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Friday, September 30, 2016

In defense of gruesome aborted baby pictures

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

Last Friday, I was at Tenth and Fee Lane volunteering at a display set up by Created Equal and IU Students for Life. The gruesome sandwich board size pictures of aborted fetuses are meant to educate young people about the reality of abortion and provoke conversations with students about this horrible atrocity.

I was surprised at how positive the reaction was to the display during the time I was there. A number of students thanked us for being there and said they were pro-life. There were only a few negative reactions. (The most aggressive negative reaction I saw was from a man who was infuriated by the display.) The positive reaction probably should not have surprised me as much as it did, considering surveys showing adults in their 20's tend to be more anti-abortion than Generation X or Baby Boomers. Millennials have grown up with much more detailed images of unborn babies than their predecessors did, so that could be one reason.

The pictures themselves are shocking, and there are people on both sides of the abortion debate who oppose the use of graphic images. Let me address abortion opponents' objections to the photographs.

Graphic images have been used throughout history to expose great evil. Images of bodies piled high in liberated concentration camps demonstrated the depravity of Nazi Germany in a way words cannot. The image of a brutalized Emmett Till showed the brutal way blacks were oppressed in the South, and Till's murder is what motivated Rosa Parks to refuse to obey an unjust law forcing her to give up her seat on the bus to whites. Images of starving children in Africa have effectively pushed relief efforts for famine.

Now that historically effective method is being used to show the horrific results of abortion. Americans are easily distracted by arguments for or against abortion, and the fact that abortion is largely hidden from the public view allows tens of millions of people to be blissfully ignorant of the slaughter that happens in their cities. But abortion pictures cannot be explained away as "the products of conception." You see even in early-term pregnancies that surgical abortion kills a fully-formed human being. The pictures shock the conscience.

I supported much more judicious use of aborted baby pictures until I personally saw how they changed minds and forced people our of their comfort zone by confronting them with reality. I know that people have been convicted of sin and accepted Christ as their savior at Genocide Awareness Project displays. Pictures make it impossible to deny what abortion does. The gruesome pictures are used because they work.

I was very impressed with Students For Life, which has reactivated and had a pretty big group of (almost entirely female) students at their training meeting the night before. It says a lot that these women are willing to stand with a controversial display at possibly the most heavily trafficked intersection on campus. I am looking forward to watching them stand for life over the course of the next school year.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton and her supporters are tone deaf

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

I literally laughed out loud when I read this statement in the Washington Post:

After a year and a half of running for president, the Democratic nominee has concluded that many Americans still do not have a clear understanding of what motivates her or what she would do as president.

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for 25 years. People know who she is, her history, her beliefs, her character and her public policy agenda. That is why she has been unable to build a lead against Donald Trump, who is also completely unqualified to serve as President.

Her public policy agenda is typical liberal Democratic stuff: She is in favor of more restrictive gun laws, she is in favor of higher taxes and more regulation of business, she supports expanding the size of government with even more social programs, and she is radically pro-abortion to the point that she even voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion - a procedure so gruesome it is literally inches from infanticide.

For those not bothered about her policy agenda, there is her character: She is a well-documented liar. Just this past summer she was caught in multiple lies about her private e-mail server, which was itself designed to avoid transparency and hide her work as Secretary of State from the public. There are real concerns over pay-to-play (also known as bribery) with the Clinton Foundation - large donors getting priority to meet with her as Secretary of State. Plus there are the leftover scandals from her husband's time as President, especially Mrs. Clinton's efforts to destroy women who were intimate with or abused by Bill Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton's problem is not that people do not know who she is. Mrs. Clinton's problem is that people know exactly who she is. That is also why her fear-mongering about Donald Trump is not working, because many liberals (especially younger voters) who are attracted to the Libertarian or Green Party candidates see both Clinton and Trump as terrible. That Mrs. Clinton and her supporters do not see how weak and flawed she is as a candidate demonstrates how tone-deaf they are. The only reason Mrs. Clinton has a chance of being elected President this year is because her opponent is Donald Trump.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Do not just blindly vote for Democrats

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

Note: I submitted this as a letter to the editor to the Indiana Daily Student.

