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Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Beethoven" mini-review

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 7:30 AM

I watched Beethoven for the first time last weekend. It is a good movie - very entertaining - but it is really dark. Much darker than I expected, especially for a Disney movie. The Mafia is testing new ammunition so a Mafia veterinarian is providing dogs to be shot in the head? Very dark. Then two Mafia thugs get mauled to death by Doberman Pinschers at the end, off-screen.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An offensive glurge about the "world's toughest job"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I roll my eyes and sigh at a lot of the stupid memes that travel around the Internet, and with the advent of social media I am seeing a lot more glurge than I did ten years ago. The world's toughest job video is especially offensive.

First, no matter what the "point" the video's makers were trying to make, the tactics used are cruel, hateful, unethical and mean-spirited. In this depressed economy, with tens of millions out of work, giving people a false hope in order to prank them and put it on YouTube is sick and depraved. Even if the message was a good one, I have no interest in hearing what these people have to say. It is disgusting. I am sure they got a few people who told them what they could do with their prank using very colorful language.

Second, what are the fathers doing while the mothers are doing the "world's toughest job?" I guess we must all be drinking beer, farting and burping. That's all we're good for, apparently. Obviously, the fathers don't rock the baby or give him a bottle at 3:00 am so mommy can sleep. Definitely not. We need to make sure we get plenty of sleep so we can burp and fart and drink beer tomorrow. That is some important work that simply cannot be done if we are helping the women folk with the "world's toughest job."

I am the father of a two-year old and a newborn, so I certainly do not deny that motherhood is difficult. So is fatherhood, and both are difficult in different ways. It is counterproductive, yet typical of our victim culture that we have to elevate our own hardships to being so terrible no one else could bear them, and exaggerate how severe those hardships are. After all, I used to walk four miles to school, barefoot, in 18 inches of snow, uphill both ways. And I had to carry 100 pounds of books on my back after not getting enough to eat that morning.

Finally, this video represents our culture's hatred of children. Motherhood is portrayed as the most grueling and demanding work possible. Children are not a joy, they are a heavy burden. (If you are training them properly, that burden will not only lessen over time, they will start to help.) If people actually believe the nonsense spouted by this video, is it any surprise that many do not want children at all?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The United States of SWAT

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

From an excellent article at National Review Online:

Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was "visited" by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright's estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn't been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.

Read more at National Review Online.

Why does the Department of Education need a SWAT team?


Monday, April 21, 2014

Kruzan's secrecy is not acceptable

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The scandal surrounding the Bloomington city employee who allegedly conspired to defraud city government out of $800,000 has brought forth some really weak defenses for the actions of Mayor Kruzan's administration, as well as attempts to dodge legitimate criticism entirely.

Kruzan's defenders whined that I was "politicizing" the scandal in my letter to the editor last week. This is a typical tactic used when a politician is revealed to be incompetent or has committed some sort of malfeasance. Instead of addressing the arguments made, Kruzan's defenders whine, "Oh the criticism is political." But that does not address why the employee was able to get away with the fraud for over two years. Why did the city's accounting team not catch these fraudulent invoices? Why were the auditing procedures not sufficient to catch this sooner? These questions remain, and whining about the criticism of Kruzan being "political" is a pathetic non-dodge.

Now, let's be real. Of course this is political. When you are dealing with the performance of elected officials and government agencies, such matters are inherently political. You better believe that if a Republican were Mayor, he would be facing criticisms from the Left, just as Republican officials in county government have faced harsh criticisms when they have made errors in the past. Let's drop the hypocritical whining about the political aspects of this scandal.

I have been accused of "blaming" Mayor Kruzan for this scandal. I did no such thing. The only person to "blame" for the theft is the city employee himself. That said, the obviously insufficient internal financial controls that allowed this fraud to continue are legitimate areas of concern and ultimately Kruzan is responsible here. Kruzan is the Mayor and is the top authority over city employees. Like it or not, the buck stops with him.

