be used. My role as a city councilor is to protect the rights of Bloomington's citizens, and private property rights are an essential right for any people. Provided a proposed development does not cause harm to neighboring property owners or residents, people should be allowed to do what they want with their land. My role is to facilitate economic development, not stand in the way of it.

Obviously, there should be reasonable restrictions on what should be built where, primarily to protect the private property of neighbors. That is why we have planning and zoning. The most often used example is someone who wants to put a pig farm into a residential neighborhood. That would harm the neighbors though the smell wafting into the neighbor's property, the loss of property value, increased traffic and so forth. There are also environmental issues with runoff and waste disposal. There is a controversy on that issue right now in my hometown.

But as city officials, our basic orientation would be one of humility, recognizing we do not know best. This is because - let's be honest - we do not know best. It is arrogant to assume we know better than the property owner how a property should be developed. Our basic orientation should be that private property rights should be infringed only if the use of that property would harm someone else.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Was "Sweet Cakes By Melissa" really gagged by a judge?

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

If you've followed the conservative Internet, or seen conservative friends post about this on social media, you have probably seen the allegation that Sweet Cakes By Melissa was forbidden from speaking about their case. (This is the business that refused to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding and was then punished by the government.)

But here's the deal. They were not actually gagged. You can see this article for more, but the order was also quoted by Todd Starnes at Fox News. Specifically, the owners were ordered to:

Cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.

See pages 42-43 of the order.

Basically, it comes down to this: The Kleins may continue to publicly speak about the case, and why they believe it is wrong. They may continue to advocate for changing the law, and publicly explain that their rights were violated. What they are forbidden from doing is publicly stating that the business will not provide a cake (or any other service the business normally provides) for a same-sex wedding.

I've blogged at length about why I believe that business owners should be allowed to serve or not serve whoever they please. The point is not to go over that ground again. The point is that when we criticize the Left, bad policy, or government overreach we need to be accurate and truthful in what we say. I found the idea that the Kleins were banned from speaking about the case to be questionable, if plausible. (After all, similar gag orders do exist.) But now that we know what the facts are, we need to stick to those facts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A shyster and a fraud of the highest order

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

After insulting our veterans a few days ago, Donald Trump said this:

"People that fought hard and weren't captured, and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They're like forgotten."

This is just a brazen, blatant, bold faced lie.

Donald Trump is a shyster and a fraud of the highest order.

Disqus comments are back.

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

Disqus is ever-improving, and I like it better than Blogger's native comment system. I've decided to give it another go. Old comments made using Blogger's native comment system are still there and there's a link to old comment threads on each post, with a count of total comments in that thread.

Young men must be mindful of cancer

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

Note: I originally wrote this on June 7, 2002.

Later this month, I will travel to Indianapolis for what may be my final check up for the cancer I was diagnosed with in 1997. It was a little over five years ago that I noticed all was not as it should be. My left testicle was significantly larger than my right one, and it was beginning to get uncomfortable. By the time the last week of classes before spring break began, I knew something was seriously wrong.

When Friday morning rolled around that week, it was all I could think about. My brother in-law's younger brother had passed away as a result of complications from testicular cancer. He had swelling, but didn't do anything about it, and when he was hospitalized for another ailment the cancer was discovered. By then it was too late. From that point on, the men in my family were instructed to immediately go to the doctor if anything suspicious was present in that area.

I went home over the weekend knowing I had to go to the doctor, and I was fairly certain I was developing a malignancy. My general practitioner referred me to a specialist, and by Friday of spring break I was having the diseased organ removed. Spring Break '97 wasn't exactly fun in the sun in Fort Lauderdale.

Because my cancer was caught early, my treatment has been fairly easy. I had the initial surgery to remove the cancer, and I have been in "surveillance" for the last five years, having periodic blood tests, chest x-rays, and CT scans to check for cancer or signs of it.

While testicular cancer is relatively rare (1 in 25,000 men will contract it each year according to the Virginia Urology Center Web site) it is the most common cause of cancer for men between the ages of 15 to 34 years old, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Young men must be mindful of the warning signs of TC and be prepared to take measures to treat it. The FDA Web site reports that common warning signs include "an enlarged testicle, a feeling of heaviness or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or enlargement or tenderness of the breasts".

