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Why We’re Drawn to Leaders Like Roy Moore and Donald Trump

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 20:00

I'm not sure what the GOP should do about candidate Roy Moore. The charges and countercharges are filing in too quickly. I'm reluctant to write something that might be obsolete within hours. So I'd like to step back behind the claimed sex scandal. To ask a deeper question: What is it about populist candidates like Roy Moore and Donald Trump that now appeals to conservative Christians? Why did we turn our backs on men like Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and John Kasich? What attracted us but repulses others, even among some conservatives? And how can we make the best choices, going forward?

As you might know, I wrote a whole book on the Seven Deadly Sins. In it, I reminded people that virtue and vice run on a spectrum. Two opposing vices sit at either extreme, while the virtue sits in the middle. For instance:

The Greedy have too strong an attachment to the good things that come from hard work and wise stewardship. The Generous love wealth in due proportion, and have mastered the art of sharing it. The Prodigal, on other hand, treat wealth with jaded disdain and lavishly waste it -- certain that more will somehow come to them down the pike.

That gives you the idea of how this kind of analysis works. So let's see the deadly sin that's key to politics, especially in our time:

At the opposite pole from deadly Wrath is not holy Patience, but masochistic Servility, which teaches us to let aggressors win and bullies triumph, whatever the cost to the next victim.

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight

Alas, there isn't a simple, eternal formula that tells us how to act on every occasion. What's sinful Wrath in one situation is the bare minimum in another. For instance, getting enraged to the point of violence over somebody flipping you off in traffic? That would be Wrath. But what about if someone threatens violence against your child? Or some other innocent? God gave us the power of anger for just such an occasion.

Likewise, if we don't get angry when we really ought to, then what we're practicing isn't the virtue of Patience. It's Servility, and just as much a sin. C.S. Lewis scorned what he saw as a breed of "men without chests," who tamely watch evil triumph. He didn't consider it cowardice so much as a failure of love. If you don't defend the innocent like an angry mama bear, it might be because you really ... don't care all that much what happens to them. Or you're more concerned with keeping a reputation for calm detachment. You don't want to loosen your bowtie, and get down in the mud -- even if that's where God's calling you to go rescue the helpless.

In times of peace and plenty, when the leading political factions share common assumptions ... we can afford to be a lot more reserved and courteous. That's the kind of society we hope to live in, of course. Think of Nixon debating Kennedy. They agreed on the goals of government, and most fundamental values. They disagreed about how to put all that into practice.

Don’t Treat Hitler Like a Normal Politician

But what about when things start breaking down? When one faction in politics stops playing by the rules you'd all agreed on? Then it trashes the basic values which your society rests on. It perverts the law every chance it gets, and applies it unevenly against us. If it can't do that, it flouts the law, and counts on getting away with it. Its only criterion is power, and how to amass it. That is what we face on America's left, from academic faculty lounges to the Democrats in Congress.

Sometimes people think that the principled thing to do is to pretend that nothing has changed. The British and French in the 1930s refused to believe that the Nazis were demonic. No matter the cruelties they inflicted on helpless Jews, or the crassness with which Hitler broke his promises. The Allies kept telling themselves that they were dealing with a normal foreign country. It was led by a rational actor. He had a list of demands, and some of them were reasonable (like a better deal for Germany after Versailles). As for his unreasonable demands ... were they really worth fighting a war over? And that is how a totalitarian despot gathered the power to conquer most of Europe, even as richer nations with bigger armies looked on and watched.

Let's say a big thug was assaulting a little old lady. And you're a trained boxer. Your first instinct might be to wade in and put up your dukes, as if you were in the ring. But if the criminal pulls out a knife, or picks up a trashcan ... are you really going to stick to the Marquess of Queensbury rules?

Forget the Nazis. Imagine a street fight. Let's say a big thug was assaulting a little old lady. And you're a trained boxer. Your first instinct might be to wade in and put up your dukes, as if you were in the ring. But if the criminal pulls out a knife, or picks up a trashcan ... are you really going to stick to the Marquess of Queensbury rules? If you do, then you're being servile. You don't care enough about saving the innocent to do what's proportionate to the evil.

You Don’t Get a Free Pass for Ruthlessness

Of course there are limits. Some things are just evil in themselves, and you can't ever do them, no matter what. You couldn't use a grenade against the mugger that was certain to harm innocent bystanders. But you can, and should, match his aggression. If you don't, it's a failure of love.

On the world stage, we can't face aggressive, colonizing Islam with muttered, phony pieties like George W. Bush's mantra of "true Islam" as a "religion of peace." At home, we can't tamely let the Democrats pack the courts with mediocre radicals like Sandra Sotomayor -- then bow to "Senate tradition" when they use it to block our appointments. (Thankfully, the Republicans finally figured this out in 2017.) When the left applauds private citizens for demolishing public statues, then lets them go unpunished ... should we really be obeying ludicrous court orders that call a Ten Commandments monument "unconstitutional"?

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A Failure of Love

Not everyone agrees with me, of course. Those who loathed Moore before this scandal hit were largely the same kind of conservative who found Donald Trump too "icky" or personally compromised to support against Hillary Clinton. Even given her track record of ruthlessness and the raging powerlust of our unhinged leftist establishment. That's a failure of love, from a man without a chest.

That said, some leaders, however effective, have squandered their reputations through personal faults that repulse the public and tarnish your “brand.” Electing them might save one Senate seat, for one term, but lose us close elections in other states. Voters’ memories are short, but the media are relentless.

The kind of men who are good at getting angry when it's needed don't always know when to stop. Sometimes they are vain, hot-headed, narcissistic and reckless. That's dangerous as well. It's our job to step in and restrain them. The wildness of our enemies doesn't give us absolute license ourselves. If we think that, then our anger will backfire. We will seem like the "bad guys" and our foes like hapless victims.

As I said, there's no easy formula. And now you can go back to reading about that alleged yearbook signature.

