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.)

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.

* * * * *
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

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