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

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Apocalypse

In "American Theocracy", former Republican party strategist Kevin Phillips recognizes that his party has been hijacked by people who are unwilling to recognize the perils of religious fundamentalism. He believes that government should function within it's financial means, and stay out of our private lives. Phillips examines how the religious right is driving this administration's policy, and in some ways have stopped worrying about the economy because they're waiting for the second coming.

Recently, Bush was asked: “Do you believe that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse?” He replied: “I haven't really thought of it that way.” Bush’s answer went on for five minutes when a simple yes or no would have been sufficient. He can't answer the question whether or not he believes in Armageddon or if it's happening in the Middle East, because he'll be figuratively damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

The question was specifically about, "American Theocracy," in which Kevin Phillips expresses grave concern about the dangerous influence of people who go to church, and favor religion defining government. A survey by "Newsweek" several years ago found that 45 percent of American Christians believed in Armageddon and about the same percentage thought the Antichrist was already on Earth. Phillips claims that about 55 percent of the Republican coalition believe Armageddon is near and that the anti-Christ is already on earth. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, an Associated Press poll found that 77 percent of Evangelicals favored the Iraqi war.

Phillips states that about 35 percent the electorate is caught up in scripture, exerting their influence and power, over the White House and the Republican party. A considerable number of Republican conservatives and evangelicals believe that religion should guide politics and they don’t hesitate to push their view on a whole host of issues. Whether it be the biblical aspect of the Middle East or science on the White House.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

New priorities

In the past year the number of billionaires has reached a record 793. The super rich do not earn a billion dollars by themselves. Their wealth comes from either human or natural resources, which is exploited for the benefit of a very few, but at the expense of the rest of us. This economic system is of our own making, and it is within our power to change it to one that is fairer and more humane.

Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanual said: “I love the fact that after running up $3 trillion of additional debt over the last four years, Republicans now claim we‘ve got to get our fiscal house in order.” 

Incomes have gone down for the average family and healthcare costs, education costs and energy costs are all up. All of the sudden the Republicans in Congress have awakened to the fact that they’ve run the economy into the ditch and they’re interested in fiscal discipline.

On the economy Senate Republican Bill Frist says: “The Democrats called out to raise your taxes, Republicans responded with numerous tax cut after tax cut after tax cut.  We cut tax cuts on income and marriage, we doubled the child tax credit and we slashed taxes on capital gains and dividends in half.”

Frisk denies that our fiscal house is in a mess, under Republican stewardship. However, investment in education, healthcare energy and technology independence, have all gone by wayside. Although, the economy is growing, the average American has not benefited due to rising costs.

Democrats are gaining on traditional issues such as of education and healthcare. They hold an advantage over Republicans on fiscal discipline, taxes, and stewardship of economy.  Americans have seen six years of Republican stewardship and they want a change.  They want new priorities and a new direction, which invests in the American people while putting our fiscal house in order. 

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fear of Criticism

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Senator Robert Byrd’s, “Losing America” reveals that prior to the Iraq war resolution, some senators were almost terrified at the prospect of being labeled “unpatriotic”.

George Clooney made a movie last year about journalist Edward R. Murrow entitled “Good Night and Good Luck” in which the central theme was “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty”. In an e-mail message, Clooney said, “The fear of being criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved, in the run-up to the war. It drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, ‘We were misled’. You weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic.”

Senator Russ Feingold proposed: “When the president of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable. That is why today I'm introducing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.” Feingold claims; Bush illegally wiretapped conversations between American citizens and suspected terrorists without obtaining a warrant. He is frustrated that the Republican controlled Senate Intelligence Committee failed to launch an investigation of the president's domestic surveillance program, and believes that censure is an appropriate way to hold Bush accountable.

Vice President Cheney questioned: “Do they support the extreme counterproductive antics of the few, or do they support a lawful program vital to the security of this nation?” Cheney appeals to an electorate, who like macho fools, keep voting for liars that lead America into war and bankruptcy.

Senator Feingold's response: “This is not disloyalty. No one questions whether the government should wiretap suspected terrorists. Of course we should, and we can under current law.” Feingold refuses to sit back and watch Congressional Republicans surrender our essential liberty to purchase temporary safety.

