Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Simple message about hatred

No matter how you spin it, the deep, intense hatred of Donald J. Trump is real, and millions of otherwise intelligent people practice it.

In a rational and ethical world, it is delusional and dangerous to believe hating someone is a virtuous act.

A few stubborn critics might want to pull out the Hitler reference, insisting that it is virtuous to hate evil.

Most reasonable people would agree.

However, Hitler was a merciless murderer of millions of innocent people. Trump is merely an arrogant tycoon.

Let's try some honesty for a change, and stop pretending that the man the mob just lynched must have been guilty if he's now hanging from a rope.

"For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

"Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him."

-- 1 John 3:11-15  NIV



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lemmings in the breeze


Many conservatives in the U.S., who are normal, hard-working, family-centered people (very similar to the non-crazy counterparts in the liberal camp), are anxiously steeped in various levels of concern regarding the Left's ubiquitous carnage of traditional values.

The Left's corrosive agenda, over the course of many decades, is nearing the boiling point in terms of conservative society's ability to maintain cognitive dissonance regarding tolerance of thought police while still holding fast to the tenets that brought this country from a collection of adventurous vagabonds to history's greatest superpower.

I had a liberating thought about the whole mess tonight.

The reason there is so much repression of individual thought in 2019 is because the wisdom of the crowd has been manipulated astutely by social engineers whose goals do not include the continuance of America as a democratic republic. While that statement may be soundly debated by polarized pundits in the public square, the reality remains that a cursory survey of the issues deemed most important by society reveals moral ethos has changed radically in the last half-century.

The principal reason things have reached such a level of ire and tension is because the argument shifted from opinion to character, and the crowd will always press upon the iconoclast.

In 2019, the iconoclast has no interest in the endorphin rush of social media, nor the electronic gadgetry associated with it, and is not moved by the crowd's attempts to cajole one into purchasing it.

In 2019, the iconoclast tends to avoid watching the news, because the agitation it produces is not preferable to the alleged ignorance of being 'uninformed.'

In 2019, the iconoclast still may enjoy movies or television, but tends to stop watching when political agendas are woven into the story. As this is more often the case than not, more time is spent reading books, playing video games, and enjoying the company of other human beings.

In 2019, the iconoclast believes in recycling and being conscientious about the environment, but doesn't live in fear that plastic bags, carbon dioxide and bovine flatulence will exterminate us all in 12 years.

In 2019, the iconoclast doesn't give two cents about skin color, regardless of pressure to view some colors as more deserving of positive recognition than others.

In 2019, the iconoclast doesn't think either gender is better than the other, but does recognize that the two genders are very different and both deserve to be celebrated for their respective differences, as two halves of a cohesive whole.

In 2019, the iconoclast believes one should respect all other human beings, but does not believe that people should be legally forced to use pronouns that contradict the reproductive equipment possessed at birth, if they prefer not to use them.

In 2019, the iconoclast knows that encouraging prepubescent children to identify with the opposite gender, when historically 80% of children suffering from gender dysphoria simply grew out of it, is irresponsible, foolish, and potentially permanently damaging to child and teen psyches via misguided counseling and prescription hormones.

In 2019, the iconoclast believes that buying eggs from chickens that don't roam free, or eating a McDouble, or preferring to live without a four-legged companion, does not equal hatred of animals.

In 2019, the iconoclast understands that guns are merely tools that the person holding them decides how to use, and that taking them away does not erase an individual's desire to act on murderous impulses.

In 2019, the iconoclast thinks all should be allowed to pursue life, liberty and their own happiness, regardless of sexual or religious orientation, but does not believe that public campaigns to vilify those who object to some behaviors are appropriate in a free society.

In 2019, the iconoclast understands that the fringe will never run the show, and special interest groups will never be able to permanently legislate morality, no matter how hard they try, and no matter how many people they bully and publicly shame.

And now, in 2019, the iconoclast is being multiplied by common sense. This is the nature of human beings. Most people just want to get along and live their lives, but at the same time, those same people have a limit to how many times the mob can put their fingers to their lips and ominously threaten, "Shh!"

The good news and point of this essay:

The lemmings that make up "the crowd" must be given direction; this is the direct opposite of an iconoclast, who refuses to let peer pressure make up his or her mind.

When the boiling point mentioned above occurs, the lemmings will merely shift direction with the breeze, and the breeze will flow conservative again.

This isn't wishful thinking, it's just history endlessly repeating itself.




Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Showdown (Special Edition)

Not everyone appreciates the entertainment value of B movies, but I think I figured out today what can make them subjectively compelling.

Genre.

I like movies with fights in them. Cheap Chinese Kung-fu flicks, high-budget action films, hand to hand combat scenes in any movie. I like revenge themes because the good guy gets to kick the bad guy's butt at some point, which often never happens in real life.

Today, via Amazon Prime, I watched what many would consider an unwatchable movie called "Showdown," starring Billy Blanks and actors I don't recall seeing before.

It had sub-par writing, bench-warmer acting, uninspired direction, Lifetime Movie musical soundtrack, obligatory training montages, amateur fight choreography, a nondescript hero, a monochromatic bully, his clueless girlfriend (except for one lucid moment about 51 minutes in), an amusingly sadistic female henchman, and her boss: a ridiculous villain whose overacting was magnitudes worse than William Shatner's (but lacking the self-parody necessary to remain relevant).

Yet for all that, I could not stop watching it, and was entertained despite its impressive collection of artistic failures.

So the question I asked myself was, "Why am I enjoying this low-budget after school special?"

Other than genre, I think this movie kept my attention because it utilized one of my favorite plot devices: picked-on hero gets trained by master to defeat cruel enemy.

Like Plato's Forms producing recognition despite variance, there is a perfect universe where justice always prevails, and any reminder of its existence is okay by me.



Where it all starts...

"Fleccas Talks" is a YouTube channel that features a friendly young man named Fleccas, who goes to public gatherings where a conservative entity is publicly speaking, in order to interview persons from all perspectives regarding the event.

I've watched many of Fleccas's uploads, and they are mostly amusing. Of course the videos are edited to a pro-conservative agenda, that's beside the point. Persons who claim that his work is merely deceptive propaganda haven't actually watched his videos. Yes, he's conservative, but that doesn't make him wrong, it merely makes him a target.

Something happens in this video that got me to thinking, and I've cued it to the part I'm referring to:

Leftist Protesters Assault Pro Trump DACA Student At Michael Knowles' Build The Wall Speech

So yes, hitting someone's hat off of his or her head isn't all that physically threatening. I suppose it could be considered assault by the letter of the law, but it would be hard to take seriously in a municipal court. In most people's book it's just plain disrespectful. When I saw the young woman do it in the video, all I could do was shake my head. When I saw the other woman daring the young man to "do something," all I could do was shake my head again.

However, what occurred to me while I watched this happen was a bit darker.

Knocking MAGA hats off of heads isn't a new thing anymore, and isn't all that uncommon. I'm somewhat confident to suggest that it only happens to people who don't look threatening enough to retaliate, indicating the general cowardice of those who do it.

But as with all predictions based on statistics, it's a numbers game. To put it more bluntly:

Eventually, on one sad and unfortunate day, someone who feels empowered by the crowd, or their friends, or some tweet, or CNN's hate-mongering, is going to knock the hat off of the wrong person's head. The wrong person who is either mentally ill, having an exceptionally bad time of it, or one step from the edge.

The gun will come out, the last expression on the face of the person who knocked the hat off will be surprise, and the Leftist news media will have a field day reporting on the "angry, evil, gun-toting" conservative who was bound to commit such an act eventually due to his or her preference for the "racist, hate-mongering" Trump.

I don't think the people who pick on others wearing MAGA hats have fully thought through the ramifications of their actions. But why do we have to wait until something turns permanently ugly?

Just stop. Respect others, whether or not they disagree with you. You gain nothing by showing disrespect to strangers, and on one anomalous day, you could lose everything by doing so.



Thursday, May 9, 2019

Fear-mongering Vox joins the Fake News crew

Vox calls Nextdoor "fear-based." For the sake of argument, Vox might as well call Facebook "loneliness-based" or Twitter "narcissism-based."

This morning, an article from Vox was presented to me in my new tab news feeds in Firefox:

The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors

The title was provocative, so I clicked on it.

"Nextdoor" is an invaluable tool for communities to reestablish their status as communities, in this digital day and age. Block parties and other face-to-face activities have gone by the wayside, so apps like Nextdoor give people a sense of that lost community. In any community, there will not be one hundred percent agreement about anything, much less how people view other human beings.

With this article (written by Rani Molla, reporter for Recode and formerly Bloomberg Gadfly) Vox is attempting to turn the reader against a positive force for the community by, once again, playing that tried-and-true, unassailable, and punishable-by-shame-if-resisted racism card.

The article, besides referring to Nextdoor as a "fear-based social media app," which immediately paints a very one-dimensional picture of it's users, also states that Nextdoor's Crime and Safety section is a "hotbed for racial stereotyping."

The Wired article being referenced for the hotbed reference is here:

For Nextdoor, Eliminating Racism Is No Quick Fix

If you read the Wired piece, you will find in the fourth paragraph the following information:

"Caught off guard, Tolia asked his neighborhood operations team, which handles customer service, to review Nextdoor postings. They discovered several dozen messages posted over the course of the previous year that identified suspicious characters only by race. By some measures, it was a tiny issue. The site distributes four million messages daily."

In the world of perception, journalists know all too well the power of words to manipulate. To refer to "several dozen" messages over the course of an entire year as a "hotbed," when the total messages for that same year amounted to one billion and four hundred and sixty million (50 messages as compared to 1,460,000,000 messages), is nothing short of exaggeration in the highest order.

