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.)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

James Arthur Ray: Convicted killer wants to teach you to be Superhuman

Judging by the photos that litter his web site and social media pages, convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray has lost none of his swagger as he continues his difficult uphill battle to return to the Scamworld A-list. Take this September 15, 2018 Facebook post (please):

As usual, click on pic to enlarge.

The screen grab doesn't show all of the text (yes, there's much more), but -- spoiler alert -- it's a promo for an upcoming Death Ray event called Mental Mastery and Power, which takes place in Vegas October 27-28. On the actual hype-and-signup page, to which I refuse to link here in much the same way that Gandalf refused, while under Bilbo and Frodo's roof, to utter the language of Mordor, Ray goes on and on and on about how this big event will help you take back your power and have a completely fulfilling life and actually become Superhuman. No doubt you've heard it all before...
...You already KNOW you're capable of owning the world.

Now you can do something about it.

Why am I the one to teach you to grow yourself and become Superhuman?

Because before the stage, I cut my eye teeth at AT&T School of Business coaching and consulting their C-Suite Executives on things like leadership communication, team performance and a whole host of business strategies and tools that helped push their leaders to be greater leaders. In other words, I taught C-Suites to do what I'm teaching you through this experience event.

And since leaving AT&T, I built a $10 million dollar Inc. 500 company, as well as had the opportunity to coach and consult hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and leaders in both their personal and professional lives to greatness. I even got to kill some of them.*

This is your time.

You want to become Superhuman? This is where you start...

...No matter what it is that you want to do, you can ABSOLUTELY do it. As soon as you become...Superhuman and Take Your Power Back with the Mental Mastery Program.

And all for the low, low price of only $997, which we are assured is a full one thousand bucks off of the "regular price." Or if you want to play full-on, the VIP package will only cost $1,297 -- regular price $13,997! -- for which you get all of the following:
  • VIP Seating
  • 12 Monthly online coaching sessions with James
  • Monthly exercises, workbooks and strategic planners
  • Monthly LIVE Q&A Sessions with James
  • Access to an extensive online resource library
  • Exclusive membership to a Growth-Minded Global Mastermind Group
  • All LIVE Q&A sessions with James audio and video recorded and stored in your private membership for future reference.
Wow... that's a $12,700 discount. Clearly Death Ray is desperate, and still feverishly longing for those days when he could draw in an actual crowd. But given his history and (total lack of) character, even a sprinkling of fans, followers, or even attendees are too many.

Meanwhile, the people he killed are still dead.


* Okay, maybe the last sentence in that paragraph wasn't in the original. ~ CC

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Collusion confusion: the free press v. Donald Trump


As you may know, on August 16, 2018, newspapers all over the United States -- about 350 in all -- published editorials in favor of freedom of the press and against #NotMyPresident Donald Trump's attacks on same. Apart from my surprise that there are even that many newspapers remaining in the U.S., I am painfully aware that I'm a day late participating in this nationwide event -- but then again, I'm not a major newspaper (or really any newspaper at all), and besides, I've always done things on my own schedule.
Why, just the other day I went on about freedom of expression and whatnot. (Spoiler alert: I'm generally in favor of it.)
 
It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, but so far that doesn't seem to be holding up very well under the Trump administration. The more the "pen" exercises its might where Trump is concerned, the more fiercely he doubles down on his claims that the "fake news" (which by his definition is almost every mainstream news outlet) is "the enemy of the American people." And each journophobic declaration from him
further incites the cheering mobs of redcaps at his Nazi-like rallies, who echo his disdain, hatred, and thinly veiled threats of violence against members of the press.

On the same day that the newspapers spoke out as one, the U.S. Senate, stepping bravely to the front lines of the battle,
adopted a resolution declaring that "the press is not the enemy of the people." Talk about doing basically nothing and framing it as Something... Hey, guys, why not put your votes where it counts, and really stand up to the Mad King?

As one Reddit user, "Yodabird 19,"
wrote yesterday in a discussion about the Senate resolution:
A congressional rebuke against Trump at this stage is like pouring a glass of water into the Pacific Ocean - completely useless, and very quickly washed away and forgotten.
To say the least.

At least one major newspaper,
The San Francisco Chronicle, refused to participate in the editorial coup, explaining that its decision was both a declaration of complete independence (as in, we have and will continue to criticize Trump, but it will be because we want to, not 'cos everyone else is doing it), and a refusal to play into Trump's narrative that the media are aligned against him. Of course, by 'splainin' why they didn't participate in the big event, they actually were participating, but I quibble.

It didn't take any great gift of prognostication to guess what Trump's response would be to Pressapalooza.
He immediately took to Twitter and screamed, "COLLUSION!"
It remains unclear what he meant by, "PROVE IT!" As Stephen Colbert noted in his August 16 monologue, that call to "prove it," in the context of the collusion accusation, is somewhat like accusing someone of murder and then asking that person to prove that your accusation is correct. But then, Trump has never been known for his stellar logic.

In any case,
Trump himself has said that "collusion" isn't a crime, and isn't really even bad, so I don't think that the colluders in the press have anything to worry about in regard to that specific accusation. But as long as the Mad King sits on his golden throne a-tweetin', the journos may have plenty of other things to worry about.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Alex Jones and the usual whiners: censor-y deprivation?


Over the past couple of weeks there has been a great deal of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the right-wing conspiranoid cartel regarding the recent "censorship" of conspiracy-porn producer and right-wingnut Alex Jones, who earlier this month was booted from several social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple. Despite the whining, said "censorship" is benefiting Jones by adding to his hero/martyr creds, and, to the surprise of no one who has been following these matters for any length of time, he and his colleagues in the hate bidness are doing everything possible to exploit the situation. Wrote Erin Durkin at The Guardian on 11 August, 2018:
Alex Jones says he’s being silenced – but he isn’t shutting up and you can still listen to him.

