Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(Oh, Oh - The Shame) No Shame:  How Stupid Do They Think We Are? Don't Hold Your Breath Wondering! (Who Are These Secretive People Who Rule US? Let's Ask Billy Graham's Groupies) Oh, Where Did All the WWII Fascists Go? Long Time Passin' . . .

If you were wondering where all that data in Utah will end up . . . to make my point most succinctly, I only have to quote one of the readers of the article below who had this comment (and I'm sure they'll be sweeping up plenty of al-Qaeda there too):

"# Jim Rocket 2014/07/30 11:03 - It would be interesting for someone to investigate how people like Alexander got their positions. There's good reason to believe that honest and ethical people in these organizations refused to implement un-democratic and illegal policies. They either resign on principle or are forced out leaving the toadies like Alexander and James Clapper to serve their dark masters."

The rest is silence.
- Hamlet

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2013. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2013. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Keith Alexander: Why I'm Worth $1 Million a Month to Wall Street

By Max Ocean, Common Dreams

30 July 14

Critics say Keith Alexander's rapid move to the private sector is cause for concern
ormer NSA Director Keith Alexander says his services warrant a fee of up to a million dollars, due to a cyber-surveillance technique he and his partners at his new security firm IronNet Cybersecurity have developed, Foreign Policy reported on Tuesday. The claim follows reporting earlier this month that Alexander is slated to head a 'cyber-war council' backed by Wall Street.
Alexander claims that the new technology is different from anything the NSA has done as it uses "behavioral models" to predict hackers' actions ahead of time.
In his article, "The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate," Foreign Policy journalist Shane Harris says that Alexander stated that IronNet has already signed contracts with three separate companies, although Alexander declined to name them. He plans on filing at least nine patents for the technology and finishing the testing phase of it by the end of September.
While it's not uncommon for former government employees to be granted patents for their inventions, Alexander is thought to be the first ex-NSA director to apply for patents "directly related to the job he had in government," said Harris.
"Alexander is on firm legal ground so long as he can demonstrate that his invention is original and sufficiently distinct from any other patented technologies," according to Harris. Therefore when he files the patents, if he can prove that he "invented the technology on his own time and separate from his core duties, he might have a stronger argument to retain the exclusive rights to the patent."
According to critics, Alexander's very experience as the NSA director has informed his move to the corporate sector — whether or not he developed the technology independently — and that in itself is cause for alarm and a possible investigation.
"Alexander stands to profit directly off of his taxpayer-funded experience, and may do so with a competitive advantage over other competing private firms," Carl Franzen pointed out at "The Verge."
"Is it ethical for an NSA chief to pursue patents on technologies directly related to their work running the agency?" wrote Xeni Jardin of "BoingBoing." "Will the Justice Department investigate? Don't hold your breath."
Journalist Dan Froomkin of "The Intercept" weighed in on Twitter:

As independent journalist Marcy Wheeler pointed out on her blog, there are a multitude of questions still remaining concerning the legality of Alexander's services, that are unrelated to the issue of patent legality. Among those she poses this:

with Alexander out of his NSA, where will he and his profitable partners get the data they need to model threats? How much of this model will depend on the Cyber Information sharing plan that Alexander has demanded for years? How much will Alexander’s privatized solutions to the problem he couldn’t solve at NSA depend on access to all the information the government has, along with immunity?

To what degree is CISA about making Keith Alexander rich?
The NSA's own actions under Alexander seem to have laid the groundwork for the exact cyber-defense market the retired general is now looking to exploit.
When Alexander first addressed Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association shortly after his retirement in March, company executives were apparently most interested in learning about destructive programs such as Wiper, which the U.S. government has claimed was used in cyber-attacks originating in North Korea and Iran.
Harris says the singling out of programs like Wiper is "a supreme irony" in the eyes of many computer security experts, who say that it is nothing more than "a cousin of the notorious Stuxnet virus, which was built by the NSA — while Alexander was in charge — in cooperation with Israeli intelligence."

Our rulers don't even try to hide their financial backers anymore.

