The Common Good

The Secret World of Dick Cheney

Sojomail - February 12, 2003

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+++++++++++++++++++++ 12-February-2003 ++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++ The Secret World of Dick Cheney +++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Henri Nouwen: Bring on the saints

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *The secret world of Dick Cheney

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Can Christian stand-up comedy be funny?

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Sojourners organizes National Teach-In on the war on Iraq
     *Gulf War veterans send message on Iraq to the armed forces
     
 S o u l   W o r k s
     *God's haiku on Iraq
     *Mark Twain on preparations for war

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Colombia's tragic violence

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Baghdad approves use of U-2 spy planes for surveillance

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply
     
 W e b s c e n e
     Christian movements for peace and justice circle the globe...
     *Switzerland
     *Philippines
     *Australia

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The world is waiting...for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order."

- Henri Nouwen

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B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
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The secret world of Dick Cheney

by David Batstone

Consider it a sign of the times, the news that is deemed fit to print. In the very last page of the front section of Saturday's "The New York Times" (2/8/03) was squeezed a short story on the betrayal of democracy. The General Accounting Office (GAO) announced that it was abandoning its efforts to get records of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force. Kenneth Walker, the comptroller general, suggests that congressional leaders had urged him to give up the case. Why this story would not lead the news (instead of tailing it) is beyond my comprehension.

Cheney, if you recall, had held extensive meetings with executives among the corporate energy titans during his early days at the White House. Then-Enron chairman Kenneth Lay was present and active in these discussions to retool U.S. energy policy. In my new book, "Saving the Corporate Soul," I provide firsthand evidence that Lay and other Enron executives clearly were aware (and even condoned) as early as 1995 the misrepresentation of Enron's business operations in order to boost the value of its stock. By the time 2001 had rolled around - and Cheney was choosing his trusted energy advisers - the Enron corruption was operating at mammoth proportions.

Once Enron was exposed, the Cheney team ran for cover. Investigations into the role of Lay and other private energy chiefs met a wall of silence at the White House. Fulfilling its dutiful role as an organ of accountability in a democratic system, the GAO made a formal request for the records of the Cheney summits. The vice president of the United States refused to comply. To this day, we still do not know how much influence the private energy sector had in shaping the current administration's national energy policy, and to benefit whose interests.

The fact that the Bush-Cheney administration today prepares to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, and the fact that a key objective in that military strategy is to have a greater control over the world energy market, makes a public disclosure of the record of the energy summits all the more important.

My declarations should not be tarnished as a wacko conspiracy theory. If Vice President Cheney has nothing to hide, then why doesn't he share these records with the American people? If he is hiding something, on the other hand, and is not forced to reveal what it is, then conspiracy is the least of our worries. It marks a new era in secret governance.

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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Can Christian stand-up comedy be funny?

Here's a sample of Rich Praytor's humor:

"My mother was so thrifty. All my friends had Nike's Air Jordan shoes. My mom bought me the cheap imitations from Payless...the Sikes...made in Jordan."

See more at:

http://www.richpraytor.com

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B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sojourners organizes National Teach-In 
on the war on Iraq, February 24-28

Can Saddam be disarmed without war? What role can nonviolence play in bringing justice and democracy to the region? What are the real reasons for the rush to war? Will war lessen - or increase - the threat of terrorism in this country? Are there alternatives to war?

Across the country, students will explore the complex issues surrounding the planned war on Iraq and engage in a dialogue about creative, nonviolent alternatives to war.

If you are interested in downloading a free copy of the Teach-In packet, visit
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.teachin
or contact Nathan Johnston at njohnston@sojo.net.

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Gulf War veterans send message to the armed forces on Iraq

"We are veterans of the United States armed forces. We stand with the majority of humanity, including millions in our own country, in opposition to the United States' all-out war on Iraq. We span many wars and eras, have many political views, and we all agree that this war is wrong. Many of us believed serving in the military was our duty, and our job was to defend this country. Our experiences in the military caused us to question much of what we were taught. Now we see our REAL duty is to encourage you as members of the U.S. armed forces to find out what you are being sent to fight and die for and what the consequences of your actions will be for humanity. We call upon you, the active duty and reservists, to follow your conscience and do the right thing.

In the last Gulf War, as troops, we were ordered to murder from a safe distance. We destroyed much of Iraq from the air, killing hundreds of thousands, including civilians. We remember the road to Basra - the Highway of Death - where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We bulldozed trenches, burying people alive. The use of depleted uranium weapons left the battlefields radioactive. Massive use of pesticides, experimental drugs, burning chemical weapons depots, and oil fires combined to create a toxic cocktail affecting both the Iraqi people and Gulf War veterans today. One in four Gulf War veterans is disabled."

For more information, go to:

http://www.citizen-soldier.org/CS07-IraqWarResistance.html

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S o u l   W o r k s
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God's haiku on Iraq

Some think I condone
the bombing of my children.
They must not know me.

