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09:54:04 PM

Sometimes, there's nothing one can do but go to a mountaintop and scream "Schmuuuuuuck!". This is one of those times.

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Comments :v

1. Stan Rogers01/06/2006 03:05:02 AM

There are rather a lot of colourful Yiddish terms that can be used to describe that, well, man (for want of a better word), and schmuck is certainly among them. Although I would have thought that "putz" would make a more satisfying mountaintop scream.

First prayers for the death of Supreme Court Justices, now this? Can the 900-foot Jesus be far behind? May G_d bless and keep him -- safely locked away somewhere.

2. james governor01/06/2006 07:01:31 AM

why does this crazy mullah with his bag full of fatwahs get any press coverage? he is a loonie.

3. Chris Whisonant01/06/2006 08:07:09 AM

I truly hope that you don't take him as any type of (un)official spokesman for Christians. I don't know why he gets any coverage either. Partly because the media likes anything that makes Christians look bad and Pat Robertson is the straw man incarnate...

4. Richard Schwartz01/06/2006 09:38:21 AM

Chris -- I do take him as a spokesman. Not for all, but for a very substantial -- and very dangerously deluded -- group of Christians.

And this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the media loves to make Christians look bad. I reject that notion in entirety. Reading an anti-Christian bias into the fact the media does exactly the same thing to Christian public figures may be the popular thing in some circles, but it is patently false and intellectually dishonest. It's pure propaganda, and those who fall for it need to open their eyes and ears to someone other than Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. The media loves to highlight all public figures who make themselves look bad. I could name plenty of liberals who have fallen victim to the media feeding frenzy. I could name plenty of politically neutral celebrities who have fallen victim to the media feeding frenzy.

The media didn't spend a lifetime putting Pat Robertson in the spotlight. He did. The man runs a nationwide cable network, and he has political connections up the proverbial wazoo. He has made himself into a public figure. He makes himself news. The people who give him money and watch his network make him news.

Whenever a public figure, whether it's Robertson or Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Ted Turner or Jane Fonda, Christian or non, conservative or liberal, goes in front of an audience of millions of viewers and makes outrageous religiously-motivated political statements pertinent to a story that is front-page news, then what he says is news. When Jesse Jackson makes outrageous statements in front of much smaller audiences, it's news. And forget about the fact that Jackson is a Christian Reverend. He doesn't make news for that. In fact, his views on many issues are in direct contradiction with the dogma of the Christier-Than-Thou right (and IMHO are far more compatible with Christian ideals).

Robertson has a television program with a lot of Christian viewers. A lot of Christians give the man money, directly or indirectly, and therefore support his continued use of his pulpit to preach a perverted political message disguised as religion. This has to be called out. Which national mainstream Christian groups have called for a boycott of the 700 Club or CBN on account of his buffonery?

And furthermore, Robertson is hardly alone amongst Christian leaders in expressing policial "support" for Israel predicated on the notion of fulfillment of end-of-the-world Christian prophecy. This phenomenon of Christian support for Israel in order to bring about the conditions for end of the world prophecy is well-documented and it's a cause for grave concern. And rather than distancing themselves from it, Christians are buying millions of best-selling books, to the point that even the supposedly liberal anti-Christian television networks are producing shows that are centered on the very apocalyptic theology that is behind what Robertson said.

Sharon is far from a perfect man. In fact, I have until recently had very little good to say about him and his policies. When the one thing he's done in his life to really promote the cause of Peace is criticized on religious grounds by a leading Christian spokesman, it does more than paint that spokesman as a buffoon. It points out the essential hubris that IMHO is in the very core of the conservative, evangelical, literal-Bible interpretation brand of Christianity, which puts promotion of Christianity itself above the very principles that Christianity claims to represent. Yes, Robertson is near the extreme end of this, and if he were alone it wouldn't matter so much. But he's not alone, and the fundamental flaws in his extreme views are also present in less extreme Christian political views.

5. Devin Olson01/06/2006 10:24:34 AM

I was going to comment (well, actually, I was considering going off on a rant); but your last comment pretty much sums up my opinions. I am a politically conservative follower of Christ.

