Exec Pay: Are they worth it?
Sojomail - April 17, 2003
|Quote of the Week Susan B. Thistlethwaite: Motives for terror|
|Batteries Not Included David Batstone: Exec Pay: Are they worth it?|
|Funny Business Most creative T-shirt slogan|
|Politically Connect Loving and caring don't work on a national scale?|
|By the Numbers The "least fair" tax poll|
|P.O.V. Why the crackdown in Cuba?|
|Soul Works Love and hate|
|Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply|
|Culture Watch Sam Cooke's gospel: essential listening|
|Web Scene A jazz man's response to troubled times | Blair and Bush love song | Film snafus exposed!|
|QUOTE OF THE WEEK||^top|
"Martyrs are being created by the pre-emptive war against Iraq, martyrs whom some radicals in the Muslim world will want to avenge through terrorist attacks. So it's almost predictable that the Bush administration will lose the war on terrorism because it has discounted the force of religion in the motive for terror."
- Susan B. Thistlethwaite, president of Chicago Theological Seminary
Read more at:
|BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED||^top|
Most creative T-shirt slogan
M-16 Rifle: $580
Loving and caring don't work on a national scale?
The U.S. Agency for International Development plans to tap mainly for-profit companies to rebuild Iraq, angering nonprofit organizations that claim they would be more effective over the long term, the Los Angeles Times reports.
USAID director Andrew Natsios confirmed that the agency will rely largely on for-profit companies to execute three major contracts worth several hundred million dollars to rebuild health care, education, and governance institutions in the war-torn country. According to Natsios, the projects are too large for nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms are more capable of providing the thorough documentation of results sought by President Bush and Congress. However, the Times reports, nonprofits are already heavily involved in USAID's relief efforts and may participate in future development projects as subcontractors.
"[Nonprofits] have their own agenda, to be loving and caring, and that's very effective in relief work," said Derish Wolff, chairman of the global engineering firm Louis Berger Group Inc., which is working on democratic institutions in Afghanistan. "But it doesn't work for building institutions on a national scale."
To read the entire feature, link to:
See also "For-Profits Are Focus for a New Iraq," from the Los Angeles Times: [registration required]
|BY THE NUMBERS||^top|
The "least fair" tax poll
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults identify the property tax as the worst tax vs. 21% who cite the federal income tax, according to a Gallup Poll. The poll reflects a sharp change from 1994, the last time Gallup asked the question. Then, income and property taxes were in a dead heat for the public designation as worst tax.
"Which tax do you consider the least fair":
Local property tax 38% Federal income tax 21% State sales tax 13% Social security tax 11% State income tax 11% Unsure 6%*Gallup Poll, April 7-9, 2003
Why the crackdown in Cuba?by Wayne S. Smith, former U.S. diplomat to Cuba
Various newspaper articles reporting the deplorable crackdown on dissidents in Cuba have noted that the situation there earlier had seemed to be inching toward somewhat greater tolerance. During his trip to Cuba in May of last year, for example, President Carter met with Cuban dissidents and in his televised speech to the nation spoke of the Varela Project, an initiative of theirs calling for greater political freedoms. And both before and after Carter's visit, many other Americans, myself included, regularly and openly met with the dissidents as part of a broad effort to improve relations between our two countries.
Why then the recent arrest of dissidents? Is it, as some in the United States quickly posited, that Castro was simply hoping the rest of the world was so distracted by the war in Iraq that no one would notice or react to the detention of a few dissidents in Cuba?
No, that explanation simply doesn't hold up. First of all, no one in his right mind (and whatever else he is, Castro is that) would have expected the arrest of more than 80 dissidents, many of them well-known international figures, to go unremarked. The Cubans expected a firestorm, and they got it.
Second, the timing could hardly be worse from Castro's standpoint. The U.N. Human Rights Commission has just begun its annual deliberations to decide, among other things, whether to condemn Cuba for violations of human rights. Given the greater tolerance discussed above, there had seemed a good chance that Cuba would not be condemned this year. The crackdown, coming just now, makes that far less likely.
Given all that, why the crackdown and why now? To answer those questions, we must first note that the greater leeway for dissent noted above came in response to the overtures of groups in the American Congress and the American public, not to any easing of the hard line on the part of the Bush administration. Quite the contrary, its policies and rhetoric remained as hostile and as threatening as ever. It ignored all Cuban offers to begin a dialogue and instead held to an objective of regime change.
Read the full commentary at: http://www.cubacentral.com/article.asp?ID=35
Love and hate
So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other [people] and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.
- Thomas Merton, from "New Seeds of Contemplation"
Please use your media impact and governmental contacts to encourage our government to honor its promises to rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan. My understanding is that the Bush administration's budget does not contain a dollar to keep promises we made.
Matthew Caponi, a Villanova University and United States Marine Corp alumnus, writes:
[In his column in SojoMail last week], Jim Wallis has no word of thanks to God that military force has liberated God's anawim in Iraq, nothing to say about the "marginalized," "voiceless," "powerless," "disenfranchised" Iraqis now dancing and singing in the streets, kissing American Marines or hailing President Bush as the bringer of peace. Nothing about the military restoration of the basic human rights that are part of the kingdom of God (and enshrined in that document that supersedes even the gospels: The U.N. Charter).
