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.)

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

James Arthur Ray Death Lodge 10th Anniversary: Never Forget

It has been ten long years since James Arthur Ray, selfish-help/McSpirituality guru and egomaniacal star of the New-Wage moviemercial The Secret, held his infamous phony sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona, resulting in the deaths of three people: James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman. And as I have mentioned on this blog numerous times, one of the most recent occasions being in April of this year, Death Ray is still trying to make his comeback in the industry after having served less than two years in an Arizona state prison, on charges of negligent homicide, for the deaths of these people.

As I've also mentioned several times, Ray never served any prison time at all for another death for which he was responsible, that of
Colleen Conaway in San Diego in July 2009.

Ignoring all the considerable flak he has gotten from many directions since he's been out of the clink, Ray continues to play on his "redemption" shtick, and
is still promoting his utter failure of a book about same on his web site. (What appears to be an earlier version of the book is listed as being out of print, and Google Books couldn't even be bothered to get an accurate description of the book's contents.)

In late October of last year, San Diego's ABC affiliate, KGTV, ran
a story about Ray's comeback efforts and his attempts to frame his offerings in that redemption theme. It's worth a watch.

In case you haven't been following this story over the years, and would like some insights into the sociopathic behavior of James Ray and how that behavior led up to Death Lodge,
see this post, which I wrote on the first anniversary of Sedona. Also read Connie Joy's book, Tragedy in Sedona. There's also a public Facebook group, James Arthur Ray is a Felon.

One final word, and it's the same message I've conveyed repeatedly on post after post after post about Ray over the years. In fact, if you don't mind me quoting myself verbatim from
that post I wrote in April of this year...
...if you're at all tempted to give money to James Arthur Ray for any reason: Give it instead to a worthwhile organization, such as, say... Seek Safely, which was founded by Kirby Brown's family to guide consumers and make self-help practitioners more accountable for their actions through legislation. (Here is the link to donation info.) So far, more than 160 leading lights in the industry have been invited to sign the "Seek Safely" promise... and not one of them has yet done so. In all fairness, some of them are now dead, such as Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer. But as for the rest... well, the invitation has been open for years, but nobody who's anybody in the industry seems very interested. That should tell you something.
When Googling around just a while ago, I found this on-point opinion piece from the Deadspin site, published in February 2019. The headline says it all:

Felonious Self-Help Guru James Arthur Ray Wants You To Remember Oprah Loves Him And Forget He's Killed People

Too bad, James: there are tons of folks -- and I'm one of them -- who will never forget.

* * * * *
Now more than ever, your donation is needed
to help keep this Whirled spinning.
Click here to donate via PayPal or debit/credit card.
If that link doesn't work, send PayPal payment directly to

or to
If PayPal, be sure to specify that your contribution is a gift. Thank you!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, October 04, 2019

Trump, Big Pharma, and a Whirled sense of deja-cuckoo

#NotMyPresident Donald John Trump continues to unravel in the face of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, spewing and sputtering and tweeting statements that are either silly, stupid, alarming, self-incriminating, or some combination of the above. As Bess Levin, writing for Vanity Fair on October 3, noted:
We regret to report that the president of the United States is becoming increasingly unglued, which is a troublesome development when the only glue holding him together in the first place was right wing memes, fake Time magazine covers, and a barely comprehensible text chain with Rudy Giuliani. Never the picture of mental stability, this new Donald Trump has responded to allegations that he withheld aid from Ukraine unless the country investigated his political rival—which he literally did!—with a series of statements, tweets, and conspiracy theories that would concern even Batshit Trump 1.0. Those include but are not limited to: calling for the whistle-blower’s sources to be executed, ranting that Rep. Adam Schiff should be arrested and charged with treason, threatening a Civil War, and something about jockstraps. Which brings us to today, when the president floated the theory that Big Pharma is behind the push to impeach him. Yes.
It is the Pharma/impeachment theory -- which Trump introduced in Florida during a shameless attempt to pander to a group of cheering, supportive senior citizens after signing an October 3 executive order to "improve" Medicare -- that has rendered him prime Whirled fodder (yet again).

I had a couple of thoughts when I read about Trump's Big-Pharma conspiranoia -- I mean, apart from the obvious thought that any older American who isn't a member of the fabled one percent, but who still thinks that Trump has her or his best interests at heart, is misinformed, willfully ignorant, or deluded. Take that executive order (please).
As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire, the document contains "a poison pill the size of a horse's head" in Section 3. Pierce explains that the provisions in this section are...
...pretty much the same plan that Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, spent years trying to slime into law. It is the first big step toward Ryan's lifetime goal of privatizing the Medicare system, which, as someone who has enjoyed its benefits for almost a year, I can tell you is a terrible idea. Look at all the little buzzing land mines in there. "Competition." "Market pricing." This thing even expands Medical Savings Accounts, a terrible idea that emerged in the 1990s and that Bill Frist was going to ride into the White House in 2000.

The president is a blight and impeachment is the only cure, but the conservative project rolls merrily on. I'm not entirely sure he knew what he was signing, because he doesn't know anything about anything, but the people who find him useful do, which is why he'll be around for a while longer.
Beyond that, my first thought was that Trump's rationale for the Big Pharma/impeachment connection is beyond silly, based as it is on his insinuation that the big drug companies resent and fear him because he has done so much to try to rein them in and get them to lower prescription drug prices, as he'd promised during his campaign. Not only has he fallen far short on that promise, as outlined by The Atlantic in May and NPR in July, but he has in some cases actually acted as an ally of Big Pharma, such as this Pharma-friendly trade agreement with India.

Back in July 2017 on this Whirled, I
speculated about Trump's likely policies regarding the big drug companies (see under "Little Hitler strikes again"). My premise then was that contrary to insinuations by alt-health crapitalist and devoted Trumpster Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, Trump was not going to turn out to be the big hero fighting against Big Pharma that Mikey and others had predicted he'd be; to the contrary, his chronic and incurable allegiance to big business would render him more likely to be a friend to the big drug companies. And so far, for all practical purposes, that's pretty much been the case. In other words, Trump has been about as tough on Big Pharma as he personally has been on Russia.

