Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Abortion Debate is Only Meant to Divide Us

I don't agree with the title of this post. Those are the words used by a friend of mine following a Facebook discussion about abortion. This is my response.

Debate is not meant to divide us. The nature of debate is not divisive. On the contrary, debate is healthy. It is how we arrive at the truth; not your truth but THE truth. Debate is a conversation.

What is divisive is instituting ridiculous travel bands on states that pass strict abortion laws or those that pass same-sex bathroom restriction laws! What is divisive is kicking people out of your restaurant because of political differences! What is divisive is forcing a baker to bake a cake for a gay couple!

What is divisive is the manner in which people on one side of a debate treat their debate partners. For example: Efforts to stifle debate through straight-up banning of speakers i.e. college campuses or dismissing those with differing opinions by refusing to answer simple questions or stooping to character assassination by disparaging and degrading those with whom you disagree, questioning their intentions with shallow, strawman arguments and name-calling. In my experience, those who end a debate in this manner know in their heart that they cannot win it and rather than be pushed to challenge their beliefs, they in essence, forfeit or surrender in order to avoid the possibility that their world view may need some deeper reflection.

The abortion debate is no different. When someone says, the abortion debate is only meant to divide us, this implies one of two things:

#1 – “You should just shut up and agree with me!” or
#2 - “I cannot win this debate on its merits, therefore, the debate must end.”

Assuming that, “the abortion debate is only meant to divide us” statement was uttered by a pro-abortion advocate, the only alternative is to agree to disagree, remain silent and allow and accept the practice of ending innocent lives to continue and, of course, everything will be hunky-dory because we will no longer be divided.

Or here are some alternatives: How about we continue the conversation? Let’s call it a “conversation” rather than a debate so we won’t be divided. So let’s continue the conversation until the pro-abortion advocates can persuade enough Americans that there is nothing wrong with the practice of ending innocent human life.

Or let’s continue the conversation until pro-abortionists answer the following questions in an intellectually honest, non-filibuster manner.
  • Is murder wrong? If yes, what is your definition of murder? 
  • Is life worth protecting/preserving? If yes, what is your definition of life? And when does life begin? 
  • Are you in favor of partial birth abortion? If no, why? If yes, why? 
  • What article and clause in the Constitution grants women the right to an abortion? 
  • What article and clause in the Constitution enumerates the federal government the power to dictate abortion laws? 
  • Are you opposed to an overturning of Roe v. Wade? If so, why? 
  • Are you opposed to each state passing their own abortion laws? 
  • And most importantly - What about the baby? 
Let’s discuss morality, not worse case scenarios of rape and incest.

Let’s discuss the baby, not the woman’s right to choose.

Let’s discuss when life begins and whether it is worthy of protection, not throwing platitudes about men trying to control women’s bodies.

Let’s discuss the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, not make ridiculous arguments claiming that human dignity and human rights are being violated when abortions are restricted.

If the abortion debate makes you anxious or uneasy to the point that your best option is to end the debate, I don’t think it is much of a stretch to assume that you, of all people, should continue your quest for the truth about this life or death issue.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Twenty Life Lessons Reinforced by Playing Fortnite

For those of you who are not familiar with the latest video game craze, Fortnite, it is a game fashioned after the fight-to-the-death competition in The Hunger Games. You parachute onto an island with 99 other players and struggle to survive until there is only one player or team left standing. The average game lasts around 2-3 minutes – often less than a minute (if you get killed quickly) and usually no longer than 10 minutes.

There are three modes in which to play – solo, duos, and squads. Along the way, you scavenge for weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies; you collect building materials to build shelters and fortresses by chopping wood, walls, vehicles, and stones. And, finally, you run, run, and run some more!

Periodically, the field of play (the eye of the “Storm”) shrinks forcing the surviving players into confrontation. If you get caught in the storm for too long, you die!

With that said, below are the Top 20 life lessons reinforced by Fortnite.

