Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)
Friday, April 29, 2016
True Spanish lies: A scam in any tongue is still a scam
For some time I've been aware (and have blogged and Facebooked about it) that certain
Scamworld sociopaths in the US love to hate on "the
illegals," by which, traditionally, they most often mean
Hispanic/Latino immigrants from Mexico and Central America. More
recently the hucksters have been hating on Syrian/Muslim
immigrants as well, warning that the
Muslims are taking over Europe, raping all the women in their
path, and that the US is next -- but by no means have these
vociferous xenophobes let "the Mexicans" off the hook.
Some have been griping for years about the influx of undesirables
from South of the border.
And on the Fourth of July, 2014 (cue patriotic
music), former Trudeau b.f.f. and alt-health/cancer quack/fake
doctor/conspiracy theorist/racist Leonard Coldwell, linking to
the aggressively nativist NumbersUSA site, wrote about how he is proud to be "AND [sic] AMERICAN." He wrote that "they" (the New World Order and
Obama and all enemies of freedom) "want to destroy our
national pride, our way of life, our language and our culture by
flooding us with these illegal immigrants." By
"our" language I assume he means English, which he is
doing quite an effective job of destroying on his own, but I
Of course the scammers mostly insist that they're
not, not, NOT racist, and that they have nothing against
"Mexicans." It's just those lazy, diseased, sexually
predatory illegals they don't like. By way of proving
that he's not racist and actually likes Mexicans, for instance,
Kevin Trudeau said, back in 2011, that he admires Che Guevara and
likes guacamole. Things haven't gotten any better since then. If
anything they're worse, and If you call someone who's clearly
racist out for being clearly racist, the least violent response
you can expect is to be jeered at for being "politically
correct" and a "libtard."
But for even the most racist scammer, one yuuuuge thing trumps
(so to speak) white Western Euro-purity, and that one thing is, of course, money. And any scammer worth his
or her salt has realized by now that the Spanish-speaking market is
enormous and potentially very lucrative -- and damned if they're
going to let a good cash op pass them by.
Accordingly, Kevin Trudeau's scampire has been peddling some of his info-frauducts in Spanish for years, both online and via infomercials. I'm sure
the company currently handling those info-frauducts would gladly
accept moneys from the undocumented, no questions asked. For that
matter, I bet that Katie's legal defense fund would be similarly
Leonard Coldwell, brave guardian of the English language and American culture, brags that his "mega bestselling"
books are being translated into Spanish, but I'm guessing that he
won't be demanding proof of citizenship status before taking
money from those people who are helping to destroy said language and culture.
But as Salty Droid indicated in his posts about Trump U and Trump
Network, linked to in the first sentence of the paragraph above
(and you should read those posts, if you haven't already), Trump
has proven himself to be a fan of network or multilevel
marketing, or, as Salty put it, "the MLM fraud vortex of
doom." Which is as good a way as any to segue into this point: If you think the MLM industry is
sitting on its hands when there are potentially so many millions
of Spanish-speaking victims to suck into that vortex, you simply haven't
been paying attention.
Brown folks' money is just as green as white folks'
A long-running theme on Salty's blog is the destructive force
that MLMs have been in the lives of so many people. I published a
two-part guest post about the matter myself in December 2013. (Here's the link to Part 1.)
There is also a thriving Herbalife wannabe called
90 for Life, which is the unholy child, spawned in
2012, of Youngevity (founded by long-time frauduct peddler and former
veterinarian Joel Wallach) and Livinity (founded by Barb and Dave Pitcock, who cut
their huckster teeth with Kevin Trudeau back in the late 1990s).
I've mentioned all of these folks on this Whirled previously, and
here they are again. Loony Coldwell and his ex-bro Peter Wink
were even involved in 90 for Life for a while, under the company
name Coldwell Brothers LLC, until
Loony blew his little balding top at Barb Pitcock some time in
2013, and that was that.
"I am heavily invested
in this project to open the door to the Huge Spanish speaking
community throughout the world, as well as the US and Canada," said Fred in 2014. And here's a May 2015 upload
of Spanish Financial Freedom with Dave & Barb Pitcock: "The most effective system for building wealth
I only recently found this upload and felt a
need to join in the conversation, but so far it's just a
monologue and not a conversation. I seem to run into that problem
a lot. On the other hand, that particular video has only had 206
views at the time I'm writing this, so there's that.
But... if you've seen one scheme, you've seen 'em all. As Salty
wrote in his April 26 post about Herbalife:
Everything they do :: everything they
say :: everyone they hire … it’s all about perpetuating a
lie that facilitates some of the world’s richest people
str8 stealing from some of the world’s poorest people.
Every distributor I’ve investigated :: every lead
generation method :: every retention method … everything
… fucking all of it … lies
Yep, that about says it all. A good rule for
financial, emotional and perhaps even physical survival is this: If some smirking, overfed huckster approaches you blathering
about a new opportunity to realize the American dream... solo
But I've mentioned Adams a few times on this blog too. I first wrote about him in June 2013, in response to a Natural News post about one of this
blog's favorite topics, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka
Katie. In that post I cited Adams' disregard for accuracy, as
reflected in a patently false statement about the $37.6 million
FTC fine hanging over Trudeau's head. Mike Adams' big headline
Kevin Trudeau ordered to surrender his passports as feds try
to force $37 million in GIN refunds
And to this day, nearly three years later, the
headline remains intact.