There are two general types of testicular cancer, seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma cancers can be treated with radiation (a high dose of X-rays) while non-seminoma cancers are generally treated with chemotherapy as radiation isn't effective against them. Non-seminoma cancers are marked by unusually high levels of alpha-fetoprotein in the blood.

Men should perform a monthly Testicular Self Examination to check for abnormalities, just as women are advised to perform a monthly breast examination, especially as they get older. Many resources are available online on how to perform a TSE, and contacting one's general practitioner for help and advice on the TSE or on testicular cancer should also be a priority for men.

The good news is, unlike some particularly nasty forms of cancer, testicular cancer is very treatable. Chances of curability are upwards of 98% if caught early. Naturally, the odds diminish the longer the cancer has had to metastasize. World champion cyclist Lance Armstrong and renowned figure skater Scott Hamilton have both been successfully treated for testicular cancer. Armstrong was treated at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Testicular cancer is understandably a difficult subject for many men. Discussing it can be embarrassing. Even though I have written of my experiences with TC in the past, it is still somewhat difficult to be writing this column, even though there should be nothing embarrassing about having any form of cancer. Men cannot allow embarrassment over discussing these matters to cover up a serious health issue like cancer. Postponing a potential embarrassment isn't worth one's life.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The social media outrage machine

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

A friend of mine told me in a private message on Facebook a couple weeks ago that "social media is destroying this country." He has a point. While social media has been an opportunity for the average person to have a much larger voice in political and social issues than ever before, it also carries a lot of negatives. The biggest negative is what I like to call the "Social Media Outrage Machine."

Two stories illustrate this. First, a professor called for white people to commit mass suicide over slavery. While this is factually correct, it is also false. He was not actually calling for white people to kill themselves. He was being sarcastic. And as it turns out, Sir Tim Hunt was also being sarcastic in remarks made about why women are not qualified to be scientists. Unfortunately, we live in a nation where people live on a hair-trigger and are ready to be outraged at any moment, over something the least bit plausible. We also live in a nation where a lot of people are too dim-witted to get sarcasm. Social media allows that outrage to spread in a way that could not happen twenty years ago.

I admit, much to my shame, that I have also fallen for things like this far too many times.

So what is the answer? First of all, bookmark Snopes.com and be ready to use it. Snopes has been a great resource in refuting some of the silliness I see on social media. Second, when you see something trending, investigate it before you post about it on social media. This is especially important if what you see outrages or angers you. Do not just hit "share" or "retweet" because what you are sharing may not be true. It is also possible that it is factually correct but very misleading, like a sarcastic comment taken out of context.

We may not be able to put the genie back in the bottle, but we can avoid being part of the problem.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Proverbs 16:12-15

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

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Another nakedly partisan attack on Republicans

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

Four years ago, the Herald-Times published a nakedly partisan editorial calling for the Monroe County Republican Party to be abolished. They tried to walk it back after taking some criticism, but the record was clear. (See here and here and here and here for more.) Now, the H-T editorial board is gloating about a how the Republican Party has allegedly regressed from 2011, citing a controversy over slating candidates and a ballot with uncontested races.

First, let's examine the facts. Four years ago, the only district the Republican Party challenged was District 1. The Republicans could have had a candidate in District 1 this year, but that potential candidate realized that a three-way contest would only guarantee a Democratic victory and is supporting the Libertarian candidate. That individual is now running at-large as a write-in candidate. (That would be me.)

The Republican Party is has a candidate for District 3, which we did not have in 2011. There were two people who sought to run at-large as Republicans (the same number that we had in 2011) though party chairman Steve Hogan only certified one of those two. Most importantly, the Republican Party has a candidate for Mayor, which we did not have in 2011. The Republican Party is, at worst, in the same position we were in 2011. Actually, we are better off.