The right wing provocateur’s Infowars was banished from most of the web’s farthest-reaching platforms this week – sending him scrambling to find other ways to get his message out, and appealing to Donald Trump for a rescue from the companies he casts as big tech villains.
Clearly, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau -- this blog's favorite free-speech Stuporhero -- isn't the only one to turn to the nation's top scammer and the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief, Herr Twitler, for help.

Though he is far from silenced, the "censorship" has clipped Jones' nasty little flying-monkey wings, making it a bit more difficult to accidentally or purposely stumble into his toxic poppy fields. The piece in The Guardian concludes:

In videos posted since the removals, Jones has alternated between bravado and desperation.

“I am not backing down,” he said in one video, though he acknowledged feeling “spiritual-level desperation” and seemed to see Trump as his only hope to regain his larger platform.

“Come out before the midterms and make censorship the big issue,” Jones said in an appeal to Trump.

“It’s the right thing to do, Mr President. It’s the truth,” he said.

So far, Trump has not ridden to the rescue.
Personally, and as I've mentioned on several social media discussions, I would be more concerned about the Orange Oaf of Office's threats against the First Amendment than I'd be about social media platforms putting the reins on lesser oafs like Jones.

In any case, despite Trump's failure thus far to step up to the plate, some of Jones' most vociferous fans have sprung to his defense. Apart from Jones' own nonstop hollering about his repression and oppression, the usual group of loathsome suspects is having yet another whine-and-cheesiness party on the Internet. On
Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams' Natural News site, f'rinstance, Adams waxed paranoid about "censorship" by the tech giants.
Even though the criminal justice system is corrupt and dishonest in its own way, there is at least recognition that those who are accused may face their accusers; that the accused has the right to see the evidence against them; and that evidence may be presented in their defense.

But in the world of online censorship by tech giants,
no due process exists. You’re banned without explanation… you cannot face your accusers… you cannot present evidence in your defense… and no evidence even needs to be cited against you.
As will be made clear if you watch the video embedded in that post, Adams framed all of this oppression and repression as a "liberal" conspiracy. And in a subsequent post on Natural News, another contributor, Ethan Huff, piled it on.
Censorship is one of the ways that liberals shut down arguments they can’t win. Many of them can’t even have civil conversations about their beliefs because they get immediately triggered whenever others oppose them. To keep up with the latest news on liberal censorship, visit Censorship.news [another Mike Adams site ~ CC].

It's no surprise that one of the whiniest babies of all,
Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, would scarf down some scraps from Adams' abundant table of histrionic nonsense and regurgitate it on his own "blog."

Even weasely (no offense intended to weasels) right-wing pols like
Texas' Ted Cruz spoke up for Jones; some have said that this could be a signal that he's trying to shore up his support from the fringe right.

When I shared a post about Alex Jones' tribulations on my Facebook page -- the post centered around the Natural News whines and Leonard Coldwell's republication of same -- I got some no-nonsense responses from a couple of my buds. Dave wrote:
I'd guess there are still plenty of outlets for Alex and his ilk - Fox news, Breitbart, etc. But... that doesn't fit the persecution complex very well.

I love this part"...all sorts of leftist hate speech that targets white people, Christians, and conservatives continues to pollute the social media world unabated." Mr. Clueless to the courtesy phone please.
Nailed it, Dave. And Martin nailed it too:
The typical reaction of these morons. They never really grasp the fact that there's a difference between being silenced by the state and being silenced where they have no right to spout their bile and hatred in the first place.

Freedom of speech stops at my front door. Spout hateful shit in my home you either leave or get a smack in the gob or both.
Yep.

First off, this is NOT a "First Amendment" issue
In the US Constitution, the First Amendment addresses freedom of expression, but it doesn't give one carte blanche to say and write any and everything.
This article on the New Statesman site 'splains it in simple terms, complete with Brit-English spelling, seeing as how it's a British magazine published in London.
The First Amendment to the US constitution is wilfully misrepresented by people like Jones and his supporters. It protects against abridgement of free speech by the government. What it does not provide for is the right to place your free speech on someone else’s platform, like a private website such as YouTube. If I write something racist or peddle a monstrous and cruel conspiracy theory against the victims of a massacre like Sandy Hook, it would not be an abrogation of my free speech when the New Statesman withdraws their invitation to write for them again. It's a privilege, not a right, to have a platform like this.

But free speech as Jones portrays it is not free speech at all, it is
consequence-free speech.
Exactly. And privately owned platforms such as the social media outlets that ousted Alex Jones have a right to determine the type of content they want on those platforms.

Nor is it a "left-wing" conspiracy
On most social and political issues I could be considered left-leaning and liberal, a fact that has turned even some former fans and supporters of this blog against me (they were okay with my claims that Kevin Trudeau is a scammer, but they can't abide my criticisms of Trump).

Yet I've also always leaned towards letting fools have their say, no matter how foolish their say may seem to me. Long before Whirled Musings came into existence, I generally advocated freedom of expression, no matter how distasteful I personally believed such expression to be. In more recent years I've tolerated all sorts of verbal abuse and trolling on the few platforms I maintain, i.e., this blog and my Facebook page. For years I allowed
Leonard Coldwell to repeatedly and publicly and falsely call me a diseased slut and a prostitute and a sexual harasser and a killer of dogs. He blocked me from commenting on, and in some cases even from seeing, the posts in which he viciously defamed me, so I had no way to defend myself on those forums. Whenever one of my friends or allies tried to post even the most polite contradiction to his claims, he would block them and/or accuse them of being me, writing under fake accounts. He offered absolutely zero evidence of his accusations against me, yet he kept making them and continued to incite his followers to harass me, which they did. Talk about lack of "due process"...
 
