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Monday, July 28, 2014

Judy Sharp's wasteful abuse of tax money

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

There was an excellent letter to the editor last week about a wasteful abuse of tax money by Monroe County Assessor Judy Sharp, and judging from the hysterical reaction of local Democrats in the comments, it really struck a nerve.

Here is the story: Assessor's office employees went to Nashville, Indiana for a conference and paid for a hotel to stay there for the night. According to Google Maps, the trip to Nashville takes about a half hour. No one is saying that Sharp's employees should not be attending conferences to improve their skills, but it is absurd that taxpayers should be on the hook for food and lodging for a trip to a conference in the neighboring county, when many people commute farther than that to work in Monroe County every day.

Nashville, of course, is a popular tourist destination.

Judy Sharp needs to apologize to the voters and property owners in Monroe County for this unnecessary and wasteful use of our tax dollars. She should also reimburse county government for the cost of the trip. Voters have placed their trust in Sharp for six consecutive elections, and this wasteful expense raises questions about whether she continues to deserve that trust or whether it is time to elect someone else.

Finally, it is shameful that the Herald-Times has once again betrayed the public's trust by covering up this scandal. It is shameful that the H-T's readership had to learn about this abuse of tax money in a letter to the editor instead of on the front page of the newspaper, especially given all of the scandals in local government surrounding former Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman and former Benton Township Trustee Heather Cohee. How are voters supposed to make an informed decision when the "newspaper" is actively covering up scandals in local government.

2 Comments

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quick thought on the immigration crisis

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM

Our War on Drugs, in addition to being the driving force behind the frightening militarization of police, has to a large extent created the refugee crisis by fueling the violent drug cartels in Central America with artificially inflated prices. We can mitigate the immigration crisis, reduce violence, and protect civil liberties by ending the failed War on Drugs.

1 Comments

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Babies in womb start learning earlier than thought

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 AM

3 Comments

Friday, July 25, 2014

Immigration politics: A double dose of double standards

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM

One of the things that makes people get fed up with politics is the mindless partisanship, to the point that political actors will change their positions on issues if it benefits their party or harms the other party. We are seeing this right now with the debate over whether President Obama should visit the southern border of these United States in relation to minors coming in from Central America. Both parties - including Obama - have been hypocrites here.

A decade ago, President Bush was blasted by Democrats for only flying over the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Republicans rightly argued that Bush going to New Orleans would only have served to be disruptive. All of the security needed to protect the President would have been a hindrance on disaster relief efforts. In the same way, Obama going to the border today would only serve as a hindrance to taking care of immigrant minors being detained.

Republicans, seeing an opportunity to damage Obama (and to get some payback for the attacks on Bush in 2005) have abandoned their pragmatic principle and are blasting Obama for not going to the border. Democrats, meanwhile, are defending Obama for being pragmatic in a reversal of their attacks on Bush after Katrina. Average Americans see this transparent hypocrisy from both parties and shake their heads in frustration.

It is either a good idea for the President to go to the scene of a humanitarian crisis, or it is not. (It is a bad idea.) Whether it is a good idea or a bad idea does not depend on which party controls the White House and which party can score some political points. Voters are smarty enough to know when sincere arguments are being made and when the only reason behind a policy position is partisan politics - especially when the people making the arguments were taking the exact opposite stance ten years earlier. Let's end this silliness and be serious.

3 Comments

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doug Wilson on sexual justice

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Here is a very good post by Doug Wilson on sexual justice, the pornification of our culture and a corrupt civil magistrate. Because this is Doug's post, comments would be more appropriate on his blog. Therefore I am closing comments on this post. Comments are open on Blog and Mablog.

0 Comments

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A post where I actually defend Hillary Clinton

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The conservative Internet is excited about Hillary Clinton's potential vulnerability in 2016 surrounding her criminal defense of a man accused of raping a child. It is a misplaced excitement.

Clinton was a public defender at the time, and it was her job to defend the accused. She was morally, ethically and professionally obligated to defend him. Even people accused of the worst crimes are entitled to a defense under our justice system. One need only follow the news about people convicted of crimes they did not commit to understand why it is important that criminal defense attorneys (and especially public defenders, who represent people who cannot afford an attorney) need to represent their clients to the best of their ability.

Defense attorneys (especially public defenders) are a critical component to our criminal justice system. They should never be attacked simply for doing their job. When politicians or political activists attack criminal defense attorneys for defending accused criminals, they show that they either do not understand the nature of our adversarial system or that they simply do not care about due process. That is worrisome, especially if those people are forming public policy.