- in "Progressive Theology" (online journal)
http://www.progressivetheology.org

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The Loud Little Handful

by Mark Twain

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...[who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers - as earlier - but do not dare to say so.]

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities.... [and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."]

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B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
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Colombia's tragic violence

Colombia is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on the scale of Kosovo, Rwanda, and Guatemala. To date, this crisis has gone largely unnoticed by the global community.

*More than 80% of the casualties of the "war" in Colombia are civilians. It has been estimated that the guerrilla movements are responsible for about 5% of the deaths, the army for about 10%, and paramilitary forces for about 85%.

*A union leader is assassinated every three days on average in Colombia, accounting for the vast majority of all trade unionists killed worldwide.

*More than 2.5 million peasant farmers have been forced from their land by economic conditions, fumigation, and, most importantly, intimidation by the right-wing paramilitary forces.

*1.5 million displaced people are living in Bogota alone, many in appalling conditions in shanty towns.

Source: The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) - Canada. For more info, go to:
http://www.nupge.ca/colombia/colombia.htm

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P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
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Baghdad approves use of U-2 spy planes for surveillance

Iraq today sent a letter to U.N. weapons inspectors approving the use of U-2 spy planes for surveillance of its weapons programs, which the United Nations had been pushing for, and promised to pass legislation next week outlawing weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed al-Douri said. "The inspectors are now free to use the American U-2s as well as French and Russian planes," he said.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said today after two days of talks in Baghdad that he had seen no new proof of weapons programs in Iraq but that he had seen increased cooperation from Iraq in the form of new information on its weapons of mass destruction programs. "This time they presented some papers to us in which they focused upon new issues. Not new evidence as far as I can see, but they have nevertheless focused on real open issues and that is welcome," he said. "I'm beginning to see some positive attitude," he added. International Atomic Energy Agency Executive Director Mohamed ElBaradei echoed Blix's report, saying, "We are leaving with a sense of cautious optimism" and adding that "[w]e see a very good beginning, and would like to see much more in the coming weeks."

Source: http://www.MSNBC.com

*****************EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES********************

The drums of war are beating, and Sojourners is at the
forefront of the resistance. To bolster our organizing,
mobilizing, and publicity efforts, we have several new
job openings: 

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See http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=get_connected.job_openings
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employer. Women and persons of color are especially
encouraged to apply.

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B o o m e r a n g
++++++++++++++++++

Jim Dickerson writes from Washington, D.C.:

Great summary analysis and commentary on Bush's budget by Jim Wallis. He is right: budgets and how we spend and allocate our money tells more about where we are really coming from and what we value most than anything else; i.e., "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

However, unlike Wallis, I am not a fan of Bush's faith- based initiative or his "compassionate conservatism." I don't think it's authentic; rather, it's a cover to take the edge off and hide the administration's lack of genuine concern for the poor and bias toward the rich and powerful. As a result of being directly involved with Bush's aides and Republicans who were crafting this effort, I came to see that the faith-based initiative was no more than a ploy to buy more minority support and boost minority membership in the Republican party and co-opt the churches into blind, uncritical support of the Bush administration. I concluded that it was not authentic. I feel the same about this current budget. The aid given to help the poor is a ploy that thinly veils their real bias.

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Earl Prignitz writes from Richmond, Indiana:

Thanks, Jim Wallis, for telling it like it is with the Bush budget proposals. Surely there will be enough common sense in the rest of Congress to make substantial cuts in the draft. I especially liked your closing thoughts when you said, "What a tragic outcome to the promise and rhetoric of the early days of the Bush administration. Budgets are moral documents, and this one reveals the administration's true priorities."

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Chris Purdy writes from Epsom, Surrey, U.K.:

I would like to take issue with Michael Eamus from last week's Boomerang. To blame Saddam for 11 September is like blaming Stalin for the Holocaust. Although now we have two evil men (Saddam and bin Laden) as we did before (Hitler and Stalin), in each case both men hated (or hate) each other. Before you say that Stalin committed atrocities of his own, I totally agree. I have seen no credible evidence to connect Iraq's Baath party regime with al Qaeda, only vague assertions from the U.S. and U.K. governments to justify their current course of action.

I am not a woman nor a sappy hippie. I am a middle-aged Briton who has thought hard about the ramifications of any conflict in that area, and I don't like what I see.

---------------

I'Ching writes from La Mirada, California:

I found it extremely ironic that Michael Eamus called David Batstone a "selfish b*stard" while he is applauding his president who "stands up to these 'Stone Age' fanatics" by bombing kids, moms, and others in Iraq. Well, I suppose as long as Eamus' kids are safe from future fly-bys and have someone to hug them goodnight...who cares about the devastation of the rest of the Iraqis (who, by the way, add up to more than 3,000) who are not in the least involved, let alone agree, with Saddam's regime!