Even so, I never tried to sue or silence the little perv, and one of his more dimwitted fans privately told me that Coldwell had told him that the reason I never sued him was that I knew that what Coldwell was saying was true, and that I was afraid of being "exposed." Actually, my reasons centered around financial limitations as well as First-Amendment issues, but in any case, what happened was that Coldwell tried to silence me by continued defamation and incitement, and ultimately by a sham of a lawsuit (
which failed). Nevertheless, I persisted (apologies to Elizabeth Warren). 

But I'm not any sort of hero in the ongoing battle for the right to freedom of expression, which, as noted above, is often framed in the US as First Amendment rights. I'd say that my pal and blolleague Jason Jones, aka Salty Droid, is more of the hero type. Not only has he endured worse verbal abuse and more disturbing threats than I have, he has also been repeatedly banned and blocked on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, simply because the scammers he wrote and talked about didn't like what he had to say.

Yet Jason, despite his own "liberalism" and passion for legal and social justice, hasn't tried to sue his detractors or silence them in any way. He could very easily have taken legal action against some SaltyDroid-haters who posted false and defamatory videos about him a few years ago. These videos remain online and are among the top search results for "Salty Droid," and have been cited by numerous idiot scammers such as the aforementioned Coldwell. But Jason has chosen not to waste time and energy and money to silence the liars. In
a May 2018 post he wrote this about his detractors' efforts:
These are defamatory hit jobs that go way too far, and I’ve done nothing at all about them. I made no effort to have them removed or delisted. I did not threaten to sue. I didn’t even complain, and I’m not complaining now.

I want people inside the Internet Marketing community (and the other sub-cultures I write about) to read my writing. I want to be part of the conversation. But lots of other people in that conversation hate what I’m saying and think my ideas fall somewhere between extremely dangerous and completely catastrophic; so I can’t expect smooth sailing.

It seems like the people who most want to have their voices heard are the same people trying to silence other voices. It’s hypocritical, pathetic, rampant, and it’s bad for America...
I've found that to be the case too. Here's another post about those videos, with more details about the SEO dirty tricks that kept them at the top of the search results.

And here is a comment Jason wrote
on another one of his posts, regarding the notion that the right to freedom of expression applies to everyone.
I was really trying to like my fellow GW Law alumnus Michael Avenatti [the infamous Stormy Daniels' lawyer and harsh critic of Donald Trump], but then he did this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/05/14/michael-avenatti-doubles-down-on-his-threat-to-sue-the-daily-caller/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8e9874b8d347

So he gets to go on every media outlet ever created, all day and all night, to talk shit. But if someone talks shit about him he starts whipping out defamation threats?

That's a dealbreaker! Lawyers are so unlovable.
This tale of two bloggers represents just two small examples. In the larger world there are many other examples of "liberals" getting banned or blocked, and "conservatives" imposing their own form of "political correctness" and effectively coming out in favor of censorship. This August 2015 WaPo opinion piece touches on the issue. (And don't forget Trump's own ongoing efforts to block members of the press who ask critical questions -- or, come to think of it, his blocking of Twitter users who questioned or criticized him.)

Moreover, while the left has been accused of being hypocritical about free speech,
there's plenty of fee-speech hypocrisy on the right side too.

But it's not all black-and-white
Like most stories, this one has nuances that are often overlooked by both the pro- and anti-Alex Jones camps.
An opinion writer on the Libertarian Reason.com site notes that while it's not about the First Amendment, and while many people would not miss Jones if he disappeared entirely, that's not exactly the point. The point, the writer suggests, is the confusion over what exactly defines "hate speech." And the larger issue is what the author describes as "viewpoint censorship."
I will shed no tears for Jones. But social media platforms that take a broad view of what constitutes unacceptable hate speech have given themselves an extremely difficult task—one that will likely prompt yet more cries of viewpoint censorship down the road.
The writer of this piece on the liberal Huffington Post makes similar points, and says that the real problem is digital platform monopolies. Anti-trust law may be the way to deal with this issue, the author suggests, though it might not be the solution that Alex Jones and the hatriots have in mind.
If Twitter, Facebook or YouTube were constitutionally required to host any and all content anyone wanted to post to them, they would become unworkable platforms overrun by spam and bad actors attempting to distort the platforms to their desires.

And none of this would address the actual underlying problem, which is that removal from Facebook and YouTube feels like actual censorship because the major platforms have monopolized the audience for certain formats of online media content. If you are creating videos to be distributed online, you have to be on YouTube. That is where the audience is. If you are writing articles or other content online, you have to be on Facebook because it has 2.2 billion users.

There is a way to deal with this problem that doesn’t make it impossible for platforms to moderate content users post to them. It’s called antitrust law. If there weren’t one main platform for video distribution and one main platform for social media ― and if those platforms didn’t also
own their biggest competition ― an actual market for different platforms that hosted varied content could exist instead of one platform overrun with every type of jerk.
Something to think about, anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think that Alex Jones and his fellow conspiranoids should get a pass for claiming that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a "hoax," carried out by "crisis actors," or for making the same stupid claims about virtually every other mass shooting that was carried out by a white guy, or that was perpetrated against a marginalized group such as LGBT people. Those who make such claims deserve ridicule, public shaming, and in some cases legal action. But overall, and to arguably a greater extent than many of their justifiably outraged critics may want to admit, the conspiranoids have a right to make fools of themselves in public.

Certainly Alex Jones has a right to freedom of expression. But so too does Jason Jones...and Trump's legions of detractors... and for that matter, your very own Whirled hostess.

Vintage whines of the Whirled

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Friday, July 27, 2018

I blogged for 12 years and all I got was this stupid Blood Moon



Three-fifths of a score of years ago, one writer brought forth on this Internet, a new blog, conceived in Boredom, and dedicated to the proposition that New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health scams and scammers were eminently snarkworthy, but mostly harmless, and largely irrelevant to the larger world.

A dozen years later, the writer is long disabused of the notion that all of the above are either mostly harmless or largely irrelevant. For she has seen that
people have had their lives ruined and have even died at the hands of scammers (and yet the scammers scam on); and that Scamworld and politics are entwined in an unholy union
...

