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Saturday, February 28, 2015

A bigger issue than net neutrality

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

There is a bigger issue in the FCC vote on Thursday than net neutrality.

Since this is basically a new law, it should have been passed by Congress, not an administrative agency.

Once again, this shows how lawless our government has become, with the bureaucracy usurping powers that rightly belong to the legislative branch.

And that lawlessness is bipartisan.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Evolution and Republican politics

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

Despite the fact that just over 40% of Americans believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, belief in evolution is being used as a wedge issue against and litmus test for potential Republican candidates for President in 2016.

The theory is that if you believe in the Biblical account of a literal six-day creation, you are an ignorant, stupid, uneducated inbred hick. You probably live in Appalachia and are married to your first cousin. Most of the people mocking creationists will not admit they think this way, other than the "uneducated" part but the subtext is clearly there. Anyone who admits being a young-earth creationist - even the 27% who have a college degree - are clearly several steps below the rest of society.

But here is the dirty little secret - no one cares if a Republican candidate for President is a young-earth creationist. The people who do care and will vote based on that would never vote for a Republican candidate anyway. People are much more concerned about a candidate's relevant experience, his record in office, his policy proposals and political platform, and how his policies will impact them, their wallets, and the issues they care deeply about. Whether a Republican candidate is a creationist or not is irrelevant to these other factors.

While elitists love to puff up their chests and look down their noses at creationists, belief in the Biblical account of creation is not nearly as much of a political disadvantage as they think it is. In fact, the vindictiveness, snark and ridicule might actually benefit the candidate being attacked as average voters think they are also being mocked and insulted by the elite. Just as Mitt Romney's remark about the 47 percent harmed him in the 2012 election, deriding anyone who believes that what Genesis says is literally true can backfire badly.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A shocking and revolutionary idea for Facebook

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

Here is a revolutionary idea. If you see a post on Facebook that makes you worry about your friend (assuming this person is a real-life friend) you could PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL HIM OR HER instead of reporting it to Facebook and hoping they will handle it.


In defense of exclusive primaries

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

Primaries are a good thing, and should remain under the control of the political parties. While Indiana technically has a "closed" primary, the enforcement is nonexistent, allowing people to cross back and forth or (worse) monkeywrench the other party's primary. Now comes a Herald-Times editorial arguing for an open primary system - one that would defeat the entire purpose of primary elections.

As a Republican, I have no business deciding who the Democratic nominee for Mayor will be. I am not going to be voting for the Democratic candidate, and that decision is best made by Democratic voters. Note that I said Democratic "voters" instead of Democratic party activists. After all, party activists are a small subset of the primary voters who choose the nominees. This is why the Herald-Times' argument for allowing voters to participate "whether they are active in a party or not" is a classic Straw Man logical fallacy.

(See previous articles from April 27, 2011 and April 21, 2011.)

I am not sure why the H-T is complaining that the primary system somehow violates people's privacy. There are many good reasons why someone's election participation is public record. One reason is it protects against voter fraud: It is important to have the voter list be verifiable. Everyone can look up who voted in a primary or general election. Even if someone votes in a primary, it does not mean that person will vote for all - or even any - of that party's general election nominees. When someone votes - though not for whom they voted - should always be public record.

The primary election already results in the top vote-getter for each party making it to the November general election, though there are two separate pools of voters instead of only one. That means the nomination is already decided by the voters. This is why, nationwide, there have been many candidates who have been chosen by voters when the political parties would have chosen someone else. One big example is Barack Obama, who most likely would not have been the Democratic nominee for President in 2008 if that was decided only at a convention instead of primary votes.

Some have argued for nominating conventions instead of taxpayer-funded primary elections. The problem with this is it does not give the voters a choice of who will represent them on the ballot. The other problem is that party insiders may choose a poor candidate, while winning a primary election at least demonstrates that candidate has the support of the party's voters. There have been a number of elections where the nominees would have been very different if chosen by the party establishment instead of the voters. And while not having taxpayers fund a primary sounds good on paper, it is never going to happen. You will never see that choice taken away from voters.

The primary system is a good one. All it asks is that the voters who pick the party's nominees pick one party or the other. Having an open primary where all voters can choose both parties' nominees is an invitation for mischief and severely dilutes what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat. Strong political parties, and clear differences between the parties, is good for democracy. It should remain that way, and separate primaries ensure that. If anything, Indiana's closed primary system should be more restrictive, not less.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Just say "no" to mandatory HPV vaccinations!

