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.)

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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...

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Elite and eliter...Part 1 of 2: The redcaps get a title upgrade


I've been thinking a lot lately about populism versus elitism, and the ways in which the two are sometimes clumsily melded not only by demagogic politicians like Donald Trump but also by some Scamworld gurus.

Populism, of course,
is nothing new in America, and in various forms it has been a political tool of both the left and the right, as the writer of this January 2018 piece on History.com observes.

By the 1980s, politicians in both parties routinely declared themselves populists, but they pursued conflicting agendas and identified different enemies. Since the days of FDR, Democrats articulated a message of economic populism, railing against big business, Wall Street and the wealthy for failing to understand the economic plight of average Americans. After the social turmoil of the 1960s, Republicans built a powerful political base using a language of cultural populism, charging that Hollywood producers, intellectuals and liberals were out of touch with the cultural values of mainstream Americans.
Another truth that may be self-evident is that populism is a double-edged sword:
While it has inspired great political-reform movements, it has also been manipulated by demagogues to promote fear, divide the nation and infringe on individual rights.
Indeed. In the past several decades, populism has become an egregiously misused tool of right-wing demagogues in particular, and a significant part of their rhetoric has been centered around their misuse of the word "elite." These demagogues -- mostly composed of the "haves" -- long ago appropriated "elite" as a tool to pander to the "have-nots." It was of course the height of hypocrisy for plutocrats to paint "the elite" as a bunch of privileged left-wing (of course!) intellectual and social snobs who not only looked down on the average American, but were also, in ways never really explained, robbing these average Joes and Josephines of the American Dream. As verifiably wrong as the demagogues' claims were, the ploy was often effective, causing Mr. and Mrs. Average to repeatedly vote against their own interests. They were distracted by tales of mostly imaginary enemies while failing to notice that the robber barons to whom they listened so raptly had their own hands in the till and were destroying what was left of the middle class.

The History.com piece cited above was framed around #NotMyPresident Donald John Trump's populism, and his constant attempts to paint himself as a "man of the people." Absurd as it is to anyone who has actually been paying attention to this boastful, ostentatiously wealthy blowhard since the 1980s, Trump's false self-portrayal as a man of the people has successfully convinced many middle-class Americans that he is truly looking out for them, and that, to name but one example, his 2017 tax cut was a gift to them instead of to big business.

It's pretty clear, and unsurprising as well, that Trump hasn't exactly followed the norms of modern populism as described in the passage I quoted above. He is in so many ways the very personification of the vulgarity derided by traditional right-wing populists -- he is crass, boastful, amoral -- and rather than deriding those supposedly obscene "Hollywood values" he actively embraces them. Beginning with the 2016 campaign and continuing into his "presidency," he has eschewed legacy right-wing cultural populism, instead choosing to co-opt the economic populism of the left -- all in order to appeal to the base who felt the American Dream slipping from their fingers.
In his jobs-plan speech in June of 2016 he read these scripted remarks:
Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache...

...I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.
Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders.
I was on the right side of that issue - with the people - while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.
Now it's time for the American people to take back their future.
Never mind that Trump himself was, for many years, a member of that "financial elite" who donated to politicians on both sides in order to advance his own business interests. In any case, as noted in this June 28, 2018 piece in New York...

At some point, the ruse grew so tiresome to Trump that he began to imagine the words he was reading about his opponent had actually been composed by his opponent. And no wonder. Trump’s public persona has been geared toward manic puffery of his own success. A key element of his grift has involved selling people on the notion that they too can become rich if they buy Trump books or predatory “university” courses.
Lately Trump has dragged the word "elite" to new depths, appearing to employ it simultaneously as the term of abuse it was intended to be by the demagogues who preceded him, and as a compliment to himself and to his hypnotized followers.
This rhetorical trend has not gone unnoticed by the late-night comedians, nor by the New York writer.
The newest complaint President Trump has taken to airing out in his post-campaign rallies is an unearned compliment given to his opponent. “They call them the elite,” he declares, in his new favorite riff. “Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are.”

It is obviously not Trump’s opponents who call themselves the elite, but Trump himself, or at least the author of his speeches.
But now he is also calling his supporters "elite" (or "super-elite") during his increasingly deranged campaign rallies. At his June 27 rally in Fargo, North Dakota, he boasted that not only is he richer than his enemies, but that his supporters are as well. "We got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses, apartments, we got nicer boats, we're the elite."

