Friday, May 26, 2006

The Euston Manifesto

The Euston Manifesto is a declaration by folks on the left end of the political spectrum that demands examination and respect. I heartily endorse its main points - rejection of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, a willingness to hold up to examination the historic failures of Communism, absolute rejection of terrorism as a valid means to political ends, and a summary rejection of terrorism's apologists.

I differ with a few details having to do with the fact that I'm on the center-right rather than the center-left. So personally, I couldn't sign on.

But those who do have my respect, because we agree on the important things. And on the less-important things, we can agree to disagree and work toward mutually acceptable solutions.

Democrats, are you listening?


tim said...

Kenneth Lay was quoting scripture and professing his love for God after being found guilty in the Enron trial even saying "All things work together for those who love the Lord." Do you find this a little repulsive? And why is there such silence in the evangelical community about this, or Tom Delay or Ralph Reed for that matter.

If we see anything in regards to sin of a sexual nature we go ballistic (really the years and money spent on the Clinton deal, while disgusting,), but doesn't it pale in comparison to what these guys are doing as they cloak themselves in the very inviting protective blanket of the religeous right. Just curious.

Corrie said...

Thanks for the comment, Tim. I'm not sure what it has to do with the Euston Manifesto, but thanks for dropping by.

Perhaps Lay abandoned Mammon for Jesus, maybe he was posing. Lots of people pose, and yeah, it is annoying. Proverbs teaches that those who deceive and steal will be destroyed by their ill-gotten gains; maybe Ken finally got the message.

As to the "silence," I think you'll find that evangelicals at the grass roots stepped up to help those who were most damaged by the Enron collapse, at the local level, without making headlines. Just helping folks who'd lost their income make the rent and get dinner on the table; that sort of thing.

And why should evangelical leaders make a fuss over Enron? Lay and his cronies were crooks. It was obvious they were crooks. They were going to jail, it was only a question of when and for how long. No one was defending their behavior. There's nothing to debate.

A sitting President commits adultery in the Oval Office, then lies under oath, and folks actually rise to his defense, well, that's a valid thing for moral leaders to comment on.

Tom DeLay as far as I can tell is being railroaded by a prosecutor without a case who wants to be governor someday. Tom took one for the team in resigning. He could have stayed and fought it - and won - but it would have been a Pyrric victory. I am confident that he will be cleared eventually. Hardball politics ain't a ladies luncheon, but that doesn't make it illegal.

Accepting bribes, on the other hand, IS illegal. Stashing nine hundred FBI-marked c-notes in your freezer, and then declaring outrage at being searched, now that's some serious chutzpah!

Thanks for dropping by.

tim said...

I'm not trying to be just a jerk (and not implying you were saying I'm one), I just am really trying to understand right wing conservative Christianity - something I was a part of for a long time (the last Democratic president I voted for was Jimmy Carter and I was 18 then).

Tom Delay, innocent? whew -that's interesting. Nonetheless, even his comment that he would change NOTHING in what he had done to me shows an incredibly vain and irresponsible position. NOTHING?! Read about his trips, his excesses, his ties to Abramoff, maybe he will be found innocent, but he would change nothing?

But my questions certainly transcend politics, although what I've found out as I began examining things again, is that my Christianity is certainly being questioned the more I question Republican politics. I've found I have to support the tobacco lobby, the NRA, obscene CEOs like Lay(and he's just the tip of the iceberg) and host of other tawdry things to be a 'good' conservative. When did this happen? Why can't say we something is wrong anymore, even if it's a right wing cause? I think we're so afraid of questioning anything that might show a crack in the armor to Democrats that we go along with anything.

The Enron/Delay stuff shows (to me) we don't want to talk about greed and money in Chrisitan circles, just homosexuality and abortion, not much else matters. (I know that's unfair but sometimes that's what it seems like). We aren't homosexuals and we don't get abortions so we can all agree to nail those. But we want all the goodies and lifestyles of wealth and so we aren't about to talk about those things.

I don't know if this is the forum for my questions or not. I was looking at some stuff on Henri Nouwen and found an response to John Piper on cancer and hit here and stopped. Which brings me to my next question. What do you make of Henri Nouwen? A prolific inspiring writer who loved God, yet was homosexual. Granted, we have no evidence he was anything but celibate, but wouldn't a man who loved God like he did not wrestle with this? We all have our 'thorns' I suppose, but I think it's got to be deeper than that. It's just made me wonder about this whole deal more, knowing how much pain in caused in his life. Wow -what a ramble huh?

tim said...

I think you hit on a key point, even if it was unintentional. I believe Enron was all about morality, but I don't think many evangelicals would see it that way or at least not in the way they do sexual sin of the Clinton variety (or homosexuality for that matter).

William Jefferson is a disgrace - right up there with Jack Abramoff and our own former darling Ralph Reed, right?

Corrie said...

