Whirled Musings

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.

For instance, there's currently imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie,
who, as reported in this June 2011 Whirled post, came down hard on the "Mexicans" a few years ago. In November 2012 my pal Salty Droid also paid tribute to Katie's racism.

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 digress.

Then of course there is GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, and if you don't think he belongs in a discussion of Scamworld,
read this. Apart from that whole "build a wall" shtick, Trump has made himself very not-loved by Latino voters by running off at the mouth about illegal "Mexican" immigrants being diseased criminals.

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 open-minded.

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.

And despite his apparent racism, and the fact that he has
shot himself in the foot business-wise with his racist remarks about Latinos, Donald Trump would gleefully welcome the Latino vote and has said he's confident he'll get it if he wins the nomination, because, he asserts, "Latinos love me".... though thousands of Latinos nationwide apparently disagree. (Illegal immigrants have no voting rights, despite what the wingnuts would have you believe.) Regarding "illegals," Trump has little room to speak, given his own business practices. And he knows as well as anyone else that if all illegal immigrants were suddenly deported, the US economy would implode.

Although there's no way of knowing for sure, I have little doubt that had Trump's more blatant Scamworldly enterprises such as
Trump University and the Trump Network been longer-lived, those scams would have penetrated deeply into the Spanish-speaking market. As it is, Trump is currently dealing with a class action lawsuit over the alleged fraud that was Trump U, and he blamed the fact that the suit wasn't thrown out on the hostility of a "Spanish" judge.

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' money.
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.)

One of Salty's most frequent targets has been
the mega-scam and pyramid scheme Herbalife, which he addresses yet again in his post of April 26.

I'm sure he'll have more to say about this subject soon, in light of his yet-to-be-completely-told tale of stowing away on a scammer sea cruise last fall, and of the recent release of a documentary about the Herbalife scam, Betting on Zero, which made its debut at the recent Tribeca Film festival. For the time being he has embedded a heartbreaking thirteen-minute bilingual video that poignantly demonstrates how a scam is still a scam, even in a loving tongue.

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.

But more to the point here, 90 for Life, which peddles a large line of overpriced nutritional drinks and supplements and potions, launched its big Hispan-o-scam a couple of years ago, and front and center in that scheme was another longtime Katie bud (and frauduct/flopportunity peddler, Scamworld circle jerker mutual admiration society member, apparent xenophobe and Trump lover) Fred van Liew. who has also been mentioned here a few times.

"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 ever created."

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 di no.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Health Danger and Fact Rearranger Mike Adams spews again

Like most career fear-mongers and conspiracy tale peddlers, Mike Adams, aka the Health Ranger, head of the NaturalNews "independent journalism" scampire, seems to care far more about sensationalism than about accuracy. This is no big secret. I'm not breaking any new ground here. The skeptical blogs have been on his case for years, and RationalWiki has an entry about him, which redirects to their entry about NaturalNews.

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 proclaimed:

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 or reversed.

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 federal prison.

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.

Clearly Adams is on the offensive to destroy Dr. Gorski's reputation. As has been the case with other scammers I've written about, Scientology Fair Game policies and practices come to my mind. And indeed, for several years rumors have been floating around that Mike Adams has been somehow involved with Scientology. He certainly seems sympathetic to them and some of their viewpoints. This doesn't mean that he is involved with Scientology now (he has said he is not a Scientologist) or that his own Fair-Game-ish strategies are dictated by that evil "Church." But he seems to be using some of the same strategies of lies and intimidation that CoS has been using for decades. And those are disgusting tactics, regardless of one's "religious" affiliation or lack thereof.

Here is one of David Gorski's posts outlining and deconstructing the series of lies that Mike Adams is perpetrating about him.

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 denial.")

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.

Trying to conquer the Internet, one comical alt-site at a time
But I guess all of this is to be expected from the guy who is so afraid of people finding out the truth about him and his colleagues that he started his own lame version of Wikipedia:
the very ill-named TruthWiki. (Here's the TruthWiki entry about David Gorski. And while we're at it, here's Gorski, as Orac, writing about TruthWiki in 2014.)

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 GoodGopher.

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.

Speaking of which,
here's the RationalWiki entry on GoodGopher.

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."

Another tale that has the reality-impaired fringe of the Interwebz buzzing is the claim that Huffington Post pulled an article about Vaxxed that was written by a guy named Lance Simmens, who had been a contributor to HuffPo for eight years. Although that supposed "censorship" is actually a standalone story and has been treated as such by most of the sites that mentioned it, leave it to Mike Adams to conflate the story with his false accusations about Gorski, both in his headline and post on April 19.