GIN, as most of you probably know, is
the Global Information Network, a major scam that was originally
Trudeau's brainchild and personal piggy bank. It was officially
launched in late 2009 and continues operation to this day, under"new" ownership (a group of Katie's longtime buddies).
But here's the thing (as the stunning, slow-motion-walking,
marginally age-appropriate and vaguely predatory-looking women love to
say on the Viagra commercials that are currently airing in the
US). Wait, I lost my train of thought.
Oh, yeah. Here's the thing: that $37.6 million fine
Adams blared in his headline has nothing to do with GIN refunds.
Rather, it is in relation to a civil contempt case (which also
became a criminal contempt case, and it's the criminal case that
ultimately landed Katie in prison). The fine had to do with
claims Trudeau made in an infomercial about his diet book. But
the case itself had been ongoing since 2003, though Trudeau's history of wrongdoing dates back years before that. Even after
Trudeau serves his ten-year sentence he will still owe that fine,
probably with interest, unless he can negotiate to get it reduced
But as I explained in my 2013 blog post, the fact
that the fine had nothing to do with GIN refunds was of no import
to Mike Adams, whose own post provided only the lamest of
criticisms of Trudeau's possible wrongdoings. The main purpose of
Adams' post wasn't to call out Trudeau's fraud, but rather to
engage in one of Adams' favorite hobbies: wingnut political
ranting against President Obama. Adams scoffed at the description by ABC News of Trudeau as a seller of
dreams and false hopes, citing Obama as
a much worse offender in that regard. Had he chosen to do so,
Adams could have corrected the error on his post regarding the
fine, and still left his political rants intact. But he didn't.
And for the most part he seemed to be defending Trudeau rather
than criticizing him, which is why I referred to Adams as a phony
hero in the battle against Scamworld.
I recognize, though, that the misstatement about Trudeau's fine
is just one small and relatively trivial goof in Adams' massive and seemingly quite profitable ouevre
of misinformation, distortion and outright lies. And he's not
just a deceiver; he's a deceiver who has, according to several reports, physically threatened those with
whom he disagrees, as I mentioned in this 2014 blog post (see under
the subhead, "Who is oppressing whom?"). Adams' claims
that he is constantly being persecuted, threatened and endangered
seem hypocritical when you consider some of his attempts to
intimidate and threaten others.
More recently, Mike Adams was front and center in
the conspiracy speculation about actor Rober De Niro's decision
not to show the anti-vaccination fraudumentary Vaxxed at
the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Here's my blog post, in which I
linked to one of Adams' rants about the matter. And now we get to the main point of my present post:
Adams uses that rant to seriously defame someone with whom he
appears to be obsessed these days: a popular physician blogger. With this
series of defamatory posts Mike Adams and some of his staffers appear to have reached a new low.
Mike Adams defames Dr. David Gorski
Adams and Dr. Gorski (aka Orac, author of the Respectful Insolence blog) have been at odds for years,
but Adams' recent series of vicious attacks on Dr. Gorski almost
seem like he's asking for a lawsuit. Here's another one of his screeds. In this one as in others, Adams falsely links Dr.
Gorski with a fraudulent doctor, Farid Fata, whom Dr. Gorski does
not know but has repeatedly described as "evil."
And indeed "evil" seems an understatement. Though
ultimately prosecuted and put away for money laundering and
fraud, Dr. Fata's true evil lay in
the fact that he administered chemo to patients for years,
telling them they had cancer when they didn't, and then he billed
Medicare. He also over-treated terminal cancer patients rather
than let them die peacefully, and when he could profit from it he
under-treated cancer patients who very likely could have
otherwise benefited. Last year he was sentenced to 45 years in
Equally as repulsive, Adams is also spreading
unsubstantiated rumors -- lies, most likely -- about Dr. Gorski
being very unpopular with his patients. The basis of this claim
seems to be a collection of what appear to be fake reviews
planted by some Gorski/Orac detractors who more than likely
have never been his patients.
But Dr. Gorski's attempts to defend himself don't
seem to be making a dent in the NaturalNews universe of
deception. Turning the skeptics' own terms around on them, Adams
labels evidence-based medicine and science
"pseudoscience." (And in a particularly loathsome
rhetorical strategy, he has co-opted the very real problem of
Holocaust denial, nattering on about "vaccine Holocaust
Adams also labels Gorski as a charlatan and cancer quack, which,
given the sins of some of Adams' own alt-health colleagues and
scammers, is a classic pot-and-kettle
case. As I noted above, these days on Natural News he seems
completely obsessed with Dr. Gorski. Immediately below is a
screen shot of the home page of Natural News on April 24, 2016.
Notice the list of links on the right hand side. The far right
column ("Health News") semi-pretends to be a list of
links from outside news sources, but they are all from NewsTarget.com, which is very much Mike Adams' site as well.
