Sigrid Nunez’s National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy – World Socialist Web Site

Sigrid Nunezs National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy By James McDonald 18 January 2020

The Friend (2018) is Sigrid Nunezs National Book Award-winning novel about a middle-aged writing instructor whose recently deceased friend and mentor has bequeathed her his enormous Great Dane.

Thats it. With densely weighted details and chatty digression, Nunez wrings both emotional depth and incisive social observation from a story about the adoption of a burdensome dog by a grieving woman who doesnt like dogs.

The Friend is narrated by the woman who, like all the other characters except Apollo the dog and Hector, the superintendent of her Manhattan apartment building, remains nameless. The novel is told in the first person, addressed to you, the womans friend, who has committed suicide. You, a teacher and only moderately successful writer, was unwilling, the woman surmises, to endure an autumnal existence bereft of the womanizing that appears to have been the chief reward of his career.

The strength of The Friend is Nunezs characteristic narrative restraint. The novel is written in her trademark crisp, unadorned prose, which compels the reader through the pages as if we are being led by Apollo on a brisk walk. More than this, the narrative reveals itself to be a tour de force of understatement as we come to know the complexity of the womans relationship to You, and to Apollo, likely better than she herself.

Early on, in a conversation with Wife Three, who is delivering the news that You wanted the narrator to take his dog, Nunez offers up an impressive display of doubling. The narrators thoughts digress to her deceased friends increasingly pathetic sexual encounters with students and from there to the J.M. Coetzee novel Disgrace, in which the protagonist exhibits the same sad proclivities, at which point Wife Three brings up the dog. The narrator relates,

When you decided you wanted to keep the dog, you and she had a big fight. A beautiful animaland how could she not feel sorry for the poor thing, being abandoned like that. But she didnt like dogs...She told you she refused to share any responsibility for itfor example, when you had to go out of town.

And it is a taste of Nunezs poignant sense of humor when Wife Three complains, You cant explain death to a dog.

Nunez makes reference on several occasions to Milan Kundera, whose novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being also features an adopted dog, and The Friend decidedly shares formal affinities with the Czech novelists work. Such as the references to other writers. In the course of The Friend, Nunez alludes to Flannery OConnor, J.R. Ackerley, Heinrich von Kleist, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Elizabeth Bishop, to name a few. Such allusions occur naturally enough in a novel narrated by a creative writing teacher. (Although she teaches in a college, the woman never refers to herself as a professor.)

As with Kundera, the literary allusions, as well as the many historical and scientific asideswe are told, for instance, of Kleists murder-suicide pact with his terminally ill lover and a wealth of knowledge and lore about caninesbear a certain formality, presented not in dialogue or in narrated events but as discrete digressions addressed at once to You and to the reader.

Also, like Kundera, Nunez conducts with her novel overt intellectual inquiries of which the narrative is both the occasion and a functioning component. In the case of The Friend, these inquiries take up matters of love, contemporary academia and misanthropy.

In keeping with this contemplative, agreeably didactic form, the overall tone of The Friend is a cool detachment, a mulled-over past tense that seldom broaches emotional immediacy. Even a description of her crying over her dead friend and imagining seeing him on the street is prefaced with a factoid:

Its true that if you cry hard enough for long enough you can end up with blurred vision.

Of course, such moments serve purposes in the novel, and in this instance, Nunez continues The Friends interesting consideration of lasting trauma as a cost of love. (She opens the novel with an account of Cambodian women who suffer blindness as a result of seeing loved ones tortured and murdered.) A consequence of this reserved tone is that, when Nunez does bring her narrator to a moment that exceeds contemplation, the effect is arresting.

It is the costs of love, of friendship and marriageand conversely, the ideals of lovethat work quietly within the womans narrative. Has fear of love kept her from taking a partner? Has her love for You prevented her marrying another? Apollo too suffers from the loss of his owner, and the woman wonders intermittently about the grief and famous loyalty of dogs. To the consternation of her friends and colleagues, she too exhibits an overwhelming loyalty to Apollo, risking homelessness rather than live in her pet-free building without him.

Given its academic setting, it is possible to read The Friend as a postmortem of the dead white male (one of the deceased writers colleagues quips in the funeral parlor that he is now a dead white male), an expression of a high anxiety of influence. Nunez writes in and of a historical moment that is post-feminist, postmodern and self-consciously multicultural. In fact, some of the novels most intellectually energetic moments come when the narrator confronts the effects identity and so-called cancel culture have on her students, who are thoroughly indoctrinated, and her colleagues, who are demoralized. (Where, one wonders, are the indoctrinating professors?)

Nunezs treatment of identity politics and other symptoms of educations decline is sensitive and humane, giving time to her (narrators) frustration with the triggered campus and to sympathy for the argument that writing should now be dominated by those whose voices have been underrepresented in print. But The Friend does seem to give the last word to an identity politics of race and culture, which may have played a role in endearing it to those arbiters of contemporary taste, the National Book Award judges. Missing from the novel is any unifying vision of an oppressed class, of a bourgeoisie in crisis, of an upper middle-class scramble for diminishing dollars in the worlds of art and academia.

When a writing student tells the narrator that writing is made to seem difficult because the pie is only so big, we might move beyond the narrators dumbstruck silence to an implied social analysis, but such an analysis is hardly encouraged by the novel. Instead, we are prompted to recoil at the new generations pragmatism (at one point her students complain that they arent reading more successful authors). As a result, Nunez falls short of identifying the deeply reactionary and menacing character of identity politics, which deals in harms that go far beyond the worlds of publishing and teaching.

This shortcoming marks The Friends political limitation. And now that we have the New York Times 1619 Project with its mendacious pseudo-historicism, and the irrational anti-education of ethnomathematics, a novel set in the world of contemporary academia must be weighed, in part, in terms of its position on identity politics. The effects of this lack of a historicizing vision, however, run deeper, and it is ironically its misanthropy that most mars this self-consciously humane novel.

Ultimately, the narrator arrives at, or finally reveals, her conclusion that human relationships are too complicated, unfulfilling and, worst of all, not conducive to a kind of beatific goodness she, and Nunez, seek. At least this is the case with living, healthy humans. Again, citing Kundera, the narrator endorses the idea that true human goodness can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. The quest for such goodness is at the heart of The Friend, as it is of Nunezs post-apocalyptic novel Salvation City, whose adolescent protagonist achieves maturity and independence upon the occasion of the incapacitation of his own caretakers.

To see oneself as blessed by virtue of the suffering of others is, by one reckoning, humanisms highest calling. As an end in itself, however, such a position betrays a resignation to the causes of suffering. Why has every aspect of the narrators social and academic life (she has even given up reading) becoming so repugnant, characterized by a calculating, misanthropic ethos? The Friend does not delve into this question. Instead, in a novel that does so much to chart the symptoms of contemporary bourgeois demoralization, the salvation we are offered is an individual altruism and a preference for the nonhuman. The lot of the discouraged or even the misanthrope.

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Sigrid Nunez's National Book Award-winning novel, The Friend: One form of contemporary misanthropy - World Socialist Web Site

Simon Gregson health: Coronation Street star reveals hidden and awful health condition – Express

Simon Gregson is best known for playing the hapless Steve McDonald on Coronation Street, a portrayal that has earned the actor a string of accolades for his comedy and hard-hitting performances over the years. Simon imbues the character with a sense of humanism that can be painful to watch at times, with many storylines involving Steve getting into ill-fated situations.

To deliver his emotionally fraught performances, the soap star may have drawn on difficult moments in his own life.

Simon revealed in a Twitter post a couple of years back that he has grappled with anxiety over the years.

The admission came off the back of watching BBC documentary Nadiya: Anxiety and Me, which starred The Great British Bake Off winner Nadia Hussain.

Taking to Twitter at the time, Simon said: This is real and awful to live with.

READ MORE:Christopher Biggins health: TV star on his life-changing diagnosis -I dont want to die'

The health site explains: Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.

In response to specific circumstances, bouts of anxiety can be perfectly normal, however some people find it hard to control their worries, notes the health site.

Persistent feelings of anxiety can negatively impact your daily life, however, changing your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things.

This may result in symptoms such as:

The condition can also manifest itself physically, causing symptoms such as:

Your symptoms may also take its toll on your social life, as feelings of worry and dread can make people retreat from and friends and family.

How to treat anxiety

Simon found that the combination of therapy and medication helped to alleviate his symptoms.

According to the NHS, if you have been diagnosed with anxiety, you'll usually be advised to try psychological treatment before you're prescribed medication.

A course of cognitive behavioural therapy is usually recommended.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

As the NHS explained: CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts, notes the health site.

