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.)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Red, red whine: Devin Nunes' defamation flawsuit against Twitter, a bogus bovine, et al.

I'm probably only the four-millionth or so person to mention this, but have you noticed that many of the conservative/libertarian manly men (and a few proud and defiant women) who are currently infesting the political and cultural landscape with their bright red caps and fact-devoid social media memes seem to have awfully thin skins -- especially when you consider their derisive sneers about the oppressive, America-threatening "political correctness" of the left, and their screeds about wimpy liberals (aka "snowflakes") who are hypersensitive to "triggers" and have an insatiable need for "safe spaces?" I have previously danced around the theme of right-wing snowflakery, e.g., in this May 2016 post (trigger warning: contains nekkid Donald Trump picture). But it's a matter that has captured my attention more fully in light of rabid Republican "strategist" Devin Nunes' comic $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, a made-up mommy, and a fake cow. (And I'm probably only the four-millionth or so person to publicly write about this, but I never claimed to be a groundbreaker.)

Anyway. From the Vox article linked to just above:

A member of Congress since January 2003, Nunes is perhaps best known nationally first for his involvement in the Benghazi investigation and second for his dogged defense of Donald Trump, upon whose transition team Nunes served. It was Nunes, for example, who wrote the 2018 memo on wiretapping that many Trump supporters believed would permanently damage special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign. (It didn’t.)

So it stands to reason that Twitter users less enthralled with Trump would tweet things about Nunes that were perhaps less than cordial — like calling him a “presidential fluffer and swamp rat,” for instance. (In fact, a tweet using those very words was included in the lawsuit.)

But in the 40-page
complaint filed on Monday, Nunes argues that tweets like that and the two parody Twitter accounts were not merely examples of Twitter being Twitter. Rather, he argues that the social media platform served as “a portal of defamation” by permitting parody accounts of his mother and his imaginary bovine to exist on the platform.
The operative word, seemingly missed by Nunes and his lawyer, is "parody." Which, you know, is protected in the United States by the First Amendment and whatnot. This is not the case everywhere, of course. In Russia (to name but one example of other places in the world where freedom of expression is not exactly a sacred cow), a person might, thanks to a new law recently signed by Trump's dom bromantic partner Putin, conceivably be prosecuted for parody, since it is by its nature disrespectful, and if your parody or satire disrespects Putin or the Russian government, well, then, shame on you, Господин or девушка Smarty-Pants. But the US isn't Russia... not yet, anyway.

Here is the direct link to the fake farm animal's Twitter account, which has more Twitter followers than the real Devin. Goodness, that must trample on his ego. If you're on Twitter and haven't done so already, why not go ahead and follow that cow? I've herd that she's very nice, the crème de la crème.  

Who feels more "hard done by": libs or cons?
Defamation cases are nearly always about hurt feelings, and a sense of being hard done by, as much as they are about actual damages. (A tip of the hat to
an ancient post on the Kung Fu Monkey blog, which I've cited here before, for the "hard done by" theme. Ah, "that sweet crack pipe of moral indignation.") For me, this latest legal looniness brings up an argument that has been going on for a few years regarding who is in fact more hypersensitive: liberals/left-wingers or conservatives/right-wingers. TheTylt.com -- to name but one of countless examples -- has tackled this matter, running two surveys that I know of a couple of years ago -- this one and this one. Spoiler: the right-wingers won the sensitivity sweepstakes both times.

But the core sensitivity of so many crass loudmouths and blowhards on the right should come as no big surprise anymore, particularly since #NotMyPresident
Donald J. Trump is such a thin-skinned type himself. For instance, just this past weekend he got in a lather about a rerun of the Christmas 2018 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live, suggesting once again that SNL and other media he doesn't like should be investigated by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Election Commission.

Moreover Trump
is apparently making good on the promise/threat that he spewed forth in his recent two-hour-plus rant to the Conservative Political Action Conference: a vow to sign an executive order that would punish colleges and universities that "do not support free speech" by denying them federal research funds. The initial promise was a direct response to a February 19, 2019 incident on the campus of the University of California Berkeley in which a man who was not a Berkeley student was on campus expressing his support of Trump, whereupon another man, who was not a Berkeley student either, punched him. The punchee, one Hayden Williams, was paraded around by Trump as a hero at the CPAC rant, the poster child for liberals' oppression of conservatives on campus.

Never mind that Berkeley was, in fact, already providing a solid platform for conservatives and pro-Trumpsters. In this case, the conservative org Turning Point USA was, with the university's permission, recruiting students to the cause. And never mind that
many universities already have free-speech guidelines and policies that allow non-liberal expression on their campuses. Those inconvenient facts didn't stop the right-wing whining following the punching, and didn't stop Trump from his subsequent grandstanding.

Also never mind the fact that, according to the Chicago Trib article I cited a couple of paragraphs ago, "it's unclear what type of free speech limitation could trigger a loss of federal research funding. White House officials declined to provide specific cases of free speech suppression." The guiding sentiment behind the EO seems to be that by golly, it's time that someone stepped up and protected (conservative) free speech!

Here's an opinion piece, published on March 4, 2019 in the wake of the CPAC rant, explaining why Trump is missing the point, once again.
...Because almost across the board institutional missions center on scientific discovery, knowledge and learning, institutions of higher education are a key mechanism for fostering democratic education. Campuses often subscribe to John Stuart Mill’s notion that a university is a “marketplace of ideas,” where educators offer “balanced perspectives” so that students can “hear the other side” on every issue.

However, academic freedom guidelines specifically say that faculty members need not always cover “the other side” if the standards of the discipline deem that other side to be untrue. When topics seem to be settled, with a right answer having emerged through science and ethics, faculty can focus on the knowledge produced. A white nationalist view, for example, does not merit debate within the campus marketplace of ideas.

In the aftermath of
the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy, these disagreements have taken on a deeper significance, as those of us who work within higher education navigate increasingly polarized contexts for teaching, learning and research. Public discussions of these issues have been dominated by legal analyses of the First Amendment, without sufficient attention to philosophical discussion of disagreement, truth and the democratic purposes of higher education.

College faculty and campus leaders are caught between wanting to be nonpartisan and promoting their institution’s missions, which often prioritize excellence and truth...
On the other hand, if colleges and unis are mandated by executive order or law or whatever to allow free speech, religious schools such as Liberty University, which also receives federal research funds, might have to allow satanists and abortion-rights advocates to speak on their campuses. So there's that. Could be interesting.

Misusing the courts to capitalize on being hard done by
It's not unusual for thin-skins who have the resources to try to use the legal system to fight back against real and imagined slights, generally via multi-million dollar "defamation" lawsuits. Trump is one notable and obvious example; a few of those defamation lawsuits
are listed in this article, though the piece also covers some of his other infamous and yuuugely expensive legal dramas.