Well, enough of that. Suffice to say that I have been on this fool's errand for twelve long years now: just another little dog barking at the caravan as it moves steadily on its way. (If you need a recap, last year's anniversary post offers
a condensed version of Whirled history.)

And while I am deeply honored that there will be a Blood Moon held tonight in honor of Whirled Musings' 12th Blogaversary -- and not just any Blood Moon, but
the Longest Lunar Eclipse Of This Century! -- what would really make my heart swell with gratitude would be a monetary tribute. Because there is still a Snark here, and it still must be fed.

Regardless of your willingness or ability to donate, thank you for stopping by, and thank you for your support over the years. I think I'm going to keep writing, because I think it is more important now than ever.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Colleen Conaway: nine years after


July 25 is an easy day for me to remember, for several reasons. Some of these are happy reasons: It's my sister's birthday (Happy Birthday, Barb!), and it's the wedding anniversary of my friend Marie, a Colorado attorney and writer, whom I hope someday to meet in person.

But it's also a memorable day for unhappy reasons. For one, the summer meeting of the Scamworld cartel, the
Transformational Leadership Council (aka the Transformational Leadership Council...of Death), always occurs around July 25. This year's summer meeting begins today and goes through the 29th. At the moment I can't tell you where it's taking place; on their public web site the TLC is always very cagey about the location until after the fact. But in the past they've held their seekrit klub meetings in places as diverse as Hawaii, Cost Rica, St. Martin, and Croatia.

Though no longer listed as a member, or even mentioned,
on their web site, convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray was a founding member of the TLC. And this brings us to the second and most unhappy reason I remember July 25: it was on this day in 2009 that one of Ray's most faithful followers, Colleen Conaway, jumped to her death from the third-floor balcony of a San Diego shopping mall during one of Ray's "wealth creation" manipulation weekends. If you follow the link in the previous sentence, you'll find some posts I've written on past anniversaries. And in fact the graphic on today's post is just a repeat of the one I created for last year's anniversary post.

But I've only covered the matter superficially; as I've noted in previous posts, some of my fellow bloggers have written in much more depth about the tragic story of Colleen, who had no known history of depression or suicidal tendencies. For instance,
here's my pal Yakaru, writing on the third anniversary of Colleen's death.
Not every “self help” teacher shares Ray’s dangerous combination of stupidity and sadism, but it’s a slick and ruthless system that has been constructed and refined over decades. Every possible devious sales technique has been worked into these routines.

Colleen walked into this trap, hoping to learn how to fulfill her dreams and get the best out of herself. Once she had committed herself to Ray’s program and handed over her money to him, he had immense power over her: she would have felt he held the key to her dreams and hopes.

In essence, James Ray stole her dreams and then set about selling them back to her at the highest possible price.
Also cited in Yak's blog post is another excellent post by Salty Droid, written in 2009.
After Colleen’s death Lynn [Colleen's sister] found that she had been filling out 3x5 cards with what looked like James Ray’s sayings or directives. They were all over Colleen’s house :: Hundreds of them :: Along with spiral notebooks full of similar gibberish. Colleen had been directed to keep a list of her ‘old limiting views’ and her new ‘harmonic views.’ Lynn sounded anguished recalling her feelings at seeing that Colleen had lined though many of the values that 2008 Colleen would have treasured. Scratching off pieces of herself :: one at time :: replaced with empty lies.
Nine years later, Death Ray is still struggling to make a Scamworld comeback (as recently mentioned again on this Whirled), years after being released from his far-too-brief prison sentence for the deaths of three of his other followers, James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman, in Sedona, Arizona a few months after Colleen's death.
 
Given what we've learned about Death Ray in the years since the 2009 atrocities, it isn't an exaggeration to call him a cult leader. And cults, as we know, can be very dangerous, causing irreparable emotional harm, injury, or even death to their followers.
 
Unfortunately, cults are not limited to the selfish-help/McSpirituality/New-Wage industry --
a fact that is becoming ever more apparent as America morphs into Trumpistan.
About a month ago, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) complained that too much of today’s Republican Party has found itself in “a cult-like situation as it relates to a president.” Soon after, Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News and was surprisingly reluctant to reject the criticism.

“You know what,” the president’s adult son
said, “if it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”

One of the problems with cults, however, is that its leaders tell its followers to ignore external sources of information – because in order for the scheme to work, the leaders must be seen as the sole authority for truth.

As it is in Scamworld, so it is in politix, and the line between the two is becoming ever more blurred.

My heart goes out to the family and friends who loved Colleen Conaway. Never forget.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

March For Our Lives kids: run for your lives from Access Consciousness


It has been quite a while since I wrote about the cultish, partially Scientology-inspired, word-salad-tossing and deviously wacko phenomenon known as Access Consciousness. In past years Access has been a frequent topic on this Whirled, and it remains the most frequently-searched Whirled topic on Google. I'm still getting correspondence from people who have been bewildered, befuddled, and bothered by their own experiences with Access or by witnessing loved ones who seem to have gone off the deep end. I've been threatened with lawsuits by Access founder Gary Douglas, fake-love-bombed by doting Access members, and cited in both anti- and pro-Access content online.

Wondering what Access had been up to lately, I ventured onto their Facebook page, and was met with
a gaudy announcement of an upcoming "free" event on July 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C., dubbed "The Leaders of the Future." Here's the bit that really caught my attention:
Inspired by the group of kids who started March for Our Lives. If you're one of them, please come so we can learn how to support you because you are the leaders of the future! A statesman of possibility!
Word to "kids who started March For Our Lives": Run, don't march, away from this one. If you thought you were being exploited by politicians, advocacy groups and the news media, that's nothing compared to the potential exploitation by Access.