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Delay played the game, and played to win. He played hardball, and took full advantage of his position. But that doesn't mean that he broke the law. The prosecutor who's hounding him had a hard time even getting an indictment. Jefferson and Abrahamoff, by contrast, look like they'll be doing time. It's kind of hard to explain the "cold cash." And what's the problem with Reed? He's got connections; he's using them.

I'm what you might call a "crunchy" conservative - I believe in a social safety net and good environmental stewardship. I'm not happy with this administration's record on the environment or education. NCLB was a good start, but it needs some serious tweaking.

But the GOP is a big enough tent to allow for a range of views. The Dems are run by the far left - see what's going on in Vegas this weekend with the Kossack Konvention.

I think most evangelicals would call Enron a moral issue - it was all about greed and lies. In my sermon on Sunday (I was filling in because the pastor was on vacation) I called out the staggering death toll from hunger - 29,000 children every day. There's plenty of room, and plenty of food - it's corruption - and worse - that's killing three children every second.

Sin, plain and simple. Social conservatives are concerned about homosexuality because they perceive it as a direct attack on the basic structure of the family - more, a direct attack on gender roles. I don't get so worked up about it myself. I have a couple of gay family members, and we simply have to agree to disagree on some things. Sin is sin is sinm in God's eyes.

I'm not familiar with Henri Nouwen, but I had a roomate once who had left the gay lifestyle shortly before he found out he had AIDS. Ironic, eh? He too was an inspiring writer, and his struggles caused him to lean wholly on God. His funeral was packed, and a joyous affair - a true celebration of life.

Lots of gifted people struggle with sin - pretty much everyone who is aware of sin struggles with it, I would think. How can you not? We're human.

We're called to be "in but not of". (That's the title of a good book by Hugh Hewitt, btw.) But power can have a corrosive effect. Some people resist that better than others. Some people compartmentalize. Some people just withdraw. I think we have to engage.

When it comes time to vote, who is going to do more on the issues I believe most strongly in? Today, that's the GOP.

tim said...

Thanks Corrie - a thoughtful, reasonable response which I will re-read.

tim said...

In regards to your question 'What's the problem with Reed?' Here's just a portion of an article from Feb of this year's Nation:

The only Christian-right activist confirmed to be completely aware of Abramoff's rip-off was Ralph Reed. He and Abramoff have a long and storied history together. When Abramoff chaired the College Republican National Committee in the early 1980s, Reed served as the organization's executive director. They reunited in 1989, when Abramoff helped Reed organize the remains of Pat Robertson's failed 1988 presidential bid into the Christian Coalition. In 1997, with the Christian Coalition under IRS investigation and Reed facing accusations of cronyism from the group's chief financial officer, he left to start his own consulting firm, Century Strategies. Reed contacted Abramoff right away. "I need to start humping in corporate accounts," Reed told him in 1998. "I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts.

Though Abramoff apparently was not fond of Reed, he viewed him as useful. "I know you (we!) hate him [Reed], but it does give us good cover and patter to have him doing stuff," he wrote in a February 14, 2002, e-mail to his business partner, Michael Scanlon. "Let's give him a list of things we want...and give him some chump change to get it done." Reed thus became Abramoff and Scanlon's liaison to the Christian right, enlisting his evangelical allies into a web of shadowy casino hustles for "chump change."

Reed's first sleight of hand was enticing Perkins, Falwell and Robertson to try to block a 2001 bill in the Louisiana legislature loosening restrictions on riverboat casinos, which would have posed a competitive threat to Abramoff's clients, the Coushattas. At the time, Perkins was a right-wing State Representative hailed by Reed as the legislature's "anti-gambling leader."

As Perkins lobbied his colleagues against the riverboat bill, he pushed Reed to pour money into an aggressive phone-banking campaign to rally conservative Christian voters.

With a steady supply of gambling industry cash, Abramoff dumped a phone-bank budget of more than $60,000 into Reed's war chest for PR efforts against his clients' rivals, the Jena Choctaws (Reed had asked for $150,000)--supplementing the $10,000 in tribal gambling money he directed to Reed's 2001 campaign for chair of the Georgia GOP and the nearly $4 million he ultimately funneled into Reed's personal account. Reed then recruited Falwell to record a phone message against the bill. He also solicited the help of his former boss at the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, thanking him for his "leadership for our values." Like the answering of a prayer, tens of thousands of Louisiana Republicans suddenly were bombarded with the voice of God against vice, played by Robertson and Falwell.

On March 22, 2001, the bill was resoundingly defeated in the legislature. "You are the greatest!!!" an ecstatic Abramoff wrote to Reed.

Miracle accomplished, Abramoff tapped Reed's services again in January 2002, when his clients learned that then-Louisiana Governor Mike Foster had secretly approved a casino site for the Jena Choctaws. Following a battle plan devised by Scanlon (who inexplicably signed a memo outlining the plan, Mike "The Sausage King" Scanlon), Reed re-enlisted his evangelical allies to rev up grassroots pressure on Bush Interior Secretary Gail Norton, who had the final say on the Jena deal.