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Simon Gregson health: Coronation Street star reveals hidden and awful health condition - Express

ThinkFest thoughts – DAWN.com

NOBEL Laureates are advised to bring their own multimedia equipment when lecturing in Pakistan. At the two-day ThinkFest 2020, held in Lahore recently, the victim was Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2009 and currently president of the Royal Society. Valiantly, he tried to operate the projector from the stage. Eventually, he controlled it manually, from the foot of the stage. Subcontinental by birth, he understood that incompetence is the ineradicable element in our genes that will take centuries to modify.

Dr Ramakrishnan, a structural biologist, first obtained a PhD in physics before migrating to chemistry, in which he began ab initio at the undergrad level and continued to gain a PhD in that speciality as well. Dr Ramakrishnan, in his keynote address, introduced his book Gene Machine: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome (2018).

For a Lahori audience, he might as well have been talking about Japanese netsuke or Gothic architecture, but the genius of any genius is to dumb down without being condescending, to simplify arcane concepts into comprehensible elements. Dr Ramakrishnan left his audience wondering why had they not thought of his conclusions themselves.

The previous day, while opening the ThinkFest 2020, Sir Mark Lyall-Grant analysed the unscientific complexity of International governance and the future of the nation state. Sir Marks family lent its name to the former city of Lyallpur (now Faisalabad). Some wag suggested that he might like to change his name reciprocally to Faisal-Grant. Sir Mark had spent eight years here in Pakistan, lastly as high commissioner before retiring as UKs national security adviser. His views were authoritative, his vision global and then regional.

The event functioned like a well-greased automaton.

Another participant Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former minister and now almost a former Congressite is the last surviving Pakistani still living in India. Like some latter-day Vishnu, he is the ultimate preserver of Indo-Pak amity. To hear him speak whether on his experience as the minister of Indian panchayats or on the death wish of liberal democracy is to be educated in humanism by osmosis.

Among the many sessions on history, one that glowed was Supriya Gandhis introduction of her book Dara Shukoh: the Emperor that Never Was (2020). Supriya is the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and to the despair of BJP diehards, she has chosen, from the safety of Yale university, a Muslim Mughal as her might-have-been hero.

The cruelty inherent in such Thinkfests and LitFests is that the audience is forced to decide between competing sessions. How could one choose between Sarvarkar and the origin of Hindutva and Pakistan and its economy: Why is it always muddling through? Or sit simultaneously in a debate on Where is Pakistan heading in the next 10 years? and Will the provinces bankrupt the centre?: Fiscal devolution post 18th Amendment? Or attend both Jis ki lathi us ki bhains: The rule of law in Pakistan and Defining national security?

To the credit of the organisers, they were able to attract a very high level of speakers from abroad. One stood out: Bruno Maes (a former Portuguese minister and author of Belt and Road: The Sinews of Chinese Power) deserves a multiple-entry visa to Pakistan. The ThinkFest even managed to get cawing members of the opposition and government songbirds to occupy the same perch. No one expects them to sing in harmony. That they could warble without fighting like angry mynahs was itself an achievement.

The ThinkFest 2020 functioned like a well-greased automaton. One was not aware of any prime mover, a mastermind, a behind-the-scenes Svengali. Certainly, there were volunteers who began and ended each session with discreet reminders of expiring minutes, but a conductor controlling this orchestra of disparate talents was hard to detect.

Those experienced in previous Thinkfests suspected such an ambitious enterprise could not have been conceived and launched without the benediction of official patronage. How else can one ensure limitless funding, the mandatory presence of busy government ministers, and an assembly of significant speakers?

The fingerprint of any government agency, however, was missing, but perhaps that was to be expected of any self-effacing body that wants through films, television dramas and such Thinkfests to present a soft image of Pakistan. Contentious issues that have agitated the public the extension of the service chiefs or the verdict against Gen Musharraf were kept discreetly off the menu. Perhaps they have been left to mature, like game, for future roasting.

Lahores social calendar this season is overcrowded with such events. Even though they are held only annually, they are necessary reminders that we Pakistanis need to observe the norms of civilised interaction with other religionists, our neighbours, and most importantly with each other.

The writer is an author and historian.


Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020

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Trumps 2020 campaign created a website offering talking points for debating that liberal snowflake relative over the holidays – MarketWatch

The Margin

By Mark DeCambre

Published: Dec 26, 2019 5:46 pm ET

Flummoxed over how to defend the president against critics in your family? His re-election campaign has come to the rescue.

If youre a supporter of President Trump and felt youd be called on to defend him over the holidays but werent sure what to say, his re-election campaign had you covered.

The campaign created a website intended to provide talking points about the first three years of the 45th presidents first term, as he bids for a second term starting in 2021.

A tweet from an account associated with Brad Parscale, the 2020 campaigns manager, puts it this way: We know that at Christmas and holiday time, theres always that liberal snowflake relative who starts an argument and then runs and hides. This year, dont let them get away with it.

The social-media message offers a link to the URL snowflakevictory.com, which provides a 12-point Trump defense, featuring graphics and video.

The site points to Trumps economic successes first and foremost, if with some syntactical issues: We are enjoying the hottest and strongest economy this country has seen in 50 years and this is due to President Trumps common-sense, job-creating.

For all his unconventionality, Trump has joined the ranks of presidents staking their political fortunes on the performance of the economy and, in his case arguably more than others, the stock market. On Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP+0.78%made history with its first close above 9,000, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA+0.37%and the S&P 500 index SPX+0.51%also closed at all-time highs.

The site defends Trumps approach to immigration and touts the presidents protectionist trade policies as putting America first. Look, Donald Trump wasnt elected President of the World. He was elected President of the United States and so thats what he cares about, reads another recommended talking point.

The Trump campaigns arguments come as the president is facing a Senate impeachment trial that has become a political flashpoint in an already sharply divided Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he remains at an impasse with Democratic leaders over the next step of the impeachment process after the House voted to impeach Trump for abusive of power and obstruction of Congress, making him only the third president impeached in U.S. history.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declined to send the passed articles of impeachment to the Senate until the terms of a trial are established, with McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham having offered remarks suggesting to Democrats that a perfunctory process might be in the offing.

Dont miss: Republican senator disturbed by McConnell pledge to coordinate with White House over impeachment trial

For his part, the president spent the holidays at and near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with first lady Melania Trump and is scheduled to return to Washington after the New Years holiday, according to reports.

National Public Radio reported on the Trump campaigns suggested talking points on Christmas Eve.

Ultimately, it appears many Americans have been anything but eager to tackle Trump or Pelosi or the complexion of the 2020 race for the White House as holiday discussion topics, based on recent surveys. According to a Pew Research Center report last year, more than half of Americans say discussing politics with folks they disagree with is generally stressful and frustrating.

And perhaps the clearest signal of the degree to which this anxiety, for the average citizen, now surrounds politics is a recent decision by toy maker Mattel MAT-2.23%that it needed to roll out Uno Nonpartisan, a limited-edition spin on the classic card game that scraps red and blue cards for orange and purple ones. No red or blue cards means no taking sides! proclaims the packaging, referring to the colors traditionally associated with Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

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Trumps 2020 campaign created a website offering talking points for debating that liberal snowflake relative over the holidays - MarketWatch

Giuliani’s attack on Soros shows the liberal Jewish billionaire remains a top conservative target – Yahoo News

President Trumps lawyer Rudy Giuliani earlier this week upheld what has become a conservative tradition: attacking billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Don't tell me I'm anti-Semitic if I oppose him, Giuliani, a Roman Catholic, said inan interview with New York magazinethat quickly went viral. Soros is hardly a Jew. I'm more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about he doesn't go to church, he doesn't go to religion synagogue.

Among those who did tell Giuliani he was, at the least, spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, was Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

One of the leading funders of liberal causes around the globe, Soros, 89, has given away more than $32 billion of a personal fortune amassed through investing. His net worth currently is around $8 billion.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents, he survived the Nazi occupation and emigrated to England in 1947. He studied at the London School of Economics, before emigrating to the U.S. in 1956 and starting a wildly successful hedge fund. In 1979, he founded Open Society Foundations to strengthen democracy around the world.

According to theCapital Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, Soros personally sets the budget for Open Society, which has funded liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for American Progress, Human Rights Campaign, Media Matters for America, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and many others.

My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people,Soros wrote. This allows me to take a stand on controversial issues: In fact, it obliges me to do so because others cannot.

Along the way, Soross name has become synonymous with global liberal activism. As a result, many conservatives have anointed him a kind of shadow villain, one who inspires a litany of conspiracy theories.

Among other accusations Giuliani leveled in his interview with writer Olivia Nuzzi, he claimed that Soros controlled former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch who was removed by Trump and testified in the House impeachment hearings and that he was employing FBI agents, presumably the ones who investigated Trumps campaign for alleged connections to Russia.