Adams is also the guy who decided to give Google a run for their
money by launching the also ill-named GoodGopher. GoodGopher very carefully filters out what they
consider "disinformation" and government/Big Pharma
propaganda, instead stacking their search results with alt-nutty
and rightwing sites (which are euphemistically called
"independent news media") such as NaturalNews (of
course!) as well as Breitbart, The Blaze, Washington Times (owned
and run by Moonies), Drudge Report, Western Journalism and more.
It's a pretty lousy search engine, but it's tailor-made for the no-evil monkeys who want to avoid any fact or opinion that might
shake their carefully constructed world of alt-health advocacy,
Scamworld delusions, conspiracy theories and right-wing spin.
And despite Google's well documented evils such as tracking and
privacy invasion -- not to mention the whole thing about
sponsored links -- Google does seem to be trying to preserve and
improve the integrity of search. Moreover it's not as if Google
censors Mike Adams or any of his other lunatic fraud buddies. If
you Google "Mike Adams," the first couple of entries
are his own sites. There are some inconvenient results mentioning
his quackery, though, which of course you'll not find on
Another example: If you Google "Leonard Coldwell,"
there's currently a big sponsored entry that pops up first,
describing Coldwell as an "Author" -- and it's all
fluff and no criticism. It even refers to him as a doctor. But
again... darn those critical links, which seem to pop up in the
top results no matter what Coldwell's SEO team does. RationalWiki's piece always
seems to be up there.
The conspiracy that isn't Like so many in the "alternative media"
sector, Mike Adams never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like, particularly if it involves Big Pharma and other
aspects of modern medicine. Especially vaccinations. The vax-conspiracy fans have all sorts of stories about how vaccinations are a nefarious plot by the New
World Order to control the population by making undesirables
sterile or outright killing them... or that vaccinations are being used to implant RFID chips to track us... or they're being used to make us all gay...
you get the drift.
Where Dr. Gorski is concerned Adams has gleefully fabricated
several conspiracy tales, not just falsely linking Dr. G. with
the loathsome Dr. Fata but also bringing Wikipedia and The
Huffington Post into his twisted, tangled narrative.
In his latest series of screeds Adams has accused Gorski of
creating, editing or somehow being involved in manipulating the
edits of a Wikipedia post about the documentary Vaxxed, which includes many critical comments about the film.
Never mind that Gorski insists -- and the Wikipedia edit
history indicates -- that Gorski had nothing to do with it. Adams
continues to spread his lies, and his fans enthusiastically
embrace his version of "reality."
The Huffington Post has been criticized
by several science bloggers and online news sources for
including articles by supporters of alternative
medicine and anti-vaccine
activists and for allegedly censoring rebuttals written by
science bloggers before publishing them.
So I seriously doubt there was some conspiracy
to quash favorable reviews of or comments about Vaxxed
on The Huffington Post. I doubt even more seriously that Dr. Gorski was involved in "censoring" the article.
But Mike Adams knows his audience well. The comments on his
various posts about this so-called "conspiracy" -- and
indeed all of his posts about Dr. Gorski -- are truly comical,
and none of his followers seems willing to believe that things
could be other than the way Adams laid them out. A few defenders
of Gorski (not me, but others), and even Gorski himself, have
been allowed to comment but were dismissed by the minions.
In truth there is no conspiracy here. But, to
quote one of this blog's favorite mantras: The facts don't matter
if the story is good. And Adams knows that his readers love them some
good conspiracy whoppers, and he gives them what they want.
Loony wants in on the drama
Not surprisingly, the aforementioned fake doctor, cancer quack and
fellow conspiracy nutcake Leonard Coldwell is faithfully
copying and pasting the defamatory blog posts about Dr. Gorski on
his own "blog" on his main web site. There are no
comments there so far, though I tried to post a comment yesterday
on the April 18 offering, with
a link to this blog post of Dr Gorski's.
"If we genuinely care about the
health and safety of cancer patients, we must reasonably ask
how many patients have died under the care of Drs. Farid Fata
or David Gorski? How many of those patients were
African-American?" asked Mike Adams, author of Food
Forensics,science lab director of CWLabs dot com and creator
of Medicine dot news.
"Is there a disparity in patient outcomes between blacks
and whites? We already know that Dr. Farid Fata committed
systematic medical murder involving Karmanos in Detroit. That
is now established fact. What we don't know is how many other
people have died from dangerous medical interventions carried
out by other colleagues such as Dr. David Gorski."
Bringing the race card into it in this way
seems to be a new record even for Adams. And Adams' continued
insistence on linking Dr. Gorski with Farid Fata does seem almost
criminal. And this April 23 post by Adams himself, describing Dr. Gorski as "a deranged, mentally
ill cancer surgeon who is widely known as a pathological
liar" is over-the-top wacko, sounding very much like the
kind of stuff that Coldwell writes about his critics (e.g., me,
Salty Droid, et al.). Except the spelling is better than Lenny's.
In this post Adams even brings other alt-health scammers into
play, quoting Ty Bollinger of "Truth About Cancer"infamy. But again, I have to wonder if Adams is just baiting Dr.
