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All In The Family April 12, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in politics, religion.

(gravel tenor) Boy the way Glen Miller played. (impossible soprano) Songs that made the hit parade. (gravel tenor) Guys like us we had it made. (both) Those were the days.

Indeed. I remember watching “All In The Family” with my parents as a young kid. We lived in Israel then and didn’t understand English so I read the subtitles. I still remember some of the classic refrains though. “He’s a good boy, Archie!” “He’s a meathead!” And the opening song “Those were the days.” In college, one of my roommates and I occasionally butchered that song. He could do a great Edith. I have to admit I never knew what the first line of the song was until a few minutes ago. As a kid, I could never make it out, and in college … well, we didn’t have Google … and we only sang it when we were drunk.

Anyways, for the past hour or so, I’ve been Googling and reading up on “The Family” (here’s one piece from NPR) and am tempted to order Jeff Sharlet’s book from Amazon (except it will end up going on the end of a long queue and never getting read). The Family is an invisible (i.e., secret) religious society that is currently in the news because of a certain C street house and rental subsidies to Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and representative Zack Wamp (R-Tennessee), both members. I first heard about The Family about a year ago during John Ensign (R-Nevada) staffer-gate. I read a little bit back then and found out that The Fam has many members in high politics including about ten Senators, a bunch of Reps, and even former chief justice William Rehnquist. But at the time, I didn’t dig deeply into their charter or their operations (not that you can dig deeply into these things because members operate under an effective gag order and there is no paper trail). Now? Maybe I better stop reading, because the more I read the more creeped out I get.

The Family is part fundamentalist religious prayer group, part secret society, part Republican sub-party (not the centrist part either), part cabal, part mafia, all creepy.

In 1948, a group of Senate staffers met to discuss ways that the Family’s “cell and leadership groups” could recruit elites unwilling to participate in the “mass meeting approach” of populist fundamentalism. Two years later, the Family declared that with democracy inadequate to the fight against godlessness, such cells should function to produce political “atomic energy”; that is, deals and alliances that could not be achieved through the clumsy machinations of legislative debate would instead radiate quietly out of political cells. [from the NPR story]

They recruit politicians, businessmen, and other “key figures”–the former using rent-subsidized C street apartments with maid service–to push their agenda. TFam operates under a bunch of different names and through various fronts–like the Fellowship Foundation and International Christian Leadership–and it provides “spiritual guidance” for countless other foundations, charities, and non-profits. Some of TFam’s operations have multi-million dollar annual budgets, and generally speaking large sums of money flow both through TFam and between its members, but everything is apparently in non-sequential unmarked bills–everything is under the table, by gentleman’s agreement, and untraceable. You won’t find their financial statements on GuideStar.org.

The Family surfaces for one morning a year, the “National” “Prayer” “Breakfast”, which gathers 3,000 plus at the Washington Hilton for prayer, muffins, seminars, and networking sessions that lead to all sorts of hush-hush national–and international–government and corporate deals. Evidently, TF was responsible for Richard Nixon’s political pardon, the Camp David accord between Israel and Egypt, and averting full-scale civil war in South Africa. But they also count as members and associate with so many shady figures–including foreign dictators and generals–that these good works are likely balanced, or maybe even outweighed, by self-serving malfeasance. One hates to conjecture what other things TF had a hand in. A safe bet may be … everything. I’m sure TF knows where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, who masterminded the JFK assassination, and what is in area 51.

Even with a Democratic White House and Congress, TFam is still doing its thing. Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) is a member. And both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore often consult with TFam leadership–an inconvenient truth of another kind. We bitch and moan about the ineffectiveness of Congress, partisan gridlock, and the influence of corporate money. But all of this may be less relevant than we think. Or at least less directly relevant. Maybe our focus needs to shift deeper underground. Maybe we need to root out The Family and shine a little daylight on it. We are certain to be surprised at what we find. And we may also be surprised at how differently governments and corporations begin to operate. On the other hand, do we really want to know? And do we really want to see a government without The Family behind it? After all, we haven’t had one since 1935!

One nation under God, indeed. It may be one world under God. Or one world under Doug Coe.

P.S. My condolences to the entire country of Poland. Can you imagine if this happened in the US?

P.P.S. The new sports media.

P.P.P.S. A woman with an interesting resume.

P.P.P.P.S. Ironically, the first two lines of the last verse of “Those Were the Days” are “Didn’t need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight.” Hmmm…



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