From email@example.com Mon Aug 7 22:24:56 2000
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 18:08:18 EDT
Subject: AANEWS for Monday, August 7, 2000 -- Part One of Two
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from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
subject: AANEWS for August 7, 2000
A Special Report on Sen. Joseph Lieberman--"Behind The Mask,"
American Atheists, #798 - 799
7 August 2000
V.P. Candidate's Role As Virtuecrat, Dangerous Record On State-Church
Issue & "Tipper Stickers" Raises Concerns
Today's announcement that Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut will
be Al Gore's running mate on the Democratic ticket is stirring up
excitement in party ranks, and giving the press a field day over the
fact that he is an Orthodox Jew. A Gore-Lieberman ticket breaks
another American political barrier that some are comparing to John
Kennedy's election in 1960. Up until then, no Roman Catholic had
succeeded in winning the nation's highest elected office. A Vice
President Lieberman would be another "first," since no Jew has ever
successfully run for the coveted number two slot.
Lieberman has been a harsh critic, though, of Democratic foreign
policy under President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore,
particularly regarding the Middle East. The Jerusalem Post notes in
today's edition that Lieberman wrote to Clinton in 1997 that "our
government's Mideast policy of evenhandedness, in contradiction with
reality, continues. It is wrong. Evenhandedness has not been
earned." The letter, signed by Lieberman and four GOP senators,
characterized PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat as "the villain who is
unwilling to stop the terror," and called for "no more concession."
The Connecticut senator, a founding member along with Clinton and Al
Gore of the influential Democratic Leadership Council -- the group
most responsible for moving the party more toward centrist politics --
was also a harsh critic of the president when the Monica Lewinsky sex
scandal broke. At times, Lieberman sounded as strident and judgmental
as GOP stalwarts or Jerry Falwell in attacking Clinton for his
"immoral" dalliances inside the Oval Office. Indeed, Lieberman's
presence on the Democratic ticket is seen as part of continuing
strategy by both the party and the Gore campaign to incorporate
"values" and religion in their public image, something which has
become High Art for their Republican counterparts. St. Louis
University political scientist Joe Goldstein, an expert on the vice
presidency, told Associated Press that Lieberman's selection for the
number two slot "is a declaration of independence from Clinton because
Lieberman was so outspoken on the Lewinsky affair."
A Shoddy Record On Separation
Unlike others who were mulled for the vice presidential position --
they included Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, House Minority Leader Dick
Gephardt, and Sens. John Kerry of Mass. and John Edwards of North
Carolina -- Lieberman is noted for reaching out beyond partisan
Democratic ranks and courting religious right extremists. He has ties
to a number of religious conservative leaders and groups, such as
former Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed and virtuecrat William
Bennett. Lieberman is also plugged into various "interfaith" groups
which include international religious extremists such as homophobe The
Baroness Cox of the United Kingdom, and he is part of a "media
morality" coalition which call for everything from warning labels on
music CD's to a more conservative agenda inside the Hollywood
entertainment industry. These latter associations could be a
potential campaign issue for some younger voters, especially since Al
Gore's wife, Tipper, established a notorious reputation as a
censorcrat through her earlier activities with groups like the Parents
Music Resource Center.
On capitol hill, Lieberman has established a poor record on
separation and civil liberties. He voted for S. 1965, which
overhauled the welfare system and gave state governments (under the
threat of lawsuits) a green light for farming out social welfare
administration contacts to religious groups. The measure seriously
affected the balance between church and state, and under the guise of
"charitable choice" and other schemes, threatens to put sectarian
groups on the public payroll. Lieberman also backed H.R. 3734,
another welfare reform scheme that brought faith-based groups another
step closer to taxpaying funding.