There is not even a word to the effect that, "Well, I disagree with the means but the outcome is that some of God's children will now go to bed without fear of torture, arbitrary imprisonment, or uncertainty as to whether there will be a chemical attack in their village tomorrow. And that's a good thing." The Peace and Justice Fascists cannot cede one iota of moral value to what has happened in Iraq - for then the hated president, and even more hated Pentagon, might have to be grudgingly recognized as forces for good in the world.
If humanitarian aid flows, it is solely due to efforts of the military. Look to other U.N.-led humanitarian efforts to distribute aid in similar situations: Often times they have ended up in the very hands of the evil people who have created the aid situation. "Funded by those who initiated the war." The coalition that Mr. Wallis maligns, the U.S.-led coalition that is bringing peace and justice to Iraq, set sail armed with weapons and aid equally - let that sink in, with weapons and aid equally. Make no mistake: One would not have been delivered without the other. This is also the very aid Mr. Wallis seems to think he can somehow require they produce? Their very intention was to deliver this aid, a fundamental part of their plan. I believe it was stated countless times prior to the invasion. Additionally, does this not seem to somehow conflict with Mr. Wallis' earlier statement that they intended to target civilians? If not, what a wild plan it would surely be to scope targeting civilians and delivering aid simultaneously. The fact that coalition troops went into Iraq with humanitarian relief, that they landed and moved with millions of tons of food and medicine, is not recognized here at all.
I rest certain my response will not be posted to counter your article. That would require courage; cowards behave predictably.
Gordon Clark, national cordinator of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, writes:
According to last week's Sojourners alert, "the Iraqi people are celebrating, and so should we, regardless of how we feel about the war." So we should all celebrate the thousands of innocent Iraqis we just killed? We should celebrate U.S. war crimes and violation of international law, and the utter flouting of world opinion, as well as U.S. public opinion? We should celebrate the "triumph for human freedom" that we used cluster bombs and thousands of cruise missiles lobbed into major cities to topple a third world dictator? Or more to the point, we should just forget all that nasty unpleasantness, as Sojourners apparently has? As if none of this has any connection to the "peace" you now suggest we can "win," or to the overflowing hospitals and looming humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Or for that matter to the domestic priorities that Sojourners advocates - does Sojourners have any idea how much this "triumph for human freedom" cost, or is that somehow unconnected to the further slashing of U.S. domestic programs we are witnessing? Perhaps that is simply another "new problem" we must work to overcome when we are done celebrating.
Sorry, but I feel you have seriously lost your way. I'm guessing you have some considered argument that you believe justifies your position, but at this point you are functionally equivalent to those who supported this war. I hope that you might choose to reconsider your position.
A. Gregory Schneider writes from Angwin, California:
In last week's SojoMail, Molly Doctor Henry complains of Sojourners' lack of balance in recognizing the evil of Saddam and its "black-and-white" approach. Clearly Ms. Henry has not been listening to Sojourners very long or very carefully. From the 1980s Sojourners and the human rights community more broadly have consistently drawn attention to Saddam's evils and pled for international pressure to curb him. The 6-point alternative to war promoted by Sojourners, among others, was only the latest in efforts to think of peace-making alternatives to the Bush administration's unlawful and immoral prosecution of aggression. Last fall Sojourners published an article proposing nonviolent, militant strategies and tactics for bringing down Saddam. Again, I ask, where has Molly Doctor Henry been? Where indeed have so many been who thus falsely accuse Sojourners and other Christians of failing to see evil where it clearly exists? We see it, all right, on both sides of the battle lines.
Francisco Herrera writes from San Francisco, California:
In last week's SojoMail, Dean-Daniel Truog criticized David Batstone for being outraged by the greed of so many members of the Bush team. David's outrage is the outrage of so many of us. Mr. Truog wonders who gave David special insight into Mr. Bush's motives. All you have to do is look at the fruits of his work. I guess brother Truog has not seen the second part of the Beatitudes, where Jesus proclaims a series of condemnations and curses. Mr. Bush will be judged by the result of his work. His father and associates supported Mr. Hussein for years, while he committed his worst atrocities. Rumsfeld shook hands and supported him in the midst of world public knowledge, knowledge that he was burning his own people with chemicals. Thank you, David, for expressing the rage so many of us feel regarding our brother George W. Bush, who shouldn't only be questioned (history will do that) but kicked out of the White House.
Martin Cuthbertson writes from Vancouver, Canada:
As a Canadian citizen who has lived near and amongst citizens of the United States his entire life, Ms. Atwood's open letter captured my angst perfectly. I too have friends, blood relatives, associates, and business partners south of the 49th parallel. I too have been concerned at the Bush administration's use of the aftermath of 9/11 to gut the Bill of Rights and Constitution to the point where an American citizen can be held for months as an "enemy combatant," without access to counsel or even his own family. Since neo-conservative Republicanism became the rage under President Reagan and others, I've wondered if the elephant living next door hasn't gone a little mad. Prime Minister Trudeau said it best, and I can only paraphrase, but "it's hard not to notice when an elephant rolls over when you are both in the same bed."