One of the commenters on the Facebook thread
carried the "Statesman" motif to silly lengths with a graphic, somewhat in the style of the famous and egregiously over-imitated Obama/Hope poster, suggesting that Gary Douglas himself is A True Statesman.

The Facebook post contained a link to
info on the Access web site about the upcoming event in Washington. Though "free," the event is conveniently being held in the same location as a three-day Access event that is definitely not free, Choice of Possibilities, in which "you will gain access to a space where you begin to recognize your capacities as an infinite being." Far out, man. That's heavy. (Accessories would most likely argue with that last statement, insisting that on the contrary, Access is all about being light, not heavy.) 

I would tell you how much Choice of Possibilities costs, but Access is very coy about it, merely stating on the public pages that "Country pricing and Age pricing applies," and that "Your individual and applied pricing can be seen under Billing & Payments after registering." Suffice to say that there are prerequisites; you can only take Choice of Possibilities class if you have already given lots of money to Access for more basic classes. Even so I have no doubt that the "free" Leaders of the Future event will provide a platform for some aggressively loving upselling.

The Leaders of the Future page gives a rundown of some of the problems facing the leaders of the future and those of today and all of the rest of us:

Human rights have been abolished, National Parks have lost protection, Nations are being divided and young lives are being lost to gunfire. It seems obvious that change is required and yet the people seem lost for direction when looking at the current leaders of the world. That is why I am asking you to stand up and take action, be the leader of your future and demand that this changes no matter what it takes.
Now, some might point out to me that at least Access appears to be on the side of progressive, socially-conscious causes, unlike so many of the scams and scammers these days, who seem to lean heavily towards the alt-right -- as discussed in one of my recent posts about elitism (see under "Left, right, left, right"). In that sense Access is congruent with the "liberal" roots of the New-Age movement. But Access's social consciousness is a Trojan horse. Don't be fooled; in the end, it's really all about the money (and possibly the sex) for Gary and his boy Dain Heer, and perhaps a few of the upper echelon of Access "facilitators."

At best, Access' attempts to create a better planet will be about as effective as efforts by the original psychobabbling LGAT, est, to tackle world hunger -- as reported in Mother Jones 40years ago. Or for that matter, this latest stab at conspicuous social consciousness will be as effective as Access's Ocean 300 farce a few years ago, which promised to clean up that plastic flustercuck in the Pacific Ocean. Some things just never change.

In any case, as far as I'm concerned,
this is a far more honest take on Access:

In Access, as in so many other scams, your mind, if it functions properly, really is a dangerous thing -- dangerous to the leaders' money stream, anyway.

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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Uncle Scam uses Trump U-like 'persuasion" tactics on delinquent taxpayers


Sigh... once again we meet at the intersection of politix and Scamworld. A few days ago Salon.com ran a piece about the failings of the Trump administration's privatized delinquent income tax collection scheme. Unfortunately the private debt collection companies to whom the IRS outsourced have, thus far, cost the government millions more than they've brought in. And they have targeted the most vulnerable taxpayers with sleazy Scamworld ploys.

It's only fair to note, before we go any further, that the use of outside contractors to go after delinquent taxpayers
is not new and has been tried before (and has failed). As well, it has received support on both sides of the aisle -- and shame on every lawmaker, Republican or Democrat, who ever voted in favor of such a scheme. The point here is that the revival last year of this method of collecting delinquent taxes, which was part of the Trump administration's push to privatize tax collection, would seem to fly in the face of Trump's own man-of-the-people shtick, particularly regarding his previously expressed concerns for the tribulations of the over-taxed middle class.

The use of private for-profit thumbscrew operators is all in the service of that right-wing mantra, "smaller government," of course, and is also in keeping with the practice of awarding lucrative contracts to private companies. Win-win, if you're an oligarch or a friend of one. From the Salon.com article:
Under the terms of their contract with the IRS, the debt-collection outfits receive a 25 percent commission on whatever they collect. The four companies are CBE Group, ConServe [aptly named ~ CC], Performant Recovery and Pioneer. The IRS is owed hundreds of billions in past-due taxes.
Outsourcing debt collection also allows for sleazier collection tactics than IRS agents have traditionally been allowed to employ. For one thing, the privateers are allowed carte blanche to contact delinquent taxpayers by phone. While the IRS is busily warning consumers about tax-collection phone scams, the private debt collectors are employing tactics that are very similar to those of the scammers the IRS warns about. This of course leaves the door wide open to actual scammers who are working only for themselves. To help you distinguish between legal and illegal collection scams, the IRS offers this advice, which may or may not be helpful in determining if that caller or in-person visitor is legit or not.

In any case, what really struck my attention as fodder for this Whirled was this bit regarding the private debt collectors' m.o.:

The call scripts suggested that taxpayers should raid their 401(k) retirement funds, ask their employer for a loan, or put their tax debt on a credit card. In the case of an early withdrawal from a 401(k), the taxpayer could actually incur an additional federal tax liability in an effort to resolve back taxes.
That reads just like it's taken straight from the Scamworld playbook, doesn't it? Donnie John's Trump U hucksters used these ploys, as did, for that matter, the aggressive pushers of imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's Global Information Network (GIN) MLM scheme, and its offshoots, back in the day. As have numerous other fraudsters...

Of course I understand that there is a fundamental difference between running a scam and making an attempt to collect a debt that is legitimately owed. If you're under legal obligation to pay a tax and you don't, there are consequences. But the point here is that private debt collectors, hired by a government agency, are being given free rein to mislead and harass people, in many cases making an already bad situation much worse, and that some of the strategies these collectors use are not only unethical, but may be only marginally legal -- and that these coercive-persuasion strategies are the same ones used by scammers to manipulate their marks into emptying their bank accounts.
 