G for a lawsuit.
By the way, to give you another view of just how objective and
reliable Adams' TruthWiki is, here's the entry on Leonard Coldwell. As you can easily see, it is taken straight from
Coldwell's web propaganda.
Happy searching. I'll try to keep you posted about
developments in this ongoing drama, but you can also keep
apprised via Respectful Insolence and Dr. Gorski's posts on the
Science Based Medicine blog. For his part Dr. Gorski seems to be
taking it all in stride. As he
wrote, "being lied about by Adams is a badge of honor." PS added on April 25: On
the Science-Based Medicine blog, Dr. Gorski wrote:
who has seen several derogatory articles about me on the web
and is curious about what the real story is, please read this, this, and this.
I'd already linked to the second item a couple
of times on this blog, but I thought it worth repeating,
especially since the conversation there is ongoing.
En-blight-en Us: Death Ray stars in Tribeca schlockumentary
While we view James Ray’s new
life, he teaches that death is tangential. “We are all in the
process of dying.” In that sweat lodge, at the end of the “ceremony,”
participants had to crawl over the bodies of Kirby Brown, James
Shore, and Liz Neuman. This film invites us to do the same...
...When asked at the end of the film how and why
Sedona happened, Ray declares, “Sedona had to happen. It was
the only way I could experience and learn… A test of character.
I think I did ok.” Unfortunately, the people who were injured
and traumatized, and especially those who died, are not so “ok."
Once again, Mr. Ray gets it wrong. Sedona did not have to happen.
But his actions and inactions made these deaths inevitable. That
Ray so easily walks over these deaths as a mere footnote in his
“savior” story is evidence of his failure to understand his
~ Virginia Brown Mother of Kirby Brown, one of three people
killed by James Arthur Ray's recklessness in October 2009
Founder of SEEK
Salty screen-capped the last frame of the film, which bears the
caption, "Nine months later, James was the keynote speaker
at a personal development convention." Says Salty:
… victory :: it’s a happy ending
for DeathRay. The comeback he desperately desires … but
definitely doesn’t deserve. What kind of “personal development
conference” would have a triple homicide felon like James
Ray as their keynote speaker? The kind that has nothing to do
with “personal development” … and previously had NotDoctor Leonard Coldwell on retainer as its full time keynote speaker.
Under the Twitter handle James Ray's Shame (@RayShouldPay), Salty
said he'll be live-blogging the "propaganda movie
premiere" and will tell us more next week.
Meanwhile, take a look at this message from Ginny Brown, Kirby
Brown's mom and founder of the nonprofit SEEK Safely, Inc. I'm
appalled that SEEK was not invited to comment during the making
of the film.
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur
Ray :: was made by
CNNfilms … even though CNN itself played a role in both the
rise and fall of James Arthur Ray. The film conspicuously refused to
include voices of dissent. James Ray :: and parties
associated with James Ray … are allowed to make all their
worst points. But the victim’s families :: and the wider
context … are silenced.
And here's the write-up in The Verge,
also linked to in the April 18 Salty post. Though the writer,
Matt Stroud, quoted Jason and included a couple of Salty links, I
still think he gave short shrift to Jason's long-time coverage of
this story. As for the film itself, I haven't seen it and it's
possible that it has some merit, if only for the fact that it
showcases Ray's sociopathy (as evidenced by his lack of
contriteness about the deaths). And Stroud also stresses, in his
write-up, that Ray doesn't seem contrite at all. The fact remains
that Kirby Brown's family have said -- through publicly issued
statements as well as telling it to Matt Stroud -- that they
wanted to participate in the film. Kirby's sister Jean told me
that they were brushed off and placated by the film makers,
effectively barred from attending the premiere, and even lied to
about Ray's attendance at the premiere.
Stroud says that director Jenny Carchman explains the elimination
of the victims' families from the film as "a purely narrative
decision." To me that seems like a deeply flawed narrative,
and Stroud would seem to agree. Apparently, though, Ray himself
didn't have many problems with the narrative, at least not so
much that he couldn't bring himself to pose at Tribeca with Ms.
I'm still looking forward to reading the Salty Droid's take on
it. And eventually when the film becomes available for home
viewing, I'm going to watch it too.
April 29 ~ Enough with the
postscripts. Here's an update. While Salty Droid hasn't yet followed up with his
full write-up of Enlighten Us (though he has been busily
blogging, so don't neglect to pay him a visit), other bloggers
have been on the job: most notably, the admirable LaVaughn at
Celestial Reflections, who so doggedly covered Ray's trial a few
years ago, and the equally admirable Yakaru at Spirituality is No Excuse, my fluent-in-German
buddy who has been so helpful in my coverage of a certain
Here's LaVaughn's post, which
includes an embedded video of the snippet from Enlighten Us,
in which Death Ray demonstrates some of his not-so-subliminal
manipulation strategies. LaVaughn writes:
A magician never reveals his secrets... unless he's a
down on his luck, ex-con, trying to mount a comeback, and you
stick a camera in his face.