Andrea Calisher, assistant director of community relations at Franziska Racker Centers in Ithaca, New York, writes:
I'm irritated by Margaret Atwood's commentary. And perhaps it's because I sense a kind of judgment about a people that isn't quite fair. First of all, every nation at every moment is filled with both good and bad, with good and evil. While many people agree with our president's actions and decisions, many people do not - within and without the United States. Who are we in this country? We are people just like any other people, flawed and magnificent simultaneously. We all have histories of oppression, poor and harmful decision-making, greed, love, beauty, brilliance.... At any given point, you'll see all of this everywhere. And yes, in Canada as well. I'm not saying leadership shouldn't be challenged. I'm saying a nation is more than its leadership. Presidents come and go, and while they come and go, their policies come and go - both making the world a little better and making the world a little worse - which is up for debate.
But one thing is for certain, an ingredient for creating ethnocentrism, hate, even war is the summing up of an entire people, who happen to be born into a particular geographic area, based on the actions of a small collection of people who are in power. This may feel like a crazy time in history - but when wasn't it? Are we really more material? Are we really more aggressive? Are we really any different? The nature of humans has remained constant. One human, one culture, doesn't deserve any more admiring than any other. It shouldn't even be a goal. We are all the same. So while I encourage you to question and criticize the actions of leadership, I request you stop generalizing about large groups of people. Ms. Atwood, you do know us very well. We are you.
Nigel Mander writes from New Zealand:
Now that Sheriff W. has driven that varmint out of Iraq for mistreating citizens, how long will it take for him to (equally democratically) sort out Comrade Robert in Zimbabwe who is guilty of all the same crimes against his citizens? Zimbabwe may not have much oil (and a lot of it is wasted by poorly maintained diesel vehicles!) but it has a lot of tobacco. It also has a network of highways built for the pre-independence military, so invasion will be a piece of cake. Would tobacco (and righteousness?) be enough of a prize to entice the sheriff to round up a posse to go and impose some democracy on people who don't know the American way?
JoLynn Jarboe writes from Denver, Colorado:
In response to Carol Iverson in last week's SojoMail, she mentions that no one is talking about fuel efficiency of cars. From where I sit as an active member of the Sierra Club, that is all that is talked about. Energy conservation and efficiency are of great concern and one of the greatest ways to do that is to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards for our automobiles. This would make us less dependent on oil from all sources. Because America uses more oil than it has in reserves, we will never be free from foreign dependence, but we can lessen the effect. There are national security issues here; our homeland is more secure when we are not as dependent on foreign sources of oil. As for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, I believe it is pure folly. Estimates are that there is enough oil to last for six months or so and it would take about 10 years to get to market.
For further information, check out the Sierra Club and MoveOn Web
sites: http://www.sierraclub.org and -------------------
Karen Davison writes from Shepherdstown, West Virginia:
Please do not be fooled into thinking that oil drilling in the
Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge provides any kind of an answer
to our problems of obtaining enough oil. Even if we drill for oil
there, it will be 10 years before the first drop of oil is available
for use and the total amount of oil obtainable from that site is
enough for approximately six months. Congress is now trying to shove
through a plan to destroy this pristine area by any means possible,
attaching it all over the place and requiring it to be defeated over
and over. It seems to me that people in this country would rather
send their loved ones to war than demand alternative energy sources.
I read somewhere that 41 members of the Bush administration come from
a background in oil. Therefore, the correct policies are not going to
be coming from the government but from the people themselves who have
the power to speak through their choice of car purchase.
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:
Karen Davison writes from Shepherdstown, West Virginia:
Please do not be fooled into thinking that oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge provides any kind of an answer to our problems of obtaining enough oil. Even if we drill for oil there, it will be 10 years before the first drop of oil is available for use and the total amount of oil obtainable from that site is enough for approximately six months. Congress is now trying to shove through a plan to destroy this pristine area by any means possible, attaching it all over the place and requiring it to be defeated over and over. It seems to me that people in this country would rather send their loved ones to war than demand alternative energy sources. I read somewhere that 41 members of the Bush administration come from a background in oil. Therefore, the correct policies are not going to be coming from the government but from the people themselves who have the power to speak through their choice of car purchase.
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:
Sam Cooke's gospel: essential listeningby John Cody
In the pantheon of great soul singers, Sam Cooke is the undisputed king. Otis Redding and Rod Stewart both credited him as their main inspiration, and he is revered today, almost 40 years after his death.
To read the entire feature, go to:
*A jazz man's response to troubled times
Musician Bradley Sowash: "This is the first time this song has been available online. It's based on the old spiritual, 'There Is A Balm In Gilead.' My hope is that it restores a small measure of inner peace to your subscribers":
*Blair and Bush love song
When it feels like you're going it alone in the world...
*Film snafus exposed!
Have you ever noticed the random stormtrooper in Star Wars who accidentally smacks his head into the set? Movie Mistakes highlights thousands of mistakes in hundreds of films. Go to: