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China’s first commandment: Thou shalt have no other God before Xi

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China’s Xi Jinping turns out to be a jealous “god” indeed. The communist country’s long-known antipathy for religion has taken a more brutal form of late, the Associate Press reports, as Xi’s government has increasingly imposed a “Sinicized” form onto believers. The new policy has resulted in ethnic cleansing, forced re-education, and suppression of scriptures, including among the region’s Christians especially:

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

The crackdown on Christianity is part of a broader push by Xi to “Sinicize” all the nation’s religions by infusing them with “Chinese characteristics” such as loyalty to the Communist Party. Islamic crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, and a campaign launched to “re-educate” tens of thousands of Uighur Muslims. Tibetan children have been moved from Buddhist temples to schools and banned from religious activities during their summer holidays, state-run media report.

This spring, a five-year plan to “Sinicize” Christianity in particular was introduced, along with new rules on religious affairs. Over the last several months, local governments across the country have shut down hundreds of private Christian “house churches.” A statement last week from 47 in Beijing alone said they had faced “unprecedented” harassment since February.

Authorities have also seized Bibles, while major e-commerce retailers JD.com and Taobao pulled them off their sites. Children and party members are banned from churches in some areas, and at least one township has encouraged Christians to replace posters of Jesus with portraits of Xi. Some Christians have resorted to holding services in secret.

Make no mistake about it — this is a deliberate program to eradicate all religion, or to warp it into worship of The State. Xi is “a closet Maoist,” one expert tells the AP, who is “very anxious about thought control.” Xi wants to set himself up as a cult leader in Mao’s model, forcing people to declare allegiance not to God but to Xi as a god.

He’s hardly the first temporal emperor to deify himself, either sotto voce or literally. Rather than Christ, Xi wants his subjects to worship him as savior. The party declared “Sinicization” as official policy and as the only pathway to heaven. “Only Sinicized churches can obtain God’s love,” read the April declaration.

Before this wave of oppression, Beijing largely ignored home-worship services. Not any more:

Around the time authorities ordered Guo’s church to stop congregating in March, his district announced a crackdown on private Christian meeting spots. On a single Sunday morning, the announcement said, 700 religious banners were removed, 200 religious texts seized and 31 illegal Christian gathering places shut down. Officials went door-to-door stripping decorative scrolls bearing the cross from home entrances.

In Zhengzhou, Henan’s capital, all that is left of one house church is shattered glass, tangled wires and torn hymnbooks, strewn among the rubble of a knocked-down wall. Pegged to another wall is a single wooden cross, still intact.

The people of China are perhaps not quite as persecuted as Christians under the Romans, but it’s moving in that direction, and it’s not just Christians. Josh Rogin wrote last week in the Washington Post about the ethnic cleansing of Uighers in China, primarily Muslims, for both religious and ethnic reasons:

If ethnic cleansing takes place in China and nobody is able to hear it, does it make a sound? That’s what millions of Muslims inside the People’s Republic are asking as they watch the Chinese government expand a network of internment camps and systematic human rights abuses designed to stamp out their peoples’ religion and culture.

Since last year, hundreds of thousands — and perhaps millions — of innocent Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in northwest China have been unjustly arrested and imprisoned in what the Chinese government calls “political re-education camps.” Thousands have disappeared. There are credible reports of torture and death among the prisoners. The government says it is fighting “terrorism” and “religious extremism.” Uighurs say they are resisting a campaign to crush religious and cultural freedom in China. The international community has largely reacted with silence.

The situation in China has only grown worse over the last several years, despite the best intentions of those attempting to engage on behalf of religious liberty. The Vatican has seen its negotiations stall over the direction of the Catholic Church in China, finally acknowledging the futility of those attempts earlier this year. Xi will brook no religion that gets in the way of his cult of personality.

History tells us that these times eventually pass, and that would-be gods crumble and fall. But it doesn’t mean that good people won’t suffer, and that others should remain silent. The US needs to speak loudly and clearly about China’s actions and get the rest of the international community to do likewise.

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Forecast: GOP now more likely to have *at least* 54 Senate seats next year than to lose its majority

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A nifty catch by Philip Klein, eyeballing the latest data from Nate Silver’s model (as of 5:15 p.m. ET). Check it yourself. Democrats momentarily have an 18.4 percent chance of gaining two seats and winning a majority next month. Whereas Republicans have a 9.1 percent chance of gaining three, a 5.5 percent chance of gaining four, a 3.2 percent chance of gaining five, a 1.4 percent of gaining six, a 0.7 percent chance of gaining seven, and a 0.3 percent chance of shooting the lights out and gaining eight (which would leave them one seat shy of a filibuster-proof majority, for what it’s worth). Add those up and you get a 20.2 percent chance of 54 or better.

Which can be summed up in four words: Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Klein on the path to 54:

Though Republicans were always favorites to keep the Senate, their odds have improved in recent weeks, with three states in particular giving them a boost. Republicans are now considered “likely” to keep their seats in Texas and Tennessee and North Dakota seems ready to flip into the Republican column. Barring any other major upsets, victories in those three races would be enough for Republicans to keep the Senate — hence their 81.6 percent chances overall.