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Trump himself echoed a baseless claim made on social media when he told a reporter in October 2018 that he wouldnt be surprised if Soros was funding a Central American migrant caravan seeking asylum in the U.S.

Weeks earlier, the president asserted without evidence that protesters seeking to block Brett Kavanaughs Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court were being funded by Soros.

While other billionaires, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, also spend their fortunes on a variety of causes, some of them politically sensitive, Soros occupies unique standing among conspiracy theorists, who have even spread the absurd accusation that he wasan officer of the Nazi SS in 1944, when he was 13.

The influence Soros wields, which was evident in the hundreds of millions of dollars he poured into Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain, is the reason he has usurped the Rothschild family in the imagination of anti-Semites as the symbol of the imagined Jewish cabal that rules the world.

After the editor of Christianity Today published a call for Trump to be removed from office, some Trump supportersspread a rumor that the evangelical publication was funded by Soros.

Hes elected eight anarchist district attorneys in the United States, Giuliani told New York magazine without naming them. Hes a horrible human being.

Jonathan Greenblatt, of the Anti-Defamation League, harshly criticized Giulianis comments.

For decades, George Soross philanthropy has been used as fodder for outsized antisemitic conspiracy theories insisting there exists Jewish control and manipulation of countries and global events, Greenblatt said in a statement to theDaily Beast. Mr. Giuliani should apologize and retract his comments immediately, unless he seeks to dog whistle to hardcore antisemites and white supremacists who believe this garbage.


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Giuliani's attack on Soros shows the liberal Jewish billionaire remains a top conservative target - Yahoo News

An Order That Shuts Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Live – The Federalist

It is a basic Christian teaching that good works are insufficient for spiritual salvation. We should also remember they are unlikely to suffice for cultural and political salvation either.

Chick-fil-As abandonment of The Salvation Army is yesterdays news, but its lessons should be remembered, for they explain our cultural and political trajectory. That the chicken chain capitulated even though everyone was eating mor chikin is instructive regarding the power of the LBGT lobby and its allies. That they directed this power against a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless including those who identify as LGBT is even more instructive.

It exemplifies how hard-liners are driving the cultural left. It is not clear that a majority even of those who identity as LGBT hate The Salvation Army. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the organization (albeit for a photo op) a couple of years back. Now he is facing criticism from LGBT activists, as those running the movement want total victory, not coexistence. And they are winning.

The campaign included government officials from Buffalo, New York, to San Antonio, Texas, retaliating against Chick-fil-A for its support of The Salvation Army. Even without full control over the government, the left has been aggressive in its use of government power against Christians who believe traditional teachings on human sexuality. The left seems to target particularly those engaged in charitable work, rather than protecting them on account of their good works.

The lefts legal wing is trying to compel Christian hospitals to perform abortions and sex-change surgeries, Christian schools to affirm same-sex relationships, and Christian charities such as womens shelters to pretend men can be women. A purportedly serious Democratic presidential candidate wanted to tax dissenting Christian organizations, including churches, into oblivion.

The left wont even spare elderly nuns. When the Trump administration ended Barack Obamas legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, various Democratic attorneys general made a point of continuing that unholy effort.

This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the powers of this world would hate his followers, not that they would love us if we were virtuous. While we Christians should always strive to be more like Christ, we should not succumb to a quasi-Pelagianism that presumes our winsomeness determines how others receive the gospel. Christ himself was crucified, and the grace and charity many martyrs exemplified did not save them from persecution unto death.

But that we should expect trouble in this world does not mean we should be disinterested regarding politics, nor does it excuse governments that oppose the church and oppress its people. That our nation seems to be starting down this path has intensified Christian reconsiderations of liberal political theory. Although our government ostensibly protects the freedoms of religion, association, and speech, procedural liberalism increasingly appears insufficient to protect our rights or to ensure a culture of tolerance and pluralism that includes Christians who maintain the traditional teachings of our faith.

The supposedly neutral principles of the legal left consistently restrict the rights and opportunities of orthodox Christians, and the left always pushes the envelope. Christian litigators should, of course, do their best to defend our rights, and thank God for their efforts, but it should be no surprise that more and more Christians are intrigued by varieties of post-liberal thinking, including previously marginalized ideas such as Catholic integralism. It is understandable that Christians are turning against the system of liberal democratic capitalism as it turns against them.

Post-liberal Christians are unlikely to find their minority status daunting, for they see that minorities can win if they are determined and the institutions they face are weak and full of cowards. After all, a minority of hard-line leftists control cultural, economic, and political pressure points that grant them power far beyond their numbers.

For example, the 2020 Democratic field is so radically pro-abortion that even The New York Times has noticed. The Democratic Party stands for abortion today, abortion tomorrow, and abortion forever, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren illustrated in promising that at her inauguration angels and ministers of grace defend us! she will wear swag to rep the nations largest abortion chain.

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left and wonder: Why not us? A decadent and despairing culture with weak institutions and degraded elites is precisely the sort that a determined minority might govern.

Thus, they see an opportunity as our culture disintegrates despite its wealth and technological prowess. Liberal individualism seems to be devouring itself: Fertility is down, loneliness and depression have increased, and deaths of despair from suicide, drugs, and alcohol are way up.

Perhaps it is time to be bold and reorder society toward the highest good, rather than accepting liberalisms dishonest promises of live and let live neutrality. As some post-liberal thinkers note, we increasingly live in a non-Christian integralist society that mandates belief in sectarian dogmas, such as the mystical belief that a man may become indeed, may already be a woman. Therefore, they see the alternative to post-liberal Christian politics not as liberalism, but as some sort of post-Christian illiberal politics.

I am sympathetic to some of the post-liberal thought developing on the right. I see the appeal, especially as liberalisms promise of legal neutrality is exposed as so much fiction. I share many of the critiques of liberal political theory and find its discourse far more interesting than the stale talking points of neoliberals and neoconservatives.

But I am neither Catholic nor Calvinist enough to be much of an integralist, and I remain more skeptical of the likelihood of governmental efficacy and rectitude than many post-liberals seem to be. I also remain attached to many liberal practices, such as the right to trial by jury.

I am, in short, still thinking over these matters and am not entirely in either camp. From this in-between, I would recommend post-liberal thinkers reflect on the frailty and fallibility of human institutions. I also suggest that the defenders of liberal democratic capitalism take the critiques of post-liberals seriously. A liberal order that seeks to shut down Christian charities for nonconformist views on human sexuality does not deserve to survive.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.

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An Order That Shuts Down Christian Charities Doesn't Deserve To Live - The Federalist

How Trump is filling the liberal 9th Circuit with conservatives – POLITICO

The 9th Circuit is a very important circuit, and the presence of more conservative judges puts in peril all of American health care reform," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), himself a former state attorney general.

With California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's penchant for challenging Trump's agenda, the 9th Circuit's caseload of liberal causes isn't likely to shrink, said Chris Kang of the liberal group Demand Justice, who oversaw the selection and vetting of judicial nominees in the Obama White House. But the calculus could change.

"Republicans politicize the judiciary so they can accomplish policy goals that they wouldn't be able to do through the democratically elected branches of government," he said.

The 9th Circuit isn't the only court whose makeup has changed through Trumps conservative nominees and McConnells singular focus on confirming judges. The 1st Circuit in Boston and 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia now have Republican-appointed majorities. But the 9th has outside importance as the biggest circuit in the country and a jurisdiction with more than 60 million people.

The court already has issued some rulings favorable to Trump's agenda.

A 9th Circuit panel of four Democratic appointees and seven Republican appointees in July allowed the administration's overhaul of the Title X federal family planning program to take effect. The policy bars clinics that provide or refer patients for abortions from receiving program funds for reproductive health services like STD screenings and contraception and prompted Planned Parenthood to quit over the change. Another 9th Circuit panel this year ruled in favor of letting Trump's Justice Department distribute grants to cities that use the money to crack down on illegal immigration.

Conservatives who have long criticized the court's decisions say the Trump appointments have brought the bench "closer to balance," as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted as VanDyke was confirmed. While Senate Judiciary chairman, Grassley nixed a Senate procedure that let senators block appellate nominees from their home state. Seven of Trump's nine 9th Circuit judges were confirmed over home-state senators' objections.

Outside conservative groups say the changing court will reduce the odds of liberal foes of the president filing challenges with like-minded activist judges eager to freeze his agenda.

"Forum shopping will be less attractive now that you have a basically balanced bench as far as Republican or Democratic nominees," said Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel for Americans United for Life, which focuses on litigation and legislation for the anti-abortion movement.

