New  religionsgeschichtliche Schule

Religionsgeschichtliche Schule is a term that has dominated the study of Christianity in academic circles for 150 years. It is translated from the German as “History of Religions School.” In this case it means ‘school of thought’ rather than a physical place, and is a reference to a group of influential scholars. They are important because most of their core ideas are still going strong on the internet and are currently taught in the Religious Studies Departments of many universities. 

A number of bad ideas got their start with the religionsgeschichtliche Schule, including “Pagan origins” of Bible stories and the idea that the divinity of Jesus developed late in the history of the Christian movement.

A colloquium was held at the University of Edinburgh a few weeks ago, titled “Varieties of Theism in Antiquity, and amounted to a series of new scholarly papers presented by a group of academics who celebrate the countervailing views that have debunked the ideas of the original religionsgeschichtliche Schule.

Continue reading “New  religionsgeschichtliche Schule

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Media v Evangelicals 2019 midyear update

Last year I wrote a dozen posts to report on the assaults by mass media on Evangelical Christians. I cited the many hatchet-job articles and a representative handful (out of many dozens) of editorials from mass media to document their collective attempt to suppress Trump voters and boost Democrat prospects in the 2018 midterm elections. Things quieted down after Christmas, but then heated up over abortion when a number of red states were working on bills to restrict abortion. The focus stayed on Culture of Death issues all spring, with a few occasional bursts of Catholic-bashing thrown in.

But now I see signs of a renewed energy in media attacks on Evangelicals. This looks like the ramp-up to 2020 campaigning. I am not alleging any conspiracy. All I am pointing out is that journalists as a group hate President Trump and hate the voters who put him in office. Since they are overwhelmingly irreligious, they neither understand nor wish to understand the concerns of Christians.

Journalists have latched on to the statistics about the overwhelming support from Evangelical Christians who form the core of President Trump’s voters. In particular, media accounts like to cite the statistics about white Evangelical support, as they set up a ‘people-of-color v whites’ meme going into the campaigns. Evidently they feel that they own non-Christian white women and have given up on white men entirely (except for gays and the Leftist elite white men who work in media or academia or Democrat politics).

Although Evangelicals have considered mass media to be hostile ever since the rise of Jerry Falwell Sr. and the Moral Majority in the Reagan era, the hostility expressed towards Evangelicals by mass media has only grown in the decades since then, and became an uproar after the election in November of 2016. Since it is old news now, the energy behind mass media attacks on traditionalist Christians is reduced, but it will resume its previous intensity as the 2020 election approaches.

The thrust of most of the coverage I have seen in the first half of 2019 was a trickle of articles either by or focused on theological liberals. These are Christians who have “emerged” beyond the Bible, and in many cases have “emerged” beyond Jesus. They still claim to be Christians, but that is a dishonest label for these heretics. Mass media love them because they complain bitterly about how traditionalist Christians have “tossed morality aside in their rush to embrace President Trump.” It seems to me that the main emphasis in these articles is to cause weak-minded Christians to fall away from support of President Trump.

Now, to recent activity:

Polling

In March, Pew Forum printed an article with new sifting of polling results. Their article was titled “Evangelical approval of Trump remains high, but other religious groups are less supportive.” Several articles and editorials were published that cited this poll. What the poll asked is “Do you approve of the way President Trump is handling his presidency?” Then they made a big deal out of the fact that the highest support for President Trump is among white Evangelicals.

Well now, when it comes to that, I might say I disapprove of the way President Trump is handling some aspects of his presidency, even though I enthusiastically approve of President Trump’s nominees, policy moves, and foreign relations. If you asked me right after some particularly cringeworthy tweet from the President, I might give you a negative answer. Especially I would think it is probably my duty to give a false answer to pollsters, just as a matter of principle. So I don’t think Pew’s finding is particularly meaningful, though I don’t doubt the finding.

At any rate, this became background for more recent ramping up of anti-Trump-voter media shenanigans.

Buttigieg

In April, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend Indiana formally announced his candidacy for president in 2020. He was immediately treated to a round of fawning articles by media. They all took pains to quote Mayor Pete B.’s comments about his theologically liberal Episcopalian religion, and then they delighted when he went on the attack against Mike Pence. Pence, who had previously had friendly terms with Mayor Pete for several years, was caught blind-sided, but was gracious in his responses, indicating that he considered Buttigieg’s attacks to be just politics and not really personal. Buttigieg, as an out homosexual in a homosexual marriage, was swamped with a mountain of money from Big Gay, which garnered him even more media attention (they all reported the size of the contributions received and carefully did not report where they were coming from).

Buttigieg’s attacks on traditionalist Christian Mike Pence followed the typical template long established by Leftists for leveraging theologically-liberal religion in attacks against traditionalist Christians by proof-texting verses from the Bible. There really isn’t anything new there. It is very formulaic.