We are told that "by some measures" it is a tiny issue. By what other measure is it not a tiny issue? I'm a bit puzzled by that statement. Later in the same paragraph, Tolia (founder of Nextdoor) expresses his dismay that even a tiny problem can cast his service as racist. Sure, in the minds of those who think the fringe are as relevant as the average user. Most adults are coherent enough to know this is not true.

Coming back to the Vox piece, there are other manipulative statements, some allegedly backed by handy graphs, such as "Public perception of crime rate at odds with data," "Apps can fuel a vicious cycle of fear and violence," "Citizen — whose previous form was called Vigilante and which appeared to encourage users to stop crimes in action," "These apps have become popular because of — and have aggravated — the false sense that danger is on the rise," "Examples abound of racism on these types of apps, usually in the form of who is identified as criminal," "Apps didn’t create bias or unfair policing, but they can exacerbate it," "These apps can also be psychologically detrimental to the people who use them," "Like all new technology, we’re struggling to use it correctly," "But why would we use something that plays on demonstrably false fears and has so many negative side effects?" "The rise of fear-based social media apps might also have to do with the decline of local news." [bold text not included in original sentences]

Notice all the "cans" and similar words used to suggest that the most negative possibility is likely correct. This is easily identified manipulation.

Of course Rani brings in an 'expert' to tell us that "These apps foment fear around crime, which feeds into existing biases and racism and largely reinforces stereotypes around skin color."

That same expert is further quoted that there's "very deep research" indicating we're all predisposed to mentally picture a black person when we hear about or read about a crime. Oh, I'm sure there is this sort of biased research, especially if it will contribute to the reader further believing this hit piece, and the overarching Leftian narrative that the entire country is teeming with white racists who hate "people of color."

Then another convenient expert is quoted, telling us that these apps don't actually help us as advertised, but instead simply reflect our own ugly biases, an accusation easily leveled at a nebulous crowd, but not so easily proven on an individual basis.

Other articles are cited, from Motherboard, Vice, and The Outline, all of which are not necessarily about racism but conveniently refer to possibilities that Rani found advantageous to her point.

At the end of all this, I have to ponder:

Why take an app that millions of people enjoy and rely upon, and falsely cast it as racist and fear-mongering, based on the questionable use of it by only a handful of people?

Are some of us losing our senses of proportion and accurate perception?

Or is the answer a bit more sinister, such as a desire to dismantle something that people use to protect each other without government or media control?



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"The Dark" movie is unique and complex

"The Dark" is a movie I found while searching for better-than-average horror movies for a friend of mine. I'm trying to keep batting 1.000, as my last recommendation to him (The Loved Ones) was another big hit in his estimation.

The Dark deals with the subject of monsters.

A few of the actors, including the kidnapped boy Alex, were a tad less than adequate in their craft, but it didn't ruin it for me. There was no Academy Award-winning writing, but it was original and I enjoyed it. There were several tense moments that weren't cheapened by cheesy jump scares. It was slow paced at times, but I was never bored.

The cinematography was well done. There was an ominous quality to the protagonist at times that could only have been  accomplished by the dim lighting and facial angles utilized.

The reason why The Dark is unique is because it is first and foremost a lurid fairy tale, as opposed to a simple ax-murder-fest. The protagonist is literally back from the grave, and the haunted woods her house stands in are the best unspoken explanation for the miraculous event. The pictures she draws and the sounds she hears suggest there is more to the story than mere retribution from the grave, but unfortunately we're not enlightened in that regard.

The Dark is complex because, despite Mina's face being convincingly hideous, the monster in this story isn't truly a monster. In addition, the subtle aspects of the kidnapped boy's aversion to rescue are a reminder that Stockholm Syndrome is a powerful factor when combined with believable threats to one's family.

Then there's the discussion afterwards: how many monsters did you count in the movie?

The story is a bit poignant and contains a positive ending, which many fans of horror are not disposed to enjoy from the genre. Yes, there is murder, even of what appear to be innocent people. Tragedy begets tragedy in real life, so the obscure moral of this dark fairy tale is that the cycle doesn't have to continue.

There were several interesting hints of Mina's transformation, including her attempts to burn her hand with the lighter. Can people rise from the dead in real life and become scary monsters?

Nah, but if they did, it would be nice if they all ended up like Mina. 



Friday, April 12, 2019

First Amendment violations gather as group think continues

This article was published on January 22 of this year, but I just happened on it now:

$6 Million Anti-Abortion Movie Seeks Major Label Music, But Finds No Takers

I'm in general agreement that in a free country, a business can reserve the right to refuse service in most situations. The music publishers denying Unplanned across the board could still be defended from that position. This is why the cake-baking controversy ended with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the baker in the Colorado case.

This is why I think it rude and wrong, but it was still legal for the Red Hen restaurant to refuse service to Sarah Sanders.

What isn't being adequately considered is the overall effect this sort of group think censorship has on those watching from the sidelines. There is certainly a difference between multiple bakeries to choose from, but only one official avenue by which published songs may be utilized in a movie.

The message is clear: you are either pro-choice in the entertainment industry, or you are out.

Then there's the obvious conclusion one should draw from Unplanned's struggle with those who want to control what the public sees and hears:

Pro-choice supporters are afraid. There can be no other explanation for the deliberate blocking of such an inoffensive film.

So honestly, what are they afraid of? That people will be shown, without condemnation nor demonization, what it truly means to abort a child, and within the context of an authentic setting?

Consider the vegan tactic of showing footage of animals being slaughtered for food. If after viewing cows being slaughtered for example, the viewers continue to eat beef, at least now they're aware of what it took to get that hamburger to their plate.

But the media industry complex does not want you to possess analogous information regarding abortion.

Why not?

I mean seriously...why not?


The media blackout of "Unplanned" is disturbing and real

In the essay just previous to this one, I alluded to possible censorship of the movie "Unplanned," that I had heard about in a YouTube video. I wasn't comfortable with making any bold statements regarding the veracity of those claims, as at that point I considered them hearsay.

However, the creators of the movie have already appeared at a congressional hearing regarding the alleged censorship, and judging from the details included in the following video, it was far worse than I was first led to believe:

Writer/Directors Chuck Konzelman & Cary Soloman testify about #Unplanned censorship

After listening to the two principals speak (Sen. Cruz and Mr. Konzelman), and the brief (edited) attempt by a Twitter executive near the beginning of the video to explain away Twitter's violation of the 1st Amendment, I am disturbed and angry.

I'm disturbed because the mainstream media and mainstream social media were apparently all complicit with preventing the makers of Unplanned from being able to do something as uncontroversial as simply paying to advertise their movie. In the interest of fairness, it should be mentioned Konzelman testified that, unlike other social media, Facebook put up no roadblocks and Unplanned did very well in that digital venue.

The 'R' rating itself is outrageous. I saw this movie, and there was absolutely no nudity, violence, excessive language nor any of the other elements that require the rating. It makes Konzelman's discrimination claim much more credible than the conspiracy theory realm I'm sure some would prefer to banish it. This generates the irony of kids being old enough to get an abortion, but not old enough to go to the movie without a parent and see what it actually entails.

Whether or not one agrees with the position of the makers of the movie is irrelevant. There are myriad movies, television shows, songs and books that contain exceedingly more offensive material than Unplanned. But those are deemed acceptable by a media machine that is pulling further and further away from what the average person with a conscience truly wants for information and entertainment.

Orwell turns out to have been an accurate prognosticator of future totalitarianism. He just got the year wrong. And Big Brother, it seems, is not a white-shirt conservative...he's a Left-wing fear monger.





Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Unplanned" is not just another movie


"Unplanned" is, simply stated, a pro-life movie based on the true story of Abby Johnson's conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. It wasn't even on my radar until I clicked on a YouTube video that was talking about Twitter's exposed attempt to censor Unplanned by removing the ability to follow it from over a hundred thousand people who had already followed it. Several times. Among the thousands affected were actress Patricia Heaton, activist Lila Rose, and the Daily Wire.

Curious of such behavior, I looked up the trailer: Unplanned.

Now that I knew what it was about, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and Showtimes.com to see what was being said.

What I found at Showtimes.com was sadly familiar. I witnessed the same effect that Larry Taunton had endured, regarding the book about his friendship with the late Christopher Hitchens. See that here: A revealing dichotomy.

As of April 12, 2019, the 264 Showtimes.com reviews for Unplanned (added to this page one day after the original essay was uploaded) were divided up as follows:
5 stars: 87.20%
4 stars: 00.27%
3 stars: 00.00%
2 stars: 00.53%
1 star:   12.00%

See for yourself. I took a screenshot just in case the page gets lost at some point:
Showtimes.com Unplanned reviews.

Notice something interesting? As one would expect, there are no 3 star reviews on a subject this polarizing. The 4 and 2 star reviews are so minimal, they're insignificant. And so, of course, all that's left are the 5 and 1 star reviews, which effectively reflects the divisive nature of the subject.

I encourage you to look at the reviews yourself, but to save you time, I'll sum up the difference. The five star reviews are various levels of praise regarding the acting, the handling of the subject, the importance of the movie, the ugly truth it displays regarding genuine experience, gratitude that the movie was made, gratitude that the theater had decided to show it, the message of forgiveness and redemption... the list goes on.

The one star reviews, however, are chalk full of inadequate criticisms that smell strongly of political bias, and the word "propaganda" was used liberally. Some were long, but most of them were short and glib, negative comments with no thoughtful commentary to support them, which suggests they hadn't even watched the movie.