Robertson, even though a lot of Christians watch him and send him money, is, in my opinion, closer to the Pharisees than to Christ. He may profess his belief; but is actions and words speak otherwise. I disagree with a LOT of Sharon's political decisions; but to proclaim that God is punishing him for dividing up Israel is just plain, well,...schmuckishtic.

Robertson should know that no man can speak for God -one of the basic tenets of Christianity is that John (the baptist) was the last prophet before Jesus Christ. Therefore, when Robertson claims to speak for God and proclaim that God will bring judgement against Israel; he is most certainly acting in an un-Christian manner.

My personal opinon is that God cares a bunch more about the people of Israel than the land they ocupy.

I know that Robertson gets a lot of press coverage and proclaims to be a spokesman for Christians; but please believe me when I say that he speaks for a very small minority.


6. Devin Olson01/06/2006 10:27:37 AM

Grrr. Typos. ocupy >> occupy.

7. Richard Schwartz01/06/2006 10:59:00 AM

@Devin: Out of respect for you, for Chris, and other people who I truly consider to be good Christians, I do accept that Robertson speaks for a minority. I'm afraid it's a more significant minority than you think, but it's probably less significant than I think as well.

And furthermore, I'll dare to clarify what I suspect you meant: that the true conception of the god of Christianity is that of one who cares for all the people of the Middle East, be they Jews, Muslims, Palestinians, Western Christians, Orthodox Christians or otherwise, and who elevates Peace far higher than any ancient or modern claims for specific pieces of land.

8. Carl01/06/2006 12:02:57 PM

I have to say I am in total agreement. It is in bad taste, and refelects badly on the people that follow this guy.

Honestly, people amaze me

9. Chris Whisonant01/06/2006 04:51:20 PM

@8 - Definitely!

@media bias - that's another topic, huh? Let's just say that when Lewinsky was earning her Presidential Kneepads that the media was completely on the side of the President and it was all a vast righ-wing conspiracy. Heck, Senator Clinton basically all but said that it was the Conservative Christian Republicans who prompted Monica to seduce President Clinton!

“…this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President.” —Hillary Clinton - After the Lewinsky story unfolded.

Anyway, if Pat Robertson had an affair like this, it would be the end for him... But I digress! Like I said - it's a debate for another day...well, gotta run!

10. Richard Schwartz01/06/2006 05:24:25 PM

@9 If 77 year old Pat Robertson had an affair with a 23 year old intern and lived through it, I might actually have some respect for him after all Yes, of course it would be the end for him -- as well it should be for anyone who claims to be holier-than-thou. We elected Bill Clinton to be our President, not our moral teacher.

As for the media coverage of the Lewinsky affair, are you kidding me? If the media had been showing liberal bias, they would have buried the story. Instead they provided blanket coverage of the Flowers affair, the Jones affair, the Lewinsky affair and every unsubstantiated rumor that passed the lips of any semi-unreliable source in Washington, Arkansas and elsewhere. You could not go anywhere without hearing and rehearing these stories from every point of view. They provided the podium for every Clinton-hater with something to say. And no, that wasn't just on Fox. The Clinton-haters got plenty of air-time from every media outlet. For months on end you couldn't go anywhere without hearing some talking head snicker about "DNA evicence" or "genetic material" or "stain on the blue dress". They'd have shown live video from the oval office rest room if they could have gotten it. You're confusing the fact that the majority of the people didn't give a damn about the whole thing with the idea that this coverage was "positive". Do you for one minute think that Clinton appreciated having wall-to-wall coverage of his personal indiscretions dominating the news for months on end, distracting attention from the agenda of his administration?

11. Bruce Perry01/06/2006 11:56:32 PM

Even the New York Times, that presumed bastion of liberalism, seemed willing to publish every leak that Starr made. Something like $40 million was spent on that and nothing came of it.

12. Richard Schwartz01/07/2006 12:38:06 AM

Yep. The same New York Times had a story about Bush administration activities that are arguably impeachable offenses, activities which even if legal by the strict letter of the law are still considered an abuse of executive branch authority by many in Congress -- and not just by liberals!... and they sat on the story for more than a year. It's probable that they had enough of the story to go to print before the last election, and there's no question that it would have been significant... but they didn't. Yep. The New York Times. The pillar of liberal media. They take every opportunity they get to attack conservatives. NOT!