But the other immediate thought I had after hearing about the alleged Pharma plot -- and this is where that sense of deja-cuckoo comes in -- was that Trump's evocation of the pharmaceutical industry's big money and enormous power reminded me of the whiny claims of various alt-health quacks, scammers, and predators whose marketing efforts are often framed in their
yuuuge hero/martyr complex, which focuses on the big drug companies and the medical establishment as the enemy. I've blogged about a few of these hucksters, most notably fake doctor/cancer quack/neo-Nazi/devoted Trumpster/conspiracy fan Leonard Coldwell, aka LoonyC, who has been whining for years and years about how Big Pharma is after him, and has repeatedly claimed that "they" have even tried on several occasions to kill him.

Not long after I wrote my first blog post about LoonyC back in May 2012, he decided I was a Big Pharma shill,
publicly and falsely accusing me time after time of being paid big bucks by the drug companies to ruin his reputation. A few years ago he even (falsely and crazily) claimed that Big Pharma had paid me to kill his dog. His followers believed every word he wrote and never even questioned it, as do the followers of most alt-health quacks. The facts don't matter if the story is good.

But Coldwell is just one fourth-tier Scamworld lunatic. No doubt, being
the fervent Trumpanzee that he is, he feels proud to be in the same imaginary boat of Big-Pharma victimhood that his orange idol is, and I won't be surprised to see some garbled writings from him on social media about this very topic. (I'll be sure to share if I do.) My point, however, is that Coldwell's sphere of influence is very limited, while Trump is still in a position to do a lot of damage, some of which may be irreversible, on his way down. His claims about Big Pharma being behind impeachment efforts may be hilarious, but the multiple reasons that impeachment is being pursued are anything but funny.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 30, 2019

Screen grabs indicate business as usual in Scamworld

It could be said that screenshots are the last refuge of the lazy, and I wouldn't argue with that, having been lazy indeed this month, at least blogging-wise. But I refuse to let the month of September slip away without posting anything, so here, just for the sake of saying that I posted something, are a few screen shots from the Facebook pages of various Whirled subjects. 

Kevin can wait
As you probably know, a frequent snarget on this Whirled over the years,
serial scammer Kevin Trudeau (aka KT, aka Katie), is currently serving a ten-year sentence in a (relatively cushy) federal prison camp, FPC Montgomery, Alabama. One of Katie's long-time friends and co-scammers was Mary Miller of the Gentle Wind Project and later of I Ching Systems, whom I wrote about on this November 2014 blog post; see under "What's that smell? It's Mary Milker passing her 'gentle wind' through Scamworld." Mary was a big promoter of Katie's scams, including and especially his mega-scam GIN (the Global Information Network), before he went to prison. Afterwards she was known to visit him in the clink and then write glowingly of those visits on his Facebook page.

Alas, Mary left the planet in late 2017 (
and was duly mourned by her fellow scammers, such as the Morters, who are also long-time Trudeau buds). But not to worry: one of her long-time partners, Shelly Miller, also of I Ching Systems, has taken up the mantle of shilling for Katie. She visited him at sleep-away camp last month and shared her experience on Facebook on August 25. Like Mary, Shelly is shamelessly pushing the narrative that Katie is actually delighted with his incarceration situation and that he has Something Really Big in store for the world.
Kevin and I talked about his vision for the future. And as you would expect, it’s AMAZING. It’s perfect, it’s phenomenal, it’s gigantic. As Kevin was describing his vision to me, what I saw was a coming together of all the separate paths he has walked during his life up to this moment. All roads have led him to this exact point — to this exact vision. I suspect that much of the last few years have been Kevin pulling together his vision and the personal resources he will need to accomplish his goal.

 And make no mistake — Kevin will most definitely accomplish his goal. He will bring his vision out into the world and make it happen. Kevin is one of only a handful of people who are truly able to change the world — and for the better — who can accomplish whatever they set out to do. His next chapter will be his best yet — so standby!

I can only imagine what sorts of McMiracles Saint Kevin has in the works. All I can say is, hold on to your wallet.

Home wreck-onomics tip: if you can't stand the heat, stay in the kitchen and keep on bitchin'
Another serial huckster and frequent Whirled snarget (who is also a Kevin Trudeau buddy, or used to be, anyway) is Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale,
whom I most recently wrote about in reference to his pending divorce from Nerissa Oden, and his decision to cast his lot with New-Wage dilettante (and apparent home-wrecker and gold-digger) Lisa Winston. I'll be the first to admit that the snark factor and the gossip dial were turned way up in that two-part post, one result being that Lisa blocked me from her main Facebook page. But some stories deserve extra snark and gossip, and notwithstanding the block, I got hold of this September 24 screen shot of a post by Lisa, which was also shared by Joe on his timeline. If I'm reading between the lines correctly, Lisa (and probably Joe) have been getting some flak for the way they've been carrying on.

Of course there is always the possibility that Lisa was referring to someone else when she wrote:

I am saddened that Facebook has become a platform for toxic people's smear campaigns in relationship breakups... They are all about punishment because they didn't get their way and of course, they never take responsibility for their part in the breakup...
But I rather think this reads as if written by someone who is trying to avoid taking responsibility herself. 

Take up the white man's bourbon...
Finally, it's been a while since I blogged about one of the stupidest and most evil men in Scamworld, fake doctor
Leonard Coldwell, because frankly I got bored with him, and he has spent the past few years scamming mostly in his native Germany rather than in the US. But he still spends time and money Stateside too, and like most stupid scammers he's still bragging about his material wealth. These days he seems to be hanging his hat, or more accurately guzzling his bourbon, in Milledgeville, Georgia. This little pic should give you an idea of how he spends some of the money that some suckers are apparently still giving him: stocking up "Dr C's Bourbon Room in the Coldwell Mansion." 

If I had a room like that the shelves would be filled with books, but hey, that's just me.