The movie itself?

I, a grown man who celebrates his masculinity, was brought to tears several times.

All the negative accusations you may have heard or assumed are incorrect. The Planned Parenthood characters were not demonized, nor were they simplified. The Christian protesters were not all gracious and kind. One of the first protesters you encounter is a man in sunglasses, holding a Bible, saying mean things to a patient, such as suggesting she should learn to keep her legs shut.

In this way, the movie already pushes aside viewer inclination to cling to whatever stereotypes he or she wishes to believe. Abby Johnson's journey is not one-dimensional, fanatical, nor judgmental. She is, as are most of the people who work at the clinic, just trying to do her best to do the right thing by the women who come through the doors. One of them, in one scene, even says she believes she's doing God's work by facilitating abortion.

Where the whole thing goes awry is the moment that the clinic director (after eight years working at the clinic in non-medical capacities) is asked to help with a 13-week abortion, and via ultrasound witnesses the baby desperately contorting to escape the suction tube before it gets sucked into the medical waste bin.

There are those who, on principal alone, will say the movie is garbage and propaganda. They will say it falsely represents what actually happens in the Planned Parenthood clinics. They will say it is unrealistic. They might even use the handy chestnut that no movies from Pure Flix are worth watching.

Harbor no illusion. This movie stands as a testimony to the painful truths surrounding the deliberate ending of life that grows inside. It doesn't use cheap shots at pro-choice people, it doesn't attempt to shame those who have had abortions, it doesn't even fling Bible or Jesus references at the viewer.

All it does is reproduce the events that led to a clinic director of Planned Parenthood deciding that she not only couldn't be a part of it anymore, but that furthermore her life would be better served attempting to save others from making the decisions she made that haunt her, despite God's forgiveness. It's a tragic and devastating moral dilemma to look back and admit to yourself that you were instrumental to the taking of 22,000 innocent lives.

Will the movie change anyone's mind? I think if someone is on the fence, it will certainly sway her away from aborting her own babies. But sadly, the whole reason why there is a debate in the first place isn't because there are two ways to look at the subject.

The debate exists because often, but not always, convenience is more attractive than conscience.



Wednesday, April 3, 2019

"Moments From A Sidewalk"

Just finished the movie (it's on Amazon Prime). It was written and directed by Silvia Kovatchev and starred Anna Rizzo.

Let's hit the checklist:

----

Indie movie?  Check.

Ultra low budget?  Check.

Rare silent film acting by Rizzo?  Check.

Rizzo excellent at voiceless emotion? Double Check.

Rizzo effectively manages to convey a remarkably heart-breaking moment with, of all things, operatic vocals?  Triple Check!

Watchable, half-way decent acting by most of unknown cast?  Check.

A few moments of amusing, cringe-worthy acting by one actor?  Check.

A simple, unapologetic, moving story?  Check.

Slow, slow pacing?  Double Check.

Compelling to watch, regardless of said slow pacing?  Check.

End scene worth 83 minutes?  Check-a-Rama!

----

I watched the end scene several times. 'Nuff said.




Wednesday, February 13, 2019

More Lies From Greed Hastings

If you recall, there was one fateful summer when (G)Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, pulled a couple of scams on his cash cow customers in 2011.

First, he raised prices for customers across the board an outrageous 66%.

Then, he foisted a new DVD-only service called Trickster (oops, I meant "Qwikster") onto his new and existing customer base, forcing them to have two separate accounts if they had both streaming and DVD services from Netflix.

Both of these avarice-laden ideas hit the fan and drove the Netflix trading prices way down, and ignited a firestorm of invective on the Internet as Netflix users reacted exactly the way Hastings should have expected.

He released commentary that he believed justified the drastic price hike, but no one was buying it. His company was already in the black financially, so it just seemed like a Greed-y move to all the people who were expected to pony up a lot more dough.

Common sense would dictate that a CEO who actually cared about his customer base would have made concessions, but no. The price hike remained until the next one in 2014. The ill-fated Qwikster was abandoned after a month, but Hastings got what he wanted in the first place: a segregated user experience.

Which is to say, you only needed one account to have both streaming and DVD, but lo and behold, you could no longer look at streaming video information if you only had the DVD service, and vice versa. This of course would nudge people toward doubling their monthly payments in the interest of being able to see the reviews for all movies in the Netflix universe, both streaming and DVD.

The truth of the matter in 2011 is that the price hike was due to Starz announcing their decision to take away all their content from Netflix starting in February 2012. It was a lot of content, leaving a gaping hole in Netflix offerings. Add to that Disney's decision to start their own streaming service, and Netflix was facing a leaner period as it negotiated new contracts with additional production companies.

In keeping with Greed Hastings's historical modus operandi, he's stuck it to his customers again, this time with the review feature.

Since anyone can remember, Netflix included the very handy ability for customers to write reviews on movies they've watched. While some viewers' bias would produce unhelpful one or five star reviews, most people were thoughtful with their ratings and comments, which meant the system was an extremely useful way to vet what you wanted on your movie queue list.

I'll go so far as to say that it was an essential tool for most Netflix users, because there are so many movies available, you have to have a way to avoid the dross in order to prevent time loss on a crappy movie.

This time around Greed began his sweeping change with small increments that he hoped would cover the real reason he removed the entire rating system.

He began by yanking out the star rating system, but leaving the ability to write reviews. This was of course unacceptable to almost all Netflix users, who used the rating system to sort their movie queues. This was step one.

After a lot of flack, Greed put the star system back. But just like "The New Coke," Hastings was merely paving the way toward his ultimate goal.

Step two was his introduction of the lame thumbs up/thumbs down system, which was supposed to replace reviews by "simplifying the process."

Then finally, step three was his original plan: completely rip the entire rating/comment system out of Netflix, which happened last year.

Now... here's the important part of this essay:

Greed's official explanation for removing the rating/review system was "declining use."

If you poll any group of long time Netflix users, you'll find that his explanation is a complete and utter lie.

This begs the question: then why did Greed Hastings risk angering his customer base by instituting such a drastic change in useful features?

That's an easy one, but you'll never hear Greed nor anyone in Netflix admit it:

Netflix does not generate revenue by member fees alone. They also have arrangements with production companies that agree to have their movies streamed on Netflix. I of course wouldn't be privy to specific details in any of those contracts, but I can guarantee you that just like the radio, the production companies' bottom lines are affected by how many times a movie of theirs is streamed.

As I recall, and forgive the anecdotal quality of this recollection, but about two years or so before Greed tore the review features to pieces, I noticed there were a lot more crap movies being released than previously. There was always crap, there will always be crap, but there was noticeably more crap than usual back then.

So do the math. Crap movies meant crap reviews, crap reviews meant less views, less views meant lower payments to the production companies. This of course pissed off the production companies, who told Greed if he didn't do something about it, they'd just take their movies and hand them to a service that did a better job promoting them.

Now it's all starting to make sense, no?

Back to the present.

Greed's attempt to cover for his blatant disregard for user experience was to institute the lame binary thumbs up/thumbs down system.

But get this: you can't actually see the amount of thumbs up or down for any movie, like you can on a YouTube video; instead, you're supposed to trust that Greed's algorithms are going to accurately pick out new movies for you to watch, allegedly based on your preferences.

Could it be that new movies suggested for you with this new system are slightly tainted by including some crap movies from complaining production companies?

Nah. Greed Hastings wouldn't do anything like that, right?



Thursday, February 7, 2019

Resistance? To What?

The President gave the State of the Union address two nights ago. There are those who deliberately refused to watch. They prefer to hate Trump rather than embrace the greatness that our president has been trying to restore to our country.

As with any State of the Union, milestones achieved and goals for the future were enumerated by the President. As usual, the party aligned with the President stood and clapped often. The party opposed were less enthusiastic, which is also to be expected.

Unfortunately, during a speech that greatly comforted and inspired those who love the United States, there was something about the event that made me sad.

Please observe this tiny video portion of the address: peaceful protest?

If one takes the time to view the entire address, he or she will find numerous additional examples of this sort of stubborn resistance. To be fair, when Trump proudly mentioned the fact that the current Congress has more women than at any time in history, the women in white who were previously sitting in protest stood up and not only clapped, they briefly chanted "USA, USA" in a rare moment of shared humor.

But for the most part, many of the Democrats were non-supportive. In a free society, why is that behavior worthy of note? Because the very people who claim that Trump is Hitler are ironically not interested in compromise or unity; their sour expressions and eye-rolling bear out this fact.

The hypocrisy regarding this phenomenon is obvious: if the inspiring words from President Trump during the address were instead emanating from the mouth of Barack Obama, the same people would be leaping to their feet and cheering.

What's the difference? There is no confusion over why they resist: they hate Trump and anything associated with him. But why do they hate him?

This bottomless hatred is particularly insidious due to Trump's amazing list of accomplishments during his first two years as president. All you fact checkers looking to discredit Trump are welcome to attempt debunking the list I put together at the bottom of this essay, but you'll be wasting your time. For those who publicly claim Trump hasn't done anything of worth, get ready to eat your words.

All the accomplishments on the list were realized while a non-stop barrage of slander and hatred has poured in from the "hate Trump" media and the more Left-ian members of the Democratic party.

What inspiration does the Resistance provide? Let's recap...

Smear campaigns directed at someone of impeccable reputation (Kavanaugh) for the sole purpose of preventing a conservative Supreme Court, casting Trump as a racist dictator in order to maintain open borders, a bizarre misplaced desire to dismantle the proven effectiveness of ICE in deporting dangerous criminals, support for late-term abortions and the sanctioned murder of post-delivery infant human beings, retaining ObamaCare with all its frustrating failings, a return to higher taxes for the middle class... and the Resistance's greatest contribution to the divisive stature of our country: endless investigations into the president, a theatrical exercise in futility that's meant to characterize Trump as evil, without any actual proof of wrongdoing.

If Trump's accomplishments were attributed to any other president, that president would have already gone down in history as one of our greatest leaders. But no; Trump is instead hated for rude tweets, arrogance, unapologetic wealth, unwillingness to stay silent when attacked, deliberately misunderstood jokes, calling out violent criminals as animals, and promises to pay the legal fees for anyone who bounces paid troublemakers out the door during his rallies.

I once had an aha moment years ago: my own ignorance generated surprise when I found out the president I didn't like (Clinton) had done the impossible and balanced the national budget. While my perception of his character is still not all that stellar, I can nevertheless be honest and admit he accomplished at least one great thing worthy of praise. I also knew better than to attempt attributing it to the previous administration's residual effects.

Voters are supposed to be adults; high school is a long time ago for most of us. This isn't the student body president we're talking about. In high school, smear campaigns can be a very effective method of installing a preferred candidate. One look at the past two and half years of media coverage is far too reminiscent of those less-than-commendable days of youth.

Putting aside animosity and giving someone credit where it is due is the correct thing to do. Lack of forgiveness does no one any good and provides no justice. I have spent hours at times, trying to wrap my mind around the reality that someone who is doing so much good for our country is so hated. I may never understand why they hate Trump so much, but perhaps it's best I don't. Ingratitude of that magnitude should be left in the dark.




LIST OF DONALD J. TRUMP'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN TWO YEARS:
(note: there are literally so many things Trump has accomplished in his first two years with a Republican Congress, I had to eventually stop compiling them because it was taking me way too many hours to find them and categorize them.)


LABOR:
------
More people are working now than in the entire history of the country: 157 million.

Black, Hispanic and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels EVER recorded.

More women in the workforce than ever before.

More women serving in Congress than at any time in history.

Created 5.3 million new jobs. That's over five MILLION.

Added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs, despite opposing claims that it could never be done.

Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century.

337,000 construction jobs have been created since President Trump took office, and construction employment stands at its highest level since June 2008.

Fourteen states reached record low unemployment rates.

Job openings have reached 6.6 million, the highest level recorded. This competition should drive wage growth.

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is running at the lowest level in 45 years.

13,000 jobs being created in WI - largest job announcement in WI history (Foxconn).

Some states are experiencing their lowest unemployment rates in their histories.

Trump Announces $200 Million in Apprenticeship Funding.

Jobless claims lowest level since 1969 (50 years).

Encouraged country to 'Buy American and hire American.'

Food stamp use lowest level in 8 years. Nearly five million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.

Stopped companies from moving out of America.

Convinced many manufacturers to return to the United States, thus generating more jobs and wealth at home instead of abroad.

Unemployment for all demographics lowest since May 2007.

Provided businesses with incentives to create American Jobs.

Maine unemployment at 32 year low. The State dept of unemployment forced to layoff people because of lack of claims.

He created more than a million jobs by undoing Obama’s regulations.

Trump Signs Order Calling for Work Requirements for Welfare Programs

Youth Unemployment Hits 52 Year Low.

RECORD Number of Employed - 63 Percent labor participation.

Unemployment claims have fallen to a 45-year low.

WIC Welfare Participation Hits 17-Year Low.

Food Stamp Usage Has Fallen Every Month Under Trump.

Donald Trump Ends Obama Effort to Waive Work Requirements for Welfare.



ECONOMY:
--------
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the first major tax reform signed in 30 years.

Federal revenues are increasing as the economy grows. April 2018 had a record surplus of $214 billion.

Over 500 companies (507) have announced bonuses, wage increases, and new investments.

Businesses have invested $482 billion in new, American projects and employees.

More than 4.8 million workers received increased wages or bonuses (3.7% of all private workers).

Provided $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to individuals.

American families received $3.2 trillion in gross tax cuts and saw the child tax credit double.

A family of four making $73,000 will get a cut of over $2,000-cutting their taxes in half.

Nearly doubled the standard deduction.

Trump Decreases Debt to GDP Ratio - First Time in Over 50 Years!

$78 Billion promised reinvestment from major businesses like Intel, AMD, Exxon, Bayer, Apple, Ford, SoftBank and Toyota.

The Stock Market reached an all-time high several times.

Median household income at a 7 year high.

Mortgage applications for new homes rose to a 7 year high.

Consumer confidence at 18-year high.

Gas prices lowest in more than 12 years.

Proposed a $1 Trillion infrastructure project.

OPEC broken can no longer set prices due to USA energy production unleashed.

Secured $50 billion investment from Japan.

Secured $20 billion investment from Exxon in Gulf coast.

Federal debt is $130,455,438,424.64 LOWER since Dec 30th 2016.

Federal surplus was $182 billion at end of April 2018.

Food Stamp spending is down almost $1 billion per month and $12 billion per year.

Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 57.8 last month from 54.9 in May. Anything above 50 signals that factory activity is increasing.

15 of 18 manufacturing industries posted growth in JUNE 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics for fiscal year 2017 show that food stamp enrollment decreased nationwide by 2.9 percent over the past year.

Gutted 800 Obama era regulations (saving over $200 billion) thus freeing up companies to hire again and get the economy moving once again.

Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Reform - 20% Corporate rate - Largest in 31 Years.

U.S. Small Business Administration opens assistance center.

Highest Ever Manufacturer Optimism All-Time High - 94.6%.

Middle Class income rises to HIGHEST on record.

Black Business Ownership Under Trump JUMPS 400 PERCENT in ONE YEAR.

Business Investments up 39 Percent Due to Tax Cuts.

April 2018 Best Month in HISTORY for Budget according to Congressional Budget Office.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Is at 17-Year High.

Apple to Invest $350 BILLION in US citing Trump Tax Plan.

Utilities cutting rates, cite benefits of Trump tax reform.

Over 100 companies giving 'Trump Bonuses' after tax victory.

U.S. home sales hit 11-year high.

Mining up 28.6% - Leads the Nation in Growth.

Broadcom will move back to U.S. — and bring tax money with it.

U.S. Factories Expanding at 13 Year high.

Dow posting first eight-quarter winning streak in 20 years.

Home builder confidence at 12-year high.

Manufacturer confidence at a 20-year high.

Tech giants pledge millions to Trump initiative.

Federal Reserve: Household Wealth in America at record high of $1.7 trillion - Rising property values and Financial gain.

Surging stock market powers U.S. wealth to $96.2 trillion.

Pennsylvania coal company to open a SECOND coal mine.

In Trump era, American corporations are seeing their best earnings in 13 years.

CEO confidence highest since 2014.

US Manufacturing Index at a 33-year high.

Coal Miners are WINNING. Cut Regulations/Create Jobs/New Plants.

USA's small business confidence is spurring a hiring and spending spree.

US Economic Confidence Surges To Highest Level Ever Recorded By Gallup.



GOVERNMENT:
-----------
Trump donates his entire presidential salary to various causes.

Trump’s first-quarter salary donated to help fund the restoration of two projects at Antietam National Battlefield.

Trump donated salary to Veterans issues.

5-year lobbying ban introduced to shift Washington focus from foreign investors to American interests.

As of April 2017, Trump had signed twice as many bills into action as Obama did in the same time period.

Reduced White House expenses by $22 million by reducing staffing levels form Obama levels.

$89 Billion saved in regulation rollbacks.

$600 million cut from UN peacekeeping budget.

Reversed Dodd-Frank with the Financial CHOICE Act.

Pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord to prevent redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.

$700 million saved with F-35 renegotiation.

Dept. of Treasury reports a $182 billion surplus for April 2017 (2nd largest in history).

Repealed 14 Obama regulations with the Congressional Review Act, saving billions in costs to the economy Making agencies cut 2 regulations for each new one.

Signed executive order to promote energy.

Signed executive order to protect police officers.

Signed executive order to target drug cartels.

Signed executive order to protect religious freedom.

Signed executive order to return power regarding education to the states and the people.

Signed executive order to end unconstitutional Obamacare subsidies.

Submitted 2018 Budget that cuts spending and give a pathway to a balanced budget in 10 years.

Instituted permanent lobbying ban for foreign governments for all Executive branch appointees.

Did away with rules requiring the Federal government to report on the Y2K bug 17 years after 2000.

22 federal agency task force formed to help the rural America fight regulations and lack of prosperity.

Environmental Protection Agency has ended a nearly $1 million program that provided gym memberships for employees.

Trump signed the Religious Freedom executive order.

Denied FBI a new building.

Has already accomplished more to stop government interference into people's lives than any President in the history of America.

President Trump has worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Truman.

Has given head executive of each branches 6 month time frame, dated March 15, 2017, to trim the fat, restructure and improve efficiency of their branch.

Regulatory freeze on all federal governmental agencies.

Trump Shrinks Government by 16000 Jobs since elected.

Trump proposes biggest civil service change in 40 years - 'Hire the best and fire the worst'.

Trump Admin is a Deregulation Machine: Eliminating 22:1.

President Trump Declassifies and Releases JFK Files.

Eliminated 1200 man hours of wasteful paperwork requirements including Y2K preparedness.

Fired all 46 attorney generals hired by Obama.

Department of Justice halts Obama's Operation Chokepoint, Which Targeted Firearm Dealers.

Government spending as percentage of GDP down.



NATIONAL SECURITY:
------------------
Border wall construction underway.

Worked to reduce F-35 cost.

Fighting back against sanctuary cities.