Friday, March 17, 2006

National Debt

We are selling off our financial independence to the Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans. In 2001, the outstanding federal government debt topped $6 trillion. Thirty percent of that debt was held by foreign lenders. In the past five years that debt has grown another $3 trillion, with foreign lending accounting for 80 percent of the increase.

We're subsidizing the Chinese government to the tune of $50 to $100 billion a year, which could easily double over next five years. With rising interest payments, that means more money leaving our country, and less money for schools, health care and roads. Economists agree this is not sustainable, but Congress has failed to demonstrated the political will to reign in the budget in trade deficits.

Treasury Secretary John Snow lobbied Congress to raise the federal debt limit. Forty- four Democrats voted against raising the nation's debt ceiling, but Senate Republicans obliged the Bush regime by voting to raise the debt limit to nearly $9 trillion. Some Senators wanted to attach conditions to the limit increase. However, Republicans blocked an amendment to look at the impact of foreign held debt, as well as, an amendment to set up a pay-as-you-go measure that would force lawmakers to pay for future budget increases or tax cuts.

Last year, 96 percent of America's debt which was sold on financial markets was bought by foreign investors. The solution is simple, according to Montana Democratic Senator, Max Baucus. He suggests the obvious way to get any house in order: “You've got to cut spending and you've got to look at revenue and just match the revenue with the spending. And we're not doing that as a country, and we're, frankly, we're living on borrowed time.”

America must spend less on its military, whose primary mission is to protect the assets of the wealthy. We must also stop giving tax breaks to the wealthy, but most importantly, we must to stop electing politicians with the wrong priorities.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Abortion

The Republican Party will never nominate a pro-choice candidate for president. The Democratic Party will most likely nominate a pro-choice candidate, who believes that abortion must be safe, legal, and rare, which is the mainstream values in this country. 

South Dakota’s Republican Governor Mike Rounds, said: "I've indicated I'm pro-life, and I do believe abortion is wrong and that we should do everything we can to save lives," He signed into law a bill that passed his state’s House and Senate, which would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by four years in prison.

Gov. Rounds believes that a gradual approach, with measures like parental and spousal notification laws and waiting periods, would probably be more successful at preventing abortions. He understands that there are others in the "pro-life camp" who believe the wisest strategy is a direct challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

Leaders at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which operates the only abortion clinic in the state have pledged to file suit immediately. They will seek an injunction to block the law from being implemented and it’s anticipated the court battle will last for last years.

Abortion rights advocates said they were disappointed that Gov. Rounds supports a measure, which allows exceptions only for cases in which a pregnant woman's life is in jeopardy. No exceptions for rape or incest are in the bill.

Unfortunately, the only issue that matter to many evangelical Christians and papistical Catholics is that abortion be banned. Because of this religious view no other issues seem to matter, and they are unwilling to recognize that they’re imposing their religious dogma on Americans, that do not share their faith. Some of these Christians and Catholics accept the devastation in Iraq as inevitable because of their faith in Bush. To them voting is a matter of religion not politics. In this situation, Karl Marx's famous quote: ''Religion is the opiate of the people." has validity.

Rebellion?

Polls have shown that Bush could be a liability in the fall elections. Consequently, Republicans up for reelection want the voters to perceive them as rebels. Republicans recognized that voters would not approve of the Dubai port deal because many of their constituents are unhappy about globalization, and hostile toward Arabs.

Bush’s domestic spying program ignored the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and violated the law. Bush, Congress, and the public know it, but Bush was allowed to simply proclaim the law doesn't apply to him. The response from these so called Republican rebels was to legitimatize the president's crime by refusing to investigate and then rewriting the law to legalize warrantless spying.

For six years, Republicans have conducted no serious investigation, nor assigned accountability regarding the American soldiers and intelligence agents that abuse prisoners. They seem to advocate the practice of sending suspects to other countries to be tortured and even killed. Congressional and Bush negotiators watered down John McCain’s anti-torture law, and after it passed Bush immediately claimed it really didn’t apply to him anyway. Instead, Republicans passed another law, which encourages the abuse of prisoners, by allowing the use of coerced evidence at hearings on the prisoners' status.

