Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina and The Greed Games Begin

This morning I turned on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and
Juan Gonzalez, they were talking about Juan’s article
“Disaster used as political payoff” in the NY Daily News
and it was a doozy! He had written about FEMA putting
OPERATION BLESSING as one of their Katrina Victim Charities
to donate money to. I knew Pat Robertson’s was associated
with this charity... but I didn’t know Michael Brown, head
of FEMA would be so brazen as to list Robertson’s charity on
their website.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Max Blumenthal called in on the
phone and talked about his article “Pat Robertson's Katrina
Cash” it can’t get any worse, I thought, but it did. Below
I have posted both writings and they are enough to make your
hair stand on end. Katrina not only exposed the dirty
little secret of poverty… Now she has opened the doors to
let the stink out of all that goes on behind closed doors of
the greedy leaders of the so-called Conservative Christian
Right Fundamentalist Movement. Amen. Thinking Blue

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pat Robertson's Katrina Cash

by MAX BLUMENTHAL [posted online on September 7, 2005]

Every cloud has a silver lining. Hurricane Katrina has
devastated New Orleans, leaving thousands dead and hundreds
of thousands homeless, and plunging the entire city into
chaos. In the hurricane's wake, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and its director, Michael Brown,
forced out of his former job at the International Arabian
Horse Association, with no credentials in disaster relief, have become targets
of withering criticism. Yet FEMA's relief efforts have
brought considerable assistance to at least one man who
stands to benefit from Hurricane Katrina perhaps more than
any other individual: Pat Robertson.
(Yes folks, Pat Robertson our all American nitwit - Thinking Blue)


With the Bush Administration's approval, Robertson's $66
million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has
been prominently featured on FEMA's list of charitable groups accepting donations for
hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the
New York Times
,

CNN
and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's
list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for
Robertson. "How in the heck did that happen?"
Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief
group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion
on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."
Though Operation USA has conducted disaster relief for
more than twenty-five years on five continents, like scores
of other secular relief groups currently helping victims of
Hurricane Katrina, it was omitted from FEMA's list. In fact,
only two non-"faith-based" organizations were included. (One of them, the American
Red Cross, is being blocked from entering New Orleans by FEMA's parent
agency, the Department of Homeland Security.)
FEMA,
meanwhile, has reportedly turned away Wal-Mart trucks carrying food and water to
the stricken city, teams of firemen from Maryland and Texas,
volunteer morticians
and a convoy of 1,000 boat owners offering to help rescue stranded flood victims. While relief efforts falter in the face of colossal
bureaucratic incompetence, the Bush Administration's
promotion of Operation Blessing has ensured that the
floodwaters swallowing New Orleans will be a rising tide
lifting Robertson's boat.

Robertson recently ignited a media firestorm when he
called
for the assassination of Venezuelan president
Hugo Chávez during a broadcast of The 700 Club. He
has also blamed the 9/11 attacks on America's tolerance of
abortion and homosexuality and declared the Supreme Court a
greater threat to the United States than Al Qaeda. Robertson
assiduously cultivates his celebrity with remarks like
these, casting himself as a divisive bigot to his foes and a
righteous prophet to his allies in Christian right circles.
But there is much more to Robertson than the
headline-grabbing hothead he plays on TV.

Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the
tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his
shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence
within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an
emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to
Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the
Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill
Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that
Operation Blessing's planes were transporting diamond-mining
equipment for the African Development Corporation, a
Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of
Zaire's then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

After a lengthy investigation, Virginia's Office of
Consumer Affairs determined that Robertson "willfully
induced contributions from the public through the use of
misleading statements and other implications." Yet when the
office called for legal action against Robertson in 1999,
Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, a Republican,
intervened with his own report, agreeing that Robertson had
made deceptive appeals but overruling the recommendation
for his prosecution.
Two years earlier, while Virginia's
investigation was gathering steam, Robertson donated
35,000
to Earley's campaign--Earley's largest
contribution. With Earley's report came a sense of
vindication. "From the very beginning," Robertson claimed,
"we were trying to provide help and assistance to those
who were facing disease and death in the war-torn, chaotic
nation of Zaire."