Sometimes I miss New York. This is one of those times,
because this week's debut of Enlighten Us: The Rise and
Fall of James Arthur Ray at the Tribeca Film Festival is an event I'm actually sorry to miss, if only
for stunning reveals
like the above. You want to see how I played my
followers like fiddles? Watch my hands, as I subliminally
conduct your thoughts and feelings. See? ACTING!!!
Indeed. Like many others, LaVaughn isn't
exactly shocked at "the total lack of journalistic
scrutiny" of Ray in the film, since, after all, it was
produced by CNN Films. And CNN has, as LaVaughn points out, a
history of enabling Ray, dating from the heyday of The Secret.
Post-Secret, apart from CNN's negligent coverage of the
criminal trial, there was that pandering interview with Piers
Morgan shortly after Ray was released following his
much-too-short prison sentence. So it isn't all that surprising
that the families of the people Ray killed, most notably Ginny
Brown, had no part in the film. As LaVaughn
I suspect that, much as he did with
[the Piers Morgan] interview, Ray made his appearance in this
documentary contingent upon Ginny Brown and his other critics
being excluded. So, once again, the person who throws the
biggest temper tantrum wins. I'll know better when I see it,
but I suspect gaining that much free rein to run his suck on
film is a mixed blessing for Ray, because he seems to have
lost any ability to not reveal himself.
Yakaru participated in the comments section to
LaVaughn's post, which is how I discovered his very thorough
three-parter, posted on April 23-24. Though he addressed Enlighten
Us, much of his content was devoted to a nearly line-by-line
deconstruction of a pretty awful Daily Beast piece by one Lizzie
Part 1 covers some of
the major blunders in Ms. Crocker's fluff piece, calling her out
for lazy journalism.
Part 2 mostly covers
Ray's lies -- including some apparently new lies -- about the
tragic death of Colleen Conaway at a San Diego Death Ray event in
July 2009 (a few months before the Sedona heat tent deaths).
Lizzie Crocker didn't bother to talk to Colleen's family.
Part 3continues and
concludes the deconstruction of Ms. Crocker's grossly negligent
article, which Yakaru describes as
"stenography." At this point in Ms. Crocker's article
it seems that Ray is blaming a doctor (who in fact was one of the
paying participants in the heat tent) for the deaths of Kirby
Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman.
By this point in his own narrative it is clear that Yakaru is
I really don’t expect journalists to
understand complicated details of difficult court cases. But
I do expect them to exercise caution when interviewing
convicted criminals about the crimes they committed. This is
especially important in Ray’s case, as it was the media who
gave him a platform for softball, self promotional
interviews. Four deaths later, and they are still queuing up
for round five. Three homicide convictions hasn’t convinced
any of them that maybe they should be a little more careful
before jumping into bed with him.
And as he wrote in Part 2:
Anyone who was wondering how Ray got so
much authority and could fool so many smart and decent people
and lead them to their deaths, well this is exactly how it
happens — built up by credulous, lazy, self interested
journalists who lack even the simplest concept of ethics, don’t
know how to fact-check, can’t tell when they are being lied
to and don’t care to correct it when it is pointed out to
Note: There is an
update to this story; see below.
~CC, 13 April 2016
Even as this isn't normally a political blog (except when it is), it's also not your average skeptical/pro-science blog, though I pretty much lean towards those camps on most
issues. Clearly I am not a
scientist, professional researcher or medical practitioner of any
type, so when I snark about scammers who claim expertise in these areas, my focus is generally on the Scamworld aspect of their
shenanigans rather than on a deconstruction of the claims they
make regarding health and science issues. Write what you know, in
other words, and even though I don't have the deep knowledge of
how Scamworld works that, say, Salty
Droid does, I can pretty much tell a
scam or scammer in the
New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health areas when I see
As per usual in cases like this, some very stupid and/or irresponsible people are
slamming De Niro for his decision. Not surprisingly the incident
has added new fuel to the already raging anti-vax conspiracy
fires... or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that it
has given a shot in the arm to the conspiracy theorists, giving
rise to a whole Internet full of whining about
"censorship" and even more dastardly deeds.
There are dozens more examples on the Interwebz; you can easily find them.
I find it endlessly amusing, though also annoying, that whenever
someone says or does something that the fanatics don't agree
with, they automatically assume that the person is either being
paid off or that he or she was intimidated/threatened. The facts don't matter if the story is good.
Update 13 April
2016: Maybe he's just bowing
to pressure from nutcakes and trying to play both sides, but Robert De Niro went on NBC's Today show this
morning and seemed to try to score a
point or two for the nutty side. Even though he stated that he is
not anti-vaccine (he's just "pro-safe vaccine"), he
says he now sort of regrets pulling Vaxxed from the Tribeca Film
Festival, and he thinks people should see it and make up their
own minds. The father of an autistic son, DeNiro cited tales of
parents of autistic kids who seemed all right until getting
vaccinated, and then "something just changed
When one of the interviewers asked him if that
had been the experience with his son (who is now eighteen), De
Niro hedged and said he didn't really remember, but that his wife
sure noticed something. In essence he said he pulled the film
from the festival because he didn't have time or energy to deal
with the controversy, but will revisit it when he has time.