Reed first prompted Dobson to attack the Jenas' lobbyist, Washington super-lawyer, former RNC chair and current Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, during a Focus on the Family broadcast. (In his 2002 campaign for governor, Barbour described himself as "a five-point Calvinist" on American Family Radio.)

"Let me know when Dobson hits him," Abramoff wrote to Reed on February 6, 2002. "I want to savor it." That same day, he e-mailed Scanlon, "He [Dobson] is going to hit Haley by name! He is going to encourage people to call Norton and the WH [White House]. This is going to get fun."

Abramoff transferred more cash to Reed to blast Dobson's tirade against the Jena casino across Louisiana airwaves. Abramoff was confident his Bush Administration contacts would make sure all the right people heard Dobson's hit. "Dobson goes up on the radio next week!" he told Scanlon on February 20. "We'll play it in WH [the White House] and Interior." Abramoff's gamble paid off when word of the ad filtered through the tension-filled halls of the Interior Department. "[White House liaison] Doug [Domenech] came to me and said, 'Dobson's going to shut down our phone system,'" an unnamed former Interior official recounted to the Washington Post. " 'He's going to go on the air and tell everyone who listens to Focus on the Family to call Interior to oppose the Jena compact.' "

But Abramoff's fun didn't stop there. Reed urged a Who's Who of the Christian right to lobby Norton against the Jena compact with a stream of breathless letters. On February 19 Perkins warned Norton that gambling leads to "crime, divorce, child abuse." American Family Association chair Don Wildmon sent a lengthy missive to Norton filled with statistics on gambling's adverse social impact. The Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly sent another. American Values president Gary Bauer declared in a letter to Norton that the compact ran "contrary to President Bush's pro-family vision." Focus on the Family vice president Tom Minnery wrote Norton and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card to demand they stop the deal. Dobson capped the mail blitz with his own missive against gambling expansion.

Despite the best efforts of Abramoff and the Christian soldiers Reed recruited, in December Norton approved the Jena compact. Soon after, Louisiana's new governor, Kathleen Blanco, reversed the deal on the basis of her opposition to casino growth. Abramoff's goal was achieved, but all his work was for naught. And his skulduggery was beginning to catch up with him. "I hate all the shit I'm into," he moaned to Scanlon in a February 2003 e-mail. "I need to be on the Caribbean with you!"

However, Abramoff's campaign against the Jena compact was a blessing for most of its Christian-right players. Perkins got to prove his mettle in a national campaign, prompting his appointment the following year by Dobson to president of the Family Research Council, the Washington-based lobbying powerhouse. Dobson, for his part, got to demonstrate his grassroots muscle to the Bush White House, raising his visibility to Karl Rove & Co. and helping him increase his influence over its social agenda as the presidential election approached.

Among Abramoff's evangelical surrogates, only Reed emerged from their relationship with visible baggage. But this was not apparent at the time. Now, as a result of extensive media coverage of his involvement with Abramoff, his campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia, intended as a stepping stone to higher office, is lagging. He has gone from denying early in his campaign that he accepted gambling money to claiming most recently that Abramoff lied to him about the source of his fees. To generate a strong turnout for his January 21 appearance at a Georgia Christian Coalition meeting, Reed was reduced to enticing his dwindling band of "supporters" with cash and free hotel rooms.

(Well I guess as you say politics is rough stuff - but aren't we supposed to be a little different in how we 'play the game?' Reed is either tremendously naive and stupid (which his track record does not suggest) or is as slimy as anybody in this whole mess. What's really disturbing is what I see among Christian conservatives - willing to fall in line behind whatever James Dobson decrees. (or Rush Limbaugh - but at least I think Dobson actually cares about Christians - Limbaugh I truly believe secretly detests us like Abramoff does)

tim said...

I'll hang up and listen for a while. I'm wondering what my point is in writing questions/comments to you. Do I really want answers (very few people seem to these days)? Do I want to prove you wrong and me right? Do I truly want to understand my change in values over the past 3 years? I was a pastor in an evangelical church who went through some tough times personally and since my faith was so tied into conservative ideology (as it was with the church I was at) it was very tough to seperate my loss of trust in the political process with my faith in God. "A good Christian doesn't question our wonderful born again leader George Bush, etc"

I just found myself feeling that this alliance of evangelical christianity and the Republican party was really quite unholy. Influence the system, work for positive change - absolutely. But striving for political power - don't see it fitting in with Jesus' agenda on Earth. I know he didn't waste anytime with it and knew it was the answer to the world's problems.

Why are so many black Christians democrat? Why are we more polarized in the political process than anytime in history? Why do we no longer respect leaders who are not from our party, but ridicule and hate them? (on both sides) When you demonize the other side and see them as evil, it then jusitifies just about anything you do, which is why you see the terrible scandals on both sides - the ends do justify the means in politics.

Changing people one at a time was what Jesus proposed and practiced and he had no time for Ceasar. He knew that his message was not subject to any political process and that real change came through people.

Thanks for letting me write - I wish you well.