Vanity Fair's James Wolcott Compares Trump to Hefner and Hitler

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:56
<p>Comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, as many liberals have done, was so common early this year that it has already become quite passé. Yeah, that Trump-Hitler comparison is so early 2017. The new wacky comparison of choice in the latter part of 2017 now seems to be comparing Trump to the late <em>Playboy</em> publisher Hugh Hefner.</p>

CNN's 'New Day' Only Gives 1 Min to Murdered Cop, Spends 3 Min on Corrupt Cop

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:01
<p>Since word broke early Thursday morning that a black police officer in Baltimore was shot in the head and then died, CNN has conspicuously buried the story, in contrast with the liberal news network's history of giving attention to black suspects who are killed or roughed up by police officers. CNN's most prominent morning show, <em>New Day</em>, which runs between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. ET, has only run two briefs just barely totaling a minute so far. But on Saturday morning, <em>New Day Saturday</em> ran a full three-minute report on a corrupt police officer in Chicago who is causing the city to have to consider releasing some prisoners whom he might have framed.</p>

No, God Isn’t Just Another ‘Possible God’ To Dismiss With All the Rest

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:00

One of the most popular arguments against Christianity these days is what John Loftus christened the “Outsider Test for Faith.” I (and reviewers so far) think I not only refuted that argument in How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test, but showed that comparing Christianity with other religious traditions tends to confirm the Christian message.

But this is “Outsider Test” is monster that does not die. It merely changes shape, like Proteus. Here’s another form it shifts into from time to time:

And here’s the kicker: “When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Who is Stephan F. Roberts? He doesn’t appear to be a scholar of any sort. The most I can find is a somewhat self-deprecating comment about how this quote has gone viral. But that was only because he posted it at the beginning of the Internet Age and it seemed to strike a chord. But Roberts is certainly not a scholar of world religions.

Pardon, Your Ignorance is Showing

As someone who is, I find a few confusions in this meme. For instance, it includes both the Chinese Queen Mother of the West and a character named after her in some of Orson Scott Card’s Sci-Fi novels. It names both Ares and Mars, which the Greeks and Romans were so broad-minded as to consider the same god. It even names both Kuan Yin and Guanyin, though the first is the Wade-Giles romanization for the second, in the modern Chinese pinyin writing system.

In addition, Allah is just the Arabic word for “God.” Names in different languages for the same thing do not designate different objects. For instance, the fact that theEnglish look up in the sky and say “moon!” while Chinese say “yueliang” and Japanese say “tsuki” does not mean that Planet Earth has three (or ten thousand) moons. It means that people speaking different languages use different words for the same experienced reality.

But the real problems with this argument run far deeper than ignorance; deeper than linguistic confusion or flexibility about details.

Nor does the fact that Mohammed said false things about God mean “Allah” is a separate being. The sentence, “The moon is not made of green cheese” is not rendered incoherent just because some people may mistakenly think it is. Differing ideas about the nature of the moon don’t mean we’re talking about separate moons. Allah is the Arabic word, also used by Arab Christians, for the Creator.

But the real problems with this argument run far deeper than ignorance; deeper than linguistic confusion or flexibility about details. The simple fact is that most intelligent people find belief in God far more credible than belief in, say, Bacchus, Pan, or Huitzilopochtli . I'll detail just one of those problems.

“God” is not “god.”

Many people are confused by the fact that the two words, “God” and “god,” are spelled the same. This is a much greater error than confusing, say, “I work for Apple Computer,” with “I ate an apple.”

“God” refers to the eternal, self-existence, all-knowing, everywhere-existing, non-contingent, perfectly good and loving, origin of all things.

There can be, by definition, only one such being, though He may be three in one, as Christians believe.

Arguments That Don't Pan Out

Few of the arguments given to defend the existence of God would apply to his alleged competitors. For instance, one skeptic claimed that the existence of Pan might be supported as well as that of God by the Argument From Beauty. But that argument, as given by the Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne (pardon if I borrow from Wikipedia this time), goes as follows:

God has reason to make a basically beautiful world, although also reason to leave some of the beauty or ugliness of the world within the power of creatures to determine. ... If the world is beautiful, that fact would be evidence for God’s existence. ... Poets and painters and ordinary men down the centuries have long admired the beauty of the orderly procession of the heavenly bodies, the scattering of the galaxies through the heavens (in some ways random, in some ways orderly), and the rocks, sea, and wind interacting on earth.

Would this argument work just as well if you substituted the name “Pan” in place of “God"?

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Of course not! First, Pan is not eternal. He is the son of some other god, perhaps Zeus or Hermes. They themselves were considered beings whose existence depended on some other being before them. Second and third, he is local, not universal, and he knows some things but not all. He is the god of the meadows, and took his habitation apparently in Arcadia.

So how could Pan be responsible for all the beauty in the universe?

If You're Talking About God, You're Talking About God

But suppose he were so responsible, and did have such powers after all. Then, as Augustine pointed out (in reference to Jupiter), then we’d be talking about God after all, though under another name. We would be arguing about words, not realities.

A god is not God. A god is a kind of ancient super-hero, more like a movie star. Indeed, modern Marvel movies get that just right: Thor can little more be confused with God in the Marvel (or ancient Norse) universe, than Tony Stark with his suit, flying around the sky battling bad guys and breaking hearts and expensive equipment.

The confusion here is absolute, and it is deliberate.

Confusion, Deep and Deliberate

The confusion here is deep, and it is deliberate. There is but one point behind conflating “God” with this entirely different concept of “gods” or “divas” as we could also call them. It's to muddle the head of the “skeptic” so that he misses the obvious. And everyone knows that. Which is why no one believes in Pan anymore, but most people find God vastly more credible.

The skeptic sees this too, which is exactly why he mocks God by comparing him to a goat. But neither God nor wise men will have reason so mocked.

Comedy Central Comic ‘Roast’ Demands Open Borders

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 17:30
<p>Jeff Ross has a hard time keeping his immigration policies straight. Compare these two comments made within a week of each other on Comedy Central. Here’s Ross talking to Trevor Noah about immigration on <em>The Daily Show</em>. Noah said the U.S. cannot have open borders despite liberals favoring amnesty-style policies. Ross didn’t appear to disagree.</p>

The Case for a Special Counsel to Investigate Hillary Clinton’s Russian Uranium One Ties

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 16:30

Why investigate one but not the other? Legally, it doesn’t make sense. There is overwhelming evidence that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russians in the Uranium One scandal. There’s scant evidence Trump colluded with them. Why is there a special counsel looking into Trump but not one looking into Clinton?

