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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Secret quasi-religious cabals behind our politicians should no longer be surprising. The George Bush and John Kerry "Skull & Bones" affiliations are now well known, although few have really looked into what it actually means for them and their politics.

A similar similar secret darkness exists in the shadows behind John McCain as well. First, there was his actively campaigning in South Carolina as a self-proclaimed "Southern Baptist", when he'd never been baptized and has attended Methodist services for the last 15+ years. Now, McCain's recent financial rescue by Baron Rothschild (look up his March 20th fundraiser in London) reveals his links to the transnational "Illuminati".

But, for sheer contemptible sleaze concerning a candidate's religious involvement, you just cant get any worse than today's breaking story about the Clintons' business involvement with seedy foreign real estate speculators, scamming poor Pennsylvania congregations out of their churches...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/10/clinton-firms-deal-with-i_n_960...

The Founding Fathers sought the Separation of Church and State for very good reasons. From the Crusades, to the Conquistadors, to the Spanish Inquisition, to the Vatican accommodation of Hitler and Mussolini, to the Muslim and Jewish violence in the Middle East, it is perfectly clear that God and Government do not mix well. The sophistication of the times has not dulled the instincts of cultish religious fanatics, be they in Baghdad, or on Capitol Hill.

David L. Wenbert

Alexandria, Virginia

Apr 10 2008 - 5:14pm

Web Letter

I applaud Barbara Ehrenreich's article. I've been worried about this issue since reading Hillary Clinton's autobiography, where she praises Yoweri and Janet Museveni of Uganda to the skies and specifically mentions Janet Museveni's work with the National Prayer Breakfast ("Living History" pp. 404-405, p. 455).

Clinton praises Uganda's AIDS abstinence education program, the only success worldwide of abstinence education and apparently based on faked data. Clinton says nothing about their roundups of gays, with Janet Museveni leading one antigay campaign personally. Today the legal penalty for homosexuality in Uganda is life imprisonment. And Ms. Clinton blames his enemies for his roundup of 2 million people into concentration camps, his fomenting civil wars in neighboring countries, and his murdering hundreds of thousands of opponents, a record that would have made Idi Amin blush.

Nope, Hillary Clinton has drunk the Family Kool-Aid in which power is divinely ordained, and thus one can no longer wonder why she and her husband took millions from the murderous Sauds for Bill's presidential library. Those of you who find the article "outrageous" haven't read your candidate's autobiography, where it is all laid out for you including admiration for Doug Coe ("Living History" p. 168).

George Geoffrey Hooper

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Mar 29 2008 - 10:14pm

Web Letter

A few writers have suggested that some letters are unfairly attacking Ehrenreich with personal attacks, and not addressing the substance of her article. I will try to respond substantively, since I have been friends with the Family, or the Fellowship, or whatever you would like to call it, for over 15 years and consider many individuals to be close friends. I will also respond briefly to Jeff Sharlett, who unfortunately knows that he is cherry picking the most inflammatory comments he could find, while ignoring the purpose and overall tenor of the group he is "exposing".

The Fellowship was a loosely organized Christian ministry founded over 50 years ago in DC to minister to political leaders. It was started at the same time that several other large national Christian ministries were formed - the Navigators, YoungLife, Campus Crusade, etc. After the founding, leaders of the Fellowship realized that praying with powerful political leaders was creating mixed motivations for people who were involved, politicians and normal people alike. For many reasons, people like being connected with important names and figures, sometimes just for the celebrity factor, sometimes to push political agenda. A common human foible, to be sure, but one that creates bad incentives for a ministry that is trying to teach spiritual growth. The Fellowship is trying to teach the ideas of Jesus as written in the four Gospels (the books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in the Bible) without all the institutional structure and organizational politics that get in the way. So the Fellowship decided it would be prudent to drop the name of the organization and try to keep the organization low-key or behind the scenes, and keep the name of Jesus in front of the group.

They have had mixed success in doing so, but Sharlett's article put into the internet media a "secret" that had been well known within DC circles for decades. While the members of the ministry have had mixed success in getting rid of their organizational name and structure, they have been very good at keeping Jesus as the center of their teaching and philosophy.

While readers of The Nation are likely to be uncomfortable with discussions of Jesus, the things I learned about Jesus while spending time with the ministry in DC were life changing, even after growing up in the church. Jesus taught us to love and pray for our enemies, to love our neighbors, and to forgive those who hurt us. The only two rules Jesus taught were to love God, and love other people.

The Christian church has obviously made many mistakes in pursuing these ideas over the last 2,000 years, and misses the mark much more often that it achieves it. But that is the point of the "family" - to keep pushing people Christians to Jesus and his teaching, and not get distracted by political battles or institutions (such as church denominations) that are worldly and temporary.

