Three Things You Need to Know – February 19, 2018

A Fatherless Nation

“He looked lost. Absolutely lost.”

That’s the way James Snead described the 19-year-old Florida school shooter, when he saw him up close as he was led inside police headquarters in handcuffs. James Snead and his wife had tried to help the teenager by letting him live with them recently. The shooter’s mother, who adopted him when he was a baby, died last November. His adoptive father died in 2004.

The latest school shooting in Florida is the ultimate nightmare. Our hearts ache for the families of the murdered and injured students. There are no words for this kind of tragedy.

It’s also unreal that we’re calling this “the latest” school shooting.

America is caught in a vicious cycle of tragedy, blame, and division. When something this horrible happens, we scramble to pinpoint blame. It’s our way of trying to make sense of the senseless. It’s the gun. It’s the person. It’s the FBI. Social services. The school district.

We want to prevent this. But no one has all the answers. There’s no single solution. The hard Left sees no issue beyond guns. The hard Right sees no issue beyond gun rights. That leaves a deep canyon of problems in the middle that we refuse to deal with.

Besides being a young male, the Florida shooter has something else in common with almost every single mass shooter in recent years – he grew up without a father. Why aren’t we talking about that? The data is clear about links between fatherless children and violence, suicide, dropping out of school, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Of the deadliest mass shootings in the last fifteen years, nine of them were committed by males under 30-years-old. Seven of those nine came from fatherless homes.

This isn’t to drum up sympathy for the murderers. And obviously, not everyone who grows up without a father has their life ruined, becomes a criminal, or worse. But America has an epidemic of fatherless homes. In 1960, just 5% of American children were born out of wedlock – today it’s over 40%.

Our society is feeling the stress of more than half a century of this epidemic. So many of our children are lost. They have no moral compass, no truth to anchor their souls.

So many of our kids grow up without an identity. They don’t know who they are. In the U.S., genealogy websites are the second-most visited category of sites after pornography. People are desperate to figure out who they are. Many are searching for significance.

Having a father isn’t a guarantee of anything. It’s not a cure-all. We still make our own choices and are responsible for those choices. There are plenty of abusive or absentee fathers. Trying to be a good dad almost seems like a niche thing these days.

Right now, our society is running with the narrative that men are bad. We don’t place cultural value on a masculine influence. We think we’ve evolved beyond the need for fathers; we don’t need them anymore because they’ve done too much damage. Frankly, men haven’t done ourselves any favors with our behavior.

But the unpopular truth is, we need a nuclear family, including a father. The nuclear family is the bedrock of every society. Our bedrock has deep cracks in it.

If you are a father, dig in and do better. If you have the means, reach out and be a father figure to someone without a father.

We can make a bunch of reactionary laws, and that may make us feel better for a while, like we fixed something. But you can’t legislate the deepest needs of the human soul – to be known, accepted, and loved.

Meuller's Indictments

We now know a few of the details on what could possibly be the largest and most successful intelligence operation aimed against our country in decades. The Mueller investigation is FINALLY delivering. This is what we’ve been waiting for, and quite frankly, desperately needed ever since the intelligence community assessment was released to the public over a year ago.

The 37 page indictment names 13 individual Russians and three Russian businesses. The operation involved multiple shell companies in order to mask their actions and hide their funding. Several hundred employees worked round the clock shifts on social media and the internet. In addition to that, several agents were sent to the United States to gather intelligence. In some cases, political rallies were actually organized and promoted thousands of miles away from offices in St Petersburg, Russia.

This could actually be a galvanizing moment in our country. We’ve been attacked by a hostile country, and we now know the names and faces of the people that did it. Unfortunately, we’re far too polarized for that to happen. The left will say, “You see?!! Putin loved Trump and gave him the election!” The right will say, “This proves Trump is innocent! FAKE NEWS FAKE NEWS FAKE NEWS!”

First of all, if anyone actually believes 13 Russians swung the election they’re delusional. Trump won because he appealed to millions of people who have been ignored for years, AND because he ran against the worst candidate in modern history. To say the Russians loved Trump is completely misreading the evidence. Sure they supported his campaign, but they also supported Bernie Sanders AND Jill Stein. Basically, anyone that ran against Hillary was A-OK with the Kremlin.

