Friday, June 24, 2022

Overturning Roe: The Handmaid's Tale takes another giant step towards reality

With the not-unexpected but nevertheless disastrous United States Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade on June 24, 2022, Margaret Atwood's famous dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, just took another giant step towards being art imitated by life.

And the late great singer/songwriter/poet
Leonard Cohen was wrong: it's theocracy, not democracy, that's coming to the USA.

I don't believe that any thinking person on either side of the abortion issue thinks that the theocrats and Christo-fascists are going to stop at Roe, despite implied assurances within the majority opinion that the June 24 decision is solely about the constitutional right, or lack thereof, to abortion. Senior SCOTUS fascist Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion to the decision,
has called for the overturning of other precedents that are founded in principles such as the right to privacy: specifically, decisions protecting the right to contraception, to same-sex intimate relationships, and to same-sex marriage.

Notably, in his opinion Thomas apparently did not mention the
Loving v Virginia SCOTUS decision that, in June of 1967, finally legitimized interracial marriages. A few wags on Twitter have suggested that he add the Loving decision to his list of cases to be reconsidered/overturned, since it would most likely be cheaper than a divorce, should Thomas be considering a break from his seditionist, bat-crap crazy wife Ginni. But I digress.

In their dissenting opinion, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan made the significance and utter gravity of the SCOTUS decision on abortion very clear:

For half a century, Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), have protected the liberty and equality of women. Roe held, and Casey reaffirmed, that the Constitution safeguards a woman’s right to decide for herself whether to bear a child. Roe held, and Casey reaffirmed, that in the first stages of pregnancy, the government could not make that choice for women. The government could not control a woman’s body or the course of a woman’s life: It could not determine what the woman’s future would be... Respecting a woman as an autonomous being, and granting her full equality, meant giving her substantial choice over this most personal and most consequential of all life decisions....

The dissenting Justices also made it clear that the abortion decision is almost certainly not the end of the line for the theocrats. They're just getting started.

...no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work. The right Roe and Casey recognized does not stand alone. To the contrary, the Court has linked it for decades to other settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation. Most obviously, the right to terminate a pregnancy arose straight out of the right to purchase and use contraception. See Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479 (1965); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972). In turn, those rights led, more recently to rights of same-sex intimacy and marriage. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558 (2003); Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). They are all part of the same constitutional fabric, protecting autonomous decisionmaking over the most personal of life decisions.

In a statement sent to People magazine, Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs in the historic Obergefell v. Hodge case that legitimized same-sex marriage, wrote:

"Clarence Thomas is a Supreme Court justice appointed by humans, he is not the Supreme Deity. The millions of loving couples who have the right to marriage equality to form their own families do not need Clarence Thomas imposing his individual twisted morality upon them. If you want to see an error in judgment, Clarence Thomas, look in the mirror."

Indeed.

All in all, things are looking pretty grim, and on track to get even grimmer. So hold on to your white wimples, Handmaids; it's going to be quite a ride -- and the fight is far from over.

Addendum, June 25, 2022: SCOTUS wrecking ball targeted other issues besides Roe
Unfortunately, Roe wasn't the only matter this past week in which the high court managed to do significant damage to more than a half century of progress. Here are its other major achievements for the week:

June 21, 2022:
Kicking another big hole in the wall between church and state (and thumbing its nose at LGBTQ rights)

In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled Tuesday that Maine could not prohibit parents from using a state-funded tuition assistance program to pay for their children to attend private religious schools while permitting them to do so in private secular schools. The two schools cited in the case have a history of homophobic and transphobic policies.

The ruling in Carson v. Makin is a
continuation of the conservative-majority court’s recent willingness to poke holes in the barrier between church and state. A number of LGBTQ advocacy organizations and other supporters of queer rights are sounding the  alarm about what the decision signals about the court’s direction, especially when it comes to reconciling religious freedom with safeguarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people from discrimination. 

June 23, 2022: Seriously weakening states' rights to impose their own gun control laws

For anyone concerned with the havoc associated with guns in this country, Thursday was a day of highs and lows. The Senate, after decades of inaction, passed a bipartisan gun-safety bill by a vote of 65–33. And the Supreme Court, in its biggest gun ruling in more than a decade, struck down a New York law by a vote of 6the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol –3. The majority opinion in Association v. Bruen, was written by and joined by the Court’s Clarence Thomas five other conservatives, and it is broad and reckless. It will expose any number of well-established laws to similar challenges, and rattle efforts to arrive at a national consensus on guns. If the Senate was the scene of a true breakthrough, the Court was the site of a major breakdown.

June 23, 2022: Kneecapping Miranda

Today, in Vega v. Tekoh, the court backtracked substantially on its Miranda promise. In Vega, the court held 6-3 (over an excellent dissent by Justice Elena Kagan) that an individual who is denied Miranda warnings and whose compelled statements are introduced against them in a criminal trial cannot sue the police officer who violated their rights, even where a criminal jury finds them not guilty of any crime. By denying people whose rights are violated the ability to seek redress under our country’s most important civil rights statute, the court has further widened the gap between the guarantees found in the Bill of Rights and the people’s ability to hold government officials accountable for violating them.

As someone on Twitter wrote, "I went to bed in 2022 and woke up in 1950." If the current SCOTUS majority and the fascist political infrastructure that supports them continue to prevail, the US is going to be plummeted even further back than 1950.

 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Kevin Trudeau and the re-re-branding of GIN: everything old is new again

 

The latest iteration of the web site for serial scammer/fraudster/recently-released convict Kevin Trudeau's mega-scheme GIN (the Global Information Network) has been launched -- and it's looking a lot like vintage GIN. But this "exclusive" and "secret" club is now more exclusive and secret than ever, if we're to believe the hype on the new site, though it remains glaringly transparent for anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge about scammers and the way they operate.

Currently the top priority for GIN seems to be the revival of the grandiose Utopian visions that suckered so many people into GIN 13 years ago, but what it all boils down to is that Trudeau is intent on getting as many marks as possible to give him as much money as possible as rapidly as possible so he can recreate the lavish lifestyle of his dreams.