(Earley is now president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an evangelical social-work
organization founded by born-again, former Nixon dirty-trickster Charles Colson. PFM has accepted White House faith-based-initiative money and is
currently engaged in hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana.
Earley remains a close ally of Robertson.)


Absolved of his sins, Robertson dug his heels back in
African soil. In 1999 he signed an $8 million agreement with
Liberian tyrant Charles Taylor that guaranteed
Robertson's Freedom Gold Ltd
.

--an offshore company registered to the same address as his
Christian Broadcasting Network--mining rights in Liberia,
and gave Taylor a 10 percent stake in the company
.
(meaning they were business partners TB)
When
the United States intervened in Liberia in 2003, forcing
Taylor and the Al Qaeda operatives he was

harboring
to flee, Robertson accused President Bush of
"undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in
Muslim rebels to take over the country."

Robertson's scheming hasn't abated one bit. He is

accused
of violating his ministry's tax-exempt,
nonprofit status by using it to market a diet shake he
licensed this August to the health chain General Nutrition
Corp. (Robertson continues to

advertise
the shake on his personal website.) He has
withstood criticism from fellow evangelicals for investing...

520,000
in a racehorse named Mr. Pat, violating biblical admonitions
against gambling. He was even accused of "Jim Crow-style
racial discrimination" by black employees who successfully
sued his Christian Coalition in 2001 for forcing them enter
its offices through a back door and eat in a segregated area
(Robertson has since resigned).

The Bush Administration has studiously overlooked
Robertson's misdeeds. In October 2002, just months after he
denounced the White House's faith-based initiative as "a
real Pandora's box"--and one month before midterm
elections--Robertson pocketed ...500,000
in government grants to Operation Blessing. Since then, with
the sole exception of his criticism of the US intervention
in Liberia, Robertson has served as a willing surrogate for
the Administration. His Regent University gave John Ashcroft
a cushy professorship to cool his heels after his
contentious tenure as US Attorney General. And Robertson's
legal foundation, the American Center for Law and Justice,
is spearheading the effort to rally right-wing Christian
support for Judge John G. Roberts Jr's confirmation as Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court.

Now, as fallout from the President's handling of
Hurricane Katrina threatens to derail the GOP's long-term
agenda, Robertson is back at the plate for Bush, echoing the
White House's line that state and local authorities--and
even the disaster victims themselves--are to blame for the
tragedy engulfing New Orleans.

The September 5 edition of The 700 Club
included a report by Christian Broadcasting Network
correspondent Gary Lane from outside the ruined New Orleans
Convention Center, which had housed mostly impoverished
black disaster victims throughout the weekend. "A number of
possessions left behind suggest the mindset of some of the
evacuees," Lane said. "They include this voodoo cup with the
saying, 'May the curse be with you.' " A shot of a plastic
souvenir cup from one of New Orleans's countless trinket
shops appeared on the screen. "Also music CDs with the
titles Guerrilla Warfare and Thugs 'R' Us,"
Lane stated, pointing out a pile of rap CDs strewn on the
ground.
(This is the most disrespectful, contemptuous bit of information I
have learned to date...
demonizing the poor victims of this horrible storm to further their outrageously bigoted agenda... These people are beyond despicable, they are a black-hearted, contemptible, evil-minded, fiendish bunch and most of all, gluttonous beyond imagination. Why so many people can not see through their schemes is an unbelievable mockery to the intelligence of the human being. - TB) .

The 700 Club's featured guest was Wellington
Boone, a black minister invited by Robertson to provide a
counterpoint to the ubiquitous Rev. Jesse Jackson. Boone is
a member of the Coalition on Revival, a Christian Reconstructionist
organization that advocates replacing the US Constitution
with biblical law
. Throughout his career, he has
distinguished himself from his black clerical colleagues
with such remarks as "I believe that slavery, and the
understanding of it when you see it God's way, was
redemptive"
and "The black community must stop
criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model."

