The State of the Union

Tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET, President of Obama will give his State of the Union address.  He is expected to propose policies and legislative measures to flesh out the ideology set forth in his Inaugural address.  What proposals do you think he will put forward?  (I usually watch these things, but I have a class tonight.  If you want to live blog it, be my guest here.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Helen K.

    It’s still 11 Feb in AZ tonight but want to wish you, Dr. Veith, Happy Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th. Only us pre-Boomers may remember. (: Enjoying your blogs on Patheos although I don’t have the hang of everything. Good luck in your class tomorrow evening. I would imagine some of the faithful here will live blog a little tomorrow night. I enjoy reading the comments.

  • J D Loofbourrow

    I am not really sure but my wife was showing me this speech by Ben Carson from a few days ago that I thought i would share. It is interesting and somewhat pertinent. I’m don’t know if this has already been shared or discussed. If so, i’m sorry, please just ignore this comment.
    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4353311

  • Helen K.

    JD Loof @2…am happy to see your comment of the speech given by Dr. Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast. I didn’t see his entire presentation, but will try to watch it on the link you give. What I did see was uplifting and the POTUS was sitting right there. Thanks for sharing.

  • Abby

    JD@2 Thank you for that link! That was truly awesome! That is how to be winsome and unafraid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    One wonders if the president will have much to say about the actual state of the Union.

  • Matthew

    Do you suppose he will throw beads?

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    Great.

    Now we can hear (some more) just how great he is…and all that ‘he’ is doing.

    I’d rather get a tooth pulled.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    If I wanted to watch TV tonight, I think I’d tune to the AKC finals. Might as well watch somebody with something worth saying like “arf”.

  • fjsteve

    At the risk of piling on here, let me just say that I would rather listen to the State of the Union address tonight than listen to nails on a chalkboard. But just barely. I’ll echo what the Old Adam said. Maybe I’m having selective memory but I just don’t recall other presidents sounding so self-serving.

  • DonS

    Thank you for sharing, J D @ 2. Dr. Carson has a truly impressive story, particularly as it pertains to his mom and her drive to not only support her family, but to ensure that they had tremendous opportunities she never did. It will be a great SOU speech if President Obama references Dr. Carson and his story of the American Dream tonight. I will not hold my breath.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    STATE OF THE UNION: 11,629 MORE GO ON FOOD STAMPS EACH DAY…

    Well…that’s an accomplishment.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam
  • DonS

    State of the Union: Will Obama Tell Young People He’s Screwing Them Big Time? I apologize for the crass title. But the story is important, in the clear way it explains the crass way our government is destroying the futures of our youth:

    http://reason.com/archives/2013/02/12/state-of-the-union-will-obama-tell-young

  • tODD

    J D (@2), meh.

    First of all, Dr. Carson apparently only has one speech to give. I heard him speak several years ago, and I remembered most of those anecdotes, as well as the points they supported.

    Secondly, I am inherently skeptical of any speech in which the speaker refers to his own charity so much. That sounded mainly like a pitch for his own charity — complete with his even telling us the URL and suggesting we visit it. I mean, thanks for doing that, but maybe there’s a better time and place for that?

    Thirdly, what did that speech have to do with that gathering? It sounded more like an announcement of a fledgling presidential candidacy (again, combined with reminders about his charity) than anything inspirational, much less prayer-ish.

    But, no surprise, the choir enjoyed the sermon.

  • Hanni

    In the first place, he will not have written the speech. AFAIK, Lincoln and Clinton were the only ones who wrote their own speech. Clinton (per Allan Greenspan) because he forgot to bring it with him (he did have input frequently tho it is said), and got up and repeated the whole thing from memory and added more. I never listen to political speeches, campaign, conventions, and especially debates. I did try to listen to a couple of the first republican debates, but couldn’t really take them. A friend said the joint debates were the same way: ask a lot of irrelvant questions, don’t answer, give campaign speech, don’t press them on their non answere. It’s an insult to the American public. They are acting and that is mostly all.

  • fjsteve

    @15, I’m jealous.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    OK, tODD, perhaps Carson was self-serving, but what about having a portable healthcare account in the same way that enlightened nations have a portable retirement account, and what about a tax system that doesn’t cost close to half a trillion dollars per year in compliance?

