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Peter Wehner, a prominent #NeverTrump conservative, has disowned the evangelical label. He says that the “support being given by many Republicans and white evangelicals to President Trump and now to Mr. Moore have caused me to rethink my identification with both groups. Not because my attachment to conservatism and Christianity has weakened, but rather the opposite. I consider Mr. Trump’s Republican Party to be a threat to conservatism, and I have concluded that the term evangelical – despite its rich history of proclaiming the ‘good news’ of Christ to a broken world – has been so distorted that it is now undermining the Christian witness.”
The close association with Trump has alienated nonwhite and women who have identified in the past as evangelical, The New York Times reports.
Now, we are NOT saying that Christians should refrain from participating in the political life of the country, nor are we saying that Trump and this particular generation of evangelical leaders are solely responsible for the decline in religiosity. However, what we are saying is that obsession with political power and cult-like followings of secular political leaders do not preserve faith or create a religious revival. To the contrary, this breeds anger, resentment and obsession with politics, not faith. The notion of Christians as victims in America, martyrs in a culture war, is both at odds with reality and an example of blame-shifting. To cultivate a more religious society and one more in tune with their own values, faith leaders might consider spending less time licking envelopes for Roy Moore and more time tending to their spiritual flocks.


American Rhetoric: Movie Speech
“Meet John Doe” (1941)

John Doe Delivers National Radio Address


If anybody should ask you what the average John Doe is like, you couldn’t tell him because he’s a million and one things. He’s Mr. Big and Mr. Small. He’s simple and he’s wise. He’s inherently honest, but he’s got a streak of larceny in his heart. He seldom walks up to a public telephone without shoving his finger into the slot to see if somebody left a nickel there.

He’s the man the ads are written for. He’s the fella everybody sells things to. He’s Joe Doakes, the world’s greatest stooge and the world’s greatest strength.

Yes, sir — Yes, sir, we’re a great family, the John Does. We are the meek who are — who are supposed to inherit the earth. You’ll find us everywhere. We raise the crops; we dig the mines, work the factories, keep the books, fly the planes and drive the busses. And when a cop yells: “Stand back there, you!” He means us, the John Does!

We have existed since time began. We built the pyramids. We pulled the oars for Roman emperors, sailed the boats for Columbus, retreated from Moscow with Napoleon and froze with Washington at Valley Forge.

Yes, sir. We’ve been in there dodging left hooks since before history began to walk. In our struggle for freedom we’ve hit the canvas many a time, but we always bounced back! Because we’re the people — and we’re tough.

They’ve started a lot of talk about free people going soft — that we can’t take it. That’s a lot of hooeyl A free people can beat the world at anything, from war to tiddle-de-winks, if we all pull in the same direction.

I know a lot of you are saying “What can I do? I’m just a little punk. I don’t count.” Well, you’re dead wrong! The little punks have always counted because in the long run the character of a country is the sum total of the character of its little punks.
But, we’ve all got to get in there and pitch. We can’t win the old ballgame unless we have teamwork. And that’s where every John Doe comes in. It’s up to him to get together with his teammates. And your teammate, my friend, is the guy next door to you. Your neighbor — he’s a terribly important guy that guy next door. You’re gonna need him and he’s gonna need you, so look him up. If he’s sick, call on him. If he’s hungry, feed him. If he’s out of a job, find him one.
To most of you, your neighbor is a stranger, a guy with a barkin’ dog and high fence around him. Now, you can’t be a stranger to any guy that’s on your own team. So tear down the fence that separates you. Tear down the fence and you’ll tear down a lot of hates and prejudices. Tear down all the fences in the country and you’ll really have teamwork.
I know a lot of you are saying to yourselves, “He’s askin’ for a miracle to happen. He’s expectin’ people to change all of a sudden. Well, you’re wrong. It’s no miracle. It’s no miracle because I see it happen once every year. And, and so do you — at Christmas time. There’s somethin’ swell about the spirit of Christmas, to see what it does to people, all kinds of people.
Now, why can’t that spirit, that same, warm Christmas spirit last the whole year around? Gosh, if it ever did, if each and every John Doe would make that spirit last 365 days out of the year, we’d develop such strength, we’d create such a tidal wave of good will that no human force could stand against it. Yes sir, my friends, the meek can only inherit the earth when the John Doe’s start lovin’ their neighbors.
You better start right now. Don’t wait till the game is called on account of darkness.
Wake up, John Doe. You’re the hope of the world.





