Monday, May 31, 2021

Right-wing whiners celebrate (unconstitutional) Florida bill against Big Tech "censorship"

 As you've no doubt heard by now, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a Big Tech "censorship" bill into law on May 24, 2021, boasting that it provides, at long last, a defense against Silicon Valley banning conservatives from social media. At least in Florida. From the Orlando Sentinel:

The law would slap daily fines of $100,000 on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Amazon for each statewide political candidate removed from their platforms, and $10,000 a day for other candidates.

Other users must be notified when they’re banned or censored, including when a warning or other notice of false or disputed information is attached to their posts. Users also have the ability to sue companies for violating the law.

A provision of the bill, however, exempts companies that own a theme park, such as Walt Disney Co., which runs Disney+, a streaming service.

Since theme parks are such big business in Florida, the exemption for companies that own them is understandable from a strictly capitalistic perspective, but not from a perspective that has anything to do with free speech or moral principles or any of the other factors that contemporary republicans like to posture about. But even from a capitalistic perspective it's nonsensical in light of the fact that it will probably sabotage efforts by local governments to woo tech firms to Florida. Oops.

Here is
a link to a page that provides links to everything you could possibly want to know about the history of Senate Bill 7072 (which apparently began life, appropriately enough, on April Fool's Day). Here's a link to a PDF of the text of the bill.

Over the past few years I've written numerous blog posts about the rantings and ravings of right-wing nuts who whine that they're being censored because of their "conservatism" -- f'rinstance, Scamworld hucksters like cancer quack/right-wing fanatic/predator
Leonard Coldwell; lunatic rabble-rousers like Alex Jones or Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams; politicians like California's Devin Nunes, or the bastard children of Scamworld and politix such as Donald Trump and Junior.

All of these folks have spent a great deal of time snowflaking about being censored and persecuted and even death-threated because they're bold and fearless "truth tellers" and because the entire social media universe is in a conspiracy against "conservative voices." It's a given that if you're a republican or self-styled conservative these daze, you have a persecution complex that's bigger than Trump's butt in a pair of tennis shorts.

So it's no surprise that in the lead-up to the signing into law of the Florida bill, right-wing republicans from across the country were engaged in their usual moaning and pearl-clutching about being "censored" on tyrannical social media platforms.
On May 6, 2021, one of my favorite bloggers and Facebook posters, Jim Wright, mused on the utter hypocrisy of the repubs' complaints.

Right Wing congresswoman Elise Stefanik [New York] is mad. Mad! Raging mad. Because her communications director was (briefly) suspended from Twitter.

"Republicans are united in fighting back against Big Tech’s tyranny?"

Something has to be done about this tyranny ... of an automated system briefly flagging an obscure functionary with 24 followers and then restoring the account a few hours later -- like pretty much every poor proletarian who's ever used social media.

Give me unrestricted Twitter or give me death!

Republicans are united in fighting against this tyranny!

Republicans. Yes, Republicans are united against the tyranny of big ... business?

Really?

The same 256 congressional Republicans who VOTED AGAINST NET NEUTRALITY and DELIBERATELY gave the very same big tech companies the power to decide who could and could not access the internet?

THOSE Republicans?

Are THOSE the Republicans united against Big Tech's tyranny?

The same "tyranny" they very specifically GAVE those very same companies?

The VERY SAME REPUBLICANS who are "on the march" currently passing laws in a multiple states making freedom of speech and the right to protest illegal in direct violation of the 1st Amendment?

THOSE REPUBLICANS?

Are those the republicans we're talking about here? The VERY SAME REPUBLICANS led by Ron DeSantis who just just passed draconian anti-voting laws in Florida this very morning and barred the press from access to the signing?

Is THAT one of the Republicans we're talking about? The VERY SAME REPUBLICANS who handed Big Tech billionaires a massive tax giveaway? And who rewarded the very same companies they're now complaining about with massive tax breaks? The same Republicans who said those companies were PEOPLE with more rights than actual people? The VERY SAME REPUBLICANS who side with billionaires and corporations and banks over ACTUAL AMERICAN CITIZENS every fucking day?

Are those the Republicans we're talking about?

I mean, godDAMN! Tell me more about these Republicans who are fighting Big Tech, standing up for the little guy, the average citizen.

Let's hear about THOSE Republicans.

Man, I love THAT fucking fairy tale.

That's about the size of it.

But hypocrisy hasn't stopped right-wing nutcakes from celebrating the Florida bill as a win. And some apparently can't wait to start suing those big tech companies, since the law allows individuals to take their grievances to court.

Well, I hate to rain on anyone's parade... no, I don't. I love doing that, at least if it's a fascist parade... but anyway, this bill is almost certainly unconstitutional. The wonderful Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for free speech and equal access online, explains the constitutional flaws of the bill in this May 5 piece, posted a little over two weeks before DeSantis signed it into law. Following a brief history lesson regarding a similar-in-spirit bill from nearly 50 years ago, the writer nails the real reason for the current legislation.

...you might wonder why the Florida Legislature would pass a law doomed to failure, costing the state the time and expense of defending it in court. Politics, of course. The legislators who passed this bill probably knew it was unconstitutional, but may have seen political value in passing the base-pleasing statute, and blaming the courts when it gets struck down.

Politics is also the reason for the much-ridiculed exception for theme park owners. It’s actually a problem for the law itself. As the Supreme Court explained in
Florida Star v BJF, carve-outs like this make the bill even more susceptible to a First Amendment challenge as under-inclusive.  Theme parks are big business in Florida, and the law’s definition of social media platform would otherwise fit Comcast (which owns Universal Studios' theme parks), Disney, and even Legoland. Performative legislation is less politically useful if it attacks a key employer and economic driver of your state. The theme park exception has also raised all sorts of amusing possibilities for the big internet companies to address this law by simply purchasing a theme park, which could easily be less expensive than compliance, even with the minimum 25 acres and 1 million visitors/year. Much as Section 230 Land would be high on my own must-visit list, striking the law down is the better solution.