Another recent example is the "Covington kid," the MAGA-cap-sporting Catholic school student Nicholas Sandmann,
whose parents sued the New York Times for $250 million and, more recently, CNN for $275 million, for the news outlets' initial coverage of an incident in which their kid confronted an elderly Native American activist and some shouting Black Hebrew Israelite cultists. (Never mind that the NYT and CNN and most other mainstream outlets revised their stories as new info came to light.) Part of the plaintiffs' argument was that the media are biased against Donald Trump and conservatives. Ah, snowflakes. No two are alike, and yet at some level they all are.

And now there's Devin and that fake mama and that bogus bovine and, of course, that very real social media platform, the latter of whom possesses the actual deep pockets that Devin and his legal team hope to mine.

If you want a good laugh,
read the lawsuit. I have been trying to find a dowloadable PDF of the document that includes the filing/court stamps, indicating that it was actually filed and the date and time that this occurred. The document to which I linked does not seem to be that, but it was uploaded to Scribd by Fox News on March 18, and seems to be the reference point for all of the chatter about it. It begins by trying to lay out the case that Twitter is has been and continues to deliberately defame poor Devin, and that Twitter has it out for all Republicans.
1. Twitter is an information content provider. Twitter creates and develops content, in whole or in part, through a combination of means: (a) by explicit censorship of viewpoints with which it disagrees, (b) by shadow-banning conservatives, such as Plaintiff, (c) by knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory – providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform, (d) by completely ignoring lawful complaints about offensive content and by allowing that content to remain accessible to the public, and (e) by intentionally abandoning and refusing to enforce its so-called Terms of Service and Twitter Rules – essentially refusing to self-regulate – thereby selectively amplifying the message of defamers such as Mair, Devin Nunes’ Mom and Devin Nunes’ cow, and materially contributing to the libelousness of the hundreds of  posts at issue in this action.

2. Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon. Twitter knew the defamation was (and is) happening. Twitter let it happen because Twitter had (and has) a political agenda and motive: Twitter allowed (and allows) its platform to serve as a portal of defamation in order to undermine public confidence in Plaintiff and to benefit his opponents and opponents of the Republican Party...
And so on, and so forth, adding up to yet another fine red whine. Alas, poor Devin, and oh, those poor, put-upon Republicans.

This bit, which occurs towards the end and wraps up the counts for which the plaintiff is demanding so much money, made me chuckle.

COUNT IV – COMMON LAW CONSPIRACY...
... 54. Beginning in February 2018 and continuing through the present, Mair, Devin Nunes’ Mom and Devin Nunes’ cow, acting as individuals, combined, associated, agreed or acted in concert with each other and/or with one or more “clients” or other donors, non-profits, operatives or agents of the Democratic Party (whose identity is unknown at this time) for the express purposes of injuring Nunes, intentionally and unlawfully interfering with his business and employment as a United States Congressman, and defaming Nunes. In furtherance of the conspiracy and preconceived plan, the Defendants engaged in a joint scheme the unlawful purpose of which was to destroy Nunes’ personal and professional reputations and influence the outcome of a federal election.
Nunes is asking for a minimum of $250,000,000 for the alleged attempts to destroy his reputation, but is certainly open to the idea of receiving much more, should it please the court. On his monologue on March 19, 2019, Stephen Colbert said that Nunes' legal team came up with that figure by applying a scientific legal formula: they took the dollar amount that Nunes' reputation is actually worth, and added $250,000,000 to it. That sounds about right.

Colbert and gang felt inspired by the hoopla to create
another parody Twitter account, Devin Nunes' Skin. The opening (and so far only) tweet:

Still thin.
Less than 24 hours after being launched, that account had more than 30,000 followers. And although as of this writing the account still contains a solitary tweet, the following is making its way steadily to 44,000.

I am well aware that there is an ongoing debate about several issues related to social media, and one of these issues is the question of whether or not platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are indeed biased against conservatives. A poll taken late last year by Hill.TV Barometer indicated that a majority of American voters thought that the social media giants have a systemic bias against conservative views. Unsurprisingly, the poll was heavily divided along party lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly likely to view tech companies as being biased against conservatives. Media bias is a perennial issue that is worthy of exploration and analysis, but frivolous defamation lawsuits by whiny politicians and other public figures are not helpful at all.
 
Conspiranoia strikes deep...again
All of the talk about conspiracy to defame reminds me very much of
another defamation flawsuit from a few years back, one in which I was the top-named defendant. It didn't make the mainstream news, of course, and was barely a blip in the blogosphere, but if you think I am going to pass up an opportunity to sneer about it, you are very much mistaken. As you may know, the suit did not go very well for the plaintiff, Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, aka LoonyC, the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld; his attorneys advised him to drop the case, and he did. Nor did his previous attempt to sue a critical blogger (my pal and co-defendant in the aforementioned case, Salty Droid) go very well; his rent-a-lawyer in that one dropped out of the case early on, and the whole thing was dismissed because LoonyC never showed up for any hearings. Yet he has continued to boast about his powerful legal team and about his steadfast willingness to fight and defeat anyone who dares to "defame" him.

Arguably the majority of defamation lawsuits fail, at least in the US.
It's complicated, and I don't claim to be anything remotely resembling an expert on these matters. But it seems that more than likely, Devin Nunes doesn't have a very strong case, in part because he is a politician and a public figure, and America has a long history of protecting those who make fun of our politicians. Also, Twitter is merely distributing, not creating, the offending content. But some have warned that even if Nunes loses the lawsuit and the probable appeal, he is creating an opening for the Supreme Court to reconsider its previous rulings on defamation and public officials. As a lawmaker, Nunes is in a unique position to introduce legislation that could very well have a chilling effect that would make Putin proud.

For now, it seems nothing will stop either Nunes or his detractors from... oh, you knew this was coming, didn't you?... milking this matter for all it's worth. But it's worth noting that last year Nunes was a co-sponsor of HR 1179, the "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act."
Cory Doctorow on Boing-Boing made sport of this (as well as the now-defunct fake-mama Twitter account).
Nunes is upset that he was called a "herp-face," and is really upset about a human centipede meme that depicted Nunes, Trump and Putin as generic, labeled stick-figures with their mouths grafted onto one-another's anuses. This tweet may just be the greatest exhibit ever filed in a lawsuit.
It's a very good thing to have a little comic relief in the midst of the horror and chaos that is swirling all around us, but let's hope that the right-wing snowflakes don't have the last laugh.

Related on this Whirled: Vintage whines from conservative conspiranoid snowflakes


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Thursday, February 28, 2019

GIN turns ten, and Kevin Trudeau continues to spew wisdumb from Camp Cupcake


With February fading fast, it occurred to me that I need to post something in order to maintain my record of blogging at least once every month since the Whirled was created in July 2006. I don't want to disappoint my four or five readers, after all. There are scads of things to write about, as usual, but for now I want to return to one of this blog's longtime favorite topics, the inimitable scammer for all seasons and all reasons, Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie.