Q: What about overall? If you had to say where things are at today, in terms of church-state separation, compared to when you took over at Americans United in 1992, where are they?

A: Overall things have advanced. I don’t believe this administration’s negative view will prevail very long because it’s inconsistent with what the American people want. They don’t believe government money should go to promote religion. Their hearts and minds are far, far moved from where they were 25 years ago…I think there is an enormous growth in tolerance…Once you make a certain amount of progress, you never get back to the same starting point. People have become more tolerant, more accepting.
It’s only a bad time because the Supreme Court looks to be at genuine risk of falling into the hands of a majority of so-called Originalists.
I do this sermon called ‘The Two Worst Ways to Make Policy: Constitutional Originalism and Biblical Literalism.’
The Bible is a wonderful book, but it’s not an ethics textbook, that’s not how it was created. And Constitutional Originalism depends on the fiction that you can tell exactly what the first Congress meant when it passed the Bill of Rights. Most of that is lost to history.

Q: But you came from a pretty conservative part of the country [he grew up in Bethlehem, Pa.]
A: I remember in high school going to a debate between Buckley and [Socialist leader] Norman Thomas. I thought: Man, this is going to be fun! My Dad and I were big Buckley fans. I can still remember the feeling, sitting in the bleachers, thinking: ‘I think something life changing is happening’ to me. Buckley was talking about himself, and Thomas was talking about community, and how you have to take into account concerns of everyone, and I’m thinking: ‘This is kind of like what I learn about in Sunday school!’ Years later I was with Buckley and I said: ‘Your failure that night created me.’
I realized that night [that] this super-conservativism is just inconsistent with moral principles. Because you can’t live a life that doesn’t touch everybody else’s.




Sometimes I get so upset at ourselves for not holding up our heads and be proud for what Democrats and Liberals have done for America. Why don’t our leaders in congress shout it out! We have many young people that may not know this political history and we have many politically unaware citizens that certainly don’t know. I made this video in 2008 to spread the word.



When I first started studying politics I noticed how the “right” does a great job at demoralizing the other side. I would say going on 30 years. It worked so great many people over the years have voted Republican. I just hope what we see now in our politics, that America has not turned into a far right country. Help us all if it has!



For many Americans, Russian hacking remains a story about the 2016 election. But there is another story taking shape. Marrying a hundred years of expertise in influence operations to the new world of social media, Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion. The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology.

If that sounds alarming, it helps to understand the battlescape of this new information war. As they tweet and like and upvote their way through social media, Americans generate a vast trove of data on what they think and how they respond to ideas and arguments–literally thousands of expressions of belief every second on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Google. All of those digitized convictions are collected and stored, and much of that data is available commercially to anyone with sufficient computing power to take advantage of it.
That’s where the algorithms come in. American researchers have found they can use mathematical formulas to segment huge populations into thousands of subgroups according to defining characteristics like religion and political beliefs or taste in TV shows and music. Other algorithms can determine those groups’ hot-button issues and identify “followers” among them, pinpointing those most susceptible to suggestion. Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior.
That is what Moscow is doing, more than a dozen senior intelligence officials and others investigating Russia’s influence operations tell TIME.
In May 2016, a Russian military intelligence officer bragged to a colleague that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State. The GRU, he said, was going to cause chaos in the upcoming U.S. election. Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn’t imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making.
These officials have seen evidence of Russia using its algorithmic techniques to target the social media accounts of particular reporters, senior intelligence officials tell TIME. “It’s not necessarily the journal or the newspaper or the TV show,” says the senior intelligence official. “It’s the specific reporter that they find who might be a little bit slanted toward believing things, and they’ll hit him” with a flood of fake news stories.
By raising doubts about the validity of the 2016 vote and the vulnerability of future elections, Russia has achieved its most important objective: undermining the credibility of American democracy.
For now, investigators have added the names of specific trolls and botnets to their wall charts in the offices of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. They say the best way to compete with the Russian model is by having a better message. “It requires critical thinkers and people who have a more powerful vision” than the cynical Russian view, says former NSA deputy Inglis. And what message is powerful enough to take on the firehose of falsehoods that Russia is deploying in targeted, effective ways across a range of new media? One good place to start: telling the truth.