The Russians wanted us to doubt our government. They wanted chaos. They wanted us to eat each other. It’s sad how polarized our society AND the media has become that we allowed this to happen. Are we THAT easily duped? Friday’s indictment was a critical first step in finding out what happened, but we as a country need to get to work on fixing what it was that made this so easy for the Russians to pull off. Both the right and the left need to come together and heal our society. If we don’t, we’re just setting ourselves up for a bigger attack VERY soon.

Weaponized Social Media

The traffic was unbearable.

Andrew felt like it would take forever to get to the high school.

The police cars and cops dotted every foot of asphalt.

He rolled down the window and held out a picture of his daughter Meadow on his phone to the passing officers—hoping someone would recognize her.

That moment in time was captured and posted to social media.

Most saw a father barely hanging on to the last bit of hope he had that his daughter survived the shooting.

Some just saw his “Trump 2020” shirt.

The reactions were instant.

“I don’t feel sorry for him and F*** trump.”

“Maybe he should have thought twice before voting for #TerroristTrump”

Andrew eventually found Meadow. And it was every parent’s worst nightmare. She was one of the victims of the shooting.

And the comments continued.

“He’s Pro-Trump which means he supports the guy who is responsible for the death of his child.”

How did we get here? Don’t we see how callous we have become?

We live in a world where it is easier to choose cynicism over compassion. Where a snarky remark is more satisfying than a kind word.

Our phones and our computers allow us to safely be our worst selves without consequence.

Both sides are guilty of using the screen as a shield from which we can hurl grenades at our perceived enemies.

Why are some people blind to the despair in Andrew Pollack’s eyes in that picture? Why do they only see his shirt?

It is the sin of pride.

We have become too proud to see past our insignificant differences with each other. If we can’t get past different political opinions, how are we going to get past the big stuff?

We have become so proud that we think we can alter the very fabric of humanity.

Who do we think we are that we can legislate violence out of civilization? It’s a consequence of the gift of free will. It will never go away. We are not God.

It is time to humble ourselves, America. It is obvious that we need humility now more than ever.

MORE 3 THINGS

This compromise is an abomination

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Three decades ago, "The Art of the Deal" made Donald Trump a household name. A lot has happened since then. But you can trace many of Trump's actions back to that book.

Art of the Deal:

In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.

People laughed when he announced that he was running for President. And I mean that literally. Remember the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner when Obama roasted Trump, viciously, mocking the very idea that Trump could ever be President. Now, he's President.

You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

This empire-building is a mark of Trump.

RELATED: 'Arrogant fool' Jim Acosta exposed MSM's dishonest border agenda — again.

The most recent example is the border wall. Yesterday, congress reached a compromise on funding for the border wall. Weeks of tense back-and-forth built up to that moment. At times, it seemed like neither side would budge. Trump stuck to his guns, the government shut down, Trump refused to budge, then, miraculously, the lights came back on again. The result was a compromise. Or at least that's how it appeared.

But really, Trump got what he wanted -- exactly what he wanted. He used the techniques he wrote about in The Art of the Deal:

My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I'm after.

From the start, he demanded $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall. It was a months' long tug-of-war that eventually resulted in yesterday's legislation, which would dedicate $1.4 billion. It would appear that that was what he was after all along. Moments before the vote, he did some last-minute pushing. A national emergency declaration, and suddenly the number is $8 billion.

Art of the Deal:

People think I'm a gambler. I've never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It's a very good business being the house.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate passed the legislation 83-16, and the House followed with 300-128. Today, Trump will sign the bill.

It's not even fair to call that a deal, really. A deal is what happens when you go to a car dealership, fully ready to buy a car, and the salesman says the right things. What Trump did is more like a car dealer selling an entire row of cars to someone who doesn't even have a licence. When Trump started, Democrats wouldn't even consider a wall, let alone pay for it.

Art of the Deal:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.

He started the wall on a chant, "Build the wall!" until he got what he wanted. He maneuvered like Don Draper, selling people something that they didn't even know they wanted, and convincing them that it is exactly what they've always needed.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.