The EFF piece acknowledges, as I have myself in previous blog posts, that there are real issues that need to be tackled regarding Big Tech's control over public conversation. I think most of us have experienced firsthand the confusion and frustration of being arbitrarily warned, suspended, or even banned by one of the social media platforms for a minor or accidental infraction, when others continue to get away with posting offensive or hateful or bigoted or threatening content. Or maybe, like me, you've reported offensive or threatening content to the platform and have been informed that it doesn't violate their community standards.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall that a few years ago, I was receiving harassing messages and emails as a direct result of a series of Facebook screeds posted by the notorious Leonard Coldwell, in which he falsely accused me of killing his favorite dog (!). He published my home address and cell phone number, the latter of which he could only have gotten from a mutual former friend of ours, or from an inquiry I had sent to the Mount Pleasant, SC police department regarding a police report about Coldwell (I never received a response from the PD, but later found out that my inquiry, address and all, became part of that report).

Along with the doxxing, Coldwell openly invited his followers to get in touch with me directly and let me know exactly what they thought about my vicious act. It was his lame and cowardly attempt to silence me, by inciting his followers to do his dirty work for him, because he was angry about the blog posts I had written about his quackery, scams, and general awfulness.


People were threatening to burn down my house in the middle of the night, and they were holding public discussions on Coldwell's Facebook page about all of the things that should be done to me as punishment for killing the dog -- shooting me, poisoning me, slowly torturing me to death...oh, yes, I got to read all of those sick and twisted fantasies posted by the sick and twisted followers of a sick and twisted man. Coldwell also posted some graphically detailed -- and false -- allegations about me sexually harassing him.
I was blocked from participating on his forums so I couldn't even defend myself.

I reported these posts to Facebook... and Facebook said the posts didn't violate their community standards. Nice. Ultimately most of the posts were taken down, but some still remain.

So yeah, there's a lot that needs to be worked out with the tech giants; they do need to be reined in. A good starting place:
The Santa Clara Principles On Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation, which the EFF and numerous other non-profits came up with a few years ago. It's a reasonable basic guideline.

But unconstitutional laws like Florida's SB 7072 that pander to right-wing lunatics and whiners are not the answer to this problem that affects every one of us -- conservative, liberal, or apolitical.

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Still here...just not totally present

Oh, dear, it seems that April has been another challenging collection of weeks in which other matters took priority over blogging. But there's always May... and beyond. Thank you for stopping by; I'll be back again soon. Meanwhile, as a consolation prize to the two or three folks who may have been hoping for an actual blog post, here's a .gif of my two youngest, Dobby the dog and Orlando the half-grown kitten -- collectively known around here as Doblando -- celebrating their friendship. It's an appropriate image to share on a day when it has been raining cats and dogs in my neck of the woods. I thought for a while that the rain would never stop. But you know what they say... April showers bring May blog posts. Or something like that.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

El-Ron is dead. Long live Kevin Trudeau!

 March has been yet another month in which I mostly neglected my Whirled. Life sometimes gets in the way of hobby-blogging. I've had several items on the back burner for months, but let's start with a topic that's probably predictable if you're at all familiar with this blog: serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, who has been serving a ten-year(ish) federal prison sentence for criminal contempt related to hugely deceptive infomercials for a weight-loss book he perpetrated years ago.

Trudeau served most of his time in a minimum-security Federal sleepaway camp (FPC Montgomery, Alabama), but since January of 2021
he has been in home confinement in a private residence in the Chicago area, where, if he's a good boy, he'll be allowed to finish serving out his sentence. His scheduled release date is either May 2022 or July 2022, depending upon the source to which you're referring.

Now, just what he's going to be able to do once he's totally "free" is still open to question.
I wrote about that in January of 2020.

More recently, Trudeau has captured the attention of one of my favorite writers,
Tony Ortega, author of the Underground Bunker blog as well as a couple of engrossing books, all of which take a relentless look at the evil cult-religion Scientology. In January of this year, Ortega published a blog post about the similarity between Kevin Trudeau's sales pitches and those of Scientology as Trudeau's release from prison draws nearer.

Trudeau can hardly wait to get back in the saddle, and his Global Information Network (GIN) is anticipating his release by starting to book personal sessions with him after he gets out. Yes, if you book early, you can secure in-person counseling with a man who never lets government fines and prison sentences from selling himself as the best life coach you could ever want.

Thanks to a reader, it’s been brought to our attention how much his GIN program is looking more and more like Scientology. In fact, we think you’re really going to be struck by the vocabulary Trudeau uses as he offers a new “level” of counseling he’s calling “Director VIII.”

Trudeau’s own involvement in Scientology is a little mysterious. He recommends in his books that readers try out Dianetics and Scientology. And as the Business Insider profile indicates, Trudeau’s second wife, Kristine Dorow, said that their prenup “obligated her to reach a certain level in Scientology, which Trudeau has dabbled in over the years.” Some former Scientologists have also claimed to have seen Trudeau at facilities in Los Angeles. But his actual involvement in Scientology is not well known.

Actually, this stuff has been going on for a long time, and while the extent of Trudeau's involvement in Scientology may not be widely known, his long-time affinity for Scientology is well-known among those who have been obsessively following him. Moreover, while the essence of the Underground Bunker post is accurate -- particularly the point that Trudeau/GIN use Scientology-ish language -- Ortega's take on the "in-person counseling" and the "new level of counseling" is a little misleading. What is actually being promoted is a new level of GIN membership -- Level 8 (or VIII, if you prefer) -- with the initial training session to be delivered in person by Kevin himself on some date (still to be determined) after he has completed his prison sentence. (GIN's plan from the beginning was to eventually offer 12 membership levels.)