Overall, despite the interviewers pointing out that the anti-vax
p.o.v. -- and the film, as well as Andrew Wakefield -- had been
discredited, De Niro seemed to be leaning in favor of the
anti-vaxxers, mentioning "hysteria" and "knee jerk
reactions" from the scientific community, without saying
anything about the hysteria and knee jerk reactions of the
anti-vax contingent. But at least maybe he'll win the praise of
idiots like LoonyC. Nice work, Bob. Here's a
link to a vid of the interview. The Vaxxed
part begins at about 2:15.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage
that time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet
~ Leonard Cohen, "Democracy" (1992)
free speech on the internet is a lie. the possibilities are
limitless and intoxicating to imagine :: but the actualities are
primitive and trampled upon by the forces that be … the same
boring ass forces that always have been.
~ Salty Droid, "reboot revolution" (2016)
He has risen.
After too many months of silence, Jason M. Jones' "tiny piece of the Internet," the Salty Droid blog, has been revamped and
re-launched. Here is the first post from the "new" SD. It was actually published on March 24, but due to some
files still being switched around and other technical stuff I
can't claim to understand, I wasn't able to actually read it
until yesterday, March 26.
So today is as good a day as any to celebrate the resurrected
One major difference between the old SD and the new SD is that
the new blog is a static site, and comments (all 50,000 or so of
which were carefully preserved in the changeover) are now handled
through Disqus, thus closing the database gateway for the hacks
that Jason had been fighting since his blog's inception in 2009.
And indeed, it was an almost constant battle for more than six
years. In contrast to paranoid lunatic drama queens such as Not-Doktor
Leonard "Loony" Coldwell, who
has been claiming for years that his web sites and
Facebook pages are constantly being hacked,
it appears that Salty Droid -- who actually is a force to be
feared by bad guys -- was being hacked, attacked,
phished and otherwise compromised.
my content has been removed ::
destroyed … and banished from an unlistably wide array of
internet platforms. hackers :: attackers :: malware ::
lawyers :: lawsuits :: smear tactics :: irl harassment …
every kind and sort of smelly shenanigan deployed to silence
Free speech on the Internet is a volatile issue, and it is the
issue at the heart of Jason's struggle, and to a less dramatic
degree (since almost nobody reads my blog) to mine as well.
Scammers fight fiercely for their right to utilize every online
resource available to prey upon the vulnerable; they battle for
their right to make the most outrageous claims about their
accomplishments and their overpriced frauducts and
flopportunities -- and they fight with equal or greater passion
to silence their critics. They will stop at nothing to quash any
speech that threatens to disrupt their income stream by exposing the scammers and their scams for what they really are. The Church of Scientology's "Fair Game" strategies represent an extreme, but hundreds of lesser
organizations and individual scammers use similar tactics. And
when you have a front-runner in the 2016 US presidential race
threatening to "open up libel laws" in the US to make
it easier to silence critics of scams and scammers, that's truly cause for concern.
Krispen Culbertson, the North Carolina lawyer who headed the
two-man "legal team" that sued Jason and me on behalf
of Coldwell, wrote a blog post in April 2015 in which he
referenced that case without naming any names except that of his
heroic partner, Bill May. There's no permalink to the individual
post, but you can find it if you follow
this link and scroll down to April 6, 2015. The profoundly self-important Mr. Culbertson wrote:
I have been a lawyer for more than 20
years. I've seen my clients wearing London tailored suits
and I've seen them with tear-drop tattoos at the corners
of their eyes on their faces. I've represented every
kind of person, from State Senators to alleged senior
members of Mexican drug cartels in federal court. I
have seen the angel in the human race, and I have seen the
scariest of the devils. But now there is a new kind of
devil evolving in the law. And I'm not sure if this type
isn't ultimately more dishonest than the type with tear-drop
I'm almost honored to be categorized, along with Jason, as
"a new kind of devil." Mr. Culbertson went on and on
about online defamation, claiming that he as well as his clients
have been the victim of same. Said he:
We mustn't accept this as the new
reality. Europe has taken steps in the right direction with
its "Right to Be Forgotten" laws, which require
search engines to remove outdated and inaccurate information
about individuals. As much as we Americans hate following
Europe's lead on anything, it isn't a bad idea at all. It
puts the human element back into the machine...
But you see, bad guys don't have a moral
"right to be forgotten" -- and they shouldn't have a legal
right either -- if they continue doing their bad-guy things to
the present day, like Mr. Culbertson's former client Coldwell
does. In any case it is worthy of note that Culbertson &
Associates no longer lists Internet defamation as one of their
areas of practice. I rather think that Jason shamed them out of
But there are plenty of others who continue to fight on the wrong
side of this war, defending the indefensible and seeking to
destroy the wrong people. (By the way, this March 2012 Salty Droid post has some good stuff about protecting freedom of speech
and going after scammers who would destroy it.)
* * * * *
Hobby blogging is for the most part a thankless
task; it has to be its own reward. Some people make tidy little
incomes from their hobby, and I've nothing against that at all,
but so far haven't managed to do so. If you're not making money
from your blog (as Jason isn't, and as I'm currently not, apart
from the occasional donation), it's
inevitable that at some point you'll ask yourself why you keep
doing it. I most certainly have, as I mentioned in my belated New Year's post in January of this year.