Lieberman also supported school vouchers based on H.B. 2546. That
legislation sought to establish a pilot voucher system in Washington,
D.C. similar to the experiment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most of the
"private" schools to benefit from the proposal would have been
sectarian, and the majority of these were Roman Catholic. Another
charter school which would have benefited shortchanged black
youngsters by teaching bizarre theories regarding history having to do
with aliens and flying saucers. Opponents blocked the bill in the
Senate with a filibuster, but Lieberman announced his stand as a
staunch supporter of voucher experiments. Today's Jerusalem Post
describes Lieberman's position, saying that he "also broken with the
Democrats in his support for school vouchers that could be used by
parents to help pay tuition at Jewish day schools and other private
schools." The teachers unions, a core Democratic constituency, oppose
As part of his outreach to Christian conservatives, Lieberman also
voted yes for another hot button religious right issue, H.R. 3396,
dubbed "The Defense of Marriage Act." This measure denied federal
recognition of marriages involving gay couples. President Clinton
signed this legislation that sailed easily through the U.S. House and
Senate. On another gay-related item, S. 1124, Lieberman voted for
legislation that compelled the military to discharge service members
who tested positive for the HIV virus.
Lieberman & The "Empower America" Virtuecrats and Censorcrats
Sen. Lieberman is a founder of the "Empower America" group along with
religious right values guru William Bennett. That group has worked
with other organizations such as the Gore's PRMC and the Media Social
Responsibility Project in demanding that movie producers, writers,
musicians, lyricists and others in the entertainment industry take
steps "to curtail excessive violence and sexual content." While there
is occasional lip service to asking for "voluntary" compliance, civil
liberties groups have noted that these same organizations often back
legislative proposals to mandate "Tipper stickers" -- printed
advisories which purportedly warn consumers about the content of a
particular CD, movie or other item -- or even institute some form of
more direct government censorship. The appeal of these groups, like
Lieberman, crosses party lines and explicit political labels.
One example is Lieberman's involvement with the "Appeal to Hollywood"
petition sponsored by the Institute for Communitarian Policy at George
Washington University. The Empower America group is a cosponsor of
the petition, along with a religious group called Entertainment
Fellowship. In addition to Lieberman and Bennett, other high-profile
signers of the "petition" include Gen. Colin Powell (a keynoter at
the recent GOP convention); millionaire publisher and former GOP
contender Steve Forbes; Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch; Reform Party honcho
Pat Buchanan; several U.S. Senators including Kent Conrad, Kay Bailey
Hutchison and John Kyl; and entertainers Steve Allen, Naomi Judd and
"The Appeal calls for a 'new social compact,' urging parents to take
seriously their responsibility for supervising their children's
exposure to entertainment media and urging the entertainment industry
to devise a voluntary code of conduct..." declares a broadside from
Empower America signed by Bennett and Lieberman. Continuing the theme
of what some describe as "national nannyism," the release adds:
"Creating a morally healthy and safe environment for our children
should be a top priority for our society. Today it is one that will
require moral leadership and courage from every officeholder, from the
President on down...."
One close associate of Lieberman's has been C. Delores Tucker, Chair
of the National Political Congress of Black Women and a veritable
Molly Hatchet over the issue of certain musical lyrics -- a
fascination she shares with Tipper Gore. In an op-ed piece published
jointly with Bennett and Lieberman in the June 6, 1996 issue of USA
TODAY, Tucker piggybacked on the politically correct issue of bashing
media giants, accusing companies like Time Warner, EMI and Sony of
promulgating "a steady stream of mental poison," "obscene albums,"
"Rap Rubbish," and "cultural pollution." The trio attempted the
weighty task of trying to differentiate this musical genre from "some
of the rocks songs of past decades that triggered minor controversies
in our time."
The Lieberman-Bennet-Tucker trio soon became the brunt of jokes,
criticism and scalding satire, especially from groups like The R.O.C.
("Rock Out Censorship") and civil libertarians. There were the usual
First Amendment issues -- who should determine what is "smut"? -- and
more than one critic noted that in the marketplace of ideas and
tastes, many of the items which Tucker and friends were criticizing
were wildly popular at the cash register. Writer John Woods of R.O.C.
then plumbed Tucker's own background, starting with her Orwellian call
to convert abandoned military bases into "labor camps" for (mostly
black and poor) inner city youth.
While calling for the nation to improve its moral standards, it
appeared that Tucker herself needed to take the message to heart.
