Pat Robertson


Hamlet, I, 5 - Hamlet and the ghost.

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Can’t remember whose theory on dreams and the subconscious gave the most weight to the symbolic nature of the people, objects and situations that make up the scenery of our nightly home movies.

I blame Pat Robertson and the Progressive Left in any case for last night’s visitation regardless.

Normally, my dreams are populated only with people I know and the setting is most often a variation of the town where I attended university or a school building I once worked in. I don’t know why and I haven’t bothered to research what it means or doesn’t.

Dead people seldom have starring roles in my dreams. If the departed do appear, they have cameos at best. But last night, Will showed up, which shouldn’t come as a surprise thanks to the Robertson faux uproar, but I have to be honest – I was surprised because he has only deigned to grace my dreams a handful of times in the past five plus years and never as more than a walk on. Ever.

I was back in school. It was – god help me – the 80’s with  clothing and the hair styles so jarring that I actually commented on it to another character completely out of context to the situation.

I found myself back on Currier E2 in my old corner room (minus the high-strung room-mate) and Will shows up to visit me for the weekend. And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened the door and it was him. Normally, it’s Rob who rides shot-gun in my dreams. Very seldom do I dream that Rob doesn’t figure at some or all points.

Here’s the odd thing – as if dreams with dead husbands stopping in for visit aren’t odd enough – he was not young. His hair was longer, curled like Dee’s does at the nape, around the ears and that same cowlick that drives her to distraction and salted with gray. His face was lined a bit and his goatee salted as well.

This has happened once before where someone who’s been gone a while showing up in a dream looking his real age. My Uncle Jim popped into a dream not long before Will and I married, looking very much like the 65-year-old man he would have been and not the 39-year-old man he was when he died.

When I asked him what he was doing there, he said,

“I thought I should visit now.”

I had been on my way out to meet friends, but his arrival prompted me to suggest we stay in. He didn’t want me to change plans. He would come along after he changed into a clean shirt.

He was not the 30-year-old I remembered from before the ravages of illness. More solid. A bit thicker and hairy, but not on the order of a grizzly.

Throughout I was aware that he shouldn’t have been there but I got no further explanation from him about why other than he deemed the visit “necessary”. I sorta felt like he was less happy to see me than I was to see him and that the visit wasn’t for pleasure but one of those dutiful things a person does.

He watched me with an appraising sort of look. He seemed tired as though he’d come a long distance to spend time with me, but whatever he’d left behind him was still on his mind. He mentioned at one point that he wouldn’t be able to stay for more than the night. He had to get back. I didn’t ask where or why, and he didn’t volunteer any more information.

I’ve thought about it all day and I can’t figure out why – after all these years – he put in an actual appearance in my dreams. He has never felt the need before. It has a ghost of Hamlet’s father feel to it. Blunted purpose chiding? Perhaps.


Republican campaign poster from 1896 attacking...

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The reality show known as the GOP debates produced a lovely but somewhat disingenuous meme the other night. Moderator Wolf Blitzer (who has to be hoping that someday he can escape back to some semblance of his cooler “scud stud” days before he dies a tool of the main stream media) asked candidate Ron Paul one of those delightful beside the point questions that involve hypothetical scenarios from an alternate United States timeline,

Headline meme’s on Facebook and Twitter embellished the lone gunman’s “yes” response to Blitzer’s “should society let him die” to GOP Audiences Cheer as Ron Paul Proclaims that the Uninsured Should be Left to Die. Which is not what the man said at all, and to be more fair, the audience cheered him on his rather wishy-washy “personal responsibility” point and not about letting a man in a coma die because he didn’t have health insurance.

Personal responsibility is a red herring catch-all phrase in the United States that allows people to safely distance themselves from the reality that many people are responsible and are still caught by rock and hard place scenarios from which only a government  safety net can save them. It’s a word we use when we don’t want to acknowledge that we are really heartless fucks who don’t care about anyone outside our personal circles.

Regardless, the meme spoke and it came down on the side of slightly twisting the event to make Ron Paul, the Tea Party and the GOP in general fit the storyline, which is that people on the right are cold, soulless bastards who want to make over the American government in their heartless, bible thumping, Ayn Rand loving images.

The reality, which is that Blitzer’s what if missed by a country mile, is that most uninsured Americans can’t afford health insurance and that Ron Paul lives in a fantasy world where churches and other charities still take care of these people. This, however, wouldn’t have made as compelling of a soundbite. It certainly wouldn’t have fit in a Tweet.

In keeping with their newfound zeal to fight half-truth and blatant lies with more of the same, the energized Left pounced all over The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson yesterday with a similar eye for clever editing and disingenuous headlines.

Robertson does this quaint Q&A during his broadcast. Viewers send in questions, and he plums the depths of his holy man status to advise them.

The Crooks and Liars (and they couldn’t have named themselves better if they tried) website quickly and crudely edited this gem*, which sped about the social media like new gossip in a high school lunchroom.

Pat Robertson Says Divorce Terminally Ill Wife went wild to the point that the mainstream was forced to pick it up and repeat the nonsense.

