Today on the 700 Club, televangelist Pat Robertson railed against President Obama as both an incompetent leader “who never ran anything” and an ideologue who is imposing his radical agenda.
“He doesn’t understand what these things are, he’s never been in the military, he doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t understand geopolitics,” Robertson said. “But he has a prism on the world that was shaped by his radical father and he has a prism that was shaped by some of his friends who were radical leftists and his spiritual mentor who at one time hated America; that’s who is running our country.”
“We are waiting like, are we ever going to get delivered from this thing?” he said.
Robertson compared the state of the nation to Gulliver’s Travels: “This is a great nation, it’s like Gulliver and the little Lilliputians. Here’s a giant who is held down by all these pygmies and we’re a giant, America is a giant, being held down by these pygmies. It’s time to pray, lots of prayer, and some action maybe in these next elections.”
The news today of Nelson Mandela’s passing is also time to reflect on the complicated relationship between Mandela and his anti-apartheid African National Congress (ANC) with the US, which did not always support the anti-apartheid struggle. In fact, American conservatives lobbied the federal government in the 1980s to withhold support from the anti-apartheid movement.
President Reagan added the ANC to the US terrorism watch list, a designation not removed until 2008, and unsuccessfully vetoed sanctions against the apartheid regime. Many Republican lawmakers did break with the Reagan administration’s stance, but “all 21 [Senate] votes to sustain the veto were cast by Republicans.”
Mandela faced criticism from Republican leaders including Dick Cheney, who described Mandela’s ANC as a “terrorist organization,” and Jesse Helms, who “turned his back during Mandela’s visit to the U.S. Capitol.” Even in 1998, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly lumped Mandela together with notorious dictators.
The late Jerry Falwell urged [PDF] his supporters to write their congressmen and senators to tell them to oppose sanctions against the apartheid regime. “The liberal media has for too long suppressed the other side of the story in South Africa,” he said. “It is very important that we stay close enough to South Africa so that it does not fall prey to the clutches of Communism.”
“South Africa is torn by civil unrest, instigated primarily by Communist-sponsored people who are capitalizing on the many legitimate grievances created by apartheid, unemployment and policy confrontations,” Falwell continued.
Finally, we should, if possible, invest in South Africa, because this inevitably improves the standard of living for nonwhites there.
Now is not the time to turn our backs on South Africa. The world has witnessed the Soviets capture nation after nation. They have been particularly aggressive in Africa. South Africa must not be the next victim!
David John Marley notes in Pat Robertson: An American Life that Robertson criticized the ANC because it was “led by communists and was hostile to Israel” and “far too radical an element to ever work with,” while “his campaign literature made similar claims for the need to support the white government.”
The televangelist regularly spoke ill of Mandela’s group and his Christian Broadcasting Network ran segments critical of sanctions against the apartheid government as Congress debated sanctions.
In 1986 The 700 Club did a series of reports on South Africa and the white government’s struggle against the African National Congress. While many socially liberal religious leaders decried the apartheid regime, Robertson openly supported it because he felt that it was a bastion against communism. For Robertson, everything else was secondary to defeating what he saw as the enemies of God. Robertson sent a copy of The 700 Club program to Freedom Council’s Dick Thompson to have it forwarded to Pat Buchanan, who in turn promised to show it to the president. Reagan’s attitude toward South Africa was one of his most controversial foreign policy stands, and Robertson was one of Reagan’s few allies on the policy.
Sam Kleiner mentions that now-Sen. Jeff Flake, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff were also active in lobbying against the anti-apartheid movement:
Jack Abramoff, now a disgraced former lobbyist convicted of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion, got much of his start from his work with South Africa. Abramoff visited the country following his term as National Chair of the College Republicans in 1983 and met with pro-apartheid student groups linked to the South Africa’s Bureau of Security Services. In 1986, he opened the International Freedom Foundation. Ostensibly a think tank, it was later revealed as a front group for the South African Army as part of “Operation Babushka” meant to undermine Nelson Mandela’s international approval. The group had over “30 young ideologues in offices on G Street in Washington, Johannesburg, London and Brussels” working on propaganda in support of the South African government.