If you are a progressive student, you might be inclined to pull the straight ticket lever for Democrats, because you generally agree with Democrats and/or because you are particularly disturbed by Donald Trump. As someone who will have to live with the consequences of how you vote in local government elections long after you are gone, I urge you not to do that.

People who vote straight ticket Democrat without examining the qualifications, experience and ethics of down-ballot races are why we have corruption, massive financial mismanagement, and credit card fraud in county government. The Democrat elected as county Auditor in the Obama wave of 2008 committed credit card fraud using the county government credit card, and the Democrat who was elected county Auditor in 2012 is currently under investigation for the same thing!

Offices like Auditor and Treasurer have nothing to do with political ideology or policy. What matters in those races is the qualifications and (much more importantly) the ethics of the candidates. What matters is whether someone can balance the books and will operate with honesty and integrity. The Democrat running for Auditor cost the county $150,000 because she could not balance her books, while the "independent" candidate for Auditor (also a Democrat) served as Chief Deputy under the last two Auditors and did nothing about their abuses of power.

The Republican candidate for Auditor, Ann Boehm, has promised to uphold the highest ethical standards, will implement basic "best practices" and has promised that no employee will be terminated without cause or for political affiliation. This is a policy that has been needed for a long time, as experienced and qualified employees have been pushed out in favor of nepotism, cronyism and patronage.

The county Auditor's race is just one race on the ballot, but every race should be considered on its own merits - especially at the county level. Please educate yourself about every race on your ballot in county government, and vote accordingly. Split your ticket to give the most deserving candidates your votes, especially in administrative positions that do not make policy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vote for Shaffer and White to ensure transparency

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

Bloomington Herald-Times, September 26, 2016

To the editor:

The county commissioners need to commit to full transparency, because the voters deserve nothing less. To achieve this goal, vote for Paul White and Nelson Shaffer.

Shaffer and White have pledged to use county government's e-mail server for official business instead of using private e-mail accounts. Two of the incumbent county commissioners do this currently, and this practice needs to stop.

This is very simple: Official county business should be conducted on county government's e-mail server in order to be fully transparent and to keep records of what the commissioners are doing. There is no way to know the records are being properly preserved if official business is conducted on a private e-mail account.

This is not a small issue. Government must be fully open and transparent to ensure the people are being represented well.

Please do not vote based on party affiliation. Do not just vote Democrat because you dislike Donald Trump. That philosophy has led to over a decade of mismanagement of county government finances as well as credit card fraud. We need to vote for local office on local qualifications.

Vote for transparency and open government. Vote for Nelson Shaffer and Paul White for Monroe County Commissioner.

Monday, September 26, 2016

War Crimes should not be official U.S. foreign policy

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

There has been some talk that the United States needs to take the "spoils of war," especially regarding Middle eastern oil, as part of our various military interventions. This is a terrible idea, for a lot of reasons. First, foremost and primarily, plundering the wealth of a defeated enemy is a war crime. The victor is not permitted to take the "spoils" of war under international law, including treating signed by these United States. Pillage is prohibited by the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention.

Of course, the Bible also commands "Thou shalt not steal," which is important for those who claim to be Christians. Even if international law did not ban pillage, Almighty God does prohibit it in His Word. We know from Romans 13 that all earthly authorities derive their power from God, so they are to obey His Word in how they use that authority. God will judge those who abuse the authority He gives them.

Even beyond the fact that it is illegal under the laws of God and man, pillage is an incredibly stupid foreign policy for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is that the United States does not need to pillage defeated enemies in order to defray costs of war. Yes, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was expensive, but we do not need to steal the Iraqis' oil to pay for it. We are an obscenely wealthy country and we can absorb the costs of the war and occupation. Stealing Iraq's national resources would be nothing but pure vindictiveness, for a preemptive war of choice on a nation that did not attack us.

Pillage would also destroy our moral authority and put us in the same category as our enemies. We fought a war in 1991 because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for the sole purpose of pillage. We are rightly horrified by Boko Haram kidnapping pre-teen and teenage girls as "spoils of war," for forced marriage and rape. One of the things that was so monstrous about the Holocaust was that the Nazis even went so far as to steal the gold from their victims' teeth after they had slaughtered them. We would be placing ourselves in the same category as those wicked regimes by making pillage official policy. We are also going to create more enemies if we become a nation of pillage.

