You Couldn’t Make This Up

Reportedly, in the telecon last week where the president informed the rabbis that he was a partner with God in matters of life and death (I think I know who he thinks the senior partner in that relationship is), the music on hold was Deutschland Uber Alles.


[Update a while later]

Didn’t he say back during the campaign that determining when life begins was above his pay grade? I guess now that he’s gotten a promotion to be a co-God, he’s perfectly comfortable with deciding when it ends.

34 thoughts on “You Couldn’t Make This Up”

  1. Of course, many words have been set to the same tune, and “Deutschland Uber Alles” was not the first. I grew up singing this tune in a Presbyterian church to the words “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”. It is also used as an alternate melody for “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”.

  2. “Of course, many words have been set to the same tune, and “Deutschland Uber Alles” was not the first.”

    Yes, it’s not like there is any other music out there. We really only have 2 or 3 songs to choose from.

  3. Of course, many words have been set to the same tune, and “Deutschland Uber Alles” was not the first

    Joseph Haydn wrote the melody of it as “God Save the Emperor” and later used it in one of his string quartets.

  4. You know, I know the song was originally a classical tune for some dead Kaiser that someone later wrote words for (just like “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a poem that someone put to the tune of a drinking song), but there’s a lot of classical music out there that’s a whole lot less obscure. And I’ve been on hold countless times and had to listen to whatever hold music there was and never did I hear this particular tune. I don’t think this was deliberate — such subtle insults are beyond our brilliant intellectual giant of a prez — but what a fortuitous convergence of the stupidities!

  5. I don’t know but that all the titles are somehow fitting for a phone message from Teh One: “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”, “God Save the Emperor” or “Deutschland Uber Alles”. They’re all ironically fitting.

  6. A great comment on healthcare

    Obama’s health care plan will be written by a committee whose head says he doesn’t understand it,
    passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it and whose members will be exempt from it,
    signed by a president who smokes,
    funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes,
    overseen by a surgeon general who is obese,
    and financed by a country that is broke.

  7. I don’t know but that all the titles are somehow fitting for a phone message from Teh One: “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”, “God Save the Emperor” or “Deutschland Uber Alles”. They’re all ironically fitting.

    Now that’s pretty funny.

    Unfortunately, the original article makes it clear that the company which provided the teleconference service picked the music. I’m sure no one even thought about it.

  8. If you substitute “he” for the more accurate “we”, as in “we are God’s partners…”, it is also less funny.

    I’m bewildered by the theology of those who are criticizing Obama’s sentiment. In the Judeo-Christian belief systems I’m familiar with, God gave humans free will, stewardship of the Earth, and the duty to be merciful in preserving life and judicious and righteous when causing death. I think a good Christian or Jew has to be a partner, and not an opponent, of God in matters of life and death. I suppose the alternative is that people are servants of God, but presumably a servant who enters and remains in the relationship of his or her own free will is also a partner.

    Catholics in particular should not find this idea strange, even if they find the choice of words unusual. Consider: recently, the term “partner” has been used more and more often to describe spouses. Nuns are married to Jesus, right? So, in modern parlance, Jesus is a nun’s “partner”. That might sound unusual, but is it theologically offensive?

  9. Rand, what kind of criticism is that? The answer to your question is yes, but I like to debate, and I usually comment on your blog when I think it would interesting to debate with you and your commenters.

  10. Bob, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to us mortals as “partners” with God — and I’ve been both a Catholic and a Protestant.

    “Partner” implies an equal share in making plans, not just willing participation in implementing them. You might as well argue that the dishwasher at Waffle House is a partner in the corporation. While some corporate nitwits might try to sell that, it’s nevertheless motivational nonsense that nobody really buys.

    God doesn’t ask for our input in His plans. We are not His partners.

  11. Bob,

    The classical descriptions of mankind’s relationship to God in the various religions associated with ‘The Book’ are as his ‘Children’, or ‘Creations’…that is a very different thing than his ‘Partners’…

    Do we have responsibilities for our actions in the eyes of the Lord, certainly…do we have powers as a result of the Lord’s place for us, absolutely…are we equals or even junior partners to the Lord (in determining the purpose of those plans) absolutely not, and to suggest otherwise represents a very serious misreading of basic theology from any of the major religions.

    Oh, and as a minor point, the very notion that man has any purpose in Islamic theology other than absolute obedience would actually constitute a fairly serious instance of heretical (or even blasphemous) thought.

