Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health care and the Mark of Cain

A blogger who criticized Obama quoting Cain about being my brother's keeper,. because Cain was being sarcastic, misses the fundamental point, for a debating point.The story of Cain slaying Abel is in the very first book of the Bile, Genesis, which even St. Augustine read as allegory.

The fact is, that other than eating the forbidden fruit, the story of Cain and Abel is the story of the first crime: murder.

Cain's question may have been defiant: "Am I my brother's keeper?" but it was the first step in scripture towards what many regard as the universal law of morality: To treat other as we would be treated as ourselves, which is in turn corollary of a deeper command: to love our neighbor as ourselves.

In the New Testament, Mathews telling of the "parable" of the Last Judgment is a lecture on what loving your neighbor really means. We demonstrate our love by what we do to the neediest of our fellow human beings. Among other things: "I was sick and you visited me."

The inanity of some fundamentalists who insist that world is only 6,000 years old, and the excesses of religious authoritarians have turned many off to the message of the scriptures, but I can not understand how the self-styled Christians on the Right can so blithely ignore the commandment of love upon which "all the law and prophets" depend. Or as Rabbi Hillel said a generation earlier than Christ: All the rest is commentary.

To those who so mindlessly echo the right wing attack themes, and so easily turn their backs on the stricken among us, and who so openly flaunt their Christianity: be afraid not of Obama, but of the judgment of your God. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Winter Rules and Lies

In golf, amateur hackers (such as myself) will often play by winter rules: that means if your ball is lying in a really bad spot you can correct its location to make for an easier shot. The theory is that it’s winter and the course is in bad shape. Of course, sometimes you play winter rules in mid-July.

Two events in the news bring this to mind. One is the intention of the golf grand Pooh-Bahs to punish Tiger Woods because he objected to a functionary hurrying play in his latest tournament so that his opponent who had a one stroke lead rushed into a triple bogie (3 over par) on the sixteenth hole allowing Woods to catch-up and take the lead.

That Tiger objected to his opponent being rushed was a generous display of sportsmanship that is all too rare these days. Forget all his great wins and remarkable record, in my book it is his finest moment because this fierce competitor revealed his respect for his fellow competitors and a refusal to gloat over what he regarded as a tarnished victory.

Would that the participants in the current debate on health care showed some of the same class. Unfortunately we are witnessing a hard truth that we have yet to cope with: that there is a determined right wing in this countrty that is always playing winter rules and lacks a sense of sportsmanship that is a hallmark as politics at its best.

Compare if you will the Clinton, G.W. Bush Administrations and the first seven months of the Obama Administration. The Clinton Administration was hobbled from its outset by a series of investigations and outlandish charges, including that Bill and Hillary murdered one of their closest friend, Vince Foster. The culmination was the Lewinsky affair which paralyzed the Clinton administration for its last two years.

Yet, the country enjoyed great prosperity during his term, and he had some amazing successes, including bringing a semblance of peace to the Balkans which for centuries had been synonymous with ethnic hatred and political instability – the precipitant cause of World War One being an assassination in Serbia.

The press feasted on his travails.

Then came eight years of the utterly incompetent George Bush Administration which ignored pointed warnings about Bin Laden plotting to attack America, let him slip though our fingers in Afghanistan and lied us into war in Iraq.

In the meantime “regulatory reform” laid the ground work for the gravest financial crisis since the time of the Great Depression.

The media essentially gave GWB a free pass. Mendacity and manipulation in the White House was scarcely noted. The Democrats, cowed by the media, more or less played possum until the 2006 election. John Kerry, when faced with outrageous accusations about his combat record in Vietnam, turned turtle.

And now after seven months of the Obama Administration, we have seen the most vicious attacks since the Clinton era and a media which reports gravely on the most atrocious lies and in a fair and balance manner, giving the lies legs.

Tiger Woods, in giving his opponent his due, was a lot like the Democrats: playing the sportsman. But the Obama opposition is beyond sportsmanship and truth. It’s all winter lies, moving the ball for a better position to destroy your opponent.