Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Davis-Bacon Act

The President was forced to reinstated the Davis-Bacon Act, which he suspended for contractors involved in rebuilding along the Gulf Coast. Suspending the Davis-Bacon Act prompted companies with federal cleanup contracts in the Gulf region to bring in outside workers, some of them illegal aliens willing to work for far less than the prevailing wage.

Democrats vociferously criticized waiving the prevailing wage provision. Congressman George Miller a California Democrat pointed out: "American workers believe that their wages should be protected. They should not be undermined by the federal government. And that's what the president was trying to do."

Congressman Miller was joined by Senators Kennedy, Landrieu, Dorgan and advocate for the disenfranchised Jesse Jackson in calling for it's reinstatement. Democrats were joined by 37 Republicans that planned to vote to reverse Bush's decision. Those Republicans sent a letter to the White House, urging the president to reinstate Davis-Bacon before a congressional vote scheduled in two weeks. Consequently, Bush had no choice, because he knew that the votes weren't there for him to continue to cut working people's wages. Bowing to congressional pressure, the White House agreed to reinstate the Davis-Bacon Act as of November 8th.

The reinstatement of the Davis-Bacon Act will not change the wages of those working under contract. It should make the contracting process transparent and ensure displaced workers will be first in line to rebuild their communities. By hiring people who live in the community, we are assured that they'll be paying taxes to support the schools, police, fireman and many other services.

The hallmark of this Bush administration was party unity. However, Republicans, who are up for reelection next year are obviously uncomfortable facing the voters. Their motivation, for joining Democrats to urge the President to reinstate the Davis-Bacon Act, is suspect at best.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Great Disappointment

Congress and the news media fear being perceived as unpatriotic. Consequently, both failed to diligently question the justification for the war in Iraq. Congress will face the voters in November.

In an article entitled "There's Nothing Glorious about Today's Journalism", Nicholas von Hoffman suggests "reporters and editors confess what they have done and ask forgiveness of the families of the dead, of the people with ruined lives, and of the thousands of men and women in uniform who were put through this hell for vain glory, pride and the ambition of others".

Often overlooked is the role religion played in advocating Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Several years ago an Associated Press poll found that 77% of Evangelicals favored the Iraqi war. At 62%, significantly fewer Catholics and mainline Protestants were in favor of war. Only 44% of nonreligious citizens favored the war, and a mere 36% of black Protestants favored the invasion of Iraq. Evangelical Christians supported Bush for president because of his stand on "moral values". Furthermore, "Left Behind" biblical novels had sold 62 million copies, and the volume, which came out after 9/11 became the best selling novel of the year. These novels encourage readers to view the world in terms of good and evil.

Newsweek's David Gates wrote: "many critics of the series see a resonance between its apocalyptic scenario and the born-again President Bush's apocalyptic rhetoric and confrontational Middle East policies."

N.Y.Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes :"Left Behind" depicts Jesus returning to heave everyone who is not a born-again Christian into everlasting fire...howling and screeching.

Predicting the apocalypse has been difficult. In 1844, William Miller and tens of thousands of his followers waited for Jesus to appear. The no show was called the Great Disappointment.

Hopefully, Evangelical Christians will recognize Bush is today's Great Disappointment.


Bush has nominated another righteous Christian to the Supreme Court. For a half century, papistical Catholics and righteous Christians have sought to replace our Constitution with theology.

After a vigorous campaign, by the Knights of Columbus, the pledge of allegiance, which was originally developed as a unifying exercise, was altered. Those of us that attended school prior to 1954, used to say the words "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all", with great pride. Since, the inclusion of "under God," the pledge is no longer a unifying exercise, but a divisive issue for those that value separation of church and state.

Faith based initiatives funnel tax dollars to religious groups, which enables them to further inject their theology into our lives. With another Evangelical Christian on the court the separation of church and state will continue to be undermine. This administration is pushing a social agenda fueled by Bush's personal religious beliefs.

Bush claims to desire diversity on the Supreme Court. A nominee that would guarantee diversity would be an agnostic woman. Hypothetically, let's assume she has experienced a physically abusive relationship, but presently is content living in a committed lesbian relationship. At sixteen she became pregnant and had seriously considered an abortion. Instead, she elected to give birth and raised a wonderful son, while working numerous minimal wage jobs. That son became her pride and joy. He did very well is school and joined the Army with the hope of having his college tuition paid, after serving in Iraq. He was killed by a roadside bomb and like so many Gold Star mothers this woman endures lifelong grief.

Such a nominee would bring the added dimension of empathy. True empathy is usually ensured by first hand experienced with violence, poverty, intolerance, discrimination, shattered hope and devastating grief .