Those who propose pillage are fundamentally un-serious, ignorant people who do not understand international law or U.S. law, or the effect it would have on our relationships with our allies or future enemies. This proposal should not be taken seriously by anyone, and those who actually advocate pillage should be mocked, shamed and condemned until they have the good sense to recant this wicked policy.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Three random thoughts

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

Hillary Clinton should renounce her husband's support of brutal, murderous dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That we invaded Haiti to re-install this thug after he was forced from power is a shameful stain on American history.

People who vote straight ticket Democrat without examining the qualifications, experience and ethics of down-ballot races are why we have corruption, massive financial mismanagement, and credit card fraud in county government.

Now more than ever, it is critical that we have a President with a calm, even temperament and one who understands the importance of keeping our promises as a nation. Our allies need to know we will honor our commitments to them.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Already against the next war?

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

Unless you are a total pacifist, saying you are "already against the next war" is a very simple-minded statement.

Wars are fought based on all kinds of different justifications. Some wars are bad, and others are necessary. (No war is ever "good," of course.)

Lumping them all in one basket shows a real lack of discernment and good judgment. We need leaders who take these decisions seriously.

I make an exception to the "simple minded" statement for pacifists because, while I disagree with pacifism, it is not necessarily simple-minded to automatically oppose war.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shelli Yoder's shady dealings, Part II

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 10:30 AM (#)

The reason Shelli Yoder's vote to fund Planned Parenthood disqualifies her from serving in Congress is not necessarily that she voted "yes," but that she did it in a dirty, underhanded, dishonorable, cowardly and dishonest way. Yoder exposed herself as an enemy of transparency and open government. Yoder proved that she does not even want to hear from her constituents in how she spends their money.

When the 2015 vote is discussed, it is easy to get sidetracked into a discussion of whether Planned Parenthood deserves funding. (It doesn't, of course.) But the real scandal is not that Yoder voted to fund PP. The real scandal is that Yoder and her fellow Democrats on the county council fast-tracked a vote that had always taken place in October or November to the middle of August in a shameful attempt to hide it from the public.

Even if the funding had been for a worthwhile organization, this kind of behavior is deplorable. Yoder and her fellow Democrats knew that an upcoming vote would be controversial and they actively attempted to hide it from the public. Shelli Yoder and the county council Democrats did worse than ignoring the input of the public that pays their salary and health care benefits. They actively tried to silence opposition to their agenda by sneaking it through when no one was watching.

The three incumbents running for county council do not deserve re-election, and the three district representatives should also be fired in 2018. It is Yoder, though, who deserves the most scrutiny. Why? Because she wants the voters to give her a huge promotion (and a huge pay raise and pension) to serve in Congress. When we are electing someone to serve in Congress, character matters. Yoder shows she does not have the integrity we need to direct the incredibly powerful federal government. We cannot trust Shelli Yoder.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We need new leadership in city government

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

The handling of Mother Bear Pizza's efforts to build a new shopping center on West Third Street - a project that would have created construction jobs and jobs for the businesses that would locate there - shows that the current philosophy of city government needs to change. We are not being served by the top-down approach of micromanaging development and business. (See here and here for more.)

Because of delays in the approval process, Mother Bear's abandoned the West Third location and instead will renovate the old Smokey Bones building next to Kohl's. Other tenants had already backed out of the project because of foot-dragging by city government. While the new plan will re-open a long-dormant building, the opportunity for greater development has been lost.

The problem is the basic philosophy of city government, in the planning commission and the city council. Instead of deferring to the private property rights of developers, the city council and plan commission want to direct development of land owned by other people in a way that will benefit "the community." (Whatever that means.) One plan commission member said he wants the city council to allow "greater plan commission discretion over a building’s design" - meaning even more micromanagement of business.

This top-down, central planning approach is not the way city government should operate. The city obviously does have some interest in directing development. For example, if a poorly-designed project will create a traffic hazard or put too much of a strain on overcrowded streets, the city has an interest in regulating the area. But the idea that even such things as building design should be dictated by the city is absurd.