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

A couple weeks ago, I argued that the Measles vaccine (and vaccines for other highly contagious communicable diseases) should be mandatory in order to protect public health. This is a case where the rights of the public to not be infected should supersede individual choice, under the principle that "your right to swing your fist ends when you touch my nose." But one proposal that should be rejected is the idea of mandatory vaccinations of all children for the human papillomavirus, or HPV. This was proposed by the Indiana state legislature.

(See previous articles from September 20, 2011 and December 31, 2005 and February 28, 2007.)

The big difference is that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, and therefore an infected person cannot pass it to someone else unless there is sexual contact between the two. Someone who has HPV cannot infect anyone else unless that person is sexually intimate with the infected person. Whether we want to admit it or not, the HPV vaccine does send a dangerous message that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is less dangerous, and there are many consequences of sexual immorality that go beyond sexually transmitted diseases.

Since HPV is spread in a very specific way, it should be up to the parents to decide whether or not their children (usually daughters) will get the vaccine. I do not have a problem with the vaccine itself or with parents choosing it, and if I had a daughter I would probably encourage her to get the vaccine as an extra safeguard. The potentially dangerous moral message can be overcome by instruction in morality. Plus, it is possible that even a faithful married person can contract HPV from a spouse who was infected before the marriage happened or is unfaithful.

But making the HPV vaccine mandatory is a step too far. It does not protect public health, and instead intrudes on a private medical decision that is properly made by families and their doctors. It also intrudes on parents' God-given authority over their children's welfare. I fully support giving information on the vaccine and full information on its effectiveness. But this is not a decision that should be made by the government.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pavilion Properties' unprofessional, childish and offensive ads

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

Does Pavilion Properties really think that a video of a naked man, with his genitals (barely) covered, is the best way to attract new tenants to rent an apartment or house managed by them? If I was in the market for a rental home, an advertisement like that would not only do nothing to help sell Pavilion as a landlord, it would actively push me toward other property management companies.

Perhaps Pavilion thinks that the ad is edgy or clever. It is not. It is offensive, childish, and incredibly unprofessional. It has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the rental properties Pavilion is marketing to students, or anyone else who reads the Indiana Daily Student website. As an IU alumnus and Bloomington resident, I check the IDS daily to see what is going on with the alma mater as well as the IDS' coverage of local news. I do not appreciate being accosted with this offensive video while I am trying to stay informed.

The IDS designed the ad for Pavilion, and I think Pavilion got a bad deal. Think about this for a minute: You work for one of the best college newspapers in the nation, a newspaper that often has better coverage of local events and issues than even Bloomington's local newspaper. This is despite having a disadvantage in institutional knowledge of the area and contacts with local people. If you want to go into a career designing online advertisements, or working in the news media generally, do you think this helps or hurts your career prospects?

The naked video advertisement, unfortunately, highlights a disturbing tendency of the Indiana Daily Student - being crude the sake of being crude. From publishing obscene words to inappropriate images and video, some folks at the IDS seem to have never moved beyond junior high school in terms of maturity. Readers of the IDS website, and people who are looking for a rental home, should expect more maturity and seriousness from a top college newspaper and an otherwise respectable property management firm.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Like it or not, Marie Harf has a point

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

One of the things I dislike about social media (and especially Twitter) is how things tend to be dumbed down and stripped of context, for the sole purpose of creating a silly meme that misses the entire point of what it is (poorly) mocking. One example of this is the case of Marie Harf, who has practically been painted as a sympathizer of the Islamic State for a comment she made on Hardball. First, let's take a look at what she said:

"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians — they're in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's a lack of opportunity for jobs."

****SNIP****

"We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people."

You will notice that nowhere does she say that we should not kill ISIS terrorists. She said we and our allies will continue to kill them. What she is doing is pointing out that we need a holistic approach to dealing with Islamic terrorism. I fail to see why this is controversial, or why what she said is "stupid."

It is well known that in times of desperation, it is easier for demagogues to whip up popular support and make a grab for power. One example of this is the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany. There were a number of factors that contributed to Hitler's rise to power, but one of the big ones was the severe economic depression and hyperinflation in postwar Germany. Hitler offered a way out of the depression and a scapegoat for it.

Yes, of course some Muslim terrorists were wealthy before they became terrorists. Yes, of course some of the people fighting for ISIS are just plain evil sadists. But people who lack economic opportunity, people who are dealing with a corrupt and oppressive government, and people who do not see a lot of hope for improving their lives are vulnerable to the pull of persuasive demagogues to fight for them, especially if they are fighting for some sort of "greater cause."

Harf was right to argue that we need a more holistic strategy. It is a longstanding theory in political science that democracies do not fight each other. (This is not entirely true, as a quick Google search will show.) One big reason we rebuilt Germany and Japan with democratic traditions was to turn them into allies instead of enemies. Building bridges with the Muslim world and fostering economic opportunity is a similar (though obviously not identical) strategy - using our soft power as a way to blunt extremism.