The Facts

Here are the facts. Russians connected to the Kremlin sent millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Former President Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees. He received $500,000 for just one speech to a bank with Kremlin ties. 

Before Clinton signed off on the transfer, the FBI collected evidence of the apparent bribery money and money laundering from an informant working in the nuclear industry. The money transfers were conducted "with the consent of higher level officials" in Russia who "shared the proceeds" from the kickbacks.

Hillary Clinton failed to disclose to the Obama administration that Ian Telfer, chairman of Uranium One, had contributed $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. This was in violation of her agreement with the administration to disclose donors with potential conflicts.

Evidence of Wrongdoing

The FBI informant says he has proof wrongdoing exists. William D. Campbell worked as a lobbyist for a Russian firm. The Hill reporter John Solomon told Sean Hannity that Campbell has videos of suitcases full of cash that Russians used to bribe U.S. officials. After the DOJ released his name, Campbell said he became afraid for his life.

The FBI informant says he has proof wrongdoing exists.

Vadim Mikerin, the main Russian overseeing Putin's nuclear expansion inside the U.S., was indicted in 2014 as a result of an informant’s work. An agent testified that Mikerin supervised a "racketeering scheme." It involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks. The informant made kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction.

In December 2015, a judge sentenced Mikerin to four years in prison. Another man who worked with Mikerin was sentenced this month to a year and a day in prison for money laundering. Boris Rubizhevsky acted as an go-between to facilitate the payoffs.

Even with this evidence, Sessions has said there is not enough evidence to start a probe.

Why Not a Probe?

Maybe he’s right. But wait: What evidence was there of a crime involving Trump and the Russian collusion accusations? There was less evidence of Trump colluding with the Russians than there is evidence of Clinton colluding with them.

Sessions’ own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, admitted this. He said when appointing a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign, “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”

If that’s true for Trump why isn’t it also true for Clinton? The attorney general appoints special counsel when he has a conflict. Sessions recused himself from the Trump campaign probe, citing his own contacts with Russians. The acting attorney general -- instead of Sessions -- then decides if a criminal probe is warranted. Rosenstein is a holdover from the Obama administration. Maybe he’s hesitant to start a probe of the Clintons.

The Crimes

The crimes look like bribery (which violates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), fraud and obstruction of justice. Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, notes that giving official favors in return for cash is racketeering.

There are grave concerns about giving such an untrustworthy country that amount of control over our energy.

McCarthy observes that the uranium would produce energy, not nuclear weapons. It’s still an issue of national security. If, for example, the U.S. encountered an energy shortage. The nation only produces 20 percent of its uranium. America shouldn’t have its uranium supply controlled by a hostile power. What if Clinton allowed that to happen just to get more money for the family foundation?

At the very least, the problem is a matter of apparent corruption. The State Department approved the sale of Canadian-owned Uranium One to Russian nuclear company Rosaton. This gave Russia control of 20 percent of the U.S. energy supply. There are grave concerns about giving such an untrustworthy country that amount of control over our energy.

Hillary Clinton claims if a special counsel investigated her, the U.S. would be like an “authoritarian regime.” What’s authoritarian about following the precedent the Department of Justice set with Trump? Maybe it’s more like the government is finally looking into Clinton family self-dealing. The FBI informant has given enough evidence already to warrant a probe.

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

NYT Strikes Populist Pose vs. 'Gimmicky' GOP Tax Plan, Laments 'Death Tax' Label

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 15:56
<p>In Saturday’s <em>New York Times</em>, reporter Patricia Cohen took the most jaundiced view of the GOP tax-cutting plans with some liberal rhetoric about Republican attempts to pare down the estate tax, colloquially known as the death tax: “Only the Most Wealthy, Including Trump, Gain From Estate Tax’s Repeal.” More tough <em>Times </em>headlines: “Some See a Foundation Of Gimmickry in Tax Bill,” and“Party’s Priority: Comfort for Corporations.” The subhead: “Plan Pinches Families, Not Businesses.”</p>

Giddy Zimbabweans Gather in Capital to March Against Mugabe

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 15:35

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- In a euphoric gathering that just days ago would have drawn a police crackdown, crowds marched through Zimbabwe’s capital on Saturday to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa’s last remaining liberation leaders, after nearly four decades in power.

Zimbabweans giddy with joy raced through intersections, raising their arms in triumph. Young men shouted, laughed and embraced. Others danced on top of moving buses. One man stripped to his underwear and danced on a car roof.

In the first public outpouring since the military put Mugabe under house arrest earlier in the week, the bulk of Harare’s population of about 1.6 million appeared to be in the streets. The army held back thousands who gathered near the State House, home to official functions, while others headed toward Mugabe’s lavish mansion.

Some marchers had posters with an image of the military commander who swept in to take control, with the slogan: “Go, go, our general!!!” Marchers handed flags to soldiers, who accepted and waved.

“It’s like Christmas,” said one marcher, Fred Mubay, who said Zimbabweans have been suffering for a long time.

Another resident, Trust Chuma, sat quietly on a bench and watched. “This is the biggest day in the history of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, is said to be asking for more time amid negotiations with regional leaders that seek his exit with a veneer of dignity.

But he is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies, with others arrested, and the ruling party has turned on him, asking for a Central Committee meeting this weekend to recall both him and his wife. Impeachment is also a possibility when Parliament resumes Tuesday.

The dancing crowds in Harare made it clear the country is impatient to move on without Mugabe, who took power 37 years ago amid an air of optimism but has been accused of squandering the once-prosperous country’s potential.

Even as concerns remained about who next would be in charge and what freedoms might be available if the military lingers in power -- or if Mugabe’s recently fired deputy leads a new government -- people reveled in the rare chance to speak out.