Buttigieg understands that the remarks he makes regarding religion are the remarks that hook reporters’ interest the most. They love attacking the GOP on the subject of religion, since they are unbelievers who think all religion is hypocrisy anyhow. Buttigieg has used religion as his main platform on several occasions. Regarding the border, he railed about Trump Administration treatment of minors and declared that the GOP “has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”

New rape accusation leveraged by Nevers

E. Jean Carroll released a new book in June, in which she accused President Trump of rape in a 1996 incident. NeverTrump David French led the immediate charge, using the new allegation for a fresh attack against Christians who support President Trump. Other Nevers and several Leftist “Christians” jumped on that bandwagon. Mostly, they simply cited the new allegation and then proceeded to recycle stuff they have been saying interminably since 2016.

That story quickly faded since Ms. Carroll has absolutely nothing in the way of supporting evidence and there are some inconsistencies between the book and remarks she made pre-publication and post-publication. President Trump strenuously denies the allegation.

More of the old stuff recycled

A Democrat you never heard of gave a speech and followed up with tweets saying that it is un-Christian to support President Trump. Yawn.

A Leftist journalist with ties to a liberal church wrote a long feature trashing Evangelical whites.

The Washington Post wrote another feature about Paula White. Rev. White is a fave of President Trump. She is a “prosperity gospel” preacher. WashPo has written several previous features about her; they seem to think she is a sinister influence on the President, whom they hate. This feature is more mocking, scoffing and feigned shock; simply a rehash of their previous features on this topic.

(I am using the word “feature,” because these are longer than average and contain so much editorial content buried in an “article” that you cannot call it either an article or an editorial.)

The Atlantic ran another interminably long feature by Peter Wehner to trash Evangelicals. Wehner has Republican credentials on his resume, but went so strongly NeverTrump that he has been carrying water for the Left for over two years. (Wehner is associated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which Wikipedia calls “conservative.” They are conservative in the sense that they have religion, but it is “centrist” at best, in the sense that their positions are what you would expect from “conservative” Democrats from liberal churches. EPPC is the outfit that gives Mona Charen her “ethics” credential.)

Wehner’s feature cites and links to other Atlantic features that slime President Trump and the Trump Administration as “cruel” “immoral” “klansmen,” “guilty” of “white supremacy,” “angry” “ethnic cleansing” and a host of additional fevered-imaginary “malignant” “crimes.”

Wehner’s feature got a round of approval from the usual suspects. WashPo leveraged it by running a companion piece in which Jennifer Rubin interviewed Wehner. Salon and most of the Leftist blogosphere cited Wehner’s feature, and used it as a hook for launching their own opprobrium.

It is only notable for the way it directly attacks white Evangelicals. Here is a sample:

The enthusiastic, uncritical embrace of President Trump by white evangelicals is among the most mind-blowing developments of the Trump era. How can a group that for decades—and especially during the Bill Clinton presidency—insisted that character counts and that personal integrity is an essential component of presidential leadership not only turn a blind eye to the ethical and moral transgressions of Donald Trump, but also constantly defend him? Why are those who have been on the vanguard of “family values” so eager to give a man with a sordid personal and sexual history a  mulligan? …

For a growing number of evangelicals, Trump’s  dehumanizing tactics and cruelty aren’t a bug; they are a feature. 

Book release

Politico correspondent Tim Alberta had a new book release about the 2016 campaign. There was a flurry of articles that are derivative of things in the book. Some are recent, but most of the quotes are from the context of the primary season in early 2016. But some old news made it into anti-Evangelical headlines that then got featured by the Google News aggregator. Here are two examples:

An article at BusinessInsider had this:

Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, called evangelical Christians who support President Donald Trump “the biggest phonies of all,” in a new book by the journalist Tim Alberta. … He went on, “These are the people who spent the last forty years telling everyone how to live, who to love, what to think about morality. And then this motherf–ker comes along defiling the White House and disrespecting God’s children at every turn, but it’s cool, because he gave them two Supreme Court justices. They got their thirty pieces of silver.”

TalkingPointsMemo recycled this:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had some pointed words for evangelicals who supported then-candidate Donald Trump.

If you’re a faithful person, if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, emerged from the grave three days later and gives eternal life, and you’re supporting Donald Trump, I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with you,” he said according to Politico Magazine chief correspondent Tim Alberta book “American Carnage” obtained by the New York Times. 

They loved those quotes from 2016 so much they just had to run them again. We will see them all several more times before November of 2020.

NPR

Most recently I heard a feature at NPR. Yeah, I know. I listen so you don’t have to. Nothing they had to say is worth repeating. As journalism, it was not bad quality, in that the reporters did not add a lot of editorializing. Of course, they did not need to add anything because they only covered one side of the story. They ran quotes from two Democrat consultants, two Democrat office holders, and then for balance they interviewed one woman described as:

“…child advocate Kelly Rosati, a Colorado-based evangelical activist who promotes adoption, foster parenting and orphan care. Rosati abandoned the Republican Party after concluding it was insufficiently compassionate, but neither does she identify as a Democrat, largely because of the party’s stance on abortion issues.”

So much for “balance.”

Actually, I am not much bothered by the lack of conservative voices. I have been thinking for years that all Republicans and conservatives should quit returning calls to NPR. They are a hostile entity.

conclusion

Well, that is the state of media’s ongoing never-ending campaign for the Left, in so far as their assaults on Evangelical Trump voters.