As the New York writer observes:

This is not, of course, how populism works. It trades on either cultural or economic grievance. One’s enemies possess all the privilege, and we the people must take it back. Once you have declared that you already possess the privilege, the whole basis for it disintegrates. While Trump performed perfectly well among the rich, most of his supporters are not rich (because most Americans are not rich) and would have trouble recognizing themselves in his portrait of lavish apartments and boats.
But I doubt that his fawning followers will notice anything amiss. They will proudly embrace the titular promotion bestowed upon them by their Cheeto Jesus (even though as the writer above pointed out, very few of them actually enjoy the lavish lifestyle of "the elite" as defined by Trump at his recent rallies). And they will continue to proudly sport their red #MAGA caps, chanting "Lock her up!" and "Build that wall!" while their savior smirks, hugs the American flag, and brags about his big crowds and the Big Win in 2016. The less logical sense he makes, the more they cheer him.
 
So what does all of this have to do with the Scamworld that is the foundation of my original beat? I'll get to that in the next post. It's been a long day.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill...


Bobby Kennedy died at 1:44 AM, fifty years ago today.

On April 4 I was preoccupied with personal turmoil and failed to properly acknowledge the 50th of the assassination of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so consider it so acknowledged now.

It might be tempting to boast about how much progress we've made in half a century, but looking around today, it's pretty clear that we haven't.
America was being ripped apart then, and thanks to the toxic polarizing effect of the orange Oaf of Office, the country often seems on the verge of a civil war now.

Mad world.

I'll be back to skewering scammers asap, but just wanted to take a moment.

Marginally related on this Whirled:
On arrogance, atonement, and ambivalence (11 September 2009)

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Pardon, schmardon: will tRump ever get around to Kevin Trudeau?


Imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled, has been pleading for many months with the Orange Oaf of Office, #NotMyPresident Donald J. tRump, to commute the ten-year prison sentence Katie is serving for criminal contempt of court related to false claims he made about his fatuous diet book, and to grant him a full pardon. I've written about this several times on this blog.

So far Katie's pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears, despite his fans and friends inundating the White House with multimedia begging and whining and shameless sycophancy. One of the Free Kevin Trudeau contingent apparently received a form letter from the White House acknowledging some communication or other, but that seems to be the extent of it. And Katie and his pals perked up a bit when
Herr Twitler pardoned loathsome civil rights violator Sheriff Joe Arpaio (whom Katie professes to admire), but so far Katie continues to languish in the government sleepaway camp (Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Alabama) that he so fondly refers to as Camp Cupcake.

But look here, Katie and minions, maybe the time is ripe to step up the campaign. For tRump seems to be on a real pardon spree these days, with the latest-as-of-the-time-of-this-writing being
conservative wingnut Dinesh D'Souza, a former intellectual turned troll who in 2014 entered a guilty plea for campaign finance fraud. In case you're not familiar with D'Souza, who is loved by conspiracy nuts and Obama/Clinton haters everywhere, Slate gives a brief recap of some of the highlights of his storied career.
Dinesh D’Souza is a right-wing writer and speaker who began his career as an ostensibly respectable intellectual but has since become the familiar kind of relentless alt-right goon-troll who suggests, for example, that the Charlottesville white supremacist rally was staged by liberals and that Barack Obama is a “gay Muslim.” (You can click here to read an interesting piece, pegged to a D’Souza book about how the modern Democratic Party owes its intellectual foundations to Nazism, about how he is able to market transparently ludicrous ideas persuasively.) In 2014 he pleaded guilty to circumventing campaign finance laws by funneling donations to an (unsuccessful) New York Senate candidate through straw donors. And now he’s getting pardoned by the president!

An
opinion piece on CNN is just one of many noting a pardon pattern here.
The D'Souza pardon is all of a piece with two other presidential pardons made by Trump during his first 16 months in office. D'Souza, former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio were all seen, by some elements within the conservative movement/Trump's base, as martyrs -- people unfairly persecuted by some combination of out-of-control Democrats and the "deep state."

"Bravo! @realDonaldTrump," tweeted Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. "Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views. And he's a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left—which is why they hate him. This is Justice."

D'Souza himself played into that idea with a tweet of his own. "Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America,"
he tweeted. "Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both."
Somebody call the waaahhhhmbulance!
Rolling Stone goes a little further into the issue, pointing out that this pardon is just the latest example of Herr Twitler abusing his pardon power.
Typically, someone seeking a pardon applies for one and the application is heavily vetted by lawyers at the Department of Justice. Trump just went ahead and did it. "Nobody asked me to do it," the president said of his D'Souza announcement. "I read the papers. I see him on television." The same applied for the Arpaio and Libby pardons as well.