Readers of The Nation may not believe this, but the discussions of political issues are rare to non-existent. Jeff Sharlett may have had a different experience, but questions about abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, prayer in schools - all of this is pretty much ignored. On some issues, there is a strong political preference - such as being against pornography, but it is never discussed as a political action item or agenda.

That is why Democrats and Republicans could both feel welcome trying to discuss Jesus and his teachings, and whether they are living up to what they claim to profess (ie: loving others). That is why Sam Brownback, a right-wing conservative who is anathema to The Nation, could apologize in person to Hilary Clinton for being so partisan against her and treating her wrong. That is also why Brownback has also been one of the most outspoken advocates on behalf of the people of Darfur in the Senate.

The Family or the Fellowship is basically trying to teach the political leaders to be better people - pursuing love, forgiveness, and peace, not political ideology. Sharlett knows all of this, but it doesn't make for as exciting an article or book as trying to dig up links to dictators around the world. Sharlett also chooses to ignore Douglas Coe's friendship and regular meetings with multiple Islamic sheiks. Does that make Doug Coe, and Hilary Clinton by extension, Islamic fundamentalists? Doug Coe has been a friend and supporter of the Dali Lama for over a generation. Does that make him a Buddhist? Or Clinton? Was Coe somehow responsible for the uprising in Tibet? Or was he responsible for its brutal suppression, sine he also has friends in Chinese leadership? Coe has been one of the leaders of the ministry for almost 50 years traveling the world trying to teach the principles of love and forgiveness to both the best and the worst kinds of political leaders, including theocrats, dictators, and ex-Soviet kleptocrats. He has obviously been unsuccessful in his efforts to make the world more peaceful. (For the record, George W. Bush has always kept the Fellowship at arms length.)

But to accuse Coe or the ministry of fascism or Nazism is a smear and a lie, and Sharlett is doing it for the basest of self-interest. Should Coe be more out in the open with his ministry? Maybe. But as I tried to explain, his reasons for keeping a low profile are to prevent political band-wagoneering and more institutional hypocrisy, rather than to undermine democracy.

Sorry for the long response, but I thought a lengthy explanation might be helpful to some. As for Clinton, she is friends with Doug Coe like she is friends with any one of hundreds of people she interacts with regularly in Washington. She probably likes him, because he is extremely likable. And Clinton obviously takes marching orders from no one. To suggest otherwise is madness.

Feel free to write with questions to jackstraw351 -at- gmail.com. I don't use that box frequently, but would be happy to try to respond to your questions.

Jack Straw

St. Michaels, MD

Mar 29 2008 - 2:02pm

Web Letter

Well, now she opened the floodgates by telling a newspaper in Penn that Wright wouldn't have been her pastor, and that you don't choose your families but you choose your pastor etc. Let's see the media look into her flocks now! Don't hold your breath. She lied right thru the Bosnia thing...

Harry Thompson

New York, NY

Mar 25 2008 - 4:49pm

Web Letter

So Senator Obama floats effortlessly once more above the fray as yet another of his groupies grapples in the mire to do the necessary dirty work on his behalf... How is it that Senator Clinton's supporters are constantly reproached for providing ammunition to Senator Obama's future Republican opponents, while similar tactics--by The Nation, for goodness sake!--against Senator Clinton go largely uncriticized?

I don't think anyone benefits from this sort of article, least of all the progressive cause. Limiting its circulation to the website suggests some well-founded doubts about the wisdom of placing Ms. Ehrenreich's poisonous little piece before subscribers to the printed magazine.

And all for what? It just adds to the breathless MSNBC-style high-school tattling about two essentially run-of-the-mill right-of-center Democrats, running the usual murky campaigns on corporate money.

Derek B. Cornish

Wichita, KS

Mar 25 2008 - 1:54pm

Web Letter

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by The Nation trying to pass this irresponsible garbage off as a credible article. The Nation and Barbara Ehrenreich have endorsed Obama, but even considering this, it's outrageous. Ebrenreich shamelessly ridiculed Al Gore in 2000 and wrote she voted for Ralph Nader as a protest against Gore. So much for her judgement. I wonder what she has to say today about Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize? The woman just can't help herself. Bob Somerby has a great take on Ehrenreich in TheDailyHowler.com. Click on the Previous Page link to March 24th and scroll down to THE WIT AND WISDOM OF PROGRESSIVE “ELITES:”

As for Clinton's association with "The Fellowship," Ehrenreich fails to mention many politicians in Washington, are, and have been involved with "The Fellowship." She further states it's secretive but apparently not quite so secretive, as Clinton wrote about it in her book, A Living History. Interestingly, also, Wikipedia has one of the more researched and in-depth descriptions of the history of "The Fellowship." Maybe Ehrenreich should have consulted Wikipedia for more accurate information.