One might say that the moment has passed for worrying about the public perception of power (in DC power circles anyway).

As the Obamas close their escrow on a palatial mansion in Las Vegas (not far from Gerald Ford's place) and start packing for "retirement," it may finally be time to start figuring out who they were and how they fit in so well with our other secretive "rulers" - and how they've used their power. (Not that they aren't totally nice folks, but aren't they all?)

In 2008, MSNBC had the gall to expose the membership in a very secret religious society (The Family) run by a man (Doug Coe*), who is not an ordained minister, who claims a special relationship with God (based on his understanding of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and Mao - all admired for their strength of leadership and determination not to fail at any cost), where you find every "leader" from George W. Bush, Ronnie Reagan and John McCain to Bill and Hillary Clinton. This group mainly comprises ultra-conservative Republicans like Sam Brownback, Mike Enzi, Mark Pryor and Bill Nelson, James Inhoff, Tom Coburn, Joe Pitts, Bart Stupak (as well as Diaper David Vitter, John Ensign,  and Wide-Stance Larry Craig). (Don't bother to click on the link because it has been removed from MSNBC's site although the article is still available at the internet archive link. It was co-written by Andrea Mitchell - Mrs. Alan Greenspan - of NBC News.)

Political Ties To a Secretive Religious Group

2008-04-03, MSNBC News

For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has been a Washington institution. Every president has attended the breakfast since Eisenhower. Besides the presidents ... the one constant presence at the National Prayer Breakfast has been Douglas Coe. Although he’s not an ordained minister, the 79-year-old Coe is the most important religious leader you've never seen or heard. Scores of senators in both parties ... go to small weekly Senate prayer groups that Coe attends, [including] senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Observers who have investigated Coe’s group, called The Fellowship Foundation, a secretive organization. Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded. "Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler. Think of the immense power these three men had.”

Coe also quoted Jesus and said: “One of the things [Jesus] said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.’"

Writer Jeff Sharlet ... lived among Coe's followers six years ago, and came out troubled by their secrecy and rhetoric. “We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao. Hitler’s genocide wasn’t really an issue for them. It was the strength that he emulated,” said Sharlet, who ... has now written about The Fellowship, also known to insiders as The Family, in [a] book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

(Note: This article strangely has been removed from the MSNBC website, though you can still access it using the Internet Archive. Watch the incredible four-minute NBC video clip showing Coe praising a communist Red Guard member for cutting the head off his mother at this link. For more on Coe's powerful links to Congress and corruption, see the MSNBC article available here. And for powerful inside information from a mind programmer who claims to have escaped from "The Family," and another who says he is from a very high level there, click here and here. To develop an understanding of the bigger picture behind all of this, click here. )
*So who is Doug Coe? He shuns almost all interview requests, including ours. But in hours of audiotape and videotape recordings obtained exclusively by NBC News, he frequently preaches the gospel of Jesus to followers and supporters. In one videotaped sermon from 1989, Coe provides this account of the atrocities committed under Chairman Mao in Communist China: "I've seen pictures of the young men in the Red Guard … they would bring in this young man’s mother … he would take an axe and cut her head off. They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of father, mother, brother sister and their own life. That was a covenant, a pledge. That's what Jesus said."
In his preaching, Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded from his followers -- a rhetorical technique that now is drawing sharp criticism.
"Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere,” Coe said.
Later in the sermon, Coe said: "Jesus said, ‘You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."
Coe also quoted Jesus and said: “One of the things [Jesus] said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.’ So I don't care what other qualifications you have, if you don't do that you can't be a disciple of Christ."
The sermons are little surprise to writer Jeff Sharlet. He lived among Coe's followers six years ago, and came out troubled by their secrecy and rhetoric.
“We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao. And I would say, ‘Isn’t there a problem with that?’ And they seemed perplexed by the question. Hitler’s genocide wasn’t really an issue for them. It was the strength that he emulated,” said Sharlet, who is a Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone and is an Associate Research Scholar at the NYU Center for Religion and Media in New York.
. . . “They’re notoriously secretive,” Sharlet said. “In fact, they jokingly call themselves the Christian Mafia. Which becomes less of a joke when you realize that they really are dedicated to being what they call an invisible organization.”