Zimbabwean newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube tweeted: “Dear world, we are fully aware of the possible risks and pitfalls beyond this tipping point. … After 37 years of repression, allow us to soak in this moment. Sincerely, #Zimbabwe.”

The demonstrators, in the event approved by the military, hoped the big turnout would speed up the official end of Mugabe’s rule, which is widely blamed for the collapse of an economy that was once one of Africa’s wealthiest.

Veterans of the long liberation war against white minority rule, once close allies of Mugabe, took part in the demonstration, along with opposition activists who long have faced police crackdowns by the Mugabe government.

Zimbabwe’s state-run media showed previously unthinkable images of the celebrations. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation called the country “free and liberated” and showed footage of one person carrying a sign saying “The people of Zimbabwe want Mugabe to go.”

The state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper’s report “#Mugabe Must Go!” noted some of Mugabe’s achievements but said that “however the revolutionary train derailed somewhere along the way.”

Outside the State House, a place few previously dared venture, soldiers posed for pictures as marchers streamed by. Thousands of people later gathered at an intersection nearby, with security forces blocked them from moving further.

The military in a new statement urged the thousands upon thousands of people streaming through the capital to be orderly and “vigilant against agent provocateurs” who might wish to discredit the events.

At an intersection, a vendor held up a newspaper with the headline: “Mugabe cornered.” The majority of adult Zimbabweans now survive on informal trade after formal industry collapsed.

Harare’s Robert Mugabe Street turned into a carnival. Drivers gunned their engines, blasted their horns and circled in a main intersection, enveloping the crowd in exhaust fumes.

One driver got out of his moving car and danced in front of it for a couple of minutes as the empty vehicle coasted slowly down a street lined with cheering crowds.

Some white Zimbabweans joined the crowd at Harare’s Freedom Square, also known as Robert Mugabe Square. Some whites and blacks hugged each other.

In Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, former education minister David Coltart said he spoke at a “massive march” organized by churches to urge President Robert Mugabe to resign. He said thousands of people were there.

“I never thought I would see the day as we marched past central police station without being arrested!” he said. “Amazing scenes.”

Thousands gathered for speeches at the Zimbabwe Grounds, chosen for the symbolism. The location is where Zimbabweans gathered to cheer Mugabe’s return from exile in 1980 after the liberation war from white minority rule.

Now the crowds urged Mugabe’s departure. Speakers included former Vice President Joice Mujuru, sacked in 2014 by Mugabe and accused of plotting to take power.

“This is the new Zimbabwe,” one speaker declared.

Another expressed popular anger at first lady Grace Mugabe, whose apparent attempts to succeed her husband were a factor in the military’s decision to step in.

“You and your husband should go today and not tomorrow,” the speaker said.

The 37-year-old Talent Mudzamiri was born soon after Zimbabwe’s independence.

“It’s like a relief,” he said. “Our voices have not been heard for a long time. The trend in Africa, when the people speak, they are not heard.”

He acknowledged that Zimbabwe faces challenges in the long term, but said: “The common enemy is Robert Mugabe. That’s for starters.” If Zimbabwe’s next leader is just as troublesome, he said, “we are going to come out again.”

 

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or republished.

Trump Administration Cites MS-13 Arrests to Push Change in Minor Immigrant Law

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 15:22

The Trump administration is pointing to a large federal roundup of members of the violent gang MS-13 as vindication of increased enforcement efforts and reason to change the policy on unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security announced a joint effort that led to the arrest of 214 gang members and those involved with gang-related crime.

MS-13 is an international criminal gang that spread throughout Central America into the United States-in largely urban centers such as Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, and into Toronto, Canada. The organization's motto is "mata, viola, controla," which means, "kill, rape, control."

Of the 214, just 16 were U.S. citizens while 198 were foreign nationals. Of the foreign nationals, only five were in the country legally. Among those arrested, 64 entered the country as unaccompanied alien children, but most are now adults, according to the Trump administration.

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During a press conference Thursday announcing the arrests, Tom Homan, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, noted the 2008 law on unaccompanied minors does not allow them to be immediately returned to their country of origin.

"The agencies sent up a series of policy requests to the Hill to address a lot of issues to further control the border and illegal immigration," Homan said. "Some of these policies are being exploited and used by criminal organizations. That's why that's one of the policy issues we asked Congress to look at and help us with."

The multi-state, multi-federal agency program was called "Operation Raging Bull."

The current law states that unaccompanied minors from countries other than Canada or Mexico aren't subject to expedited removal, but the minors are promptly released into the United States upon arrival at the border. The Department of Homeland Security transfers custody to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours. That office must promptly release the minor to relatives or other sponsors, according to the White House. In some cases, the sponsors were criminals who abused law.

Of the total immigration hearings for unaccompanied minors that came to the United States between 2014 and 2016, 12,977 cases out of 31,091 completed ended in removal, according to a Congressional Research Service report in January. Out of those removals, 11,528, or 89 percent, were did not show up for their hearing to make their case against removal proceedings, and often remained in the country.

Also, more than half of the unaccompanied minors that came into the United States in 2014 and 2015 were 16 or 17 years old, according to the Government Accountability Office in a February 2016 report.

Out of the 214 arrested, 93 were charged with crimes including murder, aggravated robbery, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics possession, firearms offenses, domestic violence, assault, forgery, drunken driving, and illegal entry/reentry. The remaining 121 were arrested on administrative immigration violations, according to the Justice Department.

"With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States today," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to reduce crime and take down transnational criminal organizations, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of these objectives. That's why I have ordered our drug trafficking task forces to use every law available to arrest, prosecute, convict, and defund MS-13. And we are getting results."

 

Copyright 2017 The Daily Signal

Joy Break: Sam’s Club Customers Break Out in Song With My God is Awesome

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 15:00

Dothan, Alabama Sam’s Club customers recently broke out in song with My God is Awesome after a customer began playing it on a keyboard. Several other customers and a Sam’s Club employee joined in. Michelle Holland Conner posted the video on her Facebook page. Like Conner said, “Sometimes you need a little church. Even if it’s in Sam’s Club.”