To put it another way: The worst-case scenario for Democrats in 2011 was a 6-3 Democratic majority on the city council to go with a Democratic mayor and city clerk.. The worst case scenario for Democrats in 2015 is a 5-3-1 majority, with a Republican mayor and a Democratic city clerk. Is that scenario likely? No. But in terms of candidate recruitment, this is not a step backward at all.

There was one statement in the editorial that should be corrected. The editorial board wrote that in addition to not certifying the candidacy of a Republican who sought to run at-large, "(Steve Hogan) also did not certify Denise DeMars, who sought to run for city clerk."

This is a factually correct statement, but is not true. the fact of the matter is that DeMars changed her mind and decided she did not want to run for clerk. Hogan did not certify her candidacy at her own request. The Herald-Times editorial leaves the impression that the party chairman refused to certify a city clerk candidate duly elected by Republican Party precinct committeemen. That is false.

Yes, Republicans have fought amongst ourselves this year, as we always have and always will. Such is the nature of a big-tent party - and this challenge is an action of one person, not an indication of a deep division in the party. It is also very interesting how quickly the Herald-Times forgets about the vitriol Democrats spewed at each other during the primary. Much of this was about Darryl Neher's primary voting record, but we should not forget the absolute unhinged hatred for Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo over the deer cull issue.

No, the Republican Party is not at the level we were in 1999, where (despite going from three seats on the council to two seats) it was a close election where about one hundred votes in two council districts could have brought a 5-4 Republican majority. There is no question that the Republicans are much stronger in the county than in the city, and it is not surprising that potential Republican candidates (especially top-tier Republican candidates) would be shy about running in the city after forty years of Democratic control.

But a city election is not exactly unwinnable, when the third place finisher in the 2011 at-large race got 3,076 and the number one vote getter citywide (The uncontested Democratic candidate for city clerk) got 3,989 total votes in the general election. It would only take four thousand votes to win an at-large seat on the city council, hardly an insurmountable obstacle given that there were 26,519 total votes cast in the secretary of state race in 2014 and that there were 57,223 total votes cast in the Presidential election three years ago. As you can tell, turnout for city elections is pathetically low - hardly a ringing endorsement for our current Democratic city leaders.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Donald Trump on the Second Amendment

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

From the National Association for Gun Rights:

"If Presidential candidate Donald Trump does not trust us with guns, should we trust him?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Killing a spider with a twenty pound sledgehammer

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

When an adult man has sex with a 14-year-old girl, there needs to be some sort of legal sanction on his behavior - even if she misrepresented her age and he believed she was 17 years old. We have age of consent laws for a reason, the primary one being to protect young teenagers from being sexually exploited by adults. But in seeking to combat these crimes, we should not do the legal equivalent of killing a spider with a twenty pound sledgehammer.

This brings me to a case I mentioned on Twitter, of an adult man who is facing harsh legal sanctions for "hooking up" with a 14-year-year-old girl. Specifically, he will now spend the rest of his life on the sex offender registry, is prohibited from using the internet (thus obliterating his career in information technology) and will face harsh restrictions on where he can live and work. Is this really the best way to solve this problem?

First, we need to be very specific about the words we use. Zachery Anderson is 19 years old, but it is misleading to call him a "teenager." It would be more truthful to refer to him as an adult man (as I did above) because that is exactly what he is. Anderson could fight, kill and die in a war for at least a full year before he committed the crime. It is especially important when the girl he had sex with is 14 years old, two years under the age of consent. In describing Anderson as a "teenager," the New York Times biases the coverage of the case in a manner that is almost certainly intentional.

But while some criminal sanction is appropriate, this particular punishment - forcing him to register as a sex offender and severely limiting where he can live and work - is an extreme and unnecessary solution. Anderson is not a sexual predator or a pedophile. He is not a threat to society or to abuse others in the future. If we are serious about helping people like him re-integrate into society, become productive citizens and not be in and out of the justice system, then this level of punishment should be illegal in situations like this.

I understand, appreciate and sympathize with the judge's moral revulsion to what Anderson did. That should not be what drives the punishment in this case, however. This case shows we need to reform how we deal with sex offenders.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Two Observations

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

If a Facebook icon is really that big of a step for "gender equality" then there is no more progress to be made.