I've been blogging about Katie for more than ten years now, often focusing on what was once his greatest scam of all, the
Global Information Network, or GIN, which was spawned in 2009. In its heyday GIN involved a yuuuge multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) eventually declared was a pyramid scheme. To my knowledge the courts never ruled on that particular point, but it became moot when the court-appointed receiver pulled the plug on the MLM as it then existed. At any rate, lots of folks lost lots of money that they'll never get back, and quite a few were, and remain, justifiably angry about it.

Katie is currently serving
a ten-year sentence in a federal prison camp -- FPC Montgomery, Alabama (Inmate Number 18046036). He has referred to the place, either fake-fondly or sarcastically, as Camp Cupcake. His vacation at Camp Cupcake isn't punishment for GIN -- there may never be any justice served for that -- but rather for a criminal contempt charge related to false claims that Katie made on infomercials for his diet book, The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You To Know About. In the process of being pursued by the government for years and years of fraudulent activities, Katie became a fake hero/martyr in his own mind -- and in the minds of his doting fans and followers -- for the First Amendment and freedom of speech. His imprisonment only added to his martyr credentials.

Most of y'all probably already know all of this, but a quick recap never hurt anyone, and might be helpful to those who are unfamiliar with the background.

Although he is imprisoned, Katie is still doing everything he can to remain relevant in Scamworld, and some of his long-time pals are helping him. While
GIN is in some senses a shadow of its former self, with a scaled-down affiliate program instead of the big scammy MLM with its extravagant promises of wealth, health, and perfect happiness, Katie continues to push his own shtick via his Facebook page, and apparently still has allies in and around GIN.

As of this writing, Katie's latest Facebook offering is
a long spiel about ancient wisdom and self-realized beings and whatnot.
Everything already IS when it comes to the mind and spirituality. All has already been discovered and revealed to all of us because so many have already achieved "Enlightenment". There have been millions of highly evolved beings on earth spanning thousands of years, who have reached the spiritual level of being able to observe and witness the mind in action and the entire spiritual nonphysical nature of the Universe. These people are known as being "Enlightened" or "Saints" or Avatars or Self Realized.

Many of them, over thousands of years, have written such observations and discoveries for all of us to learn from. These texts are available to all of us. But, who will spend the time, reading these esoteric texts from all around the world? Very few.

Lucky for us, right now in fact, there are hundreds of thousands of such "Enlightened" Self-Realized beings on planet Earth. Many of them are sharing what they "know" through books, lectures, videos, and workshops. They are sharing what they KNOW, not just "know about".

I encourage you to seek Truth from SOURCE via someone who is not claiming to BE Source, but rather working to open you up so that you can connect with Source directly. Finding such a person, and following their teachings, is the fastest and easiest path to get to where you absolutely want to go. Much love to you as you proceed on your journey. Make it an adventure!

Much love, and may you never be the same.
Your friend, KT
How's that for a shameless attempt to slap a patina of timeless-spiritual-wisdom legitimacy onto Katie and his Scamworld buddies? Subtle, huh?

There's also a new Katie-related Facebook page in town, or at least it's new to me:
Kevin Trudeau Teachings, which popped up on my FB feed today. It's partly a rehash of some of the wisdumb Katie shares on his own page, partly a GIN promo vehicle, and partly a promotion for continuing efforts to free Katie from the clink. (More on the latter in a little while.)

The first post that caught my eye on Kevin Trudeau Teachings, written on February 27, was
a rather garbled invitation to what the writer described as a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Katie's big dream: an event billed as the Global Dream Celebration (GDC) '19.
Come join us in celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of Kevin Trudeau's Dream... Celebration with all KT's Global The Success Mastery Course Students www.ginunited.com When the student is ready The Teacher/Mentor will appear. To Receive a Mentor, use the following Affiliate Code: 1519886 and continue into deeper teachings of KT. The Month special ends at midnight...
Interestingly enough, on the actual GIN site, Katie isn't mentioned in the promo for the event.
A journey of 10,000 Miles begins with the first step! Elevate Your Journey as the Dream continues.... Join us in the Mile High City! Our journey of 10 years began with the first steps and Big Dreams in 2009.... We are going to continue to think BIGGER! We will soar to new heights! We will climb new mountains! We will stand on the summit and celebrate that we have risen above every challenge on our pathway to greater successes! Big Successes begin with Big Dreams, So Dream Bigger, Accomplish Bigger Successes, Climb New Peaks, Fly with the Eagles and Soar Even Higher
But judging from the social media content I've seen, it seems clear that the Beloved Founder is still very much a presence in GIN.

Apart from promoting GIN and Katie's own social media ramblings, the Kevin Trudeau Teachings page is also pushing the efforts to get Donald Trump to commute Katie's prison sentence and pardon him. Natch, I've written about that quite a few times here too,
this being one of the more recent-ish posts. Also on February 27, the KTT page offered this breathless post, announcing what the writer claimed to be progress in the long struggle, though it looked to me like the same old same old.
A clear, coherent strategy is quickly taking shape to #FreeKevinTrudeau! We’ve hinted about this on our page before, but now ALL the pieces are in place and our strategy will be executed very soon! It is VERY IMPORTANT, however, that our efforts be duplicated. What this means is that when we, Janine, Lee and others give the word and send out the link, IMMEDIATELY sign the official White House petition and then email, text, and FB message ALL of your friends and family, regardless if they are KT supporters or not, and ask them to sign the petition as well! Every single one of you will need to take personal ownership to make this happen. You will need to be more persistent than ever and FIGHT HARD to make this happen, as if it all depended on you! With everyone doing this, we are confident that we will not only reach the 100,000 signatures we need, but we will do it quickly and we’ll exceed that number! Then, President Trump will be required by law to respond to our petition and we are more than confident that he will #FreeKevinTrudeau!

Also, it is very important that you we have your email address on file so that you can be notified through the official channel at
www.KevinTrudeau.com. You may also receive a text message notifying you that the White House petition has gone live.

It is time to get pumped! This is the calm before the storm! Let’s make this happen!

And lastly, please share the hell out of this post!
If you follow any of the links to my previous posts about the efforts to sweet-talk Herr Drumpf into freeing Kevin, you'll see that nothing has really changed. It's just the same old hype. But now, more than ever, I'm willing to bet that Trump's attention is on other matters.

* * * * *

By the way, when Googling the other day, I came across a story from 2017 that had somehow escaped my attention: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued one of the former GIN "inner circle" members, one Darrell Glenn Hardaway, for $4.7 million (later reduced to $3.1 mil). According to the complaint, Hardaway targeted GIN members with phony stock offerings.
1. This case is about a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme carried out by Defendant Darrell Glenn Hardaway ("Hardaway") using his private company, Defendant Hardaway Net-Works, Inc. ("HNW"). Since at least as early as November 2010, the Defendants have fraudulently raised $4.7 million or more by selling securities issued by HNW. Hardaway successfully marketed these securities to over a hundred fellow members of a nationwide "success club" in which he was a high-ranking leader. He targeted these victims both because they had great trust in him and because they had taken an oath not to criticize him.
2. The Defendants lured investor victims using baseless projections about HNW's business operations. They falsely claimed that investors stood to reap "massive" returns upon HNW's ever-imminent public offering. And they pressured victims to invest through a number of sham "limited time" incentives.
3. In truth, HNW barely had a pulse. From 2010-16, HNW's total revenue was a meager $24,812 from only a handful of customers. By comparison, it had total expenses of approximately $5 million during the same period—over 200 times revenues. Nearly $2 million of these expenses went to fund Hardaway's lifestyle, rather than toward legitimate business expenses. These payments took the form of both salary and "expense reimbursements."