I ruminated at greater length about these matters in late December 2014,
following Jason's "Merry Christmas Goodbye" post, in
which he announced that he was putting his blog on hold for an
indefinite period to attend to other things. (Some of us feared
it might really be goodbye, but as it turned out it was neither
goodbye nor even a true hiatus, as Loony Coldwell's
Culbertson-fueled flawsuit actually gave the Salty Droid blog a
little bit of a shot in the arm during those fallow months.)
And author and journalist Steve Salerno, whose SHAMblog initially
inspired me to tread into the blogosphere, recently questioned his own blog's purpose as well. This is in response to a comment I made on his March
16, 2016 post, where I wrote that I missed the conversations many
of us used to have on SHAMblog.
Yeah Connie, there are days when I miss
the sizzle of the old thriving SHAMblog. And I certainly miss
the mix of personalities, both individually and in the way we
all played off each other. ...But then there are other days
when I think of all the time and energy I put into the blog,
and I say...to what end? How might I have better served
myself and my family if, instead of coasting along on the
reasonably solid workload I had going then (and running back
to SHAMblog at every opportunity), I put out the kind of
single-minded effort I've been forced to expend over the past
And I also ask myself: What was changed? What was the upshot
of all that banter? Did we really make a difference? I do get
appreciative notes now and then from people who say I
"helped save" them from this or that, but it all
seems so disproportionately small compared to the investment.
I dunno. I guess every writer who isn't Grisham or whoever
asks himself at some point, why am I doing this? Maybe even
Grisham asks himself.
I can't count the times I've asked myself those questions too,
but these days I keep coming back to the concluding paragraphs of
the Jennifer Garam blog post
that I cited on my own New Year's post, linked to above. Someone,
somewhere, does give a sh-t about what I'm writing. This
despite my pathetic stats, which I check every once in a while.
Here's a shot I took on March 15, 2016. The number in column 2
following the blog post title indicates number of comments, and
the one in the next column indicates number of visitors. I'm
really raking 'em in.
But I still care enough to keep on writing
because of the possibility that somehow it matters. As well, I
know that a lot of folks still care about what Steve writes on
SHAMblog, and -- more importantly for the purpose of this post --
they care about what Jason writes as well. I can't wait to see what's next.
So on this day when millions are celebrating what many believe to
be the Greatest Miracle of All, I'm celebrating a lesser one: the
persistence of one little wild bouquet that blooms on, despite
the most toxic campaigns of who knows how many scoundrels. Writes
Salty, "it’s not supposed to be some big fu----g triumph
that i continue to exist … but i guess it is. much of my energy
:: and most of my frustrations … flow to and from this battle
for basic existence."
Bleep on, little robot.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go in the house and bite
the head off of the chocolate bunny that my friend Joan gave me. I'll be back soon.
The devils at the crossroads of politix and Scamworld
“Trump told us, ‘I’m going to
get in and all the polls are going to go crazy. I’m going to
suck all the oxygen out of the room. I know how to work the media
in a way that they will never take the lights off of me.’”
~ A long-time New York political consultant, talking toPolitico, February 2016
[Note: I've added a few points and
links since I published this post on March 20. ~CC, March 21
So. This still isn't a political blog; truly it
isn't... except when it has to be. And these days it sort of has
to be, at least part time. I've already dumped on Trump a few
times, such as here and here (towards the end) and here and here and here. But more dumping is
called for, especially after I listened to Mein
Drumpf whining again to George Stephanopoulos over the phone
this AM, regarding the horrible vicious
protesters in Arizona and how they are trampling the First
Amendment Rights of The Donald and his hateful, frothing throngs
A few days
after Bondi had announced she might look into the matter, Trump
donated $25,000 to a committee associated with her election
campaign. And shortly after that, Bondi decided that Trump U
didn't merit an investigation by the Florida AG at that time.
This seemed like a conflict of interest and was called out as
such in the Florida press, but a spokesman for Bondi suggested
that no action was necessary because Florida consumers would be
compensated if New York won its case against Chump U.
Pam Bondi previously endorsed Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the
race a while back. Her reason for supporting Drumpf? “You are speaking loud and clear, and Americans are
speaking loud and clear,” and, “I always listen to my mom,
and my mom is with Donald Trump, and so am I.” Okay, that
linked source is the Washington Times, which is owned by the Moonies,
so take it for what it's worth.
But still. Pam Bondi is the woman whose role and function is to
"serve as the chief legal officer for the State of
Florida," and who is responsible for "protecting
Florida consumers from various types of fraud." I will say
this: she's a good person to have on your side in Florida if
you're a scammer.
The long con and the infotainment-addled marks Although some of the pundits have written as if
Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign just popped up out of
the blue, he has been toying with presidential aspirations for
years. But his whole campaign has been more about being an
attention whore than anything else, and even he has been pretty honest about that, at least behind closed doors. This is from a February
2016 piece in Salon.com, which references the Politico article
linked to at the beginning of this post:
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign
feels whimsical, like a practical joke or publicity tour gone
awry. But it turns out the Donald is running a long con. A
new report in
Politico suggests Trump has been plotting this stunt for
years, and he knew exactly what he had to do to succeed.