Not that Trudeau is necessarily begging directly at this point. It appears that he is still remaining more or less in the background for now, at least on the publicly accessible pages; it's possible that it's
a court-order/parole issue and that he's trying, for now at least, to comply with the terms. I'm not sure about the details there, since I don't have any recent court documents, but I'll welcome any input or additional information on this matter. In any case, Kevin Trudeau is clearly guiding the communications, which seem orchestrated to make it appear that his grateful minions are doing all of that mundane fundraising stuff while he devotes himself to (pretending that he is) Humbly Serving Humanity. Optics aside, however, make no mistake: this is the same old grift in a tawdry new suit.

In other words: Caveat emptor.

The launch of the new old GIN site was announced on
the official Kevin Trudeau Fan Club page on Facebook on June 7, 2022.

From Kevin: We just launched this today https://globalinformationnetwork.com
Introductory limited time cost of joining is just $10.Read the site and it will answer all your questions. Join and see for yourself the value of membership.

Granted, $10 doesn't sound like much -- until you consider the fact that once upon a time you could join GIN for free for one full year as an "Associate Member." These daze, your "Associate Membership" will cost you $10 up front, and $8.95 a month thereafter. But I suppose inflation has hit the scam market too, so it's going to take more of your hard-earned bucks to get Kevin Trudeau sitting in the lap of luxury again. Suck it up, Buttercup, and remind yourself that it will be well worth the expenditure if Kevin can start wearing $12,500 cuff links again while he is Humbly Serving Humanity.

You may wonder what you get for your Associate Membership. You get this, according to
the Membership Levels page:

  • Access to the associate Membership sections of the GIN website
  • Access to all GIN events
  • Other benefits are CLASSIFIED

But what if you want to be more than a mere Associate? You become a Member, of course. As far as I know, there are still only seven extant levels of GIN membership, with Level 8 on the verge of being launched, though the goal, as it has been since GIN began, is to ultimately have 12 levels. Be that as it may, here you go with the (utter lack of) details:

Membership Levels Qualifications Benefits Cash Bonuses “Perks” Rewards
Associate Member • $10 Initiation Fee
• $8.95 Monthly Dues
  • Access to the associate Membership sections of the GIN website
  • Access to all GIN events
  • Other benefits are CLASSIFIED
None
Level 1 Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 2 Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 3 Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 4 Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 5 Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 6 Executive Member CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 7 Senior Officer CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 8 Director CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 9 Presidents Club CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 10 Chairman’s Club CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 11 Inner Circle CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED
Level 12 Partner
CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED

No doubt, the "Classified" info becomes "Unclassified" as you pay your way up (and up and up and up).

History repeats itself, and so do I
As you know if you've been following this blog regularly, since
very early in 2009, I've published hundreds of pages about Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled. I first posted at length about GIN in December 2009 (with numerous updates that stretched into subsequent years).

In its heyday, GIN was not only an "exclusive" and "secret" club for success-oriented, like-minded suckers people, but also, and very importantly for Kevin's bottom line, a very expensive MLM (multi-level marketing) scheme. GIN never called its MLM an MLM, but instead dubbed it an "Affiliate" program. But clearly it was an MLM, and
a pyramid scheme to boot, although to my knowledge the courts never specifically ruled on whether or not it was an illegal pyramid scheme. The product being MLM-ed was not a tangible physical item such as overpriced laundry products or vitamins; rather, it was an overpriced "Level 1" GIN membership, which cost $1,000.00 for the initiation fee (or, for a while, $1,500.00 if paid over time), with a $150.00 monthly membership fee for as long as one remained a GIN member.

Trudeau's mega-scam machine also offered numerous other "opportunities" for people to give him their money, such as his "Inner Circle" program that cost $50,000 or $75,000 or more, cash upfront, without the bother of working one's way up through the membership "levels." Over the years there were also all sorts of "bonus" and "incentive" schemes that turned out to be scams orchestrated to put money directly into Trudeau's pockets to cover his legal expenses and support his lavish lifestyle.

In case you're wondering, I am not including links here to information about the individual GINcentive programs, or for that matter to sources on some of the other GIN background info I've recapped here, because most of the relevant links were wiped long ago. But if you want more details from a former true believer and "Inner Circle" member who eventually realized he'd been snookered, check out John Foster's self-published book,
Kevin Trudeau's Road-Kill Victims He Doesn't Want You To Know About: The $100 Million Pyramid Scheme.

For those who couldn't afford to buy their way into the upper echelons outright, there were of course GIN membership levels beyond Level 1; as I noted above, the original plan, and one that still seems in place though yet to be realized, was for there to be 12 levels. The actual cost for these higher levels, however, was generally kept a deep dark seekrit -- in other words, "CLASSIFIED." However, according to John Foster in the above-cited Road-Kill book (page 50), the upfront costs for the first six levels were:

  • Level I: $1,000
  • Level II: $1,500
  • Level III: $1,500
  • Level IV: $3,000
  • Level V: $10,000
  • Level VI: $25,000

What members were supposedly paying for were, in essence, ascending levels of "Success Mastery" training: a curriculum created/curated by Trudeau, with a lot of help from selfish-help/McSpirituality/motivational material generated over the past century or so. Members presumably had to study the material for each level, and were then required to take a test in order to pass from one level to the next. (There was also a shipload of Scientology-like indoctrination involved.)

Apart from the "Success Mastery" training, members were promised numerous other "benefits," much of which apparently consisted of little more than nebulous promises of exciting things to come, including lots of secret information that just wasn't available anywhere else, such as life-saving info about what would happen when the world ended, or failed to end, in December of 2012. You could find out more details about these exciting things, and you could learn more exclusive life-saving information, if you paid more money so you could be promised yet more details and information if you would pay yet more money... and so forth, and so on. As well, there were all sorts of pricey "tools," aggressively promoted by Trudeau cronies such as Blaine Athorn and Chris McGarahan, that were supposed to help you build your own GIN MLM business rapidly and achieve wealth and bliss beyond your wildest dreams.