1. Survival – Life is far from a life-and-death struggle for most of us. However, we still carry an innate survival mentality that kicks in when we are faced with a serious illness or when you are walking to your car in a dark parking lot or you hear a strange noise in the middle of the night. Fortnite is, at its core, a game of survival that requires a constant, almost fanatical awareness of your surroundings to avoid confrontation and death.
2. Project Management – Time is our most valuable resource. We must make the best use of the time we have to get stuff done – at work or in our household. Time is also limited in Fortnite as the field of play shrinks every minute or two. If you are not inside the eye of the storm, you need to accomplish your required tasks in an expeditious manner before the storm overtakes you.
3. Importance of Preparation – Life throws us curveballs all the time. We lose our jobs, the car breaks down, someone gets sick, the HVAC unit needs to be replaced, and natural disasters occur. All of this requires us to be prepared – mentally, financially, and physically. In Fortnite, attacks can occur at any moment. You prepare by being vigilante of your surroundings, having enough ammunition to fend off an attack, ingesting the shield juice, keeping your health at a high level, and having enough building material in your back pack to build a defensive (or offensive) position when the inevitable attack occurs. 
4. Prioritization – You cannot have everything you want in life. Usually we are limited by our financial situation. Nonetheless we prioritize those things that are most important – food, shelter, clothing, etc. In Fortnite, your backpack can only hold a total of five items including weapons, bandages, ammunition, and jugs of shield juice. When you first land, you grab anything and everything you can find. However, once your backpack is full you must quickly learn to prioritize which items to discard in order to upgrade your loot. Just as too many guns and no bandages could spell disaster after a fire-fight, too many shotguns and not enough long-range weapons could also leave you in a tight spot. Prioritize carefully.
5. Sharing – From the earliest age, we learn the importance of sharing. As a child, you share your toys. As you grow older you share your time, money, and life with others. It is a vital part of getting along in the world. In squad or duo mode in Fortnite, you can view your teammates’ shield and health levels. If either appears low, you can give them shield potion and bandages. You can also share your ammunition, weaponry, and building materials with your teammates.
6. Cooperation and Teamwork – Success in life is predicated on getting along with people and learning how to work in a team. Whether you are dealing with your family, co-workers, classmates, or teammates, you must learn to work together in order to make the household run smoothly, complete projects and assignments, and win games. Success in Fortnite’s squad and duo modes requires both of these skills. If you go off and do your own thing, both you and your team usually suffers.
7. Helping People When They Are Down – One of life’s most important lessons is to learn to give back and help people when they are down. When playing Fortnite in duo or squad mode, you get the opportunity to do just that - revive your fallen teammates. In these modes, you do not die immediately unless you absorb a headshot. Your life meter starts running down giving your teammates approximately 30 seconds to revive you. Doing so is risky because it requires you to stand next to your injured teammate for 10 seconds with no ability to defend yourself.
8. The Importance of Exercise and Endurance – When it comes to exercise and staying in shape, even the people who hate doing it understand its importance in maintaining good health. Depending on where you land on the Fortnite island and where the playing field shrinks, you will often find yourself running for much of the game. For those of you who hate to exercise, imagine having to run up and down hills for 5-10 straight minutes while jumping and dodging incoming fire. At the end of the game, you can even view your “distance covered” metric . . . just like checking your Fitbit or Activity stats on your iPhone!
9. A Sense of Urgency – The phrase, “if you snooze, you lose!” is equally applicable to life as it is in Fortnite.  You literally have to hit the ground running and pick up as much loot as you can. Even when you are playing as part of a squad, you still must look out for yourself and obtain some kind of weapon. This often leads the player to temporarily violate Lessons #5 and #6.
10. Fight or Flight – There are times in life when you are in physical danger and you must make a split-second decision whether to fight or run to escape the danger. That is the normal state of affairs in Fortnite. You must be ever-vigilant to avoid an ambush. There are times when you need to hide; times when you need to move and scavenge and there are times you need to attack and/or defend yourself.