"None of these pardons has gone through the vetting process and gone through the pardoning attorneys at the Department of Justice," Griffin says. "These have all been cases in which the White House has circumvented the conventional procedures and norms about pardons."

Each of these three pardons is red meat for the base. They've got the fingerprints of Trump's vindictive streak all over them. But above all, these pardons signal a growing willingness by Trump and his White House to use the power of the pardon in troubling new ways and for the benefit of political allies in legal trouble.
But it may not be just a political thing; there's a celebrity motif going on here too (including, notably, a Celebrity Apprentice theme), for Drumpf hinted today that he will also pardon Martha Stewart, who, though a Democrat and professed Clinton supporter, hosted the 2005 Celebrity Apprentice spinoff series, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. He also said he was seriously considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years for corruption and, though also a Democrat, was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice in 2010.

And just yesterday Trump
met in the White House with professional narcissist and personification of a hopelessly shallow culture Kim Kardashian, ostensibly to talk about "prison and sentencing reform," but mainly to hear her plea the case of a 63-year-old woman, Alice Marie Johnson, who was given a life sentence without parole for a first-time drug offense. I'm not saying that Johnson belongs in prison (she doesn't), or that Kardashian is wrong for embracing her cause (even predominantly useless celebrities are good for some things), but since she had Drumpf's ear anyway (and possibly his ogling eyeballs), I'm thinking that maybe she could have also tried to convince him that his support of the private prison industry is a really, really horrible thing. But I doubt that the conversation went that deep. As the writer of the New Yorker piece I linked to above noted:
What was most upsetting about Kardashian’s audience with Trump on Wednesday, then, was not its novelty. It was that, more than two years after Trump met with [Kardashian's husband Kanye] West, this type of meeting—this Boschian spectacle of horrors, this stand-in for the reflective, responsible work of actual public service—is, somehow, still happening.
While we're on the topic of horrible things, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to review Trump's pardon of the vile Sheriff Joe. If they uphold the pardon, it may go to the Supreme Court, and if it is upheld there... well, that could be another step towards the tyranny that wingnuts always feared under Obama but which is a looming reality under Drumpf.

But thinking about those things is kind of a downer, isn't it? (And to think that this Whirled was originally conceived as a humor blog...) Still, Kevin Trudeau's attempts to get Donald Trump's attention provide at least marginal comic relief in this grim reality show that we're all being forced to live thanks to a combination of ignorant voters, bigotry, hostile foreign meddling, and complicit news media who are taken in by celebrity. If Katie really wants to be freed and absolved by Cheeto Jesus, he needs to hitch his wagon to a real celeb.


And, sadly, former Apprentice contestant and long-time Trump brown-noser Troy McClain probably isn't an option. To begin with, as I've previously reported, several credible sources have indicated that Troy intensely dislikes Kevin, even though Troy benefited significantly from Trudeau's huge scam GIN (the Global Information Network). He continued to reap the rewards even after Kevin was sent to sleepaway camp and no longer had any involvement in GIN (on paper, anyway), and the GIN MLM scam had been pared down to a mere affiliate scheme. Troy, with the help of a few cohorts, had purchased GIN in 2014, and Troy was at the helm for a couple of years, re-branding it to something called "GINEvolve," though reportedly he was exceedingly unpopular among the remaining staff. But -- and I'd not yet reported this, and it's long overdue (mea culpa!) -- Troy departed GIN for presumably greener pastures late last summer when he and his cohort David Cohen sold their interest in GIN, and long-time Trudeau pals Blaine Athorn and Greg Kramer became the primary owners. So for several reasons, Troy probably isn't a guy that Katie could call on.

Still, he needs someone with some sort of celebrity connections that will capture the attention of the celeb-obsessed Thief Executive. It's not enough that
Katie has been kissing up to Trump for years, and has expressed some of the right-wing, xenophobic views that Trump and his base seem to embrace. Katie's problem is that despite being a legend in his own mind and the minds of his addled loyalists, he is simply not quite enough of a celebrity to get the president's attention. If is serious about getting pardoned by Trump so he can go back to committing wide-scale consumer fraud with fewer restrictions than he has in Camp Cupcake, he needs to find himself a Kardashian or some equally insipid fame whore, and get that person to set up an appointment with Trump to plead Katie's case.

After all, as the writer in the article linked to in the previous sentence concludes, "Presentation is everything in the Trump White House, even for pardons." Maybe especially for pardons.

This post was updated June 1, 2018 to include information about the Celebrity Apprentice connections and about Troy McClain and GIN. ~ CC

Addendum, June 4, 2018 ~ It could very well be that Herr Twitler ends up pardoning himself before he gets around to pardoning poor Katie. "I am the State, and the State is me!" Tyranny much?
 