And it's not just a matter of "booking early" -- in theory, anyway, you have to join GIN, and then you have to work (and pay) your way up through Levels 1-7 by a certain date in order to qualify.
I wrote about the "Level 8" training scheme in January 2020.

That said, Ortega was spot-on about the continuing influence of Scientology on Kevin Trudeau. It goes even deeper than influence, though: judging from some of the content that has been posted on Trudeau-approved web sites, Trudeau has aspirations to be a massively influential cult leader much like the late L.
Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. I wrote about this at length in December 2019; in particular, scroll down to the part about "Kevin's big dream..."

SeaOrg, anyone?

I first wrote about the GIN/Trudeau/Scientology connection in July 2012, focusing on the cult-like indoctrination tactics that were used on GIN members. This was back when GIN's chief revenue generator was the club's scammy multilevel marketing scheme and its progressively pricey membership levels. GIN is still selling progressive levels of membership, but for a lower price, and it's no longer an MLM, although members still get referral/affiliate fees.

The embedded links to the "questionnaires" in my 2012 post are no longer valid, but I did take the liberty back then of copying and pasting some of the questionnaires, which faithful GIN members were supposed to answer on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. They were taught that by performing all of the items on the lists, they would ensure their business -- that is, their GIN downline -- was a success. Just looking at the lists is enough to make one's head spin; someone would have to be truly OCD (or totally indoctrinated) to actually do all of that stuff. And it would leave very little time left over for an actual life.

But then, that's the whole idea: dedicate your life to the Master, and if not your life, then at least all of your money, including money you don't actually have.

Granted, Trudeau has been pretty quiet since he's been in the home-release program, and his proxies haven't exactly been churning out tons of Kevin-dictated/approved posts on
his main Facebook fan page lately, as they did in the recent past. Some of his defenders have speculated that, congruent with claims Kevin himself has made in courtrooms and on social media over the years, he really has emerged from his prison ordeal a changed and humbled man who is sincerely interested in helping others and making the world a better place.

But I'm not buying it. I seriously doubt that Trudeau's silence stems from humility, though I'd be willing to bet that it's motivated at least in part by a desire to convince certain judges that there's nothing to see here: that Kevin Trudeau is no longer even remotely interested in being a huckster and cult leader. If the judges are smart, they won't buy that.

PS ~ Here's my take on the excellent Business Insider piece, from January 2015, that Tony Ortega cited in his blog post.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Winter has come and gone (for now), but its effects linger on

Once again I've been remiss in blogging this month. I suppose I could have put the blame for my absence on the Great Texas Snow/Ice Storm, which caused much more suffering (and death) than it should have, mostly related to massive power outages. And those outages are due in no small part to Texas' long history of (mostly) republican malfeasance, characterized by fealty to the almighty oil and gas industry and the power companies, and an intractable profits-before-people philosophy.

Indeed the winter storm was one factor in my Whirled absence -- and Ron and I might have gladly escaped to Cancun or some other warmer paradise like the infinitely detestable
Senator Fled Cruz if that had been an option -- but there have been numerous other distractions as well. It's not the first time that life has gotten in the way of blogging.

Ron and I didn't have it nearly as bad as many thousands of our fellow Texans, and in large part this was because we are in one of the small slivers of the Lone Star State that isn't run by the egregiously misnamed
Electric Reliability Council Of Texas, or ERCOT. Millions of other Texans were not so lucky.

Ron and I had a couple of power outages on the first day of the storm, but they didn't last very long, and we had no more outages for the duration. But many of our friends and family are ERCOT hostages, as is over 90 percent of this humongous state. Winter may have come and gone (at least for now) in Texas, but
it left a trail of devastation.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has been hollering nonstop about investigating ERCOT -- and at his press conferences he's made
quite a big deal of expressing outrage about the suffering and deaths caused by the storm. But he has so far dodged questions about the body that, along with the Texas legislature, oversees ERCOT, the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), members of whom were appointed by Abbott himself and who surely deserve to be in a harsh spotlight. PUC is supposedly investigating ERCOT now, but someone seriously needs to investigate the investigators.

I'm hoping that it will all be sorted out, and that the heads that deserve to roll will finally roll. But this is Texas, so I'm managing my expectations. Meanwhile, if you want to help suffering Texans, like favorite republican scapegoat
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has done, CNN's Impact Your World has published a handy and dynamic list of resources.

I'll be back soon with a more substantial post about Scamworld stuff, though there may be some politix thrown in the mix too for good measure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Scammers, wannabes, nutcakes, and scum: snippets for a busy Tuesday

It's been a busy Tuesday here, but there has been too much going on in Scamworld (and Scumworld) to let slide, so I'm just going to serve up a few snippets today.

Ex-GIN "whistleblower" still has a crush on Kevin Trudeau after all
In the years that I've been blogging about
serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie (who, as I reported here on January 6, was recently released to home confinement in the Chicago area, presumably to serve out the remainder of his prison sentence), I've also mentioned a few other bit players in the saga of Trudeau and his mega-scam, the Global Information Network, aka GIN. One such is Abe Husein, a former GIN member who, beginning in early 2012, realized the should-have-been-obvious-from-the beginning truth that GIN's multi-level marketing scheme was in fact a scam, and began broadcasting his concerns on Facebook.

By his own admission later on to various news reporters (e.g.,
Ryan Kath at an NBC affiliate and various at ABC News), Abe had joined GIN with the hopes of getting mega-rich from the club's MLM. He also had hopes of getting to hobnob with the global elites on the nonexistent "GIN Council." But when Abe realized that he had in fact been screwed out of some big-bucks "bonuses" that (again, by his own admission) he had been screwing other people, and cheating the system, in order to earn, he cried foul and made a new mini-career of being a whistleblower.

Abe made a series of videos and posted numerous "updates" on Facebook about what a scam GIN was, and what a contemptible crook Trudeau was, and how Trudeau was going to end up in prison and GIN was going to go away. (Trudeau did end up in prison, of course, but GIN is still going strong,
and still very much allied with Trudeau, for that matter).