11. Planning – To be successful in life, you have to plan - save money, set goals, family planning, etc. Fortnite also emphasizes the importance of planning for the future. In order to prepare for the inevitable life or death altercation that will take place in the next five minutes, you must take valuable time, often at a risk of being killed, to collect building materials, weapons, ammo and medical supplies. You must also plan the route you will take to successfully get inside the ever-shrinking eye of the storm.  
12. Decisiveness –The life you currently lead is simply the result of all the decisions you have made up to this point. In Fortnite, indecision equates to an early death and an early exit from the game. Just as in life, the game boils down to a series of decisions you make. You must make decisions about where to land, when to move, when and where to hide, when to flee, when to fight, when to build, when to revive a teammate, what door to enter, what hill to climb, what angle of attack to take, where to set up an ambush, etc.
13. Working with Your Hands – Not everyone is blessed with the ability to build and fix things; they just hire other people to do those tasks for them. Obviously hiring an expert in a game of Fortnite is not an option. Therefore, you must learn quickly how to build. While options are limited to floors, walls, ramps, and roofs, you can also “edit” your structures to include doors and windows. You should see the creativity expressed in some of the structures that are built during the course of a game!
14. Life’s Necessities – As mentioned above in #4 – Prioritization, we only have a few real bare necessities in life – food, shelter, water, oxygen. With those four things, you could live (not well) but you could live. However, we all would agree that the list of necessities is much more extensive. We need things like transportation, clothing, money, phones, computers, access to medical facilities, etc. In Fortnite, the bare necessity is a weapon and enough ammo to fight your way through the island. However, the real list of necessities is a weapon for each situation – for close range fighting you need a pistol or a shotgun; mid and long-range firefights require assault rifles, AR-15s, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. It goes without saying that you need sufficient ammunition for each of these weapons; you need bandages and shield juice, and you need building materials sufficient to survive the inevitable firefight.
15. The Importance of Practice and Perseverance – If you want to succeed in life - sports, work, school, playing an musical instrument, driving, selling, coding, etc – you must practice and you must learn to persevere when things don’t go your way. Fortnite shadows this important life lesson. When you start playing the game, you parachute, and within seconds, you have your first confrontation and, invariably you panic, hit the wrong button and you game is over almost before it started. Forget about building a shelter to protect you from a barrage of bullets and grenades. As time goes on, however, you get more comfortable with your ability to defend yourself and, at some point, you start looking for a fight.
16. How to Kill an Afternoon – Some people binge-watch Netflix, others rock in a hammock, while others take naps, scroll through social media, or read a book. Or you can sit down and play Fortnite - get pissed off because you got killed six times in a row within one minute of landing and, the next thing you know, you missed the sunset, you missed dinner, and everyone in the house is asleep! 
17. Strong Work Ethic – You can’t mail-it-in in life and you can’t mail-it-in in Fortnite. Success in life requires a strong work ethic, without it, you limit your opportunities. In Fortnite, you cannot  just parachute in and stand around and expect to live very long. You have to plan, work, move, forage, run, and ultimately fight!
18. The Importance of Taking Care of Your Health – Neglecting your health in life results in all kinds of nasty things – obesity, diabetes, and heart disease to name a few. We monitor our health by how we feel, we go to the doctor and have tests run and, we review our bloodwork. In Fortnite, you monitor your health by keeping your eye on your shield and your health levels. The former offers you some protection when you get shot by allowing you to absorb two or three hits before your health begins to be reduced. The latter can be reduced by falling or being shot. Guess what happens when you ignore your health in Fortnite? The same thing that happens to you in real life!
19. Awareness of External Forces – In life, we must be aware of externalities such as politics and elections, the financial markets, the job market, health issues, economic issues, etc. In Fortnite, the one constant external force that cannot be ignored is “The Storm” that continually shrinks the field of play. If you lose track of its movements and get caught in it, you may very well find yourself running for your life.
20. Communication – Your ability to communicate effectively goes a long way into determining your level of success in life. Fortnite’s squad and duo modes are full of lessons about the importance of communication. When playing Fortnite with friends, communication is easy as you have the ability to speak to each other using Xbox/Playstation compatible headsets. However when playing with complete strangers there is no way to verbally communicate. Players have come up with creative methods of communicating with teammates – sometimes they will shoot at you, jumping up and down and running at them with their axe are clear indications that they need something. Fortnite also offers the ability for players to breakout in dance if the mood is right.
So for all you Fortnite players whose parents, girlfriends, or spouses complain about how much time you spend playing the game, tell them you are improving your work ethic and your capacity to plan, persevere, be more decisive, and implement projects. Tell them you are improving your communication skills and your ability to work under pressure, and prioritize. Tell them you are learning to become a better person by sharing, cooperating, and taking care of others. Then go fire up Fortnite for another round of life lessons!