That "success club," named later in the document, was indeed GIN. According to t
he release on the SEC site...
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC's complaint, Hardaway and HNW each agreed to the entry of permanent injunctions and to defer determination of any disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties. Hardaway also agreed to the entry of an officer and director bar. The settlement is subject to court approval.
I haven't really been able to find any updates on this case, so if you have any info, send it on and I'll post it.

In any case I guess you can't blame Hardaway for his misbehavior. As a high-ranking member of GIN, Hardaway learned from the best. And after all, as Kevin Trudeau himself loves to say, "Who do you listen to?"

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

When self-censorship is self-preservation


Last night I did something I hadn't done in a very long time: I removed a published post from this blog. Nobody told or asked me to remove the post. Nor did anyone threaten legal action or worse. Moreover, the post had only been up about four hours, and in that time, according to Blogger's helpful stats-tracking, only one person had read it, indicating to me that Whirled Musings is as wildly popular as ever. I just can't keep up with the demand.

But after talking about it with my husband, I had some serious second thoughts, given how unhinged and litigious the subject appears to be (not to mention how apparently well-backed financially he is). From all indications he is a serial scammer, but has positioned himself as an American hero, which has earned him a significant following of people who are all too willing to throw their hard-earned money into his various political and social "causes." He's a genius at raising money. What happens to the money after he raises it is a matter that I'll leave to the big investigative journos for now.

I'm not giving myself short shrift or being falsely modest, but merely honest, when I state that like much of the content on this Whirled, my deleted post wasn't breaking any new ground. I was only reporting and linking to other credible sources about this man and his many schemes. But I simply don't have the resources to deal with any serious blow-back at this point.

What really sticks in my gut about this matter is the fact that this guy has become such an advocate/activist for "free speech," even starting a crowdfunding page, supposedly to protect free speech, though apparently the real purpose is to pursue legal action against platforms (e.g. Facebook) that he feels have "censored" him. He has already raised tens of thousands of dollars for this cause. But, like so many other folks I've observed, it appears that he believes "free speech" only applies to him and his allies. He has threatened and harassed and even doxxed some of his critics and detractors, and has then turned around and sued them (and crowd-funded his legal costs). His litigiousness, as well as his double standards about free speech -- not to mention his right wingnutty political and social opinions and his love of (actual) fake news -- remind me very much of a nutcake I've previously dealt with. But this guy has a much greater following than that nutcake.

So I'll leave it to others to do the heavy lifting on this one: those who either have the backing of a strong legal team or who are lawyers themselves. Meanwhile, I'll go on being an advocate of free speech, even if it's speech I don't like.

PS ~ Free speech doesn't mean consequence-free speech, as whiny, blubbery conspiracy peddler Alex Jones learned again when
the courts handed a victory to plaintiffs in a defamation suit against him. The plaintiffs in question are families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, who alleged that they faced frightening threats and harassment as a result of Jones' continual public claims that the shooting was a hoax, The court ruled that Jones' fake-news org Infowars must turn over internal documents to these families.

Related on this Whirled:

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Friday, January 04, 2019

Conspiranoid blogger claims Trump is good for what's alien us


So it's 2019, at least by the Gregorian calendar, and the Whirled wags on. In July, this blog turns 13, which means that it will be old enough to have its own Blog Mitzvah. You're all invited, and you can $end present$ now to avoid the rush; there's a Donation button up on the left side of the screen (at least on the Web version, with its ancient Blogger template). And now to business.

As I've noted several times previously over the past few years, Whirled Musings did not start out to be a political blog, and technically it still isn't one, except when it has to be, and, increasingly and much to my dismay, it has had to be. Ever since the Orange Oaf of Office first announced his candidacy for the presidency, it has become steadily more obvious that
politix and this blog's normal beat are a match made in purgatory.

Politix in the era of Trump has indeed been cozying up with some strange bedfellows, not the least of which are
the religious right, whose power-hungry theocratic leaders have for the most part embraced Trump, not giving a flying fig leaf that the latter wouldn't know a Bible from a copy of Mein Kampf. And although traditional religion, including hypoChristianity, wasn't originally part of my beat, that's another line that has been blurred, as noted in the post I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph.
In large part because of said blurring of lines [between politics and my blog's original subject matter] 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.
Apart from the Scamworld connection, there are other ways in which politix, or more specifically Trumpworld, melds with some of the more traditional areas of interest on this Whirled, most notably the McSpirituality sector. Take Ivanka Trump and the TM (Transcendental Meditation) scampire... please. There are some TM fanatics who actually look on Ivanka's daddy as an enlightened being who is a harbinger of positive changes for the world.

Turns out that TM-ers aren't the only traditional Whirled snargets with an affinity for the Mad King. Today my pal Chris Locke of the fabulous but dormant Mystic Bourgeoisie blog, writing on Facebook under his nom de Facebook Kat Herding, pointed out a loony blog titled,
"The Final Wakeup Call: What the world doesn't know." It's written by a Dutch conspiracy-porn author named Peter B. Meyer, who is much like many other conspiracy nuts roaming the planet today, except his narratives are peopled with various aliens and inter-dimensional beings... classic Whirled blog fodder, in other words. (One of this blog's favorite subjects, imprisoned serial scammer and Trump fan Kevin Trudeau, is also a long-time fan of aliens.)

In his
inaugural post for the New Year, Meyer claims that Trump is an integral part of a greater movement that is literally going to save the human race.
Fortunately, thanks to President Trump, the Patriots and the Q-movement, the world is undergoing a massive transition. Everything the Cabal has put in place is now being destroyed, step by step.
By "Q-movement" I assume that Meyer is referring to QAnon, a jumble of right-wing, mostly pro-Trump conspiranoids. Here's one place you can read up on that. And here's another.

Anyway, playing a starring role in this yuuuge development are various aliens, both evil and enlightened, near as I can tell from Meyer's rambling screed. Scrolling down a bit, under a bold sub-head, "2019 -- the year of Transition," Meyer waxes poetic about the dawning of a new era. It's kind of like the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but with fascists and conspiracy loons instead of naked hippies.

The world is on the threshold of permanent peace. This is a super large caliber achievement by President Trump and his Team. He brings the American troops back home and the aircraft carriers into their home ports.