Remember Marla Maples? Will Republicans who support Donald Trump now apologize to Bill Clinton?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why is Donald Trump so popular?

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

I have made no secret of my disdain for Donald Trump, but it is undeniable that he has captured the attention and admiration of a large segment of the Republican base. The guy who donated thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton and is a fervent opponent of private property rights nonetheless has a lot of Republicans hoping he is our nominee.


I think the reason is that Trump, for all of his silly antics, has been an extremely aggressive critic of President Obama, especially with the "birther" issue. At a time when many in the Republican base are fed up with the Washington establishment's moves on amnesty for illegal immigrants, Trump was aggressive to the point of being obnoxious in his criticism of illegal aliens. Granted, his criticisms were the racist, uninformed rantings of a know-nothing, but he is taking an aggressive stance that is a breath of fresh air to many in the Republican base.

Hopefully, Republicans will see through Trump's bluff and bluster to see why he would be a terrible choice for the Republican Party. Trump would be a disaster in terms of his electability, his ideology and his personal character. But Trump strikes the same chord that Sarah Palin has since 2008: Someone who is uncompromising, aggressive, fearless and uninhibited in his attacks on the Democrats, President Obama and the Left generally. Trump is basically a less serious, less intelligent and more clownish version of Palin. (Think about that for a minute.)

But what Trump's popularity with the Republican base shows is that Republican voters are longing for a top-tier candidate who will aggressively take it to the Democrats generally, and to Obama and Hillary Clinton specifically. (Whether Trump will aggressively attack Clinton, given his many donations to her, remains to be seen.) The content of Trump's blather is less important than the posture he is taking while delivering that blather.

If Republicans are to win the White House in 2016, they are going to need an excited Republican base to do it. Neither Mitt Romney nor John McCain were particularly exciting to the base. Republicans do not need to be (and should not be) obnoxious clowns, but Trump's popularity shows one thing that the Republican Party has been lacking: The courage to aggressively take it to the Democrats.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Banning trans fats

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

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has banned trans fats, it is appropriate to examine a Biblical principle on Christian liberty.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mandatory paid sick leave?

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

Setting aside the question of whether this is good policy or not, where in the Constitution does Congress have authority to mandate paid sick leave?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Looking back on corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood

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

As I have done for thirteen of the previous fifteen years, I attended the Bloomington City Council meeting last month to lobby the councilors not to give taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood. After several people spoke, including one man who gave a powerful speech about his own child, the city council voted unanimously to fund PP without any comment or attempt to justify the vote. In years past, they have at least attempted to justify their votes. Not this year.

This unanimous vote took place despite very disturbing testimony from one local resident who reported the findings of Indiana's state health department finding numerous serious violations at the Bloomington Planned Parenthood "clinic." One of those violations was patient files stored in an insecure location, a decade after the city council gave Planned Parenthood a handout partially to address secure file storage.

One of the excuses corporate welfare apologists have used in the past is that the social services funding recommendations are an "all or nothing" deal. The councilors can either vote for all of the grants or vote for none of them. Should the other organizations face a potential disruption in order to deny Planned Parenthood? But this has always been a disingenuous rebuttal to pro-life objections to giving a handout to Bloomington's abortion mill.

The Monroe County Council, which has only been distributing social service grants since 2008, has found a solution to this problem. They vote on each individual grant one at a time. This allows councilors who oppose funding for certain organizations to vote their conscience while supporting grants to other organizations. This is one reform that should be implemented for the 2016 social services funding process.

It is clear that the city council does not care about the sincere objections of local citizens to being forced to fund an abortion mill. The bored, dismissive facial expressions and gestures of some of the councilors was plenty of evidence for that. In the 2015 city elections, the people of Bloomington should vote for diversity and vote for councilors who take citizen objections seriously. That means not voting for any Democrats.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

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

Here's one for Throwback Thursday:

Rape is not a joke. It is a crime.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Traffic flow, traffic safety and West Third

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

The medians on West Third Street had some people grumbling after they were installed, and four years later some are calling for them to be removed. But is this a good idea, from a limited-government perspective or a public safety perspective? There are three major factors to consider, regarding tearing out the median: Traffic flow, cost and safety. Let's examine those three issues.