Daniel Goldberg, legal director of the liberal judicial advocacy group Alliance for Justice, stressed that beyond the numbers, Trump has appointed nominees with strong ideological views. That was the case with VanDyke, who was confirmed in a 51-44 vote on Dec. 11 after drawing criticism for past writings and opinions on same-sex marriage, abortion, labor and immigration.

The court's new lineup could quickly weigh in on more high-profile cases.

The Trump administration will likely seek a reversal of two separate lower court injunctions against the health provider conscience rule and has been asked by DOJ to freeze a recent nationwide hold on Trump's order to deny legal immigrants entry to the U.S. if they can't cover their health care costs.

The changing composition of circuits like the 9th may ultimately galvanize liberals to push an aggressive judicial agenda of their own, further polarizing the courts.

"The asymmetry [in temperament] is what causes the problem," said Jon Michaels, a UCLA law professor. "We have a quite forceful right flank, buttressed by a left flank that prizes judicial humility and judicial modesty. As progressives think about what the public interest should be, it's not just winning the next court battle, but it's about what their representatives should think about in reshaping the judiciary when they're in the majority."

Kang's take is that Democrats should adopt the GOP's strategy when they next control the Senate and executive branch: Nominate more ideological judges and then add seats to the court.

The next Democratic president, he said, "will need to write a new playbook."

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How Trump is filling the liberal 9th Circuit with conservatives - POLITICO

Liberals are piling on JK Rowling because they aren’t used to disagreeing with artists they like – Washington Examiner

J.K. Rowling caused quite a stir last week by tweeting out a defense of a British researcher who was fired for having the wrong opinion on transgenderism.

My colleague Madeline Fry wrote about the substance of the controversy, but one thing that has struck me about the tone of the criticism has been the sheer level of sorrow from liberals that an author they liked could take a position they found so problematic. The New York Times ran an op-ed headlined, "Harry Potter Helped Me Come Out as Trans, But J.K. Rowling Disappointed Me.'" An author at Vox declared that Rowling had "ruined Harry Potter."

As conservatives, we're used to disagreeing politically with artists and entertainers who we like. Sure, we may take potshots at Hollywood celebrities or authors, but those of us who consume art, literature, or popular entertainment more or less expect that the producers of such media are going to have political views that we find noxious. It's not as if conservatives just sit around reading C.S. Lewis over and over and watching Clint Eastwood movies. And we aren't shocked if some author, actor, or musician says something we find objectionable. It's our expectation that they will.

But for liberals, there's a broad assumption that artists are going to be more or less on the same page as they are. So that's why it's especially jarring to them if an icon such as Rowling displays insufficient wokeness. And it's why the cultural Left is so quick to jump over any statement by any popular artist or entertainer that deviates from liberal orthodoxy.

In a way, it's similar to why liberals get so irrationally angry about Bari Weiss writing for the New York Times or at conservatives being given a platform at universities. They believe that they should have control over all such institutions.


Liberals are piling on JK Rowling because they aren't used to disagreeing with artists they like - Washington Examiner

Who will be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats? – Business Insider


The Liberal Democrats will soon begin the process of electing their third leader in less than a year after Jo Swinson lost her seat in a shock result at this month's general election.

The pro-European Union party secured 11 House of Commons seats last week, one fewer than it won at the 2017 general election. Swinson lost her East Dunbartonshire constituency to Scottish National Party candidate Amy Callaghan.

The next leader of the Liberal Democrats will be tasked with establishing a new raison d'tre for the party after it failed to stop Brexit. Boris Johnson, boosted by an 80-seat majority, is set to take the UK out of the EU in January.

The contest is expected to officially get underway in late January with party figures keen to choose Swinson's successor before the Labour Party chooses its new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

A Liberal Democrat source told Business Insider: "Now more than ever, the country needs a strong opposition. Given the frothing civil war on Labour benches, you can bet it won't be Labour stepping up to the plate."

They added: "The questions the candidates must answer is just how they see the UK's relationship with our European partners, how the party converts support into seats and on what issues the party will carve out as our key fights over the next few years."

Here are the likely candidates in the race to become the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moran is widely regarded as the favorite to win. One senior party figure told Business Insider: "It's Layla's to lose."

Senior Liberal Democrats including current members of Parliament urged Moran to go for the leadership when the party last held a leadership contest earlier in the year. Swinson and Ed Davey ended up being the only candidates.

At the time, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon believed it was too soon to go for the top job, having only been elected in 2017. She also wanted to focus on shoring up her majority, after winning her seat with a majority of just 816.

However, last week she was returned to Parliament with a much bigger majority of 8,943, meaning she is in a more secure position to go for the leadership this time around.

Moran, who is the first UK MP of Palestinian descent, is popular with Liberal Democrat members. Her supporters say her pitch is strong because unlike the party's two most recent leaders, she did not serve in coalition with David Cameron's Conservatives, and will not be grilled on her party's record in government like her predecessors were.

Moran has on a number of occasions called on her party to be more lucid in explaining what it represents.

In her last interview with Business Insider, she said the party ought to whittle down its pitch to handful of clear policies, saying: "We are very good at talking about a whole host of things but then people ask 'but what do you actually stand for?'"

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Moran's closest leadership rival is set to be Ed Davey.

The MP for Kingston and Surbiton is the party's co-interim leader along with outgoing party president, Sal Brinton.

Davey ran to be Liberal Democrat leader earlier this year, but lost out to Swinson. He has so far evaded questions on whether he intends to run this time around, but party figures expect him to stand.

Supporters say he'd be best choice for the Liberal Democrats as he has the most developed idea of what the party should be and what it ought to stand for now that the mission to stop Brexit has failed.

A party figure who supported Davey in the last leadership contest said that compared to Swinson, he was more focused on issues other than trying to stay in the EU, and wanted to talk about "the intellectual beating heart of the party."

They said that Davey was best-placed to help the party figure out a new purpose.

"We are a bit bruised, Brexit is almost certainly going to happen, and some of those single-issue supporters are going to peel away," they told Business Insider.

Davey put fighting climate change front and centre of his last leadership campaign.

Speaking in the House of Commons this week as the party's interim leader, he told Speaker Lindsay Hoyle that the Liberal Democrats would prioritise tackling the climate emergency in this new parliament.

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, is said to be considering a leadership bid.

Formerly a prominent journalist in Scotland, Jardine was first elected in 2017 and is a popular figure within the party.

One party figure who intends to support Jardine if she decides to enter the upcoming leadership contest described her as a "live underdog" who "might surprise a few people."

"She'll start as third favorite but she's very good on TV and has not had same exposure as Ed and Layla," they said.

However, while an impressive leadership campaign would likely help Jardine raise her profile, the odds of winning would still be heavily stacked against her.

Lib Dem figures point to the fact that she recently failed to win the contest to become the party's next president, losing out to grassroots party blogger, Mark Pack.

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Daisy Cooper has been only an MP for a matter of days, but has indicated that she could stand to be party leader.

Cooper, who was elected the MP for St Albans last week, told LBC that her lack of parliamentary experience was not a big issue. She unsuccessfully ran for Parliament twice before winning her seat in southeast England this month.

"I've worked in campaigns for a long time," she told the radio station. "I've got big ambitions for what we can achieve in parliament as a small team in the Lib Dems."

Lib Dem figures say that while Cooper has very little chance of winning the upcoming contest, throwing her hat in the ring would help her secure some valuable exposure early in her House of Commons career.

She is highly-rated within the Liberal Democrats and seen as a leading light among its next generation of politicians at a time when the party has lost some of its most seasoned and well-known MPs in Swinson and Sir Vince Cable.

Cooper is close to Swinson and worked on her leadership campaign earlier this year.

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Who will be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats? - Business Insider

Trump campaign releases cheat sheet to help supporters debate liberal relatives over the holidays – Washington Examiner

President Trumps campaign developed a website to help supporters combat their liberal relatives when political spats inevitably arise during the holidays.

The website, snowflakevictory.com, includes 12 categories of fast facts on issues such as the economy and the trade war in an attempt to bolster Trumps case when holiday feuds break out.

The campaign even included a category that highlights former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Bidens dealings in Ukraine, writing, Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine unless they fired the prosecutor looking into the company where his son worked.

It added, That has NOT been debunked.

Each category includes Trump-friendly facts and a video with a campaign member laying out each argument that a supporter may need to take on his or her left-leaning loved ones.

In a statement about the website, campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany urged Trump supporters to embrace their holiday spats, saying, Were not helping snowflakes avoid arguments were helping Trump supporters win them! As 2019 draws to a close and 2020 approaches, President Trump and Americans are going to be winning, winning, and winning, and then winning some more!

