Right-wing Evangelical letter opposing Faithful America, containing conspiracy theories and distortions

The progressive social justice group Faithful America is reporting in an email:

President Trump’s religious right supporters have just launched a new antisemitic conspiracy-theory video attacking Faithful America and other Christian social-justice organizations.

The so-called “American Association of Evangelicals,” which first emerged on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, alleges that we’re part of “Soros’s formula for killing America.”

Many of the religious-right leaders behind this video are among President Trump’s official advisers and endorsers. Their strategy is clear: Delegitimizing those who dare to challenge the administration as “fake” Christians acting at the behest of a shadowy Jewish billionaire.

Below are excerpts from the letter sent out by right-wing Evangelical leaders. The letter is useful for exposing the thinking of such people, including the distortions, lies, and conspiracy theories.

“An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America”Each of us is called to repentance. Our entire nation will be revived as we return to the Lord. We, the evangelical and Catholic signatories below, know we are sinners forgiven by the saving work of Christ. And believers who normally turn the other cheek are, at times, also called to overturn tables. This is a moment for such believers to speak truth to power.

With hope for justice and restoration, thousands of Christian believers continue to urge ‘progressive’ evangelicals and Catholics to repent of their work that often advances a destructive, anti-Christian political agenda. Many believers mean well but don’t understand the financial, political forces at work, thus we write this letter (and videos) to pull back the curtain. We desire the best for you.

As leaked documents confirm, and as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners eventually admitted, wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and “rent”* curious “evangelical” and “Catholic” “mascots” serving as deceptive validators for their causes. The consequent realities include injury to countless people, the Church, the family, nation and the global Church including many martyrs.

We must reclaim the Church’s witness in the world. Biblical truth and wisdom are the highest love for human beings. While God loves justice and mercy for all, many “social justice” campaigns are politically crafted and not the true Gospel. Only the truth of our sin, both personal and systemic, and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our salvation and rebirth, is true hope for persons and nations. The gospel charges all things with hope.

Consider some of the consequences of ‘Progressive’ political activism over the past few decades:

1. A growth industry trafficking in human baby organs and body parts, funded and defended by the Democratic Party.

2. The abandonment of a biblical view of marriage that protected and liberated children and adults from centuries of pagan slavery, poverty, polygamy and non-life-giving sexuality.

3. The Transgender agenda including gender “reorientation” of our children, also being forced on our neighbors, businesses, schools, military and churches.

4. Socialism, higher taxes and government regulations. These policies stifle human creativity, productivity, family stability and generosity. Such policies increase joblessness, welfare dependency and national debt.

5. Heightened racial division and tension, and the growing phenomenon of paid demonstrators being recruited and dispatched to instigate protests that often become riots.

6. Open borders and lawless ‘sanctuary’ cities increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs and terrorism.

7. Amnesty efforts that attempt to give voting rights to millions of non-citizens, giving the results of our elections and nation’s future to many who disregarded our laws, customs, history, identity and values. This does not honor our long-standing tradition of legal immigration to those who come in good faith and to assimilate and bless America.

8. Forced refugee resettlement in hundreds of American cities without citizen consent, mandated by the Obama-era federal government in partnership with the United Nations. (Refugees were primarily non-assimilating Muslims, while authorities often reject persecuted Christians.)

9. Hostility towards Judeo-Christian religious liberty in our courts, large corporations, media and universities including the suppression of conservative speakers, free thought and moral education.

10. The growing recognition of a “Deep State” within our government, including ideological bureaucrats embedded in our DOJ, IRS, FBI and Department of State, that intimidates and seeks to subvert conservative, patriotic and Christian groups that disagree with the ‘Progressive’ political establishment.

For many years, Soros’s Open Society and other liberal foundations have funded not only most of the disturbing campaigns mentioned above (1-10) but also the Religious Left, using and creating ostensibly evangelical and Catholic organizations to “message and mobilize” Christians into Progressive causes. They use the Marxist-Alinsky tactic of funding “ministers” who cherry-pick faith language to confuse and divide the Church’s morality, mission and vote.

At a time when many Christian ministries are struggling, a few of the Soros network “faith” and “interfaith” grantees are Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Richard Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership, Telos, J Street to malign Israel, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faithful America and Gamaliel. Faith in Public Life to “counter” Christians and conservatives in the media and, with PICO, advocate for amnesty, mass Islamic migration, and even to attempt to influence the visit and priorities of the Vatican and Pope Francis himself. Billions of additional dollars to “Christian VOLAGs” for large scale “refugee” and migrant resettlement came from the Obama State Dept. and USAID.