Given all of the madness swirling about in the larger world, with new and increasingly unpleasant surprises popping up on a daily basis, I suppose there's something almost reassuring in knowing that Scamworld and the scammers who live there remain as predictable as ever. I'll be back soon with more substantial fare... but in the meantime,
Shanah Tovah to all who are celebrating the New Year.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Stopping hurricanes: tough love v TLC. (Also some stuff about bug farts)

By now you have almost certainly heard about #NotMyPresident Mad King Donald J. Trump's proposed suggestion to stop hurricanes before they hit the US of A. An August 25 Axios piece by Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev reported that on several occasions Trump has asked senior Homeland Security and national security officials about the idea of using nuclear bombs to disrupt the storms as they're making their way across the Atlantic from Africa. A source said that the attendees at one such meeting were stunned into silence at the suggestion, a silence so profound that "you could hear a gnat fart."

Which raises a whole new series of questions about whether gnats really do fart, but I don't want to get too far off point.

Let's get the really important stuff out of the way first.
What Trump said about nuking hurricanes was... Well... okay, since you didn't ask, but might ask at some point, and I want to save you the effort of Googling, I did some further research on the gnat-fart question. I may be a lazy blogger, but I will always, always go the extra mile, or at least an extra few feet, for my four or five faithful readers. Gnats are insects, and it seems that
some insects do fart, though it is highly unlikely that the farts are audible, no matter how quiet a room might become in response to a profoundly stupid utterance that a given Oaf of Office might make.

According to entomologist and presumed bug-fart expert Elsa Youngsteadt of North Carolina State University, it's possible to hear insects masticating (that's masticating, you naughty person) and defecating (apparently insect poop is called "frass," and when the frass hits the grass it can make a sound if someone's around), but there is no literature suggesting that insect farts can be heard, at least by humans. Youngsteadt helpfully adds that termites are the fartiest insects, but she seems closemouthed about gnats. I keep my mouth closed too when gnats are around, and there are far too many of them around in my neck of the woods this time of year.

In any case, if you care to do further research, you may or may not find the answer to the gnat-fart mystery in a 1994 study titled, "Methane production in terrestrial arthropods" by JH Hackstein and CK Stumm. My careless perusal of the abstract leads me to believe that gnats, of which there are numerous species in the dipterid suborder Nematocera, are not among the farters, although cockroaches and millipedes are, which as far as I'm concerned is yet another reason to intensely dislike cockroaches and millipedes. (And yes, I know that millipedes are not insects, but they are arthropods.) We have had an infestation of millipedes here this year, and they're especially thick after it rains, and they are just plain icky. Now that I know that every individual in those big clusters is not only looking disgusting but is also probably farting his or her little brains out, my life is nearly complete. A nearly complete nightmare, that is, at least after the rain.

But gnats? Not gas-passing arthropods, apparently.

So does all of this mean that the un-named source who said that "you could hear a gnat fart" is unreliable, and that we can therefore conclude that Trump did not in fact suggest bombing hurricanes?

Well, Trump himself
has repeatedly dismissed the reports about his hurricane Rx as "fake news." He tweeted it on August 26, for instance, and got mightily trolled, so you owe it to yourself to follow that tweet link. And here's another one, for good measure.

But Jonathan Swan, co-author of the Axios piece,
responded to Trump's initial accusation by tweeting:
I stand by every word in the story. He said this in at least two meetings during the first year and a bit of the presidency, and one of the conversations was memorialized.
Who you gonna believe, then? A fake-news journalist, or a man for whom truth-telling has always been a sacred duty?

The tough-love approach
As you are probably also aware, Trump did not just pull the concept of nuking hurricanes out of his aperture. Well, maybe he did, but the concept didn't originate with him. He simply swallowed it whole, repeatedly, and it came out of his other end, repeatedly. (Allegedly.) Or maybe he regurgitated it; it's difficult to tell, but either way there's a smell.

But apparently the idea can actually be traced back to the Eisenhower era. That said, it has been debunked, repeatedly, though it keeps resurfacing, to the point that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published
a fact sheet online to explain why nuking a hurricane would not work and would almost certainly create far more damage than it prevented.

But my guess is that Trump does not read factual stuff like that. (I know, I probably lost some of you at the concept of Trump reading.)

Of course Donald Trump is far from the first and will be far from the last person to allegedly suggest a wackadoodle plan for battling a natural disaster. WaPo ran
a good capsule history of some of humanity's harebrained ideas to fight hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and whatnot. F'rinstance:
In the early 1960s, the U.S. Army decided to dispose of more than 150,000 gallons of nerve gas by drilling a well deep into the Colorado earth and pumping the toxic waste into it. Soon after, earthquakes began breaking out in the Denver suburbs. The implication was tantalizing: if they could figure out how to set off small earthquakes, maybe they could do so selectively, thereby relieving seismic pressure and preventing “The Big One.”

“They actually proposed this idea, to drill wells and pump in water and trigger small earthquakes along the San Andreas,” William Bilodeau, chair of the geology department at California Lutheran University,
told VCReporter. “And they got fairly far along in the planning process and then people began to say, ‘Wait a minute — what happens if we set off a really big earthquake?’ ”

We should know by now, Jones said, that we can’t stop earthquakes, we can’t stop plate tectonics. And if we keep trying, we might just make them worse.
Yeah, what Jones said.

And not all of the loony-tunes schemes proposed have been in the service of saving hapless human creatures from the wrath-o-God. Some plans have apparently been proposed for no higher purpose than to advance a big dick war. I'm thinking of
a certain Cold War era plan by the US to detonate nukes on the Moon, just to show Russia who was boss.

On the other hand, there was a mathematician and crackpot named Alexander Abian (1923-1999) who thought
we should just blow the whole Moon up, which, Abian theorized, would solve virtually all of the problems of human existence. He claimed that a Moonless Earth would not wobble, which would eliminate seasons and associated events such as heat waves, snowstorms, and hurricanes. He was full of crap, but at least he had a higher purpose in mind than showing Russia who was boss.