As a result of Abe's anti-KT/anti-GIN campaign he
was hailed as a hero by those who didn't really know any better, as well as by some who did, but were aligning themselves with him in order to advance their own agendas. He even became a "consultant" on a fictionalized movie based in part upon his GIN experience, The Platinum Bonus, which seems to have been stalled indefinitely, not that it's any big loss. (I have mentioned that project several times on this blog, including a post I wrote when the project was first announced back in 2014 or so, but Google is not being accommodating for some reason, so you'll just have to search through the Whirled archives yourself if you are so inclined.)

The point is that Abe made a very, very big deal out of having been screwed by Trudeau, and his schadenfreude was quite blatant every time Trudeau lost another battle in court, or more damning evidence against Trudeau was introduced, or there were other indicators that Trudeau was prison-bound. Despite this, it was always pretty apparent that Abe himself was a scammer wannabe, and he didn't let any grass grow under his feet post-GIN. He moved on to other projects, including a failed attempt to form an affiliate/MLM-like rival to Uber...a matchmaking service for "sugar babies" and "sugar daddies" (which he publicized on Facebook, and which apparently got him banned, though he came back under a new name)... and various schemes involving cryptocurrency.

So despite his hero-whistleblower shtick vis-à-vis Kevin Trudeau and GIN, it's not surprising that Abe would also have an abiding admiration for the scammer extraordinaire who took him to the cleaners.
That came out today on Facebook, where Abe is currently masquerading as "Mike Smith," but not otherwise attempting to conceal his identity. Apparently the news of Trudeau's pre-release has just now drifted into Abe's awareness. Abe writes, "I know a lot of people think that I hate the man but I have mad respect for him... I wish him well and much success in life. The past is the past..."

Abe would also love to have dinner and drinks with Katie, and "catch up on life."


In a subsequent comment, explaining that he thinks Kevin "has to stay in a half way house now," Abe adds, "I feel sorry for him at this point." Hey, no need to feel sorry for Kevin, Abe, and no need to "wish him well and much success in life." That ship has sailed, and is still sailing (and may literally be sailing someday, if Kevin has his way). The thing is, Abe, that even with his criminal conviction, prison sentence, and "half way house" situation, Kevin Trudeau is a far more successful scammer than you'll ever be. And he would probably love a chance to scam you out of some more money when and if the opportunity arises. "Fool me once..."

In context, then, Abe's seeming turnaround is totally not surprising. But I wonder what his evil buddy (or former buddy?), Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell, another former KT admirer turned "whistleblower" -- who has actually taken credit for Trudeau's imprisonment -- would think about all of that "mad respect" that Abe has for Trudeau.

All of that whining and begging, and still no pardon?!?
Speaking of Kevin Trudeau, it's too bad he was left out of #NeverWasMyPresident Donald John Trump's
last pardon orgy. On a public Facebook group called The Global Information Network (not an official page of GIN), someone mentioned this.


As you most likely know if you've followed this blog, I've been writing for years about
the continual efforts by Trudeau and his fans and followers to get Trump's attention and persuade him to commute Kevin's sentence and pardon him. They wrote countless letters to the White House and to various members of Trump's family and the Trump administration, and they wrote blog posts and social media entreaties, but all to no avail. Apparently Trump had other things on his mind, especially in those final daze.

QAnuts and Softheaded Citizens await the Orange King's restoration
On the other hand, maybe those last-minute pardons weren't Trump's final clemency orgy after all, and perhaps Katie has another chance of being pardoned by Trump -- that is, if one is to believe a growing number of uninformed, misinformed, willfully blind, or just plain dim folk who believe that Trump only pretended to leave office and will be ascending the throne again in a new, "real" America on March 4, 2020.

I have mentioned these points in a few of my recent Facebook threads, but David Gilbert at Vice.com published a report that gives more detail about the current favored conspiranoid narrative that’s the product of the unholy marriage between QAnon and the Sovereign Citizen movement. Gilbert writes:

In the wake of Biden’s inauguration, QAnon followers initially appeared despondent, lashing out that QAnon was a sham. But within days, and at the urging of the movement’s biggest influencers, QAnon followers started to come around, and begin to believe in “the plan” once again.

Here's that link.

You have to wonder what the nutcakes are going to do when March 4 comes and goes and their Cheeto Jesus fails to rise from the dead, politically speaking. No doubt they'll find a way to rationalize, just like the "Christian" End-Timers do when specified dates come and go without their "prophecies" coming true.

Pickup artists get picked up by cops and thrown in jail for part in Capitol riots
Finally, there's some news on the Scamworld-meets-politix front... or in this case, Scumworld-meets-politix, because the PUA (pickup artist) sector of Scamworld truly is just about the scummiest of the scum.

Consider, for example, one
Philip Stedman, a Philly-area PUA scummer and ardent Trumpanzee, who was arrested for his part in the violent insurrection at the Capitol in D.C. on January 6, 2021. From The Philidelphia Inquirer, January 21, 2021:

A self-described Haddonfield sex and “relationship strategist” who hosts a social media show he calls “COVID/CABAL” was arrested Thursday in connection with the Capitol riot investigation.

Prosecutors say Patrick A. Stedman, 32, who bills himself as an expert in “female psychology,” chronicled his storming of the building with videos he posted to his nearly 26,000 Twitter followers in real time.

But even as he crowed online about being “among the first wave” of President Donald Trump’s supporters who “broke down the doors and climbed up the back part of the Capitol building,” he was also telling his followers that antifa was to blame for the incursion.

And a little later in the article....

His daily “sex and female psychology” newsletter promises to answer once and for all the question of what women “really” want from men. (Answer: “They want a man who makes them feel comfort and desire.”)