Journalists are the Enemy of the People.

At least 95 % of them are.

Please do everything possible to spread ridicule on mass media Fake News. They oppose America and everything that America ever stood for. They oppose Christ and Christianity. They oppose liberty. They oppose traditional family formation. They oppose truth. They are working to bring about the collapse of western civilization.

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Terrorist van Spronsen

I suppose everyone saw that a terrorist had tried to bomb an ICE facility in Tacoma using Molotov cocktails and a propane tank bomb, and was killed in a shootout.

I doubt if any of you learned anything of the details, because journalists seemed really un-curious and unwilling to follow up.   The details got left out; there was no reporting on several aspects of the attacker and his motives, which were vaguely reported as “unclear” by media outlets hostile to ICE.

Since the attack, the terrorist’s name or stated motivation has yet to be reported on CNN, MSNBC, or the evening/morning news shows on CBS, NBC, or ABC, based on a review of Grabien’s archive of news programming. Nor was the story mentioned on any of the Sunday morning political talk shows, despite border detention being such a dominant topic in the preceding months.

On Saturday, CNN’s Polo Sandoval reported on the terror attack, but only to say that “police have not established a motive.”

Willem van Spronsen was a part of AntiFa of Seattle, was known to police, and had previously been arrested for attacking that same facility in Tacoma last year.   He was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

He was part of an AntiFa mob that roughed up Andy Ngo, and Ngo had reported him for making threats, but police showed no interest.

 The manifesto he left behind borrowed language from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez likening ICE detainment facilities to “concentration camps,” which he did six separate times. He encourages others to follow him and “arm themselves.”

Once again mass media reveal themselves to be partizan hacks.   The Enemy of the People.

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National Popular Vote

Our situation is desperate. We need conservatives to mobilize in several key states to head off disaster.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an initiative designed to prevent purple states from being won by President Trump in 2020. It is a scheme to steal the electoral votes of purple states away from their voters by subterfuge. Legislatures with Democrat majorities in states with Democrat governors have passed this law while most Trump voters were busy with their personal lives. The people are having their votes stolen away from them without any chance to directly vote on the measure.

Continue reading “National Popular Vote”

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Spiritual Question 3

Is there such a thing as sin?

Which is to say, is there any real meaning to our understanding of how people ought to behave? We talk a lot about right and wrong, or about good and evil. This Question 3 is to explore the spiritual question of sin v. righteousness. Are our ideas about how people ought to behave just conceptual? Is there any reality to the concept of sin? Are there any real spiritual consequences, other than logical life consequences, involved with sin?

Before we get very far with this, we have to have a definition for what we mean by “sin.” It is clear that there are Ratburghers who think of “sin” as a personal shortcoming, like a lack of musical talent or poor eyesight or weak willpower. However, I mean something very different. Here is a dictionary definition:

an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

Continue reading “Spiritual Question 3”

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Muslim jihad in Africa June 2019

Ramadan ended on June 3rd this year. I posted with the overview the following week. There has been no abatement of murder and destruction. In fact, the pace of killing seems to be increasing.

This will not be reported in American mass media. Conservative niche media will only take notice of the most horrifying crimes. The murders of hundreds of Africans is only noted by Christian niche media. Most of the victims are Christians, of course, though plenty of Pagans are murdered by Muslims as well. Every now and then Muslims are killed in reprisals, and that is ten times as likely to get reported in western mass media as other violence.

If you do a search of any mass media news site, or any Big Tech news aggregator, you discover some interesting results.   The stuff I note below turns up on page three or four, or not at all.   If you search for “Muslim” you get pro-Islam stories.   If you search for these countries by name, you get stories about sports stars who come from these nations.   You also get articles about western NGOs and their work in these countries.   What you have to work really hard to find is reporting on jihad, which is a daily fact of life in much of Africa.

I determined to provide a snapshot of the ongoing death and destruction wrought by jihadis in Africa. This is an amazing tale that goes unreported. It should inform our understanding of the Islamic world, and the violence that accompanies Islam.   The following is simply a review of recent events.

Burkina Faso

I mentioned Burkina Faso in my Ramadan Bombathon post. There was an attack on a church every Sunday in Ramadan this year.

Cameroon

More than 80 people were killed, including 16 Cameroonian soldiers, during an attack by suspected Boko Haram Islamists in the north of the country, the defense ministry said.

Eight civilians and 64 fighters also died in the pitched battle in the Darak locality of Cameroon’s Far North Region on June 9, while another eight fighters were taken prisoner, Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said in statement handed to reporters in the capital, Yaounde.

Here is an interesting bit about Cameroon, which is getting spillover from Nigeria. Boko Haram fighters cross the border either to stir up trouble or as they flee from Nigerian government forces.

Since 2014, the Far North region of Cameroon has experienced several devastating attacks displacing a total of 262,831 Cameroonians as of May 2019. As the country struggles to deal with this unprecedented number of internally displaced citizens within its borders, it is simultaneously hosting over 136,000 Nigerian refugees who fled to Cameroon as a result of the same conflict.