Safety: A city engineer told the Herald-Times in 2011 that the street "is much safer now" that the median has been installed. I asked the city public works department if there was a study done to examine accidents before and after to see if the street actually is safer, but was told no such study had been done. I was referred to a national study that medians like the one on Third Street do make traffic safer overall. I am not an engineer by any means, but it does make sense that the street is safer now that left turns across multiple lanes of traffic are no longer possible.

Cost: Whether one supported spending the money to install the median or not, the median is there now. It would cost a lot of money to rip it out and re-pave the road to look like it did before the project was done. If there is not a safety benefit, then I cannot justify spending the money to take out the median, especially when there are always other infrastructure projects that need to be funded from a limited supply of money.

Traffic Flow: Ripping out the median and restoring West Third to what it looked like several years ago would significantly disrupt traffic flow along an arterial street, and that disruption would be exacerbated by the construction of Interstate 69 and the traffic that will be coming into Bloomington from I-69 along West Third. If we are not going to see a public safety benefit (especially if the road will be less safe without the median) I cannot justify the disruption of traffic flow that would be created by another large public works project.

These things are always worth considering, and the west side does legitimately feel disrespected by our city leaders. Many on the west side do not believe their voices matter as much as the rest of Bloomington, especially the university-affiliated parts of the city. That needs to change, but we need to not be rash in reacting to even unpopular decisions. Unless I see compelling statistical evidence that would demonstrate that removing the West Third median would be beneficial, I cannot support removing them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The "old west" fireworks laws in Indiana need reform

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

Note: I originally wrote this in July 2013 for Hoosier Access.

See another blog post: Indiana's dangerous and irresponsible fireworks laws.

As a philosophical libertarian, I do not believe government should be protecting adults from themselves. So long as people are only harming themselves, government should generally not prohibit behaviors we see as "risky" or we personally dislike.

When government needs to step in is when the behavior of one person harms or unnecessarily endangers another person. That is why we have laws against drunk driving, because operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated endangers those around you and therefore violates their rights.

This is where our laws about fireworks come in. Matt Tully had a well-researched article last month about fireworks laws and the influence of fireworks industry lobbyists, and why the trajectory has been toward a more laissez-faire approach to fireworks laws.

The right of one person to set off fireworks should end when it endangers the lives or property of someone else. Specifically, allowing people to shoot explosives high into the air in a residential neighborhood is an invitation to disaster. All it would take is one rocket that does not explode in the air as it is supposed to and instead explodes after it lands on someone's roof to cause immense property damage and potentially cause serious injuries or even fatalities.

More to the point, the absolute right to set off fireworks around the Fourth of July and New year's Eve is absurd, especially in severe drought conditions like we had in the summer of 2012. We should trust local governments to know what is best for their communities and enforce local bans when appropriate, even around July Fourth. It is insane to not allow local governments to protect public safety in a situation like that. This should be repealed.

Let's not completely ruin everyone's fun. We all like to celebrate events like the Fourth of July. But we need to have common sense laws that protect public safety, as we do with drunk driving. The legislature should tighten the restrictions on what fireworks can be sold in Indiana, since making people promise to use them elsewhere is absurd.

The first place to start is with fireworks that launch high into the air, which should only be used by people with a license in a designated safe zone. That, and allowing local government to ban fireworks use when necessary, are two common-sense reforms that should be easily achievable.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Same-sex marriage, the 14th Amendment and Christian hypocrisy

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

When five Supreme Court justices declared that there is a "constitutional right" to same-sex marriage, they used the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to mandate that the states recognize same-sex unions as equal to the union of a man and a woman. This displays either a shocking historical ignorance on the part of the five justices, or it demonstrates incredibly dishonest historical revisionism.