Will this extraordinary news make bold headlines in the regular media? Count on NOT. The Deep State still controls the MSM and they are desperate to avoid to publish this information because the war machine and the central banks that are also involved in the financing of their gruesome activities. Not anymore now.

It is over and out for the cabal. Therefore – HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR FOR ALL. Soon, we will continue as free people to develop ourselves as our
Creator always has intended for us. No wars, no hunger, no poverty, no more misery. We are going to enjoy life to the fullest. This information is also meant for the sleepers who still refuse to to know anything about. Please contribute in this endeavour by sharing this message with everyone you know, informing the awake or asleep.
Just in case you have any doubts whatsoever about Meyer's own political leanings, here's his take on the woman every ignorant conspiranoid loves to hate, Hillary Clinton.

And there you have it, all of you sleepers. I've done my duty by sharing Meyer's message. Now I'm off to take a power nap while my husband whips up a batch of potato kugel (with schmaltz!) for supper. Being a sleeper isn't a bad thing at all, especially if you have cats and dogs to snooze with.


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Monday, December 31, 2018

Twenty-Eighteen: good riddance


Is there anything good we can say about 2018? Only this: It got us out of 2017. But even that didn’t work out as we hoped.
~ Dave Barry,
Dave Barry's Year in Review 2018

I don't always make a big deal of New Year's Eve/Day on this blog, though I did make a halfhearted attempt to do so three years ago, in the service of figuratively showing 2015 the door. Sadly, I think that 2018 has easily topped 2015 in terms of general and specific suckiness, and I sincerely hope that the door hits it hard in the ass on its way out. But despite the year's suckiness and attendant distractions, and contrary to appearances, I haven't forgotten my essential blogly duties, to which I'll attend one more time before the Old Year passes.

One of numerous items I neglected to write about when it happened was the September death of one of the founding fathers of Scamworld:
Rich DeVos, who not only co-founded one of the original MLM scampires, Amway, but also helped launch the modern religious right in the US. On December 30 Politico's Zack Stanton wrote:
Not for nothing was the company named Amway. For DeVos, the “American way” meant a country that embraced the free-enterprise system, exalted God and held true to conservative Christian principles (“This country was built on a religious heritage,” he wrote in Believe!, “and we’d better get back to it.”). It meant a country where the only limit to what one could achieve was how hard one worked (“I think being poor is something many people do,” he said in a 1966 speech. “It sort of has to do with being poor by choice.”). And it meant a country where personal responsibility and belief in yourself were two sides of the same coin.
While it is true that some on the left-ish side of the street have had cozy relationships with hucksters (e.g., Bill Clinton and Tony Robbins, as mentioned in this July 2018 Whirled post (under the sub-head "Left, right, left right")), Scamworld and the religious right have long enjoyed a very special bond. Apropos of that, I paid tribute to the DeVos dynasty on this blog not long after the disastrous 2016 presidential election. In that post I noted the DeVos' Amway connection, and I brought one of this blog's favorite subjects, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, into the mix.
As many of you may know, the aforementioned Kevin Trudeau has a background in Amway, which I wrote about on this April 2013 post (under the subhead, "MLM fever"). In that post, I linked to this 2004 piece, "Amway, Republicans & That Old Time Religion," which has some information about the cozy relationship between Scamworld and right-wing (Republican) politics. The two have been cozying up to each other for a very long time.
Trudeau also played a starring role in an even earlier (March 2016) post about politix and Scamworld. Trump starred there too, of course, which is only appropriate, as Trudeau is such a devoted Trumpster. And as I've written about several times, ever since the Mad King ascended the throne, Trudeau has been pleading, and having minions plead on his behalf, for a presidential pardon and commuted sentence. That doesn't seem to be forthcoming. But hope springs infernal...

The Politico piece I cited above breezes through the history of the DeVos scampire and its connection to religious right-wing politics.

By the late 1990s, the family was “the largest single contributor of soft money to the Republican Party,” Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 op-ed. In the 2000s, the DeVos family bankrolled school-voucher campaigns and charter school efforts throughout the country. “The church,” son Dick DeVos said in 2001, “has been displaced by the public school.”

Those efforts culminated in Betsy DeVos, Rich’s daughter-in-law and Dick’s wife, being appointed secretary of education by President Donald Trump—another indefatigable salesman, but one who lacks the mooring in religious and political beliefs that defined DeVos’ life.

Ahead of the 1980 election, radio host Paul Harvey, whose show was sponsored by Amway for many years, floated Rich DeVos as a potential candidate for president. DeVos declined. A huckster as president? It was impossible.

As I noted in my own DeVos post back in November 2016, "And so it goes in Scamworld as in politix... no neat and tidy endings."

But at least there is a tidy ending to a calendar year, and I'll be glad to close the book on 2018. Here's hoping for a much, much better 2019, for all of us.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Ruining Christmas redux

Tonight -- Christmas Eve 2018, or rather what's left of it -- my husband Ron Kaye and I celebrate 25 years of living together. (Not of being married -- that came much later -- but of living together.) Last year when we were almost but not quite at the quarter-century mark, I wrote a post that both celebrated that almost-anniversary and pondered the ways in which Christmas can be tarnished if not ruined by various factors, some born of our own unrealistic expectations, and some, such as profound personal losses, over which we have no control. I titled my screed "Ruining Christmas" as a nod to my mom's accusation, which became somewhat of a family joke, that the disruption in my personal life on that Christmas Eve in 1993 was ruining the holiday for the entire family. (Spoiler: It wasn't.) But rather than taking the time to pound out a recap, I'll just provide you with the link.

Notwithstanding my Christmas Eve 2017 meditation on losses and holiday sadness, Ron and I had a joyful Christmas and post-Christmas with friends and family, though there was an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table where our recently-departed friend Alma would have sat. (We set a place for her anyway.) But in a way our delightful holiday was the calm before the storm. I cannot say that 2018 has been nearly as joyous as Christmas was; to the contrary, we've been through hell and (mostly) back since early in the year, but here we are, still together, and still planning to celebrate the next couple of days with some of the people we love most in the world.

Our small gathering will provide a brief reprieve from the toxic red swirl of politix and worries about the state of the world. While the current occupant of the White House spends Christmas amongst his wife's garish blood-colored trees, throwing tantrums over his silly wall and bitching about the "war on Christmas," we'll be enjoying a scaled-down but nonetheless loving celebration of friendship and food. We're not going to let any mad king ruin our holiday, though I can't help but be concerned about the folks for whom he really has ruined the holiday by fueling the partial government shutdown. Shame on his orange ass.

And by the way, you may already know this, but just in case you don't...
there really was a war on Christmas once upon a time, but it was perpetrated by Christians.

There's no war on Christmas in this household of liberals, unless you count our
cats' determination to wreck the halls. But there's no malice in their destruction; in fact, knocking down decorations, tearing down carefully arranged displays, and eating and then projectile-vomiting Christmas trimmings is the way they celebrate the occasion.