If you didn't want to commit any money to GIN at the outset, there was, as I also indicated near the beginning of this post, an option to sign up as a free Associate Member, a membership that was only good for twelve months, and would be automatically canceled when the time was up. If you desired more GIN but couldn't afford the initiation fee, for a while there was a deal that allowed Associate Members to join GIN for free (at least free initiation -- they'd still have to pay the $150 monthly membership fee) if they could successfully sucker four paying members into joining under their personal Information Code. But even or especially if they did nothing, Associate Members could count on being continually pressure-marketed to upgrade to a Level 1 membership. And regardless of how little they paid to get to Level 1, they would pay through the nose to climb to more advanced levels.

On the origin of feces
GIN -- not to be confused (though apparently it often is) with
a much older, and legitimate, nonprofit news organization by the same name -- was officially launched in the latter part of 2009, though it had apparently been years in the planning. A blurb on the home page of the new site claims:

The Global Information Network was conceived in Istanbul Turkey at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in 2003 by over 15 global luminaries and formally established in 2009. We currently have Members in over 160 countries.

Not surprisingly, those "over 15 global luminaries" are not named, which is part of that whole "secret and exclusive" appeal, which apparently worked so well in 2009 that it is enjoying new life. Shades of the infamous though nonexistent "GIN Council" that drew in so many gullibles back in the day...

In the years after its launch, GIN continued to grow, raking in many millions of dollars for Kevin and a very few of his very close buddies, though for everyone else... not so much. But the wild party continued, on land and on sea, until in 2013, when the legal sh-t started really hitting the fan for Kevin regarding a longstanding civil-turned-criminal case not related to GIN (the case that eventually led to his being sentenced to a ten-year Federal prison term). GIN was taken over by a receivership, after which the MLM was discontinued for a while. Eventually, in May of 2014, GIN was sold to a group of Trudeau's longtime associates.

The lineup of owners changed over the years, with the most recent group that I know of being Blaine Athorn and chiropractors Ted and Tom Morter,
as announced on the Morters' web site in February 2018. In light of Trudeau's apparent release and the rather significant changes to the GIN site, it's possible that ownership has changed yet again, and I'll report that when/if I find out any new information.

The sale of GIN led to a bit of re-branding for the club, including a new web site and a brand new logo consisting of an ultra-modernistic rendering of the letters "GIN." Frankly, I kind of liked the more modern look of that initial redesign, but I've heard buzz that the folks responsible for all of that were fired once Kevin was more free to dictate things from the shadows. I suspect that Trudeau never really cared for the new logo, no doubt preferring the original mock-US-government seal, but while he was cooped up in prison he may not have had full artistic control. (Not that he didn't remain a distinct presence in GIN throughout his sentence; more on that momentarily.)

Following the sale of GIN to Katie's buddies, the MLM remained dormant for a while,
though the hustling for members continued. At some point, the MLM was restored, though assertively branded as a "referral" program, and the costs for membership at all levels was significantly reduced.

Though no longer the owner of GIN on paper,
Kevin Trudeau continued to run schemes and scams of his own from prison, and he kept in very close touch with his buds who "officially" owned GIN. Towards the end of his prison term, while he was on "home release," it became increasingly obvious that he was, at the very least, shadow-running GIN. And as his release date neared (supposedly the official date was May 9, 2022), the KT fraud machine appeared to be revving up to full speed again.

The new old GIN and its new old secrets
And now here we are. It's a brand new day with the same old same old, with Kevin apparently back at the helm again full time as if he'd never really left. (And, as indicated above, he never really did.) At least the question that I first raised
back in December 2019 and then asked again in January 2020 has seemingly been answered for the moment. Those Whirled posts referred to extensive content on some new-at-the-time pro-Kevin sites that had described, in great detail, Kevin's magnificent visions for "The Club," and "The Ship" and whatnot.

The question I raised was whether the un-named Club was GIN, or if Kevin had plans to form his own new club once he was released. It appeared then that he was keeping his options open, and I speculated that he was prepared to stab his stalwart buddies in the back and poach the GIN membership if the cronies didn't do his bidding once he got out. For now, at least. it appears that those grandiose visions are invested in GIN. Why reinvent the wheel?

But the question remains: where are the last-known "official" owners, Athorn and the Morters?
The FAQ page on the new site isn't exactly forthcoming about GIN ownership.

Q) Who owns, runs, and manages GIN as an entity?
A) The Club is owned by a small group of “Stewards” all of who have been Members of the Club since its inception. Several are also Founders of GIN. The Club has a number of full-time staff members, all who were high-level members of our Club for many years before they were brought on as full-time staff. We also have over 150 GIN Members who are part of the Volunteer Service Corps. The full-time staff and part-time volunteers, all who have been long-time GIN Members, “run” and manage the Club under the direction of the “Stewards” and the main “Founder” of GIN.

Oooo... more seekrits! "Stewards"... my goodness, that does sound mysterious and important. The main "Founder" of GIN is Kevin himself, of course, though his name is only mentioned on two of the site's public pages.

The Stewards are apparently taking great care to distance themselves from GIN's past MLM scam. From
the FAQ page again:

Q) Is this Multi-Level, or are there any “commissions” or some kind of compensation plan for recruiting new members?
A) We are not Multi-Level, nor do we have any “affiliate” program or recruiting bonuses. We do not pay to “recruit”. In fact, we do not recruit. Members do not earn any commissions under any circumstances. Those who want to join our Club must apply for Membership. Not all applications are accepted. Additionally, we have high standards, and a strong Code of Conduct that must be adhered to. Memberships are sometimes cancelled due to violations of our Code of Conduct.

But we outsiders really don't know for sure if any of that is true, because all of those "Benefits" and "Cash Bonuses/Perks/Rewards" and such are "Classified." I would assume that Judges Robert Gettleman and Ronald Guzman -- who presided over Trudeau's civil and criminal cases, respectively -- are paying close attention, though.