    Quite frankly, I think he’s got a point, and (contra Cal Thomas) I think that it had a place in the forum it was presented, as Carson links the principle of a flat tax to the Biblical tithe. I would also point out that a portable healthcare (or retirement) account would be a boon in terms of letting people keep what they’ve earned–didn’t Solomon’s son lose most of his kingdom over a tax revolt born of Jeroboam’s desire for more tax revenues to spend?

    The left isn’t shy about linking their politics (usually wrongly) to the Scriptures, so I don’t see why conservatives shouldn’t do so, especially when they’ve arguably got a great point.

    OK, back to topic, I dream of any President of EITHER party saying anything a tenth as intelligent as either the Reason article linked, or Dr. Carson’s comments, in a SOTU address. And I’m rooting for the Rotty to win tonight.

  • Jimmy Veith

    I enjoy State of the Union speeches. To the best of my memory, I have watched them all from President Johnson to Obama. (I was born in 1955, so I don’t remember Eisenhower or Kennedy’s, as I was too young. But I suspect my parents watched them, along with my older brother, Dr. Veith, the Master of this Blog.)

    Is there something wrong with me?

  • tODD

    Bubba (@17):

    I think that it had a place in the forum it was presented, as Carson links the principle of a flat tax to the Biblical tithe.

    Oh, he made some crackpot tenuous link between an Old Testament spiritual practice and modern tax system? Well then golly, I guess I was wrong! I look forward to Ben Carson’s ensuing lectures on how we should implement the rest of Leviticus in our government. Those certainly won’t be getting quite as many laugh lines, will they?

    Look, seriously, have you read about the tithes of the Old Testament? Have you noticed that it wasn’t mainly a way of funding the government? Honestly, read Deuteronomy 14. Notice who’s consuming the tithe, please. (There is a different tithe, collected on the third year out of seven, that supports the poor and the priests, but note that this system is not, for various reasons, the one Carson is suggesting.)

    I would also point out that a portable healthcare (or retirement) account would be a boon in terms of letting people keep what they’ve earned–didn’t Solomon’s son lose most of his kingdom over a tax revolt born of Jeroboam’s desire for more tax revenues to spend?

    Yes, by all means, let’s completely ignore God’s (self-admitted) role in the matter and view the story as merely a parable about appropriate taxation and the need for portable healthcare accounts. Yes, of course. I don’t know how I missed that when I read it.

    The left isn’t shy about linking their politics (usually wrongly) to the Scriptures, so I don’t see why conservatives shouldn’t do so…

    Indeed. “Hey, they’re being stupid! … Why can’t we be stupid, too?

  • Sam

    Each year, for reasons laid out in the article linked below, I tell myself that I’m not going to watch the State of the Union address, but each year, the political junkie in me wins out. And probably will this year, too. Anyway, the article is really good.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/340441/state-union-inappropriate-charles-c-w-cooke

  • Gary in FL

    “We can get that done.” I think he’s right. Several proposals he’s offering sound like they should be doable.

  • Gary in FL

    No teleprompter in use for this address, btw, or not that I can tell. Slick trick if he IS using a teleprompter somehow. He’s doing a good job.

  • LAJ

    Charles Krauthamer thinks Dr. Carson chose the wrong forum for his speech. It was totally inappropriate because it has always been a non-partisan gathering. Shame on Dr. Carson even though I agree with him.

  • Abby

    Is Dr. Carson Republican?

  • Abby
  • Trey

    Dr. Carson’s HSA idea is splendid. I’m with Cal insofar that issues of morality are not off limits. Tax rates are somewhat adiophora except socialism-govt owned everything- is banned by the moral law.

  • tODD

    Trey said (@26):

    Tax rates are somewhat adiophora except socialism-govt owned everything- is banned by the moral law.

    Ha. I like how you contrast “adiophora” with “the moral law”. (I thought you were Lutheran?)

    Because, as you know, tax rates are, in fact, completely adiophora. But I guess you don’t like that, so you make up something about “the moral law” and then raise it to the same level as Scripture? Nice trick, I guess. “Oh, that. Yeah, Scripture is silent on it, but it’s totally prohibited by, um … the moral law?”

    Also, I’d love to have you flesh out the jump from “tax rates” to “govt owned everything”. Does the government own everything once the effective tax rate gets above, what, 60%? Also, what governments are you thinking of, exactly, that own “everything”? Where is this particular type of “socialism” to be found?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, and what does Samuel say the king will do when he warns Israel about the coming monarchy? What portion of the national income will he take?