Cameroon also has internal strife. The two large English-speaking provinces have a separatist movement going on, claiming that the government has been stealing elections, which of course they have been. The government arrested 350 peaceful protesters in an escalation over this confrontation.

Central African Republic

The “3R” Fulani Muslim militia used a supposed peace deal as a pretense to host a meeting, then murdered their guests. May, 2019.

More than 26 people were killed on Tuesday and many were wounded when an armed group attacked two villages in northwestern Central African Republic, the UN’s peacekeeping mission said.

 

Chad

At least four Chadian soldiers and a television reporter were killed when their vehicle hit a mine on a road in eastern Chad, security sources said Sunday.

The victims were in a convoy on Saturday, May 25 headed towards an army position that had been attacked by elements of the Boko Haram insurgent group overnight, the sources said.

The timeline of events is unclear.

This delegation of the Chadian army was headed to N’Gounboua, where elements of Boko Haram had attacked an army position overnight, killing at least one on our side,” a security source told AFP.

Alwihda reported that 23 Boko Haram fighters were killed in Berkara, near N’Gouboua on Saturday night. N’Goubouais on the northeastern bank of Lake Chad, near the borders with Nigeria and Niger.

The Chadian Army cannot win every time, even with covert aid from America and France. Chad is about 44% Christian, but parts of Chad are 90% Muslim. The Christians of Kintchendi have a difficult choice to make:

On June 7, the  Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped a Christian woman in the village of Kintchendi in the Diffa region in southeastern Niger. She was released yesterday with a letter to all the Christians living in that area to “leave the town within three days or be killed.”

Egypt

A tourist bus was bombed near the Pyramids on May 20. 17 wounded.

This also happened in Egypt, but in Sinai near Gaza, so not technically in Africa:

Egyptian security personnel were killed Wednesday, June 5 in militant attacks on several security posts in the restive North Sinai region, according to media reports.

One of the checkpoints near the city of  Arish was run by Egypt’s Central Security Forces and two others by the military, according to the independent news  website  Mada Masr, which said 10 police officers had been killed.

The militants attempted to capture armored vehicles, according to reports on social media and AFP citing a security source. Police and Egyptian Armed Forces personnel were battling the attackers and killed a number of the militants, the reports said.

Egypt’s interior ministry later put the death toll at eight, including two officers, and said five militants were killed. The ministry said the attack targeted the Batal-14 checkpoint south of Arish, but did not confirm reports of two additional attacks.

Kenya

At least eight Kenyan police officers were killed on Saturday, June 15 when their vehicle was struck by an IED while on patrol in Wajir County near the border with Somalia, police sources said.Unnamed Kenyan officials earlier said those killed were among a group of officers who were pursuing gunmen who had kidnapped three police reservists in Konton centre in Wajir East, Al Jazeera  reported. Those sources said at least 10 police officers had been killed in the explosion.

Al-Shabab  claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, saying they had temporarily taken control of Khorof Harar village.

Mali

At least 95 people were killed Sunday evening when armed men attacked an ethnic Dogon village in central Mali, a mayor told CNN on Monday.

The gunmen set fire to the village and fired shots, fleeing at around midnight, the mayor, Ali Dolo, said. The attack was carried out by Fulani men, he said.

CNN took pains to point out that 134 Fulani had been killed in reprisal attacks in March. They did not explain the massacres that the reprisals were for. The word “Muslim” did not appear in their two articles about jihad in Africa this month.

Mozambique

Mozambique has experienced an upsurge in Islamicist violence in recent years, though much less than some of the other countries in Africa. This past April, Mozambique was slammed by a cyclone. The storm, storm damage, storm cleanup, and related matters crowded everything else out of the news.

Nigeria

Boko Haram continues its killing. More jihadi murders happened in Nigeria last year than in any other country except Afghanistan and Syria. There was a little blip of notice in conservative niche media because two Nigerian women spoke to Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, June 11. One of them is the mother of a girl who was kidnapped along with 110 other schoolgirls in Dapchi, back in February of 2018. Five of the girls died, and all but two of the rest were either sprung or released. Boko Haram is still holding two girls, including this woman’s daughter, because they refused to renounce Jesus. The thing that made it newsworthy was that the woman made it to America to appeal to President Trump for help.

On May 26, Christians were attacked just as they were leaving Sunday morning worship. Reports vary with between 7 to 30 murdered in several locations. Twenty homes of Christians were burned. These attacks, along with many others, were not included in a Boko Haram timeline posted by CNN on June 9.

There is some good news from Nigeria. I don’t know if this means real progress towards peace:

A total of 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria today, as part of its commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children.

The CJTF is a local militia that helps the Nigerian security forces in the fight against insurgency in north-east Nigeria. It was formed in 2013, with the aim of protecting communities from attack.

It is good that the anti-Boko Haram fighters are giving up their child soldiers. The government of Nigeria pledged to do more to fight Boko Haram. Most of those kids will probably end up as refugees either elsewhere in Nigeria or perhaps in Cameroon.

