Archive for November 25th, 2009

“Main Street USA: Lions and Christians” by Bill Murchison

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The perceived necessity of a Manhattan Declaration would have jarred the Pilgrims from prayerful contemplation of game birds and the like at harvest festival time, 1621. What — religious liberty so uncertain a thing as to warrant, five centuries later, a 4,700-word document justifying Christian defense of Christian principles?

Even so. On Nov. 20, a coalition of American religious leaders signed the said “Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience” — making known their intention not to “compromise their proclamation of the gospel,” even unto — though they hope not — civil disobedience.

“Unjust laws degrade human beings,” say the signers, whose number by the following Monday had swelled from an original 145 to 42,000 (such is the reach of the Internet). “Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience.” Edicts, rules, attempts of any sort to force observance of non-Christian moral norms — the signers aren’t going to go along, and they think it’s as well to let the world know now.

What goes on here anyway? An attempted political cramdown goes on, in the view of the Declaration signers; an uncoordinated yet nevertheless widespread assault on Christian moral values goes on, in the name of secular, politically correct ideals.

“We see [it] … in the effort to … compel pro-life institutions (including religiously affiliated hospitals and clinics) and pro-life physicians, surgeons, nurses and other health care professionals to refer for abortions and, in certain cases, even to perform or participate in abortions. We see it in the use of anti-discrimination statutes to force religious institutions, businesses and service providers of various sorts to comply with activities they judge to be deeply immoral or go out of business.

“After the judicial imposition of ‘same-sex marriage’ in Massachusetts, for example [Massachusetts — wasn’t that where those Pilgrims lived?] Catholic Charities chose with great reluctance to end its century-long work of helping to place orphaned children in good homes rather than comply with a legal mandate that it place children in same-sex households.

“In New Jersey, after the establishment of a quasi-marital ‘civil unions’ scheme, a Methodist institution was stripped of its tax exempt status when it declined, as a matter of a religious conscience, to permit a facility it owned and operated to be used for ceremonies blessing homosexual unions. In Canada and some European nations, Christian clergy have been prosecuted for preaching Biblical norms against the practice of homosexuality. New hate-crime laws in America raise the specter of the same practice here.”

A related specter rises, to the likely consternation of many who see religious belief as just a set of outdated, sexist, homophobic prejudices. The specter is from the ’60s: anti-war protesters shouting, “Hell, no, we won’t go!” See what happens when you set a precedent for defiance? Not that the Declaration’s framers (scholars, editors, pastors, university and seminary presidents, broadcasters, Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops) need precedent beyond that of their own tradition, which sees the ordinances of the state as less lofty than the commands of God — cf. Martin Luther King Jr. The declaration reprises Christ’s famous reminder that God and Caesar possess very different patches of ground in this world.

A model of clarity and non-squishiness (in an age given to intellectual muddle and the desire Never to Offend), the declaration attacks the presumption and moral vacuity of the pro-choice, anti-traditional marriage agenda. It reminds us, no less usefully, that the supposedly exhausted “culture wars” aren’t nearly finished.

One trouble with secularists, and even with some Christians of “progressive” outlook, is a tendency to see moral principles as malleable, changing with elections and regulations. In fact, moral principles — at least in the normative Christian understanding — reflect reality: God’s handiwork, performed in such a way and not another; one way “right,” another way not right at all.

On goes the argument. One thing it does seem progressives shouldn’t count on is an Appomattox-like surrender of the opposition. If anything, the opposition strengthens — to the relief of many, among them the Manhattan Declaration signer who writes these words.

Original Link.

“Ft. Hood and The Cult of Indiscriminateness” by Evan Sayet

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

My old writing partner, the Leftist animation writer Steve Marmel, posited a question recently. He was thrown by the concept of “fairness” in the news, arguing — rightly — that facts and truth, not “balance,” should be the news media’s objective.

And it once was.