Federal tax records for Coe's non-profit group shows it funds charitable programs around the world - but that it is also a family business.
The 990 tax forms for 2005, the last tax year available, show that both of Coe’s sons were on the payroll, at $110,000 a year each. The organization also paid his wife, his daughter and his daughters-in-law.
So how do Coe's admirers explain his unusual sermons? David Kuo, a former Bush Administration aide and religious-outreach official at the White House, says The Fellowship is a peaceful, faith-based group that does good works internationally. Kuo says Doug Coe wasn’t lauding Hitler's actions.
“What Doug is saying, it’s a metaphor. He is using Hitler as a metaphor. Jesus used that,” Kuo said. A metaphor for what? “Commitment,” Kuo answered.

Funny how religion emanating from political figures always has a political as well as a monetary payoff, isn't it?

Not to mention the military.

One final source should be consulted on the genesis of the elusive Mr. Doug Coe with some notes on other prominent political leaders' ties:

The sec­ond side of the broad­cast excerpts an inter­view of Jeff Sharlet, author of The Fam­ily. A protes­tant fun­da­men­tal­ist orga­ni­za­tion founded in the 1930’s by a Nor­we­gian immi­grant named Abram Vereide, the Fam­ily incor­po­rates and prop­a­gates fas­cist ideas and has worked with fas­cists of both the above-ground and under­ground vari­ety over the years.
Informed observers have noted sim­i­lar­i­ties between the Fam­ily and Opus Dei, the Catholic order that has accu­mu­lated tremen­dous power within the Vat­i­can in recent decades.
Work­ing with and idol­iz­ing indus­tri­al­ists and financiers who backed fas­cism (such as Henry Ford), the Fam­ily wields deci­sive power within U.S. polit­i­cal and eco­nomic cir­cles. The sem­i­nal force behind the cre­ation of the National Prayer Break­fast, Billy Graham’s cru­sade and the Cam­pus Cru­sade for Christ, the Fam­ily was deeply involved with the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Third Reich alumni, many of them war crim­i­nals, for ser­vice to the post­war Ger­man gov­ern­ment and U.S. intelligence.
Among the bet­ter known of these Nazi alumni was Her­man Josef Abs, the most impor­tant of the Third Reich’s bankers and a foun­da­tional ele­ment of the post­war Ger­man eco­nomic “mir­a­cle” and the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work. FTR #697 fea­tures addi­tional dis­cus­sion of The Fam­ily, the Third Reich and the Bor­mann organization.