After 9/11, Mr. Bush created a network of prisons outside the American legal system so he could hold suspects indefinitely without hearings. The Supreme Court said twice that Bush was reaching beyond his powers. The Republicans in Congress responded by rising up as one, and legalized the president's actions. Bush’s bogus rebels in Congress told the courts that they could no longer rule on these matters. Bush made sure the message was loud and clear, by sending his lawyers out to inform the judges, including the Supreme Court, that they had to drop all the cases that were already before them.

The Senate continues to help the White House cover up the cherry picking of intelligence on Iraq. With rebels like these in open rebellion, who needs loyalists?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Take Back America

Bartlett Giamatti, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, said of our disdain for politics and politicians. "What concerns me most today, is the way we have disconnected ideas from power in America and created for ourselves thoughtful citizens who disdain politics and politicians, when more than ever we need to value politics and what politicians do."

The problem with angry voters is that they tend to rant about politicians, but can only suggest; "Dump the politicians”. Politicians are representatives of “we the people” and our informed opinion determines, who ends up representing us. Consequently, we get the government we deserve.

Many Americans feel cynical and powerless, and our cynicism comes from a belief that we must have a lot of money in order to have our voice heard. This leads to voter frustration and expressions such as; "Voting is a waste of time!"; "They're all a bunch of crooks!" and "I'm not political." This foolish defeatism infects others, and many Americans have lost hope for a better world. We need an attitude, which encourages the the belief that each of us has the ability to in our own small way effect change.

Cynical, apathetic and uninformed voters have helped create this mess and we’re the only one that can bring about change. It’s the political will of the voters, which determines and sustains the political will of our governments. The changes that are needed must come from you. We can’t wait for our political leaders to do it for us. We’re going to have to save America. It's time for us voters to provide a rebirth of democracy in America and reclaim our birthright. It's time to recognize that democracy is not a spectator sport.

Representatives of “We the People” wrote our constitution and we the people must sustain it.

Minimum Wage Act

When, Henry Ford began the long assembly line and payed $5 an hour, far beyond the prevailing wage, he said that he wanted his employees to be able to buy the products they make.

Work gives pride, dignity, and hope to our lives and our communities.  Unfortunately, too many families are working full-time and have nothing to show for it. They are raising their kids in poverty and living in fear that one health crisis or pink slip will drive them over the edge. A single mom with two kids who works full-time for the minimum wage is about $4,000 below the poverty line.

Executives have figured out how to pay themselves more, while paying their workers less. It's a national disgrace that poverty is up for the fourth year in a row. It’s time to reward work with an increase in the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour or $10,700 a year for a full-time worker, for ten years.

During this time the costs for health care, housing, child care, transportation and everything else has skyrocketed, and members of Congress have raised their own pay by $31,000. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress have refused to give hardworking men and women the pay they deserve. 

A fair increase in the minimum wage is long overdue.  People see their friends and neighbors struggling to survive on poverty wages.  You can be a citizen co-sponsors for the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which will raise the minimum wage to $7.25 over two years. To help make this effort a success, each of you will need to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, and encourage others to do so. With your participation in this process, we will succeed and give minimum wage workers a well-earned raise.

http://www.oneamericacommittee.com/minwagecosponsor

Business lobbiest argue that raising the minimum wage will harm the economy and lead to the loss of small business jobs. Research suggests just the opposite.

Oregon has the second highest minimum wage in the country and reports job growth double the rest of the nation. Oregon’s Labor Commissioner says: “They always predict the gloom and doom, but it really just hasn't borne out in the figures across Oregon. I think that increasing the minimum wage helps Oregon.”

States with a higher minimum wage have better jobs growth than states paying the minimum wage. Small retail businesses in higher-wage states, report double the job growth of the rest of the country.

By raising a worker's wage, you’ll hold onto experienced workers, and productivity may go up. Recruitment and training costs go down, and workers spend those higher wages almost entirely in other local businesses, creating more jobs.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Spirit of Liberty

Learned Hand was a federal judge during WWII, who in 1944 said: "In the american battle of minds, too many are seeking 'freedom' and too few are seeking 'liberty'." His remarks have significant relevance to the issues of today.

"What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow."

"What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest."

The liberal spirit shall not perish as long as liberals seek to understand the mind of other men and women. Terrorism will continue to prosper until we seek to undestand; why they hate us?

