Vaticinari

The great thing about getting older is you tend to say what is on your mind without worrying about what others think. So, here is a little of what is on my mind, or at least what is left of it.

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Location: California

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Twelve years? More?

Have any wondered what George W. Bush will use for an excuse to extend his second term as President? We are in the middle of World War III, after all and it would be disastrous to have control revert to a "less capable" man, or God forbid, a woman. What more capable leader than he who has been anointed by God--how could we possible go wrong?

Long live King George.

World War III

Who started World War III, Mr. Bush? Was it a small band of terrorists with no country and no weapons save for our own airlines, or was it you, sir, in the role you so adore, "Commander in Chief?" How many will die for your hubris, Mr. Bush--do you even care? I don't think you do.

hubris /"hju;brIs/· n. excessive pride or self-confidence. Ø (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride or presumption towards the gods, leading to nemesis.– DERIVATIVES hubristic adj.– ORIGIN from Gk.

nemesis /"nEmIsIs/· n. (pl. nemeses /-si;z/) the inescapable agent of someone’s downfall, especially when deserved. Ø a downfall caused by such an agent.– ORIGIN C16: Gk, lit. ‘retribution’, personified as the goddess of divine punishment.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Giving blood for Gas

I guess you can squeeze blood from a turnup. Republicans are showing their true love for Jesus by following his commandment to starve the poor so the rich might have silks, gold and diamonds. God bless King George.

Republican Greed

Big Oil says that as corporations they have no responsibility to the public, only to the stockholders. Big government, however, is supposed to be responsibility to the community, so maybe it is time for government to step in and teach these Big Oil Corporations they do have responsibility to society.

Oops, I forgot, the Republicans control every branch of government and they feel their only responsibility is to the rich and big corporations. I guess we are screwed.

By the way, the price of gas in California when Bush and Cheney took office was $1.66 a gallon, today it is over $3.54, over twice what it was when the oil men took office and Cheney had his ultra secret meetings with big oil. So, it would have cost $41.50 to fill a twenty-five gallon tank when Bush took office and today it would cost you $88.50 and summer hasn't even begun.

If you have to commute and fill your tank twice a week, your gas would have cost you $322.00 a monthly in 2000. Today it would cost you $708 for an additional cost $4,632 a year and a total cost of $8,496.00 a year just for gasoline. If you are a young person working for the California minimum wage of $6.75 per hour (federal minimum wage is only $5.15) you would be grossing $1096 a month and paying $708 for gas with a take home of $388 a month and the summer has not even started yet.

You can work out the difference in your own costs quite easily. Any way you look at, we are all paying one hell of a price to make the stockholders, the executives, and perhaps a good many politicians rich. Do you have wonder just how much money the Bush and Cheney families have tied up in energy stocks? It would be interesting to know.

Oh, and didn't the Republicans just extend the tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy? Screw working Americans, all hail the new American Aristocracy and god bless King George.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Immigration

I wonder if we are taking the wrong approach to solving the problem of illegal immigration, and by illegal immigration I mean any immigration into this country that has not sanctioned by the legal authority of this country. To change the label from illegal-immigrant to immigrant does not change the fact or legality and is a dishonest device intended to color the debate. I would encourage you to finish the article as, hopefully, you will find it less one-sided in the end than it was in the beginning.

Illegal immigration creates problems for the citizens of a country in two distinct ways. First, it brings in an influx of workers who are willing to work for less wages and benefits, and who by their very status, are in no position to demand the legal protections that workers have fought for in this country. One of the more inane memes that plays over and over in the media is that such illegal immigrants do jobs that no Americans citizens are willing to do. In the first place, there is no factual basis for such a claim. What is true is that there are some jobs than citizens of this country won’t do for the wages offered, and this points out the crux of the problem. If you cannot get workers for a particular job, then businesses must raise the wages to a point where they can attract workers. This is as much a part of a free market economy as prices being based on supply and demand, albeit, a perspective that business interests are not particularly interested in defending. If you cannot attract workers for the wage you are offering, then you need to raise the wage, for that is an integral part of supply and demand, is it not? For businesses to say that they cannot afford to pay these increased means that they do not want to pay the increased wage because it might cut down on their profits.