Joining “faith” fronts, the Soros network also funds thousands of other collaborators and projects that suggest a pattern and goal to demoralize America (and Europe). The list includes: film studios and hundreds of media outlets; attempts to control the Internet; racial and gender agitation; euthanasia; drug legalization and “injection zones;” abortion and the “sex worker” industry; Al Gore’s Climate campaign; pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel projects; the rights of jihadists and Sharia advocates.

In the ironic rhetoric of compassion, Soros and allies fund mass immigration, amnesty redistricting schemes, illegals’ voting “rights,” protests and smears on Judge Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court, while financing the 2018 campaigns of Democrats Andrew Gillum (D-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and many more. (Soros has long been a major donor to the Democratic Party, co-chairman of Ready for Hillary PAC and previously funded Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Franken and many far-Left Democrats).

Many now ponder the end goal. Perhaps it is the imposition of a global monoculture. It is at least the destruction of our national identity through demoralization, open borders, drugs, crime, law-fare and media propaganda — the “fundamental transformation” (weakening) of American civil society for the leveraged power of global ‘elites.’ (Mr. Soros has manipulated Asian currencies and elections, broken the Bank of England, is a convicted felon for insider trading in France and is demoralizing many European, African and Latin American nations, while manipulating their elections.)

We urge you to resist collaboration with persons and organizations that receive money from Soros and related globalist social engineers. We must not give control of America’s future to this radical, anti-Christian political and social agenda.

We ask those who have intentionally or unwittingly aided the Progressive agenda in the past to look at the actual consequences of their policies. Please stop inviting fellow believers to assist global profiteers and political activists who are determined to de-Christianize America. Please repent, refuse funding and turn away from those who attack the Church and injure the nation.

A small selection of the 4,000+ signers:

Lt. Gen. Wm. “Jerry” Boykin (U.S. Army, retired)
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (U.S. Army, retired)
Dr. Alveda King (author, speaker with Priests for Life)
Bob McEwen (former U.S. Congressman from Ohio)
Steve Largent (NFL Hall of Fame; former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma)
George Barna (author and pollster)
Eric Metaxas (author)
Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary professor)
Everett Piper (president, Oklahoma Wesleyan University)
Jay Richards (professor, Catholic University)
Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life)
John Becker (Ohio state representative)
Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr. (High Impact Leadership Coalition)
Mat Staver (founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel)
Tim Wildmon (president, American Family Association)

Trump’s strategy

A friend says: Just in case there’s any doubt at this point about the game Trump plays. From Anthony Scaramucci (who still supports Trump) on Friday:

“What he likes doing, and what I tried to present at CNN yesterday and that ended up with the headline, “Scaramucci calls Trump a liar,” what he likes doing, he likes saying very provocative things, and in the case of lighting up the media, he likes saying very inaccurate things, cause he knows the media will jump on him like a hall monitor in middle school and reprimand him. And he knows that his base loves it when the media reprimands him. It galvanizes them. It gets them angry. It brings them to the fore, and he’s doing that to try to get them to participate in the vote on November 6th. And so, you can hate him for that, you can hate me for explaining it, but in my mind, he’s intentionally lying, as opposed to just lying lying. As it relates to a nationalist, he’s saying the word nationalist, cuz he’s hoping that somebody that really understands that word that hates him will get up on the television and say this SOB is a militant nationalist. And his base, they enjoy it. They don’t mind it. And now you guys can be upset about that, but that’s what it is.”

Freedom Foundation protest coverage by the Bellevue Reporter

On September 28, hundreds of people protested the annual dinner of the Freedom Foundation in Bellevue, where the guest speaker was renowned racist Dinesh D’Souza. The Bellevue Reporter print edition had an excellent piece about the protest, including content critical of D’Souza and Trump.

Freedom Foundation protest coverage by Bellevue Reporter

Oddly, though, the Bellevue Reporter website doesn’t, as of the time of this writing, have a link to the article, and an Internet search doesn’t reveal it.

Stop the so-called Freedom Foundation from bringing bigot Dinesh D’Souza to Bellevue

I got this email from the Northwest Accountability Project. D’Souza sure is a despicable bigot. I don’t think it’s “censorship” to oppose his appearance. I do not propose denying his free speech rights. I just oppose giving him a platform to spread his disgusting views.