The "Kevin Factor" and other bullship visions
As I mentioned above, there are only two pages on the entire publicly accessible GIN site that actually mention Kevin by name -- and it's only his first name. The first is
the "Club Vision" page, which, among many other pipe dreams, envisions a global chain of ideal "villages" built by and for GIN members only.

...The whole community will be built using sacred geometry and infused with energy and attractor fields that will make this village “magical”. This will be an “organic” community who respects the Earth.

Everything will be run by renewable energy and “free energy”.

This will be the “greenest” and most environmentally friendly village on earth; a model for the world.

This community is the epicenter of The Club on land (The Club Flagship, Freedom is the epicenter for The Club on the Seas).

Everything will be the best of the best.

Kevin lives in a “Shangri-La” village (and on the ship), and everything will be better than world class!

All the “Shangri-la” villages are “connected” and regular “rallies” are organized between Members of each village to share different view-point, be together in energy and create a “world-connected” community sharing the same vision and ideals.

And the second area where Kevin's name is mentioned is the page devoted to the vision of a floating garbage barge luxury cruise ship, to be named "Freewinds" "Freedom," designed to house Kevin and potentially thousands of minions in splendid opulence. The page features a stock photo of a cruise ship with the name "FREEDOM" and the new old GIN logo photoshopped on. (And yes, I realize my own Photoshopping (or, actually, Corel Photo-Painting) job is even cruder, but the icons for various retouching and blending tools disappeared from my tool bar, and I can't figure out how to get them back, and I don't want to bother my husband Ron because he is busy.)

Some highlights from the bullship page:

Kevin’s New Residence
The Founder of the CLUB and Visionary of this idea of a ship named “FREEDOM” is Kevin.“Freedom” would be Kevin’s main residence and his “Home”.

“A Better Life” for everyone on board.

As a Member of The CLUB, you’ve earned the privilege to live the life you once dreamed you would. FREEDOM could be a multipurpose large ocean liner providing you the opportunity to live the life you deserve.

A “Floating Clubhouse” and World Headquarters for the CLUB.

When in port, FREEDOM could be open to all CLUB Members and their guests to come onboard and enjoy all the amenities on the SHIP including dining, entertainment, seminars, workshops, exclusive “SHIP ONLY TRAINING”, Upper Level CLUB training, meetings, and events...

As I've noted on several previous posts, being on board a world-cruisin' ship full time would certainly make it easier for Kevin to skirt US laws. I'm just saying. Law-skirting aside, the bullship "vision" is a little too close for comfort to Scientology and that whole Sea Org/slave ship thing, given that the big boat will require a sizeable crew to cater to the wishes of Himself and His minions. The current presentation of that part of the "vision" has been softened quite a bit from the way it was back when I first wrote about it, see under the sub-head, "Kevin's big dream: life on a cruise ship..." etc. (Then again, I've been told by more than one person who knows Trudeau personally that he has El-Ron-ish aspirations.)

But wait, there's more -- there's the "Kevin Factor!"

Why is living and working on FREEDOM “A Better Life”?

The SHIP could provide a living, working and vacationing environment that is “better” than anything you have ever dreamed of or imagined.

Everyone on the SHIP could work, live or vacation with Kevin, just like Kevin. Those who have seen first hand how Kevin has lived can imagine the lifestyle you would enjoy with him in the future.

 The “Kevin Factor” means everything in Kevin’s “world” is better than the best, and more glorious than one could ever imagine.

  • Everything is better than First Class.
  • Everything is grander than Grand Class.
  • Everything is finer and more opulent than World Class.
  • Everything is even beyond Royal Class.
  • FREEDOM could be the world where the “Kevin Factor” reigns supreme.

The “Kevin Factor” mostly means that everything is FUN and that life truly has meaning and purpose.

The “Kevin Factor” means that life is fulfilling and satisfying, and that one has inner peace, joy and bliss.

The “Kevin Factor” is living “A Better Life” than you have ever experienced or imagined. And it COULD be yours!

On the SHIP you might sleep on the finest mattress, on the most luxurious sheets, with the world’s greatest pillow, all that have been cleaned and pressed by your personal maid.

You might wake with the programmed sounds of chirping birds and a special full spectrum lighting system that slowly brings the room into full brightness, just like the rising sun. It is the perfect healthiest way to be awakened from the best sleep of your life.

Your personally selected affirmations play automatically as you are still in your Alpha brain wave state, “programming you for success, health, and happiness”.

You shower in the cleanest, purest filtered, energized water that can be produced....

But this, and all of the other Utopian wet dreams laid out in garish detail on the web site, can only become a reality if you start pumping money into GIN, as soon as possible and as much as possible.

By the way, in case your vibes are so low that you encounter a significant problem with GIN and Kevin and the Stewards, and you decide that you want to take any of them to court, good luck. From the Terms of Use page:

These Terms of Use will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the country of Nevis, without regard to its choice of law provisions.

Nevis...why, yes, of course. It was Nevis from the beginning, and Nevis now. And for good reason.

Some things never change.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May melee: much too much to muse on

Another month has flown by with your increasingly distracted hostess being absent from her Whirled for almost the entire month. It's not that I don't have enough material on which to muse: to the contrary, the problem is that there's too much, and (though this isn't really a problem) there's also the for-pay writing and editing and so forth that are the first priority. But I'm keeping my dogged and perhaps irrational commitment to post at least one offering each month, even if it's a mere stub of a post.

To tell the truth, Scamworld per se hasn't weighed on my mind over the past few weeks quite as much as matters that are far more serious, though sometimes related to Scamworld and scammers. One obvious weighty topic is the
May 24, 2022 school shooting/mass murder in Uvalde, a small rural town west of San Antonio. That gruesome and almost certainly preventable incident, which left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead, plus more than a dozen people injured, once again highlighted Texas' status as the proud leader of both gun lunacy and gun-related deaths in the United States. Talk about Texas exceptionalism... or Texceptionalism, as the case may be.