Further on in the article:
Trump knew all along that his celebrity
and media savvy were sufficient to support his campaign.
Although they didn’t believe him, Trump told the
Republicans in that room in 2013 that he would dominate the
race without spending much on paid advertising. From the
"'You can’t run for president on earned
media,’ one attendee recalled telling Trump. The billionaire
looked up, and paused for a long moment. 'I think you’re
wrong,' Trump said. 'Are you going to do all those little
events at the Pizza Ranches?' another person asked, referring
to the Iowa fast food franchises that are a staple of
presidential campaign stops. 'Maybe a little,' Trump replied.
‘But it’s really about the power of the mass audience.'"
Trump was right. The ability to control
the narrative, to dominate the coverage, is all it takes.
Trump’s amorality coupled with his gift for self-promotion
has turned the Republican presidential race on its head. He’s
made the race about him, and anytime he isn’t the main
story, he lurches back into the headlines with an outrageous
comment about women or Muslims or Mexicans or disabled people
– anything to win the news cycle.
Quite. Lately Drumpf has kept the news cycle
focused on him not so much by spewing his "politically
incorrect" hatements, but by griping and whining about the
protesters at his rally. (Why, some of them even use
profanity! What a shocker, says Donald, who of course has never uttered a public
[Amy] Goodman pointed out that on
another election night [Tuesday, March 8 ~CC], CNN had recorded Hillary Clinton’s
victory speech and broadcast it later so that the network
could air Trump’s election night press conference where “he
sold his steaks and his magazines and his water and
If you follow the link to my own essay you will see that I made
some negative remarks about political correctness; grousing about
PC was quite new back in the early 1990s and I thought I was on
the cutting edge, even as many people who were still in diapers
in the early 1990s now think THEY are on the cutting edge when
they gripe about PC. But as the years went by, I saw, along with
what I thought were legitimate complaints about PC, the many ways
in which these complaints were simply a way of rationalizing
boorish behavior and hate speech. I still don't have any fondness
for "thought police" in any form, but a lot of people
who decry bigotry are being unjustly accused of thought-policing.
Clearly, millions of Americans, their brains fried on reality TV
and the "alternative" infotainment media and exciting
conspiracy theories, have bought into Drumpf's presidential
many millions more have been unwittingly subsidizing his scampire
for years, thanks to his skills at gaming the IRS. Here's how. Nice work if you
can get it.
This case raises a host of complicated
questions regarding the jurisdiction and authority of federal
courts. In the end, however, it comes down to whether Trudeau
has the right to take a red pencil to the language of the
FTC's press release. He does not. Consequently, although we
disagree with the district court's jurisdictional holding, we
affirm its dismissal for failure to state a claim.
As noted in Judge Garland's opinion, the case did raise questions
about jurisdiction and the authority of federal courts. But in
the end Katie lost his battle with the FTC, and his fan base, who
are as addled as Trump's fan base, have been crying foul ever
...criticism of Trump's lack of
specificity misses the point. The Belief is the thing. Calls
for more specifics are regarded as diverting (if not
destructive) minutiae that cast a pall over the celebratory
mood of certitude. To demand specifics is tantamount to
doubting the legitimacy of the promise, and is thus a form of
nay-saying. The “how” doesn't matter: It will happen as
long as we don't allow negative energy in...
...In Trump-mania one also sees the irrational rage against
non-believers that's diagnostic for motivational toxicity.
Belief in the Cult of Can-Do is quasi-religious. Skepticism
of the program is not just a difference of opinion but an
offense against the deity, if you will—self-help's version
of drawing satirical cartoons of Muhammad...
But perhaps the most important line in the post
is the last one: "Here -- as elsewhere in the land of
positive thinking -- if you're not careful, your belief can get
you burned badly."
Unfortunately, if Trump wins the White House it won't just be the fervently believing Trumpsters who get burned badly. Addendum, April 5, 2016: Steve
took down the post I linked to above because he's reworking it
for possible use in a commercial publication. I'll be sure to
link to the new article as soon as it's up.
** I am not underestimating the disillusionment
with politics-as-usual that also fuels Trump's support base. But
Trump is playing on this disillusionment in a very cynical way.
It could be argued that Bernie Sanders is also exploiting
people's disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiments. The
difference, in my opinion, is that Trump is only pretending that
he actually cares for the welfare of the masses, while Sanders,
as unrealistic as his promises may be, is coming from a place of
genuine concern and a desire to make things better for the 99
Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)
Flattery always works for a narcissist like me, but money works even better. Donate what you can, and help feed the Snark. Thank you!
NOTE: All web links & comments about content on those links were accurate at the time of publication. I am not responsible for links that are removed or pages that are "cleaned up" by scammers trying to cover their tracks.
Got a hot tip or idea for a Whirled Musings post? Or just want to share some intel? (I won't publish unless you give me permission.) Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org