Hmmm... I wonder what Fox or Rush or Drudge would have done with an equivalent story during the Clinton years? I even wonder what the Times would have done?

13. Chris Whisonant01/07/2006 09:07:40 AM

OK, you have some points there...

Similar story during the Clinton years? Ummm... we've talked about that before - it was called Eschelon. Also I'm sure you've seen the stories more recently that the NSA began doing the wire tapping before the President authorized it.

Ms. Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said, "I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting."

The answer, General Hayden suggested in his response to Ms. Pelosi a week later, was that it had not. "In my briefing," he wrote, "I was attempting to emphasize that I used my authorities to adjust N.S.A.'s collection and reporting."

Oh, and here is what I really love that Pelosi was concerned with!!

One step that the agency took immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mrs. Pelosi wrote in her letter, was to begin forwarding information from foreign intelligence intercepts to the F.B.I. for investigation without first receiving a specific request from the bureau for "identifying information."

So, she was upset that the NSA was sending info to the FBI before the FBI asked for it. That's ludicrous! If they FBI knew of the threat they would be working on it - how could they know about it without receiving information about it??

Here's a link to the Times article about this:

Anyway, as we've agreed here before, we feel that the President should be getting this information. But some feel that he should do it completely legally through FISA. I guess I agree to a point that the President should get warrants after gathering the surveillance. Remember though, that FISA basically never denied warrants until President Bush started asking for them. He faces an uphill struggle with the generally "liberal" FISA judges.

Further, if Reps Pelosi and Rockefeller were so concerned about this, why did they not press the issue further back in 2001 when the expanded system was beginning? Just writing a couple of letters of admonition to the NSA does no good. She should have stepped up back then instead of waiting for a more politically expedient time such as when she's up for reelection in 2006!

14. Samuel Allen01/07/2006 11:05:20 AM

@13 Actually, FISA has granted several tens of thousands of warrants to Bush. In fact, according to an article on, FISA never had a reason to meet before Sept. 11th, which seems to infer that Bush was the only Pres to ever ask for warrants, with only 5 of those several-tens of thousands of requests being denied.

The trick is that the F in FISA stands for foreign. Domestic surveillence has been outlawed since Nixon's paranoid android days. If an Administration feels like there is activity worth monitoring at home which may be related to Foreign threats, then they can get a warrant or, worst case, get one 72 hours afterwards.

But I don't think Bush had a case. It's not that the court was liberal, the initial judges on the panel were appointed by Rehnquist. It's that he knew that they wouldn't approve untargeted domestic spying as we Americans have a constitutional right to not allow laws or govt. practices which abridge or deprecate other rights that the people have obtained.

While there is no explicit Amendment declaring a right to privacy, such a right has been cited by the Supreme Court several times, usually by interpreting an interplay between the 9th and 14th Amendment.

Note that this doesn't exclude corporations from doing so.

Given the lack of due process, there now may be several legitimate cases (and lets face it, there probably aren't THAT many) against Guantanamo Bay detainees who may now be able to claim that evidence was unlawfully gathered through these wiretaps.

My biggest complaint with Bush is not his policies, or arrogance, or any of that (though they remain complaints of mine), but his inability to understand, or care, that there's a reason why previous Administrations, both Republican and Democrat tried to establish a "right way" of doing things.

My $.02

15. Richard Schwartz01/07/2006 01:17:43 PM

@13 Chris: It seems there's always a boogeyman out there for you. Now it's the NSA going rogue and leading the President into doing this, or it's the liberal judges, or Pelosi and Warner! Couldn't possibly be Bush doing something wrong, could it? There has to be someone else to blame. The buck stops... somewhere else.

RE the NSA. Yes, I'm aware of this part of the story. I'm aware that General Hayden says that he acted on his own authority. What I'm not aware of is whether he did so in order to establish plausible deniability for his superiors in the national security hierarchy, or whether he was telling the truth. The President is the NSA's boss, and if the NSA is breaking the law it is the Presdient's responsibility as chief executive to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and to enforce the laws. If Hayden was out of line, it was the President's responsibility to fire him and issue directives to reverse Hayden's poilicy. And the President can't possibly have been unaware. Clearly Hayden briefed the congressional leaders. Do you think for one minute that he notified Congress but didn't notify his bosses?

