Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The thing to remember about Pat Robertson...

...is that he's Pentecostal, which means that the Holy Spirit speaks directly to him, which means that he hears voices in his head, which means that he is probably to some degree schizophrenic.

Wikipedia is a quick source of information, and its Pentecostalism page provides history, statistics and other information. Among the adherents of Pentecostalism listed there are Elvis, Dolly Parton, Al Sharpton and John Ashcroft.

Schizophrenia is characterized by, among other things, an inability to distinguish between internal and external experience, hallucinations and/or delusional beliefs. Hearing voices is a significant criterion of the diagnosis.

Some links have been theorized between schizophrenia and shamanism, which is "a range of traditional beliefs and practices that involve the ability to diagnose, cure, and sometimes cause human suffering by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits." Alec Foege, in his book The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine, describes several incidents where Robertson, on his TV show The 700 Club, mentioned the medical malady of an unseen, unknown person and then said something similar to "God is healing you right now, even as we're speaking." Shamans have been known to claim the ability to control the weather, and it's been mentioned on several websites that Robertson claims to have once commanded a tornado to change its course.

In this light, Robertson's casual call, on The 700 Club on Monday, for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shouldn't be surprising. It makes perfect sense to him.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A memo, a flight suit, a vigil and Babylon

"For us, the organizers of the vigil are phony-baloney, betraying the sacrifices that those men and women make in Iraq, by demanding that we pull our troops out now and leave Iraq to go to hell," said Kristinn Taylor, co-leader of the [FreeRepublic.com] group's Washington, D.C., chapter. "This is a publicity stunt."
A publicity stunt? Did Cindy Sheehan conduct her vigil on the top of a telephone pole? Kristinn, that's a publicity stunt.

What Sheehan's genuine protest has accomplished, among other things, is to illustrate in human terms the fact that there had been inadequate planning for the post-war occupation in Iraq, the time period in which Casey, Sheehan's son, was killed. Had there been adequate planning, would the occupation have been as bloody? Would Casey still be alive?

The State Department memo from 7 February 2003 which was declassified recently and which warned State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky about U.S. Central Command's lack of planning for the post-war phase is another illustration, an Exhibit B. One can only imagine what the response of the "top CENTCOM officials" was when Craner, Dewey and Simons of the State Department offered "technical assistance" to them. I can picture the CENTCOM officials smiling and saying "No thanks. We're good." Or "We can handle it. We're professionals."

So why was there inadequate planning for the occupation? Mickey Herskowitz, who in 1999 was removed as the ghost-writer for Bush's autobiography, told interviewer Russ Baker in 2004 that the idea of a "small war"—a quick get-in-get-out engagement—dates back to the Reagan-Thatcher years. Apparently it was Cheney, then the Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, who said something like "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade." The Bush administration must have been convinced, right through the "Mission Accomplished" publicity stunt, that that's what they would be able to do. They would wage a small get-in-get-out war that they could walk away from and enjoy the prestige that a successful military campaign always provides a political leader. The concerns that were raised about the aftermath of the war were confidently ignored. It's probably safe to say that the Bush administration's obssession with invading Iraq wasn't motivated by a desire to bring about Armageddon and the
return of Christ, even though Bush has close ties with Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels, of which 60 million copies have been sold. The premature "Mission Accomplished" stunt suggests pretty clearly that they expected to follow a get-in-get-out plan. Had Bush wanted to precipitate the "Rapture" and the "Tribulation," he would not have expected to be around to see the end of the war, except from a vantage point in Heaven with the other raptured faithful. Even so, this quote from a Rolling Stone article from January 2004 is a little chilling:
But the idea that Bush, in going to war against Iraq, might have been moved not by politics but by an apocalyptic vision is terrifying to some. Last October, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance wrote a formal letter to Bush, saying, in part, "Please assure the American people that you are not developing foreign policy on the basis of a fundamentalist biblical theology that requires cataclysm in Israel in order to guarantee the return of Christ." So far, he has not received an answer, and the White House didn't return calls from Rolling Stone asking whether the president has read Left Behind.
As far as pulling our troops out now and leaving Iraq "to go to hell," as Kristinn described it, my suspicion is that the insurgency would diminish to the degree that the American presence in Iraq diminishes. If American troops were to pull out immediately, as Sheehan recommended, the very reason that the insurgents are fighting would be eliminated. I imagine they would celebrate the withdrawal beneath Arabic banners reading "Mission Accomplished."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MoveOn.org is organizing Cindy Sheehan solidarity vigils for August 17

MoveOn.org reports that there are currently 945 vigils scheduled for tomorrow (8/17). This page includes a zip-code search to allow you to find a vigil in your area.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MoveOn.org is collecting signatures in support of Cindy Sheehan

My statement of support to Cindy Sheehan via MoveOn.org's letter to the President and two-page ad in the Waco Tribune Herald:

The real reason Bush went to war was revealed by ghost writer/journalist Mickey Herskowitz when interviewed by Russ Baker in 2004: "No president could be considered truly successful without one military 'win' under his belt." That's it. Underneath all the layers of manufactured justifications for going to war, the real reason was to be a "successful" president. Of course he won't tell you that, Cindy. He won't be as candid with you as he was with Herskowitz in 1999, before he was even elected, about wanting to invade Iraq. You won't get the truth from him, but the act itself of demanding the truth is just as important as actually receiving it. Thank you so much for being a representative there in Crawford for so many Americans who want to know the truth.
As of today, 1,840 American moms could be there with Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas. And that's only the American moms. Adding in the moms of coalition troops brings the total up to 2,033.

Over 2,000 angry moms.

It brings to mind the image of Buster Keaton being chased by angry brides in Seven Chances. Can you picture it? More than 2,000 angry moms chasing Bush across the Texas terrain. There can be humor in tragedy, but there is tragedy in the humor.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Misty watercolored memes of the way we are...

CK at Language Games and Miscellaneous Arbitrary Marks tagged That Colored Fella with a meme about gay-blogger relationships, and he in turn tagged me.

My first meme. Not sure what to do with it. Should I perform a Western blot on it?
I being the gentle iconoclast that I am, I hope it will be all right if I don't tag anyone with it.

CK thought it would be interesting to know:

1. If we are single or in a monogamous relationship?

Monogamous relationship.

2. How long we have been with our partner/significant other/boy/girlfriend?

Fourteen years as of June 9.

3. How we met?

We both lived in Orlando at the time and frequently visited the local pre-Internet BBS The Back Door. We happened to be in the same chat room and I looked up his profile. I thought he sounded interesting and sent him a private message. He sent me one in return and invited me into private chat. We chatted for an hour or so and then made plans to meet to see the movie Soapdish that Saturday at Disney's Pleasure Island. We must've seen the movie first, before having dinner at Jungle Jim's, because I remember waiting for him in front of the theater. He told me later that he was in his parked car scoping me out as I waited and that his initial assessment of me was "He's little and cute." I thought he was cute too in his pink polo shirt as he crossed the parking lot toward me.

4. What we like to do together?

Explore the leafier neighborhoods of L.A., especially West Hollywood. Try new restaurants that offer adventurous choices for him and whitebread choices for me. Have season tickets for the L.A. gay chorus concerts at the Alex. Watch CNN during dinner.

5. If we are single, what life with our ideal spouse/partner would look like?

I feel undeservedly fortunate that I'm not in this category. I actually don't do single well. And I haven't really spent much of my adult life as a single person, given my seven years with my ex-wife and my fourteen years with my partner. Undeservedly fortunate. And I don't know whom to thank. Random particles? The energy matrix that forms the particles? Anyway, thank you, universe, for allowing our particles to collide.