    Moreover, the tithe honors the concept that a levy ought to be simple enough to comply with–instead of 7500 single spaced pages in the IRS code. Again, didn’t Rehoboam and the northern tribes revolt over the burden of the tax code? Are you sure there’s nothing we can learn from that?

    Carson’s talk is a great example of the tradition–most notably embodied in Mother Theresa’s talk at the same forum a few years back–of confronting the wickedness of DC at the prayer breakfast. And in the same way that no sane person inviting Mother Theresa would have expected her to ignore the issue of prenatal infanticie, no sane person inviting Dr. Carson would have expected him to ignore the injustice of the Health Insurance Deform Act.

  • http://deepeningwaters.com JD Loofbourrow

    I Just wanted to make few points. First I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that Dr. Carson said (though for the most part I did). I personally don’t think that the sort of education he is talking about is as liberating as he makes it out to be. Certainly education does liberate but the scripture says that Christ is the only true liberator. I tend to believe that when education is separated from the gospel of Jesus Christ its liberation is, in the ultimate sense, an illusion and really just a sophisticated type bondage. I don’t think that secular intellectualism is a helpful answer to our nation’s problems. Intellectualism has it’s place, to be sure. It is a particularly help when it is a “branch” from the gospel (rather than its own tree).

    Secondly, maybe I misunderstood Dr. Carson, but I did not get from what he said that he thought it would be great for the US to adopt livitical law. The point I thought he was making was that God instituted a system of tithing that was based on a fair percentage of income or produce (which He did in the context of a Theocracy, by the way). I think the point he was getting at was that if God did it, the principle of a flat tax can’t be all that bad. It was a simpler system which would be good for us because the complexities of our system leave the common man in a vulnerable position. It’s not that he is saying we should tithe to the government, he is just using a practical example from scripture to show that this seemed to be a fair principle to God; maybe we can use the same principle with our tax system. I have no problem with that.

    Also, with regard to the division of the twelve tribes over taxes; it is just as clearly stated in scripture that the nation divided over taxes as it is clearly stated that the division was the Lord’s doing. God did divide Israel by way of the tax issue. He works though human agency in such a way that we often don’t realize (until later, if at all) that He was the primary cause rather than us (like with salvation ;-) ).

    Last of all I don’t think the prayer breakfast was an inappropriate venue for Dr. Carson’s comments. Everything he brought up should be on the top of the Presidents prayer list. Prayer meetings are always a wild card and a genuine prayer meeting should expect and be open to most any topic. If nothing else it reminds me of God’s word to Ezekiel:

    “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’
    Ezekiel 14:3-5

    . President Obama, who claims to be a part of the “Israel of God,” is at a prayer breakfast inquiring of THE Prophet (namely Christ) only to have his own laws criticized in a manner not so different from the way he himself has criticized God’s law. With the devious the Lord shows Himself shrewd.

    But I know you will say I am over spiritualizing. Maybe I am. I don’t know the heart of Obama any better than the mind of God and frankly this passage of scripture freaks me out because I know that I am no better before God than Obama. Still if it were me sitting there that is what I would be thinking.

  • http://deepeningwaters.com JD Loofbourrow

    Also, I didn’t mean to hi-jack the conversation. Sorry about that Dr. Veith.

  • Trey

    Todd look at the 7th Commandment. This is what pure socialism (Communism) violates. Is any tax rate commanded or forbidden by God? No! I was not saying that. The moral law does prohibit the redistribution of wealth since you must steal from one to lift up the other. So I suppose that a tax rate that unjustly targets one group over another is immoral. To what that rate is God doesn’t say exactly say.

  • tODD

    Trey (@31):

    The moral law does prohibit the redistribution of wealth since you must steal from one to lift up the other.

    Please. All taxation involves the redistribution of wealth. So does this “moral law” (which, again, you seem to be making up as you go along) prohibit all taxation, then?