There are many legitimate objections to President Obama's strategy in dealing with the Islamic State. The silly #JobsForISIS meme is not one of them. It makes conservatives look simple-minded and does a disservice to legitimate discourse about public policy. Serious issues (especially life-or-death issues like the War on Terror) need serious people and serious ideas. Mocking a legitimate and historically proven strategy is not serious by any means.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty

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

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

A student is punished by a so-called "university" because he LOOKS LIKE someone who committed a criminal act.

This is shameful.


The fraudulent bite mark matching hoax

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

Radley Balko's series on the fraudulent "science" of bite mark matching has been both informative and frightening.

We need reform right now to prevent more innocent men from being sent to prison by this hoax.

Here are links to Part I, Part II and Part III of the series.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Following up - "traditional" values vs. Christian values

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

Note: I posted this in the comments section for yesterday's post, but I am also highlighting it on the main page because it's a long comment.

I'm not advocating for everyone to be forced to "convert" to Christianity, as that would represent false conversions. That also presents a dangerous precedent, and gives power to a government that can never be trusted with it no matter who is in charge.

But in terms of religious values in law, we have that right now and have since the nation was founded. We always will. The question is not whether we have religious values in our system of laws, but which values.

The phrasing of your question is interesting - "impose" the Biblical definition of marriage on a homosexual. I certainly do not believe that anyone should be forced to marry against their will. In fact, I do not believe government has an interest in criminalizing relationships between consenting adults. I would draw a distinction between a sin and a crime.

But allowing people to live as they please is not the same as having government place a stamp of approval on that relationship with legal recognition of that relationship as a "marriage." Our society has always had restrictions on what it recognizes as a marriage: No polygamy, no close relatives, and (until very, very recently) no people of the same sex. We do not allow people under a certain age to be married, to protect them against abuse an exploitation. So arguing about whether there should be restrictions is pointless. The argument is about which restrictions.

Even before the states started recognizing same-sex marriage within the last decade, any homosexual could "marry" someone of the same sex provided they could find a church in rebellion against Scripture to perform the ceremony. There were no restrictions on it and it was not illegal. What that couple could not do is have the state place a stamp of approval on and grant legal recognition to that "marriage."

And all of that was always considered in perfect harmony with the First Amendment until the last decade. It was inconceivable for the men who actually wrote the First Amendment that it would be used to force state recognition of same-sex "marriage." Original intent matters, and the prevailing political winds of the day should not be used to change the clear meaning of the Constitution as it was written.


Friday, February 20, 2015

We need to stop talking about "traditional values"

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

In a sermon a few weeks ago, Doug Wilson made the following point:

Many defenders of traditional values refuse to honor God as God and refuse to give Him thanks by name. No wonder we lose. We cannot defend generic morality. The reason we cannot defend generic morality successfully is there is no such thing as generic morality.

I thought this was an especially poignant point. After all, why do we believe in the "traditional values" we talk about? It is because we are Christians. The reason we argue that the institution of marriage should be one man and one woman is because that is the way it is defined in Scripture, especially in the New Testament. The reason we oppose abortion is because the unborn baby is a person made in the image of God.

There are two big reasons this is important. First, because we lose credibility when we pretend we are making secular arguments when everyone knows we are acting under the conviction of our faith. Even those who disagree with us can respect that we are being honest about why we are advocating for the positions we hold, but when we dishonestly wrap our position in a secular argument and pretend there is no faith-based reason for that argument we cannot command respect - but we do deserve scorn.

The second (and much more important reason) is that we are acknowledging that we are under the authority of the King of Kings and that we are speaking out on these issues because of our commitment to Him. We are showing we are ashamed of our faith and our belief that we have to rely on our own strength, knowledge and wisdom to win the argument. When we do this, we are every bit as much in rebellion against the universal authority of Jesus Christ as the unbelievers who openly oppose him, whether our policy position is in line with Biblical morality or not.

I used to be of the opinion that we cannot use explicitly Christian arguments or use Scripture to make our case but I have since realized the arrogance and folly of that position. Why would we not want to acknowledge that the Creator is on our side and that we are acting out of obedience to Him? Are we really this arrogant and self-important? Are we really ashamed of our faith and our Savior?

This is not to say that we should not use secular arguments to make our case. There are plenty of secular arguments for the protection of the unborn, for example. God is the Author of all logic, and He gave us our intellect for a reason. Logic is not opposed to Christianity. Instead, logic flows from Christianity. But we should always put that under the authority of our Savior, instead of simply being just another political interest group. We need to kill the "traditional values" movement and replace it with Christian values.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Don Imus, free speech and hypocrisy

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

Revisiting the Don Imus "controversy" from 2007: This was about much more than Don Imus.