Stephen Crit­ten­den: A dra­matic moment from the movie ‘There will be Blood’ based on a novel by Upton Sin­clair, which won an Oscar last year for the glow­er­ing Daniel Day Lewis.
If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know it’s an alle­gory depict­ing the clash between two very dif­fer­ent sides of Amer­i­can soci­ety, the reli­gious and the cap­i­tal­ist. If they seem to mix all too com­fort­ably together these days, ‘There Will Be Blood’ is a reminder that it wasn’t always so.
Today’s pro­gram is really the story of how those two sides came together. It’s the story of a shad­owy reli­gious organ­i­sa­tion known as The Fel­low­ship, or The Fam­ily, founded in the 1930s by a Nor­we­gian immi­grant to the United States named Abra­ham Vereide. He believed that the best way to change the world was to min­is­ter to busi­ness and polit­i­cal lead­ers, pow­er­ful men like Henry Ford, who weren’t much inter­ested in the churches.
A bit like (a) Protes­tant ver­sion of Opus Dei, The Fel­low­ship is basi­cally theo­cratic in impulse and deeply hos­tile to democ­racy, and over decades it has man­aged to pen­e­trate to the very cen­tre of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal power by preach­ing a gospel of Amer­i­can power. In the 1950s The Fel­low­ship estab­lished the National Prayer Break­fast, and now every week in Wash­ing­ton, busi­ness lead­ers and politi­cians from all sides sit down to read the Bible and pray together.
The cur­rent leader of The Fam­ily is the reclu­sive Doug Coe. Described by Hillary Clin­ton as ‘A gen­uinely lov­ing spir­i­tual men­tor and guide to any­one, regard­less of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her rela­tion­ship with God’, as we’ll hear, he’s also an admirer of Hitler, Lenin and Mao.
Jeff Sharlet is a con­tribut­ing edi­tor for Harper’s and Rolling Stone, an asso­ci­a­tion research scholar in the Cen­tre for Reli­gion and Media at New York Uni­ver­sity, and he’s the author of an new book about The Fel­low­ship enti­tled ‘The Fam­ily:  Pol­i­tics, Power and Fundamentalism’s Shadow Elite’. It’s based on research he did on doc­u­ments kept at the Billy Gra­ham Cen­tre Archives, and it’s one of the most absorb­ing books I’ve read all year.
Jeff Sharlet says that when we think of Amer­i­can Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ism, we tend to think of the pop­ulist, Bible-thumping TV evan­ge­lists. But the Fel­low­ship is about a dif­fer­ent kind of fun­da­men­tal­ism, elite fun­da­men­tal­ism. More upper class, more sophis­ti­cated, it doesn’t need the media, doing its work behind the scenes.
Jeff Sharlet:   Elite fun­da­men­tal­ism and espe­cially the elite fun­da­men­tals in The Fam­ily, is not so much inter­ested in hold­ing mass ral­lies, or sav­ing everybody’s souls, rather it grows out of this belief that took hold in the 1930s that God works through a few spe­cially cho­sen indi­vid­u­als.
They call them key men, the sort of anointed. And there’s the real con­cerns, well, not social issues but eco­nomic, some­thing that they came to call ‘Bib­li­cal cap­i­tal­ism’, a sort of laissez-fair cap­i­tal­ism, and espe­cially for­eign affairs, and I think that comes as a sur­prise to a lot of folks here in the United States, but also over­seas, but they’re the kind of Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ism in Amer­ica that has always taken as its main con­cern the role of Amer­i­can power in the world, and the expan­sion of that kind of power.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   Now the book is basi­cally about a shad­owy organ­i­sa­tion called The Fam­ily, or The Fel­low­ship that was founded by a guy called Abra­ham Vereide, a Nor­we­gian immi­grant to the United States in the 1930s. Tell us about him and the foun­da­tion of this organisation.
Jeff Sharlet:   Vereide is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter. This guy who comes to Amer­ica from Nor­way, because he sees America (a)s the land of the Bible unchained. Even from a boy he’s given to what he thinks are prophetic visions. He believes that God comes to him and talks to him in very lit­eral words.
He comes to Amer­ica and he makes quite a name for him­self, becomes a preacher and starts preach­ing to guys like Henry Ford and titans of the steel indus­try and so on, and then has this Epiphany, this real­i­sa­tion in the mid­dle of our Great Depres­sion in the 1930s.