The Supreme Court upheld part of Trump's temporary travel ban executive order.

Cut 1.6 billion costs from Air Force one and F-35 airplanes.

Trump signs $700 billion defense bill to upgrade our military armor, weaponry, air craft, ships, other vehicles, spare parts, etc., gives troops largest pay raise in 7 years.

Top 5 ISIS Leaders Captured.

Trump signs order to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open.

US kills 150 ISIS terrorists in Syria airstrike during government shutdown.

Pentagon Announces First-Ever Audit of the Department of Defense.

ISIS facing imminent collapse in Syria's Raqqa.

US-backed fighters 'seize 80% of Raqqa from Islamic State'.

US shares technology with India. Enlisting them to fight in Afghanistan.

'Annihilation Tactics' Being Used Against ISIS.

US, Gulf countries form new group: Terrorist Financing Targeting Center to stem flow of terror financing.

NATO weighs new 'Counter Terrorism Post' following Trump's demands.

ISIS leader 'admits DEFEAT in Iraq and orders militants to flee.



FEDERAL AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT:
----------------------------------
ICE arrests are 75% criminal illegals as of May.

Ice Arrests for non criminal illegals up 150% as of May due to sanctuary cities polices making Ice go to the home instead of the court houses.

Authorized DHS to hire 10,000 ICE officers & 5,000 border patrol agents.

ICE crackdown scaring some families back to Mexico.

ICE raid hits 77 businesses in Northern California.

ICE has conducted a MASSIVE raid on sanctuary cities this week - 498 illegal immigrants arrested.

ICE raids targeting families net 650 arrests.

17 Texas sheriffs approved to partner w/ICE.

ICE chief wants smuggling charges on leaders of sanctuary cities.

Due to ICE, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from human trafficking.

Due to ICE, more than 1500 sadistic traffickers have been deported or put behind bars.

The First Step Act, groundbreaking bipartisan criminal justice reform.

Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids.

Signed sweeping new criminal justice legislation into law.

Created Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office.

Created task force to reduce crime.

Department of Justice targeting MS-13.

Created Commission on Opioid Addiction.

Nominated and confirmed two highly qualified Supreme Court Justices.

Confirmed dozens of federal judges.

Created a commission on child trafficking.

Created a commission on voter fraud.

Created a commission for opioids addiction.

Created an office for illegal immigrant crime victims.

Giving power to states to drug test unemployment recipients.

Signed order to stop crime against law enforcement.

More than 1400 gang members have been arrested by ICE.

This year the U.S. has already deported 398 MS-13 gang members back to El Salvador – compared to only 534 for all of 2016.

6,000 MS-13 gang members arrested in first 5 months.

66,000 mostly criminal illegals arrested by ICE in first 5 months.

Authorities have arrested an unprecedented number of sexual predators involved in child sex trafficking rings in the United States and around the world.

DOJ issues new sentencing guideline to enforce tougher laws on drug dealers.

DOJ stops Obama’s slush funds.

Massive raids on gangs going on across the nation.

More arrests for voter fraud in 2017 then anytime in recent history.

DOJ and DHS ordered to take on transnational criminal gangs.

Signed order for No Tolerance For Violence against Law Enforcement Officers.

Fired FBI director.

Nominated Wray for FBI director.

Nominated 21 conservative judges to the federal court.

Operation Broken Heart lead by the DOJ arrested over 1,012 sexual child predators across the nation bringing 69,000 cases against them.

AG Sessions asked for an extra $26 million to hire 300 prosecutors devoted to gang violence and deportation cases.

DOJ drops case against the Washington Redskins - the era of Political Correctness is over.

More than 1,000 arrests in sex trafficking operation.

Justice Department announces take-down of AlphaBay, the largest dark web market.

Trump signs bills that helps Veterans and Police officers by giving them Priority and Training.

Raids to target teenaged suspected gang members.

Deportations in LA are up 60% alone.

80% jump in illegal targets.

No Sanctuary For Criminals Act - deny federal grants to sanctuary cities - Passed House and Senate.

Kate's Law - harsher penalties for previously deported criminals - Passed House and Senate.

Unshackling ICE - told that they can take action against ALL illegal immigrants - increasing presence in sanctuary cities.



FOREIGN POLICY:
---------------
Trump Declares Jerusalem the Capital of Israel.

The U.S. Embassy in Israel was relocated to Jerusalem, something many presidents promised but never achieved.

Restarted peace process between Israel and PLO.

The PLO has stopped the payments to terrorists families. Major change in PLO policy.

Working with China on North Korea.

Improved relations between North Korea and the United States.

Trump Negotiates Peace between North and South Korea.

North Korea is no longer firing rockets over Japanese airspace.

Trump secures release of American Prisoners from North Korea.

Trump has our soldiers remains returned home from Korean War.

59 missiles dropped in Syria in response to human rights violations (chemical weapons attack).

Changed rules of engagement against ISIS. Drafted plan to defeat ISIS.

ISIS is on the run, with 98% of their misappropriated lands returned to the indigenous people of previously ISIS controlled areas.

Mosul has fallen. ISIS no longer controls the city.

Dropped the MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) on ISIS killing more than 90 ISIS fighters.

NATO allies boost spending by 4.3% lowering costs to US paying their fair share.

Secured a 34,000 Arab force to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Killed the ISIS commander in Afghanistan and reduced their strength by 2/3rd in Afghanistan.

Sent 3 carrier battle groups to North Korea to pressure them on nuclear program, installed THADD in South Korea and Japan.

Sent Navy to south China Sea to secure sea lines.

Got the G7 countries to agree that a nation has a right to control migration and immigration.

Had G7 countries agree North Korea was a threat.

Had G7 nations agree that Trade should be FAIR as well as FREE and that nations can punish non fair trade.

Had G7 countries agree that refugees should stay as close as possible to home country and be returned when the threat is gone.

Had NATO agree to pay more and got more countries to pay their fair share of defense pact.

Have met with more than 100 of the world leaders many at the White House.

Trump Blocks Chinese Purchase of Qualcomm due to National Security.

Trump Blocks China from buying Semi-Conductor company, Lattice.

Trump orders probe of China's intellectual property practices.

Signed executive order to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership thus keeping jobs here.

Many hostages are now home where they belong.

Remains of soldiers from the 1950's have been returned to their families here in the United States.

Negotiated the release of 6 US humanitarian workers held captive in Egypt.

Trump State department secured the release of American citizen Otto Warmbeir from North Korea without paying $400 million ransom.

Trump admin secured the release of American citizen, Aya Hijazifor, from Egypt Jail without paying $400 million ransom.

President Trump secures release of Pastor Brunson from Turkey.

New trade restrictions on China for unfair trade practices.

A series of sanctions against Russia to keep them in check.

Pulled us out of the lopsided Paris Climate Accord thus saving us millions of dollars every year.

Sanctioned Iran over missile program.

Would not certify the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Successful diplomatic trip to Asia.

Signed trade deal with China.

Travel BAN upheld by SCOTUS by 9-0 ruling. Extreme vetting will now become law of the land.

Travel BAN in full effect across the world.

Opening of center to defeat radical Islam in cyberspace during Saudi Arabia visit.

Gave powerful speech in the heart of Islam about the need to reform Islam and drive out the radicals.

Got the Arab nations to cut ties to Qatar for funding terrorists.

Massive historic shift in diplomatic actions in the Muslim world.

Started the assault on Raqqa in Syria to defeat ISIS on June 6th 2017.

Got Romania to up it’s NATO funding to 2.1% of GDP.

Has the Special Forces helping relieve siege in Philippines.

Rolled back Obama’s Cuban policy.

Canada promised to increase defense spending by 70%.

A direct consequence of Trump’s trip to the middle east: Gulf Countries sent Qatar a list of demands to defund terrorism, reject the Muslim brother hood so Qatar can return to the fold,  Qatar has since rejected these demands setting a possible military conflict.

In 2017, NATO countries (excluding the US) increase defense spending by 4.3% from 2016.

Imposed Sanctions on major China Bank for it’s funding of North Korea and has declared the admin will work to cut North Korea off from access to the US financial market.

Approved a $1.42 billion arms deal with Taiwan.

Reached out by Twitter to offer help to save baby Charlie Gard.

The US ambassador to the UN threatens China and other countries who trade with North Korea with blockage from the USA market.

Pres Trump increases the threat to use of trade access to the US market to stop North Korea setting up a potential for a trade war with China.

Sanctioned Iran over its’ missile program.

US Cuts 300 Million In Aid To Pakistan.

Trump Cut Off 200 Million in Aid to Palestinians.

Trump ends 230 Million Dollar Rebuilding Payments to Syria.

Trump Shuts Down CIA funding of Syrian Rebels.

Iran Deal: DECERTIFIED.

Four Months into 2018, Refugee Admissions Plunge to Lowest Level in 15 Years.

US Suspends $2 BILLION in security assistance to Pakistan.

Global Magnitsky Act Signed: Targeting Global Corruption and Human Rights Abuse.

North Korea Designated as 'State Sponsor of Terrorism.'

US and Israel withdraw from UNESCO citing "anti-Israel bias."

Fewest Monthly Refugee Arrivals in August Since 2002.

Trump to stop travel from countries that refuse to help Homeland Security.

America has withdrawn almost $300 million in foreign aid to Egypt.

1000s of jobs being created through pact with Saudi Arabia.

Trump Signs Korean Trade Deal.

New memorandum to protect American IPs from China - Potentially save Billions of dollars and millions in jobs.

Coal exports up 60%.

China opens rice market for US exports for first time ever.



TRADE:
------
Negotiated new trade deals with Canada and Mexico that benefit the United States (USMCA), and dumped the disastrous NAFTA.

Withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership thus keeping jobs here.

$350+ billion deal with Saudi Arabia ($110 billion in arms $250 billion in trade/investment) creating 100,000’s of jobs in both countries.

Pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord thus saving us millions of dollars every year.

China Trade deal opening up U.S. beef exports and Liquefied Natural Gas exports as well.

Renegotiated South Korean-U.S. trade deal.

Trump signs tariff order on aluminum and steel.

Trump Slaps 30% Tariffs on Solar Panels imported from China.

U.S. Trade Deficit falls to 11-month low.

Crude Oil Shipment to India Highlights Expanding Energy Partnership.

Crude oil shipment from Texas opens new vistas in India-U.S. ties.

Argentina agrees to allow first U.S. pork imports in 25 years.

U.S. makes final finding rebar exports from Taiwan.

United States and Mexico finalize sugar trade deal.

First U.S. Natural Gas Shipped to Poland.

Increased tariffs on Canadian lumber by 20% (worth $1 billion).

China buys more U.S. coal, sends North Korea.

More than $2 billion in fines on China and Canada for illegal trade practices.

Trump orders a study on abuses of U.S. trade agreements – WTO.

Increased tariffs on Canadian lumber by 20% (worth $1 billion).



IMMIGRATION:
------------
Illegal immigration is now down 70% (the lowest in 17 years).

Rescinded Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans executive order.

Rescinded Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order.

Secured funding for more immigration judges for deportation cases in 2017 budget.

Ended "catch and release” policy.

70%+ decrease in border crossings of illegal aliens in JAN,FEB,MAR,APR) 64% down in MAY 2017.

No Cuban refugees seen by Coast Guard in Apr first time in 7 years.

6ft chain linked fences being replaced by 20ft hardened steel fencing at border.

Texas has passed a law outlawing sanctuary cities.

Foods stamp requests by illegal aliens DOWN.

The Trump administration has moved to reopen the cases of hundreds of illegal immigrants who had been given a reprieve from deportation by Obama.

Travel ban executive order cut refugees to 50,000.

Refugees dropped by half entering the USA in first three months of Pres Trump’s admin over Obama’s admin.

Kate’s Law passed the House.

No Sanctuary Cities Law Passed the House.

Illegal immigrant arrests in San Diego, Ca have more than doubled from 2016 and 2015 figures per the San Diego Union Tribune.

In a reversal of Obama administration policy, federal prosecutors with Operation Streamline are filing criminal charges against migrants the first time they are caught crossing the border illegally.

Refugee Arrivals Plummet in Week After Supreme Court Ruling on Trump Executive Order.

Trump DOJ Sues California For Interference With Immigration Enforcement.

End of Year Report: Deportations up 40% - Historically Low Crossings.

Creating thousands of more jobs for immigration officers and border patrol.

Trump has updated his travel ban, includes these 8 countries - Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia - NO EXPIRATION DATE.

Crossing The Border Illegally Is Harder Than It’s Been In 50 Years.

$1.6 billion down payment to start building the wall.

Trump cuts off visas for countries that refuse deported immigrants.

Number of refugees taken in is down 50%.



ENVIRONMENT:
------------
Trump’s EPA To Repeal Obama’s ‘Waters Of The US’ Rule.

President Trump's executive order will undo Obama's Clean Power Plan rule.



ENERGY:
-------
We are now energy independent and the worlds largest producer of oil and natural gas.

Opening up Liquefied Natural Gas centers to ship Liquefied Natural Gas across the world.

Ended the war on coal. Rollback of A Regulation in order to boost clean coal production, WV economy boosted by at least 3%.

Signed An Executive Order To Promote Energy Independence and Economic Growth.

Coal for Central Appalachian coal has increased 8.95% this year. Increasing the economy for SE OH, SW PA, VA, MD and WVA.

North Dakota experiencing a boom since Dakota access pipeline finished (500,000 Barrels now flowing through pipeline per day).

Coal mining rose 19% in USA for first 5 months per US energy Department.

USA is the world leader in natural gas production.

Energy Department eliminating the Office of International Climate and Technology.

Signed agreement to construct oil pipeline into Mexico.

Introduced 6 point plan to unleash American energy (off shore, Nuclear, coal, NG,Oil, renewable).



HEALTH CARE:
------------
Trump signs Right to Try drug bill, allowing terminal patients to try experimental treatments.

Individual Mandate of Obamacare REPEALED.

Trump Signs Healthcare Order, Expands Choice and Access through associations.

400 medical professionals charged in largest health care fraud take-down.

Trump Signs Healthcare Order, Expands Choice and Access through associations.



INFRASTRUCTURE:
---------------
Sweeping new farm bill that provides much needed funding for farmers and ranchers, who were previously betrayed by government non-intervention while farms were being financially overburdened.

Keystone pipeline approved and signed creating thousands of new jobs expediting supply of crude to refineries or processing facilities.

Opened up oil and natural gas expansion, approving new pipelines.

Authorized construction of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines. The Dakota pipeline is up and running without harming the environment.

Repealed DOT ruling which would have taken power away from local governments for infrastructure planning.

Saw the opening of the first NEW COAL MINE IN PA in YEARS creating 70 jobs at the mine and more than 400+ supporting jobs in the community.

Ended the war on coal and caused a new mine for coal mining to open that will mine clean coal. Also put the miners back to work.

Trump Administration Set to Roll Back $900 Million in Obama-Era Offshore Drilling Regulations.

Trump Signs Order Rolling Back Environmental Rules on Infrastructure.

U.S. Oil Production Tops 10 Million Barrels A Day, First Time Since 1970.



TECHNOLOGY:
-----------
President Trump Signs executive order Reviving The National Space Council.

Returned the mission of NASA to space exploration.

Climate Change REMOVED from 'Threat List'.

New Space Policy Directive Calls for Human Expansion Across Solar System.

Trump administration abandons the Obama-era clean power plan aimed at reducing global warming.

Executive Order on the Establishment of the American Technology Council.



EDUCATION:
----------
School Choice tops the list of Priorities U.S. Education Department Grants.

Signed executive order to reshape the education system of the USA to include vocation technical programs and apprenticeships.



VETERANS:
---------
Signed a bill to allow veterans to choose their own private doctors.

After four decades of rejection, passed Veteran's Administration accountability and whistle-blower protection to terminate bad employees yet expediting a variety of medical services to our vets.

VA announces Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences Act.

Trump Signs Bill to Streamline VA Disability Claims Appeals Process.

Trump signs ‘Forever GI Bill,’ boosting aid to student vets.

Trump Administration Streamlines Veteran Medical Records.

White House to launch veterans' complaint hotline.



HUMANITARIAN:
-------------
Signed the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.

Historic Black College University initiative.

Returned power to make decisions on “transgender bathrooms” to states.

Trump Nominates First Woman for Head of CIA.

Trump: 'We are stopping cold the attacks on Judaeo-Christian values'.

The Department of Health and Human Services to Rescind Birth Control Mandate in Obamacare.

The Department of Health and Human Services defines life as beginning at conception.

Banned aid helping foreign countries provide abortions (Mexico City Policy).

US signs proclamation against Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting.

Trump has signed a $15 billion relief package for Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Signed a resolution encouraging women in entrepreneurship and STEM.

Trump secures 2026 World Cup for the USA.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

False Equivalence

The Left thrives on false equivalencies. More accurately, they depend on them.

Racism is, oddly enough, one of the biggest hot buttons in 2019 in the United States. What is racism?

The topic is so volatile that no definition can even be agreed upon by all. An individual venturing to define racism these days must be first passed through the skin color filter - an act of racism itself.

Who is qualified to define racism? Apparently not the usual sources, such as the dictionary. To be 'allowed' to comment on racism, you must be of the particular skin color or colors that the listener deems qualified for the subject.

Subcultures come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak. Urban subculture, suburban subculture, gay subculture, straight subculture, gaming subculture, sports subculture, left-brain subculture, right-brain subculture, religious subculture, atheist subculture, etc. The list is quite exhaustive upon reflection.

What if a person is ambivalent about a particular subculture? Is this equivalent to hatred of the subculture, or does it simply indicate a disinterest in adding it to one's life experience, such as declining to sky dive or eat caviar?

Racism is only one of many controversial topics that starkly polarize everyone in the room. Why is it that the greatest percentage (by far) of what streams over mainstream media is fraught with these agitating issues?

The Left needs you to get angry about something. Anything. The Left will only relent when they think they've achieved their Utopian dream of socialist hand holding. The timeless strategy of Divide and Conquer is alive and well, and currently being practiced by those who would tear down our country to allegedly rebuild it with another ideology.

Recorded human history speaks volumes about the 100% failure rate of socialist governments. Unfortunately, the 'evolved' thinkers of the 21st century believe they are smarter than their predecessors who paid for their mistakes with the blood of countless others under their authority.

Ambivalence is not equal to racism, it just means you're not interested. And that's perfectly okay in a world where people are still free to pursue their own happiness within whatever subcultures they naturally gravitate toward.



The Considerable Power of Fantasy Land

One of the more popular objections to believing in the existence of God or heaven is the accusation that they are simply fantasies that frightened people cling to because the finality of death is too much for them to handle.

God and heaven as fantasies can be argued, but can't be refuted in a lab, so to speak. It is true, given the parameters associated with the issue, that you can't actually prove that God or heaven exist. On the flip side, you can't prove that God and heaven do not exist, because in general you can't prove a negative. That of course doesn't logically prove the opposite.

True or not, belief in God is a strong motivator that shows no signs of disappearing anytime in our world.