One last pojnt on the NSA: I'm also aware that it is not clear whether or not the NSA sought the required warrants for the wiretaps they did prior to the executive order that told them not to get warrants. None of the communications made public clarify that. If the NSA did not, that just means that General Hayden is probably guility of criminal violations of the FISA statute, too. But for all we know, they were seeking FISA warrants, and Pelosi's letter of concern only had to do with other aspects, e.g., whether the NSA was really capable of executing the minimization procedures specified in the warrants, whether information sharing with the FBI was adequately described in the warrant requests, etc.

RE liberal FISA judges: first of all, let me say ROFLMAOUMSA!! That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time.

@14 Samuel does a good job of clarifying this. I'll add a couple of things. First, the Chief Justice appoints FISA couirt judges for 7 year terms. Rehnquist, therefore, appointed every one of the current 10 judges. There's one vacancy that either has (or will be) appointed by Roberts. It was expanded from 7 to 11 by the way, by the Patriot Act, giving Rehnquist the opportunity to turn the court in any direction he felt apporpriate following 9-11. Are you saying that Rehnquist was in the habit of appointing liberal judges to the FISA court? Is Rehnquist another one of your liberal boogeymen? That's the ROFLMAOUMSA part.

Furthermore, the statute happens to provide specific grounds for granting of warrant requests. Requests are denied when the requestor fails to conform to the requirements. This is strictly a matter of what the law requires, not a matter of liberal or conservative interpretation. Specifically, warrants are turned down when the requestor fails to specify "minimization procedures" that meet established standards for guarding against "casting a wide net" and retaining and disseminating information collected against "US persons". Based on the overwhelming number of approvals versus a handful of disapprovals of warrant requests over the years, it simply can't be said that it is difficult for the DOJ or NSA to meet the statutory standards. They meet those standards almost all the time. It simply can't be said that liberal judges are responsible -- not when they approve thousands upon thousands of properly prepared warrant requests. The numbers are, according to Wikipedia: 18,761 requests, 5 rejections -- four of which were subsequently approved after modification and resubmission, and fewer than 200 granted but modified by the court. Think about that. A fraction more than 1% of requests don't go through verbatim -- and all but one go through once changed to conform with the requirements of the law. This is not a sign of liberal judges running amok. It is a sign of well-qualified judges taking their responsibility to follow the law very seriously.

RE Pelosi and Warner: Why didn't they do more? Or earlier? Tell me... what should they have done? What could they have done? Go public?

Going public would have put them in violation of national security law. Justified or not, it's still a probable career-ender -- especially in the political environment post 9-11. Do you think for one minute that they believed they would survive going public at a time where the claim for a national emergency and state of open warfare was actually legitimate? I'm not talking about re-elction survival, by the way. I'm talking about (a) staying out of jail surviving, and (b) keeping committee assignments, leadership posts and other actual political power beyond just retaining their seats. That doesn't mean that their concerns -- even at the time -- were unjustified. It just means that they are politicians, and they know that being right is not enough.

And consider this... the NY Times had 11 sources (I'm inferring that from the fact that they say "almost a dozen", and if it were 10 they would have said "ten".) So how do you know that Pelosi and Warner weren't two of their sources? The answer is: you don't. You don't know what else they did, either. It's all classified.

Another thing: Pelosi was up for re-election in 2004, too. She's a Congresswoman, not a Senator, so she's basically always up for re-election. So implying that she's talking now for political expediency is downright ludicrous. This is a national issue, not an issue that will help or hurt her in her district. Do you think she's even worried about re-election? Her district is in San Francisco. She has consistently won with greater than 80% support. If she were playing politics, she would have gone public in 2004, but not for her own election. She would have done it to hurt the Bush administration and help Kerry.

I'll stop here, without following up on Warner. Someone who knows more about his specific situation can feel free to clarify it.

16. chenyingying10/17/2016 12:10:29 AM

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