Wood noted, for instance, that in 1977, when she was on the short list
for President Carter's appointments to the Treasury department, Tucker
was abruptly fired by then-Pennsylvania Gov. Milton Shapp because
"she was running a private, profitable business at state expense," and
had used state employees as speechwriters while raking in over $66,000
in lecture fees. Tucker later became involved in a legal imbroglio
when she attempted to cut her own deal with one of the favorite
targets of the Empower America trio -- Interscope Records. Even more
bizarre were revelations about Tucker which appeared in the 10/24/95
issue of the Village Voice by civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, "Alleging
a Conspiracy To Use Gangsta Rap for Ethnic Cleaning," The R.O.C.,
issue #20). The piece explores Tucker's relationship with Dr.
Frances Cress Welsing, "who practices child and general psychiatry in
Washington -- (and who) has helped shape Delores Tucker's thinking
"Gangsta rap, Welsing (said) ... is part of a conspiracy to set up
black people 'as the trash that should be eliminated.' So, too 'prior
to killing six million people, the Nazis waged a systematic campaign
in the media to make the Semites of the Jewish religion look less than
human, to make them deplorable to the German people as a whole. The
same dynamic is happening now. The issue is setting up black people
as the trash that should be exterminated..."
In a flurry of legal claims and counterclaims, Tucker -- and the whole
bizarre campaign against "trash" lyrics -- have stepped into the
background of the Empower America agenda. The latest rage is
faith-based partnership, "charitable choice," and efforts to find ways
of reinvigorating sectarian groups, even if they must be invited to
feast at the public trough.
Joseph Lieberman has "reached out" to Christian conservatives on
more than just the question of salacious cultural "pollution." One
example is his strange, though rarely profiled working relationship
with those supporting "charitable choice," "community renewal"and
other efforts to bring organized religion into the administration of
social service programs.
-- Lieberman is cosponsor of the Senate version of the "American
Community Renewal Act," which would use a combination of tax credits
and government grants to promote faith-based drug and alcohol rehab
programs and other outreaches. A version of the legislation has been
knocking around on capitol hill since 1996 when it was dubbed the
"Talent-Watts" bill. (Missouri Republican Rep. James M. Talent
cosponsored the measure along with Oklahoma Rep., J.C. Watts, Jr., a
frequent guest a Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition "Road to Victory"
rallies.) In the Senate, Lieberman has introduced mirror versions of
ACRA with the help of Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan.
Along with its "angst" over salacious movies and uppity CD lyrics,
Empower America has also been a supporter of forms of "charitable
choice" and the "community renewal" fad. The group has already
praised Gov. George Bush for support of a program to provide up
$1,500 in voucher aid for parents wishing to send their youngsters to
private or religious schools and a similar effort to spend $3 billion
in tax money to establish 2,000 new charter (quasi-public) schools.
More Strange Company
Another Lieberman group is the Center for Jewish and Christian
Values, operated by the International Fellowship of Christians and
Jews. The purpose is "to improve the moral climate in our country by
bringing together Jews and Christians in support of a common set of
principles and programs on which to build amore moral society in
America." This includes effort to "protect religious expression in
the public square and public schools," "Oppose derisive portrayals of
faith and religion often found in films and on television,"
"Provide(s) practical ways for Christians to show their support for
Israel and an undivided Jerusalem," and "Fight(s) worldwide
persecution of Christians by supporting legislation that protects
religious minorities overseas."
Joining Lieberman in the CJCV are:
- Gary L. Bauer -- head of the influential, Washington, D.C.-based
Family Research Council and former GOP-presidential nomination
- Charles Colson -- Watergate crook-turned-evangelist, head of Prison
Fellowship Ministries, and close pal of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
- William Bennett -- former drug czar, values guru and head of Empower
- Jack Kemp -- another Empower America founder, former VP candidate in
1996 with Bob Dole and a major "charitable choice," and "community
- Kay James -- Dean at Pat Robertson's Regent University, vice
president of the Family Research Council, and member of the national
commission which examined the impact of legalized gambling on society.
- The Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury -- little known in the
United States, the Baroness is a member of the British House of Lords,
and heads Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Christian Solidarity
International. CSW has claimed to have bought "slaves" in the Sudan,
but has come under attack for what say are wild and unsubstantiated
charges having to do with the status of Christian missionaries and
others in Third World countries. Some Muslim groups have accused Cox
of being part of an effort to undermine Middle East governments, and
justify certain U.S. foreign policies which assist Christian
Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network gave full play to Cox's
allegations in November, 1998 with a broadcast focusing on the slavery
The "Gay and Lesbian Humanist," U.K. in its Spring, 1999 issue links
a homophobe group, The Christian Institute, to Baroness Cox. The
goals of the Institute include "to challenge humanism, relativism and
other ideologies, to proclaim Biblical truth as relevant to every area
of life," and "to equip Christians for action."
