Why We’re Losing Liberty

This is an excellent five minute civics lesson by constitutional law professor Robert P. George. Most citizens don’t know this basic information about our system of government. This is well worth the time to listen.

‘Freedom can be taken away, but it can also be given away — out of sheer ignorance.’ ~ Robert P. George

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I Love this from Dan Phillips at PyroManiacs

Dan Phillips over at the PyroManiacs blog asks us to imagine…
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Suppose political reporters wanted to pretend to be anything vaguely approximating even-handed.

Hey, I said suppose. Stop laughing. Use your imagination, and work with me here.

We know they’re going to ask every Republican presidential candidate deep and probing vital-issue-of-the-day questions like:

  • Should “gays” be stoned?
  • Would you go to a “gay” “wedding” if you were invited?
  • Would you go to a “gay” “wedding” if it were your son or daughter?
  • Is being “gay” a choice?

…and so forth. I don’t need to do their work for them.

So what if they were even to pretend to be even-handed on this issue? What questions could they ask of the Democratic candidates?

I’m absolutely serious about these, and I’ve come up with the lot of them on the run, without even breaking a sweat. Here goes:

He goes on to offer some questions that highlight the real differences between the ethical perspective of a genuinely Christian morality (also known as moral sanity) and the default ethical position assumed (and promoted) by the popular news media. Enjoy. 🙂

Let’s pretend: imagine an even-handed media

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Symbolism in politics

Dr Leithart reflects on ‘the political potency of symbolism‘ in an article titled ‘Who Wears the Crown‘ at the SBC web site Canon & Culture.

In a nutshell, Dr Leithart argues that while American Christianity tends to dismiss symbolism as the opposite of substance, this is out of touch with historical reality. Leithart argues that the cultural and political Left clearly grasps the importance of symbolism and uses it to outflank and overpower Christian advocates of cultural and moral sanity.

Christians today are often political Erasmians, and our oblivion leaves us politically vulnerable. We get out-flanked by opponents who know how to paint pictures and tell stories. Gay sex and gay marriage have been mainstreamed by activists who have slowly, deliberately created icons of gay normality. Obama laid out his version of American history in his second inaugural address with three symbolic movements of liberation—Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall.

Arguments won’t turn the tide. We need to fight symbols with symbols, stories with better stories, encouraged by the recollection that injustices and tyrannies have been toppled more often by symbols than by swords or bombs.

Dr Leithart is certainly correct that the Left has a mastery of the use of symbolism in their cause—indeed, symbolism that, while effective, also seems contrived and manipulative. But I think Dr Leithart is mistaken when he claims that better symbols will be more effective than better arguments for ‘our side’.

Symbolism is effective in animating a principle already present in a thought process. In the case of the ‘icons of gay normality’ the presence of that principle required the slow and deliberate undermining of competing views of morality. The ‘icons of gay normality’ are effective precisely because they nurture the view of sexual autonomy our society embraced many decades ago, a view that openly despises sexual chastity and actively embraces infidelity. The meaning of ‘love & marriage’ in our society today is no longer recognisable as the ‘one flesh’ bond God ordained.

Symbols need underlying propositions to give them meaning. On their own, symbols don’t mean anything. Symbols are only powerful when they are analogies or illustrations of things we are already inclined to believe. Indeed, symbols are most powerful when they help us to move subtle assumptions from the realm of tacit persuasion to full conviction.

The ‘icons of gay normality’ work because they are situated within a network of beliefs about sexuality that has nothing to do with God’s design and everything to do with sexual autonomy and sexual self gratification. These ‘icons’ are not self interpreting. Their meaning and effectiveness has everything to do with how they illustrate the application of already held beliefs to a wider situation.

And of course, that’s the problem with Dr Leithart’s suggestion that we ought to ‘fight symbols with symbols’. We no longer share with our opponents any of the propositional beliefs that would make our ‘symbols’ intelligible to them. Our ‘icons’ of fidelity and chastity have a very different meaning to them. Any such tokens represent to them the shackles of repulsive oppression and displays of repressive dishonesty.

I’m not denying the power of symbols and symbolic actions. I’m denying that they have an independent power to communicate meaning and to persuade. The ‘icons of gay normality’ are effective today because of decades of work that has preceded those icons, work of cultural transformation that has established a new norm for sexuality, a norm which makes sense of those icons and which those icons can now illustrate.