“It is significant that we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and not an individual leader, ruler, office or entity,” reads an explainer on the oath on the FBI website. “A government based on individuals–who are inconsistent, fallible and often prone to error–too easily leads to tyranny on the one extreme or anarchy on the other.”
In practice, this means the FBI is built to resist loyalty requests from a President. Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s acting director and a candidate for the job, has testified to the Senate that there will be no letup, whatever the wishes of the President, in the inquiry into his campaign’s contacts with the Russians. “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date,” he said. “You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, from protecting the American people, from upholding the Constitution.”
Both factions have labored to protect the President from his worst instincts. Aides have tried everything from restricting access to the Oval Office to filling the President’s schedule in a futile bid to minimize distractions. Staffers are frustrated by leaks about staff turmoil coming from Trump’s extended circle of allies. But Trump has so far resisted attempts to impose order, insisting on long stretches of unstructured time to watch television and call allies. Unlike most CEOs, he is an “instinctive and reactive” leader, in the words of one aide, “unwilling or incapable” of hewing to a long-term strategy. Others inside the White House have likened his itchy Twitter finger and obsession with cable chatter to a drug addict who cannot grasp that his habits have become a problem. A single segment “can take over the day” for the entire West Wing, complains a staffer.
The result is a dysfunctional workplace. The President has made clear that he believes he has been let down by his staff. Meanwhile, his staff is increasingly hesitant to sacrifice their credibility for a boss who won’t protect them. When news of the classified intelligence given to the Russians came out, the press office, still reeling from supplying bad information on the firing of Comey, sent out McMaster to issue a spirited defense. One day later, when news broke of Comey’s memo alleging that Trump had asked him to drop the Flynn investigation, no White House staff rushed to the cameras. Instead, reporters received a denial from the White House by email. No adviser to the President chose to attach their name to his defense.


Because Trump says so many outrageous things every day, it’s easy to lose sight of just how dramatic this shift in paradigm is going to be and just how profound will be the consequences on the ground. For 70 years, the United States has helped maintain peace in much of the world thanks to a system of alliances based on a common belief in democracy. For the same period of time, American presidents have supported those alliances rhetorically as well as militarily and economically, and the United States has profited from that support. Now that the U.S. president no longer distinguishes between dictators and democrats, expect the former to grow stronger and more violent. Expect democratic alliances to grow weaker. Expect peace and prosperity to diminish.
Expect people to look elsewhere for moral leadership. During a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, one Western leader publicly asked him to stop religious repression and the torture of gay men in Russian prisons. That’s the kind of language we were once accustomed to hearing from the “leader of the free world” — and, of course, that’s the language we can expect now only from the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.~Anne Applebaum The Washington Post

Article: It is widely known that Trump — whose political profile over the decades has vacillated from liberal to conservative to moderate to populist, and supported and opposed abortion rights, higher taxes on the rich, and universal health care — does not care very much about political ideas. This explanation is true, but incomplete. The president also does not know very much about political ideas. And it is not merely the details of policy that he lacks. Trump has no context for processing ideas. He does not understand which kinds of ideas imply support for which kinds of policies, nor why political figures tend to believe what they do, nor why they agree or disagree with one another. He is capable of forming strongly held beliefs about people in politics, but he does so in entirely personal terms. Trump’s flamboyant, weird ignorance reveals a distinct pattern. He is not so much nonideological as sub-ideological.
Trump thinks about politics like a low-information voter, which enabled him to speak their language naturally. His stated belief during the campaign that he could expertly craft a series of popular deals — “it’s going to be so easy” — appealed to low-information voters because it earnestly described the political world as they see it. Trump’s experience as a developer and professional celebrity have put a narcissistic gloss on Trump’s low-information worldview. He sees politics as a variation of real estate or reality television — a field where the players are sorted not so much as combatants on opposing teams (though they may compete at times) but on a hierarchy of success, with the big stars at the top sharing interests in common. His vague boasts that his presidency would create terrific things that everybody loves and is winning again is a version of how he truly sees the world.
Politics is a strange institution that forces committed professionals who have coherent philosophical beliefs to persuade voters who mostly do not. Barack Obama accomplished this in highbrow fashion. His characteristic political style was to incorporate the values of both left and right and try to technocratically synthesize the perspectives together. (“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.”) Trump accomplishes it in lowbrow style, by literally not understanding the source of the disagreement.
Trump Isn’t a Pragmatist. He Doesn’t Understand Ideology.