Clinton apparently believed the man she was defending was guilty, yet defended him anyway. Was she wrong to do so? No. It is not a public defender's job to determine the guilt or innocence of a client. That is for the jury to decide. It is the public defender's job to represent that client to the best of her ability. What if Clinton sabotaged her own case, believing the man was guilty, and she was wrong? Would "law and order" conservatives then be silent at her vigilantism?

If we really believe in limited government, and if we really believe in civil rights and due process, we should not be attacking Hillary Clinton for doing her job. We should be praising her for being willing to get into the muck that most of us could not imagine getting into ourselves. We should be praising her for taking a role in our criminal justice system that is reviled, but critically important to seeing justice is actually done.

I will never under any circumstances vote for Hillary Clinton for anything. I vehemently disagree with her political ideology and her political agenda. I sincerely hope she never becomes President, and I am sure that I will harshly criticize her as she moves closer to running for President in 2016. However, this is not an area where I can condone attacks on her. The principle here is far more important than any short-term political gain we can achieve by attacking her performance in a 1975 criminal case.

1 Comments

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Click the link below is you want to be angry...

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM

This attack on justice and truth is absolutely infuriating.

4 Comments

Re-education?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

1 Comments

Monday, July 21, 2014

Students should care about local politics

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Stephen Kroll declares in the Indiana Daily Student that "no one cares about local politics." He has a point. Local politics are not as "sexy" as national and state politics, and local government does not debate the kind of hot-button issues we find at the national level. Local government can pass resolutions about national or international issues, but local government in Indiana has no real power to influence those issues.

But I submit that students should care about local politics, because local government has a much more direct impact on your life (even as a student) than national or state government. The "Quiet Nights" program and the city of Bloomington's noise ordinance impacts students who can get cited for being too loud after a certain time.

Sexual assault on campus is a hot national issue and the subject of Congressional hearings, but where the rubber really meets the road is how local police and the prosecutor respond to sexual assault and how aggressively they pursue the cases - and how well they protect civil liberties of students accused of crimes.

Local government matters in fire protection, as we saw in 1999 when fire trucks arriving on the scene of the fatal Knightridge fire could not pump water. The reforms initiated to give firefighters the tools and personnel they need to do their job directly impacts students, especially now that there are more high-rise student apartment complexes than there were fifteen years ago.

Even township government can be important, as we saw in 2001 with a couple anthrax scares in Bloomington - including one in Wright Quad. The Bloomington Township Fire Department had the only hazmat team in Monroe County that could respond to an event like that.

Students living off-campus can file complaints about a bad landlord through city government's Housing and Neighborhood Development department. The city also handles trash collection, which is a basic service. It may sound funny to demean the office of county assessor, but having correct assessments is important. Correct assessments impact property tax bills, which are passed on to students in their rent.

If students are truly interested in politics and government policy, the place to start should be local government and local politics - especially since the impact of a single individual locally is much larger than it is statewide or nationally.

0 Comments

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"All law is imposed morality"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

From Facebook: "All law is imposed morality. So the question isn't whether but which. It isn't whether we will impose morality but which morality will be imposed."

4 Comments

Friday, July 18, 2014

Restricting dangerous fireworks vs. smoking bans

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Two days ago, I advocated changing Indiana's fireworks law to make it illegal to set off fireworks that launch into the air and explode. My reasoning was that you can do as you please so long as you do not cause harm or recklessly endanger another person or his property. Yet in the past, I have strenuously opposed bans on smoking in so-called "public places." (Actually private property.)

So what is the difference between allowing smoking in so-called "public places" and forbidding the use of fireworks that launch into the air and explode on someone's private property?

The difference is choice. Someone who does not want to be around cigarette smoke can choose not to go to a restaurant, bar, grocery store or sports arena that allows smoking. (Government buildings are an entirely different story.) Someone can choose not to be employed by that same restaurant, bar, grocery store or sports arena if he does not want to work next to people who smoke.

People cannot choose whether to be around fireworks that launch into the air and explode, if those fireworks are going off next to their home. People cannot choose whether or not their home and property is endangered, especially during drought conditions. Even if we leave our homes and go elsewhere during the Fourth of July weekend, our property cannot go with us and can still be damaged or destroyed by an errant flying explosive.

The issue is consent. Someone who goes to a so-called "public place" that allows smoking consents to being exposed to secondhand smoke. Someone who must watch helplessly as explosives go off above their house does not consent to having their property and safety threatened. The Republican legislature (which banned smoking in so-called "public places") has it exactly wrong.