All this changed with the “cultural revolution” of the 1960s when objectivity went out of style. The argument put forth by the Modern Liberals was that the individual is incapable of being objective. They argue everything a person believes is so tainted by their personal bigotries – bigotries borne of the color of their skin, the color of their hair, the nation of their great-great-great grandfather’s birth, their height, their sex and their weight, etc. — that the only way to eliminate the evils of bigotry is to eliminate all attempts at rational thought.

Since the 1960s, the Modern Liberal has been preaching that rational thought is a hate crime.

Writing about this phenomenon as it relates to one of the communities most infected with the Modern Liberal dogma, the leftist news media, the great Thomas Sowell argued that the quest for objectivity has been replaced with the quest for ”neutrality.” What’s the difference between objective reporting and neutral reporting?

Consider a journalist covering a football game and the Jets have just defeated the hapless Patriots 57-3. (Hey, this is MY post, I can make up the score.) An objective journalist would write a report about how the Jets are a better team than are the Patriots. The story would feature key plays and decisions that highlighted New York’s superiority to the New England franchise on that day.
But what if all sports reporters had it drummed into their heads that they were not allowed to write a piece that in any way implied that one team was better than any other? Given the objective fact — the final score — not only would the reporter’s story not reflect the Jets’ superiority, but they would have to in some way explain how it is that two equally good teams saw such disparate results. The only way for this reporter to be neutral and deal with the objective facts would be to invent a false narrative whereby the evidence does not prove the obvious. If the Jets aren’t a better team, then they must have stolen the Patriots’ playbook. If the Patriots aren’t an inferior team, then the officials must have been bought off.

Consider the coverage of Nidal Hasan’s massacre of 14 innocent people at Ft. Hood. The objective reporter writes about the clear and obvious link between the murderer and his Muslim faith. But the neutral reporter — the one who has been taught that he cannot imply in any way that one culture or one religion is better or worse than any other — will not only not write the objective truth, but he will seek to invent a narrative that proves the murderer has been victimized.

Just as the sports reporter could not write that the Jets are a better team and therefore had to turn the good into the bad (the cheater), the neutral news reporter had no choice (i.e. would not be a “good reporter”) unless he ignored the truth, which, in turn, left him no choice but invent a storyline where the mass murderer was the victim and his victims the bad guys.

“Neutrality” is just another form of the indiscriminateness that I write about and another example of how indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminatess of policy but rather invariably and inevitably sees the Modern Liberal side with evil over good, wrong over right, and failure over success.

Original Link.

Democrats Push $150B Stock Tax on Wall Street

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

A House bill still being drafted aims to raise $150 billion each year to pay for new jobs.

Under a bill being drafted by Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), the sale and purchase of financial instruments such as stocks, options, derivatives and futures would face a 0.25 percent tax.

The bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, is titled the “Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act of 2009.”

To liberals and Democrats, I guess it makes sense to take money away from the businesses who hire people in order to create jobs. To these same people, up is down, light is dark and they apparently have no ability to discern reality from fantasy.

Half of the $150 billion in tax revenue would go toward reducing the deficit, while the other half would be deposited in a “Job Creation Reserve” to support new jobs.

The job fund would be available to offset the additional costs of the 2009 highway bill and other legislation that creates jobs.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are looking for ways to create jobs after the nation’s unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent in October and job losses are expected to rise.

House leaders have mentioned the possibility of a tax on stock transactions, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared to raise questions about the approach last week. Pelosi said such a move would need to be done in conjunction with efforts in other countries.

“Obviously, we have to work with leadership on this,” said Leslie Oliver, spokeswoman for Perlmutter. “It has a long way to go, but the idea is to stir debate … We think this is one idea that makes a lot of sense.”

The stock tax measure specifies that tax revenue would need to support jobs that pay at least the median wage in the United States, promotes manufacturing jobs and prohibits any recipient of the $700 billion financial bailout from directly benefiting from the job reserve fund.

The bill aims to exempt retirement accounts from the impact of the tax.

A group of consumer watchdog organizations and labor unions sent DeFazio a letter this week supporting the tax bill.

Original Link.