The TLC approach

If the idea of blowing stuff up -- of fighting destructive forces with yet more destructive forces -- does not appeal to you, you will be delighted to know that there is an alternative, which involves meditation, prayer, and direct loving communication with the destructive forces of nature, most especially hurricanes. Intrepid reporter that I am,
I have reported on this alternative numerous times on this Whirled (hint: you'll get more results if you follow the Google image search). One of my favorite hurricane communicators is a woman named Lynn S. Marks, who also calls herself "Phoenix" and SpiritDiva, and who actually channels messages from hurricanes. She believes that contrary to their bad press, hurricanes are forces of love, and if you talk nice to them, especially in groups over the phone or the Interwebz, you might be able to persuade them to kill fewer people than they would if left to their own devices.

I have been writing about SpiritDiva
since the early daze of this blog, back in 2006. A more recent post covered her communications with Hurricane Irma in 2017. Here's a direct link to SpiritDiva's messages from Irma.

But Lynn/SpiritDiva/Phoenix is not the only wind whisperer in crazy town. There's also
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, an even more frequent snarget here. By his own objective self-assessment, Mr. Fire has not only been able to neutralize hurricanes with his love-and-light techniques, but also oil spills and even wildfires. You can get an idea of his magickal powers right here, and there are links to previous musings on his awesome wind-whispering skills. I remain especially impressed by the way he and his group of meta-taters neutralized Hurricane Ike in 2008.

As you may have predicted, thinking about Joe Vitale leads back to the topic of insect farts. I am pondering now on how bug farting might possibly be harnessed for the greater good. I know that
farting and burping, at least from cows, supposedly contribute to global warming and the climate crisis, but Trump et al. claim that that all of that climate stuff is a hoax, so one just doesn't know what to believe. Be that as it may, I was thinking that it might be possible that insect farts could somehow be channeled to fight... well, something -- maybe those dangerous murderous rapey immigrants who are constantly threatening the US's Southern border. After all, it has been proven that in the insect world, farts can be deadly, at least to other insects. So maybe bug toots can be weaponized to fight greater threats.

But that is most likely worthy of a whole other blog post. We were talking about hurricanes, and, all things considered, if I were forced to choose, I believe I'd opt for Phoenix the wind whisperer's tender-love approach over the nuclear option. Pretending to channel storms might be totally useless, but at least it's harmless and entertaining.

As for the deeply unnatural disaster currently infesting the White House, though, I think the solution lies in getting a sufficient number of rational, informed, and intelligent people out to vote in 2020. It's our only hope. Otherwise, it's four more years of loony ideas and policies from the White House and Mar-a-Lago. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Trump did actually promote the weaponization of bug farts.

PS ~ Here are
some marginally saner ideas about weather modification, but most of them probably won't work either. And besides, we have enough weather-manipulation conspiranoia already.

PPS added 3 September 2019: When it comes to dealing with hurricanes there's another tough-love advocate, who also happens to be a yuuuge Trump fan: a pink-haired "Christian" prophet named Ket Kerr. Upon hearing that Hurricane Dorian might be threatening Herr Twitler's "Winter White House," Mar-a-Lago in Florida, Kerr declared that she would not tolerate it. From what I can understand of her babbling, it seems that hurricanes are created by God but have been co-opted by Satan, but Kerr said that she and her "Weather Warrior" followers have taken authority over this evil, with the help of Jesus H. Christ Himself, whom Kerr claims to know personally and who she says is a big Trump fan too. I guess the Weather Warriors' directed fury was effective, because as disappointing as it may be to many, Mar-a-Lago will most likely be spared from a direct hit from the storm. Better luck next time, Satan.*

* NOTE: I want to make it clear that I absolutely would NOT wish any physical harm on any human being or other living creature, not even a Trump, as a result of any given storm. But if Mar-a-Lago itself were flattened, let me just say that I would not grieve.

Other posts about wind on this Whirled:
* * * * *
Impressed by the scholarly research you've read here
about bug toots and moon-nuking and wind whispering?
You can show your appreciation.
Now more than ever, your donation is needed
to help keep this Whirled spinning.
Click here to donate via PayPal or debit/credit card.
If that link doesn't work, send PayPal payment directly to

or to cosmic.connie@juno.com
If PayPal, be sure to specify that your contribution is a gift. Thank you!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 09, 2019

Conspiranoid claptrap & manipulative manifestos cloud narrative about El Paso & Dayton shootings

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, which these days doesn't seem to be a bad idea at all, you know about the mass shootings in the US over the weekend of August 3-4, 2019: the first in
El Paso, Texas and the second in Dayton, Ohio. In other words: just another weekend in Trumpistan. And with those shootings have come another hundred rounds of conspiranoid babble to distract from the real problems of gun violence, right-wing extremism/hate-mongering, and, of course, "the Trump effect." Meanwhile, politicians, police, pundits, and the public are hyper-focused on manifestos and social media posts that raise far more questions than they answer.

Dueling conspiracy tales: pick one or both
From the moment that the stories of the shootings first broke, the fake news -- and I mean the actual fake news, not "fake news" by Trumpian definitions -- was out in force on the Interwebz.
Rolling Stone published a pretty good summary on August 5, noting that toxic tongues on the right really commenced wagging when it came out that the Dayton shooter had appeared to be a leftist.
Based on these reported leftist bona fides, right-wing pundits immediately began speculating that the Dayton shooter was a member of antifa. But aside from a retweet of an antifa account, his Twitter does not contain any references to antifascist activity; nor did he appear to engage in any local antifa action, which would be expected in Dayton, an antifascist hotspot, says Emily Gorcenski, a far-right researcher and creator of First Vigil, which tracks far-right extremism in the United States. “Typically what we see is antifascist activists in they’re mostly focused on their local issues. The folks in Portland they talk about Portland; the folks in D.C. talk about D.C.,” says Gorcenski. “He didn’t talk about any antifascist activities.”
On the same day that the Rolling Stone piece was posted, BuzzFeed News published an article along the same lines, summarizing the disinfo and noting that it's part of an ongoing pattern.
During a breaking news situation, there’s often a scramble to understand what happened, and details can change as more information comes to light. But there’s little doubt that campaigns to misinform the public during a critical time are intentional and use similar tactics from year to year.
From what I've seen in my rudimentary research, there have been two main categories of conspiranoid codswallop regarding these two shootings. Neither narrative is in any way original. Some folks lean towards one, some folks prefer the other, some enthusiastically embrace both. In conspiracyville it's always a free-for-all. But like pretty much all conspiracy tales, what both of these have in common is that they are an expression of a stubborn refusal to accept anything that the mainstream news media report (Donald Trump seems to be making this phenomenon much worse and more widespread, though the problem precedes and transcends Trump). This utter refusal to accept the "official" story is generally accompanied by a fierce desire to turn every horrible event into a whodunit.