One of my heroes,
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has (along with several other Democratic notables) been on the private tax collection issue for over a year now, having written to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about those phone scripts. I applaud Senator Warren. She is actually looking out for the well being of American taxpayers while the "man of the people," the Mad King, continues to smear her with his "Pocahontas" taunts, as he did yet again during the word salad with Russian dressing that he served up in Montana just the other evening. Elizabeth Warren's DNA is truly a non-issue in the larger scheme of things; there's no evidence that she ever exploited her possible Indian heritage in any substantial way, and even a DNA test would most likely be inconclusive. Not that this will make any difference at all to the mindlessly cheering redcaps who attend Trump's all-too-frequent pep rallies/worship services.

Nina Olson, the IRS' national taxpayer advocate, said that the private contractors have targeted lower-income taxpayers into getting locked into repayment plans that they won't be able to maintain. As a consequence, the most financially vulnerable taxpayers are unable to pay for things they need; they can't meet their basic living expenses.

If Trump truly wanted to do something good for the average American taxpayer, he would have pushed for true tax reform that included substantially smaller tax cuts for the wealthy than
that train wreck he pushed and signed off on last year, substantially larger tax cuts for the rest of us, and while he was at it, one-time amnesty for the millions of middle-class and marginally middle-class who are currently struggling to pay their delinquent taxes. But don't look for any of that any time soon. Instead I think we can expect more of the same from the Scammer In Chief. It may be only a matter of time before we see the revival of actual debtors' prisons -- private ones, ones, of course.

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Thursday, July 05, 2018

Taking fakery to a new level: Kevin Trudeau misquotes fake Einstein quotation


Back in the glory daze of
the 2006 New-Wage moviemercial The Secret, which dragged the decades-old New-Age concept of "creating your own reality" to new pseudo-scientific depths, the late Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein was paraded across the Internet in ways that most likely would have appalled him. He was repeatedly cited by "Law of Attraction" (LOA) hucksters as having scientifically validated their portrayal of "The Universe" as a mail-order catalogue or magickal genie, just waiting to grant all of our wishes if we only followed the advice of, and dropped our hard-earned money into the pockets of, any number of New-Wage con artists.

While all of this provided tons of blog fodder here and elsewhere on the Net and other media for years, you'd think it would all be old news by now, and only marginally relevant, particularly in light of all of the other crap that "The Universe" (or at least the White House) keeps flinging at us. Yet there is one person with too much time (in
more than one sense) on his hands, and clearly too little money, who is still trying to exploit poor old Alfred and LOA. I refer, as I often have here, to imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie. And Mama Mia, here I go again, plucking some very low-hanging fruit to share with you (I am still, after all these years, a lazy blogger, and I often go for obvious targets, even though it continues to surprise me that these targets are not at all obvious to many). Recently, like just the other day, I've blogged about Katie's attempts to get a pardon and release from Donald Trump.

On
July 3, the same day I published my most recent Katie post, Katie was doing some posting of his own. He published, or caused to have published, this fake Einstein quotation on his Facebook page.
"Everything is energy. Energy is simply another word for vibration or frequency. That is all there is, there is nothing else. If you match the vibration of what you want with how you feel right now, the Universe must deliver it to you.
This is not philosophy; it is physics". Albert Einstein
Think about this. Much love, KT
Have a great 4th of July!

And the fans of flimflam fawned as they always do, not even questioning the authenticity of the Einstein quotation.

But the real fake quotation is a little bit different, though in essence it conveys the same specious message.

Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.
Unfortunately for true believers, there is absolutely no evidence that Einstein ever said this. Which will probably not come as much of a surprise to many of you.

Not that this will matter to Katie's fans, or to anyone else who, driven either by desperate longing or New-Wage crapitalism or a combination thereof, will continue to misquote and misappropriate greater minds and lofty concepts in any way that serves them. And certainly Kevin Trudeau has been crapitalizing for years on the whole "Law of Attraction" thing, pushing its articles of faith, which are based not only in faux quantum physics but also in a century and a half of "positive thinking." His 14-CD set,
Your Wish Is Your Command, which was really little more than a come-on for his mega-scam GIN, is a case in point. The more things change...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, like Donald Trump, claims to be victim of "Fake News"


For well over a year, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie, has been begging #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump, with whom he has much in common, to commute Katie's 10-year prison sentence and pardon him. You surely know this if you have been a Whirled visitor for any length of time. It seems like I just wrote about this matter again at the end of May.

Alas, Herr Twitler still has not turned his attention to poor Katie, who, years before he was sent to
Federal sleepaway camp, had positioned himself as a First Amendment martyr. much put upon by an evil and corrupt Government. In mid-June Katie posted yet another entreaty on his Facebook page:
President Trump is commuting inmates’ sentences! It is all over the news. The President is looking at inmates who were "treated badly, unfairly and unjustly" by Federal prosecutors and Judges. He is looking at commuting the sentences of inmates that "simply got too much prison time for the crimes they committed". My petition is one of those. You can help tip the scales and get President Trump to grant my petition for a reduction of sentence and have me immediately released. Write, call and email President Trump and tell him you want him to grant my Petition. Tell him how you feel about the way I was treated by the judicial system. Tell him what you think about my books and anything else you feel like telling him. Do the same to Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada as well as Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italy and Giuseppe Conte, the Prime Minister of Italy (as I have Canadian roots and am also an Italian citizen). You can make a difference. Now is the time to act and let these powerful people know the TRUTH. All they have heard is the Fake News about me and all the lies the government and media has said about me, my books, and my businesses. Thank you for all your help! Whatever the outcome, everything is Divinely guided and will all be perfect for the highest good of everyone! Much love...your friend, KT
The post then proceeded to list the contact info for Justin Trudeau and the two Italian leaders. I find it interesting that Katie didn't claim to be related to Justin Trudeau, even though his older brother Bobby had previously made this claim. In any case, since both Kevin and Bobby were adopted, it would seem there isn't any actual blood relationship.