This is not the first time the Trump campaign has used a website to mock liberals. The error page for Trumps website includes a picture of Hillary Clinton as president with the caption, Oops. This is awkward. Youre looking for something that doesnt exist.

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Trump campaign releases cheat sheet to help supporters debate liberal relatives over the holidays - Washington Examiner

Right Now: The Liberals aren’t liberals anymore but the Conservatives can and must be – National Post

Across the free world, the rise of populism and the decline of open debate has stressed our traditional democratic and societal institutions. New parties and movements are emerging to represent constituencies that have little connection to the political ideologies of the past. In an ongoing series, the National Post asks: What does conservatism mean in Canada today? Is there a set of principles that self-identified conservatives could agree on, and that political parties running on right-of-centre platforms would embrace? Would the countrys historical conservative thinkers recognize the movement as it stands today? To contribute, please send pitches to submissions@nationalpost.com. In todays instalment, Bruce Pardy writes how Canada really needs liberals, not progressives.

Since the federal election, Conservatives have been wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth. They lost to a weak, economically incompetent, scandal-plagued party of virtue-signallers led by a man-child. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Western world, conservative parties are riding high. So what gives? In Canada, Conservatives dont know who they are or what they stand for. During the campaign they pretended to be both conservative and progressive: to simultaneously believe in traditional values but also in victimhood and identity politics. That made the Conservatives, not the Liberals, the party of hypocrisy no small feat in an election in which the virtue-signaller-in-chief was caught wearing blackface.

In Canada, Conservatives dont know who they are or what they stand for

The answer to the Conservatives troubles is not to choose between conservatism and progressivism but to ditch both. In Canada, social conservatives are political dinosaurs. Andrew Scheer discovered that any whiff of sentiment against gay marriage, for example, was toxic, even when accompanied by an undertaking not to pursue those sentiments in a legislative agenda. Progressivism, on the other hand, is almost universal. All parties who won seats in the House of Commons are progressive and the CPC will never win that contest. But that is the key. Liberals are not liberal but progressive, which is quite a different thing. In fact, Liberals have no idea what a liberal really is. The sweet spot for Conservatives is the space that the Liberals have long vacated. To win, Conservatives must be liberals.

So what is a liberal, really? Libertas is Latin for liberty and Liberal shares the same root (liber). In the political realm, liberalism originally (or classically) denoted holding a philosophy based upon the concept of individual freedom. Hence classical liberalism is a set of beliefs that has at its root a conviction that the purpose of civilized society is to provide for the liberty of the individual. Dont tell me what to do is the liberal mantra. Real liberals believe that people should largely control their own lives that they should be free to say what they think, to have sex with and marry whom they please, to worship as they wish, to buy and sell what they want, to be responsible for themselves and to leave other people alone.

The modern version of liberalism means essentially the opposite. It embraces an expansive welfare state, extensive regulation of individual behaviour and speech, redistribution of wealth, unequal application of the law in pursuit of equality of outcome and myriad other managerial policies. Those who now call themselves Liberals in the political realm are now illiberal in their sensibilities and aspirations. Governments supervise, subsidize and control virtually every aspect of modern life: markets and financial systems, public schools and universities, health care, media, food production, energy production, telecom services, the professions and even speech. Our courts do not believe in equal application of the law. We are eroding the presumption of innocence and other aspects of due process. We have abandoned even the expectation that laws will be written, clear and understandable to all. Instead citizens are subject to the arbitrary discretion of government agencies that pursue their own agendas. Identity politics reign and the surveillance state steadily expands.

Conservatives have shown no serious objection to any of it and indeed have pitched in to make Canada not a liberal country. The CPC has muzzled politically incorrect speech, defended supply management, promoted ideological training for judges, tried to bribe voters with their own money, pushed climate change hysteria (while rejecting the most conservative instrument, the Liberal carbon tax, in favour of statist regulation) and expressed no concern for the erosion of fundamental freedoms. The Conservative election platform was merely a pale version of full-on Liberal illiberalism with an occasional hint of Bible-thumping intolerance. Were they trying to win over imaginary voters who oppose gay marriage but support the coerced use of non-gendered pronouns?

The Conservative election platform was merely a pale version of full-on Liberal illiberalism

Disenfranchised Canadians are fed up with identity politics, authoritarian victimhood and scolding from righteous elites telling them what to think and how to behave. They are liberals in the true sense of the word steady, reasonable, fair-minded, hard-working people who believe in freedom of speech and in the idea that the same rules should apply to everyone. As Yasmine Mohammed, author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam, wrote in the National Post, if Canadian conservatism upheld Western and enlightenment values loudly, unapologetically, and with conviction, then millions of us disillusioned with the Liberal party would proudly mark a big X next to the Conservative representative at the ballot box. Large swaths of Canadians have no political home and are wondering where their country went. Conservatives should help them get it back. Perhaps liberals, not Liberals, are the natural governing party of Canada.

Bruce Pardy is professor of law at Queens University.

Email: pardyb@queensu.ca | Twitter:

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Right Now: The Liberals aren't liberals anymore but the Conservatives can and must be - National Post

White Evangelicals Are Terrified That Liberals Want to Extinguish Their Rights – Mother Jones

As we all know, white evangelicals are convinced that their religious liberties are under attack from liberals and atheists. But are they really? Political scientists Ryan Burge and Paul Djupe looked at survey data to find out:

[Among] white evangelical Protestants, we found that 60 percent believed that atheists would not allow them First Amendment rights and liberties. More specifically, we asked whether they believed atheists would prevent them from being able to hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office. Similarly, 58 percent believed Democrats in Congress would not allow them to exercise these liberties if they were in power.

Is this true? The authors go to a second survey to find out, but it has different questions and different groups of respondents and doesnt really address the question. Nonetheless they try to tease out an answer, and unsurprisingly the answer is no. Most atheists and Democrats are pretty tolerant of basic religious liberties even if they really, really hate evangelicals. Conversely, evangelicals who hate atheists are pretty intolerant of their religious liberties:

Conservative Christians believe their rights are in peril partly because thats what theyre hearing, quite explicitly, from conservative media, religious elites, partisan commentators and some politicians, including the president. The survey evidence suggests another reason, too. Their fear comes from an inverted golden rule: Expect from others what you would do unto them. White evangelical Protestants express low levels of tolerance for atheists, which leads them to expect intolerance from atheists in return. That perception surely bolsters their support for Trump. They believe their freedom depends on keeping Trump and his party in power.

Id add to this that its all unfolding against a background in which the biggest real-world fights are over abortion and contraceptives and cake decorators. Conservative Christians believe that their freedom to refuse these services is also a basic religious liberty, and theres no question that liberals are pretty determined to take those particular liberties away. Given that, its a short step to believe that liberals might someday decide to remove their rights to hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office.

In any case, this is something Ive written about occasionally: its impossible to understand evangelicals and their support for Donald Trump without first understanding just how frightened they are of the steady liberal march toward secular hegemony. They consider the aughts and teens to have been a nearly complete disaster, capped by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling forcing states to recognize gay marriage. Many prominent evangelical leaders literally gave up after that, and the ones that didnt had little hope for the future.

Then, suddenly, Donald Trump showed up and promised them everything they wanted. In short order he became their Joan of Arc, rallying them back to a fight he assured them they could win as long as he was on their side. And rhetorically, at least, he delivered. The fight was back on.

Its not clear to me that theres much we can do about this. We cant do anything about the inverted golden rule, and were certainly not going to stop fighting for gay rights or reproductive rights. That leaves only a more concerted effort to assure evangelicals that they have nothing to fear regarding things like teaching, speaking, and holding rallies. And even thats a tough nut when evangelicals can look to other countries and see that, in fact, those rights have occasionally been circumscribed to some degree. This may seem like a pretty small and distant issue, but I assure you that Fox News and talk radio report on every single example no matter how small, and they keep it front and center forever and ever.

Understanding your opponents is usually useful because it provides some guidance about how best to respond. In this case Im not sure it does, but its still good to know on the off chance that it might be helpful. Evangelicals are not generally engaged in faux outrage. They are truly scared silly that liberals will steadily and unrelentingly dismantle their rights if they ever get in power again. Just look what happened the last time.