Theory 1: Antifa done it (per Alex Jones, Dan Patrick, and random Trumpsters (not to mention Trump himself))
I've blogged a bunch about conspiracy-porn purveyor and right-wingnut
Alex Jones, who resides in my fair state of Texas but spreads his toxins all over the world via the Internet. He's pretty consistent and quite predictable with his responses to mass shootings, almost always declaring them to either be a false flag (to advance the interests of gun control advocates and other demonic liberals), or an outright hoax (for the same purposes as the alleged false flags), or both. Although he has gotten himself in a lot of legal hot water by mouthing off about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre being a hoax, that hasn't stopped him from continuing to spew in the wake of subsequent mass shootings. (For that matter, his legal troubles apparently haven't stopped him (or possibly his legal team) from allegedly harassing some of the Sandy Hook parents.)

Jones did not disappoint when responding to the El Paso shooting, and in fact he and another right-wingnut and shame of the Lone Star State,
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, sounded a lot alike in their rhetoric, as noted in an August 4 piece on Media Matters. Not only had they often used language about immigrants of color that is similar to language used in a white-supremacist manifesto attributed to the El Paso gunman, but they also tried to use upcoming antifa protests in the city to derail the story of the shooting.
According to ABC News, the gunman told law enforcement after being taken into custody that “he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.”

But in the wake of the shooting, both Patrick and Jones pivoted to the boogeyman of “antifa” to distract from
the obvious fact that the gunman was inspired by right-wing rhetoric about Latinos and immigration.

Even while media reports on the mass shooting remained hazy, Patrick
called into Fox News on August 3 and said, “You know, I was looking at a story recently…where Antifa is posting, you know they want to come down to El Paso and do a 10-day siege. Clear message to Antifa: Stay out of El Paso.” Andy Ngo, an editor of right-wing website Quillette, has recently drawn attention to the upcoming anti-fascism protests, which call for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Jones, who is based out of Austin, TX, pushed similar claims in a video posted to his Infowars website on August 4. After suggesting that the El Paso mass shooting was
possibly a false flag attack carried out by leftists -- typical fare for Jones in the wake of violent tragedies -- the Infowars host suggested the shooting may have been staged to help the anti-fascism protests [video link is in the article ~ CC].
"Antifa" -- short for "anti-fascist" -- has become one of the favorite scapegoats of the right, ranking right up there with Black Lives Matter and George Soros. But "antifa" is not a unified organization, any more than Black Lives Matter is. And George Soros is neither the antichrist nor the universal funder of everything that the wingnuts claim he is. Antifa (and BLM, and Soros) are all just convenient scapegoats used by lazy or cynical right-wing conspiranoids who don't want to face up to real problems and threats -- in this case, the perennial problems of gun violence and racism (or possibly misogyny, in the case of the Ohio shooter).

None of these nuances and complexities have stopped the amateur analysts on social media from positing an antifa false-flag conspiracy behind both the Ohio and the Texas shootings, with some claiming to have predicted such a thing years ago, when the word "antifa" first popped up on their radar. According to some of these narratives, antifa, like suicide bombers, willingly sacrifice a few of their own to the greater cause.

Theory 2: The Deep State done it (per Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams and random Trumpsters)
I've also churned out tons of content about conspiracy peddler, alt-right ranter/Trump fan, and alt-health frauducts pusher
Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams. Not surprisingly, Adams has expounded on the latest mass shootings, which he suggests are an FBI plot. Here's a link to the lunacy. Let's unpack it a bit.

Adams opens by claiming that the El Paso and Dayton shootings follow the pattern of "FBI terror plots" that he says were documented by the New York Times and the Kansas City Star as being created and carried out by FBI agents. He doesn't really do justice to his argument by citing stories from both of those papers about FBI mock terrorism drills. But he does attempt to bolster his premise by writing that the two shootings were initiated in the hours following the "bombshell revelation that the FBI conspired with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration to destroy Clinton's email hard drives as a means to eliminate any evidence of Hillary Clinton's prosecutable crimes." The source for the claim about the "bombshell revelation" is
an article on the rabid rightwing online mag, Frontpage, which links to no other external sources. Frontpage is listed on the Media Bias site as a questionable source with extreme-right bias. It has failed numerous fact checks and is a great promoter of conspiracy theories, particularly those involving Islam.

Adams continues:

Former FBI director James Comey is now known to have run multiple criminal schemes to illegally frame Trump administration officials while clearing Obama-era officials as part of a treasonous deep state plot to overthrow the United States of America, defeat President Trump and frame Trump supporters as domestic terrorists.

It now appears abundantly obvious that the FBI is the most prolific terrorist organization in America, and this fact has been confirmed by the New York Times. Under the treasonous command of Barack Obama and James Comey, the FBI was radicalized and weaponized into a treasonous crime syndicate that routinely plotted and carried out acts of terrorism against the United States of America, all while covering up the damning evidence of criminality and treason that should have sent Hillary Clinton to prison.

The FBI is running a massive, coordinated psyop on America. The goal is to demonize all Trump supporters, paint illegals aliens as victims and enraged
[sic] the mind-controlled Left to the point of a mass armed insurrection led by Antifa terrorists (i.e. civil war). The deep state knows it is about to be exposed by Trump, Durham and William Barr, so it is running every “Hail Mary” operation imaginable to try to control the minds of the masses and depict Trump supporters as enemies of civil society.
All righty, then.

Just to show that he's really an on-the-ball, cutting-edge thinker who refuses to believe what the "fake news" media tell him, Mikey poses
a list of "simple questions" that he claims blow apart the official accounts of the El Paso shooting. He acknowledges that the shooting was real, and that people really were shot and killed, but insists the narrative surrounding the tragedy is "almost all fiction."