 

Watch:

 

 

 

Wife Stands by Moore as Misconduct Claims Roil Alabama Campaign

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 14:48

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans.

“He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,” Kayla Moore said Friday at a “Women for Moore” rally. Acting as her husband’s lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. “To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,” Moore said.

Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however.

“I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don’t know that I can vote for him anymore,” said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.

One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

“I have not found any reason not to believe them …. They risked a whole lot to come forward,” Payne said of the accusers.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.

“We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,” Ivey said.

Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party’s brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.

The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.

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The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election. Democrats already hoped to stand a chance against the polarizing jurist who was twice removed from chief justice duties because of defying court orders regarding the Ten Commandments and gay marriage.

A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.

One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won’t vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.

“My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, ‘Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,” James said.

But Kayla Moore says her husband is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in the Senate.

Decades ago, then known by her maiden name, Kayla Kisor, she was performing in a hometown dance recital when she first caught Roy Moore’s eye. As he wrote in his 2009 autobiography: Seeing her was something he never forgot.

“Years later,” Moore wrote, when she was 23 -- she’s 14 years his junior-- he finally met her. They wed in 1985.

Now, Kayla Moore is doing more than standing by her husband -- she’s his most aggressive defender against allegations threatening his Republican bid for U.S. Senate.

When Moore makes a public appearance, Kayla Moore is there. When something pops up on social media that could help his cause, she shares it on Facebook. And she was the star at the Statehouse rally in Montgomery.

Speakers there said the allegations against Moore were out of character for the man they have known for years.

“I do not recognize the man these ladies are describing,” Ann Eubank, a fixture in Alabama Republican politics, said of the accusers.

Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.

“I think it’s really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he’s dragging us backwards,” Falvey said.

____

Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or republished.

Towards a Hindu Pakistan? - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 14:17

Is India in danger of becoming a Hindu Pakistan? In Washington this question, once too ludicrous to contemplate seriously, has lately acquired currency. For an Indian, it’s a query that can trigger a powerful emotional response. At one extreme stand those who greet it with bilious outrage. At the other are those for whom it evokes quivering concern.

Let me start by stating the obvious: the odds of the officially secular republic of India ever fully mirroring the Islamic republic of Pakistan are vanishingly small.

To begin with, look at demographics. About one-fifth of Hindu-majority India’s population consists of religious minorities; the Pew Research Center predicts that this will rise slightly to nearly one-fourth by 2050. By contrast, Pakistan is 96% Muslim. The only minority group of note is the beleaguered Shia community, estimated to number between 10% and 15% of the country’s 208 million people.

Founding principles matter too. India was born as a secular republic in 1950. Indira Gandhi only wedged the word “secular” into the Constitution’s preamble in 1976, during Emergency, her infamous suspension of democracy. But right from the start India’s Constitution guaranteed equality before the law and freedom of worship, and prohibited any religious test for office.

By contrast, as early as 1949 the Objectives Resolution passed by Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly declared that “Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna.”

In ‘Purifying the Land of the Pure’, a compelling history of Pakistan’s religious minorities, Farahnaz Ispahani argues that this was the first step towards the country’s further Islamisation over the decades. In Pakistan, by law only a Muslim can become president or prime minister.

Nor do Indian secularists face the ideological challenge faced by their counterparts in Pakistan. The Sangh Parivar’s Hindu nationalism may look upon Muslims and Christians with suspicion, but it lacks both the global organisation and the overarching ambition of Islamism, the quest to order all aspects of the state and society according to the tenets of Islamic orthodoxy.

Islamists can fall back on vast jurisprudence and relatively recent historical memory to make their case for a state governed by sharia law. Luckily for India, even the most rabid Hindu fanatic does not seek to reorder 21st century life by the ancient laws of Manu.

All this is for the good, but suggesting that India’s record on minority rights will likely always be better than its western neighbour’s is not really saying very much. Once we get beyond the false question of equivalence, we’re left with an unpleasant truth. In some ways India has already begun to copy some of Pakistan’s worst aspects.

Take, for instance, impunity for violence against members of a religious minority. A string of high profile lynchings of ordinary Indian Muslims by Hindu cow vigilantes has yet to lead to a single conviction. In some cases, as in the 2015 murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh, powerful politicians have instead demanded an investigation of the victim’s family.

Or consider the gradual ghettoisation of concerns about minority rights. Increasingly, India’s secularists appear almost as inconsequential as their Pakistani counterparts. They can draw attention to outrages, such as the roadside lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan this year. But their ability to sway public opinion has withered.

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje may well receive a thrashing from Rajasthan voters next year. But it won’t be on account of her failing to protect the lives of Pehlu Khan or Ummar Khan, another alleged victim of cow vigilantes, or to swiftly bring their murderers to justice.

In parts of India, cow vigilantism has come to resemble Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law. Merely the accusation carries with it the implicit threat of mob violence. Earlier this month, Reuters reported on vigilante gangs in BJP-ruled states that seize cows from Muslims with impunity. Apparently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s calls to end cattle-related violence have not worked.

Given what has come to pass already – with little effective pushback – it’s not hard to imagine things taking an even darker turn.

Take the term Islamophobia, described by one wag as “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.” A new generation of Hindu activists has begun to actively promote the related term Hinduphobia. While framed as a tool to fight discrimination, it will likely have the same malign impact as its Islamic equivalent – of shutting down critical inquiry and fostering a destructive culture of conspiracy theories and self-pity.

From here it’s only a short hop, skip and jump to a Hindu version of takfirism, the dangerous Islamist innovation that allows radicals to declare fellow Muslims as apostates. I grew up in an India where a person who seldom visited a temple and was known to enjoy a fine steak was no less a Hindu than anyone else. It’s fair to wonder whether in the promised new India this will remain the case.

In sum, it’s absurd to claim that India will turn into a Hindu Pakistan. But the readiness of some Hindu nationalists to pilfer the worst ideas from Islamism suggests that fears about India’s trajectory are not entirely misplaced.

The original article can be read here, through The Times of India 

Texas Budget to Include $20 Million for Pro-Life Options

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 13:40

Texas has allocated $20 million in its 2018-2019 budget to go to a pro-life program that offers alternatives to abortion and provides services to new parents.