He decides that the Great Depres­sion is actu­ally a pun­ish­ment from God for dis­obey­ing God’s law, and how are we dis­obey­ing God’s law? Well it’s because we are try­ing to reg­u­late the econ­omy, we are try­ing to take mat­ters into our own hands. Well, we just have to com­pletely trust God, and those he chooses, men like Henry Ford and the CEO of US Steel and so on.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   Yes, it’s a mus­cu­lar Chris­tian­ity. You’d almost say he had a min­istry to bring that indus­trial class back into religion.
Jeff Sharlet:   Absolutely. This must be a Chris­tian­ity on steroids. They were build­ing on this tra­di­tion of this kind of macho Christ, and tak­ing it to these busi­ness­men who didn’t really care about church or the Bible or any­thing like that.
What they cared about was organ­ised labour, and in fact par­tic­u­larly in Aus­tralia, men and Harry Bridges was a major, major labour leader here in the United States. And they just saw him the Devil Incar­nate, and began to organ­ise against him. And that’s what this group has become — and are to this day. They still see God’s inter­ests as those of the absolutely unreg­u­lated free mar­kets — a very sort of macho, mus­cu­lar Chris­tian­ity that tends to serve the inter­ests of those involved.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   As I was read­ing the book, I was con­stantly reminded of the Catholic elite fun­da­men­tal­ist organ­i­sa­tion, Opus Dei, which was founded just a cou­ple of years before The Fam­ily, and clearly had a polit­i­cal pro­gram. There seem to be very inter­est­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties between them.
Jeff Sharlet:   There are really strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties between Opus Dei and The Fam­ily, they were actu­ally both founded at this moment, when con­ser­v­a­tive Catholics in the case of Opus Dei, and con­ser­v­a­tive Protes­tants in the case of The Fam­ily, con­clude that democ­racy is done, that it’s spent, that it can’t com­pete with these incred­i­bly vig­or­ous forces of com­mu­nism and fas­cism.
And there’s a mis­taken idea that the Opus Dei, and also The Fam­ily, wanted to be just fas­cist. No, they didn’t want to be fas­cist, they saw a lot to admire in fas­cism, but they wanted to cre­ate their own reli­gious way, where fas­cism sort of idolised the char­ac­ter like Hitler and Mus­solini, they said No, we want that same kind of cult of per­son­al­ity, that same kind of mus­cu­lar pol­i­tics and reli­gion, but we want it to be cen­tred around Jesus.
Well of course who’s Jesus? And that’s when you run into the real reli­gious hor­ror story of this book, which is that they read the same Bible that most of the rest of us do, but they take a very dif­fer­ent mes­sage, one that’s not about mercy or jus­tice or love or for­give­ness, but rather is about power. And very lit­er­ally, when I look through The Family’s papers, 600 boxes of doc­u­ments, that’s what they saw in the New Tes­ta­ment as the bot­tom line, was this mes­sage of power, and it’s strik­ing I think, and unset­tling to even most con­ser­v­a­tive Christians.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   So much to talk about in what you’ve just said to unpack. Let’s talk about the the­o­log­i­cal ques­tion about Jesus first. You speak about a the­ol­ogy which you say is totally mal­leable, and you talk about a the­ol­ogy of Jesus plus noth­ing. It’s almost like a home-grown Amer­i­can reli­gion that pur­ports to be about Jesus, pur­ports to be Chris­t­ian, but it’s had all the con­tent drained out of it.
Jeff Sharlet:   Yes, that’s really exactly it. I begin the book, and I begin the story with a month I spent liv­ing in one of The Family’s houses where they sort of groom younger men for lead­er­ship by sign­ing you up for men­tor­ing with a Con­gress­man and so on.
And I remem­ber being struck at the time when a US Sen­ate Aide was telling us about for­mer Vice-President, Dan Quayle, who had vol­un­teered to lead a Bible Study for polit­i­cal men, for The Fam­ily, but he needed some help, he needed some­one to come over and give him just a quick crash course, ‘Because’, he said, ‘well, he hadn’t actu­ally ever read the Bible.’
So he was quite cer­tain he knew what the Bible said, he was quite cer­tain it sup­ported his polit­i­cal pro­gram. He felt con­fi­dent in scold­ing oth­ers for not liv­ing up to the Bible, but he had never actu­ally read the Bible. And that’s what you really see when you look at this elite fun­da­men­tal­ism.
It’s a reli­gion of the sta­tus quo, it’s a reli­gion of things as they are. It’s not the sort of sci­ence fic­tion vision of what the world will look like when the fun­da­men­tal­ists have taken over. These guys are very con­tent with the world as it is, and they top up the Bible as some­thing that is sup­port­ing them­selves and power.