Don Imus: Another manufactured crisis -- April 10, 2007

More on the Don Imus controversy -- April 15, 2007


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Arnold and Jesse Friedman are innocent!

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

Father and son Arnold and Jesse Friedman were convicted in an unbelievable sex abuse case in the late 1980's, in which they were accused of engaging in ritualistic Satanic sexual abuse during a national panic about the issue. It was unbelievable at the time because people were horrified that this could happen. It is unbelievable now because the case has fallen apart and has been shown to be a fraud.

But this fraud destroyed two men's lives, sending both to prison. Jesse Friedman is still fighting to clear his name, and is running into opposition from the prosecutors who wrongly sent him to prison. The determination to hide the evidence that the younger Friedman is seeking is a shameful abuse of power and should be rejected by the courts. If the courts will not step in, all relevant officials should fight to see these records released.

This case is but one example of a criminal justice system gone haywire, abandoning a true search for justice to cater to the hysteria of the day and putting all of us at risk of a government that continually abuses its power. The ritualistic sex abuse scandals of the 1980's were the modern-day version of the Salem witch trials and the worst abuses of the Spanish Inquisition - demonstrating that a secular government can be every bit as dangerous as wild-eyed religious fanatics. (Which we already knew, thanks to the tens of millions of dead bodies created by Communism.)

What this case shows is the need for serious criminal justice reform, staring with eliminating immunity that law enforcement (especially prosecutors) enjoy from civil and criminal liability for misbehavior. More transparency is needed as well. There is no reason to hide the records in a closed case, especially when the wrongfully convicted person has been exonerated. There should be criminal penalties (including prison time) for refusing to turn over records in cases such as the Friedman case. Such stubbornness is the opposite of justice.

After decades of the "tough on crime" hysteria, we are (thankfully) seeing some pushback and a bipartisan concern for civil liberties. But there are entrenched interests within the justice system that will fight ferociously to preserve their privileges. Only a bipartisan coalition can restrain the abuses of the criminal justice system by taking the politics out of it. Let's hope this happens sooner rather than later.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Crusades and ISIS

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

The problem with Barack Obama's remarks about us not getting on our "high horse" about ISIS is that he used an example that is nearly a thousand years old. Everyone involved in the Crusades has been dead for hundreds of years. Not one single Christian on the planet participated in or was even alive during the Crusades. Meanwhile, ISIS war crimes are happening right now. It was a stupid example, one that the President is far too intelligent to use.


Literalism and the application of it

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

Note: Since I moved the blog between a couple different hosting options, not all of the archives are on ConservaTibbs.com. Therefore, I will occasionally re-post things I wrote before 2010.

This editorial was originally posted in 2008.




I am a literalist. I believe that, in general, the best way to interpret any writing is a word-for-word reading of the actual text of that writing. For example, when Jesus says in John 14:6 that "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me", it should be interpreted literally if one is serious about understanding Christian doctrine. As I said four months ago, the Bible makes it very clear that Christian doctrine necessarily excludes all other faiths. Along the same lines, the best way to interpret the Constitution is with the actual words of the Constitution. When the First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech", it should be interpreted literally.

In political discourse, literalism is important. For example, when I criticized Baron Hill because his September 2006 speech on the Indiana University campus was not open to the public, that does not mean that I believe that every single speech an elected official gives should be open to all members of the public. That would be a foolish position to take, as there are circumstances where that would not be appropriate. My criticism of Baron Hill was specific to that particular speech. Again, the best interpretation of what I wrote is a word-for-word reading of my writings on the issue. When someone dishonestly extends my criticism of Hill to a ridiculous extreme, that person can expect to be called on it.

However, not all language is to be interpreted literally. I have never argued for the literal interpretation of everything. If I was that much of an extreme literalist, I would not use terms like sunrise and sunset. The sun does not actually rise or set, after all. The earth rotates, bringing the sun into view. Sunrise and sunset, then, are terms used to describe the event as we see it from our position on the earth. Not every single thing in the Bible is to be interpreted literally, either. For example, the parable of the Prodigal Son is not meant to be an historically account of a father and his wayward son; it is an illustrative example meant to teach a lesson about how God loves His children.

Sometimes, a word can have a broad or more narrow application. The word sodomite has, throughout history, been used to refer to homosexuals. Supporters of homosexual rights seem to think it is "cute" to point out that sodomy can be practiced by heterosexuals, as if that invalidates the application of the word sodomy to homosexual behavior. Obviously not all acts of sodomy are done by homosexuals, but all sex acts by two people of the same sex can accurately be described as sodomy.