May I also inform Eamus that Saddam is in the secular camp - one that is entirely different from that of the fanatics of 9/11. Unless, of course, to Eamus, the entire Middle East region is made up of "Stone Age" fanatics.

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Drew Beck writes from Wisconsin:

I've a few questions for Michael Eamus:

1. Why is someone who fears for their children's future a "selfish b*stard?" Are you saying that only pro-war people can fear for their children's future? And is attaching yourself to your children only a "liberal ploy"? Or is it a ploy of women, sappy men, and/or hippies too? That kind of labeling is about as valid as saying that name-calling is a right-wing ploy.

2. Should we be thanking God for an administration that seems almost gleeful in its pursuit of war? President Bush has made several statements that sound almost as though an invasion of Iraq, which will utilize hundreds of thousands of American troops and potentially kill thousands of people on both sides, is based on the need to settle a personal vendetta (it sure doesn't seem to be about any threat to the security of the U.S. If security were the main issue, we'd be targeting North Korea instead of Iraq right now).

3. Is invading Iraq going to lessen the terrorist threat here in our country or increase it? Did Saddam have anything to do with the 9/11 tragedy? For that matter, did Afghanistan? (Most of the men who carried out the 9/11 attacks, as well as the Taliban, were originally from Saudi Arabia, and the money to fund the terrorist activities came from there too - why aren't we bombing that country back to the stone age?)

4. Has Mr. Eamus signed up to do his patriotic duty to be part of the ground force that invades Iraq? If not, there are recruiters eagerly awaiting his application.

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Scott Rosner writes from Orange, California:

In response to last week's SojoMail report of a European poll on the threat the USA represents for world peace, here are some facts, not a poll:

Who have and who will the European nations turn to for medical, financial, and security relief when the next natural disaster strikes? Answer: The United States.

Who have and who will the European nations turn to when the next Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin arrives on the scene? Answer: The United States.

What nation was criticized for not acting militarily even sooner during the numerous European wars of the '90s? Answer: The United States.

What nation was criticized for not stopping a genocidal madman during World War II? Answer: The United States.

Which nation provides more financial and medical and emergency relief workers and funds than all other nations combined? Answer: The United States.

Which country has the most legal and illegal immigrants clamoring to get in? Answer: The United States.

Hmmm....maybe the United States is not that bad after all. Nobody wants a war, but when will intelligent people pull their heads out of the sand and fight for right rather than settle for wrong?

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Al Grey writes from Sydney, Australia:

I'm losing patience with America. Seven adults who were working in a high-risk profession died as the result of an industrial accident, and they are mourned, as indeed any who die, should be. But more than 30 people in the USA were killed by guns on the same day. People died for lack of a transplant organ because Americans are such poor organ donors. Babies, children, and adults died of preventable medical problems because America spends money on shuttles instead of medical care to all its citizens. Where is the national mourning for those babies and children and adults? Get some perspective. It's obscene how the astronauts are being lionized. They were, after all, just doing their jobs.

----------------

Mike Florio writes from Yorktown, New York:

You cannot apply a Christian ethic en masse, only as an individual. The teachings of Jesus all pertain to an individual ethic, not a collective ethic of the state. The collective mind of the state is a worldly power. It is of the Beast. It is anything but Christian. Jesus had nothing whatsoever to do with the state. He didn't take political sides. Didn't support or oppose the Roman authority. He was not a revolutionary for the liberation of Israel or a champion of causes for the poor and oppressed. He wasn't concerned with man's relationship to the state, only to God - the truth of which was embodied and revealed in his person. Whatever social/ economic/political systems (i.e.: spiritual powers and dominions of the Beast - be they democratic, communist, capitalist, fascist, etc.) are in power, they have no effect on man's personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ other than to oppose that relationship by their very nature. Sojourners ought to remember this.

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J.T. Leahy writes from Canada:

U.S. government's "logic":

It is expedient that a people
die for the sake of one man.

--------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

<boomerang@sojo.net>

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W e b s c e n e
+++++++++++++++

Christian movements for peace and justice circle the globe. Here's a select few:

*Switzerland

ChristNet is a Christian forum in Switzerland founded in 2000 by a small group of mostly young people. Its members aim to raise the awareness of the West about individualism and the domination of the economy over politics. Find out more (in French and German) at:

http://www.ChristNetOnline.ch

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*Philippines

Claretian Publications aims to promote a renewed spirituality in response to the needs, challenges, and pastoral demands of the church today. Its Web site provides a daily liturgy complete with PowerPoint images.

http://www.bible.claret.org/liturgy/index.html

------------

*Australia

"Communities Australia" offers an online journal to report on the emergence of authentic Australian ways of being church for these times, underlining an option for the poor and action for social justice and peace. Go to:

http://www.palms.org.au/ed1504/CAindex.htm

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