What I find even more interesting, though hardly surprising, is that Katie continues to draw inspiration from Trump's whines about the evil press in order to make his own case. And now he has officially adopted the term "Fake News" for his free-me campaign, giving his supporters yet another lame weapon to brandish.

And yet... and yet... Katie
also continues to claim that he lives in a state of perfect bliss and is unattached to the outcome of his ongoing campaign for freedom. He is still pushing his selfish-help/McSpirituality shtick, framing it in an over-simplified, Katie-ised concept of non-duality at the moment, and hawking his "Science of Personal Mastery" course, which he claims to be teaching to "some of the men here." ("It works 100 % of the time!") Wrote Katie, a mere week after imploring his fans to go international in their efforts to help spring him:

Many people ask me how I am doing. It may be hard for you to grasp this, but I am doing better than ever. Everything is perfect. I am living in constant bliss and joy. I smile and laugh all day. I am thankful, grateful and appreciative every moment. Whatever happens, I see it as the perfect "play of the Universal Consciousness".
This is not something I intellectually understand. This is something that I "see" and actually fully experience. Most people live with themselves as the "subject" and what they are looking at as the object. That is "duality". For me, there is no subject and no object.
Everything is simply different expressions of the same ONE Universal Consciousness. That Consciousness is pure unconditional love. It is beyond perfect benevolence. I therefore "see" and experience everything (without exception and without condition) as perfect "love". This means I only experience total and complete oneness and inner joy at all times.
This is hard for people to imagine as most people deal with various emotions all day with lots of "ups and downs". I simply do not have that. You can enjoy this amazing state as well. I can teach you the secrets. I am teaching some of the men here, and it works 100% of the time! Desire this state, and it can be yours. Much love. Your friend, KT
Ask about The Science of Personal Mastery Course...[email address]
Presumably he is teaching his fellow inmates all of this Personal Mastery for free, though who knows what sort of commerce arrangements go on at sleepaway camp? But you on the outside have to pay real money for Katie's wisdom, with proceeds going to his legal defense fund.

Meanwhile, in the real world, real journalists and legitimate media outlets are increasingly being smeared with
Herr Twitler's "Fake News" brush, which, similar to Kevin Trudeau's frame of reference, essentially means any news or opinions that he doesn't like. One of my Facebook friends who leans towards conservative views insists that Trump has not indicted all of the press, only the "Fake News." But that's a disingenuous argument at best, as Trump has named numerous specific outlets that, collectively, comprise a very large segment of the mainstream press. And to scads of his unthinking followers, that easily translates to pretty much all of the press, with the exception of FOX News and numerous conservative and alt-right sites. Trump knows exactly what he is doing by conflating what he defines as "Fake News" outlets and the press at large.

In the process of relentlessly smearing most of the mainstream news media, Trump is creating an ever-more hostile working environment for journalists, and my fear is that it is only a matter of time before some lunatic Trumpian takes violent action against journalists. The blood of the
Capital Gazette victims of last week's shooting may not be on Trump's hands, but then again, his inflammatory rhetoric about the press is falling on the ears of the unhinged as well as on those of saner folk. After all, the Gazette's own editorial on July 1 noted that in addition to all of the heartwarming support they were receiving, they were also getting "Death threats and emails from people we don’t know celebrating our loss."( The right-wing pundits are all over this, of course, accusing the Gazette of "politicizing" their loss. Well, a-holes, it is political, however personal the individual shooter's motive may have been. You can thank your orange hero for making it political.)

And by the way, I went on a while back about the definition of fake news here (see under, "Separating real fake news from fake fake news").
 
In any case (getting back to the original point of this post,), it would appear that Donald Trump is still too distracted with other matters to tend to his Katie-pardoning duties. But that's okay. Katie can continue to rack up his martyr points while pushing his scams from his minimum-security digs, and when he is released -- whenever that may be -- he can take up right where he left off.

In other words... as usual... No Neat and Tidy Endings.

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Elite and eliter... Part 2 of 2: Elitism in Scamworld

In yesterday's post I went on a bit about US populism and #NotMyPresident Donald Trump's populist shtick, which he has successfully weaponized to convince his base that he is truly a "man of the people" and that dissenters/resistors are The Enemy. One of his latest rhetorical ploys has been to declare his supporters to be the "elite" and "super elite." But since he does so in the context of simultaneously drawing upon the word "elite" as a populist insult, and defining "elite" as those like himself who own big houses, boats, and so forth, he has skewed the populist act almost beyond recognition. Not that it matters to his throngs of devoted redcaps.

In any case some of the themes I've been trying to tackle with this mini-series are not only the word "elite," but elitism itself. These are very much in keeping with this blog's traditional beat -- Scamworld -- as well as its sometimes-new-normal beat, politix. Now more than ever
the two intersect in many aspects of our daily lives.

Elitism, of course, is not merely a political phenomenon, and for that matter not just a right-wing phenomenon (a point we'll get to in a little more detail below). I've written before about
elitism in Scamworld, but it's worth a revisit now. Most of the selfish-help/New-Wage/McSpirituality/alt-health gurus who have peopled this blog over the years have practiced a form of elitism that involves boasting of their own lavish lifestyles (real or imaginary) -- their huge houses, their fancy cars, their dream vacations -- with the goal of fueling envy in countless wannabes, who are continually spurred on by the promise, "And you can too!" (That specious promise of easily attainable wealth and "success" has been a theme on my blogging colleague Salty Droid/Jason Jones' blog since its early days.)

Y'all probably know all of this stuff. You've seen it before, more incisively on Jason's blog and in a more rambling fashion on this one, and quite possibly lots of other places too. But it bears repeating that scammers of all stripes -- including
those who grow down to be president of the United States -- are only too happy to play on people's greed and on their envy of wealth. I've written previously about how imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, a frequent topic on this blog since 2009, framed many of his own scams around greed and envy. He presented himself as the ultimate success story, promising that similar wealth and success were within easy reach, if only people bought his products and attended his events and, beginning in 2009, joined his stupid seekrit club, the Global Information Network (GIN). GIN was the apex of his scampire, and in the years between its launch and its being taken over by a court-appointed receiver, Trudeau managed to bilk thousands of people out of millions of dollars by appealing to their greed and envy.