In the same way, the Left's fantasy about human nature is just as powerful and present: things would be better if the whole world would just give in to their true natures and hold hands while singing Kumbaya.

Are these two 'fantasies' analogous? Let's take a look.

In the case of God and heaven, the argument becomes an exercise of speculation without any means of physical experience or scrutiny.

In the case of human nature, there is a minor controversy about how many years of peace the human race has experienced in the last 3,400 years. Some experts say just under 300 years, some say zero years (no years without war somewhere). The point being that human nature is demonstrably incorrigible when it comes to hatred and violence.

So the two fantasies aren't quite equivalent.

In the interest of potential edification, let's look at another angle.

With the God fantasy, in particular with Judao-Christians, what are the positive and negative results, in general?

Positive: charitable contributions that amounted to $114.68 billion dollars in 2014 alone (32% of total reported), programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, outreach programs, lunch programs, recreational programs, missions, missionaries, and a personal call to a life that consists of more altruistic goals than self gratification.

Negative: The Crusades, The Salem witch trials, rare individuals suffering from mental delusions that find momentary infamy via news media.

With the human-is-basically-good fantasy, what are the positive and negative?

Positive: an expectation that humans, when left to their own devices without negative environmental factors, will always do the right thing.

Negative: the frustrating disappointment of human beings making the wrong decisions regarding others on a depressingly predictable basis.

Quoting the staggering death counts from secular wars, even from just the 20th century, is now so familiar it isn't worth repeating here.

What's the point of this essay?

The wall that Trump and his constituents want to finish is a layer of security against the malevolent forces in the world that defy the Left's fantasy of a world group hug.

The historical data supporting some form of non-violent border defense is neither hidden nor disputed. To reject it out of principle is an effective indicator that the Left's Fantasy Land is far more dangerous than any "God Delusion."



Imaginary Boogiemen Laughed At By Polar Vortex

The late, great Richard P. Feynman said:

"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."

Apparently, a large portion of the scientific community does not agree with Feynman on this point, as witnessed by several popular theories that continue to hold sway in the public's imagination, such as macroevolution and the multiverse.

An elegant theory is wonderful, but if you can't test it, then it belongs in the philosophy section of the bookstore, not in school textbooks.

At my place of employment, we used to use paper and plastic bags. Recently the bag-shamers accomplished one of their pious goals and our store no longer provides plastic bags.

This development has generated two responses: some bark that "it's about time," while others are patiently shaking their heads because they used the plastic bags for their smaller trash cans around the house. It apparently never occurred to the bag-shamer bullies that people are simply going to purchase the unreasonably maligned plastic bags at a department store, as no one wants to place garbage in paper bags for obvious reasons. So in effect, the bag-shamers accomplished nothing but additional virtue signalling to their fellow eco-warriors.

A lot of people are also genuinely paranoid about, and losing sleep over, global warming (I'm deliberately not using the more PR savvy name produced when the annual temperatures did not rise as quickly as we were warned they would). While past climate trends are indisputable by simply looking at the data from NOAA or NASA, it's already been clearly demonstrated that long term climate prediction models are useless, and they are only alarming when the data are 'massaged' by custom operands placed in convenient locations within predictive algorithms.

Add to that the fact global temperature trends for four thousand years have illustrated that unusually high temperature periods are always followed by unusually low temperature periods.

I often have tried to calm some of my more ecologically paranoid customers by referencing Feynman's speech "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."

The gist of Feynman's brilliant 1959 lecture is considered the holy grail of nanotechnology: the ability to convert any matter into any other matter at the atomic level. While in 2019, this seems like just more science fiction, we've all witnessed in our own lifetimes how the master gardener known as Time eventually gets around to harvesting unrealized technologies out of the soil of imagination and placing them on our plates.

How could Feynman's lecture possibly soothe a person having an ecological panic attack?

Because once the ability to convert matter is realized, it will usher in an end to all toxic waste, pollution and a few other sustainability problems.

Does this mean then, with this knowledge of our future, we should just swagger forth and be irresponsible regarding the planet? Of course not, let's not be silly.

People who scoff at anti-plastic-straw legislation or climate prediction models that have us living in boats in 30 years, are not automatically apathetic about the environment. They are just not ready to follow each new righteous fad based on the negative prognostications of those who enjoy vilifying the 'animal' known as Man.

I know of no global warming critics who think we should abandon recycling or allow industries to pollute our environment without legal consequences. Those who think they are saving "Mother Earth" need to try some honesty and just admit they are afraid that they will not be able to assure their own futures on a planet that can get along quite well without us.

Alan Weisman's 2007 book "The World Without Us" explains in extensive detail how the world would eventually return to a paradise-like natural state and eliminate virtually all traces of us if we were all missing from the planet. And it wouldn't take millions of years, or hundreds of thousands. Try tens of thousands.

My point? We should be responsible about the planet, but honest at the same time. The Earth itself is not as fragile as Hollywood script writers would have you believe.

Mankind, on the other hand, hangs by a thread each and every day, and the responsibility for that predicament rests on all of us. This may sound dismissive, but reducing carbon dioxide emissions is one of the least of our problems. Murder, rape, sex slave trade and drug culture are much more urgent concerns than living on a planet that's a few degrees warmer and a few more feet underwater.



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Kingdom of Heaven

The discussion regarding the kingdom of heaven often doesn't even begin, because the currently sterilized way to view the world is that there is no life after death. If one is inclined to mention a belief in an afterlife, many around them may not say as much, but what they're often thinking is that the speaker is ignorant.

The layman, after decades of pummeling from academia and popular culture, is much more prone to doubt not only the existence of heaven, but even the existence of God himself.

Peer pressure does not end when you graduate high school. It continues unabated throughout life, and if you are iconoclastic regarding public opinion, you already know how it feels to be marginalized and ridiculed, or how to wisely remain silent.

The cliche of a "god-fearing" individual is so ubiquitous in 2019, one would certainly only be feigning ignorance to claim they don't recognize it. In movies, music and literature of the last 35 years, the depiction of faithful believers as ignorant, stupid, idiotic, fanatical, sexually repressed, sexually predatory, mentally ill, violent, even evil, is without question a common theme.

There have been and always will be those believers who are mentally ill, or simply lying to others and themselves about their salvation. But the statistical truth is that they are not proportionately represented if compared to non-believers suffering from the same delusions. For clarity, this is to say that the percentage of mentally ill who are faithful followers of God are minuscule compared to the percentage of mentally ill who are not.

But statistics are only as good as the person using them to manipulate perception, and most people tend to trust their favorite cable news or social media feed, instead of simply paying attention to the tiny portion of the world that they themselves experience.

How many people do you know who are both mentally ill and worshipers of God? Then ask yourself, how many known believers are you familiar with who are trying to live out their lives the way Christ commanded, to the best of their abilities?

Jesus said many things about the kingdom of heaven. The one thing he did not say about it is that it's just a fantasy. He said it's very real, that he dwells there with the Father, and that he has gone to prepare a place for you as well.

Some will scoff and say that Christians are only being good so they can suck up to God and get a reward for it. I can see the cynical logic in that accusation, but it comes from a bitter, resentful heart that just doesn't want to obey God.

If God created the universe, and everything in it, and if he created you and me and everyone else directly or indirectly via the miracle of life and biology, it only stands to reason in our comparatively feeble minds that the laws of physics are only the ground floor of the rules we can't avoid.

We don't know a lot about the kingdom of heaven, but we do know quite a bit about those who will not be allowed in. To this, many have found solace in defiantly declaring that they don't want to be in a place where God would prevent some from entering. They feel that the honest way to approach the matter is to judge the One who made every atom in the universe and dictated its behavior, placement and structural formation, a feat so incredible that we can't even fathom it.

How many times do we have to be faced with the humbling reality of finding out we incorrectly judged someone else in our lives? How many times have we rushed to judgment about someone else we have deemed unworthy of respect for whatever reason we thought was appropriate?

What is the common denominator in our consistently faulty skills of character discernment?A lack of all the facts. This always becomes crystal clear upon retrospect.

Why are there Ten Commandments? Why are they impossible to maintain in our own lives, no matter how hard all of us try? If there is an afterlife, why is this life necessary? If God loved us, why did he allow an agent of chaos to introduce a seemingly irresistible factor called rebellion (sin)? Why is there suffering in the world if God is benevolent? Why do we grow old and die? Why do children develop terminal illness? Why do tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, viruses, droughts and starvation ravage so many on Earth?

There are answers to these questions, but those who would sincerely seek answers must leave their anger, resentment, pride and arrogance at the door.

Jesus said:

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."



Friday, January 18, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: the Left's Trump

I came across this enlightening nugget today about AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez):
Read the article here:  Big Ideas for Taxes and Medicare

"...2.4 million followers on Twitter alone..."

If AOC is the future of our country, our future is bleak. If her fans think unreasonable tax rates will end at the "tippy tops," they are sadly mistaken.

AOC's financial system would be run like No Child Left Behind: bringing every taxpayer down to the lowest common denominator, that being the unemployed person who does not wish to change his or her status.

The folklore of Robin Hood always leaves out the part where the 'wicked' wealthy that Robin was robbing finally got the message and left the country, leaving the poor to starve on their own. I mean, let's get real. If I were a "tippy top," I'd immediately say screw this and jump ship to ply my trade elsewhere.

I try to avoid balling all millennials into the same lazy, ignorant, entitled group. But if AOC is eventually able to actually give her constituents what they think they want, the greatest democratic civilization in history will ironically become just one more cautionary tale regarding socialism.