There are many industries in this country where relative wages have actually sunk do the influence of illegal immigrant labor, and while this may be good for short-term business profits, it is not good for American workers, and in the long run, it is not good for this country. Most governments consider it to be part of the covenant with their citizens to prevent such unfair competition and try to prevent forign workers from entering the country and taking away or diminishing work for their citizens need and are willing to do. This government, on the other hand, has always had a tendency to side with business interests over the interest of ordinary citizens. I can think of no time when this has been more apparent than now. Illegal immigration takes jobs away directly and encourages a downward spiral in earnings with unfair competition, and quite frankly, in the current American economy, I would be interested in knowing just what jobs it is that American citizens are unwilling to do.

The second problem with out-of-control by any group is that it rapidly changes the culture and ethnicity of not only neighborhoods, but in some cases whole towns and regions., The workforce in some areas becomes so inundated with inhabitants and workers who do not speak the native tongue of the country that it can lead to a reverse prejudice as American citizens, who are fluent in their native tongue, cannot get a job because they are not bilingual, and if you think this is not happing, maybe you need to be talking to the young kids entering the job market right now.

The third problem area is the drain on services, particularly schools, hospitals, and social services. I will get to this area in a bit.

The reaction of our government at this point in time is three pronged. If the past is any criterion, the government will most likely leagalize all those who are in the country right now and promise strong measures to prevent future illegal immigration. This worked so well the last time they did it, huh? On the one hand, they are putting forth a strong message conveying the use of force to stop such illegal immigration. Specifically, they are talking of huge fences and felony judgments. Fences are not going to work unless with have guard towers every hundred yards with men and machine guns set to fire on trespassers. Do we really want to build a Berlin wall between Mexico and the United States? What an awful picture that presents. On the other hand there is the movement to make entering this country illegally a felony. Now there was great outrage over this idea, mainly on the part of those who are in this country illegally, but I am not sure that this idea is totally invalid. Most countries consider entering their border illegally to be a serious infraction, requiring more than a bus ride back to their native land. In Mexico, for instance, you need a visa to go farther into the countryside than the border towns. Is it a felony to go beyond such areas with out such permission? If you were to do so without a permit, could you end up in jail? Every country has the right to exercise control over who may and may not enter their country and in fact, every country does have such laws. When illegal immigrants and those supporting them in the United States say that everyone has a right to work, another meme we hear all the time, they may be right. You may or may have a right to work in the country where you hold citizenship, but there is no right to work in countries where you are not a citizen. This has never been the case in this country or any other country I am aware of.

Do citizens of Mexican American decent really believe that we should simply open our borders to any who wish to come in and that all those people have a right to work in this country? What about immigrants from China, Viet Nam, Korea and Russia? Would this open door policy extend to these countries as well? What will this do for your job prospects if there is no border protection at all and everyone who wants to can come here and work? I have heard the argument made that Mexican citizens have not only the right to come here, but that the State of California rightfully belongs to them, that America stole this land from Mexico. To that I would say, "Tell it to the Indians whom you took the land from.” If any have an historic claim to this land it is they, not Mexico or the United States.

So far, it would seem, I am presenting the same old rhetoric, that I am just another white man spouting off about his rights. But like many in this country, what I would really like to do is contribute a few ideas that might help lead to an equitable solution for all of us. I have never considered myself a person that has all if any ofthe answers, but I am brim full of ideas. So, here are some of my suggestions.

First, making it a felony to enter or be in this country, a crime punishable by imprisonment, is not by itself going to solve anything If we were pass a law tomorrow making it a felony for anyone to be in this country without citizenship or the proper documentation I think the most immediate result would be creating a criminal class out of millions of basically honest working people. What would we do next, send goon squads out to haul mom and dad off to jail leaving crying children in their wake? There are some things we cannot do and still remain America.