It should also be pointed out that a large national chain - for example, McDonald's, Wal-Mart or Starbucks - will have the corporate resources to tough it out against city government. A small business will not have that kind of leverage. So the city government that allegedly wants to see more local businesses and fewer chains is actually making it easier for chains to come in at the expense of a local business.

We have a vibrant business community, despite the efforts of city government, because the economic engine known as Indiana University helps overcome some of the obstacles created by city government. We can be even better if we jettison the top-down approach in favor of a bottom-up approach more friendly to economic development, local business, and the jobs those businesses hope to create.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The choice for U.S. Senate is clear

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

Todd Young for U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Can America survive Hillary?

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

Christians need to be careful in proclaiming doom and gloom, leaving room for the sovereignty, mercy and grace of God. We need to recognize that, ultimately, God is sovereign. We should keep this in mind as we consider our political campaigns.

I keep hearing from conservatives that America "cannot survive" four years of Hillary Clinton as President of these United States. This is not necessarily true, for a number of reasons. First, foremost and primarily, God is sovereign. If it is His will that America fall, then American will fall no matter who we elect as President – and that is also true in the opposite direction.

We should not discount the role of the Holy Spirit, even if Clinton is elected. I had a fantasy a couple weeks ago that Clinton is elected President, and then in January she comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and accepts Jesus Christ as her savior. (Obviously, Mrs. Clinton is not a Christian.) At that point, her entire outlook on life and policy changes. We cannot deny the power of God to call Mrs. Clinton to His kingdom if He so chooses. If God can convert wicked king Manasseh of Judah, then He can convert Mrs. Clinton.

We should also consider the political ramifications of a Clinton presidency, even if God does not call her to salvation. We saw in 2010 and 2014 that a backlash against President Obama brought forth huge Republican victories at all levels of government. Clinton is far less popular than Obama was eight years ago and even many Democrats are holding their nose to support her. There will be a huge Republican wave election in 2018 if Clinton wins this year. Let's not forget that the real action in policy right now is at the state level, where "red state" governors have been implementing bold conservative reforms.

What we need to be doing as Christians is pray for Mrs. Clinton, that God will call her to salvation - for the benefit of her soul and this nation. We also need to pray that God raises up leaders to oppose her if she is elected, to frustrate her agenda. We need to trust God for the future of our nation and not fall into the sin of hopelessness and faithlessness. Almighty God is in control.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Taking a stand against porn

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

It is good to see that Pamela Anderson has written against porn, because there is no question that porn has been very destructive to our society. We need to work to help eliminate the use of it.

People are shrieking that Anderson is a "hypocrite" for taking a stand against porn in a Wall Street Journal editorial. This is a poor argument. Sometimes, the best people to speak against something are people who have done it themselves. I can tell you a lot about knowing your limits while eating so you do not make yourself sick, or being careful while walking through the house so you do not shred the skin on your shin. That does not make me a hypocrite. That makes me experienced in what to avoid.

And let's be real here. We're not talking about nude photos here. Much of porn is incredibly vile, perverted, violent filth. Women being slapped, humiliated and degraded is common. How do I know this? Because I am literate and have read mainstream media reports on what goes on.

When stories about a particular porn star were appearing in mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post, I immediately thought she had been sexually abused as a child. It is not normal for a young woman who needs to pay for college to immediately take a job being sexually debased for money. This was not photos, this was humiliating, degrading, violent treatment. This is what happens when a young woman has had her understanding of sexual intimacy warped by a history of abuse.

Every technological advance in home entertainment has largely been driven by pornography. Just as the VCR took "adult" movies our of theaters and into people's homes, broadband internet access made it possible to stream video directly into living rooms. With modern smartphones, it is not even a desktop in the living room but an easy-to-hide small screen one can view anywhere. Parents especially need to be smart in how they deal with that technology and the dangers it represents.

It has long been thought that porn would make men into sex maniacs, but there is also another effect: Porn is making some men flaccid. Conditioned by years of stimulation by pixels on a computer screen, many men are unable to perform sexually when with a real, live, flesh-and-blood woman. It is terribly sad and shows how God's gifts are warped and destroyed by Satan.