Like Abramoff, GOP tax guru Grover Norquist became enamored with the conflict in South Africa and went there to extend his support. Norquist ran College Republicans from 1981 to 1983 and went to South Africa in 1985 for a “Youth for Freedom Conference” sponsored by South African businesses. While other college students, such as Barack Obama, had been active in anti-apartheid work, this conference was seeking to bring American and South African conservatives together to end that movement. In his speech there, Norquist said, “The left has no other issue [but apartheid] on campus. Economic issues are losers for them. There are no sexy Soviet colonies anymore.” A few months after the conference, Norquist went to Angola to work with Jonas Savimbi, the rebel leader that Abramoff valorized in his film. Norquist became a ghost-writer for Savimbi’s essay in Policy Review. When he returned to Washington, he was greeted in conservative circles as a “freedom fighter,” and he proudly placed an “I’d rather be killing commies” bumper sticker on his brief case.
A few years later and much further along in the anti-apartheid movement, a young Jeff Flake (now a senator from Arizona) became active in lobbying for South African mining interests in the late 1980s and early ’90s, after returning from his Mormon mission to South Africa. As a graduate student at Brigham Young University, he testified against an anti-apartheid resolution in the Utah State Senate and then became a lobbyist in Washington for Smoak, Shipley and Henry, a lobbying firm specializing in representing the South African mining industry. Flake went on to personally represent the Rossing Uranium plant in Namibia, which had been a major target of anti-apartheid activists for its discriminatory and unsafe practices.
Decades later, these Republican leaders would prefer not to have their adventures in South Africa mentioned. While Abramoff went down in a corruption scandal, Norquist went on to remake himself into a libertarian anti-tax activist, and Flake moved back to Arizona. The anti-communism that motivated the Republican allegiance to South Africa fizzled with the end of the Cold War, but the history of the Republican entanglement with South Africa remains one of the party’s darker episodes.
President Obama can proudly talk about how his first political act was in response to apartheid. While a few Republicans stood against apartheid, much of the Republican Party has nothing to offer about its position at the time but silence. I wouldn’t expect any reflections on apartheid from Abramoff, Flake or Norquist anytime soon.
Televangelist Pat Robertson has a flair for making sweeping judgments about people simply by reading the short questions they submit to the 700 Club’s Bring It On segment. Just today, Robertson seemed to be able to uncover intimate details about a the life of a twice-divorced woman who was wondering if she would go to hell if she married again.
“You’ve got a serious problem and I don’t think marriage is for you,” Robertson said. “You have picked a selection of losers, there is something in your character that draws you to these men who are indigent or abusive. I don’t think you’re marriage material.”
The viewer never referenced abuse in her question.
“Just for now, forget marriage, work out a life for yourself, get close to the Lord,” Robertson advised.
Pat Robertson says he wants to vomit when he sees photos of gay couples, but advised one 700 Club viewer today that homosexuality is a “very delicate situation.” He suggested to a viewer, Teresa, that she could help her openly gay nephew by making him realize the Bible is “explicit” in its condemnation of homosexuality. Robertson added that “many, many people are into this lifestyle because they have been abused as a child and so forth; I don’t know why it’s there.”
“A few years ago psychiatrists and psychologists used to say that homosexuality was a mental illness, now the Supreme Court has said that it is a protected right,” Robertson said. “So what’s he going to pray about? Is he going to say something is wrong and he’s unhappy? And if he’s unhappy and realizes he is doing something that makes him miserable, you might help him.”
Robertson urged Teresa to “pray that the Lord will show him his love and his truth and out of that he will find an acceptance of where God has for him.”