    Put simply, your argument is either woefully ignorant (most likely), a desparate attempt to rationalize Obama’s own ignorance and/or arrogance, or simply liberally sprinked with b*llsh#t…

  12. If someone who works in the back of the restaurant sees the restaurant’s goals and his own goals as being in parallel, he’ll do a better job. I could go on, but while you’ll call it motivational nonsense and nitwittery, I think it is the right way to run a company. Furthermore, for my own small business, my “business partners” are the independent companies with which I do business. When I ask them to do a job for my company, we make plans together, but there are no equal shares in the decision making — instead, they have their area of ultimate authority (ie which press to use), and I have mine (ie what the mold should look like). Finally, it might be at least somewhat helpful to look at the dictionary definition of partner. One dictionary offers this definition: “One that is united or associated with another or others in an activity or a sphere of common interest”. There is no implication of equality in this definition, and being associated with God in one’s life sounds to me like something that is consistent with Judeo-Christian values.

  13. I like to debate, and I usually comment on your blog when I think it would interesting to debate with you and your commenters.

    The problem is your comment defies credibility. Like McGehee, I’ve never heard a Christian, Jew, or Muslim refer to themself as a partner with their deity. At least not before Obama made the claim. Even David Koresh only called himself a son of God.

    From pagan religions to mainstream single deity religions today, the vast majority of believers consider themselves servants of their deity. Perhaps if you made an effort to find and provide any evidence supporting your assertion, then people might find your interest in real debate to be credible.

  14. As for the claim that I’m eager to defend Obama or rationalize a mistake he made, I’d say that this whole issue is only being discussed because of the eagerness of Obama-detractors to latch onto anything, no matter how silly and irrelevant to the nation’s business. But in this case, I’m glad they did, because it raises interesting theological issues.

  15. Leland,it is easy to find evidence to support my assertion. Please click on my name, and you’ll see the results of a google search for “Jewish” and “Partners with God”. Please note that “Partners with God” is surrounded by quotation marks – they are important. If you want to do the search yourself, use the quotation marks to search on “Jewish” and “Partners with God”. You’ll see that this is a very common and reverential way to describe the relationship between a Jew and God. Note that this is not an equal partnership — Jews routinely call God “King of the Universe” (“melech ha-olam” in Hebrew).

  16. Uh, yes, I’m sure that BHO meant “partner” in the most deferential way possible because Planetary Personality One is all about the humility. His groveling before our stated enemies is sufficient evidence.

  17. In the Jewish mystical tradition, we are partners with God in “the repair of the world.” That stems from the metaphor that around the time of the creation, the vessels containing goodness were shattered, and the fragmented contents were scattered though the universe. Thus, we are partners in actively gathering those fragments to create a better world.

    How one does that, of course, is where I would part ways with the Obamites.

    But it may be that, in this case anyway, Obama was reflecting a real knowledge of the kind of language that Jews, and rabbis in particular, would be aware of.

  18. “In the Jewish mystical tradition” — since I’m not a Jew, could you cite that please? Because otherwise I’ll think you’re just talking about the sort of Kabbala stuff that Madonna was into.

    In any case, I’m sure whatever Hebrew word has been translated as “partner” here doesn’t mean exactly the same as the English word. In English “partner” implies equality. No Jew (Or Christian or Muslims) is supposed to think of themselves as God’s equals. And it doesn’t mean “subordinates” — you don’t get to change definitions of words just because your hero uses them wrong.

  19. Andrea, I hope Charles Lurio and/or someone more observant than me will answer, but I can say this: Hebrew is not the only language of the Jews. German used to be much more important (Hebrew was not used conversationally, or even in Talmudic study), but now English is one of the major languages of the Jews, and English is one of the languages in which important religious conversation takes place. Judaism is a living religion, and English is now one of the important languages. And as a native English speaker, I can tell you that “partner” does not necessarily imply equality for the reasons I explained above. Use a dictionary for the definition, and use google as I suggested above to learn about Judaism.

  20. Well he needs to clarify the source of this “mystical Judaism,” because I believe there are several kinds, and Hebrew, English, German, etc. are used in them.

    In any case, I know what “partner” means. Parse it all you like, it doesn’t change the most common meaning of the word that is the first thing that springs to peoples’ minds when they hear it used. Most people think “partner” implies an equality of relationship, which is one reason feminists promoted its use in place of words like “wife.”

  21. Please click on my name, and you’ll see the results of a google search for “Jewish” and “Partners with God”.

    That’s simply moronic. You could type in Jews are Pagan, and that wouldn’t mean Jews believe they are Pagans. Again, your credibility suffers.