Of course, gun-nuttery isn't the only shining example of Texceptionalism, thanks to regressive republican Texas politicians and
the increasingly crazy and brutal laws they're foisting on the rest of us.

Naturally, right-wingnuts in Texas and all across America are blaming everything but guns for Uvalde and the countless other mass shootings that have dominated the American news cycle in recent years. Included in the blame game are "wokeness" and "critical race theory" -- not to mention the LGBQT community, illegal immigration, "the left," and other rethuglican bugaboos -- but never, never are guns and those who worship them to blame.

Despite the recent carnage in Uvalde,
the annual NRA (Nazi Republican Armies) convention was held elsewhere in the state this past weekend, in my former hometown of Houston. Some of the rethuglican luminaries who'd been scheduled for in-person appearances -- e,g., Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and assorted other scoundrels -- cancelled their attendance, though Guv'ner Assbutt still managed to be a presence at the gun orgy. (In lieu of wheeling his way into the NRA, the guv'ner opted for another trip to Uvalde, where he was... well... not enthusiastically received.)

On the other hand, loathsome weasel
Ted Cruz and #NeverWasMyPresident Donald John Trump appeared at GunCon in the (rotting) flesh -- blaming, of course, everything except guns and the people who cherish them for the horror in Uvalde. Trump's speech was particularly offensive; after feigning compassion by staging a Hunger Games-ish sing-song reading/mispronunciation of the Uvalde victims' names, complete with a gong sound after each name, he did a little dance. As reprehensible as he is, though, he remains a hero among the gun loonies, not to mention the hero and de facto leader of the entire rethuglican party.

To add endless insult to boundless injury -- and here is where my Whirled's original beat and American politix converge in an unholy union -- Trump has expanded his grift by hitting the "motivational" speaker circuit as part of the "American Freedom Tour," as reported by Axios earlier this month. It could be argued that he hasn't been off the speaker circuit since his presidential campaign began in 2015, what with the endless string of fascist pep rallies he has conducted -- but the "motivational" gig goes above and beyond the fascist to-dos.

It can be pretty pricey, for one thing: though tickets for the riff-raff start at a mere nine bucks for the "Satellite tier," which apparently grants the lucky ticket holder the right to watch the program on a TV screen in an overflow room, "Presidential tier" tickets cost nearly $5,000, and the promoters won't even list the price for the top "Patriot tier."

By now I'm far beyond caring about individuals who actually get grifted by Trump. At this point, anyone stupid or willfully blind enough to still admire him deserves to be scammed. I do, however, care about the countless folks who have been, are being, or will be harmed by the ugly stain of Trumpism, which is far more to blame for the mass shootings in America than "wokeism" or "critical race theory." All I can say now, to eligible voters in the United States, is this: Vote blue in November and beyond. The Democratic Party is far from perfect, but the other party is batshit crazy.

I'll be back in June, which is just around the corner. I'd like to say that I hope it will be a calmer month, but I wouldn't count on it.

 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

"And you can too!" Musings on the myth of meritocracy

As Elon Musk prepares to take over Twitter -- unless, that is, he's just trying to manipulate the stock market or get more attention for himself or both, and he ends up sabotaging the deal -- many are celebrating, while many are warning that it's the end of the world, or at least of Twitter. I'm more on the "end of Twitter" side, but am not panicking because my life doesn't revolve around tweeting. It's possible that even if Musk does assume control, not much will change on Twitter despite all of the sound and fury.

For now, I find Twitter to be a (mostly) pleasant diversion, and I didn't join the stampede off of the platform when the news was first announced of Musk's potential takeover. One of my favorite writers that I follow on Twitter is
Jared Yates Sexton, self-described "Hoosier, Political Analyst, Prof, Muckrake Podcast," and author of the upcoming book, The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis (to be published in January 2023).

I'm always interested in what Sexton has to tweet, and
a thread he initiated earlier today (April 30, 2022) caught my eye. It began:

Not going to lie, it’s been a great time watching all these mainstream commentators work themselves into believing Elon Musk might actually make Twitter better and then he immediately started posting troubling political takes and telling people to throw out their meds.

Sexton continued:

It’s been a good reminder that a lot of journalists and pundits the Right constantly attacks as being “Leftist” are just free-market worshipers who are as devoted to the myth of meritocracy as anybody.

For those who don’t get it, because Musk is rich it HAS to mean to these people that he’s uniquely talented and capable. They have a religious faith in the market that, despite all evidence to the contrary, cannot be shaken. The idea that privilege plays a role isn’t considered.

When considering media and politics, always remember these circles are populated by white people with money who believe they got there because they’re innately talented. That belief in the fraudulent meritocracy is necessary for their own identity and colors their worldview.


I think he's spot-on. Meritocracy is indeed largely a myth, and a uniquely American one in many ways. It is marginally less cruel than the traditional article of (bad) faith that poverty is a moral failing and that the poor deserve their horrid lives, while the wealthy are superior human beings whose superiority has been rewarded by Providence -- but it is still a myth, and cruel in its own ways. In any case Sexton is exactly right: Privilege plays a much greater role in the making of your average (or above-average) obscenely wealthy person than even many non-right-wingers care to admit. Elon Musk himself is nothing if not the product of privilege.
 

Privilege plays a big part in successful wealth hoarding, and so, for that matter, do sociopathy, ruthlessness, and an unceasing determination to game the system in ways both legal and illegal.

Nevertheless, the idea (or illusion or delusion) that every one of us is a billionaire or at least a millionaire in the making just won’t go away. As my friend Steve Salerno, author of the mostly dormant but still relevant
SHAMblog, has written, “Hope springs infernal.”