 

Niger

You may well wonder why I have Niger on this list, since it is 99.5% Muslim. But jihadis believe that most Muslims are not sufficiently adhering to Sharia, and they fight the government that occasionally tries to stop the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP, a faction of Boko Haram) from crossing borders. You may also recall that a couple of Americans got killed while on a clandestine mission in Niger in 2017. Boss Mongo is a friend of a guy whose son was on that mission.

Not all military missions in Niger end in failure. The most recent one was a success.

Security forces in Niger foiled three weekend attacks in the capital Niamey and in the southeastern city of Diffa, the government said. … Five people including “two known terrorists” were arrested near Niamey’s international airport on Saturday, the defense ministry said in a statement read on state radio on Monday, June 3.

These terrorists intended to perpetrate attacks in the city of Niamey or its environs,” the statement said. On Sunday, two attacks were thwarted in the Diffa area, according to the ministry.

Overnight, four would-be suicide bombers were “neutralized,” one near a fuel depot and three at the Diffa airport, the ministry said. Local officials had earlier said all four militants were killed near the depot, which stores oil and gas for the region.

Also in Diffa, an attack on a church was averted on Sunday morning, the defense ministry said. “The suicide bomber and his guide were arrested outside the church. They had an explosives belt and its detonator” as well as a firearm and ammunition, it said.

Meanwhile:

On June 7, the  Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped a Christian woman in the village of Kintchendi in the Diffa region in southeastern Niger. She was released yesterday [June 10] with  a letter to all the Christians living in that area to “leave the town within three days or be killed.”

Somalia

Somalia has been torn by war for over 25 years.

a car bomb exploded near the Somalia parliament on Saturday, killing eight people, emergency workers said, hours after militia executed nine civilians from a clan with suspected links to al-Shabaab.

We have confirmed eight people killed and 16 others wounded in the blast,” the private Aamin Ambulance service said. A second blast on a key road leading to the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu did not cause any casualties.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks saying they were “they were targeting two checkpoints, one of them along the airport road and (the other) along the road that leads to house of legislators.”

According to security sources the second explosives-laden car a Toyota Noah, was spotted by security forces at a checkpoint. They opened fire and killed a man in the car, which then exploded. …

Earlier Saturday, police said local militia executed nine civilians after Al-Shabaab killed a police officer.

The revenge attack Friday just outside Galkayo – one of the most developed cities in the centre of the country – targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected to be Shabaab fighters.

This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Shabaab gunmen killed” a policeman, said local police official Mohamed Abdirahman.

This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.

Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabaab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”

Sudan

Street protests that started in late 2018 led to a coup this past April. The generals removed Omar al-Bashir from power. The street protests continued, however, with protesters saying, essentially, “we wanted the generals to take over, but not these generals.” The guys in power are al-Bashir’s old cronies. Things turned really ugly when police fired on protesters at the end of Ramadan:

Hopes of a peaceful transition of power took a fatal blow on June 3, when soldiers and paramilitary groups opened fire on a pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum, according to witnesses, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds. About 40 bodies were found to have been dumped in the River Nile after the attack.

In this case the protesters are all Muslims, so this is not jihad; it is just a military junta oppressing their own people. Beatings, political imprisonment, rape and murder have all been charged. This is a story that has appeared a little bit in some American media outlets. Less than one percent of Sudan’s population is not Muslim, and the non-Muslims are keeping their heads down as best they can.

 

South Sudan

South Sudan was torn by a very long civil war that culminated in independence from Sudan in 2011. At the end of 2013 a power struggle plunged South Sudan into a new civil war. Sudan is divided seven ways, primarily tribally.  In the midst of this chaos Sudan has occupied large portions of South Sudan’s oil fields. Cross border incursions have led to friction with Uganda. There has been violence, but I did not see anything there that could be attributed to jihad.

 

Wrapup

I counted 247 persons killed since the end of Ramadan two weeks ago in jihadi attacks in Africa. The summary above adds up to more than that because I included murders that occurred back in May.

Media silence. American mass media is failing to inform us. We have to inform each other.

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Draining the agricultural swamp

Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting Thursday to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country.

Perdue announced earlier Thursday morning that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, will be relocated to Kansas City from Washington, DC, the final announcement in a process that began last year.
Swamp dwellers are unhappy.   They are going to have to go to flyover country if they want to keep their jobs.   This will make it more difficult to work the system, and make it more difficult to collude with their pals in the activist community.
This is exactly the sort of remedy that I have been hoping for.
But outside observers, current employees and members of Congress have pushed back against the plan since it was first announced last year.
Kevin Hunt, acting vice president of the ERS Union, condemned the move as “cold-hearted” and that it “highlights his disregard for the rights and well-being of employees.”
The relocation plan has drawn opposition from House Democrats, who included language in their budget banning USDA from using funds allocated by Congress to relocate either agency outside the capital. A group of Democratic senators have also introduced legislation that would bar USDA from moving the research agencies.
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Shiite Shenanigans

Oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. This is just over a month since the previous attacks in the Persian Gulf. Houthi rebels in Yemen, a client project of Iran, attacked oil wells and pipelines and an airport in Saudi Arabia.