  22. Leland, there is this activitity you can do with google results called “reading”. Read the results, and you’ll see that I’m right. For example, one of the top google results is this one: “” which provides an opportunity to buy a book called “Living as Partners With God” for Jewish kids in 4th to 6th grade. The book is the unimaginatively titled sequel to “Partners With God”, which is for Jewish kids in 3rd and 4th grade.

    Here’s the sales pitch for the book:

    Building on the concepts and vocabulary of personal faith introduced in Partners with God, this second volume brings students to an understanding of community and the Jewish people’s covenantal relationship with God.

    Starting from the birth of a nation dedicated to serving God, the book takes students through the evolution of the Jewish people. Students will discover the richness of our tradition and how they can fulfill the Covenant by living as partners with God.

    * Learn how we honor our Covenant and add to life’s holiness by performing mitzvot such as giving tzedakah, studying Torah, and observing Shabbat

    * Meet ancient prophets and sages, such as Isaiah and Rabbi Akiba, who taught us how to fulfill mitzvot

    * Meet modern heroes, such as Golda Meir and Abraham Joshua Heschel, who dedicated their lives to living as partners with God

    I have valued this thread Leland. Despite your insults (which you almost never fail to share whenever we both comment on one of Rand’s blog postings), thanks to Charles Lurio and your skepticism, I learned more about the religion I grew up with.

  23. Translation for the book I described above: mitzvot are commandments. Tzedakah refers to charitable donations. The point here is that a “partner with God” can be someone who follows God’s commandments.

  24. I am really exhausted so I apologize for any more screwups, but…

    A correction: I believe that what was said to have been fragmented in the ‘shattering of the vessels’ was holiness, not ‘goodness’ per se. In the present context it probably doesn’t matter.

    Kabbalah existed long before the present group that waters it down and purveys it to ‘Madonna’ et al. The ‘Holy Zohar,’ the starting point for most of it, was nominally said to have been written by a famous rabbi of the Talmudic period (late 2nd century CE), but the style of the Hebrew indicates that it was written by a Spanish rabbi of the middle ages, who was said to have discovered it.

    German was never a language of the Jews, you’re thinking of Yiddish, which was the household language of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews for centuries. Yes, it is mainly _based_ on a form of German, but it has many borrowings from Hebrew and is written in hebrew characters.

    Similarly, the Jews of Spain developed a spanish-based tongue called ‘Ladino’, which came to be used by many Mediterranean Jews as a result of the expulsion from Spain in 1492.

    There were actually several other Jewish ‘languages’ derived similarly from the local tongue elsewhere, but Yiddish and Ladino were the dominant ones.

  25. Read the results

    Seriously? That’s the basis of your argument? Look up that book at Amazon (Rand is gracious enough to provide a link for you), and you can be the first to comment on the book. Shouldn’t be hard to read it first, as you can get used copies for $.01. Don’t try Barnes and Noble or Borders, because they don’t carry the book. Indeed, you can search google for a review of the book and not find one.

    Again, I do not find your remarks credible.

    Starting from the birth of a nation dedicated to serving God

    From Leviticus 25-42… It’s from a book a bit more read.

  26. Charles, thank you very much, of course I should have said Yiddish! I have fond memories of my grandparents abruptly shifting to Yiddish when they didn’t want their grandchildren to understand what they were saying — we knew they only would use it when they were talking about gifts for us, or some mysterious but surely juicy adult subject. I readily admit my ignorance on this subject, but I do know that assimilated Jews spoke German, Russian, etc, and I would expect that by the 20th century, religious conversations were going on in those languages too. My real point was that before the founding of the state of Israel, religiously meaningful dialog was going on using modern languages rather than Hebrew.

    Leland, I’m baffled by your comment. That book was hardly the only result from Google (but regarding that book, I think you are confused about how the Jewish sunday school market works if you expect to find it at Barnes & Noble or Borders or if you expect there to be a lively conversation about it on Amazon). Look, I think you are blinded by your political differences with me, so pay no attention to me and just read what Charles had to say – I’ll gladly defer to him.

  27. Did you look up Leviticus? Did you read it? Did you even notice I quoted from the book description you provided?

    I have no doubt you are baffled. You put store in a belief that something is true, simply because you type it into google and get a response. It’s no difference in politics. I simply don’t believe something is true because I can type it in google and get 6,500 responses. If you did as I suggested, you get an order of magnitude more hits for “Jews are Pagans”. Yet I think if Obama had made that claim in front of the Rabbis, it would be even more offensive.

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