Steve's context, as you know if you're at all familiar with
his work, was the world of selfish-help/motivational/McSpirituality scammers, which were the primary focus of his blog in its heyday. And in case it isn't obvious, the selfish-help industry is relevant to Sexton's thread because ever since its beginnings many, many decades ago, that industry has played a major role in perpetuating the stubborn American cultural myth that untold wealth is well within the reach of the average person -- if only they're willing to work at it, have something of value to offer, and believe in themselves (and in more recent years, of course, are willing to follow the advice of whichever inspirational guru happens to be on the talk show or late-night infomercial they're watching).

It is that very illusion that spurs so many people who should know better to cheerlead for Elon Musk and his ilk.

Contemporary Scamworld hucksters aggressively push the myth of "easy" wealth, using their own success stories as an example, whether or not those stories are entirely true, or even a little bit true. As I have discussed numerous times on this Whirled over the years, the most successful selfish-help hucksters have made their fortunes by convincing folks that “I did it, and you can, too!” Thirteen years ago, I wrote a little song-in-search-of-a-tune called,
"I've Gotta Find Me A Scam," and it still applies -- particularly the second verse:

They’re gonna make me a star
If I make ’em believe
That they’re more than they are
Make ’em believe that the world can be theirs
And that they’re all destined to be zillionaires.

One of this blog's favorite subjects, formerly imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, has made much of his ill-gained gold flogging the "you can too" theme. While his primary means of picking people's pockets has been his pretense that he has seekrit information that "They" don't want you to know, he also attracted thousands, particularly in the glory daze of his mega-scam GIN (the Global Information Network) by boasting about how healthy and wealthy and successful he was. And he's far from the only one in his scammy industry to use that hook.

Elon Musk, on the other hand, doesn't need to overtly boast about his wealth under the pretext of offering your average mediocre citizen a hand up to his lofty heights. This isn't to imply that Musk doesn't flaunt his wealth and influence; of course he does -- the potential Twitter takeover being but one example, and his space-phallus fetish being another -- but he doesn't have any need to overtly boast in the crass and relatively amateurish way that lower-echelon hucksters must do in order to gain and maintain a fan base whose pockets they can pick directly.

There are other differences between your average wealthy Scamworld player and Elon Musk, of course -- not only in scale of wealth and in the way that they flaunt their wealth, but, some might argue, in the actual value they contribute to society and the world at large. After all, his defenders say, Musk's company makes electric cars, which however flawed do have a practical value, and his forays into space might arguably benefit humanity, somehow, someday. On the other hand, when it comes down to tangible product, Kevin Trudeau and even the perennially successful Tony Robbins fall short, primarily selling illusions and false hope. To quote my song without a tune again:

All I’ll be selling is hope
Worth more by far
Than the best Maui dope
Granted, the high doesn’t last quite as long
And costs a lot more. But is that so wrong?

It’s what people want, after all:
Bright shiny visions
To keep them in thrall
It’s all in the packaging, all in the hype
Oh, I can make millions by marketing tripe!

The point is that whether we’re talking about Scamworld hucksters or multi-billionaires such as Musk et al., their success often relies not chiefly on merit or on providing value, but on privilege, as Sexton noted -- and also on a heapin' helpin' of hustling and scamming. And if they're even marginally successful, in the ways that our shallow culture defines success, they will have their fan bois and girlz.

Even if the multi-billionaire or Scamworld huckster in question spews misinformation or lies or hate speech, or behaves atrociously, or in some other way makes it pretty obvious that he or she is a horrible human being, all too many average folks will continue to grovel, hoping that even if they can't succeed on their own merits, perhaps some of that magic wealth fairy dust will somehow, someday, rub off on them.

Spoiler: It won't.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Time Marches on, and grifters like Kevin Trudeau (and Donald Trump) are still grifting

 

It has been a very busy March for me, and now it's almost April. But in the interest of posting something on this Whirled before the month runs out, here is yet another timely reminder that serial scammer Kevin Trudeau (who may or may not be officially "released" from his 10-year prison sentence -- see graphic above, from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator site), is still a serial scammer, despite persistent attempts by him and his minions to brand him as a humbled, selfless servant to humanity.

Here is one of the most recent performative-humility missives; dated March 21, 2022, it's from the Official Kevin Trudeau Fan Club Page on Facebook:

I tried to follow the link to the full article on the GuruKev site, but apparently it's all password-protected now. It appears that Team KT is really aggressively building that list, prepping for even bigger and better grifts.

But stop, look, and listen. If you haven't done so already, or if you just need a reminder about an anything-but-humble leopard who won't ever change his spots, you can find out more
here.

And
here.

And
here.

And
here.

Painfully aware of my own redundancy, I'll say again that Kevin Trudeau is, always has been, and always will be a grifter -- perhaps on a smaller and less dangerous scale than one of his apparent idols,
Donald Trump, but it's the same kind of deal. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice..."

I'll be back in April with more. And it won't be redundant.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Kevin Trudeau: as prison release date approaches, the KT fraud machine is revving up

From time to time I visit the official Facebook Fan Club Page of serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled. It's at least a marginally reliable gauge of what's going on in Katie's world as his official prison release date of May 9, 2022 approaches (he's currently on a "home release" program overseen by the Bureau of Prisons). One point that has stood out overwhelmingly for me whenever I peruse the page -- and it's a point I've made here several times over the past few years -- is that Trudeau is prepared to hit the ground running with new or expanded scams once he's released, at least to the extent that he can get away with doing so as a newly released felon who presumably will be on probation for a few years. But then again, as also noted here numerous times, he never stopped hustling throughout his incarceration.

Grin and Barrett
In July 2021 I published a post about
Kevin's loyal water carriers begging for bucks on his behalf. One claim made in the minions' message -- which was most likely written by Kevin himself, or at least heavily directed and edited by him -- was that Kevin is more than capable of making zillions of dollars on his own. In part, the message I cited in that post read:

Kevin could easily come out of prison and start an international company again. Mega successful people from all around the world are making multi-million dollar offers to Kevin. They all want Kevin full time and they want to be a business partner with Kevin.

Kevin is getting offers for large amounts of equity in companies, huge salaries, board positions, multi-million dollar cash advances and more to commit full time to their ventures.