"If they're self sufficient through the process of childbirth and afterward, that saves the state money and makes for much happier women and children and families," Texas Alliance for Life executive director, Joe Pojman, said, according to the Texas Tribune. The $20 million brings the program's total operating budget to over $38 million.

The Alternatives to Abortion program provides pregnant women with support groups in maternity homes and referrals to community and social service programs like child-care, transportation and housing. It also offers support to new parents on how to best handle the stress of raising a new life. The program also has classes on life skills, stress management, budgeting, as well as items that new parents need like car seats, maternity clothes, infant diapers and formula.

"Clearly the state is prioritizing ideology over public health because a true alternative to abortion would be ensuring access to health care, especially family planning," NARAL Pro-Choice Texas executive director, Heather Busby, said, according to the Texas Tribune.

The new funds will be used to provide services not just for newborns but also for youngsters up to age three, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHS), which is in charge of overseeing the Alternatives To Abortion program. It intends to provide pregnant mothers with access to Medicaid services, food stamps, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The new funds will also go towards job training in order to fuel "greater self-sufficiency and lower reliance on health and human service programs across the lifespan," the HHS report says.

 

Follow Grace on Twitter.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Stopping Obama’s Time Bomb: The First Tax Increase of the Trump Era

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:51

In just six weeks, the first tax increase of the Trump era goes into effect. It’s a delayed, time-released tax hike that Obama left as a parting gift for his successor.

You haven’t heard much about this tax increase. That’s because it was designed to be hidden from those who end up paying for it. And it was designed to go into place after Obama was out of office. But the crafty mechanics of the Democrats’ new tax doesn't make it any less real. And it’s now up to Republicans to make sure it doesn't go into effect on our watch.

Obamacare imposed hefty hidden taxes on American-made medical devices and private-market health insurance policies. These taxes were suspended for 2017 because even Democrats saw they were harming job growth and causing steep premium increases. But the suspensions expire at the end of the year. Unless Congress acts soon, these taxes will go back into effect on January 1, 2018 -- raising taxes by $15 billion next year alone and by hundreds of billions over the next decade. Yet most Republicans are doing nothing to stop it.

To make matters worse, these taxes target seniors, small businesses and American manufacturing.

To be clear: the return of these Obamacare taxes is a tax increase. Republicans are not only failing to repeal Obamacare, they are on the verge of bringing back some of its most harmful provisions.

Taxes That Oppose Republican Values

To make matters worse, these taxes target seniors, small businesses and American manufacturing. This is a tax increase on the Trump bloc.

Medical technology supports nearly two million American jobs. And the industry is one of the few in the U.S. that is a net exporter of its products. According to the medical device trade group, when the tax was suspended, 83 percent of MedTech companies saw increased investments in research and development.

Allowing the 2.3 percent tax to return will put an added burden on an industry already struggling under America's uncompetitive manufacturing policies. This flawed tax is assessed on all U.S. medical device sales -- regardless of whether the company is even profitable. Why on earth would Republicans allow the return of a tax that goes against their plan to revive manufacturing, create jobs and boost growth?

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If Republicans choose to bring this tax back, more than 150 million Americans will see their premiums increase by about 3 percent in 2018. That may not sound like much, but it translates to more than $500 per family. Moreover, the increase would come on top of the many other factors projected to drive up health care costs in 2018, such as soaring prescription drug costs.

Where are the Republicans?

So why isn't the insurance industry mounting a massive lobbying campaign against the return of this tax? Because insurers simply pass the cost on to their customers. The insurance lobby has focused instead on getting a costly taxpayer-funded bailout from Obamacare. The insurers that still remain in the dying Obamacare exchanges would rather receive corporate welfare checks that fatten their bottom lines than prevent a tax increase that harms their customers.

Despite the failed Obamacare repeal push, polling confirms that Republicans will own health care in the minds of voters next year. Perhaps Republicans failed to learn the painful lessons voters taught Democrats in 1994, 2010 and 2014? When you control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and approach health care on a partisan basis, you own the politics of health care.

Republicans campaigned on dual pledges of Obamacare repeal and no tax increases. Allowing these taxes would make a mockery of both.

Republicans could spare voters a $500 premium increase, and support job creation, just by keeping the current bipartisan suspension of the Obamacare taxes. Yet far too many Republicans seem intent on allowing a tax increase on their watch. In fact, while looking the other way as Obamacare taxes return, some Establishment Republicans and are even joining Democrats in support of the Obamacare bailout.

Republicans Need to Step Up

In fairness, not all Republicans are standing idly by while the Obamacare taxes return. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., along with a number of conservative senators, is leading an effort against the return of the tax on health insurance. Many Republicans are supporting legislation to repeal the medical device tax. But time is running out.

Republicans campaigned on dual pledges of Obamacare repeal and no tax increases. Allowing a stealth tax from the Obama administration to be the first tax increase of the Trump era makes a mockery of both of those pledges. And Republicans in Washington wonder why they face a grassroots revolt. They need to step up now.

 

Ken Blackwell is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Taxpayers Union. He served as a domestic policy advisor to the Trump Presidential Translation Team.

Trump Just Named Five New Possible Supreme Court Nominees

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:34

President Donald Trump added five names to his list of possible Supreme Court nominees Friday, as loyalists of the conservative Federalist Society gather in Washington to celebrate the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch and a bevy of lower court nominees.

The White House said the president will pick his next nominee to the high court from a list of 25 contenders. That list includes 20 possible candidates first identified during the 2016 presidential campaign, and five additional contenders named Friday.

The five new contenders are Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Britt Grant of the Georgia Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit, Judge Kevin Newsom of the 11th Circuit and Justice Patrick Wyrick of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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Barrett and Newsom are among the half-dozen appeals court judges President Trump has appointed during his first year.

"The president remains deeply committed to identifying and selecting outstanding jurists in the mold of Justice Gorsuch," the White House said in a statement. "These additions, like those on the original list released more than a year ago, were selected with input from respected conservative leaders."