What, then, must we do? Well, let us start by examining ourselves to see if we have tacitly adopted ways of thinking, speaking, and acting that comport more with the oppositional viewpoint of sexuality than with what we claim to believe. Here’s where we still have some common beliefs with our opponents: we both have a fairly close notion of what constitutes high-handed hypocrisy. Let us stop living glibly in opposition to the very things we claim to believe! This isn’t a demand that we be morally perfect: imperfection is not the same thing as hypocrisy. Rather, I’m insisting that we must hold ourselves to the standard we profess and judge ourselves accordingly, bringing the grace of the Gospel to recover us from our sins and failings. This will involve us in some significant acts of sacrificial love, humble leadership, and bold testimony that may even rise to the level of ‘iconic’ symbolism Dr Leithart so admires.

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Bookmarks for 10 August 2013 through 21 August 2013

These are my Pinboard links for 10 August 2013 through 21 August 2013:

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Bookmarks for 25 November 2012 through 3 December 2012

These are my Pinboard links for 25 November 2012 through 3 December 2012:

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North’s Brief Analysis of 2016: Obama’s America

Obama2016I dislike Gary North’s writing style immensely and as a prognosticator North has done much to destroy his own credibility. However, in his brief analysis of Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary film 2016: Obama’s America,1 North presents a straightforward critique directly related to his field of expertise (economics), and I found this article to be a worthwhile read.

In his article entitled If Only D’Souza Were Right, North incisively takes issue with the primary thesis of D’Souza’s documentary, that our national economic woes are primarily due to the policies of the Obama administration. On the contrary, North argues, the Obama administration is the ‘operational successor of the Bush administration.’ I’m sure that must sound preposterous to Democrats and Republicans alike, but on the matters in view, especially the economic matters, North backs up his apparent overstatement.

North focuses our attention upon what he deems to be the best part of the documentary, an interview with David Walker, the former comptroller general of the United States under the last Bush administration. North makes three important observations here.

  1. ‘The deficit is vastly worse than the movie portrays.’ Specifically, the documentary focuses attention upon the ‘on-budget debt of $15 trillion’ while the far more economically relevant figure is the ‘$222 trillion present value of the unfunded liabilities of the off-budget deficit’.

North cites a Bloomberg article, and here’s the relevant part. ‘The U.S. fiscal gap, calculated (by us) using the Congressional Budget Office’s realistic long-term budget forecast — the Alternative Fiscal Scenario — is now $222 trillion. Last year, it was $211 trillion. The $11 trillion difference — this year’s true federal deficit — is 10 times larger than the official deficit and roughly as large as the entire stock of official debt in public hands.’

Seriously, stop a moment and take that in. It’s an unimaginable mountain of debt obligation, and far more important to recognise than the much smaller (though equally unimaginable) figure typically bandied about.

  1. ‘[Walker] blamed George W. Bush as much as he blamed Obama. He says on camera that the turning point on the deficit began with Bush’s presidency. He showed that we are headed for a fiscal disaster, and it may overtake us during the presidency of whoever is elected in 2016.’

North agrees, and emphasises that in relation to our economic situation we are ‘dealing with a single political administration, which began in January 2001.’ That is, both administrations have pulled in the same direction in relation to the most critical political and economic policies.

  1. ‘[N]either Walker nor D’Souza mentions on-screen what should be the obvious constitutional fact — namely, that it is the Congress that legally initiates all spending bills, and it is the House of Representatives that holds the hammer constitutionally.’

As North points out,

We are living in a bipartisan, congressionally mandated, slow-motion train wreck. The Congress of the United States could stop Obama today as easily as it could have stopped Bush. Congress is not interested in stopping the deficit; it is interested in avoiding all responsibility for the annual $1.2 trillion on-budget disaster that is the federal budgetary process.

Finally, North points out that the documentary leaves unaddressed the other big player in the economy, the Federal Reserve System. This agency operates largely as a private banking conglomerate with some Federal governing oversight and involvement at the highest levels. It’s structure is designed to allow it to act independently in relation to its most critical powers over the U.S. economy.

North concludes, D’Souza keeps the ‘Federal Reserve in the background in the thinking of the viewers, when the Federal Reserve ought to be in the foreground, with the presidency in the background. This is basic economics. D’Souza does not know what he is talking about with respect to economics.’


  1. Dinesh D’Souza‘s documentary film 2016: Obama’s America is based on D’Souza’s book Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream. Wikipedia describes D’Souza as ‘an Indian American conservative political commentator, public intellectual and author who is currently the President of The King’s College in New York City.’ 
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