Morning Report: Spending Cuts, All the News That's Fit to Fabricate, UK Riots, the Morality of Atheists, and the Freshman 15

Morning Report: Spending Cuts, All the News That's Fit to Fabricate, UK Riots, the Morality of Atheists, and the Freshman 15 August 22, 2011

In the News

1.  A recently-released survey of American economists finds that those advocating spending cuts — like, say, Christians for a Sustainable Economy — are not alone.  56 percent of members of the National Association for Business Economics responded — in the heat of the debt-ceiling crisis — that the federal deficit should be reduced “only or primarily through spending cuts.”  37 percent favored equal cuts and tax increases, and only 7 percent believed the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through tax increases.

This is particularly bad timing for E. J. Dionne, who advises in his column today that the President needs a big new economic plan:

Going big means immediate action to boost the economy, even though this will increase the short-term deficit. His proposals to continue the payroll tax cut, extend unemployment insurance and enact patent reform are good, but not enough…The federal government needs to come to the aid of state and local governments again; the budget cuts they are being forced to make are precisely what the economy does not need now. We must find ways of boosting spending as quickly as possible…[A]usterity is the wrong medicine right now.

Reasonable people can differ.  But let’s stop pretending that those favoring spending cuts are economic illiterates.

2.  If you feel that you can trust everything you read in the New York Times, you have to read this.

The New York Times hates Issa because, as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he has launched several investigations of wrongdoing that have embarrassed the Obama administration. So ace reporter Eric Lichtblau, no longer occupied with illegally leaking national defense secrets now that a Democrat occupies the White House, went looking for dirt on Issa…“Looking” isn’t exactly the right word; let’s say he went “trolling.”

3.  “UK Riots: The End of the Liberals’ Great Moral Delusion.”

Out there in the real world, where people go about the normal business of life, there is no sign of the heated argument that the media is so determined to air. In fact, I cannot remember a time when there has been such crushing unanimity on a matter of public importance…At the margins of this consensus, there are some distant noises off. They are the desperate cries of those who fear that they have lost the argument of a lifetime and who want to persuade the great mass of the population that what it saw before its own eyes was something else altogether…The Left-liberal camp is in overdrive in its campaign to rewrite history (or, in its own vocabulary, to alter consciousness): you did not see thousands of jubilant thugs rampaging through the streets, destroying livelihoods and property for the sheer exultant joy of it. What you saw were society’s victims responding to any or all of the following: bankers’ bonuses, MPs cheating on their expenses, unemployment, government spending cuts, poverty, social inequality, etc, etc.

In the Pews

1.  THE FATE OF THE PC(USA).  The Mexican Presbyterian Church has severed ties with the PC(USA) because of the latter’s decision to ordain active gays.

2.  GODLESS AND GUIDELESS.  An atheist describes how he came to the conclusion that, apart from God, there really is no morality.  What seems howlingly obvious to the rest of us became apparent to him very slowly: if there is no absolute legislator of the moral law, then there can be no absolute moral right and wrong.  Joel Marks, in “Confessions of an Ex-Moralist,” says that he had once known for certain that it was wrong to throw animals into a meat grinder:

But suddenly I knew it no more. I was not merely skeptical or agnostic about it; I had come to believe, and do still, that these things are not wrong. But neither are they right; nor are they permissible. The entire set of moral attributions is out the window. Think of this analogy: A tribe of people lives on an isolated island. They have no formal governmental institutions of any kind. In particular they have no legislature. Therefore in that society it would make no sense to say that someone had done something “illegal.” But neither would anything be “legal.” The entire set of legal categories would be inapplicable. In just this way I now view moral categories.

To be clear: an atheist can be a moral person.  But in an atheist cannot, rationally and in good faith, believe in absolute moral values.  Attempts by the New Atheists to prove the contrary are attempts to avoid the clear implications of their beliefs.

3.  A different kind of Freshmen 15: “Fifteen Ways Freshman Can Glorify God in College.”


BONUS: Ever wondered what it’s like to swim like a dolphin?  Wonder no more.

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