Three months into his presidency, the rest of Europe too is still deeply unsettled over this new president unlike any other, confused about whether he’s a dangerous ideologue or merely dangerously ignorant—and desperately seeking ways to stop him from pursuing the foreign policy of Russia-reconciling and European Union-bashing he promised on the campaign trail.
As Trump prepares for the first overseas trip of his presidency later this month, with European stops planned in Brussels for a NATO summit and Sicily, Italy, for a G7 meeting, it’s clear he’ll be coming to a continent whose political class both fears and loathes him to an unprecedented degree.
“Donald Trump is probably one of the least popular American presidents on this side of the Atlantic for a very long time,” says Bildt, a card-carrying member of Europe’s political class and charter member of the security institutions that have shaped its post-Cold War order.
Do Europeans dislike Trump even more than George W. Bush, I ask, recalling the hostile days after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that most Europeans opposed and which keeps Bush from visiting the continent to this day?
Yes, Bildt tells me. Trump’s “brutal” and “vulgar” campaigning, his disdain for the facts, his lack of “civility,” are much worse than the policy disputes of the Bush era; they’ve already “caused a gulf to open up between us.”


Deconstructing Trump-speak

Deconstructing Trump-speak
“Trump’s trademark talk is full of rambling, aside-filled bursts of simple but definitive words, laden with self-congratulatory bravado and claims that have fact-checkers working overtime,” AP’s Matt Sedensky writes after asking linguists about Trump’s rhetorical signatures:
• Kathleen Hall Jamieson: “The public speech of the president in the past has been crafted speech, it has been considered speech. Presidents prepared before speeches, presidents prepared before press conferences, presidents had stock answers ready to give.”
• “Word choice is typically simple — to Trump, things are terrible or incredible, best or worst. Asides are frequent. And repetition is rampant: When Trump wants to get a point across, he makes it again and again.”
• “Trump has suggested there’s method to his word choice … that the simple terms he often opts for can be more effective than the flowery eloquence listeners may be used to from presidents. ‘I went to an Ivy League school. I’m very highly educated. I know words; I have the best words,’ he said during the campaign.”
• Historian Kristen Kobes Du Mez of Calvin College: “I don’t know that any president has ever used ‘super-duper’ in his rhetoric before.”
The Trump Doctrine
Yahoo’s Olivier Knox, surveying a wide range of diplomats in Washington, finds that Trump’s “unpredictable approach to world affairs [has] unsettled rivals, but also sometimes unnerves even close allies who wonder if anyone can speak with authority for the Twitter-reliant commander in chief.”
“They also noted that a large number of pivotal positions at the Pentagon and State Department remain vacant, hindering the regular policymaking process.”

Honestly, you didn’t seem all that broken up when Muslim families were handcuffed in airports a couple of months ago, or when mosques were being defaced, or when many of us were pleading the case for families fleeing exactly the kind of monstrous atrocities you were apparently so moved by this week—and getting told to eat our bleeding hearts out by MAGA hat-wearing trolls. You weren’t all that concerned when your President told terrified, exhausted refugees to leave and go home—twice. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t kiss the ring of a bad guy and then get to be the hero by feeling sorry about what other worse guys do. You don’t get to tell people to “go back where they came from,” and then beat your breasts like tortured martyrs when they get poisoned to death back where they came from.   View full article »

Since the rise of the tea party, there have been perhaps 30 members of the House — the Freedom Caucus — who have been consistently unwilling to vote for center-right policy because their anti-government convictions are unappeasable. Incited and abetted by conservative media, they made then-Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) life a living hell, and have greeted Ryan (Wis.) with sharpened pitchforks. So a party at the peak of its political fortunes is utterly paralyzed. A caucus in control of everything is itself uncontrollable. Republicans got an administration that is incompetent. The White House policy process has been erratic and disorganized. It has failed to provide expert analysis or assistance to Congress and did little to effectively advocate the president’s policy in ways that could have united the party.

