The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Diamonds and Pat Robertson...

Here's another one of the Commonwealths favorite (or controversial) sons, Mr. Pat Robertson. The religious media mogul who pontificates the virtues of the godly republican party, and the evils of all democrats. First, I never understood why he gets so much face time on TV (other than the fact he owns his own TV station), and second, he seems to be more interested in business/politics than he does leading wayward souls to the "pearly gates".

During the 2004 Presidential campaign, he used all of his media resources to campaign nonstop for Bush on his "religious" show; which makes perfect sense, when you consider Robertson was able to avoid combat during the Korean War using his Senator father (a democrat, how ironic) to assure he would never be any where close to a combat zone. So Bush and Robertson do have that in common.

Robertson has definitely made some absolutely appalling comments during his public life. Like the time he agreed with Jerry Falwell that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were the direct result of gays, the ACLU, and feminist. Youv'e got to love someone who makes idiotic statements to draw attention to themselves just after a major national tragedy! Or the time he claimed to use his divine connections to help Virginia Beach avoid being hit by Hurricane Gloria. Yes, I'm really not making this up!

I think one of the most appalling stories about Mr. Robertson is his African Development Corporation, which he founded in 1978. In theory, this is how Robertson's ADC is suppose to work: through this "Christian charity" (which through Bush's Faith Based initiatives is receiving tax payer funded support) ADC owns and operates diamond, gold, and other extraction industries throughout Africa (Obviously the work of God). In return, the profits that these industries make are spent to improve the lives of ordinary impoverished Africans through an organization called "Operation Blessing". I think the key word here is profits, remember profits come after expenses.

Now through his mining operations in Africa, Robertson has had to cut some deals with some pretty nasty characters. One being the former dictator of Liberia, Charles Taylor, who in June of 2003 was convicted by the U.N. of war crimes. Now of course Robertson could care less about the U.N. convicting Taylor of war crimes, but the crimes that Taylor helped to mastermind in West Africa have to be some of the most heinous ever reported. So naturally, Taylor made a great business partner for Mr. Robertson.

Also, Robertson had a very close business relationship with the former (now dead, burning in eternal hellfire) Dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu is most notable for being an opulent dictator who plundered the enormous mineral wealth of the former Republic of Zaire, during his 40 or so years as Dictator, while the people of his country lived in abject poverty.

Now compared to Charles Taylor, Mobuto was Mother Teresa; whereas Taylor preferred the machete to hack up his rivals, Mobuto, always the humanitarian, preferred the single bullet to the back of the head. So naturally it makes perfect sense that a God loving evangelist from Virginia Beach would be a business associate of these two benevolent men.

In the summer of 2003, Robertson even did the unthinkable, and criticized President Bush for suggesting that Taylor, the genocidal maniac, should step aside as President of Liberia. Of course, this had nothing to do with Taylor's and Robertson's joint business venture, a gold mine, in the Republic of Liberia.

The story doesn't end here either. If it wasn't bad enough to have a devout "man of God" snuggling up to genocidal maniacs, Robertson came under scrutiny in 1997 when an investigation by the Virginia Pilot (that's a newspaper) resulted in a pilot working for the tax exempt Operation Blessing organization telling the paper that he flew approximately 40 flights for the organization, and that he remembered one instance in which a plane he flew had humanitarian supplies. (approximately 500 pounds of medicine - the plane had a capacity for 7,000 pounds). All other trips of course were supplies to support diamond/gold mining operations in the former Republic of Zaire.

I guess you could consider this fraud on the part of Operation Blessing, since the Commonwealth of Virginia was providing Operations Blessing (not the ADC) a "charity exemption". These exemptions enabled Operations Blessing to avoid paying retail sales tax, a break on motor vehicle tax, and an aircraft sales tax exemption. But Robertson would not face charges; it was suggested that due to Robertson's political alliances with the then in coming republican Governor Jim Gilmore, an investigation by Virginia's Attorney General was avoided (you think?). Now it probably didn't hurt that Robertson was a generous donor to both the Governor's and Attorney General's campaigns (to the tune of $50,000 and $35,000 respectively). But as you might have read from the article above, Robertson reimbursed Operation blessing for the non-humanitarian trips, but of course this was after he was busted by the Virginia Pilot. I'm sure it was all just a simple administrative mix-up!

OK, so now you might know a little more about Robertson and his various industries, and believe me there are more questionable ventures that Robertson has been involved with, all under the name of "God". For instance, Robertson, always the visionary, has even entered the world of the ever so popular diet industry, introducing his own line of diet shakes, cookbooks, and so forth. I guess Pat couldn't stand the thought of the "Atkins craze" sweeping the nation, and missing out on millions of potential revenue.

Bottom line, Robertson is a scum bag, who uses his religious media empire to add to his personal wealth (estimated to be between $200 million and $1 billion), and to advance his narrow right-wing agenda. And if all of this weren't bad enough, just think you and I both fund his activities (as well as others just like him) because of his tax exempt status, and through the tax payer support that he now receives via President Bush's faith based initiatives! So Praise the Lord!

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