Furthermore, Kruzan deserves 100% of the blame for his administration's actions surrounding this scandal. The idea that such secrecy is needed is absolutely absurd, as I demonstrated in my post on April 11. The nature of financial records that are open to the public does not change simply because there is a criminal investigation. The question remains: What is Kruzan trying to hide? What sort of political embarrassment will come from releasing the records that he is morally, legally and ethically obligated to release?

This is why Mark Kruzan needs to be challenged in 2015. If the Republican Party cannot find someone who is willing to provide voters a choice, someone needs to file as a write-in candidate. Kruzan should not go into the general election with no option for voters to choose someone else. While the odds of electing a Republican as Mayor are virtually zero (and the odds of a write-in candidate winning are even less) the voters deserve an opportunity to make that choice.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Never forget the massacre in Waco!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Twenty-one years ago today, the Branch Davidian cult was massacred in Waco, Texas. Never forget this crime.

Twenty years ago today: Never forget Waco! -- April 19, 2013

The botched raid in Waco - 20 years ago today -- February 28, 2013

Lessons from Waco, 19 years later -- April 19, 2012

The Waco massacre, 15 years later: Never again! -- April 18, 2008

There must never be another Waco -- April 26, 2006


Friday, April 18, 2014

Conference dominance and restructuring the NBA Playoffs

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

There have been a number of NBA seasons where one conference has been stronger than the other, but the disparity between conferences is especially pronounced this year, to the point that there is talk about the wholesale restructuring of the playoffs. But is that the best answer, or is there another solution?

Divisions in the NBA are pretty much meaningless at this point, due in large part to having a half-dozen division champions instead of just four. When you increase the number of champions, the value of each championship means less, especially when the advantages that the division champions get in the NBA Playoffs are eliminated due to the fact that they made absolutely no sense.

Should we make conference championships meaningless too? That is what would happen if the top 16 teams qualified for the playoffs regardless of division. At that point, it makes no sense to have conferences at all. Having the top eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs and then seeding all 16 teams by record does less damage to conferences, but that does not solve the primary problem presented by the fact that weaker teams get to the playoffs while clearly better teams do not. It is a half-measure that is the worst of all worlds.

A better option would be to split the NBA into two nationwide conferences, as is the case with Major League Baseball and the National Football League. That way, the strongest teams in the West and the weakest teams in the East could be split into the National and American conferences, respectively. While the league is being restructured, each conference could be split into two divisions, instead of the current three. This would solve the balance problem as well as making the NBA more lively by creating new rivalries.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Can we be good without God?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Note: I originally wrote this on April 27, 2009. See a follow-up post from 2011.

The Indiana Atheist Bus campaign is looking to raise money to put advertisements on city buses, making the point that "you can be good without God." I find it interesting that a group would basically be proselytizing non-belief, but I will get into that later. Is the main point of the campaign valid?

It is certainly true that individuals can have personal morals/ethics without religion, and that societies can come up with a set of morals that are enforced by law. However, there can be no universal standard of morality without a Primary Source for that morality. If there is no supernatural force that governs all of nature and therefore has authority to set a universal standard of morality, an abomination like the Holocaust was not and cannot be fundamentally immoral because there is no absolute standard of morality to judge it against. Instead, each individual (or society) will decide for himself/herself/itself whether genocide is good or evil. In this moral anarchy, morality is decided by majority rule and subject to the whim of the crowd.

If there is no Primary Source of morality (be it God, any number of pagan pantheons, Allah, or even something silly like the Flying Spaghetti Monster) how can we judge that the Holocaust or child sacrifice is fundamentally immoral? After all, we may consider our morality to be superior to Nazi Germany, but how can we know for sure unless we can compare those moral standards to a higher source that sits above humanity? The simple answer is we cannot. Because there is a God, we know that things like the Holocaust and child sacrifice are not only fundamentally immoral, but evil and condemned by the Creator of the universe.