 

Follow Kevin on Twitter. Send tips to kevin@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Copyright 2017 Daily Caller News Foundation

Lebanon’s PM Hariri Leaves Saudi Arabia for France

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:30

BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia for France early Saturday, two weeks after declaring his resignation from the kingdom and sparking speculation that he was forced to do so.

The surprise resignation announcement by Hariri on Nov. 4 plunged his country into turmoil and stunned the Lebanese, many of whom saw it as a sign the Sunni kingdom -- the prime minister’s chief ally -- had decided to drag tiny Lebanon into its feud with the region’s other powerhouse, the predominantly Shiite Iran. Lebanon still hasn’t recognized his resignation.

In his televised announcement, Hariri cited Iran and Hezbollah for meddling in Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. He also said he was afraid for his life.

Shortly before he left Riyadh, Saudi Arabia asked its citizens for the second time in less than two weeks to leave Lebanon “as soon as possible” given the “circumstances” there. Less than a week after Hariri resigned, Riyadh ordered its nationals to leave immediately, raising fears of more punitive actions to come amid sharp criticism from Saudi officials of Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon.

The announcement early Saturday was posted on the Saudi embassy Twitter account. It came shortly after the embassy reported that it is closely following reports of an attack on two Saudi nationals in a Beirut neighborhood. There was no immediate security report of the incident. Hariri tweeted before he left Saudi Arabia that any attack on a Saudi is an attack on him personally.

Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi national, stunned Lebanon and the region when he declared his resignation from Saudi Arabia, sparking speculations he was held against his will and forced to resign.

In a series of tweets before leaving, Hariri dismissed as “rumors” and a “lie” reports that he was detained or prevented from leaving the kingdom. In a rare English tweet, Hariri named German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel when announcing that he was heading to the airport in Saudi Arabia. He apparently singled out the top German diplomat because he had criticized meddling in Lebanon’s affairs.

“To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie,” Hariri said. “I am on the way to the airport Mr. Sigmar Gabriel.”

Before heading to the airport, Hariri met with the Saudi Crown Prince and other senior officials, according to a member of Hariri’s political party and two Lebanese television stations.

He is expected to arrive in Paris Saturday morning. Local Lebanese TV said he left Riyadh with his wife. His family had lived in Riyadh for years.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said Hariri will be received “with the honors due a prime minister” even though he has announced his resignation.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun accused Saudi Arabia of detaining him.

Saudi officials denied the reports, adding that Hariri was an ally. But they railed against Iran-backed Hezbollah, accusing the two of meddling in the region’s affairs and backing anti-Saudi rebels in Yemen.

The resignation by Saudi-aligned Hariri raised concerns in a region already beset by conflict. Many feared Lebanon’s delicate sectarian-based political system could be easily upended if the county is dragged into a battle for regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said there will be no stability in Lebanon unless the militant group Hezbollah disarms. “This is what we hope,” Adel al-Jubeir said at a press conference in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart.

It was the second day in a row that the Saudi minister railed against Hezbollah. On Thursday, he called the group a “first-class terrorist organization” that should lay down its arms and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty. Saudi Arabia has already asked its nationals to leave Lebanon.

The Arab League is due to hold a meeting on Sunday in Cairo at Saudi Arabia’s urging where the Lebanon crisis and Iran’s role in the region are expected to be discussed. Many fear more Saudi punitive actions against Lebanon may be planned.

“My stay in the kingdom is to consult about the future of Lebanon and its relation with its Arab environs,” he tweeted earlier. “All stories spreading about my sojourn and departure or that deal with the circumstances of my family are merely rumors.”

Macron, speaking at an EU summit in Goteborg, Sweden, said Hariri could stay in Paris for weeks should he choose.

Macron said that Hariri “has the intention, I believe, of going to his country in the days or weeks ahead,” the first time a possible timeframe has been evoked.

It was not clear what the intention of the French invitation was. Hariri also has homes in France. Some viewed the French invite as an attempt to dispel reports Hariri was detained.

France, Lebanon’s former colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate the crisis and Macron invited Hariri and his family to the country after his foreign minister met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the crisis.

___

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut and Jeff Schaeffer and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or republished.

Spike Lee in Time: 'Agent Orange' Trump 'Giving a Green Light' to the KKK to Come Out

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:17
<p>The November 20 issue of <em>Time</em> offers the usual bucket of liberal "goodies" – a profile of Trump-trashing Gold Star Dad Khizr Khan and his new book, a book excerpt from Dan Rather, and a glowing review of Pete Souza’s book chronicling his amazing days as White House photographer to the one and only Barack Obama – “born out of scraps of history and hope,” <em>Time</em> said when he won. Then there was a spicy “Conversation” with black filmmakers Spike Lee and Dee Rees to celebrate their new work featured on Netflix. It wouldn’t be long before talk of Amerikkka and racism.</p>

How America Turned Into a Nation of Small Gods

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:05

America has moved beyond Christianity, beyond post-Christianity, to a new religion of small gods everywhere. How did we get to this point?

I’m not talking about old-fashioned self-worship. This isn't merely, "I'm more important than you." Individuals are assuming the very power of God to create their own realities and command others to comply. As I've written recently,

What else besides a claim of godhood is going on, after all, when a man declares himself a woman, and insists that his new sex ("gender") is reality, not only for himself but for everyone else? What else explains his demand that everyone kneel in obedience to the new reality he has created? How else do we make sense of doctors and judges claiming they can decide whose life is worth living?

We could trace this movement all the way to Satan's suggestion to Eve that she should become like God. But at least four modern streams feed this movement.

1. Discarding the True God

The first is the West's gradual discarding of the true God. Not long ago I was with a group of men doing Bible study together. One of the older men said he could remember saying the Lord's Prayer in public school. The younger men in the group were visibly surprised that anyone could recall such a thing.

This "freedom" -- almost god-like in its way -- wasn't real. But it felt like it.

For the U.S., 1963 marks a tragic turning point, when prayer was expelled from school. We all know the story since then. More and more, year after year, in both culture and policy, the Western world has continued finding creative new ways to reject God.

