Posts Tagged ‘culture’

With apologies to Wallace Stevens.


Among fifty failing states,

The only moving thing

Was the cost of the health care bill.


The CBO was of three minds,

Like a hopper

In which there are three health care bills.


A health care bill swirled in the cloakrooms.

It was but a small part of the Big Lie.


A Reid and a Pelosi

Are one.

A Reid and a Pelosi and a health care bill

Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,

The folly of the deceptions

Or the folly of the desperations,

The health care bill passing

Or just after.


Snowmounds filled the Capitol steps

With muddy puddles.

The shadow of the health care bill

Passed them, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An unfathomable doom.


Oh wise men of Congress,

Why do you dream of wonder cures?

Do you not see that the health care bill

Stoops beneath the feet

Of the system around you?


I know high premiums

And frightful, inescapable long lines;

But I know, too,

That the health care bill is involved

In what I know.


When the health care bill moved out of sight,

It marked the start

Of one of many scandals.


At the sound of health care bills

Read into the deep night,

Even the frauds of K Street

Would cry out sharply.


He flew over Connecticut

In a white bird.

Once a fear pierced him

In that he mistook

The shadow of his presidency

For health care bills.


Obama is speaking.

The health care bill must be losing.


It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The health care bill sat

In the Speaker’s chair.

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As this blog has previously noted, President Obama has a bad habit of invoking the Almighty in unfortunate and inartful ways while seeking support for his agenda.  While speaking to moderate and liberal clergy today, Obama took on those who he said were “bearing false witness” against his health care plan, and then explained why his opponents are immoral:

“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is, that we look out for one another; that is, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper,” the president said. “And in the wealthiest nation in the world right now we are neglecting to live up to that call.”

That turn of phrase, “I am my brother’s keeper,” has to the ear a tinge of Biblical truth about it — many of us can at least recall that we first heard it or something like it in Sunday School.  A closer look, however, demonstrates that Mr. Obama’s theology is assembled to fit his politics, not the other way around.

To start with, Obama gets the quote wrong.  In Genesis 4:9, when asked by God, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replied, “I don’t know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Of course, Cain knew exactly where is brother was – he was dead, murdered out of envy by Cain himself.  Note that the quote was not by God, telling us how we should act, but by Cain, a fratricidal maniac who was talking back to God.

In fact, the Cain/Abel drama has a lot to tell us about the sin of envy and God’s will for those who want greater favor from Him.  When Cain’s sacrifice to God did not yield God’s respect, and his brother’s did, Cain grew angry.  God then asked Cain why he was angry, and had this advice for him: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

In other words, when one of God’s children is disappointed that her work is not shown favor by God, God tells her to work harder and to follow His will; then her work will be accepted.  To do anything else, we risk sin.  In the case of Cain, he failed to master his envy of his brother, and it overtook him.  Rather than asking himself what he could do to earn God’s favor, Cain hated his brother for having gained His favor, and he punished him for it.

Cain was certainly not his brother’s keeper.  But neither did God want Cain to be.  Cain believed his brother’s success was bound up with his own — that there was a zero-sum game at work, and that his brother’s success meant his own failure.  Thus, rather than prepare a better sacrifice, Cain attacked his brother.  God just wanted better from Cain.  Instead, Cain gave him much, much worse.

Consider, then, the moral of this story in the health care debate.  (more…)

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As so many blogs, periodicals, and other wags have done, so shall I make my predictions for the year to come.  Your own predictions are encouraged in the comments (as are your criticisms of the prognostications below).

  1. The House, but not the Senate, votes on (and passes) the Employee Free Choice Act.   A surprisingly effective P.R. campaign by business and Republican leaders, utterly ignored by the media but well-received by the public, results in extreme political pressure to protect the secret ballot in union elections.  President Obama and the Senate ultimately choose to “postpone” action on the bill in the midst of an economic crisis.  Union leaders do themselves no favors when they threaten to strike at selected businesses in retaliation for their leadership in the pro-election movement.  The bill will never resurface in the 111th Congress.
  2. A significant rise in church attendance and tithing lead to a media blitz on an emerging “faith movement” in the U.S. in response to dreadful economic conditions.  Some on the far left complain that these new contributions aren’t reaching the people “who most need them,” arguing that they should be taxed by the federal Treasury.  California’s legislature takes them up on their suggestion in a desperate move to avoid bankruptcy (and, for some, to punish proponents of Proposition 8).  Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill, but the backlash causes more legislators (Republicans and Democrats alike) to lose their seats in 2010 than in any election in state history.
  3. Sen. McCain enrages his one-time supporters by backing the Democrats’ $1 trillion stimulus bill.  McCain stands, beaming, next to President Obama as he signs the bill into law, and the President personally thanks his “good friend and former adversary” for his crucial assistance in passing the legislation.  As McCain jettisons his one remaining economic principle in pursuit of popularity, Republicans, making great strides in renewing their brand as opponents of big government, believe they may have dodged a bullet. (update: Rick Santorum agrees with me on this one.)
  4. (more…)

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