Sunday, October 30, 2005

Davis-Bacon Act reinstated

On September 8, the President suspended the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act following the Gulf Coast storm (read my rant here).

According to an as-yet-unpublished letter from Sojourners: "The AFL-CIO estimates people of faith and community activists sent more than 350,000 letters to lawmakers in the weeks following the president's suspension of Davis-Bacon."

On September 22, 37 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the White House appealing Mr. Bush's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act Their letter promised that quick action by the president would help prevent legislative action by the Congress.

Quoting Sojourners again: "Last Thursday [10.20], Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) filed a joint resolution under a little-known and never-before-used provision of the 1976 National Emergencies Act (PL 94-412). The law, which allows Congress to rescind a national emergency declaration by the president, would have required a floor vote in the House by the second week of November.

That vote became unnecessary a week later when the President relented, restoring full protection of the Bacon-Davis Act.

This is not everything. But it's certainly something, and I'm grateful.

Friday, October 28, 2005

more sound tracks

This just in from Rolling Stone:
Bono: Here's the strange bit: Most of the people that you grew up with in black music had a similar baptism of the spirit, right? The difference is that most of these performers felt they could not express their sexuality before God. They had to turn away. So rock & roll became backsliders' music. They were running away from God. But I never believed that. I never saw it as being a choice, an either/or thing.

Jann Wenner: You never saw rock & roll -- the so-called devil's music -- as incompatible with religion?

Bono: Look at the people who have formed my imagination. Bob Dylan. Nineteen seventy-six -- he's going through similar stuff. You buy Patti Smith: Horses -- "Jesus died for somebody's sins/But not mine . . ." And she turns Van Morrison's "Gloria" into liturgy. She's wrestling with these demons -- Catholicism in her case. Right the way through to Wave, where she's talking to the pope.

The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues, on one hand -- running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy --
running towards. And later you came to analyze it and figure it out.

The blues are like the Psalms of David. Here was this character, living in a cave, whose outbursts were as much criticism as praise. There's David singing, "Oh, God -- where are you when I need you?/You call yourself God?"
And you go, this is the blues. Both deal with the relationship with God. That's really it. I've since realized that anger with God is very valid. We
wrote a song about that on the Pop album -- people were confused by it -- "Wake Up Dead Man": "Jesus, help me/I'm alone in this world/And a fucked-up world it is, too/Tell me, tell me the story /The one about eternity/And the way it's all gonna be/Wake up, dead man."

Friday, October 21, 2005

sound tracks

I'm captured by David Crowder*Band's new collection, A Collision. It is so not the same album over and over.

Which is why I've been listening over and over all week.

On Rolly Richert's advice, I turned off shuffle and listened straight through. Good advice. The song sequence is revealing.

That said, what's got me by the throat in this album is the now more-public airing of a conversation that's been going on in the background for a long time. The David Crowder*Band's God is very big.

You are My Joy killed me on the first hearing.

After that, i was undone by the subtlety of B Quiet, the simmering of O God Where Are You Now? (a Sufjan Stevens cover), the passion of Do Not Move, the anguish of Come Awake, the teary hope of Rescue is Coming, the sardonic, humble fierceness of The Lark Ascending....

This is a rugged, beautiful soundscape that welcomes all of us living in evangelical exile — You're not the only one who feels like the only one...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

mr. Bono goes to Washington

so it's the first full afternoon i've had at my desk in…quite a while. so forgive the cascade of posts today (i can't imagine it's a sustainable current) and check out this Mr. Bono Goes to Washington story.

more free slides + an outline

I've just returned from Pittsburgh where, with my good friend and writing partner Rich Van Pelt, I taught the second of three eight-hour Critical Concern Courses at Youth Specialties' National Youth Workers Conventions. The series finishes in Nashville on Novemeber 17,18.

The course is based on our new book, The Youth Worker's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis — which is based on our lives' work with youth workers, adolescents and their families (not to mention a pretty thorough literature review).

The Crisis book is going to a third printing (it was released the second week of August -- which makes it far and away the fastest selling title of my life to date). This is both heartening (because we appear to have struck on something important -- as if we didn't know this) and disheartening (because the needs are so much greater than than they should be -- in that perfect world we keep muttering about).

You can download (free) the 300 Pittsburgh slides here. We'll post the Nashville slides in due time.

You'll find a free pdf of the Dangerous Opportunity course outline here.

There's free access to end notes from the Crisis book — including State Sex Offender Registries and Sex Abuse Reporting numbers at the Youth Specialties website.

Download (free) the chapter on Terror (it's a primer on preparing for and responding to human-caused and natural terror) here.

Finally, the Crisis Book is available at the Youth Specialties Online Store as well as all the usual places.

dear mom and dad

Another chapter of Raising Adults is available as a free pdf at westofthe101.com.

Download Dear Mom and Dad.

reverse Robin Hood: 24 hours and counting

As early as tomorrow morning, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider a Republican amendment to the budget proposal that would slash funding for basic services like Medicaid, food stamps and student loans, while still giving away huge tax breaks for the very wealthy. Some people are calling the amendment a Reverse Robin Hood measure: taking from the poor to give to the rich.

