Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush Library, Bribes, and United Methodists

A thorny issue will confront at least one of the five Jurisdictional Conferences of the United Methodist Church that will be meeting this week. These quadrennial regional meetings—held this year in Dallas (TX), Grand Rapids (MI), Harrisburg (PA), Lake Junaluska (NC), and Portland (OR)—have as their main business electing and assigning new bishops.

When the South Central Jurisdiction convenes in Dallas tomorrow, in addition to electing bishops, they will have to decide what to do about the actions their bishops took to approve the lease of land to SMU for the Bush library, museum and institute. The General Conference in May referred a petition opposing the action to the jurisdiction for action. This means the assembled folk in Dallas will have to do something on record, something I suspect that they wanted to do even less after the story of bribes to pay for the library broke in Sunday’s London Times.

David Waldman (aka “Kargo X”) broke the story on Daily Kos on Saturday with his diary, “Bush ‘Pioneer’ and WH Advance man caught soliciting bribes on tape.” The story in the London Times reported a sting operation on Stephen Payne, a lobbyist with easy access to the White House. Captured on video, Payne offers access to Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice for a former president of the central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan in exchange for a generous donation to the Bush library.
“Who does he want to meet with in Washington?” asked the American. Dos replied: “Well of course, maybe the president of the United States, vice-president Cheney, to speak maybe directly to explain the situation in central Asia . . . To give his side of the story. These kind of things.”

“I think that some things could be done,” said Payne, adding that seeing Bush himself might be more difficult. With barely a pause, he continued:

“I think that the family, children, whatever (of Akayev), should probably look at making a contribution to the Bush library.

“It would be like, maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars, or something like that, not a huge amount but enough to show that they’re serious.”
What Payne didn’t know was that the third person at their meeting was an undercover reporter for the Sunday Times, nor did he know that the meeting was being recorded.

In addition to all of the other reasons why the Bush Institute should not be located at SMU, this seamy episode is another reason why the Jurisdictional Conference should stand up to the ill-advised action by their bishops and just say NO! Their rejection of sleeze politics and bribery would give some substance to their conference theme, “Hope of the World.”

- Milo

On a lighter note about this serious issue, a friend sent me this list:

The GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY is now in the planning stages!
The Library will include:

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has yet been able to find.
The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
The Tax Cut Room with entry restricted only to the wealthy.
The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.
The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty, but very warm.
The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
The Decider Room complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
Additionally, the museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate the President's accomplishments.

Thanks, Ann!

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