The Freedom Foundation has sunk to a new low. Their annual fundraising event is scheduled for later this month and they’ve chosen outspoken bigot Dinesh D’Souza as their keynote speaker. We’re calling on the Hilton Bellevue, the hotel hosting the scheduled September 28 fundraiser, to respect workers and the community, and cancel D’Souza’s appearance.

D’Souza is a convicted felon who has been pardoned by President Donald Trump. D’Souza has made millions from his racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-working class writings and movies. He opposes the Civil Rights Act, called President Obama a “boy” from “the ghetto,” said that American slaves were treated “pretty well”. In college, as the editor of the student newspaper, he publicly outed LGBTQ students without their permission. He was even deemed too radical for CPAC, the annual gathering of Republican ideologues, after he repeatedly mocked teenage survivors of mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He may be too extreme for most conservatives, but according to the Freedom Foundation’s CEO Tom McCabe, he’s the “perfect fit for the Freedom Foundation.” For once, we agree with McCabe’s assessment.
The Freedom Foundation may endorse his brand of bigotry, but our community businesses should not give a platform to this kind of intolerant hate mongering.
D’Souza is an extremist provocateur whose hateful rhetoric is inconsistent with our shared Northwest values. By choosing D’Souza as their keynote speaker, the Freedom Foundation have shown us all their true colors. Will you join us in taking a stand against the Freedom Foundation and D’Souza? Tell Hilton to cancel D’Souza today.

In solidarity,

The team at the Northwest Accountability Project

The budget deficit dropped two-thirds during the Obama administration. Forbes: GOP Has Been Playing Us All For Suckers

From PolitFact: “We rate the claim Mostly True.” Barack Obama claims deficit has decreased by two-thirds since taking office

From Forbes: On The Deficit, GOP Has Been Playing Us All For Suckers
The GOP budget and tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the rich.

Just a few months after the tax bill was signed, the GOP-controlled Congress agreed to increase federal spending and the budget deficit by another $130 billion or so.

Think about this. The same congressional Republicans who over the previous eight years wanted everyone to believe they were fiscal conservatives hell-bent on balancing the budget and not increasing the national debt, sponsored, passed and then danced around the fire because of legislation that will result in a permanent $1 trillion deficit and a debt that will soar to close to 100 percent of GDP by 2028.

Don’t call regressives conservatives

My pet peeve of the moment:
I keep hearing progressives (including Amy Goodman today) refer to right-wing extremists as “conservatives.” Please people! There is nothing conservative about these far-right extremists who are working to destroy US public norms & institutions. It’s like calling anti-choice people “pro-life.” They are no such thing. Words matter! Do not accept the language of our adversaries! #ConservativeMyAss #wordsmatter

Review of Martin Nowak's Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

How can cooperation emerge in a world of selfish individuals ruled by a Darwinian competition for survival?

This is the question that Martin Nowak, Professor of Mathematics and Biology at Harvard University, discusses in Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed.

Nowak and his collaborators have published a series of articles in major scientific journals that give partial answers to this question. The book provides a gentle overview of the technical results, with frequent comments about the implications for politics and economics. For example, Nowak repeatedly mentions climate change as an example of something requiring cooperation among humans.

The hope is that if we understand, mathematically, how cooperation emerges, we can better design policies and structures to promote cooperation and deter selfishness.

I propose that “natural cooperation” be included as a fundamental principle to bolster those laid down by Darwin. Cooperation can draw living matter upwards to higher levels of organization… Cooperation makes evolution constructive and open-ended.

Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

The book has a few simple mathematical formulas, but the educated layman should be able to understand the gist of the arguments, thanks to generous use of example, analogy and simplification. Indeed, the book’s readability benefits from the aid of Roger Highfield, an author of popular science books, who helped Nowak with the writing.

Darwinian evolution is based on competition for survival, for resources, and for mates. Winners reproduce, losers leave few offspring. Due to mutations, individuals vary in their fitness. Over many generations, fitter (configurations of) genes proliferate, while weaker ones disappear.

In fact, fitness is defined in terms of ability to reproduce, so the fact that fitter individuals reproduce is something of a tautology.

Similarly to evolution, in an economy, people often act selfishly, trying to get paid as much as possible for what they sell, whether goods or their services, and trying to pay as little as possible for what they buy.