The issue, explain the minions, is that as a now-enlightened spiritual master (just call him GuruKev), Kevin will be solely focused on humbly serving humanity ("Selfless Service," no less!), and on lifting the collective vibration of the planet. But he still needs to live, of course, and he needs moneys to do it, and since he'll be too busy saving the world to earn those moneys, he needs a bunch of people to fork over (and over and over and over).

I originally shared that fan club post under the assumption that more than likely most of it is hyperbole, as is the case with anything remotely related to Kevin Trudeau's marketing efforts. Then again, given the serious ethical lapses and scam-friendly business practices of more than one billionaire or rich corporation, maybe there are a bunch of 'em clamoring for Katie. Be that as it may, at least one of his former partners-in-grime, one
Donald Barrett, infamous infomercial producer, has actually issued a public invite to Kevin in hopes, one can only assume, that the two of them can pick up where they left off.

I saw Barrett's message on -- you guessed it -- the Facebook KT fan page. It was a short and simple response to
a February 21, 2022 post in which the admins, clearly attempting to recruit more "volunteers" to serve The Master, urged people to read about what a sublimely splendid experience it is to "work with Kevin":

Donald W. Barrett KT... Where are you? I can be anywhere anytime.

Like Kevin, whose infomercials Barrett used to produce, Donald has had his share of troubles with some of the alphabet agencies of the US government, most notably the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Feds took issue some years ago with his claims that a frauduct he was peddling, Supreme Greens, could cure multiple diseases, including arthritis and cancer. He was also nailed for his participation in an infomercial for Trudeau's weight-loss book -- the same matter that ultimately landed Kevin in prison. And to top it off, he got in a spot of trouble with the IRS for failing to report a fairly substantial amount of income from his frauduct-pushing.

Unlike Trudeau, though, Barrett was able to avoid serious prison time.
From Salem News, October 7, 2011:

Yesterday, Barrett was given a year of probation by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns. Three months will be spent in a halfway house, and three more on home confinement.

Barrett will also not have to pay the $3,000 fine prosecutors had sought.

It's not entirely clear why, since not only did Barrett's lawyers insist on filing their sentencing memorandum under seal, but U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns did not include any specific reasons for the decision in the written sentencing order.

In court, the judge cited only the family circumstances raised by Barrett's attorneys, and in his order listed an "inability to pay" as the reason for waiving the fine.

Barrett's attorneys, William Kettlewell and William Lovett, asked that their sentencing memorandum be sealed from public view because it contains "confidential personal and medical information" about a family member, and also asked the judge to impound the transcript of their sidebar discussion with the judge, according to the case docket.

It appears that there's another thing Barrett has in common with KT: an "inability" to pay the fine imposed for his misdeeds. And Barrett had it relatively easy: his fine was only $3,000.00, as opposed to the nearly $40 million that Trudeau had accrued. But if ya can't pay, ya can't pay.

This piece from Truth in Advertising, originally published in 2013 and updated in 2015, has some info and commentary about both Trudeau and Barrett. While the updating of the article was apparently incomplete -- contrary to a claim in the last paragraph, Trudeau did, in fact, end up in prison -- the core message is spot-on: you can't keep a bad ad man down.

In any case, it seems that Donald Barrett is up and running with a whole new string of hustles, at least if
his Facebook page is a reliable indicator. The Intro blurb on his Facebook page describes him as, "Rated as America’s top marketing consultant’s [sic]." When I looked on his page I saw that he is only followed by 159 people at the moment, but I'm sure there will be many, many more as people wake up to the realization that he is, after all, America's top marketing consultant's [sic].

These daze Barrett seems to be heavily involved in the cannabis industry -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but apparently he's always looking for new business ops. And what better partner to partner with than his old buddy Kevin Trudeau? Who knows... if the two of them get together and start something up again, maybe Barrett's next fine will be much greater than $3,000.00, and he may actually be rewarded with some real prison time. It's something to aspire to, anyway.

The banned plays on (but not on the KT FB page)
I would gladly have attempted to answer Donald Barrett's question about KT's whereabouts, at least to the best of my ability. I would have told him that, as reported on this January 2022 Whirled post, his last known location was in the home of long-time Trudeau loyalist David Krueger, who lives in a near-northwest Chicago suburb. (Trudeau may very well be somewhere else by now, since one of his reported goals is to get back into luxurious surroundings as soon as possible, but he was staying with Krueger as of late 2021.)

But I couldn't write that on the KT Facebook fan page, because it appears that I have finally been banned -- more specifically, blocked from participating in any manner on that page. I'd actually discovered my pariah status earlier this month when I visited the page to see if there was a post about the February 2, 2022 death of longtime KT loyalist and substantial financial supporter Ed Foreman.

Ed not only poured money into Kevin's coffers for years, but he also contributed heavily to the myth of Kevin as a hero and martyr,
this recap of Kevin's legal troubles being one example. He even caused a bit of a ruckus in court during the sentencing phase of Kevin's criminal trial (and had to be physically dragged out of the courtroom by federal marshals, and was fined for his efforts). And he shamelessly groveled at the feet of #NeverWasMyPresident Donald Trump just before Trump took office, begging him (in vain, as it turned out) to commute Kevin's prison sentence and pardon him.

But I didn’t see anything on the Facebook fan page about old Ed. That didn't come as a complete surprise, since I had heard from credible sources that Ed had issues with KT being kind of a dickhead since being semi-released from federal sleepaway camp. (I mentioned that in the above-cited January 2022 post as well.) It’s possible that Ed finally saw the light towards the end of his long life, and that he renounced his membership in the Kevin Trudeau Inner Circle of Worship. If that was the case, it's very possible that The Great Master forbade the minions from ever uttering Ed's name again, or perhaps the omission was the decision of the fan page admins, out of deference to their Master. (If I'm wrong, tell me and I'll publish a correction.) 