Now, there are several reasons to be critical of Huffington Post, and I've criticized them in the past for posting fluff by scammers such as convicted killer James Arthur Ray and Scientologist Grant Cardone. Another reason to not be a fan is
their utter disregard for independent contributors. Dr. Gorski has also criticized HuffPo. And according to Wikipedia...
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.[64][65]
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

One of the posts that Coldwell copied and pasted from Natural News wasn't written by Mike Adams but rather by one of Adams' staffers, Julie Wilson. It was published on April 20. This part, where Ms. Wilson quotes Adams, seems particularly defamatory:

"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.

At any rate my attempts to comment on Natural News, as well as my attempts to comment on Coldwell's blog, have been a failure so far. It is probably a losing battle. But as long as the skeptical blogs remain up on the Internet, and searchable via real search engines, there's at least a chance for people to see Adams and his ilk for what they are.
Here is the Skeptical Raptor with a concise summary of Mike Adams' lies about David Gorski.

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:
NOTE: Anyone 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.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

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 crime.

~ Virginia Brown
Mother of Kirby Brown, one of three people killed by James Arthur Ray's recklessness in October 2009
Founder of
SEEK Safely, Inc.

Tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, a documentary called Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray, will premiere, and if I'm reading my pal Salty Droid's latest offering correctly, he will be attending in person and may even try to chat with the star of the show, Death Ray himself.

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.
Yep, that would be the November 2015 Global Information Network (GIN) Family Ruin Reunion, as mentioned on this Whirled a while back. GIN of course is the scammy brainchild of now-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau.

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.

More soon.

PS added on April 16 ~ Early report from Jason is that he wanted to hate the film... but didn't. I'll link to his report as soon as it's up. 
PPS April 19 ~ The preliminary Salty Droid write-up on Enlighten Us is here, with a more extended review to come. For now...

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. Carchman.

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 Teutonic twerp.

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 says:

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 Crocker.

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 3 continues 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 beyond exasperated:

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 them.

Anyway. Well done, LaVaughn and Yakaru.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vaxxed: Robert De Hero v. the conspiracy loons

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 one.

That said, one current story with a strong scientific/health angle has grabbed my attention:
the anti-vaccination or anti-vax movement's attacks on actor Robert De Niro. De Niro is being lauded as a hero by many for making the decision not to air the discredited anti-vax flick Vaxxed at his Tribeca Film Festival, apparently making that decision based upon some rational input. Or maybe he was kinda shamed into his decision (which is not the same as intimidation)... but he should be ashamed for pushing the film before he did any research. Regardless of his motivation, I'm pretty much leaning towards the "hero" p.o.v. where he's concerned.

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.

this, for instance, in which the writer speculates that De Niro was "threatened."

And this bit from the ill-named "Truth Kings" blog,
speculating about an elaborate conspiracy that even includes Hillary Clinton.

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.

I also find it amusing that
Loony Leonard Coldwell has accused De Niro of being a "coward," when Coldwell has displayed nothing but cowardice in his efforts to silence his critics -- suing them, lying about them, and doxing them in an attempt to get others to harm them on his behalf, while remaining in hiding himself. Or, as UK blogger Longdog so aptly put it in a recent post, "...Lenny YOU are the spineless coward." 

Not surprisingly Coldwell is a virulent anti-vaxxer, just like his current political idol Donald Drumpf, who has said some truly idiotic things about vaccinations and autism. Coldwell himself has frequently claimed that there is no such thing as a safe or effective vaccine, and has even suggested that doctors and parents who insist on vaccinating kids should be tried for attempted murder. 

Coldwell has no medical or scientific credentials at all, but that has never stopped him from making the most outrageously stupid declarations about health and science matters.

On the other hand,
here's a truly qualified professional's view about the Tribeca/Vaxxed drama. The author is Orac, aka Dr. David Gorski, who has been patiently reporting and debunking the anti-vaxxers for years.

here's an earlier post from Orac, focusing on the hysterical coverage of the De Niro drama by Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, who is bigger on sensationalism than he is on nuanced truth.

But I don't expect the conspiracy fires around this one to go out any time soon. Because, you know...the facts don't matter...

PS ~ Have I mentioned lately
how great it is to have Salty Droid back in operation?

Related reading:

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 overnight."

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.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Robot reboot

But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
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 Salty Droid.

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 me.
Some of those smear tactics include a couple of asinine "documentary" videos about Jason, cobbled together from various news stories about other folks who are real scammers and hackers, but made to look as if Jason were the perpetrator of the reported crimes. And the lawsuits against him have been even stupider -- particularly those initiated by the aforementioned Loony Coldwell. In February 2014, as many may recall and as I've recounted numerous times here, Coldwell unsuccessfully sued Jason for blog posts written by another blogger, Omri Shabat (the case was ultimately dismissed on April 17, 2014, for "want of prosecution"). And in January 2015 he unsuccessfully sued Jason in a hilariously wrongheaded defamation case in which I was also named as a defendant. There have been numerous other lawsuits too, including a comical trillion-dollar joke by a crazed wordslinger named Crystal Cox.

