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.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Politix and Scamworld on an extended honeymoon


http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/Devos_Familytree-960.jpeg
Graphic from Mother Jones, January 2014


We’re working very hard. We have great people coming in. I think you’ll be very impressed with the names. We’ll be announcing some very shortly. Everybody wanted to do this. People are giving up tremendous careers in order to be subject to you [New York Times] folks and subject to a lot of other folks. But they’re giving up a lot. I mean some are giving up tremendous businesses in order to sit for four or maybe eight or whatever the period of time is. But I think we’re going to see some tremendous talent, tremendous talent coming in. We have many people for every job. I mean no matter what the job is, we have many incredible people. I think, Reince, you can sort of just confirm that. The quality of the people is very good.
~ Donald Trump, from his
New York Times interview on 22 November, 2016


Oh, the sacrifices that Not-My-President-Elect Donald J. Trump and his family and appointees are making for the sake of the regime! Or so Trump wants us to believe, in much the way that imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau once tried to get us to believe (and he convinced many) that he was making terrible sacrifices and even endangering his own life in order to sell us frauducts and flopportunities and misinformation that "they" don't want you to know about.

"I don't have to be doing this," Trudeau used to earnestly assure his listeners and readers through, among other forums, his long-defunct KT Radio Show and his elaborate online promos for his huge scam, the Global Information Network (GIN). "I could be sitting back enjoying my tremendously successful lifestyle; I have so much money I don't ever have to lift a finger to work again. But I'm doing this -- all of this! -- for you." (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the basic message with which he used to pepper his infomercials, radio shows and online promos.) And his loyal fans faithfully repeated the narrative.

But this awful reality show we're witnessing now is, I am sorry to say, bigger and even worse than Trudeau and his scams, though there are certainly Scamworld connections, which I will get to momentarily. (And I mean Scamworld connections apart from
the ones for which Donald himself is notorious.) In truth it seems that Herr Drumpf et al. are sacrificing very little that is of value to them, and as of now it seems to be full speed ahead for the plutocracy/kleptocracy/theocracy (not to mention the hatriarchy).
 
It's not bad enough that Drumpf chose white nationalist and darling of the neo-Nazi crowd Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. Or that his choice for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is an enemy of civil rights, civil liberties, voting rights, immigration (even legal immigration)...the list goes on. Or that his pick for the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, could "take the agency back to its darkest days" of brutal interrogation and torture. Or that his national security advisor choice, Michael Flynn, never met an anti-Islam conspiracy theory he didn't like (he even called Islam "a cancer"). So far Herr Drumpf has made it pretty clear that under his rule, the ship of state will list dangerously rightward.

And now it has been announced that Trump
has picked elitist "education reformer" and theocrat Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of "Education." This pick has been touted by some as Trump's attempt to "diversify" his choices by finally picking a woman to lead something. This is supposed to be a step towards healing rifts and whatnot, but apparently the only rifts he's concerned with are those within the right-wing tent.

The DeVos scamily tree is impressive, as you can see by looking at the infographic above, which I borrowed from
this January 2014 Mother Jones article.

And here's
a related January 2014 MoJo piece about the Devoses and their union-busting activities.

But a lot of that is about Dick DeVos. This 2011 piece on Talk To Action has information about Betsy that may give a clue about her qualifications to run the Department of Education (into the ground).
Who is Betsy DeVos and Why Is She Trying to Privatize Public Schools?

Betsy DeVos is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party; daughter of the late Edgar Prince and Elsa Prince-Broekhuizen; sister of Blackwater-founder Erik Prince; and wife of Dick DeVos (son of Richard and Helen DeVos). The Devos side of the family fortune comes from Amway/Alticor, the controversial, multi-tiered home products business. A Center for Public Integrity Report showed that the DeVos family and business interests were the fifth largest contributors in the 2003 -2004 election cycle, with 100% of the donations going to Republicans.

Dick and Betsy DeVos have been credited with helping to 
finance the Citizens United case which allows Super PACs to raise unlimited funds and conceal the donors, meaning that we will no longer know who provides the millions of dollars for the big media campaigns, or reveal the information that I have in this article on the Pennsylvania campaign.

The Prince and Devos families have also funded the Family Research Council, Focus on Family, and the ministries of the late D. James Kennedy, all warriors against separation of church and state. Kennedy did, however, believe in separation of school and state. Like many others who have benefited from Devos and Prince family largesse, he signed the proclamation to end public schools.

Much of the research claimed to support vouchers and charter schools comes directly from the Foundation for Education Choice, a think tank founded by the late Milton and Rose Friedman. Milton Friedman was the patriarch of the "Chicago School" and radical free market economics. In a 
briefing paper for the Cato Institute (Scaife/Koch/Devos-funded) titled "Public Schools: Make Them Private," Friedman stated, "Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a market system."
So, goodbye public schools, if Betsy and gang have their way. And goodbye, separation of church and state.

The National Education Association quickly voiced its opposition to Trump's choice.
“Her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”
It's worth emphasizing that even though Betsy had money of her own, she also married into money, and the money came from one of the very foundations of Scamworld, Amway. 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.

Indeed, right-wing politix and Scamworld have never been on such intimate terms. I wish they would just get a room and leave the rest of us alone. But instead they're forcing the whole country -- and indeed the world -- to watch as they slobber all over each other, and we're the ones who are going to be saddled with their vile offspring.

* * * * *

I will probably have a lot more to say about all of this in the near future, but for now let me just make one more point, because ultimately this too has to do with education: fake news was arguably a significant factor in the disastrous outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Certainly it wasn't the only factor, but it played its role.

From Paul Horner to Jestin Comer to those Macedonian teens, some folks who weren't even Trump supporters, and some who don't even have any skin in the game, were making tons of money duping the "poorly educated" voters for whom Trump himself has expressed such enthusiasm (and vice versa). And a lot of those profoundly critical-thinking-impaired Trumpians are now poo-pooing the very idea that some of their most trusted content sources are fake news sites. Instead they turn it around, Pee-Wee Herman style ("I know you are, but what am I?"), and accuse the mainstream news outlets of being the real fake news sources.

But real journalism does still exist, though now more than ever it is an endangered species, as endangered as public education if not more so. If you care about maintaining a line in the sand between information and disinformation, do whatever you can to support legitimate journalistic outlets such as Mother Jones, whether it's donating money or subscribing to their print magazine (which I've been a fan of for many years), or both. I'm not getting paid or compensated in any way for this; it's just something that I think needs saying. 

Addendum, 26 November 2016: From Salon.com, here's a brief history of fake news, with emphasis on the observation that the American right has always been uniquely gullible, long before Facebook. Those who lean towards right-wing politics and conservative social values seem to be more gullible when it comes to the wildest conspiracy theories, and they also seem to be more vulnerable to scams and scammers -- like Kevin Trudeau with his "forbidden information." I also discussed these matters on this recent (7 October 2016) Whirled post.


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