But he also appealed to a higher form of, for lack of a better word, elitism, convincing many that by becoming part of GIN they would be joining an elite group of the smartest, most successful, and even the most altruistic folks on the planet, and that together they could change the world for the better for everyone. Yes, people actually bought that. Clearly they had not done their research on Trudeau's long and well-documented fraud career.

Again, y'all probably know all of this stuff, particularly if you've been following this blog for a while.


Left, right, left, right...
But I want to circle back to the point that elitism is not merely a right-wing thing. I was reminded of this truth again in early June when Salty/Jason published a post about
the cozy connection between former US President Bill Clinton and the king of Scamworld, Tony Robbins. It's worth a read, even if you're a Clinton fan and a Scamworld non-fan and it makes you somewhat uncomfortable, as it did me. And as you'll see if you read the comments, I'm stealing my own comment I posted there and putting it here too.
 

I freely admit to having given Bill Clinton a pass back in the day, regarding his personal behavior. Mea culpa. But overall I thought he was a good president, though some of his policies had less than favorable consequences (e.g. "workfare"), and I voted for him not once, but twice. Keep in mind that in 1992, the only viable alternatives were the incumbent, Bush the Elder (and for many good reasons I've long been a non-fan of the entire Bush dynasty, except for the late lovely Barbara). A less viable but certainly highly visible and audible alternative in '92 was that nut-cake Ross Perot, who provided much comic relief during the campaign. And in 1996 there was Bob Dole.

Is Bill Clinton a "lying sack of shit," as Jason describes him in the above-linked piece? That's a harsh if accurate description -- well, at least the "lying" part. While in office he did lie about getting illicit blow jobs, and that in a nutshell (so to speak) is why he was impeached, though this did not result in his removal from office. On the one hand it seems a trivial lie when compared to everything that Trump has lied about and continues to lie about. The fate of the nation and the world didn't hinge on whether or not Clinton had affairs and lied about them. On the other hand, Clinton did very definitely take advantage of his position of power, and even though the sex was presumably consensual (at least with Ms. Lewinsky)... well, if the #MeToo movement has put him in the hot seat again, it is probably nothing more nor less than he deserves. I'm sure it won't affect
book sales.

I didn't think then and I don't think now that any candidate is going to pass a purity test for personal behavior or even, for that matter, for ideology, and I think that one of several factors that led to Trump's election was that too many "purists" stayed home. If they couldn't have Bernie they weren't going to vote. Others did get out to vote but voted for Jill Stein. These factors certainly contributed to the triumph of the Orange Oaf of Office.

Years ago I spelled out the reasons that I thought self-help and pop-spirituality luminaries should be held to higher standards of personal behavior than, say Hollywood celebrities or even politicians, in some cases, providing the politician stuck to serving his or her constituents and wasn't on some "moralistic high horse." But events and conversations in more recent years have prompted me to entertain the notion that perhaps we should also hold our political leaders to higher (sexual) behavioral standards than we hold the average person. Certainly we should hold them to the highest ethical standards if they are making or influencing policies that affect all of our lives. In any case, I applaud Jason for staying on Clinton's case and making us more aware of his ties with the ubiquitous Tony Robbins.

Arguably Bill Clinton isn't a Scamworld ally who would ordinarily come to many people's minds, when it seems that most of the scammers and fans of scammers lean heavily towards the right these days (notwithstanding the hippie/liberal roots of the
New Age movement, which gave rise to many of the self-help and pop-spirituality scams of today). For instance, Kevin Trudeau and his minions are devoted Trumpians, and the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld, Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, a former b.f.f. of Trudeau, is an adamant Trump supporter. Trump not only appeals to their xenophobia and bigotry (Trudeau has presented as quite the xenophobe in the past), but he is also creating an environment that is more friendly to dodgy business practices. That's a big plus for Kevin Trudeau wannabes.

But at some point alliances often come back down to elitism of the type that transcends politics. As much as the aforementioned Coldwell hates the Clintons, he wasn't above boasting about a (spurious) Clinton connection on an early iteration of the web site for his failed
IBMS Master's Society. He bragged about being "a highly active member of the Renaissance secret society founded by U.S. President Bill Clinton." (Here is a link to a screen shot of that blurb, which has long since been taken down.) In fact -- and I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm too lazy to look up my old link -- Coldwell was referring to Renaissance Weekend, hardly a "secret society" but still very much an elitist gathering. But it wasn't founded by Bill Clinton; Bill and Hillary (and Chelsea) merely attended a few times in the 1990s. Coldwell and one of his exes were apparently participants in RenWeekend for a short time -- it used to be held in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where they lived at the time -- but they were asked to leave, according to the ex, although she was invited to re-join later on. I'm sure there is an interesting story there.

At any rate, the Bill Clinton-Tony Robbins alliance is clear evidence that the right doesn't have a monopoly on the unhealthy infatuation with celebrity and name-dropping, nor with elitism as it suits them. When it comes right down to it, if you're in the circle jerk, politics don't really matter. Certainly principles don't seem to matter. I totally get that.

And bringing things back to a well-tread populist concept embraced by both liberals and conservatives as it suits them, I also get that there is in fact a "global elite" -- not in the Illuminutty sense but in the
1 percent of the population owning 50 percent of global wealth sense -- and that they are continuing to rape the planet and rob the rest of us blind. And Trump, with all of his populist posturing, isn't doing a damn thing to make it better for the millions of his fellow Americans who are suffering and will suffer as a result.

All of which brings me back to the point that for the moment, when it comes to US politics, I'm much more concerned about
the right-wing "elites" than the lefties.

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