It would appear that cooperation is difficult to explain in a pure, evolution-based model or in a selfish profit-based economy. You’d expect that selfishness would always win out. But it’s clear that cooperation is common, both among non-human animals and among humans.

The basic reason is that, in the long run being nice pays off, for you or for your children, kin, or neighbors.

In the context of this book, cooperation basically means: an individual is willing to sacrifice some short-term benefit in exchange for a longer-term reward, either for itself or for related individuals (e.g., children or kin or members of the same group). In other words, cooperation is a form of reciprocity, or reciprocal altruism. This sense of cooperation isn’t as pristine or as self-sacrificing as some religious traditions’ ideals of pure selfless love. But even Christianity relies on a promise of reward and punishment in the afterlife to motivate moral behavior.

Albert Einstein once said, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

Unfortunately, from the point of view of biology, all we seem to have is punishment and reward, where reward means reproductive fitness: produce descendants who survive and who likewise reproduce. (It is not sufficient to have children: if your kids are too weak to survive, or if they don’t reproduce, your reproductive fitness isn’t really high.)

Yet the bearer of fitness (the entity getting the reward or punishment and that gets to reproduce) isn’t necessarily the individual of a species. Richard Dawkins famously suggests that the unit of competition and survival may be the gene: animals exist to promote the interests of their genes, not the other way around. Moreover, genes, as well as gene networks, span individuals and species.

There are also theories which say the unit of the reward is the group: related kin, or cooperating subgroups, or (at a higher level) cooperating species who live in symbiosis with one another.

Indeed, group-based reciprocity seems to be the essence of cooperation.

We are all in it together.

We are interdependent.

Nowak thinks cooperation, and not just competition, is a fundamental force in evolution.

I have argued that evolution “needs” cooperation if she is to construct new levels of organization, driving genes to collaborate in chromosomes, chromosomes to collaborate in genomes, genomes to collaborate in cells, cells to collaborate in more complex cells, complex cells to collaborate in bodies, and bodies to collaborate in societies.

A set of genes working together is an example of cooperation. And in the primordial soup, sets of cooperating chemical reactions led to the origins of life.

Within biology, there have been attempts to explain cooperation in terms of kin selection (in which an individual is willing to sacrifice itself to aid close relatives who share many genes with it). The social insects are prime examples of cooperators; the worker ants who build and defend the nest are closely related to the queen.

A related notion is group selection (aka multi-level selection), according to which groups which are more fit (e.g., due to being better cooperators) out-compete groups which are less fit.

The idea of group selection seems intuitively correct, and Darwin was aware of the role of cooperation in evolution and of the apparent presence of group selection, both in biology and in culture (where ideas or what are now called “memes” reproduce).

But there are heated disagreements among professional biologists about whether the phenomenon of group selection really occurs and about the extent to which it occurs. Richard Dawkins has famously ridiculed both the idea and the biologists who support it. Nowak seems to be among the latter group.

Examples of cooperation among humans include: lending a cup of sugar to a neighbor, taking the bus instead of driving the car, paying taxes instead of cheating, contributing to the donation plate, bringing in your neighbors’ and garbage bins from the curb, as well as more dramatic examples such as risking your life to safe someone who has fallen onto train tracks. Most parents would instinctively risk their lives to save the lives of their (small) children.

In the mathematical and computer models of cooperation, various individuals interact with other individuals, either in a well-mixed pool; in a network of connections such as on social networks; in various sets of interests groups; or on a grid. Whenever you interact with another individual, each of you decides whether to cooperate or whether you will defect (be selfish). You are rewarded or punished accordingly.

Mathematically, cooperation is formalized in the form of such a two person game. The standard game of this sort is is called The Prisoner’s Dilemma.  It models the situation where two prisoners who have been arrested by the police and are being interrogated separately. Each prisoner gets to choose, independently, whether to cooperate (keep his mouth shut and deny the crime) or defect (accuse his partner of the crime). If they both cooperate they each get only one year in prison on a lesser charge, because the police have insufficient evidence. If they both defect, they each get two years in prison. If one person cooperates with his partner and the other person defects, then the first person (the cooperator) gets three years in prison and the second person (the defector) gets off free.

From the point of view of each prisoner, it seems the smartest thing to do is defect.

Suppose the other person cooperates and stays mum. Then you should defect, because you get off free.