Here's a quote that some science fiction fans may recognize:

"Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader--the barbarians enter Rome."  ---Robert A. Heinlein from "To Sail Beyond the Sunset"

In the vernacular of the post-modern 'realist,' Ocasio-Cortez is hot. Unfortunately, hot only stops a barbarian spear in a Netflix original movie; in real life people actually bleed to death for antiquated ideas like the freedom to keep what they earn.

Heinlein's passage reflects the now-famous quote people can't seem to agree upon, in terms of who originally wrote it, but nevertheless stands as a testimony to historical truth:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

"Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency to bondage."


Be honest. Which stage do you think we are in now?


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Burden of Responsibility

For as long as humans have walked the Earth, it is certain that there have been many who would prefer to not shoulder responsibility for all of their actions. As a matter of fact, it isn't a stretch of the imagination that everyone reading this essay and everyone not reading it, and the person who wrote it, have all tried to hide or run from their own sin at some time or another. It's the human condition, like it or not, and whether or not you think it started in the Garden of Eden is irrelevant.

I was recently treated to a video featuring Bart Ehrman, and he was presented to me as a person who is quite well versed in the Bible, and yet no longer a card carrying believer. While Ehrman's anti-suffering apologetic runs on just shy of an hour in the video, I can much more quickly address the errors in his approach.

"How the Bible Explains Suffering with Bart Ehrman."

Ehrman's objections are much older than Ehrman, and greater minds than his have addressed the "problem" with far more "satisfying" results.

Ehrman even mentions "twelve line emails" he's received that explain the problem of suffering, but conveniently leaves them out of his talk as his preferred approach is to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the God in the Bible by pointing at starving mothers and babies and saying, "See here? This is a problem!"

Ehrman starts with the the question of theodicy, and the tired logical problem of 1) God is all powerful, 2) God is all loving 3) There is suffering, therefore there has to exist contradiction in there somewhere.

Ehrman proceeds to politely dismiss the reasonable and learned explanations from other self-proclaimed experts via his all-purpose filter of how "satisfying" (or not satisfying) a solution is.

"These traditions were taken quite seriously by many people in ancient Israel..."

Ehrman refers to Biblical texts as "traditions" as opposed to merely referencing them. For example the historical activities that manifested as 400 years of slavery, the birth of a savior Moses, the performing of ten miracles by Moses, the drowning of the pursuing Egyptian soldiers, the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai and the reward of the Promised Land... this is referred to as an "Exodus Tradition," thus already casting it as storytelling instead of history.

"The Prophetic Answer"

Ehrman points out an example of the prophets' explanation of suffering in the book of Amos. The level of sarcasm while Ehrman reads the verses is palpable. This is a man who is clearly bitter and resentful of something he finds "unsatisfying."

The idea that a loving God would not hurt anyone is a very attractive idea, especially in the 21st century, where developed nations are full of individuals who just want to do their own thing, and would rather not be made to feel like they are lacking an acceptable moral compass. People tend to avoid anything that contradicts the ethos of the modern: "If it feels good and doesn't hurt anyone, what's wrong with it?"

The problem with that approach is it makes many assumptions about life that the Bible sharply contradicts, and this creates conflict in the minds of those who think they want what's best for humanity and the Earth, but upon closer scrutiny, they just seek freedom from responsibility to the God that gave them life.

Like it or not, right there at 20:22 in the video, Ehrman recites the Biblical answer to suffering: "Why is it that Israel is suffering? Because God wants them to turn back to Him, they refuse, and so the punishment continues."

Ehrman disdains the so-called Prophetic Answer with several minutes of dismissive enumeration, including a deliberately controversial anecdote of a mother who believed her 12 year old daughter died of a brain tumor because the mother promised God she would quit smoking and hadn't followed through.

His examples to demonstrate his objection are delivered with vehemence that underscores his agenda, and are: Adam and Eve are told not to eat the fruit, they eat the fruit, they get punished; the whole world becomes wicked, and God destroys everyone but Noah and his family. Sin, punish, sin, punish, sin, punish.

Ehrman continues:

"One might ask whether this is acceptable at all as an understanding of why people suffer. In our own context, for example. Is it really true that suffering comes because God is punishing people?"

When Ehrman utters the phrase "in our own context," he commits the same mistake that all those who scoff at "Bronze Age Sheep Herders" make: that somehow humanity then and humanity now are fundamentally different. I'll save you some time...they're not.

"Is this really true? Is it true that every five seconds a child dies of starvation because God's trying to punish somebody? Or that every minute twenty five people die from drinking unclean drinking water?"

"Every hour in our world, seven hundred people die of malaria. Is this because God's punishing people? Is this why tsunamis hit the Indian Ocean and kill three hundred thousand people overnight? Or why a holocaust happens that kills six million Jews? Or a purging in Cambodia that kills two million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge?"

With the possible exception of the tsunami, all Ehrman's examples are of human evil, which falls under the column of personal responsibility to our fellow human beings. Therefore questioning why they happen is pointless in a world where we make it however we want it to be. Perhaps the tsunami and other devastating natural disasters are a reaction to widespread inhumanity? Oh no! That's just too big of a pink elephant in the room for most of us to consider.

In a universe with a God and an afterlife, death can be more merciful than life when the evil of human beings exceeds an acceptable degree. Ultimately we are clay, dust. That we have an ability to think and be self-aware is a gift most people take for granted. It does not follow that we automatically qualify to judge our Creator by virtue of our self-awareness.

Ehrman, in his academic, secular and humanist buttressed empowerment, clearly has decided that God does not punish humanity for its widespread and ubiquitous sin. What he should make clear at the beginning of his presentations is that he doesn't believe God exists, therefore anything that doesn't sound good to Ehrman's Benjamin Spock ideology must be primitive, ignorant and wrong.

"The Apocalyptic Response"


Erhman lists the Book of Daniel as the only canonized book in the Old Testament that provides this answer. The other two sources overlap, as he cites the Jewish Apocrypha and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which Ehrman neglects to mention contained portions of that Apocrypha, thereby making the reference redundant.

In apocalyptic view, sin isn't entirely the responsibility of the sinner, but is instigated by the influence of evil cosmic forces.

Ehrman says the Apocalyptic answer "takes evil seriously." He cites a few examples to make his point, which oddly contradict his earlier assertion that personal responsibility to God doesn't take evil seriously by contrast. His first example illustrates my point: he mentions how, through the lens of the Apocalyptic answer, the Holocaust becomes bigger than the individuals who made it happen, thus suffering is caused by something greater than individual sin.

The only problem with that statement is that the same assertion can be made via the Prophetic answer, because God's behavior in terms of punishing human beings could be easily explained by observing that the sin problem itself has much further reaching effects in the universe God created than just the actions of one person on his or her neighbor. Ehrman apparently prefers to view the Prophetic answer as God running around and slapping individuals upside the head for every misstep.

Ehrman suggests that the Apocalyptic answer engenders complacency regarding evil. Basically, the assumption is: if things are going to just get worse, and there's nothing we can do about it, why do anything to fight evil? This is a typical objection not of a person "well-versed" in the Bible, but of an atheist who feeds himself or herself on the myriad spiritual dreck available for anyone seeking to avoid a God who expects more than they are willing to give.

The truth is that fighting the good fight is the least any of us can do. Some are called to do more. If one actually reads the Bible, one finds that both the Prophetic and Apocalyptic answers are supported.

Ehrman makes two strong statements with nothing more than his own opinion for support:

"What's the point of working for justice? Why worry about homelessness and poverty? Why worry about hunger? Why worry about countries that are falling apart and destabilizing? Why worry about any of that, if in fact it's only going to become better when God intervenes. This Apocalyptic view *can* and *has* led to moral complacency, and I think that's a problem."

That's erroneous opinion number one.

Here's erroneous opinion number two, which follows immediately after:

"The other problem is, I think, sort of the obvious problem, is that this view is based on a belief, a false belief, in the imminent end of all things."

The sole example Ehrman gives to back up that second opinion is the false predictions of a charlatan trying to sell doomsday books in 1988 and 1989. Not exactly the most solid guarantee that the world does not have an imminent end, but apparently it's enough for Ehrman.

Ehrman prefers the Ecclesiastical approach, and yet feels the need to sarcastically enlighten everyone that "King Solomon, the 'wisest' man on Earth" was not actually the writer of Ecclesiastes, but a nameless dude a couple of hundred years later. A dude who allegedly found some sort of glory in giving the credit for his clearly exceptional wisdom to a king he never knew.

Ehrman touts Ecclesiastes as a book that encourages us to live life to the fullest, and get whatever we can out of it. He conveniently and completely leaves out the numerous admonitions from Solomon regarding being circumspect with our choices while enjoying our lives. For Ehrman, those warnings are not as important as his embrace of the Y.O.L.O. philosophy.

At the 44:34 mark, Ehrman comes clean and admits he has no answer, thereby making the video up to this point a waste of the viewers time, except perhaps for Ehrman's family members.

He then proceeds to list the many things we could do to make sure the entire world can enjoy life as Solomon suggested, and what he says in the remainder of the video is no different from a Christian call to good works for one's fellow human beings.

The Q and A immediately following Ehrman's presentation, in fact the very first question, exposes the premise from which Ehrman's entire argument is built from: atheism.

Other than the amusing irony of an atheist (who refers to himself as an agnostic to cover unpleasant contingencies) that teaches Biblical history at a University, Ehrman stands as just another example of someone who lost his way and has convinced himself that his eternal destination is not underscored by his guilt, but instead he is released from responsibility to a God he disagrees with by his own declaration that there is no God.

The power of subjectivity cuts both ways.