Several of the questions Adams asks are based on dodgy premises, such as this one:

If the shooter is on a suicide mission, why does he bother to wear both eye protection and ear protection? Answer: Because he knows he will survive his “mission” and be taken into custody after surrendering to police. It wasn’t a suicide mission at all. Eighteen months from now, the world will have forgotten the name of the shooter, and the media will never report anything about him again. (He will likely be relocated under the witness protection program, living under a new identity after having completed his “mission” for the deep state.)
There's no indication that the El Paso shooter was actually on a suicide mission. The writer of the four-page manifesto (who may or may not have been the shooter) said he would most likely die in his efforts to take back his country from the "invaders," but he didn't express a desire to die, and in fact cautioned his fellow warriors against attacking well-armed opponents such as police. He said it was better to go for the low-hanging fruit -- unarmed immigrants, for instance -- so that one could live to fight another day.

Adams also takes issue with apparently contradictory early accounts of the number of shooters. But news media, always anxious to be Johnny-on-the-spot (or journo-on-the-spot) often get details wrong in the initial confusion surrounding an event like these shootings.

Adams also writes:

If you hate illegals and want to protect America, why would you mass murder Americans shopping in an American store? Wouldn’t you theoretically want to target illegal aliens if that’s who you want to destroy? Nearly all the people who were shot were Americans. It makes no sense to hate illegals and then turn around and mass murder Americans.
Well, now, that's either gaslighting, trolling, or just plain lack of comprehension. I would hate to think that Adams is actually as stupid as he thinks his readers are, because that would mean that I am making fun of stupid people, which isn't nice, not that this has ever stopped me. Anyway, the manifesto indicated a dislike of Hispanics regardless of whether or not they were US citizens. The shooter himself (who, again, may or may not be the person who wrote the manifesto) is reported to have told law enforcement that he was out to shoot as many "Mexicans" as possible. He seemed to have deliberately traveled to an area with a majority population of Hispanics, and to a store that was frequented not only by Hispanics who are US citizens but also by Mexican citizens traveling over the border to shop. Ethnicity rather than citizenship appeared to be the main criterion for the shooter.

Adams also expresses suspicion about a MyLife profile on the shooter that "leftists" supposedly changed from "Democrat" to "Republican/Trump supporter" etc.
Here's the skinny on that. It appears that the suspect in the El Paso shooting didn't even have a profile on MyLife until one was created after the shooting, and then it appears that the public started playing games with the profile.

Adams concludes:

In summary, the official narrative doesn’t add up. In fact, it’s all a “staged violence” event which combines real violence with a fake narrative to achieve a specific political purpose. In this case, the goal is the complete disarmament of the American people, blaming Trump for everything and positioning illegals as “victims” of a mass shooting when, in reality, it was Americans who were actually shot.
Straw man, Mikey: nobody is positioning "illegals" as vics of the shooting. They're positioning innocent people of all ages, most of whom were Hispanic, as the victims of a shooter who could very well have been influenced by hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric. Big difference.

There's one thing that Adams got correct, though... well, sort of. I think he was right to be skeptical about both the provenance of the four-page manifesto widely attributed to the El Paso shooter, and its possible correlation to the actual shooting.

Forensic manifestering
That four-page manifesto, posted on the hate forum 8chan around the time of the El Paso shooting (but still, to my knowledge, not 100 percent proven to have actually been written by the man who is in custody for the shooting) has played a part in all of the journalistic coverage and online nattering about the incident, and certainly it has played a role in at least some of the conspiracy theories that are swirling around both the El Paso and the Dayton shootings.

As was the case with a 74-page manifesto, also posted on 8chan and widely attributed to
the crazy who murdered 51 people in a couple of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand this past March (but still, to my knowledge, not 100 percent proven to have actually been written by him), the four-page memo appears to express some ideologically contradictory views. On the one hand -- the right hand, let's call it -- both docs contain strong expressions of racism, xenophobia, white/European supremacy, and a desire to fight the "invasions" of non-white-European immigrants. On the other hand (okay, the left one), the writers seem to be upset about the destruction of the environment, as well as some of the misdeeds of big corporations.

Since this past weekend I have been involved in several lengthy discussions about this matter, mostly about the screed believed to have been written by the shooter in El Paso. These discussions have been fraught with political partisanship "from both sides."

Trump critics point to the blatant racism and xenophobia (in the El Paso case, the hatreds and fears around the so-called "Hispanic invasion" of America and particularly Texas). They point the finger of blame, at least in part, at Trump, for his own divisive rhetoric and policies that encourage these fears and hatreds.

Trump defenders triumphantly point to the gripes about the environment and corporate America, claiming that that these are proof that the document is largely a leftist/liberal/socialist message, and that therefore the El Paso shooter was motivated by leftism/liberalism/socialism. They claim that the "fake news" media have deliberately glossed over those aspects of the document in order to lay the blame at Trump's feet and advance a false narrative of racism and white supremacy.

Some stalwart Trump defenders have even declared that the manifesto -- especially in conjunction with the fact that (as mentioned above) the late shooter in Dayton had expressed Democratic, liberal, and even socialist political views -- offers proof of the wingnut assertion that "liberalism is a disease and socialism kills."

That's quite a stretch -- especially since the El Paso shooter has not, to my knowledge, described himself as a liberal or a leftist or a socialist. And if you'll pardon a momentary digression from my spiel about manifestos, to which I promise to return momentarily, the Ohio shooter, to whom no manifesto has been credited but who left a social media trail,
had a long and troubled history that had nothing to do with politics. He was obsessed with violence and mass murders. As well, he sometimes claimed to "hear voices," he was troubled by "dark thoughts," his behavior indicated misogynistic tendencies, and he even infamously posted "hit lists" of high school classmates that he wanted to kill or rape.