My own love for the holiday endures, and more than that, my love for the man who helped me "ruin Christmas" 25 years ago shines on even more brightly than the solar light that our late friend Alma gave to us.

My wish for you this year is the same as it was last year. May you not be overwhelmed with what you have lost but instead be grateful for what you still have. I wish you peace and comfort and good times now and throughout the coming year, no matter which holidays you do or don't celebrate. And I'll be back in the New Year, or maybe even before, with more Whirledly topics.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Randazzled: hail the free-screech superhero of [alleged] rapists and Nazis and trolls



You may be familiar with Marc Randazza, free-speech attorney and former hero of Jason Jones' Salty Droid blog. In this February 2016 post, I wrote about Randazza and his defense of prick-up "artist" and accused rapist Daryush Valizadeh, more commonly known as Roosh Vorek or Roosh V or simply Roosh (or Doosh, on this blog). It's a long post, but to get to the Randazza/Doosh part, scroll down to the sub-head, "There's Doosh. I mean, Roosh..." In my post I go to great lengths to acknowledge that everyone has the right to freedom of speech and that even someone who has been accused of sexual crimes deserves a good defense, and that, furthermore, wrongfully accusing someone of sexual assault (had that been what was going on) is a very bad thing. But I also acknowledged that there seemed to be an abundance of evidence that Roosh really is a Doosh, and that it appeared that Randazza was unfairly going after a blogger who simply wrote about the rape accusations against his client, and that... well, you can follow the link and read it yourself. Point is, I did try to be more than fair to the less than savory.

I'd initially heard of Randazza because, as indicated above, he was an apparent friend and champion of Jason Jones, whose muckraking Salty Droid blog has, since its inception, been a frequent target of legal action, both real and threatened. In fact I thought of Randazza as sort of a free-speech hero, especially given his boasts that he does a lot of pro bono work to defend unpopular speech. Granted, when
I got sued by the loathsome fake doctor and cancer fraud Leonard Coldwell, Randazza seemed indifferent to my own plight (as did another noteworthy free-speech attorney who shall remain nameless here but whose name is mud to me), but Randazza was helping my pal Jason, and that was good enough for me.

But, to put it charitably, he turned out not to be the champion of Jason's work that Jason had hoped -- as Jason explained, not so charitably, in
this April 2016 blog post.

If you already knew this background stuff, I apologize for the redundancy. In any case, Marc Randazza has been in the news more recently for some of his other stellar clientele who belong in the Squall of Shame along with Doosh. For example, there's the publisher of the Neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin. In spring of 2017 Anglin was sued for coordinating a terror campaign of online harassment against a Jewish real estate agent, Tanya Gersh. Randazza had filed a motion to dismiss the suit based, of course, on his client's First Amendment rights. But last week Dana L. Christensen, chief judge for the U.S. District Court in Missoula, Montana,
denied the motion, saying that the real estate agent was a private citizen and that Anglin had incited his followers to harass her as part of a personal campaign.

The civil case (there have been no criminal charges) is now expected to go to trial. From the New York Times article linked to in the above paragraph:

...It has taken a long time because it proved impossible to serve Mr. Anglin with legal papers, Mr. Dinielli said. Mr. Anglin’s last known address was in Ohio, but his whereabouts have been unknown for nearly two years. He is still running the site, possibly from overseas.

His lawyer, Marc Randazza, said that Judge Christensen’s decision was dangerous for free speech.

“The rule we lay down for the Nazi applies equally to the civil rights activist,” Mr. Randazza said in a statement. “And that ruling, if it stands, is not going to be good for anyone who engages in common outrage culture. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I think not.”
Well, Mr. Randazza, notwithstanding your histrionics, in light of the fact that Ms. Gersh has faced truly frightening harassment and death threats as a result of Anglin's blatant incitement, I would say that defending this form of "free speech" is not a good thing. From the "Background" section in Judge Christenson's November 14 order:
The messages received by Gersh and her family, including her son, were filled with ethnic slurs and misogynistic rants. Many messages referenced the Holocaust, and some threatened violence. When Gersh filed her Complaint in the spring of 2017, she and her family had received more than 700 disparaging and/or threatening messages over phone calls, voicemails, text messages, emails, letters, social media comments, and Christmas cards.
In case you missed it, which I apparently did back in July of this year, Randazza also chose to defend conspiracy-porn peddler Alex Jones in some but not all of the numerous legal actions that families of the Sandy Hook victims have filed against Jones. Randazza is involved in a couple of cases in Connecticut. From the July 2, 2018 New York Times article linked to in the previous sentence:
Mr. Randazza has appeared on Mr. Jones’s radio show and in InfoWars videos. In a brief telephone interview, he acknowledged opinions by First Amendment lawyers not involved in the cases that the Sandy Hook families have a strong claim against Mr. Jones. “I think if you look at the allegations in the complaint, that’s an easy conclusion to make,” Mr. Randazza said. “But as these cases progress sometimes things turn in the other direction.”

“We are going to be mounting a strong First Amendment defense and look forward to this being resolved in a civil and collegial manner,” he said, asserting that Mr. Jones has “a great deal of compassion for these parents.”
Randazza, not surprisingly, has vigorously defended his choice to represent Alex Jones as well as the Neo-Nazi Anglin, even as he vigorously defended his choice to represent RooshV back in 2016. In an interview with the Connecticut Law Tribune in July, as reported on the Law.com site, Randazza said that when choosing clients he has no social litmus test or political litmus test; the First Amendment is his only litmus test. He 'splained that he has also represented left-leaning clients -- even some who are Muslims, for goodness sake! -- and that he leans leftward himself. He also says he took pains to make sure that representing the Neo-Nazi guy, Anglin, was okay with his Jewish partner, Jay Wolman.

But others have taken issue with his claim about being a First Amendment purist. F'rinstance, there's Elie Mystal at the Above The Law site. He has considered himself to be an ally if not actually a friend of Randazza, but regarding the Jones representation, even he felt compelled t
o point out, in this July 3, 2018 post, that Randazza's moral compass appears to be broken.
...you can defend deplorable people without adopting and promoting their deplorable logic. There’s a difference. The legal community does not talk about that difference very much: lawyers shun deplorable lawyers, and deplorable lawyers put their heads so far up their own ass that they think any suggestion of restraint smells bad. But we can draw a line of demarcation around zealous legal defense and ridiculous alt-white dogma.

For me, that line is right here:

“We are going to be mounting a strong First Amendment defense and look forward to this being resolved in a civil and collegial manner,” [Randazza] said, asserting that Mr. Jones has “a great deal of compassion for these parents.”
No, Alex Jones does not have “compassion” for the families of Sandy Hook victims. Saying he does is a lie. Alex Jones has argued that the parents of Sandy Hook victims are FAKING the death of their own children. That means he has no compassion for their suffering. That’s not a difference of opinion, that’s not a certain point of view, that’s a straight lie designed by the alt-right so that the assholes who support Alex Jones can tell themselves that they aren’t going to end up in Hell for their terrible beliefs.