The church has largely failed in helping men escape the sexual sin of pornography. I would love to see large campus ministries have at least one sermon per year recognizing the reality that a large majority of young men in the room have used or are using porn and offering them a way of repentance.

Porn is a real problem. It is not innocent. It is far from harmless. We need to stop living in a fantasy world and deal with reality. That starts with the church rebuking, exhorting and calling men to repent.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

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

I really wish Leftists would stop forcing me to defend Donald Trump, but sometimes it is important to defend an argument on its own merits.

Donald Trump was not joking about Hillary Clinton being assassinated. He was pointing out the hypocrisy of a huge advocate of gun control being protected around the clock by armed guards. Clearly, Clinton does not believe her own rhetoric about guns making us less safe. This isn't hard to figure out, people.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Looking back on 9/11

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

This past Sunday was fifteen years since the 9/11 war crimes. What lessons can we learn for the future, and how can we react more wisely next time? What can we do to prevent future war crimes and terrorist attacks, and how can we safeguard our liberty?

First, we need to stop denying the obvious reality that has been obvious since we watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center: This is a religious war. This has always been a religious war. No, this does not mean that we are at war with all of Islam or all Muslims. However, there can be no doubt that there is a violent, extremist strain of Islam that has declared war on us to please their "god." It does us no good to deny this obvious reality.

People who kill themselves for a chance to massacre innocent people do not do so for political ideology or generic extremist views. The Communists and the Nazis did horrific things but you did not see mass suicide bombings by either group. All of the 9/11 war criminals were convinced they would spend eternity in paradise. (They are actually suffering in horrible burning agony in Hell fire.) They committed war crimes to please their "god." Sacrificing one's life to save the lives of others is honorable and noble. Killing yourself in order to massacre women and children is monstrous and demonic.

We also need to be careful with the response to future war crimes and terrorist acts. Congress passed the so-called "Patriot Act" in a hurry and virtually no one read it. (Barack Obama renewed it, by the way. He could have vetoed it.) I knew this was a bad idea and opposed it from the beginning. We must be very skeptical of all efforts to expand government power, especially since fifteen years of the War on Terror and decades of the War on Crime and the War on Drugs have already set so many bad precedents for restricting our liberty. What we really need to be doing is rolling back these overreaches.

One thing I did not oppose from the beginning was the invasion of Iraq. I did not come to the conclusion that the war was a bad idea until five years later. That war provides another example of why we should not act rashly. We have made things worse and opened up an opportunity for both the Islamic State and Iran to expand their power in Iraq. It is possible that the Islamic State would not even exist had we opted to contain Saddam Hussein instead of remove him from power.

The common theme here is that we must not give into fear. We must closely guard our liberty and not over-react. We must resist the temptation to be the world's police force. We need to think things through before we act. Above all else, we must select leaders with a calm, even temperament instead of choosing demagogues prone to flying off the handle. An even-tempered leader can be incredibly valuable at restraining the mob, instead of trying to stir it up.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

All laws legislate morality.

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

Christians who argue for libertarianism often miss two important points: First, that the Bible does give the civil magistrate authority to legislate morality and that all laws legislate morality.

The most obvious Biblical example Romans 13, which sets the example of the good civil magistrate as one that rewards the good and punishes evil. God gave the sword to the civil magistrate for this purpose. The distinction between good and evil is a moral one and punishing evil is legislating morality. The civil magistrate is given authority directly from God, so we must obey the law unless the government orders us to sin.

Furthermore, it is fashionable to say that "we cannot legislate morality" in response to moral issues, but we need to be clear: All laws legislate morality. Environmental laws enforce a moral code that we do not excessively despoil nature and speeding laws (and other traffic laws) enforce a moral code against us recklessly endangering another person's life or property. The entire apparatus of the welfare state is based on a moral decision to confiscate the wealth of some to provide for those who are in need.

The question, then, is not whether to legislate morality, but what morality to legislate.

Since we will inevitably legislate morality as long as we have a government, the proper distinction is what is a sin and what is a crime. Being greedy is a sin, but is not necessarily a crime. If greed causes someone to steal, then it becomes a crime. The same is true with hatred: It is a sin to hate, but it is not a crime that is punishable by the civil magistrate until that hate causes someone to commit assault or murder.