On the 700 Club today, Pat Robertson got to talking with the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow about President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. Although Robertson was concerned that there might be a “feminist”among them, Sekulow said he had no problem with the nominees themselves and instead repeated the GOP’s flimsy argument that President Obama’s nominating people to judicial vacancies constitutes “court-packing.”
Sekulow went out of his way to sing the praises of one of the three nominees, Patricia Millett, whom he called “a very bright lawyer,” but said the nominees’ qualifications are “not the question. The question is are these judges needed?”
Sekulow – like many of his allies in the Senate GOP – might want to check his own record before claiming that President Obama’s filling the D.C. Circuit’s vacant 9th, 10th, and 11th seats amounts to “court packing.” Under President Bush, Sekulow advocated for nominees to the very same seats: He boasted about “working aggressively” to confirm Janice Rogers Brown to the court’s 10th seat in 2005, supported Thomas Griffith’s nomination to the court’s 11th seat the same year, and demanded a vote on Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th seat in 2006.
Despite Sekulow’s vague claim that “There’s a real question as to the workload of these courts that are at an all-time low in the last ten or fifteen years,” the George W. Bush nominee who now runs the official body that recommends adding and subtracting federal judgeships has said the D.C. Circuit’s workload has remained “relatively steady” over that time.
Sekulow may also remember that he lobbied in 2005 to change the Senate’s filibuster rules in response to Senate Democrats’ blocking of a handful of extreme Bush nominees, saying that judicial nominees are “entitled...under the Constitution” to an up-or-down Senate vote.
Although he’s happy to rail against President Obama’s temerity in nominating qualified, unobjectionable judges to judicial vacancies, Sekulow signaled to Robertson that he would expect a Republican president to do the same, but to fill the vacancies with out-of-the-mainstream judges.
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said of the Senate’s recent rules change. “And it means what’s going to happen here is when the Republicans are back in control -- which will happen one day, in the Senate, in the White House – look out on who’s going to be appointed. There should be no holds barred on these judicial appointments.”
On today’s 700 Club, Pat Robertson defended a viewer who told him that she asked a neighbor who was staying with her to leave her house after finding out he was a Muslim. “Kimberly” said that after she took in a neighbor who was kicked out of his house by his father, she “felt an evil presence while cooking in my kitchen” and “heard him praying to Allah in my home.” She asked Robertson if she undermined Jesus’ teaching that “just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” by asking the neighbor to leave.
The televangelist agreed that while she shouldn’t just limit her charity to other Christians, “that doesn’t mean you have to bring an unclean spirit into your home.”
“If somebody in truth is worshiping some sort of a demonic presence then that will pervade your home and no you don’t offer hospitality to something like that,” Robertson said today on the 700 Club, while admitting that he doesn’t understand the circumstances. “You don’t have to offer hospitality to a coven of witches, for example.”
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson shared with viewers his fitness “secret.” The octogenarian televangelist boasted of regularly doing thirty 1,000 lbs. leg presses as part of his exercise routine: “A few years ago I did some pretty heavy stuffy, I used to, my leg presses, warm up with 500 lbs. and I went up from there, I did 30 reps of 1,000 lbs.”
Back in 2006, Robertson said he could leg press 2,000 lbs. The New York Times wrote at the time: “According to a related news release and photographs on the network's Web site (www.cbn.com), Mr. Robertson has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds, even though (as many online commentators have pointed out) he is 76 years old and the current world record is 1,335 pounds.”
GNC eventually pulled its Robertson-branded protein smoothie, “Pat’s Diet Shake,” but not before the episode raised questions about, as the Virginian-Pilot put it, “the fuzzy line between his tax-exempt operations and his profit-making ventures.” Slate’s Mike DeBonis commented at the time:
Let's get Pat Robertson's bonkers claims out of the way right now. As CBS Sportsline's Clay Travis reported earlier this week, there's no way the 76-year-old Robertson broke the leg press record—by more than 600 pounds—of a former Florida State quarterback.