The Mullahs of Iran are trying to raise the price of oil, to create a better market for their black market oil that they are trying to sell around President Trump’s sanctions.

Are they biting off more than they can chew? I saw that Prime Minister Abe of Japan happened to be in Tehran at the time of the attack, and tried to say some soothing but warning things about escalations.   One of the bombed ships is Japanese.

The Iranians are saying “it ain’t us,” but everyone knows it is them. They are saying that America bombed the ships in order to blame Iran for the provocation. Only the most virulent America-haters are going with the Iranian version, which means it is making the rounds on social media at three times the speed of truth.

 

The problem with Iran is that their theocracy puts the most ardent Mullahs in positions of power. Those guys believe their scriptures, and have internalized some prophecies that are specific to Shia Islam. They would like nothing better than to trigger the Final War that will bring about the sequence of events prophesied for the end of the world.

As a believer in sacred writings myself, I see their conviction as an admirable trait. Too bad they have determined to follow the wrong sacred writings. But I can understand them in a way that the pundits of Washington cannot. I relate to their conviction.

There is a limited number of ways to deal with Iran. Diplomacy is bound to fail unless it accompanies a strategy that addresses their religious ideas.

  1. First, convince them that now is not the time for that eagerly-sought Final War. That a war at this time would not be the eschatological end-times war, but a war that would bring the wrath of the West down on their heads and only set their cause back by a century or three. They would need to be convinced that the war that would come would be far more deadly and destructive than the wars they have observed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  2. Alternatively, bring down the regime of the Mullahs, and install some other government that does not give primary place to religious ideologues.
  3. Third, and best, would be a conversion; a wave of Iranian people coming to Christ and rejecting the religion of false peace, peacefully replacing their own government with something good.

Any approach that simply expects more of the same; applying economic sanctions and occasionally setting their nuclear weapon ambitions back a little bit, is a bad approach. Eventually they will succeed.

I do not expect that they will succeed in triggering the wars that will bring about the End of Time. I do expect that could succeed in triggering a major war, with millions of people displaced and killed.

Lord, have mercy.

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Ramadan Bombathon report 2019

Ramadan ended last week.   Here is the tally.

No casualties in America this year.   A pretty big number overall.   911 killed and 1006 wounded.   Do you recall seeing any of this in the news?   Didn’t think so.

Continue reading “Ramadan Bombathon report 2019”

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Dearborn Al-Quds Day Rally

Iranian Shiites held a rally to celebrate Al-Quds Day.

“Many people from across the community and across the Muslim world at large have been swept away by the tide of American patriotism. They are proud of America, its freedom, its democracy, free speech, freedom of religion… At the same time, they look down upon the Islamic countries from the high horse of American exceptionalism. How these countries are backwards, corrupt, unorganized, and you have heard more… For that I would like to call the attention of those individuals – however they might hear this – that the amenities and luxuries that they are enjoying in this country are attained at the expense of the rest of the world.

“American military campaigns, economic sanctions, and political arrogance are the only things that keep America where it is. it has been so since they first came to slaughter natives and enslave Africans.

“We don’t point our fingers at the current idiot in the White House, but at all of the criminals and terrorists who held his position before him.”

“And I would like to make it clear to those individuals who like to sing the national anthem and claim that America has given us so much opportunity that America has not given us anything that Allah did not intend on giving us. Just as the Pharaoh did not do Moses a favor by raising him in his corrupt palace. Because the only reason Moses was there in the first place was because of Pharaoh’s slaughtering and enslaving of Moses’ people.

“Likewise, America has not given us anything that we would not have gotten in our homelands, in the company of our own people – were our lands not invaded and colonized and were our people not slaughtered and exploited.

Just another day in America.

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Grifters on the Right

Well, whaddaya know, something worth considering at National Review.   I would not have seen it had they not linked to it on the front page at TheAmericanConservative.   The column is by Jim Geraghty, and it includes a really lame defense of David French (lame because he is talking past French’s critics; J. Geraghty evidently misses the point of our criticisms of D. French).

The worthwhile part of the column is pointing out how the TEA Party energy that was a true grassroots energization of the conservative movement in America lost its momentum.   The momentum was lost because a host of charlatans latched on like leeches and diverted vast amounts of funds into pet projects or their own pockets.

Back in 2013, Conservative StrikeForce PAC raised $2.2 million in funds vowing to support Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor in Virginia. Court filings and FEC records showed that the PAC only contributed $10,000 to Cuccinelli’s effort.

Back in 2014Politico researched 33 political action committees that claimed to be affiliated with the Tea Party and courted small donors with email and direct-mail appeals and found that they “raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs.”

Back in 2015, RightWingNews reviewed the financial filings of 21 prominent conservative PACs and found the ten 10 groups at the bottom of their list spent $54.3 million only paid out $3.6 million to help get Republicans elected.

Back in 2016, campaign finance lawyer Paul H. Jossey detailed how some of the PACs operated and lamented, “the Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered — and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.”