  • Trey

    @ tODD 32

    All taxes involve redistribution of wealth? Really!? Maybe if you are a Marxists (not saying you are), but that is such a simplistic view considering that not every tax has to do with providing entitlements or bringing up the poor. How is taxing for roads a redistribution of wealth (stealing from the rich to give to the poor)? No the moral law does not prohibit taxation, just taxation that redistributes wealth. Look at the 7th Commandment and Luther’s explanation: “You should not steal” . “What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business.”
    Do you dispute that socialism is against the moral law? Look the government is not above the moral law, it applies to it as well. Your argument is against a position I do not hold, so instead of miscasting my argument (strawman) and knocking it down. Why don’t you tackle my actual argument that redistribution of wealth is against the moral law.

  • tODD

    Trey (@33):

    All taxes involve redistribution of wealth? Really!? … How is taxing for roads a redistribution of wealth?

    Well, when we pay for roads, I lose money, and people who work on those roads — those supplying materials, those driving the trucks, and so on — make money they otherwise would not. So my wealth is redistributed to them.

    But then, it’s clear that you’re using a rather particular understanding of “redistribution of wealth”: “stealing from the rich to give to the poor”, as if any other example (such as road-building) does not, somehow involved the, well, redistribution of wealth. It does, but it’s the sort of redistribution that you’re okay with.

    So where does that leave us? You still haven’t told me where this “moral law” is defined, much less how exactly it formulates its prohibition on the redistribution of wealth. And, it goes without saying, you haven’t explained why the moral law is apparently hunky-dory with “stealing” (your word for taxation) from the poor, middle class, and wealthy to give to a wide distribution of classes is okay. So what we basically have is a claim from you that taxes that do things you don’t like are immoral, without any particularly good justification for what those things are or why.

    Taxation isn’t contrary to the 7th Commandment, or else our Lord would not have told us and his disciples to pay our taxes. Your claim is that, at some magical percentage, it does turn into stealing. That is found nowhere in Scripture, so you must appeal to this as-yet hypothetical “moral law”.

    I do dispute that socialism is immoral, although there are a number of differing definitions of socialism, and it might be useful to know which of them you’re referring to.

  • kerner

    Geez, tODD @34:

    Waive a red flag in front of a bull, why don’t you. Read the Large Catechism on the 7th Commandment. All the way through, you have to to get the full flavor of it:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php

    Do we think this commandment is limited to common criminals? Think again. Luther spares no one. Rich, poor, merchants, tradesmen, servants all alike. Does a rich man take advantage of the poor by sharp practices? Luther calls him a thief. Does a poor man contrive to get money without giving an honest day’s labor in return? He’s a thief too. How about the government or those who have its support? Well,

  • kerner

    Holy cr@p, I messed up the quote. Let’s try again:

    Geez, tODD @34: Waive a red flag in front of a bull, why don’t you.

    Read the Large Catechism on the 7th Commandment. All the way through, you have to to get the full flavor of it:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php

    Do we think this commandment is limited to common criminals? Think again. Luther spares no one. Rich, poor, merchants, tradesmen, servants all alike. Does a rich man take advantage of the poor by sharp practices? Luther calls him a thief. Does a poor man contrive to get money without giving an honest day’s labor in return? He’s a thief too. How about the government or those who have its support? Well,

    ”Therefore they are also called swivel-chair robbers, land- and highway-robbers, not pick-locks and sneak-thieves who snatch away the ready cash, but who sit on the chair [at home] and are styled great noblemen, and honorable, pious citizens, and yet rob and steal under a good pretext.

    230] Yes, here we might be silent about the trifling individual thieves if we were to attack the great, powerful arch-thieves with whom lords and princes keep company, who daily plunder not only a city or two, but all Germany. Yea, where should we place the head and supreme protector of all thieves, the Holy Chair at Rome with all its retinue, which has grabbed by theft the wealth of all the world, and holds it to this day?”

    So, yeah, would the Catechism call a system that encourages the poor to become government dependents and employs a lot of other people to do nothing more than spread taxpayers’ cash around, taking a cut for themselves, while rarely if ever helping the poor become productive workers, because that would upset the tax money gravy train; would the Catechism call such a system immoral and based on theft?
    You bet it would.

    But to be fair, would the Catechism characterize a system in which a corporate CEO can operate a company at a loss, at the expense of the small shareholders, while pocketing 8 figure bonuses for himself every year; would the Catechism also call that system immoral and based on theft. It certainly would as well.

    As the Catechism says, there are not enough gallows nor enough rope to deal fairly with all the thieves in this world.


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