Even when doing (what he claims to be) 1,000 pounds, Robertson's form is wack. First, he helps his legs by pushing on his knees with his arms. That's a no-no. He also achieves nowhere near the recommended full range of motion, which is to bring the knees to at least a 90-degree angle. And if he's going to double the weight, where's it going to fit? Neither Andrew Sullivan nor I have seen a machine capable of holding 20 plates of 100 pounds each.
Most telling is that Robertson has two staffers loading the machine for him. A big knock against the leg press is that it's inefficient. Most leg press machines are constructed as either a sled angled at 45 degrees or a lever. (There are some that use cables, too.) In all cases, some of the weight gets borne by the machine. You may be loading 400 pounds, but your muscles are feeling only 200. In other words, eight plates on the machine are only four plates worth of effective weight. And by the time you're finished loading and unloading, you could have done an extra set or two of squats.
Betsy McCaughey, who has built a career around disseminating misinformation about the health care reform law — even launching the “death panels” smear — joined Pat Robertson on the 700 Club today, where she was inaccurately labeled as a “health policy expert.”
McCaughey agreed with Robertson when he warned that “people will die” as a result of the Affordabe Care Act. “Some people may even die,” she added.
The televangelist, in turn, was awestruck by the “amazing” McCaughey, who he said “knows what she is talking about.” Co-host Wendy Griffith agreed, saying, “She was amazing, that was the best interview I’ve heard on Obamacare.”
Televangelist Pat Robertson today told a parent who asked him how to talk to her gay son “to be understanding,” but also to ask her son if he was molested by his coach. “Is there a biological thing going on or has he been influenced, has a coach molested him?” Robertson asked, a comment based on the anti-gay myth that children are “recruited” into homosexuality.
“They don’t know what they’re doing, they’re teenagers,” Robertson said of gay youth.
Back in 1997, E.W. Jackson was working for Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition as the director of the Samaritan Project, a short-lived campaign designed to reach out to minority voters by passing off the Coalition’s political agenda as a “bold and compassionate agenda to combat poverty and restore hope.”
According to the New York Times, Jackson took part in a blessing over Robertson: “With Mr. Robertson kneeling, a half-dozen black pastors blessed him, touching his shoulder. The Rev. Earl Jackson, an African-American preacher from Boston who heads the Samaritan Project, pronounced the scene ‘not just an event but an epiphany.’”
People For the American Way had criticized the Samaritan Project with a campaign called “Don’t be Fooled by the ‘Christian’ Coalition.”
In a 1997 interview on the 700 Club, Robertson and Jackson, who is now the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, discussed the Christian Coalition’s outreach to the black community and criticized PFAW. “People For the American Way needs to try to do a little bit more of the American way, and the American way is a way of faith and that’s something that they just don’t seem to understand,” Jackson said.
Pat Robertson says you must be doing something wrong if you can’t “heal” your son of deafness. After all, Robertson himself has healed deafness before, he said on the 700 Club today. Responding to a question from a mother who asked why her hearing impaired son hasn’t been healed despite her prayers, Robertson said that her son may be hindered by a “spirit of deafness.”
“I have dealt with people who are deaf and you rebuke the spirit of deafness and they get healed,” Robertson said. “I don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”
“Why don’t you try that and if it doesn’t work, try something else,” he said.
Pat Robertson said today on the 700 Club that liberal policies inevitably lead to mass deaths, arguing that modern Europe is little different from the Nazi era or the French Revolution. The televangelist was commenting on a story about a bill in Belgium’s parliament that would broaden the country’s euthanasia law to include minors, as long as they have the consent of their parents, a psychologist and two doctors.
He said that liberals have “moved away from God” and “as a result of humanity and rejecting God, you have the orgy of the French Revolution, you have the guillotine cutting off the heads of thousands of people, you have the same thing going on now in Europe, you had it under the Nazis.”