The Fourteenth Amendment was passed to make sure blacks had equal rights in the South following the War Between the States. It was passed in 1868. Does anyone with even the most basic understanding of American history actually believe that the men who wrote, passed and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment had any intention of applying that to mandate government recognize same-sex marriage and give it equal status to the marriage of one man and one woman?

Come on, now. That is patently absurd. Original intent matters, and using the Fourteenth Amendment to mandate government recognize same-sex marriage is another example of justices writing laws from the bench.

I am losing patience with my fellow Christians on this matter, however. This ruling is just the latest fruit of the sexual revolution, which the Christian church has failed to stand against and oppose for sixty years. It was inevitable that this domino would fall, and more will fall after this one. We will see prohibitions on polygamy attacked, and age of consent laws will come under fire as well.

But this is not the result of an increasingly godless culture. This is because the church has failed. We have abandoned God's standards on fornication, divorce, and adultery. Our churches approve second (or third, or fourth...) marriages prohibited by Scripture, our churches turn a blind eye to fornication and our churches do not even want to recognize rampant use of Internet pornography. Is it any surprise, then, that even many Christians are comfortable with government recognizing same-sex marriage while dismissing Christian objections to it? With all of the hypocrisy, I cannot blame them. I do not agree, but it's understandable.

This is a failure of the church, first, foremost and primarily. We, as Christians, had the opportunity to stand against the sexual revolution sixty years ago. We did not. Our pastors failed us, our church leaders failed us, and our congregations loved them for it. We sowed the wind in the 1960's and 1970's. Now we are reaping the whirlwind.

If we are serious about opposing same-sex marriage and preventing the next steps in the sexual revolution from being enshrined in "law" by the judicial oligarchy, we need to go back to the foundation of Scripture's teaching on sexuality and the purpose and proper place for it. This means that we need to guard the sanctity of marriage against unbiblical divorce, protect the purity of our congregations from pornography and fornication, and repent not only of our failure to stand against the sexual revolution but of the rampant sexual sin in our own churches.

But most of all, we need to pray for revival. The only way out of this wilderness is a supernatural change of men's hearts. That, thankfully, is well within the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Psalm 2

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

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ironic picture undermines flag desecration amendment

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

I wrote this editorial back in 2007 but decided to re-post it today, as a reminder that as we celebrate our nation's independence from England that we declared our independence to preserve liberty. Preserving liberty often means defending things we personally find offensive.

Published November 28, 2007, in the Herald-Times.

The picture underneath the headline "Honoring our flag and our veterans" in the November 12 Herald-Times presents an ironic challenge for those who propose a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, or more broadly, flag desecration. The large picture features several flags being burned, a practice outlined in the U.S. Flag Code regarding how to properly retire a flag.

And yet, if those same flags were burned as part of a political protest criticizing American foreign policy, a flag desecration amendment would make that burning illegal. So what makes a "good" flag burning different from a "bad" flag burning? The answer is simple: whether a flag burning is good or bad - or in the case of a flag desecration amendment, legal or illegal - depends on the motivation and thoughts of the person doing the burning. If the intent is to respectfully retire a flag, you are fine. If the intent is to dishonor the flag, you are on the wrong side of the law.

Despite the argument made by some that a flag desecration amendment would ban conduct rather than speech, the contrast between burning a flag to retire it and burning a flag to disrespect it proves that argument to be false. Clearly, the purpose of a flag desecration amendment is to criminalize a message that many people find offensive. Even if the vast majority of the American people agree that the message is offensive, do we really need to undermine the principles established by the First Amendment by censoring that message?

The beauty of the Bill of Rights is that it was written not to grant rights to the American people, but to make it illegal for government to restrict the rights that our founding fathers assumed we had by nature of being human beings. In fact, when our founding fathers seceded from England, they wrote; "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." The Declaration of Independence goes on to state that the purpose of government is "to secure these rights."

This is why it is such a bad idea to amend the Constitution to restrict the right to dissent against the government, even with an offensive message. A flag desecration amendment would pervert the purpose of the Constitution, which is to limit government, and instead use the highest law in the land to limit the rights of individuals. That has been done only once before, with Prohibition, and the results were less than ideal. That amendment was repealed within a generation.