Last year, Stedman warned about a “Deep State cabal” and “satanic rituals” in an appearance on the “Masculine By Design Mancast” and more recently he warned his adherents on Twitter that “by now, you should all be prepared for what’s coming.”

In fact, FBI agents said in court documents Thursday, Stedman viewed Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally as a history-making event. In the days leading up to it, he encouraged followers to join him in Washington, insisting the date would be commemorated for years to come as a national holiday, “like the 4th of July.”

“You will want to tell your grandchildren you were there,” he wrote.

A worthy member of the Trump Army, in other words.

Then there's
Samuel Fisher of NYC, aka "Brad Holiday," allegedly arrested with "an arsenal of ammunition, two machetes, and an American flag." From The Daily Beast, January 20, 2021:

The day after the attack on the Capitol, Fisher, who operates “LuxLife Dating Coach,” went on Facebook to brag about his role in the insurrection. After being asked if he went on the “frontlines” of the riot, he answered, “It was awesome. It was dangerous and violent. People died...but it was fucking great if you ask me….i got tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed.”

“Seeing cops literally run ... was the coolest thing ive ever seen in my life,” Fisher added. “Cant divulge too much here...but fuck the DC police. In all seriousness and get ready.”

Federal investigators were eventually tipped off to Fisher’s identity by an informant. The informant sent a photo of Fisher in front of a flag that reads, “Don’t Tread on Trump, Keep America Great.” The photo is captioned, “Can’t wait to bring a liberal back to this freedom palace.”

And scrolling down in the Beast piece...

On the now-defunct social media platform Parler, he signal-boosted baseless conspiracy theories about vote fraud and 2020 election theft.

But on his personal website BradHoliday.com, things take a far darker turn: In November 2020, he posted the notorious “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” the infamous forgery used to justify pogroms and genocide against Jewish people.

“The following is a playbook written a long time ago about how the Cabal (Kaballah Subscribers) will gain their goal of ultimate power and control over the human race,” Fisher wrote in a brief preface. “Their father is Leucifer [sic] and they are the sons of Cain.”...

...As late as Jan. 9, three days after the riots, he wrote a post with the title “[President] Joe Biden (and his family) Are Degenerate Criminal Pedophiles.”

Yet another sterling patriot, not to mention a misogynist and a conspiranoid. Trump should be so very, very proud.

That's it for now; I'll be back soon with, I hope, more than snippets.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A sigh of relief before more sh-t hits the fan (but still, a sigh of relief)

  

I freely confess to having been moved to tears several times today while watching the Inauguration coverage. From Lady Gaga's joyous rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," to J-Lo's mashup of "This Land Is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful," to #FinallyAPresidentICanSupportAgain Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s "unity" speech... it all added up to a powerful experience for me -- made all the more potent by the fact that it has been such a long, hard road to this moment.

Arguably, the person who stole the show today was young poet Amanda Gorman, whose poem, "The Hill We Climb" pretty much said it all (and if the embedded video above doesn't work for you, try the link).

Even so, I am not some starry-eyed idealist, a point you surely know if you're even a casual visitor to this blog or to my social media. To me, today felt not so much like the clear beginning of a bold new era of hope and healing (though I would love to believe that it is), but more like getting the news that a very serious and possibly fatal disease has gone into remission. Because I know that the crazies are still out there, and while some of them are merely silly or dim-witted, like the rank-and-file (or maybe just rank) QAnon/Trump-cult Facebook warriors...

Somebody needs more help than The Universe may be able to provide. Just saying.

...others are dangerous, like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol two weeks ago. Most of the United States -- and indeed the world -- may be celebrating, but Trumpism isn't going anywhere. While a clear majority of us may be breathing a collective sigh of relief, I think most of us are also keenly aware that more sh-t is going to hit the fan, and most likely sooner rather than later.

Still, as the late singer/songwriter/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen sang in his famous song "Democracy" (and yes, I know I've quoted this several times before on this Whirled), "...I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet." Our democracy may have been seriously trampled on for the past four years, but it hasn't been destroyed.

 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Sedition! Randy Rainbow on the Trump coup attempt

You might as well laugh... because otherwise it's too easy to sink into despair. The inimitable Randy Rainbow presents a rousing tune from the major new musical, Twiddler With No Proof.

I'm so glad Herr Twitler will be gone from the White House in less than two weeks, but I fear that Trumpism has left an indelible stain on America's blue dress. But brilliant talents like Randy R help keep me sane.

 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Goodbye, Camp Cupcake: Kevin Trudeau is out of prison (sort of)

He's not yet in the wild, and it remains to be seen how many restrictions there are and will be on his activities -- and how (or if) he will try to violate those restrictions -- but serial scammer Kevin Trudeau is out of prison camp, and is currently in home confinement in Chicago, under the auspices of a Bureau of Prisons RRM (Residential Reentry Management) program. [UPDATED January 7, 2021]  

On the last day of last year I dropped a broad hint about the possibility of some startling news that I was sure a lot of folks weren't going to like very much, though I noted that some would be thrilled. That was a coy reference to vague rumors that had been whirling around from a variety of sources for a while, but for which I had no first-hand information, or even second- or third-hand info. And although I still don't have an abundance of details to share at the moment, I can at least tell you this: One of this blog's favorite subjects, serial scammer Kevin Trudeau (aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled) has apparently been released from FPC (Federal Prison Camp) Montgomery, AL, the minimum-security facility where he's been languishing since 2014, and which he fondly nicknamed, "Camp Cupcake."

For a sentimental trip down memory lane,
here's a link to a screenshot of a May 2014 Facebook post praising Kevin's ability to "manifest" that sweet home in Alabama. But all was not sweetness and light, despite FPC Montgomery's status as "the best prison camp in the Country," and its being Camp Cupcake and all that. For nearly seven long years Trudeau and his lawyers and minions spent time, energy, and (other people's) money striving to get him sprung from his lavish digs, even repeatedly/obsessively appealing to President-Reject Donald J. Trump to commute Kevin's sentence and even pardon him -- a matter covered a few times on this Whirled.