But you can't keep a good fake robot down.

* * * * *

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 ​S​enators 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 tattoos.

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 it.

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 few years?

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.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

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 to
Politico, February 2016

[Note: I've added a few points and links since I published this post on March 20. ~CC, March 21 2016]

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 of supporters.*

notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who provided security for the Phoenix rally, ended up arresting three protesters, and Drumpf praised him as a hero during the interview with Stephanopoulos, while criticizing the efforts of other law enforcement personnel. It's hardly surprising that Drumpf would give him a mention, since he and Sheriff Joe have their own little mutual masturbation society. The Sanders campaign isn't so enamored of the "viciously tough" lawman, especially after Sheriff Joe bullied Sanders' wife Jane.

I keep circling back to the fact that Trump is a Scamworld player extraordinaire, which is precisely why he belongs on this blog. (
Salty Droid discovered and wrote about the connection years ago, as I've noted before.)

For a short while it had almost seemed that Trump's blatant Scamworld efforts -- most notably Trump University and the Trump Network -- had faded from the news cycle. But then another story resurfaced a few days ago,
regarding a seemingly cozy arrangement between Donald Trump and Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi. (Here's another link with yet more links.) Bondi is the first big-name Republican official in Florida to endorse Trump for president, and some of the news media have picked up on the fact that in 2013 she decided not to sue Trump for fleecing Floridians in his Trump U scam.

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 report:
"'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 profanity himself.)

But shame, shame, shame on the "news" media for their complicity.
They would rather run a story showing an empty stage that's part of the Drumpf shampaign news cycle than air a speech by Bernie Sanders.

[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 everything else.”
And while Bernie Sanders was drawing massive crowds in Seattle March 20, most of the mainstream media were still focused on Trump's latest stunts. The Seattle rally only got decent coverage in Seattle area media and on Sanders' own sites. Sucking all of the oxygen out, indeed -- along with every ounce of journalistic objectivity. And yet Trump continues to vilify the very media that have kept him disproportionately in the public spotlight, while not really confronting him on his most ridiculous and loathsome statements.

* * * * *
Earlier this month I was thinking about Neil Postman's 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, which I mentioned in passing in an essay I wrote back in the 1990s, in quite a different context than I am citing it here. I thought about how the theme of the book relates to the current Trump phenomenon, and I wondered if there had been any commentary about that. A quick Google search revealed this piece, which highlights Postman's prescience.

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.

on a lighter note, there's this.

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 campaign con.**
But 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.

Although many of Donald Trump's followers are stupid , and some are both stupid and hateful, and some are merely poorly educated (and Drumpf adores the "poorly educated"), he obviously is neither stupid nor poorly educated, though I'll grant that he is hateful. And he was spot-on about his prediction that he would "suck all of the oxygen out of the room." But he has replaced that oxygen with a vile and gaseous hatred that even he will not be able to control. 
Katie and Merrick and the FTC
Another devil has popped up at the crossroads of politics and Scamworld: imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie on this blog.
As Business Insider pointed out in this March 18, 2016 piece, the most-cited opinion of President Barack Obama's nominee to the the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, is a 2006 opinion striking down Katie's lawsuit against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over a press release the FTC had issued.

Here is a direct link to Judge Garland's opinion. From the summary:

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.
Of course, Trudeau's spin on the lawsuit painted Trudeau as the First Amendment Stuporhero as usual. Here's a 2005 "press release" from the Trudeau camp. Katie claimed that the FTC's press release was false and misleading and that it violated his First Amendment rights.

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 since.

And so it goes in Scamworld as in politix... no neat and tidy endings.

PS ~ From my husband Ron Kaye:  a perfect counter to the haters -- Trump supporters, Obamaphobes, et al. -- who are whining that they are being unfairly accused of hating

PPS added April 4, 2016: My blogging colleague Steve Salerno at SHAMblog has written a post about another important (and little-discussed) aspect of Trump's Scamworldly ways. [Note: See April 5 addendum below. ~CC] Trump's appeal -- his mystique, if you will -- is, Steve argues, the same type of mystique that has made Tony Robbins, The Secret, and irrational positive thinking/magical thinking so popular. Among other valid points, Steve explains why Trump's supporters seem to care so little for the details about how Trump will actually keep his grandiose campaign promises.

...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.

Update April 19, 2016: Here is Steve's post, just in time for the New York Primary.

* In fairness, Brandon Tatum, an African American cop from Tucson who attended the Tucson rally, said that at this rally it was the protesters rather than the Trump supporters who were violent -- and of course the right-wing media jumped on that. I don't support any violence from either side, but on the other hand, Trump and his supporters set the tone at the beginning of the campaign, so there's that.

** 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 percent.

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