Doug Coe, the leader of the group says ‘We work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.’ And that’s a very sta­tus quo religion.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   The next big ques­tion is to unpack where the reli­gious pro­gram ends and the polit­i­cal pro­gram begins.
Jeff Sharlet:   You know, I like to think of it as sort of a mobi(us) Strip, you know, that pop­u­lar opti­cal illu­sion of a rib­bon that’s sort of twist­ing, and you can never fig­ure out which side you’re on. There is no clear line where the reli­gion ends and the pol­i­tics begin. They don’t draw the dis­tinc­tion. I’ll give you an exam­ple of the project they did recently, some­thing called The Silk Road Act.
This is a piece of Amer­i­can leg­is­la­tion passed in 1999 by our Sen­a­tor Sam Brown­back and Con­gress­man Joe Pitts, both mem­bers of The Fam­ily. The Silk Road Act directed US funds to the dic­ta­tor­ships of the Cen­tral Asian region, and as Sen­a­tor Brown­back explained to me, his role was to essen­tially buy these coun­tries off, to open them up to free mar­kets by giv­ing them a lot of money, a sort of an odd con­cept of free mar­kets. And the rea­son he wanted to do that is . . . Well we have free mar­kets where cap­i­tal­ism goes (and) the gospel fol­lows. And so there you have eco­nom­ics, you have pol­i­tics, and you have reli­gion, and they’re all caught in this loop.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   Jeff, let’s go back to the early his­tory of The Fam­ily and look in more detail at its polit­i­cal pro­gram dur­ing the 1930s and ‘40s which seems to focus pri­mar­ily on destroy­ing trade union­ism in the United States, and in that, they com­pletely succeeded.
Jeff Sharlet:   Yes, they really did. I mean I think that again takes me back to this ques­tion, peo­ple always ask what the fun­da­men­tal­ists want to do? I think the more rel­e­vant ques­tion is what have fun­da­men­tal­ists done.
And you look in the United States and say Why do we alone in the devel­oped world, not have a seri­ous organ­ised labour move­ment? Our organ­ised labour move­ment is nowhere near as pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial as yours in Aus­tralia. I think we really have to look to groups like The Fam­ily and elite fun­da­men­tal­ism.
They came into being to opposed organ­ised labour, worked steadily at that, and counted as one of their first big vic­to­ries a law that was passed here in 1947 which essen­tially rolled back many of the rights to organ­ise and to form unions, that had been won under Franklin Roo­sevelt.
They counted that as their first vic­tory, and then they just sort of went for­ward from there and played this role of dri­ving the cen­tre to the right, they were very involved in the Cold War, very involved in the eco­nom­ics of glob­al­i­sa­tion. These are their projects, but they see them as reli­gious ends.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   You men­tion that in these years The Fam­ily was attracted by Fas­cist and even Nazi ideas, and you say that in the imme­di­ate after­math of World War II, they were involved in reha­bil­i­tat­ing key Nazi indus­tri­al­ists and bankers, help­ing them out or even bring­ing them to the United States.
Jeff Sharlet:   That was their first big step over­seas. That’s when they became inter­na­tional dur­ing World War II. Abra­ham Vereide, the founder, actu­ally trav­elled to the allied pris­ons in Ger­many where we were hold­ing the pris­on­ers of war, with a man­date from the United States State Depart­ment to go among these Nazis and sort of inter­view them and decide which ones could be used for rebuild­ing Ger­many.
And brought in quite a few scary char­ac­ters, per­haps the most notable of whom was Her­mann Josef Abs who after Vereide and The Fam­ily had vouched for him, rose to become the chief finan­cial wiz­ard behind West Germany’s rise, enjoyed a very suc­cess­ful career into the 1970s until the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre dis­cov­ered that before he had been known as Germany’s banker, he’d been known as Hitler’s banker, that he had helped spirit uncounted sums of money off to the Nazis who escaped to Latin Amer­ica.