Second, the idea of building a Berlin wall should be abhorrent to all of us—Mexican and American. Did the division of Germany with a huge barrier jutting through the landscape occur so long ago that we have forgotten what it stood for? Granted, though the Berlin wall was built to keep people in, and the American wall would be built to keep people out, it would be no less horrible. And, if we were to built such a wall, it might behoove Canada to build an equivalent wall to keep us out.



Every country not only has the right to control the influx of both visitors and workers into its lands but it has the duty to do so. Yet throughout the world there occurs the juxtaposition of relative wealthy and relatively poor nations, and with the means of transportation available in the 21st century, proximity is not a controlling factor. The poor and even middle class from these poorer nations want to support their families and better their situation, which is a desire we all share. If America were the poor nation and Mexico the rich nation, would we not be crossing the border looking for work to support our families? And in growing areas of the world, people are not seeking to enrich their families but are seeking a better standard of living. It may be a crime to enter another country illegally, but it is not a crime to care for your family. Yet, no matter the sympathy of any nation, it cannot accept everyone who wants to enter, and as the world becomes more and more crowded, and to my mind, more and more desperate, this problem is going to become worse not better. This is a very real problem and it requires very real answers. To my mind, three ideas might help, or at least contribute to a realistic discussion.

First, there must be a means of controlling the number of people allowed to enter a country. No matter how we feel, this is simply a necessity.

Second, those who enter cannot displace or diminish the lives of the citizens of the new country.

Third, there must be fairness, both to those who would wish to immigrate, and to the citizens and legal workers in the country in question.

If walls and prisons won't work, what will?

  • The government should find what areas of employment exist where there is a valid need for foreign workers. Work permits should be specific to the type of work being done.
  • Foreign workers, working legally in the United States should be governed by the same wage, benefit, and legal protections as any citizen worker. In other words, it should be illegal to pay guest workers less than minimum wage and benefits.
  • All other worker protections enjoyed by citizen workers should be applied equally to guest workers.
  • Foreign workers should have an equivalent retirement benefit to social security where both they and the employer contribute on a par with social security.
  • The answer to unfair competition is to equal the playing field and to limit foreign workers to areas where there is a genuine need and where citizen workers are not displaced.
  • Foreign workers should be welcomed into Unions and given equal representation with other workers and, if anything, we need stronger unions for all workers.

These are the easier points of my proposal, albeit I think few of them would be popular with business interests. The rest of the choices get harder.

  • Green cards cannot be permanent. There must be time limits on how long guest workers are allow to work under such permits. Perhaps they could be set up in a manner similar to many campgrounds where there is a limit on how long you can stay and how long you must be out of the area before you can come back.
  • There must be provisions for the possibility of citizenship, but they should not be automatic and such people who truly desire citizenship must meet the requirements of a citizenship.
  • There has to be limits on the number of people allowed to work under such a guest worker program as well as limits on the numbers of people who are allowed to seek citizenship.
  • Those working in this country need to be able to provide for themselves to the same degree as citizens. No country welcomes guests who are going to immediately enter the welfare roles, and in a country where medical car is not provided for its citizens, guest workers should be provided such services for free, either. It is not unfair to ask that potential citizens provide verification of employment and proof of their ability to support themselves and their families,

If guest workers are paid the same wages and benefits as citizen workers, then they are paying into the same programs via payroll taxes.

  • To the extent that they pay the same taxes they should receive the same benefits as citizens.
  • The minimum wage needs to be raised, not lowered and apply in every state, even the right to starve states.
  • If workers are in this country legally, they should have the legal right to drive once they have passed the appropriate tests
  • If you are in this country illegally, you have no "right" to the privileges of either citizenship or guest status. We need to put the word "illegal" back into the phrase "illegal immigrant."