It was in January of 2020 that rumors of Trudeau's imminent release from Federal sleepaway camp began heating up,
which I first mentioned here. A little over a week later I published a post about a January 26, 2020 article by Jon Seidel at the Chicago Sun Times, reporting on an email Trudeau had written to Judge Robert Gettleman, who had presided over Trudeau's court cases for many years. Trudeau had asked Judge Gettleman for guidelines on what he would be legally allowed to do once he was released from prison. My post (here's that link again) includes screenshots of the original 2014 sentencing order outlining the terms that the sentencing judge, Ronald Guzman, originally intended for Trudeau's release. In my view, that document provided some pretty good guidelines, but perhaps Trudeau had forgotten about it or had never seen it.

In the following months there were several other rumors, some less credible than others, about Trudeau being liberated from prison well ahead of his originally scheduled release date, which is still listed as May 2022 on the Bureau of Prisons site. (By the way, you're not alone if you're confused about why the date would be 2022 instead of 2024, considering that he was sentenced in 2014 and the sentence was supposed to be 10 years, but presumably the off-and-on confinement he'd been undergoing since 2013 was considered time served. That still doesn't quite add up to a 10-year sentence, but who am I to quibble?)

In April of 2020, rumors of an imminent release suddenly seemed more plausible again due to the COVID-19 crisis;
I wrote about that here. Though nothing seemed to come of those plans either, in that April post I listed several questions that had been raised for me in light of the rumors and reports, and some of those questions are still valid. For I still don't know the exact reason for and terms of Trudeau's release, e.g., how much if anything it had to do with the COVID-19 issue; what sort of restrictions he will be under, and for how long; and so forth.

Speaking of the coronavirus, I've mentioned this before, but if it did play even a marginal part in the early release, that's a bit ironic in light of the fact that over a period of a couple of months last year, Trudeau shared an abundance of cliched conspiranoid blather about how COVID-19 was fake news and no big deal.
Here's a link to my first of two posts specifically about that; in the PS there's a link to the second post.

Another big unknown is the extent to which Trudeau and his minions will go to get him scamming on a much broader scale again. Because you know that's coming. We've been seeing hints of it for a long time -- hints that were amplified in late 2019 with the GuruKev/Nuggets of Gold shticks --
see this December 2019 Whirled post. That post is bursting with evidence that the leopard really hasn't changed his spots, even if he has donned a gaudy cloak of McSpirituality in an attempt to disguise the spots.

Moreover, the seekrit club Kevin founded years ago,
the Global Information Network (GIN) has been using Trudeau to promote their Level 8 "training." GIN is no longer the mega-scam it was back in the Katie daze, and on paper he no longer owns it (though some of his scambuddies do), but he is still GIN's biggest draw, and both the GIN leadership and Trudeau know that.

So yeah, there are still a lot of unknowns, or known unknowns.

Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not Trudeau will ever be held truly accountable for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he scammed from thousands of GIN members between 2009 and the time the court-appointed receiver shut down
GIN's big MLM pyramid. That scam made the diet-book infomercial offenses for which he actually served his prison sentence look trifling by comparison.

* * * * *

[Updated information:] I do have a fairly good idea of where Kevin Trudeau has landed for now, although I will not give any specifics that would compromise any private citizens who might be involved. What I am writing here is based on publicly available information. As of January 7, 2021, Trudeau is no longer listed as being "Not in BOP (Bureau of Prisons) Custody" (as was the case on January 6, when I first published this post); he is now listed as being in the custody of RRM Chicago. I have updated my lead blurb and graphic accordingly.

RRM stands for "Residential Reentry Management," suggesting that wherever he is currently residing -- whether in an actual "halfway house" (residential reentry center) or elsewhere (e.g., home confinement in a private residence) -- he is being overseen by a halfway-house program in the Chicago area, under the auspices of the BOP. This makes sense, as it will make it easier for the courts in which his civil and criminal cases were litigated to keep an eye on him.

I am guessing (though I don't know for sure) that since he is still under supervision, Trudeau has to wear an ankle bracelet. If so, what a comedown from those $6,380.00 cuff links that were part of the exhibits in his criminal trial a few years ago... but on the other hand, an ankle bracelet is ever so much more versatile than cuff links, and you can wear it with any outfit.

What puzzles me is why the news of Kevin Trudeau's release from prison hasn't been shouted from the rooftops by
the GIN fat cats (i.e., current GIN owners Dr. Ted Morter, Dr. Tom Morter, and Blaine Athorn) and/or others who have been clamoring for Katie's freedom for years. At least I haven't heard (or seen) any shouting. Maybe they're trying to save it as a surprise to announce at the next big GIN event -- the Global Family Reunion 2021 -- during which, as it happens, Kevin Trudeau's 58th birthday will fall (February 6). Granted, GFR 21 will have to be virtual due to COVID-19, but no worries: it'll still be barrels of fun. As the promo copy breathlessly states:

GIN is committed to delivering this unbelievable event of fun, Family and fantastic GIN Training to YOU in the comfort of your home! We will gather with our GIN Brothers and Sisters from every corner of the globe and as a Family we will make a difference this coming year! We're all in this together!

Scroll down a bit and there's another exciting promise: "We will also celebrate K.T.'s birthday on February 6th like never before!"

So I am thinking that perhaps the GINfolk are planning a totally surprise virtual appearance at the virtual Family Reunion by the newly uncaged Uncle Kevin. If that is the case, then my goodness, I'm sorry if I spoiled the surprise. I just have no manners whatsoever. That's probably why I never get invited to life-changing Family Reunions.

I will post more info as I get it.