So while the government deals with crimes, it is the church and the family that deals with sins. Because the potential for abuse of power is high (and because even a largely righteous government is made up of people wholly corrupted by sin) we should be very clear in what is and is not a crime and the definition of "crime" should be limited and easy to understand.

Ultimately, saying that "we cannot legislate morality" is an extremely childish argument. It sounds hip and enlightened and it can be a cool catch phrase, but it is a simplistic worldview that falls apart when closely examined. We need to be better than that, both as Christians and as citizens.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shelli Yoder's shady dealings

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

We have enough shady dealings and obstacles to transparency in Washington D.C. We should not make things worse by electing Shelli Yoder, especially with her history on the Monroe County Council.

I have been speaking against the Monroe County Council's repeated handouts to Planned Parenthood for eight years. The council knows by now that I and a number of others will show up to speak against funding Bloomington's abortion mill, so Shelli Yoder and her fellow Democrats decided to try to pass it in secret.

Last year, I was stunned to see that the vote on funding Planned Parenthood had been fast tracked to the middle of August, for a vote that almost always takes place in October or November. Yoder and her colleagues wanted to avoid controversy by moving the vote up and shortening the process hoping that no one would notice until after they had already passed the corporate welfare.

This is simply unacceptable. Trying to sneak a controversial item through before the public knows what is happening is dirty, underhanded, cowardly and shameful. If Yoder behaves this way as a county council member, why should we trust her with a seat in Congress from Indiana's Ninth District?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Why don't you write about something that matters?"

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

I get a question now and then about the subjects I choose to write about. Why do I choose this topic instead of that one? Why am I wasting space on this issue? Why am I not covering that important issue?

The answer is simple. I long ago accepted the reality I will never be a major pundit or political figure. I will never be a columnist, radio talk show host or TV personality, and I certainly will never turn this blog into my full-time job. So why do I still do what I do? This blog is a hobby. That does not mean I do not believe in the principles I advocate or the arguments I make, but I know what it this is and once I accepted that I enjoyed doing it more. Would it be nice to have a bigger audience? Sure. But sometimes it is what it is.

So to keep this enjoyable, and to keep my interest in doing it, I write about things that interest me. Ideally, I will have three posts every week. If I am really fired up about a number of things, then I may have five posts in a week. If you have something you think needs to be addressed that I am not addressing, you can set up your own blog, for free, at any number of places or post on social media.

Furthermore, I am a realist about my reach. The number of unique visitors to my blog is very small. I very rarely post anything about a hot topic until it is at least a few days old, so my the time my pre-scheduled post hits the blog at 4:00 a.m. there will be much less interest in the issue I am writing about. I am doing this because I have something I want to say. I don't expect I will have any unique insight into what is going on, even in issues that are about local government where I live.

So there you have it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Changes to blog comments

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

All future comments on this blog must now be pre-approved by me before they are visible. This is because another neo-Nazi "alt right" troll found my blog last week and filled the comments with filth - including posting a reasonable comment and then changing it a couple weeks later so it appeared that I endorsed something completely different from what he originally said. I do not respect people who are dishonest liars.

I deleted over 30 comments, which were peppered with words like "faggot" and multiple variations of the F-Word as well as the usual racist filth we see from the "alt right" on Twitter. I am not sure why the "alt right" cares what I say on a blog that gets almost no traffic, but some of them find their way here anyway.

I have few visitors and even fewer comments, so I have resisted changing comment settings to require pre-approval of all comments. I do not want to discourage comments, but I will not allow the comment section on this blog to become an open sewer. I am not going to allow this filth to be public for hours or even days before I get a chance to delete the comments and ban the latest "alt right" troll who finds my blog.

With that said, I understand why some people are in favor of mainstream news sites abolishing comments altogether. But even Eric Zorn seems to miss the point he made in his own editorial: That the problem with online comments is not that trolls take over and turn threads into feces-throwing contests, but that bad moderation produces a bad comment section. Zorn himself admits that his comment section got really bad only after he lost a number of valuable moderation tools.