Cox was also a member of the "Commission of Inquiry into Fetal
Sentence" sponsored by anti-choice groups in the U.K.
George Weigel is a biographer and "Catholic intellectual." He is
affiliated with a number of groups promoting the involvement of
sectarian organization in public affairs through advertising theories
about "civic society." These include the Discovery Institute, which
operates the Center for Renewal of Science & Culture," and has been
linked to a "stealth agenda" to promote acceptance of creationism and
make it palpable for public consumption and instruction in school
classrooms. Weigel writes on international affairs for "The Christian
Activist," ("A Journal of Orthodox Opinion.") and was selected by the
pope to craft the official papal biography. He defines John Paul II
as "the embodiment of transformed humanism," and said that the papal
visit in January, 1998 to Cuba "caps the century's run from atheism to
liberation by faith in God."
Weigel was part of a "group of political destabilization specialists"
operating various fronts linked to the intelligence community which
seek to use religious indoctrination to advance political agendas.
Sarah Diamond, author of "Spiritual Warfare, The Politics of the
Christian Right," (Boston, South End Press, 1989) traces Weigel's ties
through the Byzantine labyrinth of psy-war fronts and shadowy
organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy, Puebla
Institute and the Peace, Freedom and Securities studies program.
Jeane Kirkpatrick is former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., and linked
to Weigel and others through a network of groups. She is also one of
the four original founders along with Kemp and Bennett of Empower
America, and shortly after the 1992 elections joined Bennett in
release a document known as the "Index of Leading Social Indicators"
which was a transparent blast at the Clintons who were dubbed
"cultural revolutionaries" for their stand on gay rights and abortion.
Richard D. Land is executive director of the Southern Baptist
Convention's "Christian Life Commission." In the early days of the
George Bush administration, he warned the president that "active
courting of the homosexual lobby by your administration goes far
beyond any argument of being president of all the people ... (and)
grievously damaged your administration's standing among many of my
constituents. The elder Bush had committed the "sin" of first meeting
with a group of magazine executives that happen to include Christie
Hefner, daughter of "Playboy" founder Hugh Hefner, and allowing
members of the gay ACT UP group to be spotted at a ceremony for the
signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Land is considered
the liaison between many religious right groups and the SBC.
"Civil Society," "Renewal," "Faith-Based Partnerships"
New-Speak For Putting Religion On The Payroll?
Lieberman is part of a growing coalition of political liberals,
conservatives and religious interest groups which see an important
role in the future for faith-based organizations. In conferences,
interviews and publications, there is constant reference to "civil
society" -- networks of public and private organizations, including
churches and other religious groups -- as a positive and stabilizing
element in human affairs. Ideologically, while they may differ over
details, this movement appears to agree on several essential points.
They denounce "moral relativism" and "postmodernism," suggesting that
fixed principles -- inevitably religious teachings which, while
promoted under different faiths, can reveal a common "truth." They
attribute this "nihilistic historicism and relativism" to the logical
breakdown of the Enlightenment, and its supposed "faith in Reason."
What comes after this moral relativism will be a "reconstruction" of
society along lines which emphasize "liberal, democratic civic culture
and civil society," according to one advocate. While this vision
lacks the hard edge of, say, Christian Reconstructionism (which seeks
to implement a harsh, Old Testament law as the basis of a godly
society) advocates of "civil society" would erode the separation of
church and state, insulate sectarian movement from the interference of
government, but promote an extensive role for faith-based institutions
in daily life, often at public expense. Advocates of "civil society"
also frequently speak of notions like "Authenticity" (becoming "who
one really is.")