Update, January 9, 2021:
It appears that the GIN fat cats are indeed shouting it from the rooftops now -- or at least from the GIN United web site, and via email and Facebook. Maybe they felt they had to do it because I'd already spoiled the surprise. Or maybe I'm giving myself too much credit; after all, everybody knows that nobody reads this little blog. Whatever the reason may be, one of the aforementioned fat cats -- Dr. Tom Morter, or Doctor Tom to you -- made the announcement during his weekly GIN update on January 8, 2021.
Here is the link. (And don't be fooled by the mislabeling in the URL; it really is from 2021).

Just in case you don't want to sit through all of Doctor Tom's jolly but bland faux-tivational prattle, the actual announcement about the freeing of the Great Master begins at about 7:05. During the course of his missive Tom reads a "very carefully crafted" email about the matter, which he says has been sent out to all GIN members. He says everyone is welcome to share it but warns that they absolutely, positively must not, not, NOT alter a single word of it. I speculate that this is because it was dictated by the Master Himself, and every word is carefully imbued with magickal vibrations and whatnot. Here is the message, which I copied and pasted from one of the Katie Facebook pages:

To: All Global Information Network Members
It is our pleasure to share with you that recently Kevin has been transferred from the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp to be allowed to serve the balance of his sentence in home confinement [in Chicagoland USA, the very jurisdiction where he was tried and convicted, and where a couple of judges are waiting for him].

Kevin is still in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This is the next step for Kevin as he gets closer to the end of his incarceration [and plans his next mega-scams]. In respect of allowing Kevin a peaceful transition this is all we can share with you at this time. Please be respectful of this as well. We will share more updates with you as we can in the future [but maybe check in now and then on the Whirled Musings blog if you want to find out anything before then].

As we enter the New Year, it is a time to be thankful, grateful and appreciative.

Important Note: Do not add, change or modify anything in this statement if you are sharing it with others.

Happy New Year 2021!

With love & support [and anticipation of finding new ways to pick your pockets],
Your GIN Team

Oh, dear. I may have modified a few things here and there, in violation of the directive. But I have faithfully conveyed the essence of the message, so that has to count for something.

 

 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Good riddance to a very bad year

There's much to write about
Believe me, I've got plenty
But all I want to say right now
Is, "F--k you, 2020!"

I'll be back next year with some actual substance, possibly including some startling news that a lot of you aren't going to like very much. (But some of you will be thrilled.)

For now, after this flustercuck of a year, words mostly fail me. Or maybe I have failed them. I know that I've broken a few promises about posting more frequently, but I'll make up for it eventually. I thank every one of you who has visited my Whirled this year, and every other year. May 2021 hold peace and comfort for those sorely in need of it, and hope and promise for all of us.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Spotify series "Fraudsters" tackles Kevin Trudeau in 3 parts

While America's Fraudster-in-Chief, president-reject Donald John Trump, continues to defraud his fans and followers with spurious claims of a "stolen" election and impassioned (and successful) pleas for the rubes' money, it's past time on this Whirled for renewed attention to another lifelong fraudster, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie, whom I've been blogging about since early 2009. As you most likely know if you've been following this blog even sporadically over the past few years, I've actually written a lot about the similarities between Donald Trump and Kevin Trudeau, not the least similarity being that they share a significant fan base, which is why I lost a few readers when I started writing about the profound awfulness of Trump.

And in fact, Trump and his campaign's efforts to frame their money-raising efforts in a "legal defense fund" to protect the integrity of the election and the Constitution (or some such nonsense) reminded me more than a little of Trudeau's own efforts over the years to raise money for
his legal defense fund. Trudeau's defense fund has been promoted as a means to support unspecified legal efforts by Katie and, by extension, to somehow defend free speech, and freedom in general, for all of us. But according to the terms of both Katie's legal defense fund and the Trumpian funds, the money can pretty much be used any way the recipients want to use it, with zero accountability to those who fork over their hard-earned bucks. The difference, of course, is that Trump's efforts are on a much larger and more dangerous scale than anything Trudeau and his minions have managed so far.

That said, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the scope and reach of Trudeau's scammery: after all, even though he continues to languish in the minimum-security FPC (Federal Prison Camp) in Montgomery, Alabama, aka "Camp Cupcake," he has still managed, with the help of various proxies and enablers, to maintain a significant following and attract new followers. I've been hammering away at this point on this blog for years. And that's why it's so gratifying to see
the Spotify series Fraudsters addressing Trudeau's long scam career: a career that has been so lengthy that it took not one, and not two, but three separate podcasts to cover it all. The producer and host I spoke to acknowledged that they could easily do a whole season on Trudeau alone.

Since I am kinda media shy, apart from ranting on this blog and on my social media of course, I declined to "appear" on the podcast, but I did provide some info for which I was acknowledged on
Part 3, the episode covering Trudeau's biggest scam of all, the Global Information Network (GIN). That episode aired on December 10, 2020.

Part 1 aired on November 26, 2020.

Part 2 made its debut on Dec. 3, 2020.

Kevin Trudeau may or may not be early-released soon (his official release date is either May or July of 2022), but one point seems painfully clear: In or out of the clink, he is a scammer for all seasons and all reasons. And his years of confinement have done nothing to change this; to this very day he is (again, through proxies and enablers) making himself out to be a hero and martyr along the lines of Jesus, Gandhi, and a host of other famous -- and infamous -- folks. Caveat emptor and all that.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gratitude Day, 2020

I've been distracted with numerous matters of consequence for the past few weeks, as sometimes happens, but I have not abandoned my Whirled. As the holiday most folks in the US celebrate as Thanksgiving winds down, I know I have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the defeat of #NotMyPresident Donald John Trump.

This is hardly a neat and tidy ending; as I like to say on this blog, in politix, as in Scamworld, there are no neat and tidy endings. Apart from Trump's obstinate unwillingness to concede, and his ludicrous but potentially dangerous legal battles to overturn the election results, Trumpism has left a big ugly stain on America (and the world, for that matter). Even so, I have more hope than I've had in a long, long time for some promising new beginnings.
 