It’s a lie that all lawyers, no matter how steeped they are in Nazi appeasement, have no duty to repeat. If you are going to make your career along the lawyerly duty to give the most disgusting among us a competent legal defense, then stick to the law. If you have a First Amendment argument, MAKE IT, and leave the rehabilitation of Alex Jones’s character to Donald Trump. If you want to argue that Jones’s didn’t have “actual malice” when flinging his wild conspiracies, fine, make that case IN COURT where you can be held to a standard of EVIDENCE for your ridiculous assertions.
The bottom line? Mystal continues:
If you want to represent detestable clients, fine. But when you go out into the media and don’t just defend them but actually adopt their logic and moral arguments, that’s different. Then, it looks like you agree with them. And if you agree with them, you can no longer avail yourself of the lawyerly presumption that you are just doing your job. Instead of being a mere part of the process, you become part of the problem.
Exactly.

I imagine that Salty Droid has some choice words about Randazza and his choice of clients. I'll leave that to him to address (again) on his own blog, should he choose to do so.

As someone who has had her own speech threatened by ill-intentioned scoundrels, I'm a pretty big fan of free speech. I took some time to explain my views, which are more nuanced than some might imagine, in a post I wrote back in August re Alex Jones' whining about being "censored" by several major social media platforms.
Here is that link. Even the vilest and most loathsome folks have a right to have their say. They most certainly have the right to legal representation when sued for civil offenses or charged with crimes. And even the hallowed ACLU has defended Neo-Nazis. But when Nazis and trolls having their say crosses the line to harassment and incitement, the First Amendment doesn't -- or at least shouldn't -- protect them. I'm no highly-paid First Amendment attorney, but even I can figure that one out.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

O Trumpistan!



A new national anthem has been proposed for the Divided States of America. This one is far easier to sing than "The Star-Mangled Banner" -- so easy that even the Oaf of Office can probably learn it. At least it'll be easier to hum along to, since it's the same tune as "America the Beautiful." Not so many tricky high notes. He can hum along while he's (allegedly) mis-coloring the American flag. So put on your red cap and your brown shirt, open your mouth, and sing out. Don't forget to keep that right arm fully outstretched in a perfect salute throughout the anthem. #MAGA, baby!
 

Trumpistan the Beautiful
by Cosmic Connie

O beautiful for specious words
At rallies and in tweets,
And for our Orange King’s vows to crush
The mobs out in the streets

O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
We’ve finally heard God’s call
Restore the good white brotherhood
And build that splendid Wall!

O beautiful for corporate feats,
So seamlessly deployed
With regulations overturned,
And public lands destroyed.
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
May oligarchs march on
Till all progressive fantasies
Are finally dead and gone.

O beautiful for legislators
Kneeling to their King

Who more than country love their jobs,
And to his robe do cling
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
Whose King inspires such awe:
He has no soul, no self control,
He lives above the law.


Oh beautiful for courage to
Enact
the Muslim bans,
And for his
pledge to save us from
The migrant caravans

O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
Your
borders shall be sealed
And all Amendments we don't like

Effectively repealed
.
 
O beautiful for hatriot dream,
So steeped in white men’s fears
Thine crumbling towns and cities gleam,
Awash in liberal tears
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
We’re answering God’s call
Restore the good white brotherhood,
And build that splendid Wall!

Copyright © 2018 by Connie L. Schmidt

[Note: a few links and lyrics have been revised
since original publication,
and as the atrocities continue I can't guarantee that there
won't be additional verses or other revisions.]


PS ~ Please, if you're a US citizen and are eligible and registered, get out and vote in the midterm elections on November 6, or as early as you are allowed. I early-voted today. Given the volatile political environment and all of the irregularities, voter suppression, and attempted interference in our democratic process by hostile parties (both foreign and domestic), I am not at all sure that my vote will really be counted... but I tried my best, and I think you should too. I am still hopeful, or perhaps naive, enough to believe that it isn't too late to save our country from actually becoming Trumpistan. (Or Trumpica, if you prefer a variation that is not based on a Persian word... and, given Trump's hatred for any Middle Easterners who are not his business partners or political allies, maybe Trumpica would be more appropriate. So feel free to substitute. Trumplandia could work too, if you delete the "O" from the refrain.)


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Monday, October 15, 2018

Trumpscendental meditation


The more things change, the more they stay the same. I've blogged a few times in the past about TM (transcendental meditation) and the so-called "Maharishi Effect" -- f'rinstance, this 2007 post about TM's grip on celebs and the popular culture, and this 2009 post about Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's TM-itation scheme. Well, TM is still going strong, and in yet another example of politix meeting Scamworld -- marginally, anyway -- The Daily Beast has published a piece mentioning that #NotMyPresident Donald Trump's surrogate wife Ivanka and her pet boy Jared are involved in TM.

Granted, despite Ivanka and Jared attending a TM gala last year, it appears that Ivanka's day-to-day involvement is limited simply to meditating 20 minutes or so twice a day as a means of "calming the mind, eliminating distractions, and boosting my productivity." At least that's what she wrote in her selfish-help book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,
which was published last year. On the other hand, at least in the recent past, she has had her staff TM-ing too, according to the above screen grab of a link to which I am forbidden access when I try to follow it. (But here's a Wayback link. And here's a link to a June 2015 article on My Morning Routine, which seems to be the article to which the screen-grabbed link refers.)

At any rate Ivanka's involvement, no matter how peripheral, gives an air of legitimacy to the TM scampire, as does every other celebrity who's involved in TM, given the fact that we live in such a shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture. Also, of course, Daddy's little lap sitter has publicly participated in events that promote TM, and she's good friends with the head of a high-profile TM advocacy foundation, making her more than just a garden-variety meditator. So perhaps those who are
bashing The Beast for "using Ivanka as clickbait" (as reported by the right-wing propaganda and conspiracy outlet RT) need to get off of their high horse and look around at what's really going on.

It's not as if The Daily Beast is breaking any new ground. There have been numerous truly groundbreaking exposés of the TM cult/scampire over the decades, and I don't even include my own contributions in this lot, because I certainly wasn't breaking any new ground either. But The Beast article does provide an important and arguably a timely reminder that the con is still on.

Which brings us to the point that what makes this matter Whirled-class blogworthy is that it is not just a meditation thing (and I should reiterate, as I have in previous TM-critical posts, that I have nothing against meditation). As has always been the case with TM -- and virtually every other branded scheme or cult -- there's a huge and pricey con going on too. From The Beast piece:

“You may have people looking at people doing yogic flying and say, ‘That’s strange,’” [Bob] Roth [CEO of the pro-TM David Lynch Foundation, who is Ivanka's friend that I mentioned above] added. “I happen to think seeing people playing football, or boxing and beating each other up, is strange.”