Uncle Tom (t¼m)
n. Offensive.
A Black person who is regarded as being
humiliatingly subservient or deferential to white people.
[After Uncle Tom, a character in
Uncle Tom's
Cabin
, a novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe.]


Though Boone's appearance on The 700 Club
consisted mostly of benign appeals for "laser-beam prayer,"
CBN featured a separate interview with Boone on its website in which he
declared, "We need to consider the culture of those
people still stranded in New Orleans. The looting of
property, the trashing of property, et cetera, speaks
to the basic character of the people."
He added,
"These people who have gone through slavery, segregation and
the Voting Rights Act are doing this to themselves."


Boone's appearance on The 700 Club had been
preceded by an interview with Operation Blessing President
Bill Horan. Horan discussed his group's activities in
Biloxi, Mississippi, where it plans to set up a mobile
kitchen, and in Houston, Dallas and Beaumont, Texas, where
it is disbursing cash grants to numerous, mostly unspecified
mega-churches, purportedly to support their work with
evacuated hurricane victims.

As for the people still stranded in New Orleans who
"are doing this to themselves,"
as Boone said, Operation
Blessing has a special plan: avoid them like the plague.
"I've actually heard reports that they [the people of
Mississippi] were in worse trouble" than those in New
Orleans, claimed Gordon Robertson, the son of Pat Robertson
and vice president of The 700 Club. "They were
actually harder hit."

"Oh, absolutely," agreed Horan.

At the segment's conclusion, Gordon Robertson asked
Horan, "What can people do today? If you were asking for
help today, what's the number-one need?"

"It's cash. Cash is what we need more than anything,"
Horan pleaded. "The more cash we get, the more good
we can do."
And the Bush Administration, through FEMA,
is doing its best to insure that Pat
Robertson is getting that cash just as quickly as humanly possible.

(kA-CHING, kA-CHING GOES THE LINED POCKETS OF THE PAT ROBERTSON'S BRAND OF MONEY GRUBBERS! - TB)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Below is the last paragraph of an interview of Howard Zinn by "Tomdispatch"....you can click on the link for the full interview. I've often thought about civilian casualities resulting from the use of these smartass bombs. The general feeling of most of the "Hawks" I've talked to is that there is very little "collateral damage" inflicted by our smartass bombs, and they seem to revel in this idea that this nation is capable of only killing the bad guys with very limited damage to civilians. Vietnam comes to mind, and I think of the chant "Hey Hey LBJ, How many kids you kill today".(They may have been talking about young draftees, but it applied just as much to civilians). LBJ escalated the war in Vietnam with the lie of "The gulf of Tonkin". He was another Texan gunslinger who felt that this great nation could never be defeated by a backward country such as Vietnam. He was wrong then, and we are wrong now. I read Zinn's book "A People's History of the United States", and often think what might happen to our collective conscious as a nation, if this book were required reading in the High School and College.

FRANK - LOYAL RESISTANCE ------------------------------------

ZINN : I also came to the conclusion that, given the technology of modern warfare, war is inevitably a war against children, against civilians. When you look at the ratio of civilian to military dead, it changes from 50-50 in World War II to 80-20 in Vietnam, maybe as high as 90-10 today. Do you know this Italian war surgeon, Gino Strada? He wrote Green Parrots: A War Surgeon's Diary. He was doing war surgery in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. Ninety percent of the people he operated on were civilians. When you face that fact, war is now always a war against civilians, and so against children. No political goal can justify it, and so the great challenge before the human race in our time is to solve the problems of tyranny and aggression, and do it without war. [He laughs quietly.] A very complex and difficult job, but something that has to be faced -- and that's what accounts for my becoming involved in antiwar movements ever since the end of World War II. Copyright 2005 Tomdispatch ------------------------------------ Click on the link below for full story. <http://www.tomdispatch.com/indexprint.mhtml?pid=20715>

CAROLYNCONNETION - I've got a mind and I'm going to use
it!



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