Let's be honest here. There is no compelling state interest that justifies a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. Given the small number of cases annually, this is little more than politicians exploiting patriotism to gain a few votes and attack their opponents. While feelings might be hurt, no one's rights are violated when someone desecrates an American flag. There is no right to not be offended, and political correctness is just as destructive when practiced by the Right as when practiced by the Left.

The American flag does not represent a people or a territory. The American flag represents a set of values that makes this country unique. The United States of America is more than just a nation. America is an idea and a standard of freedom. Limiting political speech, no matter how offensive that speech might be, is a far more serious desecration of the American flag than a childish individual who lights a flag on fire to get attention and make people angry.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The judicial branch is not the legislative branch

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

Whatever you think about last week's decision on same-sex marriage, we should be very concerned about the direction of the Supreme Court. The real problem we face is not one court decision or another. The real problem we face is that for two generations, the Supreme Court has operated as a super-legislature rather than as a neutral body that interprets the law and the Constitution as written.

We have justices openly talking about public policy during legal arguments. Two especially egregious cases were when Stephen Breyer argued public policy when the court was considering the Fair Housing Act and when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was using public policy arguments to explain why campaign finance regulations should be upheld.

See http://wapo.st/1TUyj7J and http://nyti.ms/1LMQzuf for more.

The Supreme Court is not the legislative branch and should not even be considering public policy. The court's only role is to interpret the law and Constitution as written. When the Supreme Court behaves this way, and is allowed to behave this way by Congress and the President, we do not have a Constitutional republic envisioned by the founders of this nation. We have a judicial oligarchy. This means that nothing, including the Bill of Rights, is safe.

We need to demand that the other branches of government restrain the judiciary.

This means that impeachment must be on the table.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Social media accounts up and running

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

Follow my campaign for Bloomington city council:

♣ - www.VoteForTibbs.org

♣ - Facebook.com/VoteForTibbs

♣ - Twitter.com/VoteForTibbs

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

False fire alarms at Indiana University

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

Many who have lived in the dorms at Indiana University can recount horror stories of being woken up in the middle of the night and forced to march outside, regardless of weather, because some joker thought it would be "funny" to pull the fire alarm. One week when I was an undergrad, the fire alarm was pulled three times. By the third time, very few people bothered to leave the building, despite the fact that the law mandated residents evacuate.

But this is not just a problem for students. This is a problem for everyone who lives and pays taxes in Bloomington, and this is something that needs to be considered in the 2015 city election. Examine the following statistics on fire runs and false alarms, courtesy of the City of Bloomington's Fire Department:

  • 2008: 532 fire runs - 321 false alarms
  • 2009: 581 fire runs - 318 false alarms
  • 2010: 619 fire runs - 371 false alarms
  • 2011: 624 fire runs - 362 false alarms
  • 2012: 642 fire runs - 361 false alarms
  • 2013: 657 fire runs - 385 false alarms
  • 2014: 686 fire runs - 360 false alarms

Here is the problem for city taxpayers: When a fire truck is at a false alarm, that fire truck is not available to respond to a legitimate fire, which could increase response time or dilute resources needed to fight a legitimate fire. Fire runs waste gasoline and man hours, as well as putting wear and tear on the vehicles. Any time a large vehicle like a fire truck is called out, there is also an inherent risk associated with that run.

Both the city council and the mayor need to seriously think about this issue and whether Indiana University is paying its fair share given how many resources from the city go to providing fire protection to the campus. IU is exempt from paying property taxes, so it pays an annual fee to the city for fire protection. But is that fee large enough?

The university needs to be a good neighbor as well, and that issue needs to be addressed by both the city council and the mayor in private and in public. This means that the university needs to show it is making a good faith effort to cut down on false alarms, punish students who are caught pulling the alarm fraudulently, and improve security (including the use of security cameras) to prevent false alarm "pranks" from happening.

With the increased focus on city government this year, and no other races on the ballot competing for the voters' attention, now is the perfect time to address this issue.