There are things that must be interpreted literally. However, common sense says that there are some things that are not to be interpreted literally. Only a fool denies that both of those principles are true simultaneously. In addition, words can have more than one meaning, depending on the context where that word is used. Every single person who has ever lived, without exception, is and will always be a "cafeteria literalist". The key is to have the discernment to understand what should be interpreted literally and what should not be interpreted literally. Any functioning adult should have the capability to make these judgments.


Monday, February 16, 2015

A contradiction that cannot stand

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

Here is an excellent observation:

What cannot stand — because it cannot support the weight of its contradiction — is a social arrangement under which 22-year-olds can go from leading Marines or raising children to being children by simply crossing the street onto a college campus.

Read more at National Review.


Uncivil attacks on Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo

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

It feels strange that a conservative Republican would be defending the integrity of Democratic city councilors Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo, but that is what I am doing here. These two have come under intense attack for their support of reducing the deer population at Lake Griffy. The reason I am defending them is because the attacks on these two have been over the line, and in many cases have been little more than smears.

When it comes to the deer cull itself, I do not have a strong opinion one way or the other, though I have enjoyed poking fun at some of the "save Bambi" types.

What I am saying is that accusing two committed environmentalists - the two biggest environmental activists on the city council - of "lying" to justify a deer kill is completely absurd. Some of Rollo and Ruff's critics have basically turned these two into Captain Planet villains, which is laughable. Do opponents of the deer cull really think that Rollo and Ruff would support hiring sharpshooters to kill deer if they did not believe it is necessary to preserve biodiversity?

Sometimes, people can simply disagree without having nefarious motives or committing nefarious actions in support of an agenda. I strongly disagree with both Rollo and Ruff on a large number of issues, but there is no doubt in my mind that their motives on the deer cull are honorable. There is no doubt that they want what is best for Lake Griffy, both he plants and the animals. It is typical of our coarsened political discourse that Rollo and Ruff's critics cannot simply disagree with their policy - the people promoting that policy must be liars with a conflict of interest.

Keep in mind that I am a far-right Republican who would love to see both of these two men defeated in the November election. I hope the Republican Party can recruit three at-large candidates and a candidate for the Fourth District to take both off the city council. But political opponents or not, neither of these two men deserve the kind of uncivil attacks they are getting, especially when posted by anonymous users on HeraldTimesOnline.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

An excellent issue

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

Here is an especially good issue of the Social Conservative Review, from the Family Research Council.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tumblr

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

Why am I on Tumblr? I don't know.

So here's my post about that.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Questions about civil asset forfeiture

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

Thou shalt not steal. -- Exodus 20:15

Civil asset forfeiture has been a big issue the last couple weeks nationally, so it stands to reason (especially in an election year) that voters deserve to be informed about what is being done locally regarding this practice. With that backdrop, I sent the following list of questions to several government officials in Bloomington city government

  • Does the Bloomington Police Department seize money and property in the course of criminal investigations, specifically illegal drug investigations?
  • What restrictions are in place on these seizures, if any?
  • Are there civil asset forfeitures done by the BPD in cooperation with the federal government?
  • What additional protections are in place, locally, to safeguard civil liberties of people not convicted of a crime?
  • How much money and/or property is confiscated on an annual basis, if any?
  • Are detailed records maintained of money and/or property seized by the BPD, if any?

As has been documented by Radley Balko and the staff of Reason.com, there have been a number of cases where people have lost huge amounts of money and/or property due to "civil asset forfeiture" laws. Many of these people have not even been charged with a crime, much less actually convicted of one. Civil asset forfeiture has, to a large extent, become nothing more than a racket that law enforcement uses to fund itself. The motive is greed, not protecting the innocent or punishing the guilty.

The theory behind asset forfeiture was reasonable - that since profit is the motive for organized crime, the government can take that profit away to diminish the incentive to commit those crimes. The problem is that civil asset forfeiture has expanded far beyond the drug kingpins it was originally supposed to harm and has become a cash cow for law enforcement specifically and government generally. It is "legalized" theft.

So how much of this happens locally? I do not know. That is why I am asking these questions.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

As a reminder:

Universal morality requires a Primary Source.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

General truths are generally true

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

I recently read an article that made the point that one thing is statistically better than another thing for a select group of people. Someone interviewed in the article argued that the general truth is not true because of exceptions X and Y. This illogical "argument" is typical of our unfortunate tendency as a culture to deny general truths.