The obvious question that many would ask is, "How in the world do you think this would help?" My answer is that when guest workers legally entitled to many of the same protections and benefits as citizen workers, the incentive to higher foreign workers is diminished. Business would, in the long run be better to hiring citizen workers, but in those areas where there is a true deficit of workers available, the guest workers would be available. The intent of this suggestion is to eliminate the incentive for hiring guest workers just because they will work for less, both in wages, benefits and protections. I believe that this would be advantageous to both guest workers and their citizen counterparts.

This address part of the problem, but not it all of it. Obviously there must be limits on the number and vocations of guest workers, but there also needs to be a mechanism for insuring that business will not hire those in this country illegally, and there needs to be real sanctions against those who break the laws of this country by entering and being here illegally. It must be made very clear that it is illegal to hire illegal immigrants, and that companies who do so not only face serious financial penalties, but also the prospect of felony prosecution.

  • There should be a progression of fines and punishments for businesses or individuals who hire illegal workers. Such should be implemented on a progressive basis, ending not just in monetary fines, but with criminal action at some point. If a company or an individual repeatedly hires illegal workers, the individual responsible spends time in jail.
  • The same should be true of those who enter this country illegally; with a progression of punishments dependent on the number of times the law has been broken. At some point, repeat offenders should be subject to felony, criminal complaint, and if convicted, go to jail.
    There needs to be serious sanctions for those who would help people enter this country illegally, in most cases criminal sanctions.

The idea is to take the eliminate any incentive for entering this country illegally or hiring illegals once they are here. Such a system should be clearly laid out; it should not be draconian, and it must be fair.For such a system to work certain things are required, both positive and negative.

  • There must be some means of identification other than documents that are easily forged.
  • There needs to be a means for businesses to know that identification and permits are valid, and there needs to be the ability to track offenders accurately so that prohibitions and punishments can be meted out as deserved.
  • There must be protection against American citizens being forced to be bilingual to obtain work. If you think this doesn't happen, talk to the kids that are out trying to get a job. English is the primary language in this country and it should not be to the detriment of any in this country legally to only speak our mother tongue.
  • It is high time, however, that we become multilingual in America, and the only way to do this is to teach languages at a very early age. It would be helpful to kids from other countries to have some instruction in their native language and it would be a positive thing for those children raised to speak English to learn other languages. What I am suggesting is not bilingual education but multilingual education where all of the children, regardless of their native language, be taught at least one other language starting kin kindergarten. No longer would bilingual classes be limited to say Spanish-speaking children, but all children would receive instruction in more than one language regardless of their native tongue.
  • There needs to be limits on immigration from all outside cultures if America is to retain in flavor of what it considers "American." But we should remember that we have always been a multicultural country, and that American culture does not mean white, European decent. People often talk about how long their family has been here, but that is a rather meaningless claim. We are all immigrants, even native Americans, and when you family immigrated to this country doesn't mean squat, except for the Native Americans who came here long, long time ago!

The last question is, "What do we do with the millions of people who are in this country illegally right now. I don't know the answer to that question, but I think a few things must be considered.

  • To give all of these people blanket amnesty doesn't work. It has been done before and what it really accomplishes is encouraging illegal immigration.
  • To turn all of these people into criminals doesn't work either. There are over eleven million illegal aliens in this country right now. If we were to label them all as criminals, we would get our wish and provoke a burgeoning criminal class.
  • What ever we do must be consistent, fair, and visible. It cannot be draconian, and it must not be done out of spit but with a sense of real compassion and decency.
  • Most probably, such a system would involve giving those who are already in this country the first opportunity to gain guest worker status, but then that again that encourages illegal entry into the country.
  • Whatever the answer, I think the problem needs to be discussed with more honesty, calmer voices, and a willingness towards compromise and compassion for all concerned. I would be the last to say this will be easy, and I certainly don't think it can be solved by knee-jerk, election year politics.

What I have outlined is a series of preliminary suggestions though out in little more than a couple of hours. Obviously, this problem needs great consideration, and hopeful the input of those who are a lot more knowledgeable than I. I would hope, though, that such an enormous problem, facing not only citizens of this country, but also those who wish to work here, and perhaps become citizens, would be done with great thought and fairness, and would not be the object of some political move designed to gain either contributions or votes. Obviously, there is a certain bias in my suggestions in favor of working people, and I would say that business has far more input at this point in time than is appropriate or healthful. This is not a nation of business and corporations, it is a nation of people. A corporation, while having much of the stature of the individual, is not a citizen, it is an entity. It is the citizens of this country that the government was formed to represent, and it is the citizens of this country, regardless of wealth or status, that this government is sworn to represent. So, yes, I am biased in favor of the workingman it is because we are a nation of working people a small minority of whom are owners.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Of Witches, Inquisitors and the Lust for Power




The Malleus Maleficarum was written by two Dominican priests at the request of Pope Innocent VIII. It was the manual for the torture and execution of hundreds of thousands of women and girls with the paltry addition of a few men to lend a sense of "equality." What the Malleus came down to, as noted by Carl Sagan in his book, The Demon-Haunted World was a circumstance where if you were accused of being a witch, you were judged a witch. Those accused were allowed no witnesses other than their accusers, no public trial, and no reprieve save the charity of being garroted before you were burned, if you signed a confession and named the obligatory names.

The inquisition became a booming business with all manner of vermin benefiting from its continuance. In England, there were those know as "prickers" who, with some slight-of-hand with a pin, could provide proof that someone was a witch. They were paid a generous bounty for each witch they turned over to the inquisition. But these pickers were just the lowest echelon in the pyramid of profiteers who kept this death mill running for hundreds of years. All of the expenses for the inquisitors—their travel, pay and banquets—were paid for by the accused or their family, and property not taken by the inquisitors for their own use was turned over to the church and state. All and all, the torture and killing of the accused not only provided fine spectacle, monetary rewards, and a certain prurient delight by those did the inquiring, but their deaths also helped fortify church doctrine and power.

During the Salem witch trials in colonial America, fear and superstition also took hold. Again, there was a strong profit motive for if you wished to take your neighbors property then what better way to get them out of the picture than with a whispered accusation. Though there was less prurient interest on the part of the Puritans, the spectacle was still fine entertainment. There were forms of torture such as submersion in water, and of course the mandatory naming of names.

Moving on to America in the late forties and early fifties we had another form of witch-hunt, this avidly pursued by such staunch Republican stalwarts Joseph McCarty and Richard M. Nixon. Fear fed the flames and although there was no torture per se, the accused would see their lives ruined unless they were to cooperate and name names. If course, since many of these people were not guilty of being involved the only recourse the had if they wanted to save their own skins was make up some names--their pool boy, or barber, or the old school teacher you didn't like. It didn't matter, because as with the inquisition, if you were accused, you were guilty and as names were named, the number accused grew exponentially.

This brings us to the beginning of the 21st century, some five hundred years after the composition of one of the most terrible documents ever written, the torture manual known as the Malleus Maleficarum. We are again in a time were those in power are using fear and superstition to manipulate and control the population. Again we are in a time where those who make accusations, as with the "prickers" of old England, are paid generous bounties for their accusations. Again, there is an establishment making huge profits on the entire enterprise, and again there is the use of torture and the absence of fundamental protections under the law.

In his article in the Los Angeles Times, "Who's really locked up Guatanamo?" Tom Malinowski relates the story found in Pentagon documents, of the case of Mohammed Al-Qahtani, the alleged 20th 9/11 hijacker. Qahtani, after weeks of being "tormented" by sleep deprivation, isolation and sexual humiliation, accused 30 fellow prisoners of being Osama bin Laden's bodyguards. His inquisitors, or more properly their bosses, so anxious to have proof of some tie- in to bin Laden found truth less than relevant. What matters is the appearance of success. Again, as with the witches of the inquisition, those in Guatanamo are held outside the protection of law deemed by their accusers not to have any right to such protection by a semantic ploy dreamed up by the government. Again, there is the formidable build-up of fear to justify such these reprehensible acts, and, again, confessions are being forced by the use of torture and deprivation. What is startling is this is not happening in some fifteenth century dictatorship, but is in a country that considers itself the most enlightened democracy on the planet! What is unconscionable is that not only are these acts happening with the knowledge of our government and the American people, but the use of torture, kidnapping, imprisonment in foreign lands, and brutal death that have occurred there is actually defended by the President of the United States.

Wise men have long known that power corrupts, and our founding fathers understood this better than most. To protect this country and its people, they devised a system of government designed with checks and balances to impede any one branch of government from usurping power from the other branches. They gave us a bicameral legislature, an executive branch, and an independent judiciary, each with responsibilities, authority, and constitutional mandates, in the hope that this would deter the usurpation of power by any one branch or individual. They knew first hand the tyranny of kings. But in the last six years this wonderful system seems to be breaking down. The executive branch, in the person of George W. Bush, has seen fit to usurp powers from the other branches under the guise of a wartime status, even though war has never been declared. But Mr. Bush, in being allowed the use of force has seen fit to avail himself of this prominence. The legislature has succumbed to the imbalance of one party rule and has become nothing more than a rubber stamp for the executive. The judiciary, under the combined weight of the Republican controlled House and Senate has been filled with crones and Loyalists.

It is never been in the interest of this country and its citizens to have an all-powerful executive. Why the legislative branch would so neglect its duties laying the groundwork for this imbalance of power is incredible, but that is what is happening.

There is no doubt that terrorism is a huge problem and one we must face. There is even some possibility that some of the people held at Guatanamo and other secret prisons around the world were actually involved with attacks on the United States. But when judgment is rendered is secret, when laws that are the cornerstone of our democracy are held to be out of reach, and when questioning the judgment of the executive is hailed as treason and collusion with the enemy, then the very fabric of American democracy is being attacked. Simply put, when we set aside the rights of those we fear, when we stifle open debate, and when we attack those who would question the actions of authority, it is we citizens who stand to loose the most. You cannot take the protection and laws of this country away from those we distrust without loosing the protection of law away for ourselves. . These prisons are now limited to those we would call terrorists but for how long? How long before "terrorist sympathisers" become those who dare question what is becoming a virtual monarchy and become themselves the subject of torture and imprisonment? There are those within the Republican party, within the right-wing media, who would cheer such a move and defend it with the utmost vigor.

If the Republican "majority" is afraid of doing the honest job of government and if they are afraid of open debate and of an unfettered press, then it is time we get rid of these slackers and restore the rule of a true democratic republic. It is time we restore the government our founding fathers so wisely set forth. It is time to rise above the lies and fear mongering, the propaganda and deceit. It is time to cast out those who believe that might makes right and to clear the houses of government of those who, for personal gain, seek to tear apart this great democracy. This lopsided rule is dangerous. If we are to restore the rule of law, the candor, and the decency of America then we must restore its balance. It is too bad we will have to wait till November to do so.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Petting his Turkey


George W. Bush loves to have his pictures take with the troops, or at least those troops who still have all their limbs. But, what George W. Bush will not condone is seeing the caskets of the dead or the parade of wounded and maimed young soldiers coming back from his ill-conceived war—Bush’s War.

There have been 2,312 American soldiers killed, and 17,124 of our brave young men and women wounded since George W. Bush got a hair up his ass and decided invade Iraq. But this “compassionate conservative” seems more concerned about riding his little mountain bike, playing golf and getting 5 weeks of uninterrupted vacation than the pain and death he has wreaked on our young soldiers.

When a policeman is killed in the line of duty, his casket is not hidden, and policemen, politicians and regular folks come from around the country honor this hero with a parade and a service that is fitting for one who gave his life for this country. But our soldiers, they come home in the dead of night, hidden from cameras and prying eyes, almost as if we were ashamed of their deaths. If there is a parade, it is a small affair in their hometown, attended by friends, family and those who loved them. Where are the large, televised parades for these brave soldiers who gave their lives for this country? Why are their caskets hidden from view? Why have we not had 2,312 parades honoring them, or at the very least let the nation see an honor guard and soldiers and civilians greeting them as they are escorted home? Do they not deserve the same honor as any other fallen hero?

When Ted Koppel devoted one episode of Nightline to just reading the names of those who had died for this country so far in Iraq, conservative talk radio hosts were indignant calling it unpatriotic or a stunt to improve ratings.

If fat-assed Rush Limbaugh died of a drug overdose or or Über Republican Bill O’Riley had a stoke when he was having one of his many temper tantrums, I would be willing to bet their names would be honored by this administration. George W. Bush would make a solemn announcement about our great loss of these patriotic Americas—I wouldn’t be surprised if he ordered flags be flown at half mast. But where is Mr. Bush when the true patriots, the kids who have died and been wounded in this war, come home? Probably, at home, petting his turkey.

George W. Bush, the compassionless conservative.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Nation of Hypocrites


Thirty eight years ago a teenager named Allen Abney deserted from the Marine Corp to avoid service in Viet Nam. Last week, while crossing the border from Canada, this fifty-six year old grandfather was arrested and hauled off to prison in San Diego, California.

If this is the price for desertion, then by all rights George W. Bush should be sitting there beside him. But, there is no justice in this country, only hypocrisy. If you come from a rich and powerful family then you are not subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens.

Such privilege under the banner of law is a disgrace to this country, its founders, and all of its citizens. If George W. Bush can be forgiven his callus disregard for duty, then so should Allen Abney. But in Bush's America there are different rules for different classes. We have come a long way, haven't we.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Shallow Victory

Christians are going to rue the day they helped George W. Bush destroy the separation between church and state. This separation protects individual religious dominations from control by other sects, and, it protects every religion from favoritism and control by the federal government. George Bush has already allocated over 2.4 billion dollars to faith based initiatives, and now is has signed an order establishing an Office of Faith Based Initiatives in the Department of Homeland Security. May I be cynical and say that these moves are far less a matter of devotion and much more a bribe for the faithful?

There are many of you that see this as a great victory, but do you are not seeing the dangers. Look what has happened to the public schools. According to law, the control of education belongs to the individual states, except in the situation where the schools accept federal funding. Then, you can either accept dictates concerning anything from curriculum to staffing to the choice of text books, or give up the money. With the schools constantly being strapped for money, giving up the federal money is not an option and that leaves the federal government to exercise whatever control it wishes.

What is going to happen to private and parochial schools once they become dependent on federal money? And, what is going to happen freedom of religion once churches too become dependent on federal money? Do you really think it cannot happen, when programs you value are threatened and congregations are left to bear the costs by themselves? Christianity in the United States of America is selling itself out for a few pieces of silver and many of the devout don’t even realize it is happening. Don’t you realize there are other religions vying for the same control you think you have gained? What are fundamentalist Christians going to do when say, Scientologists put their man in the White House? This is just one group that is seeking to spread its particular dogma. What happens when a government that is totally insensitive to your needs takes control? The only thing standing between you and that government is the separation of church and state.

Our founding fathers were wise, not in knowing all the answers, because they knew they didn’t. They were wise in understanding our very human foibles and weaknesses. They did the best they could to protect us from these and from lust for power of politicians. But this country is aiding and abetting in the destruction of the very fabric of government that protects us, and seemingly doing so with little care. Perhaps we, the elders, will not have to pay the price for our own folly, but there will be a price, and the little ones in-trusted to our care will most likely have to pay it. Think what you do, before you sink us all into the muddied dirt you have so carefully watered.