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White Evangelicals Are Terrified That Liberals Want to Extinguish Their Rights - Mother Jones

What it Would Take for Evangelicals to Turn on President Trump – The New Yorker

One night in 1953, the Reverend Billy Graham awoke at two in the morning, went to his study, and started writing down ideas for the creation of a new religious journal. Graham, then in his mid-thirties, was an internationally renowned evangelist who held revival meetings that were attended by tens of thousands, in stadiums around the world. He had also become the leader of a cohort of pastors, theologians, and other Protestant luminaries who aspired to create a new Christian movement in the United States that avoided the cultural separatism of fundamentalism and the theological liberalism of mainline Protestantism. Harold Ockenga, a prominent minister and another key figure in the movement, called this more culturally engaged vision of conservative Christianity new evangelicalism. Graham believed a serious periodical could serve as the flagship for the movement. The idea for the publication, as he later wrote, was to plant the Evangelical flag in the middle of the road, taking a conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems. The magazine would be called Christianity Today.

During the next several decades, Grahams movement became the dominant force in American religious life, and perhaps the countrys most influential political faction. From the late nineteen-seventies through the mid-eighties, evangelicals became increasingly aligned with the Republican Party, progressively shifting its priorities to culture-war issues like abortion. Today, evangelical Protestants account for approximately a quarter of the U.S. population and represent the political base of the G.O.P. Despite President Trumps much publicized moral shortcomings, more than eighty per cent of evangelicals supported him in the 2016 election. Last week, however, Mark Galli, the ninth editor to lead Christianity Today since its founding, in 1956, published an editorial calling for President Trumps impeachment and removal from office. The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the presidents political opponents, Galli writes. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral. Galli, who will retire from his post early in the new year, implores evangelicals who continue to stand by Trump to remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.

Galli and other contributors to the magazine have been critical of Trump in the past, but the forcefulness of the editorial took many by surprise. The piece became a sensation, trending online and receiving widespread media coverage. On Twitter, Trump lashed out at the magazine, labelling it a far left publication that has been doing poorly. Grahams eldest son, Franklin, who became the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association after his fathers death, in 2018, claimed that his father would have been very disappointed by the piece and had, in fact, voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Its obvious that Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism, Franklin wrote on Facebook. On Sunday, Timothy Dalrymple, Christianity Todays president and chief executive officer, issued a statement defending the editorial and reaffirming one of Gallis assertions: that the alliance of American evangelicalism with this presidency has wrought enormous damage to Christian witnessthe heart of believers evangelistic mission.

There has long been a segment of evangelical leaders and commentators who are critical of the President, including Russell Moore, the head of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention; Peter Wehner, the author of the recent book The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump; and David French, a writer and constitutional lawyer whom anti-Trump conservatives courted, unsuccessfully, to mount a third-party bid against Trump in 2016. The Christianity Today editorial reflects much of their distressabout the moral hypocrisy of Christian supporters of Trump, the damage done to efforts to serve as ambassadors for the gospel in an unbelieving world, and the ways Trump and his Administration have perpetuated racism, xenophobia, and other traits that are antithetical to the God of justice and mercy. In late 2017, the Reverend Timothy Keller, a renowned Presbyterian pastor in New York City, wrote a piece for The New Yorker on the future of evangelicalism, with the headline Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore? Evangelical used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with hypocrite, Keller writes. Last year, a group of evangelical pastors, nonprofit leaders, college presidents, and scholars convened at the Billy Graham Center, at Wheaton College, in Illinois, to discuss ways to revitalize the movement in light of its turn toward Trumpism. The meeting disbanded with little to show for it, but the organizers issued a press release that states that an honest dialogue about the current state of American evangelicalism had occurred.

There has been little to suggest that these rumblings of dissent represent any kind of threat to Trumps political support. Many of these Trump critics might be best understood as part of a more urban, internationalist, and broad-minded lite class within the evangelical movement. In his 2007 book, Faith in the Halls of Power, D. Michael Lindsay, a former sociologist at Rice University and currently the president of Gordon College, distinguished between cosmopolitan and populist evangelicalism. The populist wing of the movement depends on mass mobilization and large-scale democratic action and relies upon a rhetoric of dichotomies (as in good and evil) and appeals to the commonsense concerns of average people, Lindsay writes. He points to prominent figures such as James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and the pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen as representatives of populist evangelicalism. He describes cosmopolitan evangelicals as having greater access to powerful institutions and writes that the social networks they inhabit are populated by leaders from government, business, and entertainment. The problem for Trump opponents is that, when it comes to electoral sway and cultural influence within evangelicalism, the populists exercise far greater leverage.

Lindsays focus is on documenting the emergence of the lite class of evangelicals. He devotes less attention to the root causes of differing cultural and political attitudes between cosmopolitan and populist evangelicalsthough those causes may hold the key to understanding evangelicalisms turn toward Trumpism. Earlier this year, James L. Guth, a political scientist at Furman University, published a study on the prevalence of populist traits among white evangelicals, including distrust of political institutions, preference for strong leadership, and commitment to majority rule. Guth finds that these qualitiescharacteristics that lead to support for populist leaders like Trumppermeate white evangelicalism. It is a disquieting conclusion and suggests that evangelical support for Trump may be far more deeply entrenched than previously understood. Guth suggests that evangelical backing of Trump is less transactionalabout his ability to, say, deliver conservative appointments to the Supreme Courtand more about certain shared cultural beliefs. Guth writes that white evangelicals share with Trump a multitude of attitudes, including his hostility towards immigrants, his Islamophobia, his racism and nativism, as well as his political style, with its nasty politics and assertion of strong, solitary leadership.

The crucial question, then, is: What is driving these attitudes? In a forthcoming book, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, the sociologists Andrew L. Whitehead, a professor at Clemson University, and Samuel L. Perry, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, propose a cultural framework for understanding support for Trumpism that goes beyond religious categories. Through extensive survey work, they discover that an amalgam of cultural beliefsfusing Christianity with American identity and centered on the belief that America is, and should be, a Christian nationis a better predictor of support for Trump than economic dissatisfaction, political party, ideology, religion, or a host of other possible determining factors. Whitehead and Perry call this framework Christian nationalism and argue that the popularity of these beliefs among white evangelicals explains their support for Trump.

Notably, Whitehead and Perry find that about a quarter of white evangelicals hold beliefs that do not align with Christian nationalism. They also find that though greater religiosity is correlated with Christian-nationalist beliefs, once those beliefs are accounted for, Americans who engaged in more frequent religious practicechurch attendance, prayer, and bible readingwere less likely than their less observant peers to subscribe to political views normally associated with Christian nationalism, such as believing that refugees from the Middle East pose a terrorist threat to the United States, or that illegal immigrants from Mexico are mostly dangerous criminals. In other words, Whitehead and Perry find that the threat to democratic pluralism is not evangelicalism itself but the culture around evangelicalism. The true motivator for Christian nationalists is not actually their religious beliefs but the preservation of a certain kind of social order, one that is threatened by racial minorities, immigrants, and Muslims. Where Christian nationalists seek to defend particular group boundaries and privileges using Christian language, other religious Americans and fellow Christians who reject Christian nationalism tend to oppose such boundaries and privileges, they write.

Their findings highlight serious obstacles for anyone hoping that white evangelicals will abandon Trump, but they also suggest a path forward. Within evangelicalism, cultural influence in the secular world is highly prized as part of advancing the message of Christianity. Christians concerned about Trumpism and worried about the future of their faith, however, may need to turn their focus inward, to reshape the culture of evangelicalism and counter the corrosive influence of Fox News and other demagogic forces that sow division and breed suspicion. Cultural change is dauntingmuch of what ails the evangelical faithful is not entirely under the control of their leadersbut the challenge is not so different from the one Graham contemplated more than sixty years ago, in the middle of the night, as he launched his movement to unify Christian believers and transform them into a positive force for society.

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What it Would Take for Evangelicals to Turn on President Trump - The New Yorker

Senior member of Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party arrested over casino bribery allegations – The Telegraph

A former senior minister in Japan's Cabinet Office has been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes from a company that was trying to set up a casino.

Tokyo prosecutors confirmed on Wednesday that Tsukasa Akimoto, a member ofLiberal Democratic Party -the ruling party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - had been arrested. Mr Akimoto, who was at the Cabinet Office until October 2018,oversaw government policy on casinos at the time of the alleged bribe.

He is suspected of receiving 3 million yen (about 21,150) in cash from three suspects who knewtheir company wanted help with a casino bid, prosecutors said.Mr Akimoto, whose office was raided by prosecutors last week, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said he has never done any favours for the Chinese company, 500.com, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The three suspects were also arrested on suspicion of bribery, prosecutors said. No one was available for comment at Akimoto's office when contacted by Reuters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the arrest would not affect the implementation of the policy, which is aimed at buoying the economy.

The arrest could harden opposition to casinos, which have been consistently unpopular in Japan despite the government's push to have them in operation during the early 2020s.

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Senior member of Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party arrested over casino bribery allegations - The Telegraph

Shame on Paul Krugman and the New York Times for weaponizing Christmas to attack Trump – Washington Examiner

Trump Derangement Syndrome doesnt take a single day off.