(I am not addressing that specific issue in this blog post, because that is not the point I am trying to make here.)

It is true that in the case of exceptions X and Y, the thing being considered is not preferable. However, exceptions are just that: Exceptions to the rule. Showing that there is an exception to a general truth does not invalidate a general truth. The existence of those exceptions only serves to prove that the general truth is not universally true. It is possible for something to be generally true without being universally true.

I have caught myself doing this many times, and I still do this. If I do not like a general truth or I do not want it to apply to me, I immediately start thinking of the various exceptions to show that the general truth is not always true. Even when I am arguing a point that is generally true, I feel compelled to recognize the exceptions to that general truth to pre-empt the inevitable "but what about X" responses.

But this is a poor rhetorical tool and, quite frankly, is a childish way to argue your point. It is often intended to sidetrack a legitimate discussion with a red herring. It is one thing to attempt to prove that what is presented as a general truth is actually not generally true, but pointing to exceptions (especially statistically insignificant exceptions) is not something a serious person should use in an argument.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More bacon...

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

Yuck.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Why do I blog?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:00 AM (#)

I have been blogging for nearly twelve years now, and for several years before that I maintained a personal website to collect various articles and editorials I have written over the years. But why do I do this? Why do I maintain this blog, and why have I done it for so long?

Here is the answer: This is a hobby. No more, no less.

Basically, I am just another nerd on the web with a very small following. I will never be on the same level as someone like Matt Walsh, and I will never do this for a living. If I were somehow able to manage to make this my job, I would probably be miserable. I do not have the salesman's personality needed to sell to advertisers and once this becomes a chore, it would not be fun and I would not want to do it any more.

I am very happy with my life and with the limited reach this blog has. The purpose of this post is to put this in perspective. This is a hobby. Of course, I believe what I am saying, and because this is only a hobby I am free to post what I want without a lot of pressure.

Generally, my goal is to get three posts up a week. For the most part, I have been able to do that. Sometimes, I do significantly more than that, though that is rare. It depends on whether I get excited about several topics and motivated to write about them. But it may be that some weeks I will not post anything at all. (That is rare too.)

Maybe someday, I’ll decide it's over and pack it up. I will close the blog and the public social media accounts. Today is not that day, and that day may not be for many years. What I have to do is keep what I am doing here in perspective. I am thankful for the limited influence I have. I am also very thankful for those who read what I post. Thank you for allowing me to have some space on your web browsers for whatever frequency you visit the blog.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Immediate and enthusiastic obedience

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 8:42 AM (#)

I love it when I call Nano to come inside and he comes running to the back door.

Good dog.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bacon?

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

OK.

I realize that the love of bacon is a popular meme online. I understand that there are several products now that are bacon-flavored that have come about as a result of this meme. But I saw something in Kroger yesterday that caught my attention: A Persian roll with maple flavored icing and bacon.

People can eat whatever they want, and if that's what floats your boat, go for it. I'm happy for ya.

But, seriously, YUCK.


Friday, February 6, 2015

The measles vaccine should be mandatory - no exceptions

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

As a philosophical libertarian, I believe you should be allowed to do what you please provided you are not harming anyone else. This means you cannot steal someone's property, assault them or kill them. You cannot recklessly damage someone's property or endanger someone's life. But as long as your choices only impact you, the government should pretty much leave you alone.

It is based on this principle that the measles vaccine (and other vaccines for deadly diseases) should be mandatory, with no exceptions. The paranoid anti-vaccine movement has relied on crackpot "science" to spread fear, so a bunch of entitled rich people have failed to protect themselves and their children from a deadly disease. They have exploited the incredibly weak system of exceptions to put public health at risk and it is time for the government to step in and put a stop to this. If necessary, people should be forcibly vaccinated as a public health measure.

Mandatory vaccination of children is tricky. Parents should have wide latitude in how they choose to raise their children, but parental rights are not unlimited. Child abuse is obviously a crime. Parents who fail to feed their children can lose their parental rights. Because children (especially infants and toddlers) cannot make rational medical care choices, their parents must provide the proper care. Therefore, not seeking medical care after a serious injury is grounds for neglect charges. Vaccines for potentially deadly diseases fall into that category.

In addition to protecting the rights (as well as the lives) of children from foolish parents, the civil magistrate also has a legitimate interest in protecting public health. People who refuse perfectly safe vaccines can spread deadly diseases through the population, and therefore violate the rights of other citizens. Because we interact with many others on a daily basis, the state has an interest in protecting their lives and health from the foolish choices of vaccine opponents.