Nonsense because that’s not really what Robertson said. In a rare compassionate take on his own brand of Christianity, he admitted that wanting to move on from a marriage that has been effectively ended by one spouse’s dementia is an ethically difficult one, but that he would not judge someone who did. In his opinion, a man who wanted to do so should make sure his wife is well-cared for and divorce her though he admitted that perhaps an ethicist  would be the better person to ask.

I have little patience with hypotheticals that aren’t really. People die from lack of health insurance all the time. Spouses are effectively widowed by dementia all the time. Let’s not play with this scenarios as though they aren’t thorny and real. Just because you may have avoided some tragedy or other doesn’t make it just another thought exercise.

Anymore I can’t distinguish between Left, Progressive, Right, Moderate, Conservative, Liberal. It’s all shrill. Or half-lie to “make a point”. Or making light of the very real lives of very real people to make a point like the Robertson meme in particular. It’s mostly bullshit that distracts from the work that needs to be done to solve the actual problems that are crushing the democracy right out of the country.

A Facebook/Twitter friend, who suffers from a life-threatening illness, took understandable exception to the overlaid implication that abandoning sick/terminally ill spouses is okay. She comes at the meme from the opposite side of the equation from myself. In some ways, the sick person has the upper hand because they are, rightly, awarded the lion’s share of the sympathy, but speaking as the former spouse of a man who had dementia, there are two sides to every story regardless of how tragic it is.

She was appalled by Robertson’s stance that dementia leaves essentially a “walking dead person” in its wake, but that’s exactly what it does. And just because it makes you uncomfortable to “go there” doesn’t make it less a fact.

First they become a complete stranger, Then they devolve into a stranger who doesn’t know you. Finally, they become a breathing corpse. A simplified version. There is more, and most of it is sad, lonely and soul-crushing, so I will spare you the finer points.But “walking dead” is a good, if stark, analogy.

Like Robertson, I don’t fault anyone who wants to cut and run. I’d have run a hundred times if I’d had the opportunity. I am not a better person because I didn’t.

Loyal spouses are patted on the head for their exemplary capacity for self-sacrifice just as the terminally ill who fight tooth and nail, even when they and their families would be better off if they didn’t, are given posthumous gold stars for “courage”. It’s textbook. It’s Hollywood. And it’s beside the fucking point.

Sometimes I understand perfectly why Obama always looks like a middle school teacher just after his worst class of the day. Are there any grown-ups left in the room down south anymore?

 

*You can see the clip in its entirety here.


And where were you? Certainly not glued to cable news or Tweeting/retweeting links to organizations looking for donations to aid the Haitians now that an earthquake has heaped insult on the misery of their lives.

In spite of his idiocy, the most soulless Rev. Pat Robertson, a great number of Americans will watch the drama du jour in Port-au-Prince via Fox News, or whatever channel their political ideology requires they watch, feel terrible. Because even if they are unemployed and technically squatting in their yet to be foreclosed homes, they have a sense of “there but for the grace of God, go I” and “at least I am being allowed to squat in comfort, because my bank is too afraid of economic collapse to evict me, and not living in a shanty shack on a mud hill”. Except for those things, they will be could be one of those poor wretches someday.

And they could. Remember Katrina? The Superdome? Thousands of soon to be abandoned strip malls have the names of the homeless of tomorrow written all over their walls.

So the privileged (like Will and Jada Smith who are bravely auctioning off some personal art) and the not so much anymore (who never owned art anyway)  will dig not too deep really or deeper than they probably should to send money via the growing number of aid efforts to line the pockets of the incredibly corrupt Haitian government, who might let a bit of this lottery booty trickle down á la Reaganomics to the crushed and dying in the mud-they-used-to-eat Haitian earthquake victims.

And I know how cynical I sound.

But Haiti was a hell-hole where people were so hungry they ate mud. The hills around Port-au-Prince were stripped to build shanty towns which promoted a topsoil erosion that literally has left a brown ring around the island that probably shows up on Google Earth. The government is corrupt and lest we forget, the Haitians are the ones piling into leaky boats and making the dangerous trek for the U.S. coastline back in the 90’s.

If there’d been no earthquake the other day, Haitians would be filling the empty tummies of their toddlers with mud today while Americans got fatter on fast food all the while totally oblivious to the Haitian plight.

And I am not against helping out a neighboring country in its time of need. We should do all that we can. My late father, for example, sent money every year to a Catholic church in Haiti and left instructions in his will for a final donation from his estate. Haitians deserved help before despite Pat Robertson’s misinformation about them having made a pact with the devil* and if they’d just embrace Christianity they could be as enslaved to tourism as their Dominican Republic neighbors.

I just find it sad, and telling, that we can ignore suffering that isn’t catastrophe based. Americans do love their drama. And a good disaster is better than watching the first rounds of American Idol, which I am assured are too boring to bother with.

This is sweeping generalization, of course. Like my father, there are people who care enough to help even when the in crowd isn’t paying attention.

*Which is Assembly of God-speak for being Catholic as 80% of Haitians are.