On the other hand, suppose the other person defects and accuses you of the crime, then you better defect too. For if you cooperate with your partner, you get three years in prison, whereas if you defect you get just two years in prison.

What could prevent defection is loyalty, or the knowledge that in the future, after you’re both out of prison, the other person could punish you. Likewise, in a future similar situation, where cooperation might help he will remember your betrayal.

The tragedy of the commons is a similar scenario.

In the more general game, where rewards and punishments can take the form of money or some other outcome, there are likewise four possible outcomes: Cooperate-Cooperate, Cooperate-Defect, Defect-Cooperate, and Defect-Defect. Each outcome has a (possibly different) payoff for each of you. If you both cooperate, you both get the same reward R for cooperating. If one person cooperates but the other person defects, the first person is punished (S for Sucker) bad but the other person wins a big reward (T for Temptation) If you both defect, you’re both punished slightly (P). Depending on the relative values of P,R, S, and T, and on the structure of interactions — specifically, whether you can learn about the reputation of the person you’re interacting with — cooperation may or may not emerge.The standard Prisoner’s Dilemma game has

T > R > P > S.

Yet cooperation can emerge. This result is non-intuitive, because given the inequalities above, the values P, R, S, and T guarantee that in the short-term the smartest thing to do is to defect. Here’s why. Your opponent is either going to cooperate or defect (and you won’t know which he does til after you make your move).

Assume he cooperates. Then you can win big by defecting. Here’s why. If you cooperate, you get only R. But if you defect, you get T and T>R. So, it seems you should defect.

Likewise assume he defects. Then you better defect too, because if you cooperate, then you’ll get only S, but if you defect you’ll get P, and P>S.

So in either case, the best thing to do, in the short run, is to defect.

But in a community of people playing the game repeatedly, there are benefits from cooperation. A group of cooperating individuals will have a higher fitness (reward) than a group of turncoat defectors, because R>P.

If the last time I interacted with you, you cooperated, and if I remember that, I can try cooperating again, in the hopes that you will reciprocate.

So in the presence of repeated interactions, and memory, cooperation can emerge.

Cooperators are rewarded with help from other cooperators. Defectors are punished by future defection. If cooperators gain a benefit as a group that is unavailable to defectors, then cooperation can flourish. But cooperation is always susceptible to exploitation by defectors: a population of trusting cooperators can be taken advantage of by a few defectors.  Such invasions by defectors are visible in computer simulations.

Cancerous cells can be modeled as defectors.  So can tax dodgers and alleged welfare moms who drive Mercedes.

Using the formalization of Prisoner’s Dilemma, Nowak was able to prove mathematical theorems, and run computer simulations, that show under what conditions cooperation can flourish.

He showed that cooperation emerges if you meet the other person often enough in the future and can remember the previous interactions, so you can punish or reward him. It also helps if people have a reputation that is is public knowledge or that is shared between individuals (indirect reciprocity). Furthermore, it helps if people are organized into small groups; this allows cooperators to shield themselves from being taken of advantage of by nasty defectors; large groups are difficult to police. Finally, it helps if it’s possible to move between groups, to escape defectors.

Even if we can explain cooperation biologically, in terms of kin selection, or group selection, there is still a problem: how inclusive is the in-group?  Does it include people of a different race or nationality? How about individuals of a different species?

As indicated above, the biologically inspired notion of cooperation is somewhat unsatisfying, because it still relies on a form of reciprocity, albeit at the group level. If someone chooses not to identify with the group, then why should they cooperate?

Indeed, conservatives are the consummate defectors: individualists who detest and ridicule cooperation and community endeavors, at least by governments. Conservatives detest the United Nations. They detest the International Court of Law.  Conservatives avoid paying taxes,  but typically like spending money on wars, both domestic (e.g., the wasteful and disastrous war on drugs) and foreign.  Conservatives oppose laws and regulatory agencies that deter their antisocial behavior. They under-fund the IRS, encouraging tax cheats. And they under-fund Congressional staff, so that lawmakers are dependent on lobbyists and outside groups for information.

Like parasites, conservatives destroy the body politic, all in the name of “freedom.”

Conservatives and their ideology can be defeated only when enough people wake up to the lies and the half-truths behind their movement,  and when enough people realize that we’d be better off in the long run by cooperating on building a government that works for everyone, that makes sound environmental, health, and safety policies, and that makes sure tax cheats pay their fair share.