Although his social media postings painted him as left-leaning (and, judging by one single tweet, an Elizabeth Warren supporter), police are at this time still trying to figure out a motive for the shooting. I personally think it had something to do with the shooter's long personal history of sick obsession with violence, combined with a twisted obsession for his sister, Megan, who was one of his victims -- but who, in a complicated twist, was apparently a transgender male who had taken on the name of Jordan Cofer, but who had not yet come out to his family or to most of his friends. I don't think that the sibling-dynamics aspect has been properly examined yet, but I assume that if there's a "there" there, it will all come out eventually. As of now, it is unclear whether or not the Dayton shooter knew about his sibling's gender issues, and it does not appear that he was motivated by transphobia.

It does appear that
the "violent ideologies" angle that the FBI is now exploring as a possible motive aren't focused on antifa or leftist organizations or forums, but rather on forums and groups of so-called incel (involuntarily celibate) men, who personify the term "toxic masculinity" and can indeed be violent. But again, the true motive(s) for the Dayton shooting are still a mystery, to both investigators and probably most of the people who knew the late shooter.

Trump and various rightist ranters are now pointing fingers of blame for the Dayton shooting at Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats -- which at the very least is absurd false equivalency, since unlike Trump, neither Warren nor the Dems have been systematically and repeatedly spreading vile rhetoric that emboldens racists and xenophobes and violent actors in general. It isn't Warren or any Democratic presidential candidate who are constantly holding fascist-style rallies where impassioned throngs chant about a Muslim congresswoman, "Send her back!" or, in response to a question about how to handle illegal documents, yell, "Shoot 'em!" while Trump laughs. It isn't Warren or the Dems who encourage their supporters to beat up on protesters. The Dems and liberals are the ones speaking out against hatred and violence -- and against unfettered access to guns, for that matter.

In short, it isn't liberalism that's the disease and socialism that kills. It's hate that is both disease and killer, and these days it's far-right hatred more often than not. And hateful rhetoric (including Trump's) isn't blameless. Furthermore Trump's occasional attempts to ameliorate the effects of his hate-mongering not only sound insincere, but ignore the real problems.

Take those visits and photo-ops in Dayton and El Paso this past Wednesday, which seemed characteristically tone-deaf -- particularly the incident where he posed, grinning and thumbs-upping, as Melania cradled a two-month-old infant who had been orphaned in the El Paso shooting, and whose family brought the child back to the hospital for the meeting. In my view, the indecency of that moment with the infant and his family is only slightly mitigated by the fact that the child's uncle, Tito Anchondo, said that the child's late father was a Trump supporter, and that Tito himself wanted to have the meeting so he could talk to Trump and see if he was "genuine" in his condolences.

Speaking to NPR, Tito said that his family has always been Republican conservatives, and while he characterized some of Trump's comments as being "in bad taste" and said he could understand why people were linking Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric to the xenophobic manifesto attributed to the gunman, he believes that overall the public is "misconstruing" the president's ideas. Sounds like faint praise to me, but maybe I'm just projecting. In any case, Tito apparently did not come to any firm conclusion about whether or not Trump's condolences were in fact "genuine."

* * * * *

But let's get back to the manifestos. I could probably write several long posts refuting the argument that some seemingly "leftist" sentiments in both the four-page manifesto and the 74-page one prove that they are liberal/socialist docs, and that therefore the shooters who supposedly wrote them are leftists/liberals too. But that would be a waste of time on two levels. First, these manifestos are actually written to manipulate and to keep everyone guessing; it's just a form of entertainment for the sickos who write them (more on that below). Secondly, others have beat me to some specific refutations, so I'll just provide a few links.

I'll begin with the environmental issue, which is the big smoking gun, so to speak, that jumps out for right-wingers trying to pin the manifestos, and the shootings, on leftist/liberal/socialist influences. As
this August 5 opinion piece on The Intercept site points out, environmental extremism actually exists on the right as well as the left. A genuine concern for the environment and for the human-fueled climate crisis should not be a partisan matter, but it has become one, and in the US is more commonly associated with "liberals," because "liberals" are the ones who are pushing initiatives to address the problems. And by and large environmental advocates and activists are not extremists, though left-leaning eco-extremists do of course exist. But right-wing eco-extremism -- eco-fascism, if you will -- is actually a thing too. From the Intercept article:
Against the perilous climate change denialism typical of U.S. conservatives, environmental decimation is broadly seen as a liberal and left concern. But eco-fascism has seen a notable reemergence among far-right groups and festering corners online in the U.S. and Europe. While campaigning for the European elections, Marine Le Pen of France’s far-right National Rally party promised to make the “first ecological civilization” of a “Europe of nations,” claiming that “nomadic” people with “no homeland” do not care about the environment. Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer wrote in a 2017 manifesto, “We have the potential to become nature’s steward or its destroyer.”
And corporation-bashing? Well, the writer of the manifesto attributed to the El Paso shooting seemed to be pissed off at American corporations not because they are capitalistic (which would be a gripe that you'd expect from a socialist), but because (1) they are replacing many human workers with automation, cutting down on the number of good jobs available (not an invalid complaint, actually); and (2) for many years they have taken advantage of cheap labor from undocumented immigrants (mostly Hispanic immigrants in Texas and several other states), and therefore are as culpable for the so-called "Hispanic invasion" as anyone else.

But one toxic and very clearly right-wing/white nationalist thread runs strongly through both the four-page and the 74-page manifestos, as well as similar messages on the hate forums:
the "great replacement theory." This is the white nationalist article of faith -- so central that the writer of that 74-page document titled his work, "The Great Replacement" -- that insists leftist "elites" are plotting to repopulate majority white countries with foreigners, usually Muslims or Hispanics, in order to gain a political advantage.

This poisonous brew of hatred and fear has
seeped from the fever swamps into the right-wing mainstream. In fact the Trump campaign is not above exploiting the theme for its own means, using the volatile word "invasion" as the focal point, as Trump himself has on numerous occasions in his speeches and tweets. The point is that the invasion/replacement tropes are a major theme, if not the main theme, of the hateful manifestos -- and that is not a leftist, liberal, or socialist construct.