I am generally not one to advocate for more government. But while I am a philosophical libertarian, I am not an anarchist. While mandatory vaccinations may seem like a radical proposal, it is a reasonable one.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Putting NBA teams in Europe is a stupid idea

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

The NBA wants to expand to Europe, and the NBA commissioner has said it is the league's "manifest destiny" to get there eventually. This is a stupid idea for two big reasons, and the owners need pull back this ambition for the good of the game and the good of the league.

First of all, travel would be a nightmare. East and west coast teams already have travel issues and a time difference of three hours. Multiply that time and travel difference for teams in the continental USA (especially teams on the West Coast) and you have a real mess. It would be fundamentally unfair for the road teams when the US teams play the European teams, because of long travel times and the language and cultural barriers.

I am not sure what the NBA is thinking here. I cannot understand why they think this will work logistically over the course of an 82 game season. We found out about a decade ago with playoff seeding that the NBA was in desperate need of a calculator, and now they are apparently in desperate need of a map and a basic First Grade geography lesson. This is not a one-time tournament where teams from all over the world converge, like the Olympics. This is a grind that is several months long - not even counting the playoffs and the logistical challenge of those games.

Even if the logistical issues could be solved (hint: they will not be) further expansion would damage the product. Every time the league adds a team, there are twelve players who would not have made an NBA roster the season before. Imagine of the NBA slashed four teams, down to 26 franchises. The good players on the eliminated teams would make their new teams much better, and you would have fewer truly unqualified players on the court.

There has already been some complaining the last few seasons about the lack of good rivalries, and part of that is that teams see each other much less than they did 30 years ago. Adding four more teams, in addition to adding 48 players who could not make a roster today, would further make rivalries less meaningful because the schedule would be more diluted than it already is. Plus, no American team is going to have a true rivalry with a European team.

From a business standpoint, I understand the desire to expand to Europe. Every business wants to expand its customer base. But there are good ways to expand and there are bad ways to expand. Putting four NBA franchises in Europe is the latter, not the former. This is an idea that should never be more than a fantasy.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Anonymous comments on HeraldTimesOnline, revisited

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

Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg offered another defense of the policy protecting the anonymity of those who comment on HeraldTimesOnline. Well, it was not so much a defense of the policy as much as it was a re-statement of the existing policy. In fact, as far as I can recall it has never been explicitly stated in the Terms of Service or in an editorial that "outing" an anonymous commenter's real name is prohibited prior to the January 26 editorial, though it is well known to HTO commenters that "outing" is prohibited.

Protecting anonymity remains a bad policy. I've written extensively on the subject in the past, but one thing stands out in terms of HTO comment policy: Why are story comments substantively different from letters to the editor? As far back as I can remember (back in 1996, when I started reading it on a daily basis) the Herald-Times has required the author's full name be attached to a letter to the editor. Not only are full names not required for story comments, but HTO moderators will aggressively protect anonymity of HTO commenters.

The reason for this cannot be because story comments are more visible and therefore more likely to subject a user to retaliation than a letter to the editor. Letters to the editor are far more visible, showing up both in print and online with an average of no more than three to five published on an average day.

With story comments, it is easy for comments to get lost in a sea of dozens or even hundreds of comments on a specific story, especially in the "threaded" comment system that was implemented when HeraldTimesOnline switched to a new content management system in 2013. Now comments are much more difficult to follow than before. Unless you know the where the "back door" is, comments cannot even be read without a subscription

I use my real name in both comments and (obviously) LTTE and I have gotten far more real-world heat (and sometimes real-world retaliation) from my LTTE than from anything I have ever written on HTO.

It also cannot be that there would not be free-flowing debate. There has been free-flowing debate in the LTTE section - with real names in the print edition - for decades now. Obviously, people can write a lot more in comments than in a once-a-month letter with no word limit, but that can be done under a real name just as easily as under a fake name.

It is true that a comment stands or falls on its own, and the logical merit of something that is written does not depend on the identity of the poster being public. But once you get out of the theoretical world of philosophy and into what is actually written, the fact that some identities are hidden actually matters a great deal - especially when someone hiding behind a fake name is attacking (sometimes viciously attacking) someone who is open with his identity.

Finally, the Herald-Times is doing a grave disservice to its readers and committing an obscene offense against the profession of journalism by protecting the real names of some commenters who are candidates for elective office or who serve on high-profile county boards and commissions. When the "newspaper" aggressively deletes comments that reveal the names of those posters, it is engaged in a cover-up. No legitimate newspaper should ever do that.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The truth about Chris Christie and vaccines

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

If I may interrupt the freak out about this, people are making way too much about what Chris Christie said about the measles vaccine. He said he supports vaccines. He said he got his own children vaccinated. He did not even say that parents have the right to opt out, just that parental choice is important and government needs to balance parental choice and public health. Accusing him of being "anti-vaccine" for taking a nuanced approach is absurd and simplistic.