 Republicans got an administration that is morally small. Trump’s proposed budget would require massive cuts in disease research, global development and agricultural programs — just as a famine gathers a hideous strength. The proposed budget practices random acts of gratuitous cruelty. This is a pretty bad combination: empty, easily distracted, vindictive, shallow, impatient, incompetent and morally small. This is not the profile of a governing party. It can hardly surprise us. The president had no governing experience. He has no detailed governing agenda. He trashed everyone who tried to govern in the past. And we somehow expect him to overcome the complex governing task presented by the Freedom Caucus? His new strategy is to go on the attack:

And all this has come in the course of the president’s political honeymoon. What, for goodness’ sake, will the marriage be like? It is now dawning on Republicans what they have done to themselves. They thought they could somehow get away with Trump. That he could be contained. That the adults could provide guidance. That the economy might come to the rescue. That the damage could be limited. Instead, they are seeing a downward spiral of incompetence and public contempt — a collapse that is yet to reach a floor. A presidency is failing. A party unable to govern is becoming unfit to govern. And what, in the short term, can be done about it? Nothing. Nothing at all.






While producing a CNN documentary on health-care systems around the globe, I was particularly struck by the experience of Taiwan, another free-market haven. In 1995, 41 percent of its population was uninsured and the country had very poor health outcomes. The government decided to canvass the world for the best ideas before instituting a new framework. It chose Medicare for all, a single government payer, with multiple private providers. The results are astonishing. Taiwan has achieved some of the best outcomes in the world while paying only 7 percent of its gross domestic product on health care (compared with 18 percent in the United States). I asked William Hsiao, an economist who helped devise the country’s model, what lessons they took, if any, from the United States. “You can learn what not to do from the United States rather than learn what to do,” he replied.

Fareed Zakaria

By Fareed Zakaria
Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017

The recent Republican debacle on health care could prove to be an opportunity. It highlighted, yet again, the complexity of the U.S. system, which continues to be by far the most expensive and inefficient in the advanced world. But President Trump could actually use the legislative collapse to fix health care if he went back to basics and to his core convictions on the topic, which are surprisingly intelligent and consistent.

There is an understandable impulse on the right to assume that health care would work more efficiently if it were a free market, or a freer market. This is true for most goods and services. But in 1963, economist Kenneth Arrow, who later won a Nobel Prize, offered an explanation as to why markets would not work well in this area. He argued that there was a huge mismatch of power and…

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Trust in the Age of Trump

Trust is a transaction between leaders and those they lead. Throughout our history, the deeply held beliefs of various Presidents have taken the nation into war, delayed the pursuit of peace, alienated allies, appeased enemies. At other times, presidential beliefs have conquered the continent, freed the slaves, taken us to the moon because the President firmly believed we could get there. As citizens, it is vital that we be able to believe our President; it is also vital that we know what he believes, and why. This President has made both a severe challenge.
Nancy Gibbs, EDITOR This appears in the April 03, 2017 issue of TIME.
Without truth there is no trust.
Speaking on national television the night before that 1970 election, Senator Ed Muskie of Maine addressed the real choice confronting the voters: “There are only two kinds of politics. They’re not radical and reactionary or conservative and liberal or even Democratic and Republican. There are only the politics of fear and the politics of trust. One says you are encircled by monstrous dangers. Give us power over your freedom so we may protect you. The other says the world is a baffling and hazardous place, but it can be shaped to the will of men. “Cast your vote,” he concluded, “for trust in the ancient traditions of this home for freedom.”
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