Yes, the phenomenon that has driven some critics of President Trump insane in their hatred for the leader manifested itself even on Christmas this year, which should really be an apolitical day and time of truce if there ever was one. But a few sad columnists in the liberal media just couldnt let the holiday pass without attempting to weaponize it to attack Trump and Republicans.

For instance, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman penned a Christmas-themed column, promoted on the papers homepage on Christmas morning, titled The Cruelty of a Trump Christmas, with the subhead reading Republicans arent Scrooges theyre much worse. Krugman, who once won a Nobel Prize in economics, has, of course, long ago gone off the rails. I suppose that while its sad to see him pen such an unhinged holiday column, its not exactly surprising. This, after all, is the same man who blamed Sarah Palin for the shooting of a Democratic congresswoman and called Republicans enablers of terrorism.

But it wasnt just Krugman.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank dubbed the holiday A Trump Christmas, with ill will to all, blaming the president for the (admittedly awful and uncalled for) abuse Milbank has been subjected to by some Trump supporters online. This alone isnt reasonable. But Milbank went on to call Trump a president who exults in violence, name-calling and human misery. Yes, in a holiday column written just before Christmas and promoted throughout the day.

There are plenty of valid criticisms to be made of Trump. But there's no valid reason they must literally be made on Christmas day.

Sigh. I had truly hoped, perhaps in youthful naivety, that we opinion journalists could take one day off from partisan warfare and tribal attacks. Its not that I think Christmas columns should be totally apolitical. Thats, of course, not in keeping with the spirit of the holiday and its inherently religious nature. For instance, a Washington Examiner op-ed we published on Christmas Eve, No, Jesus was not a socialist, was both interesting and timely, and of course, political. But notably, it was about disputing economic concepts and a point of historical contention not bashing Nancy Pelosi or the Democratic Party.

This is the right way to do holiday-themed commentary. Readers and participants alike are exhausted by the never-ending personal sniping. In Krugmans case, he literally exploited Christmas to launch hyperbolic criticisms of Republicans for what is an eminently reasonable and debatable policy: work requirements for welfare programs. He and Milbank both assumed the worst of their opponents intentions, even on Christmas.

This is par for the course in modern media, with some conservative columnists no doubt guilty of the same behavior. (You'll forgive me, I hope, that I didn't spend the day cruising the internet for even more bad takes.) But theres no doubt that Trump has driven liberal media a bit crazy and increased their propensity for tribal attacks no matter the cost. Lets just hope, come Christmastime next year, we can all do better.

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Shame on Paul Krugman and the New York Times for weaponizing Christmas to attack Trump - Washington Examiner

Opinion | Liberal arts majors gain edge in information age – Daily Illini

The future painted for humanities majors might not be as bleak as the job market appears. Microsofts president Brad Smith claimed in his new book one of the most important conclusions of Microsofts recent research into artificial intelligence is that lessons from liberal arts will be critical to unleashing the full potential of AI.

This echoes Steve Jobs claim back in 2011: Its technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. Is there really a surprisingly important role for liberal arts majors in our society? I argue the abilities that the information age increasingly demands are indeed in humanity majors skill sets.

Neil Postman in his renowned work Amusing Ourselves to Death claims, what culture means by intelligence is derived from the character of its important forms of communication. What does he mean by this? Think of an ancient society in which the means of communication is primarily oral. Every piece of information we know has to be transmitted by retelling. What would be the most-demanded skill in such a society? The answer is obvious: memorization. Only those who can remember information can communicate and create value. When the cost of acquiring information is high, being knowledgeable in a certain field can often stand out.

However, when computers and the internet made the mass storage of information and easy access to knowledge possible, the cost of acquiring information becomes extremely low. This means merely having the knowledge itself is not as marketable, and theres little opportunity to arbitrage with pure information. But access doesnt guarantee knowledge. Today, an 8-year-old can find and download mass data sets, but not everyone can manipulate the numbers to tell a convincing story. Fitting Postmans idea to contemporary society, intelligence is defined by the ability to ask the right questions, extract useful and important information and make sound and convincing arguments based on it.

How does this relate to liberal arts education? I think that it is a great way to train these skills that professional education lacks. More practical disciplines like business and engineering are driven by model-thinking and logical reasoning based on set paradigms. For example, in economics we assume consumers respond negatively and producers positively to increasing price and derive all kinds of fancy theories. This perspective is illuminating and practical, but it seldom reflects upon the validity of its own assumptions.

Meanwhile, liberal arts education trains the student to identify problems by asking the right questions. For example, philosophers often use the method of taking a step back and reflecting upon the assumptions. They assume their own ignorance and continuously pursue questions with a toddler-like curiosity by examining the obvious. And when models cant provide answers, this kind of thinking often yields innovative solutions. People give different names to this way of thinking, some call it thinking outside the box, others call it critical thinking. Herbert Marcuse in his book, One-Dimensional Man, calls this another dimension of thinking that runs counter to the current dimension of capitalist society. It enables individuals to think for themselves and free themselves from the status quo.

Moreover, liberal arts education trains students to extract important information and make good arguments. As Ive mentioned, information itself is cheap and abundant, but the ability to interpret information is lacking. Sometimes people cant bear the cost of informing themselves, other times they just dont know how to do so. For example, few have read the 700 pages of investigative reports by Robert Mueller, although it is readily available. The cost of gathering information is lowered but it takes skill to make sense of it. Society needs people who are not only trained in critical reading but also skilled in communicating information in laymans terms. Information itself doesnt tell the story; people do.

The abilities mentioned above are all skills rather than knowledge. Skills are improved through practices and are not simply memorized. I often hear students complaining they learned nothing from their liberal arts degree. But they fail to understand that, for students on a non-academic track, the point is to develop skills. Every paper and reading asks the students to critically think of an issue, extract important information and make valid arguments. Humanities majors shouldnt feel set back by their lack of technical knowledge. They should develop a habit of consistent learning and find professions that fit their skills. Combining their skill sets with professional experience and expertise, humanities majors might have a bumpy start but will certainly go a long way.

Joshua is a senior in LAS.


Excerpt from:

Opinion | Liberal arts majors gain edge in information age - Daily Illini

Expecting Liberal Family Members To Start Political Fights During The Holidays? The Trump Campaign Has A Site For That – PJ Media

On Christmas Eve, the Trump campaign launched a website containing all the facts you need should your liberal friends and relatives choose to pick a fight about politics during the holidays.

The website is SnowflakeVictory.com, and contains facts and talking points separated by topic, giving you an at-a-glance view of the information you need to counter liberal lies.

Topics include the economy, immigration and the border wall, trade deals, healthcare, impeachment and others, including a section on Joe Biden.

Each topic features a video and an accompanying transcript.

The site itself is simple and probably could have been more extensive. While the site is designed for easy access on a smartphone with concise information, it think it would have been worthwhile for each fact to be sourced.

Of course, if you're looking for more in-depth information to counter liberal lies, I also highly recommend PJMedia.com,


Matt Margolis is the author ofTrumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacyand the bestselling bookThe Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter@MattMargolis

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Expecting Liberal Family Members To Start Political Fights During The Holidays? The Trump Campaign Has A Site For That - PJ Media

Millennials are turning to magic & astrology for empowerment because liberal ideology failed them – RT

Robert Bridge

Increasingly open to astrology, magic and sorcery while happy to virtue signal on behalf of any PC-saturated issue, the entire millenial generation seems wholly unequipped to face the daunting challenges of adulthood.

They may not know how to change a flat tire, cook a simple meal or stop living in their parents' basement, but Millennials the tech-savvy demographic typically born between the years 1981 to the early 2000s seem increasingly preoccupied with subjects of a less practical nature ever since graduating from college.

Whether it is symptomatic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, some kind of New Age mysticism or perhaps spending four long years studying impractical liberal arts courses, its hard to say. But many people are looking to empower themselves with alternative techniques once ridiculed as sheer quackery.

This week, for example, NBC published a lengthy essay that celebrated the rise of interest in astrology in an insecure world.

In the midst of this physical, political and emotional turmoil, astrology offers us a sense of purpose, wrote Tanya Ghahremani. It provides reasons for why the world is spinning as well as hope that it will be less nauseating tomorrow.

I was always under the impression that the world is spinning due to the so-called cosmic Big Bang theory, mixed up with a generous amount of gravitational pull and so on. But never mind. Ghahremani, discussing the feminist roots of astrology, postulates that the stargazing pseudoscience empowers women to take more control over their future; it encourages us to learn more about ourselves and go confidently in the direction that makes the most sense for our well-being.