I am not blocked from seeing or sharing the posts on the KT fan page, only from commenting or even responding — so no more of my ha-ha emojis in response to one of their ludicrous posts that everyone else on that forum takes as profound wisdom. For more than two years, much to my surprise, the admins tolerated my contributions, though a few comments were removed and my words were almost always ignored by the faithful, who, I imagine, considered me to be one of those “rats in your head” that Kevin used to warn them about.

Apparently, however, my last contribution was the last straw. It was a response to
a January 31, 2022 post about one of the Kevin Trudeau channels on Telegram. Telegram, as I've previously mentioned, is the infamous social messaging app preferred by right-wing extremists and a host of other unsavory characters in the eight or so years that it has been in existence. Telegram's operational center is in Dubai, UAE, and the owners don’t do much if any moderation, so it’s pretty much "anything goes." Of course, I'm sure that the KT Telegram channels are all on the up-and-up.

At any rate, the post on the KT fan page requested that readers ask Kevin anything, the idea being that he will choose a question to answer on one of his future Telegram performances, which apparently happen every Saturday. Always eager to constructively participate in a conversation, I was the first person to post a question, and it was a perfectly legitimate one, but I guess they didn’t like it.

All I wanted to know was whether Kevin intends to continue promoting the
Global Information Network, aka GIN, once he is released from prison, or if he intends to start an entirely new club… or if it all depends upon the willingness of the current “official” GIN owners, the Morters and Blaine Athorn, to do Kevin’s bidding. I think it’s a completely valid question -- one that I've certainly asked here before -- and that it is something GIN members and prospective members need to know, so they can make an informed decision before throwing their money down the toilet.

My guess is that Kevin didn’t like that question. Or perhaps he never even saw it, and the admins just finally got tired of me, which is perfectly understandable because I can be very annoying. Anyway, my question is gone from that forum and so, it seems, am I. The admins are well within their rights to ban anyone they want -- I'm not whining about "censorship" or "First Amendment violations," because neither of these applies -- and I'm surprised it took them so long to get rid of me. But rest assured that I will continue to ask those uncomfortable questions on this forum, and I will also provide uncomfortable answers here, or highly informed speculation at the very least, whenever I receive credible information.

Frauducts in store
It remains to be seen exactly how Kevin Trudeau will exercise his considerable flim-flamming talents once he's released back into the wild. His loyal water carrier Tonya Canada, one of the founders of the fan club and an admin on the fan club's Facebook page,
assures us that he has big dreams and visions.

It has been such an honor to work with Kevin for over a year. We have email contact nearly every day. I often think how amazing it is that every day I am receiving positive energy from Kevin as he thinks about me as we are emailing back and forth about different assignments & questions.

I consider it a blessing to be one of his volunteer assistants and work directly with Kevin in his “Vision and Dream”. He is working on something HUGE and I am so thankful for my part and the ability to be of service.

Yeah, I have a pretty good idea what that something HUGE might be. He wants to be the leader of a new Scientology-like cult; L. Ron Trudeau, anyone? Meanwhile, Tonya and other proxies are carrying on his work for him now -- again, under his direction -- and I wouldn't be surprised if he was getting a hefty chunk of change from all of their crapitalistic efforts, as well as from GIN. I have no idea if any of that is a violation of the terms of his home release; I guess that's up to the parole board to decide.

Indeed, when it comes to Kevin Trudeau and frauducts, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The "Kevin Trudeau Fan Club Store"
is prominently featured on the KT Facebook fan page, and also on the official Kevin Trudeau Fan Club web site, and seems as clear a sign as any that the Great Master is benefiting from going back to his huckster roots. Some of store's the offerings include:

  • The Fibonacci Life Path Package -- "the ULTIMATE package from I Ching Systems that you can buy!" -- which you can get now for the low, low price of only $3,295.00, marked down from $3,395.00.
  • The Kloud by Centropix -- "A Luxurious At-Home System For Molecular Activation" -- for only $4,990.00. It's part of the "Personal" product line in the KT shop, and one of the devices that "Kevin Trudeau uses to protect his personal energy space and his environment from external sources of stress and chaos." (The Kloud was "casually" mentioned in a worshipful post by a young huckster-in-training; see again this Whirled post (under the sub-head, "A dream come true for three lucky rubes"). If The Kloud is too rich for your blood, there's the Cocoon for only $3,690.00, or if you're a real cheapskate, you can slum around with the Bubble for a mere $890.00.
  • Elk Antler Velvet Platinum -- Surely you can afford this, you tightwad. It's only $240.00 for one whole fl. oz., and it'll help you regain your youthful "go mode" -- your stamina, endurance, strength, and perhaps even your manly manliness, should that be something you're worried about.

But wait, there's more! Granted, I haven't browsed through the entire store -- I can only take a little bit at a time -- so maybe you can browse for me. If so, perhaps you can tell me if Trudeau and gang are still peddling anything by a crackpot named Alex Chiu, whose Immortality Rings and other bat-crap baubles Trudeau promoted in his first Natural Cures book. I wrote about that a few years ago.

I am well aware that in essence there's really nothing new about this store, other than perhaps its framework as an adjunct of the Kevin Trudeau Fan Club; after all, Trudeau and his various partners and supporters have been promoting these very same types of frauducts and services for many years, through Natural Cures, through GIN (via the GIN Store), and through books and infomercials and newsletters and email blasts and every possible way that a frauduct can be promoted. I've written about some of these efforts over the years, e.g., on this July 2014 post (under the sub-head, "Lamp unto my feet"). I highlight the KT Fan Club store offerings now simply as a way of making (or belaboring, as the case may be) my point that Kevin is up to his same old tricks.

I'll continue to monitor and write about the goings-on in the Kevin Trudeau scampire to the extent that's it's possible for an "outsider" to do so. But I can't do it all myself. My lines of communication are always open, should you have anything to add to the conversation. One point is certain, and it's another one I've repeated ad nauseam on this blog: No matter how he brands and re-brands himself, it's a safe bet that Kevin Trudeau has been and always will be all about the hustle.