Friday, March 03, 2006

United Arab Emirates

A bipartisan congressional group is calling for a full review of a deal, which lets Dubai Ports World, which is controlled by the United Arab Emirates, take over port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. The possibility of a nuclear weapon being detonated aboard a container ship is very real.

Bush remains opposed to anything that would block the deal and threatens his first veto of his five years in office. That means Congressional leadership would need enough votes to pass new legislation over Bush’s veto.

The President repeatedly insists the United Arab Emirates is one of this country's closest allies on the global war on terror. However, in the U.N. General Assembly, the Emirates support of U.S. positions ranks near the bottom, 176 out of 189 countries. On major issues, like nuclear proliferation, the UAE ranks lower than Iran, Sudan and North Korea.

Bush's family and friends have long-standing business connections with the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm, where Bush's father once served as senior adviser. Dubai International Capital, a government-backed firm, recently invested $8 billion in the Carlyle fund.

Treasury Secretary Snow was chairman of the railroad company CSX. After Snow left the company, CSX sold its international port operations to Dubai Ports World for more than a billion dollars.

Bush chose a Dubai Ports World executive to head our country’s Maritime Administration. David Sanborn, the former director of Dubai Ports' European and Latin American operations, was selected to lead the agency that oversees our port operations.

The United Arab Emirates employs high-powered lobbying connections and has gone on a hiring spree to insure that this deal goes through. Records filed with the Department of Justices Foreign Registration Office show the Emirates paid at least four lobbying firms more than $720,000 last year.

The Bush regime provides us with the best government money can buy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stem Cells

Stephen Mahoney is 26 years old, who for the past 11 years, he has lived in a wheelchair paralyzed from the neck down. He said: “I sit a quadriplegic depending on a ventilator to breathe. I have to rely on other people for everything; I cannot even move a finger. If using embryonic stem cells is found to be the cure for people in my condition, then I will be right there, a Catholic first in line waiting for that transplant.”

If paralyzed people are ever going to walk again, it might be because Dr. Hans Keirstead is among the best in the field of human embryonic stem cell research. He is ready to become the first American scientist to inject stem cells into people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.

He claims: "I have never seen in my career a biological tool as powerful as the stem cell. It addresses every single human disease.” Embryonic stem cells, are extracted from embryos, which are capable of becoming any type of cell in the body and can replace cells that have been damaged by disease or injury.

Research has been slowed by Bush’s ban on the use of federal money to create new lines of embryonic stem cells. New stem cells are needed, because existing lines have weakened over time, thereby limiting their value. Extracting new stem cells destroys human embryos, which the righteous strongly opposes. They feel that what researchers are doing is morally wrong.

Dr. Keirstead maintains: "I don’t feel what I’m doing is morally wrong. I think the use of human embryonic stem cells is an ethical and responsible thing to do with tissue that would have been destroyed in the discards of a fertility clinic."

To those that insist the embryo is life, Keirstead says: "So, let's use it instead of discarding it. Why discard it? If you think that is a holy thing, then value it, treasure it and keep it. Use it for research and the betterment of lives, don't throw it away."

Oligarchy

“Them that’s got shall get. Thems that not shall lose. So the Bible says And it still is news.”- Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr.

Warren Buffett the second wealthiest man in the world said: “The rich people are doing so well in this country, I mean we never had it so good. It’s class warfare, my class is winning they shouldn’t be.”

Oligarchy is a form of government in which the power is vested in a few persons. Our nation is becoming an oligarchy, because wealth has been concentrated in the hands of a small, privileged elite.

It's a fallacy that we are an increasingly unequal society because a large group of Americans have the skills and education to take advantage of new technology. The truth is that although highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, a college degree is no longer a ticket to big income gains. The real earnings of college graduates fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004.

Many suggest the way to mitigate inequality is to improve our educational system, but the real story is that power relationships have much more to do with the growth of inequality than market forces. The disparity between the enormously wealthy and desperately poor is driven by the excessive income gains of a tiny elite, not the modest gains of college graduates.

A Republican controlled Congress facilitated ever increasing inequality by passing unconscionable tax cuts for the top 1% income bracket. We should be very worried by the increasingly oligarchic nature of American society, because a rising economic tide has failed to lift most boats. More importantly, history tell us that highly unequal societies tend to be highly corrupt. Alan Greenspan has repeatedly warned that growing inequality poses a threat to "democratic society."