You know the liberals, the so called socialists, the progressives, they’ve moved away from God and when you move away from God then you say, ‘were humanists.’ Then as a result of humanity and rejecting God, you have the orgy of the French Revolution, you have the guillotine cutting off the heads of thousands of people, you have the same thing going on now in Europe, you had it under the Nazis. Why can’t we come back to the fact that God loves people?
When Pat Robertson thinks you’ve moved too far to the right, you know you’re in trouble.
Today, for the second time this week, the televangelist criticized Republicans for staking out such an extreme position that they forced a government shutdown and threatening the country with a default. Robertson said that while he loves the Tea Party, he thinks the movement’s leaders need to “grow up and work to make the system successful.”
“Unfortunately, the Tea Party is not going along and if they don’t go along in another few hours our government defaults and that is a catastrophic thing for the finances for this great nation,” Robertson said. “So what’s happened is, instead of John Boehner being a hero and leading a vast army, he is now demoralized, unable to lead his troops and the game has gone back to the Senate.”
Boehner will now need to “let the Democrats come in and save his bacon” to prevent a default, the 700 Club host continued. “It’s not a pleasant day for the Republicans.”
Yesterday, Robertson said that the Republicans should “wave the white flag” and concede defeat to the Democrats.
Republicans are too extreme and need to put a stop to their dogmatic anti-Obamacare campaign, according to televangelist Pat Robertson — that’s right, Pat Robertson. In remarks made today on the 700 Club, Robertson said that if the GOP continues its crusade to derail Obamacare, it would lead to a default that “would be devastating economically to every human being.”
The Republicans have got to wave the white flag and say, ‘We fought a good fight and now it’s over. They cannot shut the government down and then bring about a default. We can’t do it. I mean, it would be devastating economically to every human being and the Republicans just can’t get tarred with that. So they tried and if they go to the electorate and say, ‘We tried, Obamacare was awful, we tried to get it underway and we weren’t successful, the Democrats wanted it, they fought for it and they wouldn’t let go so it’s their bill, their program.’
Amazingly enough, this isn’t the first time that Robertson has called out the GOP for being too extreme.
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson pushed a discredited conspiracy theory about HIV/AIDS. Robertson, who earlier insisted that gay people use special rings to spread AIDS, claimed that AIDS was a result of a polio experiment gone wrong:
“I think the World Health Organization was doing some experiment in the Congo on a monkey virus, a monkey injection to fight polio and it wasn’t an injection, they put it in sugar cubes and they gave it to these Africans, a couple hundred thousand in the test,” Robertson said.
“This is the first time when monkey diseases crossed into the human condition and out of that has come this terrible thing. It seems to be transmitted so often through sexual contact and it was rife in the homosexual community but has then jumped into the heterosexual community.”
However, David Oshinsky writes in Polio: An American Story:
The charge that humans acquired HIV from these [polio] trials remains, for most experts, an empty accusation, made more improbably by recent studies that found no detectable traces of chimpanzee DNA in frozen stocks of [Hilary] Koprowski’s vaccine. The results, said one group of researchers, “should finally lay the OPV/AIDS theory to rest.”
Edward Hooper, a British journalist, argued in his 1999 book, The River, that Dr. Hilary Koprowski of the Wistar Research Institute unintentionally caused the AIDS epidemic by using chimp kidneys to produce an oral polio vaccine. The chimps, says Hooper, were infected with SIV (the simian precursor to AIDS). Then, via an experimental mass-vaccination program in the Belgian Congo, SIV made the jump from monkey to man.
Hooper's contaminated polio vaccine thesis sounds less wacky than most conspiracy theories and has attracted support from a few notable academics—including late Oxford professor W.D. Hamilton. But it's definitely wrong. Hooper says Koprowski got his kidney samples from chimps in the Congo. The problem is that the SIV strain endemic to chimps from that region is phylogenetically distinct from HIV. The offending chimps probably came from Cameroon.