PS ~ If you haven't visited the Salty Droid blog lately because you despaired of ever seeing a new post there, you're in for a treat. Jason is blogging again, his latest being a nod to yet more Trump-related media mayhem.

PPS ~ For that matter, my UK pal Longdog is blogging again after a months-long absence, noting that the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld, cancer quackadoodle and former Kevin Trudeau buddy Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, has once again changed his "credentials."


 PPPS ~ And while we're at it, an even more infrequent blogger, my husband Ron Kaye, recently wrote again on his RevRon's Rants blog. Show him a little love and send some comments.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 29, 2018

On Death Ray, Salty Droid, and manly men

I'm not yet up to writing anything long and thoughtful, but in the continuing interests of revitalizing this Whirled, here are a few little snippets to close out the cruel month of April.

Death Ray is still at it
If you can access Facebook and can stomach it, here is a beyond-disgusting bit from
convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray's presentation at last week's "Wealth Summit" held in Clearwater Beach FL (which also happens to be Scientology country). Here's the link, and don't say I didn't warn you:

https://www.facebook.com/100009492367881/videos/2047490262244033/  

The good news is that Death Ray is still playing to much smaller audiences than he did in his glory days, and he had to share billing with several other hucksters, including fellow star of
The Secret and third- or fourth-tier Scamworlder, Lisa Nichols.

The bad news is that he is still playing to audiences, and getting them to chant stupid things like, "The naysayers don't know how to count!" He is still framing his imprisonment for negligent homicide, and
his lame attempts at a scumback, as a heroic journey. And even if only a very few folks are buying that shtick, that's still far too many.

Salty Droid on QTR podcast
My friend and favorite scambusting blogger/lawyer,
Jason Jones, aka Salty Droid, did a podcast for Quoth The Raven earlier this month. While it could probably benefit from a bit of editing, it's still well worth a listen, being a powerful reminder that in Scamworld, there are no neat and tidy endings, and that the more things change with MLMs like Herbalife, the more they stay the same.

One aspect that really struck out for me is that Jason remains consistent in his refusal to condescend to victims of scams, even people who are serially victimized. As frustrating as it may sometimes be to someone observing a friend or loved one under the spell of an obvious scam, any one of us could be vulnerable to even the most blatantly scammy scams given the right (or grievously wrong) circumstances. And it can happen more than once; being screwed by one scam or scammer is almost never a guarantee that you won't be screwed again, in much the same way, by yet another scam or scammer somewhere down the road. In fact that probably happens more often than not. As Jason has pointed out to me (and I quoted him in
this October 2017 post), "Manipulation causes susceptibility to manipulation as a side effect."

Here's the link to the podcast.


Manly men, redux
This little blog may not have many readers, and the conversations may not be as active as they were in years past, but it does still get comments, which I greatly appreciate. It shows me that someone is still paying attention. Just yesterday I got a comment to
a post I published in January 2011. Framed around criticism of the men's LGAT (Large Group Awareness Training) organization The ManKind Project, the post also covered the mythopoetic "men's movement" in general, a phenomenon that took hold in the culture back in the 1980s.

A woman named Aimee
sent in a comment thanking me for my post and providing a link to a 2015 guest post her husband had written on the EcoFeminist blog. Her husband had been "groomed" by his therapist to attend a ManKind "Warrior Training" event that, she says, left him traumatized for years. And apparently there were repercussions from the therapist in question following her husband's abandonment of the "training."

Here is a link to the blog post by Aimee's husband. I think he did a wonderful job of pointing out what is wrong about ManKind Project and as an extension, about the whole mythopoetic-men's-group phenomenon. Some of my favorite bits:
Its apolitical and anti-rationalist thinking narrows down the concept of manhood to fairy tales and atavistic concepts that reinforce separation from women rather than look at rational and practical ways to heal disparities, discuss inequalities and examine existing power structures. Kind of like a ‘they have their side of the bus, we want ours’.

I don’t want to be part of a bastardised Grimm fairy tale.

I don’t want to be part of an epic.

If I’m wounded, I don’t want to exclude a great portion of the world in seeking solutions, let alone run around in the bush banging drums and howling like a fucking wolf and pretending I am carrying the strength of male lineage in my family.

I don’t want to make up stories about childhood abuse or repressed memories (a highly dubious technique with very little empirical support).

I don’t want to shed my identity and name myself after an animal.

