Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Aug 23/05 - On Reverend (?) Pat Robertson's criminal stupidity

PMBComment: if Chavez's US lobbyists - Patton Boggs and a few others less well know - had sought out an optimal dissemination scheme for Chavez's constant "victimization" cries, they could never have done better than Pat Robertson's "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." This kind of flippant, quasi-criminal (or maybe criminal), counterproductive, public statement plagues those who are addicted to non-stop preaching and extremism, and that is why Robertson and Chavez - poles apart ideologically but both charlatans - make a good pair for controversy and headlines. In Spanish we say "Dios los cria y ellos se juntan " seldom has this adage been more applicable than today.

I like to finish my short comment of this lamentable occurrence with what I hope is a plain and apt quote:

" Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some insist on abusing the privilege." - Unknown


PS: at the end of the press note you will find a sensible joint statement made from Brazil by travelling Senators Norm Coleman (Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee) and Mel Martinez (the first US Senator born in Latin American) repudiating Robertson. The White House should up the ante and study carefully the legal implications of Robertson's call for violence. Latin America does not need a martyr as unhinged and intellectually corrupted as Hugo Chavez, and the US can well afford in its anti-terror crusade to prosecute an errant and stupid televangelist for blatantly violating US law and affecting the governments ability to conduct foreign policy.

Robertson: U.S. should assassinate Venezuela's Chavez
State Department says comment 'inappropriate'

(CNN) -- Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas.

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel accused Robertson of making terrorist statements and demanded that the United States take action, according to The Associated Press.

"The ball is in the U.S. court after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country," AP quoted Rangel as saying. "It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Robertson is a private citizen and that his views do not reflect U.S. policy.

"We do not share his view and his comments are inappropriate," he said. "And as we've said before, any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless and without fact."

Robertson, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, called Chavez "a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said. "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Robertson accused Chavez, a left-wing populist with close ties to Cuban President Fidel Castro, of trying to make Venezuela "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

"This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen," he said.

Chavez has said he believes the United States is trying to assassinate him, vowing that Venezuela, which accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. oil imports, would shut off the flow of oil if that happens.

The Unites States has denied such allegations in the past.

Executive orders issued by Presidents Ford and Reagan banned political assassinations.

Robertson's comments Monday were the latest in a string of controversial remarks in recent years by the religious broadcaster and founder of the Christian Coalition.

Last October, during the heat of the presidential race, Robertson told CNN that during a meeting with President Bush before the invasion of Iraq, the president told him he did not believe there would be casualties. The White House strongly denied the claim.

In May, during an ABC interview, Robertson ignited a firestorm with his response to a question about whether activist judges were more of a threat to America than terrorists.

"If they look over the course of 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," he said.

Defending his remarks in a letter to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Robertson insisted he was not being cavalier about the 9/11 attacks. But he also refused to apologize, saying Supreme Court rulings on abortion, religious expression in the public square, pornography and same-sex marriage "are all of themselves graver dangers in the decades to come than the terrorists which our great nation has defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq."
A 'nuke' for Foggy Bottom

In October 2003, Robertson, criticizing the State Department during an interview on "The 700 Club," said "maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up," referring to the nickname for the department's headquarters in Washington.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the remark "despicable."

In July 2003, Robertson asked his audience to pray for three justices to retire from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced with more conservative jurists. "One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition," he said.

Robertson insisted he was only calling for prayers for the justices to retire and was not asking his followers to pray for their demise.

In November 2002, Robertson charged that the Muslim holy book, the Quran, incites followers to kill people of other faiths and disputed Bush's characterization of Islam as a religion of peace.

"It's clear from the teachings of the Quran and also from the history of Islam that it's anything but peaceful," Robertson said in a subsequent interview with CNN. "Of course there are peace-loving Muslims. But at the same time, at the core of this religion ... is jihad, and it is to subject the unbelievers either to forced conversion or death. That's what it teaches."

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chavez ally: Robertson a 'fascist'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A Venezuelan lawmaker on Tuesday accused U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson of shedding his Christian values by calling for President Hugo Chavez's assassination.

Pro-Chavez lawmaker Desire Santos Amaral said she was shocked to learn that Robertson, a former U.S. presidential candidate, said on his show that if Chavez believes the United States is out to kill him, then it should. Robertson said this would stop Venezuela from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"This man cannot be a true Christian. He's a fascist," Santos said. "This is part of the policies of aggression from the right wing in the North against our revolution."

Robertson's comments appear likely to further stoke tensions between Washington and Caracas. Chavez has repeatedly claimed that American officials are plotting to oust or kill him -- charges U.S. officials have denied.

Chavez has irritated U.S. officials with his leftist policies, his fiery rhetoric against American "imperialism" and his increasingly close ties to U.S. regimes in Cuba and Iran. He says he is leading Venezuela toward socialism and, in a visit to Cuba this week, praised President Fidel Castro's system as a "revolutionary democracy."

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, called Chavez a "terrific danger" to the United States on his TV show "The 700 Club" and said it would be easier to kill Chavez than invade Venezuela.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

The United States is the top buyer of Venezuelan crude, but Chavez has made it clear he wants to decrease the country's dependence on the U.S. market by finding other buyers.

Santos rejected Robertson's allegations that Chavez aims to turn the South American country into a sanctuary for radical groups hostile to the United States.

Santos said Venezuelan authorities have long been aware of the threat of an assassination attempt against Chavez, who has increased security to reduce such risks.

She said radical right-wing Chavez foes are mulling the possibility of killing him "because they haven't been able to defeat him through elections or coups."

Chavez has survived a brief 2002 coup, a devastating two-month strike that ended in early 2003 and recall referendum in 2004. Chavez is up for re-election next year, and polls suggest he is the favorite.

Santos said she thinks U.S.-Venezuelan relations could still improve, but she added that comments seeking to spur violence by "charlatans and fascists" like Robertson only get in the way.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

U.S. Senators Criticize Robertson Call to Assassinate Chavez

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senators Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota and Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, said a call by U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson for the U.S. government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was ``irresponsible'' and ``incredibly stupid.''

The senators, visiting Brazil to meet with government and business leaders, spoke with reporters today in Rio de Janeiro.

``It was an incredibly stupid statement and has no reflection on reality,'' said Coleman, the chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations subcommittee on the western hemisphere. ``I met with President Chavez on my last visit a couple of months ago and he related that concern to me, about how the U.S. was out to assassinate him. I told him not to lose any sleep about it.''

Robertson, a television evangelist, said yesterday on a broadcast of his ``700 Club'' program that Chavez is a ``dangerous enemy.'' He said killing Chavez would be cheaper than going to war to remove him.``We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come to exercise that ability,'' Robertson said.