But there is an even more important point that too many of us (me included) seem to have overlooked in all of our own passionate exchanges: manifestos lie. They're written by people who are just yanking our chains. I don't mean to suggest that the writers are actually open-minded, tolerant, love-filled liberals who are champions of diversity and equality. Quite the opposite seems to be true. But they are having fun at our expense, keeping the press, politicians, the public, and investigators guessing.

Whether you see the two screeds attributed to the New Zealand and the El Paso shooters as rabid rightism or lethal leftism, the important thing to know is that these documents and those like them are above all manipulative, and even if poorly written they are crafted to give maximum exposure to the loathsome ideas therein. For all practical purposes there is a formula for these missives.

They are often rambling and, as I noted above, appear to be espousing ideologically contradictory ideas, which prompts both amateur and professional forensic "investigators" to cherry-pick and assign blame to "the other side" -- but very often, that's exactly the point. The writers want attention. And discussions/arguments equal attention. Even if their ideas are presented in the harshest and most critical light... that's still attention.

Complete silence is not the answer; people deserve to know what may be going on in the background. But widely publishing the screeds in their entirety isn't the answer either. So journalists have to walk a fine line between informing the public and giving the writers (and possible actors) too much of that coveted attention. And I imagine that law enforcement officials and investigators have to be careful not to read too much -- or too little -- into the writings, especially if there is still some doubt about whether or not the writer of a given document was actually the person who committed a given violent crime.

Both the public and law enforcement have a need for clear answers; investigators want to close cases, of course, so that justice may be done, and people in general want an answer that somehow makes sense, even if it makes sense in a totally crazy way. That's why journalists as well as investigators -- not to mention the rest of us bewildered souls who are watching all of this unfold -- grasp for answers and often jump to conclusions. We need to be aware that the manifestos written by crazies are only a piece of the puzzle, and sometimes a deceptive one at that. Here's
a cautionary note from Wired, published August 4.
There’s inherent danger in covering [the manifestos] at all, and even more so at face value.

“It’s not a good-faith document. It isn’t information that is sincerely offered. It is manipulation that is deliberately forwarded in the hopes that journalists will report it verbatim, will dissect it for days and weeks and months and years,” says [Syracuse University researcher Whitney] Phillips. “There’s an awareness of the audience, and that should make us very, very suspicious of anything that’s in those documents.”

It’s not that the alleged shooters are insincere in their hatred. But the contours of that hate are irrelevant, Phillips argues, and often for show.

Those cautions apply not only to the media, of course, but also to anyone who encounters these postings...
And here's a Vox piece, published just after the New Zealand shooting, that offers further insight into these manipulative manifestos. From that piece:
...it’s also worth mentioning that a lot of the document is akin to what’s known as “shitposting” — intentionally throwing out red-meat content to readers to distract them or draw them deeper into the same online pits where [the writer] himself was radicalized.

For example, the Christchurch shooter mentions a popular YouTube personality and a popular American right-wing figure before joking that he was radicalized in reality by the game Fortnite, which taught him to “floss on the corpses of my enemies” (flossing being a dance move that the game helped popularize.) He also describes himself as an expert in “gorilla warfare.” Many people reading the manifesto jumped on those mentions immediately, which is, as Robert Evans, a journalist and expert on far-right terror communication argued,
exactly the point.

While “shitposting” is a common thread in
far-right online culture — meme-ing racism and anti-Semitism is how white supremacists hope to spread their ideology — jokey characteristics of the manifesto are in line with similar language used in older far-right groups as well.

In short, everything in the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto is what the Christchurch shooter wants us to know about him. Like Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber who killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign from the 1970s to the 1990s, or even Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, published in 1925, the point of these manifestos is not to be factual or realistic about the inner worlds of their authors. In Mein Kampf, Hitler portrays himself as a talented artist and lover of architecture. In Kaczynski’s manifesto, he portrays himself as a man profoundly concerned about the material problems of industrial society. Manifestos aren’t honest. Manifestos are for mass consumption.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful for people who study terrorist movements, particularly white nationalism. Rather, connections between manifestos and the terrorists who write them — what they say, how they say it, and who they mention — tell us about the international flow of white nationalist ideology.
Yes. And not to belabor the point, but as Zak Cheney-Rice (apparently working under the assumption that the El Paso shooter did indeed author the 4-page document) wrote in the New York Intelligencer column on August 6:
Crusius’s motive seems clear and aligns neatly with its execution. But warnings have materialized since that suggest looking for meaning in the manifesto is folly. The online forum 8chan — which hosted both the Christchurch killer’s and Crusius’s alleged missives — has been written about extensively as an insular network fueled by in-jokes and obscure references aimed at an audience of fellow 8chan users. As such, the argument goes, attempts by journalists to extract a coherent political ideology from such documents are playing the killers’ game: incorrectly ascribing motives for their behavior to high-profile social or political entities, thus generating arguments and finger-pointing, and maximizing exposure for the perpetrators. “The first mistake people are making is to assume the creep meant anything he said in his manifesto,” tweeted Epoch Times columnist Brian Cates, in a series of posts to this effect amplified by conservative activist Candace Owens. “Part of the ‘fun’” for the Christchurch killer and his copycats, a group that Cates suggests includes Crusius, was “that they knew the authorities were going to treat his contradictory, absurd manifesto as if it were ‘real.’” Our new reality, Cates added, is “[mass] shootings done for ‘fun’ as the ultimate troll where these shitposters write confusing manifestos and then sit back [and] watch the fun as both sides claim he belongs to the other.”
That's something we all need to remember, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum. And I'm lecturing to myself as much as I am to anyone else.

Even so, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate
the Trump effect and the larger issues of white-right terrorism and the re-emergence of fascism. And it's an even bigger mistake to give serious consideration to the cynically conspiranoid histrionics of Alex Jones or Mike Adams, or the equally cynical and blatantly political declarations of Dan Patrick, when trying to puzzle out why madmen go on rampages with high-powered weapons that they never should have been allowed to get their hands on in the first place.

* * * * *
Now more than ever, your donation is needed
to help keep this Whirled spinning.
Click here to donate via PayPal or debit/credit card.
If that link doesn't work, send PayPal payment directly to

or to
If PayPal, be sure to specify that your contribution is a gift. Thank you!

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