Thomas Maugh II of the Los Angeles Times wrote back in 2001 that four separate research groups found no evidence to back up the conspiracy theory:
The controversial idea that a contaminated polio vaccine was responsible for the spread of AIDS in Africa has been discredited by new research released today.
"The new data may not convince the hardened conspiracy theorist who thinks that contamination of [the vaccine] was subsequently and deliberately covered up," he said. "But those of us who were formerly willing to give some credence to the . . . hypothesis will now consider that the matter has been laid to rest." Dr. Hilary Koprowski, who conducted the tests on behalf of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, said he was very happy with the findings.
"I never believed one word of the accusations because there were no facts," he said. "What bothered me was that somehow this may have created a difficulty in eradicating polio" because some people would refuse to be immunized for fear of contracting AIDS.
"With these articles putting an end to any possibility that vaccination had anything to do with AIDS, I hope that the [polio] eradication campaign will be [successfully completed] in two to three years."
Koprowski and others have said all along that the vaccines were prepared using only the cells of monkeys, which do not carry HIV, and that chimpanzee cells were not used. The new findings, appearing in today's Nature and Friday's Science, confirm their claim.
The new studies show that "all the viruses were grown on monkey cells, which is what was claimed initially," said Clayton Buck, chief executive and acting director of Wistar. "As far as I am concerned, the issue is really put to rest for all practical purposes."
Four separate groups in England, France, Germany and Sweden have now examined vaccine samples removed from freezers at Wistar, looking at the DNA of the viruses and the cells in which they were grown. In all cases, the cells were found to be only from rhesus or macaque monkeys and the only virus present was the polio virus.
Wistar no longer had samples of one vaccine preparation, called CHAT 10A-11 that Hooper thought to be the most suspect. But an original vial of the batch was found at Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control. It too was found to contain only monkey cells and polio virus.
Earlier this year, Pat Robertson told 700 Club viewers that it wasn’t a bad idea to pray over clothes, and even rings, just in case they have a demon attached to them. When a viewer asked him today how she could manage to pray over everything in her house every day, Robertson said not to worry too much… unless God is telling you that there are in fact demons in your house.
“What is important is: were these objects actually used in some kind of Satanic ritual? Some occult practice? If that’s the case, then there might be some demonic force that attaches to that which was used in pagan worship,” Robertson said. “In terms of going around and saying this is cursed and that’s cursed, you can drive yourself crazy doing that.”
Co-host Wendy Griffith claimed that she knew of cases where God told a preacher to remove certain paintings from his house “because they have something attached to them,” and Robertson agreed: “I’ve heard of people who had headaches, they get something from overseas and it looks so beautiful yet it’s actually a deity, a demonic force has attached itself to that.”
“I may be an old fuddy-duddy, what is transgender?” Robertson asked co-host Wendy Griffith.
Despite Robertson’s admission that he doesn’t know what it means to be transgender, that didn’t stop him from criticizing the law. Robertson said that while he is “not opposed” to gender reassignment surgery, “but this whole business about transgenders, you’re saying they’ve got boy parts but they want to go to the girls’ restroom, that’s absurd.”
Robertson said he is sticking up for “the normal people” against the “insane” LGBT rights movement:
Why are we exposed to this stuff? They are driving the agenda, driving everybody crazy, all this sexual identity, sexual politics, ‘Mommy Has Two Mommies’ [sic] and all that stuff, it’s a tiny fringe but they seem to have control of the levers of power in the media and especially in Hollywood. But it’s insane. I just cannot believe that the normal people in America, the people who want to just live their lives can’t be allowed to do it without having this stuff imposed on them constantly. You’ve explained to me, I’m not sure we know yet.
Later in the broadcast, Robertson said: “now, we talk about transgender, I have a former stallion who is now a gelding.”