In 2016, Roger Stone founded the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness. It raised $587,000 and spent $16,000 on independent expenditures supporting Trump.  …

In the 2018 cycle, Tea Party Majority Fund raised $1.67 million and donated $35,000 to federal candidates. That cycle, Conservative Majority Fund raised just over $1 million and donated $7,500 to federal candidates.

Conservative Strikeforce raised $258,376 and donated nothing to federal candidates.

Put Vets First PAC raised $3.9 million in the 2018 cycle; they gave $9,000 to federal candidates.

All this makes me want to find a site that evaluates conservative and libertarian PACs.   Any suggestions?

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An unwanted conversation

MJBubba:

Ms. H.:
I will argue with anyone who purports to know.  No one does.

What proof or authority are you using to make this pronouncement ?

That  I will argue?  My personal authority.

I think when you use your personal authority regarding spiritual matters that you are putting yourself onto really thin spiritual ice.

That no one knows?  Oh, come on!!!Because no human that I have ever encountered, nor heard tell of, …

Of course you have heard tell; you have simply decided to reject the testimony of the witnesses.

…remembers where or what he or she was before birth.

Are you now talking of reincarnation? The spiritual confusion compounds.

Nor has any  human being ever returned from death  to tell us what that’s like.

That’s my “proof” that  no living human knows about God.

Once again you are rejecting the testimony of the witnesses.

Now, in the OT, you didn’t need faith: God would come take you on a picnic, like He did with the Hebrew elders on Sinai. He’d do tricks like he did for Gideon! He’d incinerate people, like Aaron’s sons— and animal carcasses, like he did in the contest with Baal.

You can scoff and mock all you like. There are eternal consequences.

But now, I think you’d have to agree, we see through a glass darkly.  We do not know.

Agreeing that our knowledge is limited is very different from insisting that we have no knowledge at all. I reject your premise that says the only acceptable witness testimony is your own.

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Ticks

We have been scaring Ms. EThompson with snake stories after learning that she is moving to an area of northern Florida where poisonous snakes abound.   However, I think we would be best to spend our energies cautioning about ticks.

Ticks are small critters that feed on your blood, like mosquitoes, but different.   They are little crawlers.   They are a pest that, like mosquitoes, carry disease.   Some tick-borne diseases are very serious, like Lyme Disease.   There are sixteen different ailments that you can catch from ticks.   Though rarely fatal, they can become chronic.

In a couple of recent discussions I have recommended snake gaiters over boots as preferable to snakeboots.   Snakeboots are stiff and hot and uncomfortable.   Gaiters over boots is way more comfortable, though whether or not it is comparable protection against snakes depends on your boots.

But there is a drawback that must be considered.   Snakeboots also provide improved protection against ticks, who will jump off of the weeds and onto your leg, crawling around until they find a place to bite.   They can climb under the gaiters and get to your socks, burrowing through the socks and then burrowing into your skin.

Bug spray

So the thing to do is to treat your socks and the gaiters with a tick spray.   I frequently see DEET recommended, and that is good, and I recommend it, too, to prevent all sorts of insect bites.   It is not completely effective, but it really helps.

In addition to DEET, there is another product that I also recommend, which is permethrin.   It is easily found as a spray.   Permethrin lasts longer than DEET, so you can spray the gaiters today and they will still have an effect for a couple of weeks.   Spray both the outside and inside of the gaiters.   Spray pants, shirts and socks.   Make sure you do your spraying up on the porch or in the garage, and not out in the flowerbed, because both sprays kill bees and butterflies and other pollinators.   Do not spray near pets, as it can make them sick.   But definitely use this stuff.   Tick fever is dangerous.

Tick Tubes

A new thing I recently learned is tick tubes.   These are coated cardboard paper towel tubes filled with little cotton balls.   The cotton balls are sprayed with permethrin.   You toss a dozen tick tubes around the yard, under bushes and in clumps of flowers.   They are for the little critters that live in the yard.   Mice and chipmunks and squirrels and even moles will find them, and take a prized cotton ball home to line the nest.   The result is that their ticks die.   I have healthier mice, chipmunks and squirrels now, and the result is also that we have fewer ticks.   I have noticed a difference after just one year.

I could make my own but I am too triflin’ lazy and too bothered by the chemical to want to do that by hand.   They come in a box of a dozen tubes.   We put out two dozen in early spring, and then another dozen in late spring.   We don’t see the tubes again until the foliage dies in winter, and then we pick them up and toss them in the trash.

Possums

Opossums are a common woodland critter that have adapted well to the outer suburbs.   They are really unusual in several ways.   One thing about possums is that they have a low body temperature, lower than most mammals.   This makes them resistant to rabies and some other diseases.   It also makes them a less-attractive host to ticks.   But the main thing about possums is that they eat ticks.   They eat lots of ticks.   Possums can be good to have around, on account of they eat ticks.

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Sinister Kullberg Network

Are you influenced by the sinister Kullberg Network? If you have any conservative Facebook friends, chances are you have been influenced in your thinking by this shadowy group.