2. Increasing Personal Power (For Some)

The 60s were infamous for the sexual revolution, of course. But something even more significant lay behind: personal pleasure without personal responsibility. Sex was separated from childbirth by the Pill, and from venereal disease by still other pills. Despite high rates of inflation, the economy was strong enough to allow people to indulge in everything from unprecedented leisure time to unprecedented drug use.

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Obviously not everyone benefited from that. Poverty and racial injustice were very real. For those who did, though, there was a new-found freedom from natural cause and effect. This "freedom" -- almost god-like in its way -- wasn't real. But it felt like it.

3. Contempt for Authority

Meanwhile the Vietnam War gave rise to a new contempt for authority. Watergate in the 1970s was no help at all -- to put it mildly. Neither were later revelations of corporate economic irresponsibility, of Roman Catholic disregard for priests' child abuse, or a president's power-abusive sexual escapades. Could any trusted authority be found anymore?

People began turning inward for the answer, making themselves their own authority, especially in regard to ethics and religious "truth."

The conflict today is a religious battle through and through -- even for those who call themselves secularists.

They called it "relativism." It could as easily have been called the self's assuming powers never known before. Individuals claimed the power to determine truth for themselves, regardless of what reality, tradition, religion or God Himself might say. They decided what would be true in their own worlds -- again, a very god-like move to make.

4. Postmodernism

This relativism was supported by an originally obscure academic movement called postmodernism. In his 1967 essay "The Death of the Author," postmodernist Roland Barthes argued that there is something wrong in thinking an author "rules" over the "empire" of his creation. The reader ruled instead.

Other writers in that vein declared language a tool for getting power rather than for communicating meaning. And they cast aside all integrated explanations of reality ("meta-narratives"). Their world was fragmented into pieces. So were its citizens.

Where We stand, Where We're Heading

I have written of the loneliness of the small gods, isolated in their separately constituted worlds. Reality, however, still says we share a real, common world. We can't segment ourselves; we must interact. We can do it either as friends, or  as a battlefield of small gods, each one fighting for supremacy. Too many are choosing the latter.

The conflict today is a religious battle through and through -- even for those who call themselves secularists. On the one side are millions of small gods maneuvering their way through their shifting alliances, petty battles and grand wars. On the other there is the conservative, theistic remainder. It includes those of us who know there is one true God, and a reality we must discover and submit ourselves to, rather than create and control.

When situations change, strategies must change with them.

When situations change, strategies must change with them. Strategy will work only to the extent that it matches with reality: both eternal reality and the current lay of the land.

Which means we have to see today's struggle for what it is. This isn't just a political battle, though it has a political side to it. It isn't just cultural, either, though culture features strongly in it. It’s a spiritual battle. It's a battle against the religion of the small gods. 

 

For more, see Tom Gilson’s Christians Today are Expatriates, Not Exiles and We Don't Own Much of American Culture Anymore -- What Now?.

NY Times Op-Ed: 'The Pence Rule' Is a False Solution to 'Male Predation'

NewsBusters - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 11:49
<p>On Wednesday, Katelyn Beaty, described as "an editor at large for <em>Christianity Today</em> and the author of 'A Woman’s Place,'" tried to make "A Christian Case Against the 'Pence Rule.'"  In the process, she smeared the rule, and the Vice President, as being in place primarily to avoid "male predation."</p>

Christians, We’re a Team. Let’s Act Like One

The Stream - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 10:00

When kids start playing sports, one of the first things they learn is that “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” A bit cheesy? Sure. Overused? Maybe a tad. Nevertheless, the saying is true. A good team works together.

Christians, we’re a team. But we’re pros at finding a way to insert the “I” in the T-E-A-M. As any seasoned athlete or sports fan knows, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Just look at football. 

On the football team, every player has a distinct role. A team can’t win without a really good quarterback. But he can’t do everything. Without an offensive line that executes their blocking scheme, the quarterback can’t get his passes off and the running back can’t get through the line. Just one guard decides to block the middle linebacker rather than the defensive tackle he’s supposed to block, and the whole play breaks down.

Bottom line: when players fail to fulfill their duties, their teammates suffer. And the whole team loses. 

How Christians Put the “I” in “Team”

Back to us Christians. How do we stick the “I” in T-E-A-M? Plenty of ways. Like when we try to take over a job that’s not ours. Or fail to be there for a teammate in need. Or sow discord among team members, rather than fighting the opponents. 

Think you’re guilt free? When was the last time you plowed through something you should have passed off? It’s not like you were trying to take more glory. Maybe you wanted to make sure it got done right. And to be honest, you didn’t really trust your teammate. So you muttered, “I’ll just do it myself.”

But your job was to focus on your task and let your teammate focus on theirs. Instead, you proved your distrust of the coach. He designed the play, after all. And while you deprived your teammate of fulfilling their potential, you also left your own task undone. 

It’s time to step up and block for each other. Because Satan hits hard. And he takes cheap shots.

When was the last time you slacked off as a spiritual guard for your fellow Christians? You knew the enemy was coming full speed, ready to take down your teammate. But you didn’t block. It’s not like you were trying to let your teammate take the hit. Maybe you were just busy.

But your job was to pay attention, even if it meant getting hit yourself. Instead, you lagged. You didn’t intercede for them or even check in. You weren’t there. 

When was the last time you spoke unwholesome words about a fellow believer? Or harbored resentment toward them in your heart? It’s not like you wanted to fight your own team. They wronged you. 

But your job was to unify your team. Instead, you sowed discord and even hatred among teammates. Meanwhile the opposing team -- the real enemy -- took advantage. 

Let’s Be Teammates

The ugly truth is that we’ve all failed on these accounts at one time or another. We’ve all failed at being a team. We’ve managed to put the “I” -- our own ambitions, comfort and desires -- where it doesn’t belong. 

But we need each other. So it’s time to stop bickering. It’s time to listen to the coach, obey him, and complete the tasks he’s given us. It’s time to step up and block for each other.

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Because Satan hits hard. And he takes cheap shots. He’ll brutally tackle any one of us he can. When we’re not watching out for each other, we all suffer. But when we stand together as a team, there is power.

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18

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