Contributing editor: Jacob Brodof

Monday, March 12, 2018

Varying Responses by the Left to Murder

Is their some kind of left-wing handbook that dictates the required reactions to murder depending on the victims? 
  • Students killed by a mass shooter . . . . something must be done! Full-court press with calls for unprecedented gun control; turning the students into a new identity politic group.
  • Babies in a womb . . . a choice.
  • American citizens killed by illegal immigrants . . . crickets.
  • Republican Congressman Steve Scalise shot by a crazy Bernie Sanders supporter . . . immaterial.
  • Marines killed in Chattanooga recruiting office . . . . inconsequential.
  • Fort Hood shooting . . . . workplace violence.
  • Orlando gay nightclub shooting . . . an outrage, something must be done!
  • Las Vegas shooting at a country music festival . . . very little mention of the victims just continued calls for a ban on bump-stocks.
  • Aurora theatre shooting . . . within hours of the shooting ABC's Brian Ross suggested the shooter, James Holmes was a member of the Tea Party.
  • San Bernardino shooting by two home-grown jihadists . . . yawn. 
It must be tough being a unprincipled liberal. Simply trying to keep track of your required reaction to events must be exhausting.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Is Trump Stupid or Insane?

It's all the rage for national Democrats and members of the lamestream media to claim Donald Trump is dangerous to the nation and to question his intelligence and sanity.

Below are a collection of policies from the Obama administration and, where appropriate, Trump's reaction. After reviewing the list, you tell me who is/was a danger to America. You tell me who is stupid and possibly mentally incompetent.
  • Obama and the national Democrats passed the unconstitutional Obamacare law virtually destroying one-sixth of the economy while lying about the costs and benefits. 
    • Trump - With little help from congressional Republicans, Trump is making attempts to rollback Obamacare and return the nation's healthcare back into the hands of the people.
  • Obama oversaw a dramatic expansion of federal government regulation to the tune of a 96,000 page Federal Registry.
    • Trump has reduced the Registry by 35% in one year!
  • Obama reigned over a stagnant economy with lethargic wage growth and companies fleeing the United States for more tax and regulation-friendly countries
    • Trump pushed for and signed a new tax law, which appears to reverse both.
  • Obama handcuffed the military with ridiculous rules of engagement.
    • Trump removed them.
  • Obama and the Democrats are advocates for open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
    • Trump wants to "build a wall" and restrict immigration despite opposition from national Republicans who are beholden to the Chamber of Commerce, low wage lobby.
  • Obama apologized for America.
    • Trump promotes America.
  • Obama told us to get used to the new normal.
    • Trump told us that we can make America great again.
  • Obama endorsed policies whereby men who identified as a woman could use woman's bathrooms.
    • Trump opposes that policy.
  • Obama destroyed the reputation of The Justice Department by appointing two of the most corrupt people to ever hold the position of Attorney General - Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
    • Trump is trying to restore the agency's honor by appointing Senator Jeff Sessions to the post.
  • Obama appointed two affirmed left-wing, judicial activists to the Supreme Court - Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
    • Trump appointed a constitutional constructionist Neil Gorsuch.
  • Obama said he would move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
    • Trump is actually doing it.
  • Obama expanded welfare to increase dependence on the federal government.
    • Trump has plans to reduce welfare and add work requirements to recipients.
  • Obama was a strong advocate for gun control.
    • Trump is a strong advocate for the Second Amendment.
  • Obama constantly made excuses for radical Islamic terrorists.
    • Trump does not.
What about some of these from Obama's Greatest Hits:
  • He visited 57 states.
  • He laughed off Mitt Romney's suggestion that Russia was a formidable geopolitical foe. A few short years later Russia had invaded Ukraine and was fully embedded in Iran and Syria.
  • Benghazi
  • Uranium One
  • The Arab Spring
  • Libya
  • Bundy grazing rights standoff.
  • The Iran deal.
  • Called Fort Hood shooting "workplace violence."
  • The Trump Dossier

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Removal of the Confederate Flag and Confederate Monuments

Is it really prudent to remove the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments from public property?

Why are we only exposed to the one-sided, emotional argument? The one that says, "these are symbols of oppression and reminders of slavery and therefore must be removed!”

I think a more reasonable argument is to leave the monuments and flags up and have civil, mature conversations about what they actually mean or what they tell us about history.

Are they really symbols of oppression or do they symbolized how far this country has come in a relatively short period of time?  We outlawed slavery! A practice that is as old as human history. Something that is still practiced in many countries around the world to this day!

Or perhaps they symbolize state sovereignty and rebellion against an oppressive federal government that preferred to send over 600,000 Americans to their deaths rather than to allow a few states to secede from the Union.

That’s a conversation and debate worth having rather than weak-kneed politicians succumbing to public pressure from a loud minority of constituents unwilling to discuss or debate the merits of the monuments.

Great conversations on this topic from The Tom Woods Show - Southern Monuments Removed, Others Under Attack  and Brion McClanahan podcast Confederate Origins of Memorial Day.