The Kullberg network is not a foreign entity. It is a collection of at least 24 Facebook pages apparently run by a small group of people based out of Columbus, Ohio, that purports to represent the views of a diverse cohort of Americans. In many other respects, the network is quite similar to these examples [Russian and Philippine troll farms] of foreign social media manipulation. In the view of  Joshua Tucker, a professor of politics and data science at NYU, the fact that these activities stem from domestic, rather than foreign, actors complicates things. “I think if you came to Facebook and said, ‘Hey, the Russians are doing this,’ they would have taken the pages down,” he told us in a phone interview. So far, Facebook has not responded to our questions or multiple follow-ups about the Kullberg network’s practices, and the network remains online.  

That alarm was raised in a bulletin at Snopes.com dated May 15, 2019, by Alex Kasprak. Snopes is concerned about these networks of mysterious reactionary operatives who spread extremist memes on social media. They are extremely concerned that conservative ideas will spread on Facebook by this astroturf activity.

Though the actual authorship of the posts within these pages is opaque, their titles imply diverse representation from a broad swath of American demographic groups, including “Jews & Christians for America” and “Blacks for Trump.” In reality, however, the pages in this network are all connected to evangelical activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg. But  she is neither black nor Jewish, and her views appear to represent an extreme subset of the broader evangelical movement in America.

Ah-Hah!  Curse those Evil Evangelicals!

I have seen some of this activity, in a few cases shared by a couple of my conservative Facebook friends. It is garden-variety information, spreading true statements about Muslims in hyped-up language. That is what Snopes labeled “Islamophobia.”

Snopes did a follow-up the next day. Then on May 26 they posted an update:

Though Facebook has still not responded to any of our requests for comment, as of 26 May 2019, all 24 pages identified in Snopes’ reporting appear to have been removed from the platform.

In their update, Snopes shares how they had contacted Facebook multiple times, making the case that those “Kullberg Network” pages meet Facebook’s definition of “objectionable content.” They included part of their correspondence to Facebook:

These pages claim that Islam is “not a religion,” that Muslims are  violent and  duplicitous, and that Islamic refugee  resettlement is “cultural destruction and subjugation.” Just  hours after the April 2019 Notre Dame spire collapse in a catastrophic fire, this network went into overdrive sowing doubt about the  possible role Muslims had in its collapse. Multiple  pages within this network have stated that their  purpose is “message boosting & targeting.” […]

These pages, however, are steeped in fantastical notions of “globalist” conspiracies linking Islam, Socialism, and multi-billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party supporter George Soros to the  decline of  Western civilization. Some of these pages also claim that survivors of the Parkland High School massacre in the U.S., for instance, are on a  Soros-funded “Leftist-Islamist payroll.”

They also described Ms. Kullberg’s partner in crime:

Snopes also found that at least one prominent GOP donor,  William Millis, funded and/or exploited the efforts of the Kullberg network. Millis was a fundraiser and campaign board member for current HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Did you see that map that was circulated after Notre Dame Cathedral burned? I saw it on my Facebook feed three times. The time that it landed there because it had been shared out by one of my friends, I responded with a correction:

This map says that those places are all “churches that were destroyed,” but it is actually a map of churches, synagogues and cemeteries that were vandalized. Only a handful were actually destroyed. This does illustrate a staggering level of destruction that has gone unreported by mass media.

Likewise, I had seen the thing about Parkland High students being funded by George Soros. I followed up on that one also, and learned that travel expenses for several appearances had been paid by anti-gun organizations that are primarily funded via Soros’s front organizations.

The predicable capper is that they don’t dispute anything based on facts, but include a quote calling these pages “Islamophobic” that they got from CAIR.

Though they had included some spin-doctoring, I think everything cited by Snopes as hateful conspiracy theorizing was actually mostly true. This is another indication of how Snopes is a thoroughly Leftist project, just like Facebook.

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Willing to Negotiate

AMLO is “willing to negotiate.”

Of course he is.   President Trump will get just what he wants, too.   Mexico will dramatically reduce the flow of Salvadoran and Guatemalan “migrants.”   And the tariff will pay for the Wall.

Winning is fun.

“I believe we will be able to reach an agreement, because reason is with us,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a news conference in Veracruz, insisting that Mexico wants to maintain a good relationship with the United States.
López Obrador said Mexico is not interested in a tariff war, but slammed Trump’s tariff proposal as unfair.
Yeah, of course; that is for domestic consumption in Mexico.   But he is not in a good negotiating position.   There are four key elements to the Mexican economy.   Drug gangs, money sent home by Mexicans in the U.S., oil money, and the maquiladoras that turn cheap parts from China into manufactured goods qualifying for NAFTA export to the U.S.
Mexico cannot withstand the pressure that President Trump is applying.   The pain will begin in about five minutes.
Opponents of Trump’s tariff proposal warn the move would hurt American consumers and undercut efforts to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Of course they did.   That is the only part of this story that will get coverage by mass media.   Their fearmongering led to a stock market slump on Friday.   Expect more of the same.   They will wring as much negativity as they can from this story.   Then they will go silent when President Trump achieves his victory.
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