For those of us who believe and submit to God's Word, we know that we cannot be good without God and that any righteousness we have is not because we are good people, but because God has chosen to show mercy on us. As Romans 3:10-12 teaches us, "there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Paul refers to Christ being our righteousness when he writes that "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19) The Word further informs us that "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

What a blessed assurance this is for us. While we were sinners and enemies of God, He nonetheless sent His Son to be sacrificed on the cross for our sin. (Romans 5:8) Because Christ was made sin for us, "we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21) We do not have our own righteousness through our own good works, "but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Philippians 3:9) No matter how "good" we are on this earth, our only justification and escape from His wrath is through Christ's sacrifice. Because all of the work is done by Christ, all of the glory is His and His alone.

As I said above, I find it fascinating that atheists are basically proselytizing non-belief. Some of the other atheist displays have been downright hostile to religion. If you do not believe in anything, what need is there to convert people away from their beliefs? Why do you feel a need to "prove" that your beliefs are good and moral too? The answer is something that even these atheists refuse to admit to themselves. They know that there is a Creator who is holy and righteous and they are rebelling against Him. They are trying to justify themselves as they are convicted by their Creator.

Can one be good without God? If you are a Christian and you submit to Scripture, and answer must be a resounding NO. Some people will be marginally less evil than others and may even do some good, noble and charitable things, but we are all condemned by our Creator. Our only hope for salvation is the blood which our Creator shed on our behalf to atone for His creation's sins.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Posse Comitatus and police militarization

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Why does a rural sheriff's department in Wisconsin need a Mine Resistant Ambush Protection Vehicle (MRAP) designed to protect soldiers in a war zone from land mines, improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades? Are shoplifters and methamphetamine addicts carrying military-grade equipment procured from terrorist organizations? For that matter, why does West Lafayette need a MRAP? Exactly how militant are those engineering students at Purdue? Do college parties get that much out of hand?

Congress passed the Posse Comitatus act in 1878 to strictly restrict the use of the military for domestic law enforcement. While giving armored military vehicles to police is not technically the use of the military for law enforcement, making law enforcement into a pseudo-military organization certainly breaks the spirit of the law and should be a real concern for Americans who value their civil liberties. This is an overreaction to our culture's paranoia about crime, despite the fact that violent crime has been falling for twenty years.

The problem with blurring the lines between military and police is that the two have very different missions. The police are to arrest criminals, yes, but also to protect and serve the community in various other ways. The military's job is to fight wars: They are to kill people and break things. Therefore, the category of people the military is designed to interact with - enemy soldiers - are entirely different from the civilian population that the police interact with.

This is why mixing military and police is dangerous. Police should not see the citizens they are supposed to protect and serve in the same way that the military sees foreign soldiers and/or terrorists. Militarizing the police creates a natural tendency to see citizens as the military sees enemy soldiers - and that is very dangerous for civil liberties. We need to only look at the disaster in Waco twenty-one years ago this Sunday for why this is a frightening thing.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kruzan's secrecy is troublesome

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Bloomington Herald-Times, April 14, 2014

To the Editor:

The big concern with the theft of $800,000 from city government is not that there was a corrupt city employee. After all, we know from Romans 3:10-12 that there is none righteous, and Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart of man is desperately wicked.

No, the big concern is the apparent lack of internal financial controls that made the theft possible. Why did accounts payable not notice that invoices were being paid for work that was not done? Where is the flaw in the process of auditing claims? The Kruzan administration has serious questions to answer about the city's financial processes.

The secretive nature of the Kruzan administration regarding the investigation is worrisome. The Kruzan administration's suggestion that financial records must be sealed because of an investigation is absurd. What if the newspaper had gotten the records in December, well before the scandal broke? The nature of the financial records does not change simply because there is official misconduct.

If anything, this scandal should make the Kruzan administration more open about city finances, not less. What is the Kruzan administration trying to hide? We need to remember this in 2015, and Kruzan needs a challenge in the next election.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Modesty standards are not oppressive

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

When I was in high school, several students were told to remove the neon shoelaces they had purchased for their basketball shoes back to the laces that came with the shoes. We were not to draw attention to ourselves, and the neon laces were meant to attract attention. Coming from this background, I find the "controversy" about telling middle school girls not to wear leggings as pants to be absolutely absurd.