The reason I prefer Disqus to Blogspot's native comment system is because Disqus offers more moderation tools, including banning particularly troublesome users. Blogspot does not offer that. Plus, you can comment on multiple different websites with only one account. It is unfortunate that I have been forced to use some of these tools, as some trolls are far too intellectually feeble and emotionally unstable to make an argument without sputtering obscenities and calling me a "faggot." I will continue to use those tools to ensure this blog remains a family-friendly site.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen years ago today: Never forget 9/11

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:42 AM (#)

Friday, September 9, 2016

YouTube's copyright confusion

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

YouTube needs to fix its copyright protection policies, because it is overly restrictive and unfair to YouTube users. This is critical for people who supplement their income or actually make a living via their YouTube channels, but it also impacts very low-end users who never use it for money.

Even I have been impacted by YouTube's heavy-handed policy. I got a notice a while back that someone made a copyright claim on a video of a political rally I posted to YouTube. Why? Because someone at the rally sang a song that is in the public domain. YouTube, being YouTube, disabled monetization on the video. I was not using monetization for my account and I have no intention to use it, but that is not the point.

This is not even an issue of "fair use" of copyrighted content for review purposes, which has caused a number of YouTube users to get copyright strikes against them. (Often, these strikes are unfair when the use of copyrighted content is well within "fair use" guidelines.) In fact, there was one channel that had a video taken down because it was a couple people talking about a movie, with not even one second of copyrighted content!

Obviously, YouTube needs to police copyrighted content. There is a ton of pirated content all over YouTube, including full-length movies, that brazenly violates the copyright owner's intellectual property rights. But if YouTube wants to be fair to both its users and copyright holders, there needs to be some method to discipline copyright trolls for making fraudulent claims.

YouTube is a private service and they are free to be as restrictive as they want to be regarding content posted to their service. However, users are also free to argue against some of the policy decisions regarding what may and may not be posted, and users can also point out the unfairness of certain policies. YouTube is still a relatively new service and the concept of regular people making money from their YouTube channels is very new. I think this will work itself out in the long run via a market-based solution. After all, there are other places to post and watch video. But it is clear that YouTube needs to improve this system.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Back in 1976

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Point at something with outrage!

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

If there is one thing that social media users tend to be guilty of doing, it is the tendency to "point at something with outrage." This habit (PASWO for short) is one I have personally engaged in both on social media and in my blogging, and I need to do a better job of limiting PASWO to where it's really needed. A friend of mine said when he was running a multi-person blog fifteen years ago that one of his goals was to focus on policy and argumentation, rather than PASWO, and it was his Facebook status message that inspired this post.

One of the worst things about PASWO is that it is very easy for a large group of people to be whipped up, creating various incarnations of what I like to call the Social Media Outrage Machine. (SMOM.) The SMOM is almost always wildly disproportionate to whatever has offended the people feeding it, especially on Twitter. How many times have we heard stories about people getting death threats for what is in reality a very minor transgression? Mob mentality is very scary, even if the majority of people are just blowing off steam. You never know when a real wacko will follow up on an outraged Tweet with real action.

This is a complicated issue with many layers, and it is basically impossible to address every single permutation of what is and is not PASWO in a blog post. If I was writing a doctoral thesis, I would come closer but even that will not cover everything that can be covered. This is more of a general overview.

PASWO is easy to do, especially for those of us who are passionate about public policy, politics, moral and cultural issues, ideology and philosophy. If you have strongly-held beliefs, it is very easy to PASWO when a more measured approach is appropriate. I know I have personally been guilty of this on many occasions. I would be more effective if I was less shrill, and it would lead to fewer arguments. But we should be a little more tolerant of PASWO when it comes from a root of genuine passion for what is right.

Where we should have less sympathy is when PASWO is done for click-bait or to make the writer feel morally superior. Virtue-signaling on the Internet is the modern version of the Pharisees, and we see this at every point of the ideological spectrum. Neither the Right nor the Left has a monopoly on virtue-signaling. PASWO as click-bait is less respectable, because often that is done not because someone legitimately is offended but to increase someone's visibility or following. It is worse than insincere - it is hypocrisy.