It couldn’t be more different from the TM introduced to most casual meditators. But it shows there are essentially two TM movements: a “retail” version for the general public with an anodyne message about ridding yourself of stress, and another, more spiritually oriented movement for a small but devoted cadre of true believers—a virtually unknown “secret society” of sorts—that promises to unlock supernatural abilities and provide all manner of
magical outcomes, some of which can allegedly be attained by paying teams of Indian monks thousands of dollars to chant for you half a world away.

TM is also a behemoth of a business. When the founder of TM died, he left an estate valued at $3 billion. TM has its own set of scientists, viewed with skepticism by the mainstream scientific community; its own universities and lavish properties around the world; and dubious claims to world government.
By the way, here's RationalWiki on "yogic flying." Also known as yogic bouncing up and down.

It's that whole
Maharishi Effect narrative that really draws in the suckers, though. The claim is that if a sufficient number of folks do the proper type of TM-ing, they can change the world for the better, affecting everything from crime rates to the economy to politics to war to climate change. It's all due to a shift in the quantum mechanical properties that make up the invisible fabric of our interconnected consciousness, according to the above-mentioned David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth. And of course TM's own team of researchers has the scientifical proof to back up their claims. Those spoilsport mainstream scientists aren't so sure, though. Lots of other folks are skeptical as well.
“The style of research they use is what I call ‘painting the bullseye around the arrow,’” says ex-TMer Patrick Ryan, who attended Maharishi International University, the progenitor to MUM, against his Navy master chief father’s advice, and spent 10 years in the movement as a “spiritual warrior” before quitting in the 1980s. “If a bunch of TM meditators get together and the stock market goes up, TM made it happen. If there’s another course and crime rates go down, or if accidents go down, TM created that. Find a positive thing that’s happened and take credit for it.”
Yep, that's pretty much the Scamworld/McSpirituality M.O.

And then there's this...

One of the most expensive programs in all of TM, according to their most recent tax filings, is the so-called “pandit program,” which gathers hundreds of young Indian men in trailer homes on a special campus in Iowa to chant yagyas—Hindu rites—nonstop for two years at a stretch in an effort to bring about peace on earth.

The program began in 2007, and reactions among locals were mixed. Residents
reported being approached by pandits on rural roads, asking for money and begging not to be sent back to the compound. In 2014, a mini-riot by some 60 pandits resulted in a sheriff’s deputy allegedly being attacked by members of the group.

Bob Roth said the domestic pandit program has now been all but shut down, maintaining that they have “like, four” pandits left in Iowa. According to its
most recent tax filings, the TM affiliate which fundraises for pandit expenses reported spending $2,164,960 on pandit support in Iowa in 2016. However, the cost of fully implementing the pandit program’s Global Peace Initiative, according to the organization, is $45.5 million a year.

If you want a team of pandits to
chant for you personally, the costs of which vary “depending on the size of the desired effect and the magnitude of the problem being averted or defused—for example a natural disaster, violent outbreak, or severe economic downturn,” that’s also available.

For a minimum donation
of $1,500, you can get wedding anniversary prayers from a team of pandits. For $1,000, the pandits will chant for your newborn child. And for $1,250, the pandits will recite the necessary prayers to “resolve the pressing problems confronting the United States, including joblessness and economic recession, and government gridlock, obstructionism, and extreme partisan infighting.”

Hey, if they could just yagya Herr Twitler out of office, I would become a true believer. 

I seem to recall that Mr. Fire was also a fan of those remote prayer rituals called yagyas (also known as yagnas), and was pushing them in conjunction with his own McMiracles schemes. (By the way, that linked story about his "best friend" being miracle-healed by a yagya...take it with a grain of salt. The book from which the excerpt was taken was published several years after the death of the person in question. She was still alive when he first started spreading the story, but in subsequent publications he didn't mention, at least in the context of that story, that she died a sad death. Some more insight about this can be found in the discussion section of this October 2007 Whirled post.)

I buried the lede. So shoot me.
Notwithstanding all of the above, I am always open to learning new things. And it turns out that I may have been totally wrong about Donnie John. According to at least one passionate TM fan, Trump is a highly creatively intelligent human person.
Here's a site that is not an official TM site but that is apparently operated by someone who is a fan of both TM and the Trump family.

And lest I be accused of burying the lede, I have no defense except for poor planning. For this matter is actually far more significant in possibly every way that matters on this blog than the mere fact of Daddy's girl being a Transcendental Meditator. One of the pages on the site linked to in the previous paragraph reveals
"The Qualities of Creative Intelligence That Helped Donald Trump." I give you...
Click to enlarge

SCI points, in case you're wondering, refer to the Science of Creative Intelligence. You guessed it: it's a Maharishi thing. On that same page, we get a glimpse of Donnie John's Vedic ass-trology specs.
JYOTISH - VEDIC ASTROLOGY - THE NEW DONALD TRUMP
For the past eighteen years, Donald Trump has been in his worst dasha -- Rahu. Rahu acts like an eclipse, a cloud darkening the mind, insanity, the material world, obsession (in this case with his tenth house of power in the world), cruelty, and darkness in general. But on October 14, just before the election, he entered the best dasha of his life -- Jupiter. During his acceptance speech, he talked about unity and working together. Jupiter, a very good planet in his chart, rules his fifth house of purva punya, return of good deeds from the past. It also rules his eighth house of transformation. So these two areas expand during his 16-year Jupiter dasha. Jupiter represents The Guru, good fortune, wisdom, kindness, giving, forgiving, teaching, healing and helping others. So he has moved from the worst time of life to his best time of life, and just a month before the election. Jupiter dashs, the Guru, made him president. We should see a completely different Donald Trump in the next few years. This event coincides with rising world consciousness. Everyone should forget his past and look to the planets to see what he is about to accomplish. His family is the first in the White House to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. That's a First Family! ---Gerard Owmby

Yeah... the best time of his life, and the worst time of ours. This shameless orange-nosing makes former Trump buddy Oprah's egregiously misplaced optimism in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election look almost rational by comparison. I think it's very interesting because it shows that "spiritual" sycophancy of the Drumpf dynasty, and willful blindness to their awfulness, are not restricted to hypoChristian nutcakes such as the folks behind the silly new-ish movie, The Trump Prophecy (which the base loves, of course, and which had most other folks with any taste or discretion rolling in the aisles), or any of the other T-vangelicals who litter the landscape with their mighty declarations that Herr Twitler is God's Chosen One. In other words, you don't have to be a Bible thumper to misuse religion in the service of Trumpboosting.
 
According to the article in The Daily Beast, there are those who suggest that the TM organization is slowly dying, particularly since the current leader of the org, Tony Nader, lacks the cult-like devotion associated with the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But that really doesn't matter, because there will always be derivatives, as well as newer cults and scams arising to take the place of the old, particularly as long as there are celebrities and reality show stars and starlets to embrace and endorse the schemes. And if those celebs are part of a powerful political family, all bets are off. As we also like to say on this blog, in Scamworld (and politics), there are no neat and tidy endings.

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