I’m not interested in
LGAT and the rabbit holes it can lead you down and I don’t want to place my emotional/ psychological wellbeing in the hands of someone who has no background in professional mental health services or who subscribes to outmoded and pseudo-scientific ‘therapies’.

I want to be the author of my own story.I want to walk through the bush quietly comfortable in my own skin (and maybe see a real live wolf). I want to be proud of all of my traits no matter how they are labeled.
Good for him. As for me, I need to be the author of my own story too, but for now I'll settle for being the author of this blog, and I'll be back with more in (what I hope will be) the merry month of May. Thanks for reading.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Back to the Whirled: Let us prey

Cosmic Connie here, reporting back for duty after being mostly absent for a bit longer than intended. For several reasons, it has been a chaotic couple of months, but I am beginning to feel as if I've landed on my feet, though there are some days when I wonder whether I've landed at all. I won't bore you with details (or, alternatively, I won't top off your bourbon or other drink of choice with a splash of schadenfreude, should you happen to be a scammer in whose blubbery hide this blog has been a thorn). I'll just say it has been a fairly rough road, one that involved transitioning from the Shire to the Woodland Realm, and leave it at that. It's very green here, and lovely, and there are many distractions, some upsetting and some quite wonderful. But I need to get back to work.

We're probably long past the point where I have to explain that this is not a political blog, except when it has to be. And in fact it has had to be on too many occasions in the two-plus years since
Donald J. Trump, scammer extraordinaire, finally and fully insinuated himself into the presidential race, irreversibly blurring the line between my normal beat and politix.

In large part because of said blurring of lines, another line has been fuzzed as well: the one between my normal beat (New-Wage/McSpirituality etc.) and That Old-Time Religion. I've been asked on more than one occasion why I don't spend more time going after religion, i.e., more traditional faiths. The short answer is that this isn't a "religious" blog either, except when it has to be. But. When you have
fundie hypoChristians and evangescammers getting together to pray for Trump to "protect" him from various sources of evil ... well, there you have it: it sort of has to be.

Earlier this month televangelist
Frank Amedia appeared on the show of his religious-huckster colleague, convicted fraudster Jim Bakker.* Amedia is the perpetrator of something called Touch Heaven Ministries, which, according to their web site, "is commissioned by the Spirit of God as an outreach to the world to help to Prepare The Way for The Coming of Our Lord.  Jesus is indeed returning, the time is short, and ALL of us have much to do."

More to the point of this blog,
he is a self-proclaimed "Christian policy advisor" for Trump's campaign, and even claimed to have once stopped a tsunami. (In the latter regard he has plenty of company among the New-Wage hucksters and earnest but misguided McSpirituality practitioners who make up my normal beat. They've been known to stop hurricanes and wildfires.)

Amedia's message on the Bakker show centered around a so-called "conspiracy" against Trump. This is congruent with Trump's own narrative, since
Trump himself is a conspiracy fan, as are many of his followers. Anyway, Amedia led a group prayer of evangescammers to protect the Mad King against those evil conspirators, and at one point Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church, added:
We lift up witches and warlocks who have been a part of this assignment, as they have gathered in numbers almost immeasurable to curse this specific president. We cancel, we bind their authority, we bind their curses, we lift up your word that says you shall not revile the gods and neither shall you bring a curse upon the rule of God’s people. We declare those assignments null and void and we claim the souls of many of the witches and warlocks.
When I shared the link to the Amedia vid on Facebook, my husband Ron commented, "And he isn't even including the orcs and cave trolls! Woe is 'Murika!"

But here. You need to watch it yourself.
Here's a link, or just click below.




In case it isn't painfully obvious why the above-referenced blurring of lines has necessitated a few potshots at religions that were once mostly outside the normal scope of this Whirled, the answer lies in the astonishing fact that the notoriously libertine Donald John continues to be the darling of the evangelical set. The more "scandals" emerge about his past and present, the more passionately they seem to embrace him. Partly that's because he shamelessly panders to them, seemingly welcoming their retrogressive ideas and allowing them to dictate policy, thus preserving the white patriarchy and helping to move America dangerously in the direction of theocracy. As well, the "End Times" enthusiasts have glommed on to him because they believe he is helping to hasten the Second Coming. They apparently just can't wait to be Raptured Up so they can watch the rest of us suffer from a safe distance.

It would be funny, if it weren't kind of scary. Oh, who am I fooling. It's funny anyway.

But also scary.


* As you might imagine, Bakker himself is up to no good, using his pulpit to spread hypoChristian propaganda, a recent example being his declaration that the Good Lord has already tried to send two people into this world who were destined to cure cancer, but alas, they were aborted before they had a chance.

Labels: , , , , ,