Other similar stories of an esoteric, occultist nature have enjoyed a heavy press of late. In October, just in time for Halloween, the media was hyping a revived interest in witchcraft. The technology website Wired, for example, in a radical departure from its usual computer-oriented ware, reported on a coven of witches who collectively tried toplace Donald J. Trump in a magical straitjacket. Amid the prerequisite burning of candles and other voodoo rituals, the members recited an incantation that ended with the collective scream, Youre fired! Probably not the best material for a Stephen King novel, but it certainly puts a new twist on the term witch hunt.

Even the New York Times could not resist hopping on its broomstick for a joyride.

Real witches are roaming among us, and theyre seemingly everywhere, gushed the paper of historical record.

It went on to quote Helen Berger, a sociologist at Brandeis University: Were in a period of great transitionand for many of these young people, this spirituality is speaking to them.

Publishers Weekly summed up this rekindled interest in spirituality, not to be confused in any way with religion, as the season of the witch.

Personally speaking, I understand this interest in the more mystical side of life. There is a great allure to those unseen forces we do not comprehend yet seem within the realm of plausibility. After all, the Salem Witch Trials occurred precisely due to this feeling among many people that maybe there really is something behind all this mystical talk.

There is an unsettling, underlying theme, however, that weaves itself through the above-mentioned articles, and perhaps the reader has already noticed it. That theme involves the current political battle raging in the United States. For all of the breathless talk about witch covens, magical spells and incantations, this purported rise among Millennials in mysticism and spiritualism seems to be, partially at least, a cheap political statement against Donald Trump because the Liberals do not like the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

This speaks volumes about the mindset of the Millennial generation, which has been raised on an unhealthy diet of liberal radicalism and political correctness gone stark-raving mad. Because a president was elected that they didn't like, they now believe that the summoning ofmystical forces will change things. This is an act of desperation, and attests to the type of education many of these young adults are receiving at some detached, tree-lined college where queer and gender studies, for example, oftentimes substitutes for the time-honored classics of Western philosophy and history. Meanwhile, the study of science only seems to have merit when it confirms their exceedingly warped worldview. For example, that there are some 13 gender types to choose from, or that the planet and all of its life forms are about to succumb to man-made climate change.

None of this bodes well for the future of mankind. How will these coddled individuals, who grew up - but never quite matured - inside a protective bubble of ignorance inherit a world overloaded with problems, and topped off with nuclear weapons? I suppose they will just continue to adjust to a world they were not prepared for by reciting magical spells and consulting astrological charts.

Well, we saw how well that worked with the so-called Robert Mueller III Prayer Candles, designed to light the way to finding proof of collusion between Trump and the Russians. Then there was the disastrous prediction that Kamala Harris was destined for the White House because she was born on the exact full moon in Aries. Maybe someday Harris will enjoy better political success, but as for now her political star has magnificently crashed.

Perhaps the best takeaway for the more liberal-minded Millennials is to remember that what you learn in a classroom and what you experience in the real world are two completely different things. The higher institutes of learning would do well to remind their students of that difference, while allowing for a climate of frank and open discussion on all subjects. Even if the subjects bring discomfort, which is the way the real world works. No amount of magical spells or charms will change that.


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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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Millennials are turning to magic & astrology for empowerment because liberal ideology failed them - RT

Trump warns Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies against ‘carnage’ in Idlib – CNN

"Don't do it!" he wrote in a typo-riddled tweet, accusing Russia and Iran along with the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad of "killing, or on their way to killing" the civilians.

He later corrected misspellings in a subsequent tweet.

Trump said Turkey was working to stop the "carnage," which has forced at least 100,000 people from their homes in the northwestern province.

Dozens of people have been killed by a wave of bombardment in the area, according to the White Helmets, a local volunteer search and rescue group.

Assad's army, with support from Russian air power, has stepped up its attacks on Idlib, the country's last major opposition bastion and home to more than 3 million Syrians.

The government has said that it is targeting terrorists in Idlib. But if the violence continues, hundreds of thousands of civilians could be displaced in the coming weeks, international aid organizations warn.

Turkey, an ally of Russia's which Trump praised in his tweet as attempting to curb the offensive, has so far not been able to end the violence.

Instead, the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who Trump has fostered close ties with, has said his country would be unable to accommodate additional refugees fleeing the misery.

Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdogan said his country, which already shelters the most Syrian refugees in the world, cannot handle a fresh wave of migrants and "will not bear" the burden alone.

It's unclear what prompted Trump's tweet on Thursday. He sent the message from his Florida estate amid a flurry of other angry messages about the ongoing impeachment saga. One included a complaint about his hampered ability to conduct foreign relations.

"Despite all of the great success that our Country has had over the last 3 years, it makes it much more difficult to deal with foreign leaders (and others) when I am having to constantly defend myself against the Do Nothing Democrats & their bogus Impeachment Scam," he wrote. "Bad for USA!"

Trump ventured to his nearby golf club a few hours later.

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Trump warns Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies against 'carnage' in Idlib - CNN

Meet the Americans called Trump … who aren’t related to the president – The Guardian

On the first day of class each semester, Kris-Stella Trump is sure to tell her students at the University of Memphis one thing about herself: Dr Trump is not related to the president. Its a complete coincidence.

For Kris-Stella, who grew up in Estonia, the need for clarification is not just in the classroom its everywhere. In hotels, restaurants, bars, conferences and the airport.

The questions from strangers are frequent and can lead to awkward interactions. Ive learned to say that [Im not related] in a way that essentially avoids what I think about the president, Kris-Stella said.

As a professor of political science, Kris-Stella is keenly aware of how her last name has affected her life. Its like the polarizing nature of politics follow me around, Kris-Stella said. I spend my life thinking about politics but its another aspect of what would otherwise be a private sphere.

In 2016, Vox reported that there are over 4,700 Trumps in the US almost all unrelated to the president. They come from across the country and different walks of life, but they share a last name that has become synonymous with a divisive age of politics.

A frequent traveler, Ken Trump, a school security expert based in Cleveland, Ohio, has noticed people react differently to his name depending on where he is in America. When he told a school police officer in Texas that his name was Ken Trump, the officer responded: I aint got a problem with that, boy. In Los Angeles, the name can create tenser interactions.

These are daily interactions that have become a part of my life, Ken said. He often says no relation when introducing himself as a fun icebreaker and conversation starter, helping him develop inside jokes with strangers.

When Ken went to Puerto Rico with his children and wife, who is Puerto Rican, the staff members of his hotel told him: This week, so you have a good week in Puerto Rico, youre Mr Rodriguez, citing his wifes maiden name. All week, the staff would jokingly call him Mr Rodriguez whenever he passed by. It was an uplifting part of the experience, he said.

But theres a downside to the last name: Ken has gone to restaurants with his kids when they are are wearing red sweatpants and hoodies part of their sports team attire with their last name emblazoned on the back. Seeing the name Trump on red clothing made peoples heads turn.

Thats why Im comfortable putting the Ken Trump, no relation out there, because its such a polarizing name you remove the intensity of that polarization that we have in this country, he said.

Having the last name Trump once primed jokes about potentially being related to a millionaire. Lindsay Trump, a project manager for a construction company in Orange county, California, used to get questions when she was younger of whether she was related to the publicity-hungry real estate developer and New York gossip circuit fixture. People would always be like, Oh, are you related to Donald Trump? Like, you can have all the money, Lindsay said. Now its like they dont know what to say.

Lindsay can tell people struggle to betray their political beliefs when her name comes up.When people see her in person, she said it is pretty clear that she is unrelated to the president: she is part Hispanic.

I dont obviously look like Im related to him, so I dont think people assume that [I am], Lindsay said.

People assume differently when it comes to Maxine Trump, a documentary film-maker, despite her British accent. Im white, blonde, I live in New York City, Maxine said. The presidents two daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany, are both currently located in Washington but the family has traditionally been associated with living and working in New York, where the Donald was born in the borough of Queens and began working for his father.

Maxine, who was born and raised in the UK, has been getting grief about her last name since she was in elementary school because to trump means to fart in British slang. When I stood up and had to give me last name at school, everyone made farting noises, she said.

When the president entered politics, the questions started to come and have not stopped for Maxine. Like Kris-Stella, Maxine tries to politely answer questions without dragging things into the political arena. This has been going most of my adult life. It used to be fine, and now its always mentioned, she said.

If the conversation continues past the are you related? question, Maxine says she often mentions a documentary she made in 2017 called Trump Against Trumps. The video signals that people who share the last name Trump might not agree with the president.

I say, Actually, I even made a short film about it. You should watch it because I think itd make you chuckle, Maxine said.

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Meet the Americans called Trump ... who aren't related to the president - The Guardian