Susan Fritts

Atlanta, GA

Mar 25 2008 - 12:35am

Web Letter

Dear North Americans, I only wish I could vote for Hillary Clinton for her to become the first woman President of the DisUnited States of America. No one, in my view, is better suited than her. She is an individual both deservingly qualified and personally dignified. Her decorum and sensibility might facilitate considerably the mending of the horrific political disintegration which now threatens the democratic fabric of the DUS. She can be sassy with the boys, and she is already a formidable leader.

It would be Pollyannaish to think that Hillary Clinton will perform wonderworks, that change will evolve effortlessly under her rule, that she doesn't face an extraordinary difficult challenge. Not only has the image of the DUS deteriorated significantly throughout the world in the last eight years, DUS foreign policy for at least a century has given the impression that heavy-handedness and arrogance are the order of the day employed by the Department of Offense throughout the developing world--not even mentioning Asia in this vein. Instead of seeking out esteem from other nations, the DUS has often offended them. To solve the quandaries of the North American continent, a new, humbling appraisal of the DUS role in the world must be initiated, and a radically different slant to foreign relations must be cultivated.

It is naïve to have faith in a "dreamer" who would be thought to offer some fairy-tale solution to this awful political dilemma. Most of the world--with the exception of infantile North American megalomaniacs!--knows that to "dream" in the DUS is to become the target of an assassin's bullet. What is the sense of basing a political agenda on the hallelujahs of a visionary who many become, one day, the object of a hired gun, and/or who still many others wish would be the foil of a murderer? The DUS does not possess the luxury to fantasize for much longer, and it looks pathetic sloshing in the murky waters of the most prodigious unfulfilled reverie of its entire history: the bacchanalian 1960s.

It would be wise to elect a woman as President for another reason. The role of women in the DUS's continuing debacle is scandalously and shamefully not there. Today the Senate and House of Representatives are top-heavy with male politicians. These often incompetent, often corrupt creatures fake the motions of political efficacy and then stand at attention when the national anthem is blared, as if their country--their political turf, the place of their limp-wrist machinations--is something all the world should be proud of and even want to imitate. That their schemes have yielded goodies for all of us!

And the DUS woman? She stands on the sidelines, as she has always done, hoping that one day the imbalance between male and female might be close to equal--at least!

I contend that a vote for Hillary Clinton will facilitate enormously in opening the floodgates for women throughout the world trapped and aspiring to hold public office so as to represent the interests of all their peoples in a proficient and honorable fashion. To vote for Hillary Clinton is to participate in a grander effort that will not only bring to this planet the first DUS President but also bring to millions of women the sense that their one input is finally becoming part and parcel of the existing state of affairs.

Of course, we need a change!

Anthony St. John

Calenzano, Italy

Mar 23 2008 - 12:29pm

Web Letter

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at Barbara Ehrenreich's crazed venting of hate against Hillary. Laugh because it is a comic example of "guilt by association" gone wild. Cry because I have been an admirer of The Nation since I first wrote a piece on radioactive fallout for Carey McWilliams forty-nine years ago. This zany article--with the imprimatur of The Nation--is being spread all over the Internet, gobbled up by those with an appetite for conspiracy, demonology and witch-hunting.

Walter Schneir

Pleasantville, NY

Mar 22 2008 - 6:18pm

Web Letter

Unlike Ehrenreich, Clinton's defenders fail to cite sources or to engage in critical analysis. As an independent observer, I would appreciate reasoned arguments as to why Ehrenreich's sources are weak or her conclusions awry. Off-the-wall attacks on Ehrenreich's character or personality don't cut it.

Until I see a reasonable refutation of the allegations about The Family and Clinton's ties to the group, I will follow Arthur Conan Doyle's maxim that "whenever all other possibilities have been ruled out, the improbable, however unlikely, must be the truth." Show me some other possibilities, and I'll consider them. Continue to attack Ehrenreich personally, and I will be led to believe that what she has brought to light is the truth.

Ben Manski

Madison, WI

Mar 22 2008 - 2:24pm

Web Letter

At one time when I lived in Washington, DC, and worked in progressive women's organization I felt somewhat sorry for Ehrenreich. She hung around on the fringes of even the most progressive groups and was considered more than a little off-the-wall.

I had an opportunity to spend time with her at a weeklong conference some years ago in San Francisco and, try as I might, I simply could never make clarity of the fog that is Ehrenreich's "brilliance."

Now she has really come undone with this blatant "hit" piece against Clinton. It smacks more of Ehrenreich's batty ideas, and is somewhere between Margaret Atwood's fictional world and Ursula K. LeGuin's science fiction.

I now understand completely why prominent women in Washington referred to her as "the fruitfly."

Mabelle Johnson

Silverdale, WA

Mar 22 2008 - 2:32am