Here's the email I wrote my Member of Congress (retiring under fire for alleged financial misconduct while in the Congress):

Mr. Cunningham, you have an opportunity to finish your term demonstating leadership on behalf of ALL your constituents, not just those for whom more than enough can never be nearly enough. We need you to step up publically and say enough IS enough, and be the defender of those who cannot defend themselves. We'll take care of the freeloaders and ne'er-do-wells. In the meantime, please don't punish our oldest and youngest and most vulnerable citizens in order to further comfort the wealthy and strong. Here is a chance to turn things around -- We need you NOW, Mr. Cunningham.

By 1:30 p.m. Pacific today, something over 54,000 citizens had written similar letters. You can write a short letter to your representative and deliver it online by going here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

free slides for all they're worth

Alongside my good friend and writing partner Rich Van Pelt, I did three eight-hour Critical Concern Courses at Youth Specialties' National Youth Workers Conventions this fall in Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Nashville.

The course is based on our new book, The Youth Worker's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis — which is based on our lives' work with youth workers, adolescents and their families (not to mention a pretty thorough literature review). The response is both heartening (because people are reacting so positively to the book and the Critical Concern Course) and disheartening (because the need is so much greater than we wish).

You can download (free) the Nashville slides here.

You'll find free access to end notes from the book — including State Sex Offender Registries and Sex Abuse Reporting numbers at the Youth Specialties website.

You can download (free) the chapter on Terror (it's a primer on preparing for and responding to human-caused and natural terror) here.

Finally, the Crisis Book is available at the Youth Specialties Online Store as well as all the usual places.

Monday, October 03, 2005

a steady diet of Davis-Bacon

I wrote here my great dismay at Mr. Bush's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931.

I also wrote my Senators and Congressman. Here is Senator Feinstein's reply:

October 3, 2005


Mr. Jim Hancock
123 Jasper Street, Spc 28
Encinitas, California 92024

Dear Mr. Hancock:

Thank you for contacting me about President George W. Bush's
decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act. I appreciate hearing from you
and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

On September 8, 2005, President Bush issued a proclamation to
suspend the Davis-Bacon Act following the tragedy of Hurricane
Katrina. Like you, I am concerned about the nation's strategy to rebuild
the communities affected by this disaster. Specifically, I believe the
suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act will cause significant further
hardship for those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

On September 12, 2005, I sent a letter to President Bush
outlining my concerns regarding his decision to suspend the Davis-
Bacon Act. More importantly, I urged the President to reverse his
decision. I have attached a copy of the letter to this correspondence. I
believe it is the nation's responsibility to protect the wages of the
working men and women of the Gulf coast region. Please know I will
keep your views in mind should any related legislation come before the
entire Senate.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write me. I hope
you will continue to keep in touch with me on issues of importance to
you. If you have any questions or comments, please call my
Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at
http://feinstein.senate.gov. Best regards.


September 12, 2005


The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

I write to urge you to reverse your decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon
Act following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. The images of
thousands of victims who were left to battle the storm on their own, in
the dark, and without sufficient food and water are imprinted on our
hearts and minds. More disturbing was the government's abysmal
response to people in need. Now, two weeks after the storm, I am
growing more concerned about the nation's strategy to rebuild these
communities. I believe the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act will
cause significant further hardship for those families and communities
devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Since 1931, the Davis-Bacon Act has protected American workers by
ensuring that they are paid the prevailing local wages on federal
contracts. The decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act will directly
harm the workers who are struggling to rebuild their lives in these
stricken communities. For example, without Davis-Bacon, in the city of
New Orleans, a painter could face a 65 percent pay cut from $14.88 per
hour to $5.15 per hour while electricians' hourly wages could be reduced
from $22.09 to $5.15. Similarly, in the city of Biloxi, carpenters' wages
on federal contracts could be cut by $7.00 per hour, from $12.16 per hour
to $5.15 per hour. And, in Mobile, Alabama, a roofer's wages could be
cut from $6.02 per hour to $5.15 per hour. This is particularly difficult at
a time when the cost of fulfilling even the most basic needs, such as food
and gas, are skyrocketing in their region. In such dire circumstances, the
Davis-Bacon Act does more than provide an adequate wage: it gives
hope to those who have lost everything. It is simply unacceptable to
lower wages in hurricane-ravaged areas and depress the living standards
of these communities even further.

I have reviewed the history of Davis-Bacon and I am convinced that
lower wages do not improve the lives of the communities hurt most by
these hurricanes. I am deeply concerned, that in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina, there will be more than enough profits for corporations, but
inadequate assistance to workers who are left to face higher costs of
living. In fact, many major companies, such as ExxonMobil and
ConocoPhillips, have already averaged stock price increases of 8 percent
in the twelve days since the hurricane. Oil companies Giant and Tesoro
are up 40 percent and 25 percent respectively. Meanwhile, the
communities who were left in the dark, and now, many left without
homes and some without families, are about to suffer a pay cut.

I urge you to protect the wages of the working men and women of the
Gulf coast regions whose communities and lives were devastated by
Hurricane Katrina.


Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator


— RANTS + REFLECTIONS ON THE COMMON GOOD —

[mostly]