He was a bad guy, he was dri­ven out of pol­i­tics. But that was the role that The Fam­ily was play­ing, was white­wash­ing these guys and get­ting these guys back into power because they wanted them for the Cold War.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   Jeff, I guess the most pub­lic face of The Fam­ily, or The Fel­low­ship, in the last 30, 40, 50 years, has been the fact that it cre­ated the National Prayer Break­fast, and you tell the story of how Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower really offi­ci­ates at the first National Prayer Break­fast a bit reluc­tantly. He’s a bit like a John McCain fig­ure, not very com­fort­able with overt dis­plays of religion.
Jeff Sharlet:   Yes, exactly. 1953 they inau­gu­rated the National Prayer Break­fast which has been held in Wash­ing­ton ever since. The United States Pres­i­dent always attends, Con­gress attends, and they set these up around the world. You even have one there in Aus­tralia.
And they’ve been sort of very delib­er­ately banal events, very bland, but they refer to within the group and in their doc­u­ments as recruit­ing devices to iden­tify and bring peo­ple into closer involve­ment. And The Fam­ily had wanted to do this for many years but the pre­vi­ous US Pres­i­dents wouldn’t do it.
Eisen­hower didn’t want to do it, he said it’s ‘a vio­la­tion of sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State which is a fun­da­men­tal part of our con­sti­tu­tion here’. But Billy Gra­ham and a Sen­a­tor who was involved in The Fam­ily, Frank Carl­son, had organ­ised an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian vote for him, and they wanted pay­back, so Eisen­hower went, con­cerned that this was going to become a tra­di­tion, and indeed it did, and now it doesn’t mat­ter who’s elected, here in Novem­ber, whether it’s McCain or Obama, come Feb­ru­ary they’re going to the National Prayer Break­fast, and what that does is it gives The Fam­ily that kind of power and that draw.
It doesn’t mean that every Pres­i­dent signs off on their beliefs, but they’re able to go around and say ‘Look at this, we’re able to bring the Pres­i­dent of the United States to one of our events, don’t you want to be asso­ci­ated with that?’
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   And is the National Prayer Break­fast then the key instru­ment of The Family’s power?
Jeff Sharlet: I think the key instru­ment is this really incred­i­ble net­work of politi­cians that they built up over the years. I mean you look back across Amer­i­can his­tory and you find guys like Chief Jus­tice William Ren­quist who’s one of the most influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive Chief Jus­tices of our Supreme Court.
The old leg­endary Dixiecrat named Strom Thur­man, was a long-time right-winger. Even now I can give you a long list of Amer­i­can politi­cians and there have been Aus­tralian politi­cians involved as well, and folks around the world, they’re able to build this net­work so that if you want to get some­thing done, it’s help­ful to work through The Family.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   You’ve got to tell us who the Aus­tralians are.
Jeff Sharlet:   Well the Aus­tralians are going back in his­tory. The first guy to get involved was man named Nor­man Makin who was actu­ally not con­sid­ered a right-winger, he was a long-time Ambas­sador to the United States, but was an early Cold war­rior and saw The Fam­ily as a use­ful vehi­cle for work­ing with the Con­ser­v­a­tive side of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics dur­ing the Cold War. More recently, I would just bump into — in the doc­u­ments –minor Aus­tralian politi­cians, Bruce Baird, a fel­low named Ross Cameron, and I sup­pose Peter Costello has been involved, and I don’t know how involved and I just, that’s not some­thing I fol­lowed up on.
. . . Stephen Crit­ten­den:   NBC News report­ing on the reclu­sive leader of The Fam­ily, Pas­tor Doug Coe. Jeff, you say that The Fam­ily has pen­e­trated Amer­i­can pol­i­tics so thor­oughly that even some­one like Hillary Clin­ton has to be part of these prayer break­fasts. It doesn’t really mat­ter what side of pol­i­tics you’re on, The Fam­ily isn’t inter­ested in that.
Jeff Sharlet:   Yes, I write in the book about Hillary Clinton’s involve­ment which is actu­ally fairly long-standing. She’s upfront about it in her auto­bi­og­ra­phy, ‘Liv­ing His­tory’. She writes in 1993 of com­ing to Wash­ing­ton and hav­ing a seg­re­gated women’s prayer group organ­ised for her of the wives of very con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal bro­kers, and this was not just prayer busi­ness. Clearly pol­i­tics.