1 Comments

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going to the border...

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

0 Comments

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Indiana's dangerous and irresponsible fireworks laws

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I hold to a generally libertarian philosophy of government, but I am not an anarchist. I believe you should be able to do as you please unless you are causing real physical harm to others. It is (and should be) illegal to recklessly place others in danger. This is why we ban drunk driving, even if the drunk driver does not cause an accident.

It is under this principle that consumer fireworks that launch into the air and explode should either be banned outright or severely restricted in their use.

Twelve years ago, the use of those fireworks (including "sky rockets") was not permitted in the state of Indiana, according to the Crawfordsville Journal-Review. (I have not been able to find the legislation that changed that law, or what year it changed.) Since then, the use of those fireworks has been legalized.

That was a mistake that should be reversed.

The previous law was a joke that reduced respect for the rule of law. It was perfectly legal to sell them, but illegal to use them. The idea that someone in central Indiana would buy these fireworks and drive an hour and a half to two hours in any direction to use them legally was simply laughable. Everyone knew it was institutionalized lies and hypocrisy.That law needed to be changed, if for no other reason than to restore respect for the rule of law, to not make Indiana the laughingstock of the nation and to restore Hoosiers' respect of our civil magistrate.

Unfortunately, it changed in the wrong direction.

I understand the reasoning for liberalizing rather than strengthening the law. It would have been grossly unfair to merchants to tell them that a product that has been perfectly legal to sell for many years is suddenly illegal. It would have been harmful to those merchants, especially if they relied on those fireworks for a significant portion of their sales.

It was still the wrong decision. Sky rockets - the ones that launch into the air and explode - have no business being set off in a residential neighborhood. The noise is not the problem as much as the risk of property damage and even injuries or fatalities to neighbors. All it would take is for one of those to fail to explode and land on someone's roof to cause extensive property damage - especially if it landed near a window.

Indiana's fireworks laws are so completely absurd that the state legislature has forbidden local communities from banning fireworks use during a severe drought between a set of days surrounding the Fourth of July. Apparently the state legislature believes we live in a magical fairly land where severe droughts are suspended for a few days around July 4. Those of us who live in the real world remember what it was like during the severe Summer 2012 drought.

The common sense position (notably absent in our state legislature) is identical to the libertarian position - that position being "your rights end when you are using explosives that endanger my property, my pets and my family." While there would be some economic harm in doing so (and legitimate charges of hypocrisy) the general assembly needs to fix the dangerously stupid law that allowed the use of previously restricted fireworks.

1 Comments

Monday, July 14, 2014

Since when is child abuse a legitimate law enforcement tool?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

"Sexting" among teens is a legitimate problem, and we need to take it seriously. Teens sending sexually explicit pictures or videos to each other via their smartphones is something we as a society should work to fight against, because of how it contributes to the moral degradation of our youth and is a doorway to early sexual activity.

With that established, how does it make sense for law enforcement to forcibly take pornographic pictures of teenage boys? How does it make sense for a so-called "judge" to agree to such an invasive and extreme search warrant - a search warrant that if executed is probably a criminal act in and of itself? While law enforcement ultimately decided not to execute the search warrant, this still raises extremely troubling questions about out-of-control government.

Simply submitting the teen's smartphone as evidence should be enough to prosecute him. But should he be prosecuted for child pornography at all? The common sense answer is no. Prosecuting a teenager for child pornography for taking explicit pictures of himself trivializes child pornography and the evil and horrific abuse the victims endure. There should be some sort of legal sanction for teens who engage in this behavior but this charge is simply overkill.

What is more of a concern is that parents are not training their children and teens in the appropriate use of technology. Many parents are ignorant of the pervasiveness of this kind of behavior, and do not think about the ramifications of giving an internet-enabled mobile computer to a teenager. More parental supervision of teens' use of internet-enabled mobile devices and training those teens in moral standards is what is needed.

Ideally, this should have been handled by the parents before it got to law enforcement to be prosecuted as a crime. The primary deterrent for a teenager considering taking and sending inappropriate media should be how his parents (and his girlfriend's parents) are going to react to his behavior. Melting or smashing their smartphones in front of them (along with other punishments) would be more appropriate than a criminal prosecution.

1 Comments

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The War to End All Wars?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 PM

It's hard to believe that later this month will be 100 years since the start of World War I.

0 Comments