To get to 54, the most likely scenario would be that Republicans win the tossup states of Nevada and Missouri, and then surge to victory in Arizona and Florida (two races that are currently tilting Democrat, but well within range of Republican victory). Beyond that, they’d have to start flipping some seats that are currently considered “likely” to remain Democrat, such as Montana and West Virginia.

Eh, I don’t know if Montana and Indiana, the latter of which he neglected to mention, are all that “likely” to remain Democratic. They’re leaning that way, with both Jon Tester and Joe Donnelly clinging to three-point leads. But Montana hasn’t been polled in three weeks and the latest from Indiana has Donnelly up four but with just 44 percent of the vote. In fact, in none of the four polls dating back to August has Donnelly topped 44, suggesting that a lot of Hoosiers are thinking hard about whether to stick with the incumbent. It’s likely that the GOP will be disappointed somewhere on Election Night — Missouri, Nevada, and Arizona are all leading candidates — but going for one for two on Montana and Indiana seems doable.

Whichever way they do it, if they can get to 54 then Collins and Murkowski might well be nonfactors during the next SCOTUS battle. Flake won’t be in the Senate at all, of course. Trump really might have the arsenal he needs to fill a Ginsburg or Breyer vacancy with a conservative.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news, also from Silver’s model:

Click the link and add up the different probable outcomes and you’ll see that the GOP has about the same odds of holding the House as Democrats do of winning … at least 54 seats. They’ve got a 10 percent chance of winning at least 60. Gonna be a lot of subpoenas for Pat Cipollone to cope with next year.

There are no new swing-state polls as I write this but keep an eye on the one of Arizona that’s currently in progress (yes, in progress) at the NYT’s site, the Upshot. As I write this at a little after 5 p.m. on the east coast, they’ve compiled a sample of 299 people — not large enough yet to give us confidence in the topline numbers but large enough to make it worth paying attention to. Currently Martha McSally leads Kyrsten Sinema by four points, 49/45. If that holds through the end of the poll, it would be the second straight survey showing McSally ahead after trailing for most of the race. (The previous poll had her up six.) Stay tuned.

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Midterm 2018 TEXAS: Robert (Beto) O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz

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Texas is Texas.

You don’t mess with Texas!

Texans don’t want a far left US Senator who lies about his background and police records, DUI included, and abuses everything the Lone Star State stands for.

Senator Ted Cruz is up by at least 5 points — but that is not enough.

Cruz is a real conservative and an intellectual giant. He has the highest possible ratings from conservative groups as a sitting US Senator.


We can’t let him down.

His opponent Beto (really Robert) O’Rourke isn’t Hispanic but he is loudly PROGRESSIVE.

He is a phony.

He is a Democratic Socialist and would spell doom for our Republic.

He wants open borders, more rights for criminals, and an end to the petroleum economy.

In Texas?

Trump won Texas by 9 points.

Cruz should win reelection by at least that amount.

Recall Cruz not only voted for Judge Kavanaugh but he articulately defended due process and innocent until proven guilty – the very hallmark of western jurisprudence.

We need him; America needs his voice in the Senate.

There has not been a Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas since 1994!

Keep it that way.

Cruz is a star in national politics and a firm vote for our side. He makes America first! And he is the best advocate for Texas bare none.

Turnout is critical.

Cruz MUST win.

Make this viral in every corner of Texas.

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Pat Robertson: C’mon, we’re not going to blow up a key Middle East alliance over one little murder

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Lefties are marveling that a brand-name Christian conservative would be encouraging followers to look the other way at an assassination, but they’re forgetting Jesus’s parting words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “If you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.”

Wait, am I misremembering? My youthful memories of the gospels are not the best. I think perhaps the savior’s actual parting words were “Velvet glove, iron fist.”

I mean, that at least sounds like Jesus.

Lotta mixed feelings about the evangelical turn towards hard-nosed realpolitik under Trump. On the one hand, the gripe about Christian conservatives used to be that they were forever trying to inject morals into the messy business of politics, made more uncomfortable by the fact that many millions of people disagree with some of their stances on sexual morality and resent their attempts to convert them into policy. Well, good news: Between Robertson’s take on the Khashoggi affair and the complete pass given to Trump on matters like Stormygate, there’s less moralizing than ever.

The bad news? I’m unclear from the clip below on how many murders Pastor Robertson would be willing to tolerate in the name of preserving the alliance and “$100 billion worth of arms sales,” as he notes in passing. Presumably his interest in the latter answers my question: Some of those weapons will be used to continue killing civilians in neighboring Yemen, as he doubtless knows. If Robertson’s willing to condone that in the name of checking Iran, naturally he would condone looking the other way at a lot of things, Khashoggi’s murder just one among them. Christianity’s nice and all but we’ve gotta live in the real world.

I honestly don’t know whether to call him a fraud or to salute him for taking a cold but sober view of the international chessboard.

There may be another reason why he and POTUS’s friends at CBN are rushing to provide cover here, though:

To some extent the Saudis’ problem is Trump’s problem. Right now Trump can afford to ignore the Democrats’ interest in finding out how much his and the Kingdom’s interests overlap. In three months, with the House likely in Democratic hands, it’ll be harder.

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