NBC one of our net­work news sta­tions here did a lit­tle seg­ment on that aspect of the book and they noted that both John McCain and Barak Obama had also attended the weekly Sen­ate prayer break­fasts, there’s the Annual National Break­fast and then there’s a weekly break­fast also run by The Fam­ily.
And what that really shows is not that John McCain or Barak Obama are part of it. It shows that it’s become this almost nec­es­sary piety pit stop, that to run for national office in the United States, you have to show your reli­gios­ity, which is for­bid­den by our Con­sti­tu­tion.
We say there’s no reli­gious test, anyone’s allowed to run. But it’s become this de facto test, and what that does is it also opens the door for a kind of con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics that peo­ple don’t notice.
Here we have some­thing called faith-based ini­tia­tives, intro­duced by Pres­i­dent Bush, and what this amounted to was a mas­sive pri­vati­sa­tion of gov­ern­ment resources, turn­ing over social wel­fare to reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions; chang­ing the law so those reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions are free to dis­crim­i­nate against who they want, and one of the most dis­may­ing things I think about our cam­paign right now is that both John McCain and Barak Obama have pledged to not just con­tinue this pro­gram, but to expand it.
And the rea­son is, they have to do that because The Fam­ily, pop­ulist fun­da­men­tal­ism, and elite fun­da­men­tal­ism work­ing together have so set the terms of reli­gios­ity in Amer­i­can life, that we don’t have a whole lot of room for gen­uine reli­gious dis­cus­sions, gen­uine dis­cus­sion of reli­gious ideas, which are always wel­come. We have only room for these kinds of pub­lic procla­ma­tions of piety.
Stephen Crit­ten­den:   You men­tioned the Rev­erend Billy Gra­ham ear­lier. He’s a very inter­est­ing char­ac­ter in this story, he only appears once or twice, but he’s obvi­ously piv­otal at the begin­ning of set­ting up the National Prayer Break­fast, as you men­tioned. He shoe­horns Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower into sort of turn­ing up and play­ing along. What is Billy Graham’s role in all of this? He always strikes me as a much more com­plex and ambigu­ous char­ac­ter than he some­times seems on the surface.
Jeff Sharlet:   He really is. He really is a com­pli­cated char­ac­ter, which is inter­est­ing, because he was not a com­pli­cated man, but I’m sorry, ‘was not’, put it in the past tense. Still alive, still with us, but mostly his pub­lic career is over. He was a sim­ple man who found him­self at the nexus of a lot of power, and was a lit­tle bit proud of that.
You know, I mean I was able to put together the account of his role in the National Prayer Break­fast, not just through these doc­u­ments which are in the archives, but through his own biog­ra­phy in which he really comes right out and boasts about bul­ly­ing Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower into this role. He was a guy who came from a very right-wing fun­da­men­tal­ist place, a very anti-Semitic place which he never really quite over­come, and moved into the main­stream of Amer­i­can life and was instru­men­tal for instance, in giv­ing reli­gious cover to Pres­i­dent Nixon. And also played this very impor­tant role for The Family. . . .
“Elite Fundamentalism–The Fellowship’s Gospel of Cap­i­tal­ist Power” [Stephen Crittenden’s inter­view of Jeff Sharlet]; The Reli­gion Report [Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Co.]; 9/3/2008.

And fantastic mythical religious cover for the conversion of our nation's sweetheart Georgie Porgie Puddin' and Pie.

There's talk throughout this essay about this type of necessary (required) religiosity subverting the freedom of association guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

I don't know. It doesn't seem to be an overwhelming concern at the present time. My guess is that all this recurring national talk of religious impetus is just a clever ruse to take the focus off of the economic policies they insist are sacrosanct.

Sounds much more like using it as an excuse for safeguarding the money of the elite from the hoi polloi to me.

Labor unions now equal Communism in the public (MSM-nurtured) mind.

I know. I know.

What minds?

The Blueberry Amigos ring the bell at the local farmers' market.


TONY said...

Those wacky Generals, eh? General Westmoreland went to his grave saying that Vietnam was a victory for America. And don't even get me started on McChystal and Petraeus....

Cirze said...

It's a club (as Driftglass says) and you are not a member.

As if you would ever consider it.