One set of "parents" even sent a letter to the school saying the ban contributes to "rape culture." This kind of absurd hysteria borders on child abuse. No one is saying that girls who wear leggings as pants "deserve" to be violently attacked, or that criminals are somehow less responsible for their actions. Furthermore, we are talking about middle school boys here. Feminists are only discrediting themselves by using rhetoric that portrays children as sexual monsters because they are distracted by inappropriate clothing.

The issue is not oppression of girls and it certainly is not "rape culture." The issue is basic modesty standards and not creating a distracting environment for students. The issue is having children attend school dressed in a way that they are prepared to learn and not prevent others from learning. This is not oppressive to either boys or girls. It is the same as telling students they may not wear green Mohawks.

The problem here is a small example of the overall problem created by our culture's hatred of authority and irresponsible "parents" more interested in being their child's friend than being mothers and fathers. It is pathetic and irresponsible.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Matthew 18:15-22

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Come to ClearNote Church for Easter

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Find out more at ClearNoteBloomington.com.


Friday, April 11, 2014

What is the Kruzan administration trying to hide?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

How can it be that financial records that were open to the public by force of state law just three months ago suddenly be closed to the public and the media because they are critical for an investigation by law enforcement? The Herald-Times is in a dispute with the Kruzan administration over a records request related to alleged crimes by a city employee:

Those records include emails as well as the bids, contracts and invoices involving concrete projects under the direction of Justin Wykoff, the city employee who was charged early this month in connection with the embezzlement of $800,000. As noted in an earlier column, the city legal department told The H-T it would not release some of the records because they are "investigatory records" exempted from the Access to Public Records Act.

Here are a few questions that demonstrates the absurdity of the Kruzan administration's argument that the records should be sealed: What if the Herald-Times or even an enterprising blogger had requested and gotten the records three months ago? What if the newspaper (or that blogger) had scanned and saved the documents to PDF and posted them online? Would those records be seized by law enforcement? Would the Kruzan administration's legal department file a lawsuit to take down the records?

The Kruzan administration's argument is weaker than a wall made of tissue paper. It is absolutely absurd that the nature of the city's financial records would change simply because law enforcement is examining them. Would the Kruzan administration argue that city financial records should be sealed during an audit by the State Board of Accounts?

The voters need to remember this in 2015.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Barack Obama's White House: A hate-filled zone

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

According to Leftists like George Takei, White House employees did not have the opportunity to work in a "hate-free zone" for more than three-fourths of Barack Obama's first term as President. Yet neither Takei nor the vast majority of other supporters of "marriage equality" condemned Obama for his stance against homosexual marriage or called for him to resign or be impeached for a stance rooted in his religion. They certainly did not campaign against Obama in 2008, despite (according to Leftist "logic") Obama's hatred of homosexuals.

The hyper-partisan hypocrisy of the Left underlines the absurdity of Mozilla's decision to terminate its CEO because he gave a donation to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 six years ago - an amendment to the state constitution that was approved by 70% of black voters in California. Are Takei and other advocates of homosexual marriage now saying that 70% of blacks in California "hate" homosexuals - or at least did just six years ago?

Obviously, as a private entity, Mozilla can make decisions as it pleases regarding employment policy, but forcing out a CEO because of a donation made six years ago is a silly bow to politically correct hysteria. It also demonstrates the militant intolerance of the Left. If you simply disagree with homosexual marriage you are guilty of "hatred" and you must be personally and professionally destroyed. It is a common error of our society that disagreement is the same as "hatred" - a position that not only reveals emotional and intellectual immaturity but also reveals a deep and intense intolerance of the people who hold that utterly absurd viewpoint.

No, what is really happening here is that the militant homosexual-rights movement is determined to silence Christians who publicly speak what God says about homosexual sin. The militant homosexual movement has never been about "tolerance." It is and has always been about mandatory acceptance. Just as the Pharisees who murdered Stephen in the book of Acts, they will do what is necessary to silence anyone who dares afflict their consciences.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Old man Tibbs?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM

I went to Office Depot earlier this week, and showed the clerk a picture of my newborn son Rob while I was paying for my item.

"Is that your grandson?"

Well, I guess technically I am old enough to be Rob's grandfather, since there are 40 years between us.