Lieberman, for instance, was a May, 1998 panelist in a seminar -- "A
Call to Civil Society: Why Democracy Needs Moral Truths" -- organized
by the Council on Civil Society. He shared the podium with Sen. Dan
Coats (R-Ind.), "End of History" theoretician Francis Fukuyama, and
public opinion pollster Daniel Yankelovich. Among the suggestions
from the "civil society" gurus -- instituting "family hour" activities
in homes, making it more difficult to obtain "quickie" divorces, and
reforming the tax code to facilitate charitable choice programs. The
U.S. Supreme Court was chided for its ruling that supposedly create
"a society sanitized of public religious influence," In its story on
the conference, the Seattle Times noted: "Religious institutions are
urged to reassert themselves into American life... Government is
urged to embrace charter schools and school choice, and end state
sponsorship of lottery games which 'purvey a counter-civics ethic of
escapism and false hope.' "
Another example of the "civil society" agenda was enunciated at the
founding of the Center for Judeo-Christian Values. An April 12, 1996
report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ("Conservative Jews and
Christians forge public policy") quoted Center President Yechiel
Eckstein: "Our goal is to transcend and heal divisions -- those
between Jews and Christians, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and
conservatives -- and to seize those shared values in public policies
that are unfortunately being ignored and shunned because of the
polarization marking our differences..."
At a news conference to announce the formation of the Center,
Lieberman told media: "When we do not respect and build on the
religious impulse that is shared so broadly in this country, we are
depriving ourselves of one of the great sources of strength and unity
and morality that we have." Also at the microphone was Ralph Reed,
then the Director of Christian Coalition, who gushed: "We believe
there is far more that unites us as Jews and Christians than divides
The Center announced that its first goal would be to support Sen.
Coat's "Project for American Renewal," a 19-bill initiative
"suggesting ways the government can strengthen families and
communities through tax credits and grants."
Ecumenical "Unity" As A Threat To Separation, Freedom
Sectarian discord has long been a fact of life within religious
movements. In the 19th century, for instance, "Bible riots" erupted
on the east coast of the United States as gangs of Protestants and
Roman Catholics battled over whose version of the Bible was to be read
in the public schools of that era. Some evangelicals have offended
their religious brethren by insisting that "God does not hear the
prayer of the Jew," (or Muslim, or other group). The vision of
ecumenical unity has eluded even the powerful Roman Catholic Church
which has been attempting to absorb other religious bodies, including
the Anglican and Orthodox.
While some applaud the efforts of "civil society" advocates, in their
distrust of the Enlightenment and robust individual rights the
separation of church and state is often a casualty of ideological war.
Publications, think tanks and various nonprofit groups -- from the
Discovery Institute to the Center for Judeo-Christian Values in
America -- all propose what amounts to a serious realignment in the
balance between church and state. The activist programs of "civil
society" proponents often involve demonizing real or imagined enemies,
use of polarizing language ("filth," "perversion"), and for civil
libertarians call into doubt pledges that government should not be a
tool of last resort in legislating morality. In the Council on Civil
Society report, for instance, pop music sensation Madonna was
denounced for her decision to have a child but not a husband. Will
"civil society" boosters, when they fail to attain their political
objectives through persuasion, turn to the power of government? Would
civil liberties suffer as a consequence of crusades to stamp out
certain types of expression?
The involvement of religious group in the "civil society" utopia
raises questions about the separation of church and state. Sen.
Lieberman joins a Democratic ticket where Vice President Gore has
already enthusiastically embraced "faith-based partnerships" between
religious groups and government. So has Texas Gov. George W. Bush,
who has pledged several billions of dollars to encourage such
programs. Lieberman's involvement with groups like Empower America,
and his indirect ties to more hard-shell religious activists and
political operatives (Ralph Reed, Baroness Cox, George Weigel) raise
gnawing questions about what role the First Amendment would play in
the brave new world of "civil society."
For further information:
(Various articles on the year 2000 election races)
(Special report on Marvin Olasky, a major architect in George W. Bush's call
expanded "faith-based" partnerships)
("Creationists hit capitol hill for congressional briefing," 5/25/00. The
Institute organizes a seminar on "intelligent design" to promote its
version of creationism, school choice and other proposals.)
("Gore wants 'New Partnership' between church, state," 5-26-99)
("Street Fightin' Believers," background on the Philadelphia/Baltimore "Bible
the 19th century, from Madalyn O'Hairs Atheist Radio Series)