Furthermore, as my friend pointed out, when we are constantly PASWO it lessens the gravity of things that we really should be outraged about. It is easy to shrug and think "Oh, there goes Scott again. What in the world is he angry about this time? The dude needs to chillax." Focusing our outrage where it really belongs makes the outrage mean more. It is sort of like yelling. If you yell all the time, you are just loud. If you are soft-spoken most of the time, then people take notice when you need to raise your voice.

We should be careful, though, to not lump all PASWO as virtue-signaling or click-bait. And there is another danger: Those who are committed to avoiding all PASWO can become self-righteous Pharisees themselves, looking down their noses at the ignorant rubes who cannot calmly explain why certain things are wrong and offering an alternate solution. No, you are not superior because you never get outraged. You are just a snob.

Basically, it comes down to this: I need to do better at limiting PASWO posts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Charters vs. Vouchers

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

Charter schools and vouchers are two totally different things. Charter schools are fully public schools and by law cannot be religious schools. Claims to the contrary are lies. I fully support charter schools.

Vouchers, meanwhile, go to private schools. This is dangerous, because with government money comes government strings. Vouchers will lead to government meddling in the way private schools are run. We have already seen this with legislation governing how the Star Spangled Banner is performed in private schools that take vouchers. I oppose vouchers for this reason.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy labor day!

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

No new blog post today. Instead, enjoy this picture:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Stanford university missing the point with alcohol policy

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

Why is Stanford University siding with and providing cover for violent rapists? Why is Stanford abandoning women in order to provide convenient excuses for sexual predators who refuse to take responsibility for their behavior?

The opening paragraph of this post is hyperbole, but there is some truth to what I am saying here. Stanford's new alcohol policy is incredibly tone-deaf and is missing the point regarding sexual violence on campus. Worse yet, Stanford is implementing this alcohol policy on the heels of national outrage about an athlete saying that the campus drinking culture is what is to blame for him taking an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and violently raping her.

It's always someone else's fault, isn't it? Never mind that scores of college-age men get drunk and never commit rape. This is because alcohol does not cause rape. It can be used as a weapon, just as "roofies" are used as a weapon to make women vulnerable to abuse. Alcohol may impair judgment, but it does not force a man to penetrate an unconscious woman against her will or hold a woman down and violate her while she is begging him to stop. Rapists are moral agents who are responsible for their actions.

Stanford's policy is not necessarily a bad policy, because there are serious problems surrounding drinking culture. However, it does present problems and could even create new ones. One problem is that heavy drinking will move to private residences where there is no university supervision and students are more likely to engage in "pre-gaming" by getting wasted before they even go to a party. If prohibition drives drinking underground, it could make things less safe.

Implementing this policy now, though, sends a terrible message to rape survivors and to irresponsible "men" who now (intentionally or not) have an opportunity to point to university policy as "evidence" that their own responsibility for their crimes is at least minimized of not excused entirely. Even if one agrees with this policy, directly connecting it to rape was incredibly foolish. It also raises the disturbing specter of university administrators covering for violent criminals and thugs if they happen to be athletes - something we have seen elsewhere. Stanford shot itself in the foot with this policy, which was clearly not well thought out.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bashing working class whites helps Trump

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

I never knew Fareed Zakaria was such a yuuuge supporter of Donald Trump. He might as well be, because that is the effect of the editorial written by this arrogant, elitist, condescending, self righteous Pharisee.

Let me bottom line it for you. If you are anti-Trump, mocking and ridiculing the working-class white voters who support him is the single most counterproductive way you can make your point. You might as well be openly campaigning for Trump, because that is the effect of your words. There are many good arguments to be made against Trump. I have made more than a few myself. But attacking working-class white voters will not move them away from Trump. Instead, it will harden and intensify their support of him and even softens the opposition to Trump among other groups when they see this naked bigotry.

The reality of the 2016 political landscape is that working-class whites have felt abandoned for years by the elites of both parties, and many of them see Trump as the one person who is addressing their concerns. Whether this belief is justified or not is irrelevant. This is the reality of how many people think, and you have to engage in the real world instead of how you wish the world was. If Trump's opponents want to peel working-class whites away from Trump, mocking and ridiculing them will not work. Instead, explain why Trump's policies (specifically his trade policies) are not going to be helpful to the people who support him most fervently.

This is a populist revolt, so attacking the people revolting is like pouring gasoline on the fire.