Sarah Palin's sad descent into irrelevance

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

When Sarah Palin burst onto the national scene in 2008, the conservative movement thought it had a new hero. The hysterical reaction to her from the Left (including some absolutely vicious hate-filled personal attacks on her and even on her children, including her infant son) galvanized conservatives to defend her and injected some excitement into the campaign of a candidate for President that conservatives had no enthusiasm to support. Palin had a great deal of potential and a rabid fan base, but she has squandered that and made herself into a clown and a laughingstock.

It is unfortunate. Palin had a great deal of potential to be a serious force in the Republican Party, but she instead embraced fame for its own sake and confused crudeness with rational thought. Allowing herself to be photographed with someone holding an obscene sign insulting Michael Moore was the point where I finally gave up. Palin is an amusing diversion, she can motivate a crowd (when she wants to be coherent) and she is useful for illustrating how deranged some Leftists can be in their frothing hatred. But as a serious political force, her time is done.

As I said on Facebook, if Palin wants to be President then she needs to act Presidential. Even if she does not have serious plans to run for President, she should take the issues and causes she supports seriously enough to take off the clown shoes and address those issues with the seriousness and gravity those issues deserve. Serious issues need serious people to tackle them. Serious issues need serious people to advocate for good solutions and against bad ones. Unfortunately, "serious" is no longer a word I would use to describe Sarah Palin.

In fairness to Palin, she was probably not ready for prime time when McCain thrust her into the national spotlight in 2008. She was not as up to speed on issues and facts as she needed to be, and it at least appears that she was not given the support she needed to get where she needed to be. Unfortunately, she appears to be bad at taking advice, even from people who have her best interests at heart and want her to be successful. It was a combination of things that caused her to stumble, but the potential was there for her to grow into a serious advocate and political force. That potential has almost completely evaporated.

I still like Sarah Palin. What she needs to do is step out of the spotlight for a year, re-assess her image, study the issues and policy platforms of the parties and interest groups, and then come back with a determination to be a serious political commentator. She has damaged herself to the point that she may never be a serious contender for elective office (especially for the White House) but she can restore some of the respect she has lost. That will never happen as long as she is chasing fame and controversy for its own sake.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Does the government really need to regulate baby names?

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

As much as we debate the role of government here in these United States, we have not (yet) reached the level of absurdity they have in France, where the government can overrule parents if they deem the name the parents have chosen for their own child to be inappropriate. (In fairness to France, other nations do this too.)

It is one thing for a judge to allow an adult to change his or her name if that person has been saddled with an exotic name by his or her parents. (This happens.) It is another thing entirely for a judge to forcibly change the legal name of a baby (foolish as that name may seem) against the parents' wishes. That is not the role of the civil magistrate.

Ultimately, the decision on a baby's name should be up to the parents. I know a number of families who have given their babies some rather unique names, and those babies have excellent, loving parents. I would hate to see some nanny state judge forbid some of those names because the baby might be teased later in life. It also seems obvious that the problem behavior is committed by the bullies, not the child's parents.

Finally, legal name or not, parents can call their children whatever they please and (short of kidnapping the child) there is not one single thing the government can do about it. No so-called "judge" is ever going to tell me I cannot do that, no matter where I am. And if he did, I would not obey the ruling. The child belongs to me, not the government. I am the one entrusted by God with the care of that child, not the civil magistrate.


Why was the Rally for Life not covered?

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

Bloomington Herald-Times, February 01, 2015 (Comments)

To the Editor:

On January 18, 225 people gathered at the Monroe County Courthouse to protest the killing of unborn babies - killing that takes place in our own community every week at the abortion "clinic" on South College Avenue. Our city and county councils vote every year to subsidize this facility, a truly shameful waste of our tax dollars. The Herald-Times did not bother to send a reporter to this event.

The next day, 150 people (a crowd 66% the size of the Rally for Life) participated in a "Reclaim MLK" event, including three people getting arrested and a white protester physically assaulting a black police officer. (Let the irony of that sink in for a minute.) The protesters snarled traffic and made a nuisance of themselves. The Herald-Times covered this.

The participants at the Rally for Life, meanwhile, obeyed traffic laws and even cleaned up litter that was on the courthouse lawn before we got there. In past years, young men have shoveled snow and cleared ice with donated salt when county government did not have the sidewalks cleared.

It is unfortunate that law-abiding citizens protesting 1.2 million babies killed every year did not get the coverage given the smaller protest.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

This is the face of the War on Drugs

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

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

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

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