Cruising With Sylvia Browne

The Guardian takes a cruise with Sylvia Browne:

The audience listens politely. For all the times Sylvia gets things psychically wrong (which she does a lot: I sometimes think if she tells you your kid is dead, you should probably presume the child’s alive and vice versa), she still has an enormous following. Hundreds of people have paid thousands of dollars each to be cruising with her this week. This is in part because if you want to pay $750 to have a 30-minute telephone reading with her, there’s a waiting list of four years. Her critics believe her career can’t possibly survive the Shawn Hornbeck debacle, but so far there’s no sign of it diminishing on this cruise.

I don’t have a cover story worked out to explain why I’m here. I haven’t the heart to say that I have a missing child. Perhaps if anyone asks I can say I have a missing mother. I don’t know anything about my fellow travellers. They mainly look like retired Americans in slacks, a typical tourist party. You wouldn’t look twice at them. But then Sylvia draws names out of a hat. If we hear our name called, we are allowed to ask her a single question. Only one.

“Julie Harrison… Joan Smith… Pamela Smith…” says Sylvia. And, one by one, they walk to the microphone in front of the stage.

“Why did my husband decide to take his own life?” asks the first woman.

“What?” Sylvia says. The woman is crying so hard, Sylvia can’t understand her.

“Why did my husband decide to take his own life?” the woman repeats.

“He was bipolar,” Sylvia says.

The next woman walks to the microphone.

“I have a strained relationship with my daughter,” she begins. “And I want to know …”

“Your daughter is strange,” interrupts Sylvia.

Sylvia doesn’t pause. Other psychics will often reach around for some inner voice, but Sylvia answers the question instantly, in a low, smoky growl, sometimes before the person has even finished asking it.

“Your daughter is stubborn,” she says. “She’s selfish, narcissistic. Leave her alone.” The woman reluctantly nods. Tears roll down her cheeks.

“Don’t get too involved with her,” Sylvia says. “She’ll hurt you. Leave her alone. I don’t like her.”

“Thank you, Sylvia,” the woman says.

I want to yell out, “Don’t listen to her! Sylvia doesn’t know anything about your situation! She’s just saying the first thing that comes into her head!” But I don’t.

“Am I ever going to have a better relationship with my father?” another woman asks.

“No,” Sylvia replies. “He’s narcissistic. He has sociopathic tendencies. Forget it. There’s a darkness there.”

“Thank you, Sylvia,” she says.

Sylvia seems to be psychically diagnosing a lot of people with narcissistic personality disorder today.

“Will you tell me exactly the time and place my father died?” the next woman asks.

“Ten years ago in Iowa,” Sylvia says.

“Iowa?” says the woman, surprised.

“I’m the psychic,” Sylvia snaps. “I’m telling you. Iowa.”

“Thank you, Sylvia,” the woman says, cowed.

Luke Blackburn and the Civil War Yellow Fever Plot

From Wikipedia:

Luke Pryor Blackburn (June 16, 1816 – September 14, 1887) was a doctor and philanthropist who, despite only meager previous political experience, served as Governor of Kentucky from 1879 to 1883. He spent much of his life combating yellow fever in the southern states and is credited with establishing the first successful quarantine against the spread of the disease in the Mississippi River valley.

Blackburn was the first doctor elected governor of the Commonwealth and was the only one until the election of Ernie Fletcher in 2003.[4] His major issue as governor was prison reform. He was called the “father of prison reforms in Kentucky” for his efforts in improving conditions in the state’s penal system.[4]

One incident stands in dark contrast to the rest of Blackburn’s life. During the Civil War, he deliberately shipped trunks of clothing and linens contaminated with yellow fever to Northern cities in order to begin a pandemic of the disease and cripple the Union economy. Though it was later discovered that mosquitos are responsible for the spread of yellow fever, the plot is believed to be one of the earliest attempts at biological warfare in the United States.

Theocracy Now

Max Blumenthal’s latest video:

On October 20 and 21st, I attended the Value Voters Summit, a massive gathering hosted by the Colorado-based Christian right mega-ministry, Focus on the Family, and its Washington lobbying arm, the Family Research Council. With the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani leading in the race for the Republican nomination and the threat of another Clinton presidency looming, the stakes for the Christian right were high.

Klan vs. Klan

Trouble in white paradise:

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Members of one Ku Klux Klan organization say they will assemble at the courthouse Nov. 10 to show their opposition to another Klan group that plans an anti-immigration rally there that day.

Ken Mier, who described himself as an investigator for the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and the national office of the Ku Klux Klan LLC, said in an e-mail to The Cullman Times that his group is against the tactics of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which held an anti-immigration protest last month in Athens.

“We are opposed to the ignorance and stupidity as displayed by the individuals that thumbed their nose at the area churches by continuing to use racial slurs, threats and avoided Christian deportment,” he said.

(Thanks PVC)

Krugman: Fearing Fear Itself

From the NYTimes:

For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.