At any rate, I will be back soon: I haven't forgotten my commitments. I hope your holiday, if you celebrated it, was as good as a holiday could possibly have been in this horrid train wreck of a year. If you are grieving for lost loved ones, I wish you peace and strength and comfort.

May there be better times ahead.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

One way to observe 11th Anniversary of James Arthur Ray Death Lodge: buy and read THIS SWEET LIFE

October 8, 2020 is the 11th anniversary of a reckless and deadly event hosted by sociopathic New-Wage/McSpirituality guru James Arthur Ray: a fake "sweat lodge" ceremony in Sedona, Arizona that injured dozens and killed Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman. Kirby Brown and James Shore died that same day; Liz Neuman died nine days later in an Arizona hospital.

The families and friends of these three good people have all learned to cope with their loss in their own ways since that awful day in 2009. One of the ways that Kirby Brown's family chose was to found a nonprofit organization,
SEEK Safely, to help educate the public, hold self-help leaders accountable, and hopefully avoid more deaths and injuries at the hands of reckless gurus.

And another way they found to come to terms with Kirby's death, while helping many other people who are dealing with profound loss and pain, was through a recently published memoir,
This Sweet Life: How We Lived After Kirby Died, by Kirby's mother Ginny and her baby sister Jean.*

Back in June of this year, and then again in July when I observed the 11th anniversary of the death of another Ray follower, Colleen Conaway, at a Ray event in San Diego, I promised to post a review of This Sweet Life "soon." Anyone who has been following this blog for a while probably knows that on this Whirled, "soon" is a relative term. Multiple distractions have been whirling around me since I made my promise, but it's time to make good on my commitment.

Accordingly, I have begun to write that long-promised post. It deserves more attention than I am able to devote to it today, but rest assured that "soon" is now coming sooner rather than later. [Spoiler alert: I really, really loved this book, though more than once I had to put it aside for a few moments because it's quite difficult to read when your eyes are full of tears.]


For now, I can't think of a better day than today to highlight this lovely but heartbreaking memoir, and to urge you to buy it and read it if you've not done so already.
Here's that link again.

James Arthur Ray continues to struggle on the comeback trail (or "scumback trail," as I like to call it) years after being released from his far-too-short prison sentence for the deaths of Kirby and James S. and Liz. These days, thank goodness, his audiences are still far smaller than they used to be. But his efforts to portray himself as a hero/martyr who has walked through fire and come out strong and triumphant are an insult to the memories of those he killed, and a slap in the face to their loved ones. That's why it's important that as the years go by, we never forget who he really is, and what he has done.

* I used the Amazon link for This Sweet Life because it was the most obvious. But I must add that I HATE it that Amazon is currently also promoting Ray's book about "redemption" as an "also-viewed" title; James Arthur Ray wouldn't know redemption if it spread its legs and sat on his smirky face. But Amazon (almost) redeems itself, so to speak, by also listing Connie Joy's fine book, Tragedy in Sedona: My Life in James Arthur Ray's Inner Circle, as an "also-viewed" title.

Related on this Whirled

  • October 2010: Musings on a tragedy and its meanings.
    I published this on the one-year anniversary of the infamous "sweat lodge," framing my musings around a review of Connie Joy's Tragedy in Sedona.
  • April 2019: From drawn-and-quartered martyr to "Crisis Coach": James Arthur Ray's newest desperate gimmick
    This is just one of numerous posts about Ray's arrogant yet pathetic attempts to reestablish himself as a selfish-help superstar.
  • August 2020: Whiny babies of Scamworld
    Of the three "whiny babies" I wrote about in this post, James Arthur Ray is the worst, because even after being directly responsible for the deaths of three people in a bogus sweat lodge in Sedona (not to mention being at least indirectly responsible for the death of one person at an event in San Diego, and directly responsible for the physical and emotional injuries of countless others), he continues to paint himself as the real victim.

 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Trump's tax shenanigans are yet more evidence of his phony populism

The only “populist” shift in the Trump era regards the enabling of cultural grievance. The willingness to use the president’s bully pulpit to take those uppity athletes down a peg. Shutting the door on new immigrants and refugees. Punishing enemies. Law and order for protesters but a get-out-of-jail-free card for cronies. Wanting to use racial slurs without getting “canceled.”

This is just the same old racist, nativist nonsense wrapped in a phony soak-the-rich package.

You might even call it a “
Trojan horse” for the racists and the scam artists.

~ Tim Miller (The Bulwark), September 28, 2020

Back in June and July of 2018 I wrote a two-part post about elitism and phony populism in both American politix and Scamworld. Part 1 focused on the faux-populism of #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump, who had clearly fooled millions of American voters into thinking that he was a "man of the people," when in fact he was and is one of the worst sorts of elitists. (Not to mention that Trump is a long-time scammer, which is why he became fodder for this blog in the first place.)

Trump's disregard and core contempt for the masses have been obvious to many of us for years, and have become more glaringly apparent in light of his dismissive rhetoric about, and
overall botched response to, the COVID-19 crisis. (Was anybody really surprised by the recent revelation from VP Pence's former coronavirus task force adviser Olivia Troye, who said that at one of the task force meetings Trump remarked that the pandemic might be a "good thing," because it prevented him from feeling obligated to shake hands with "disgusting people"?)

But if there were any lingering doubts about the utter hollowness of Trump's populist rhetoric,
a September 27, 2020 New York Times report about his income tax-avoidance shenanigans over the decades should put those doubts to rest in the minds of all except those who are most seriously infected with TTL (toxic Trump love). The Times article is a long one, the first of several promised ones to come, but very much worth your time to read.

Also worth a look is a response by writer and communications consultant
Tim Miller on the conservative (but non-Trump-infected) site The Bulwark. Titled, "Trump Tax Returns Show He's a Populist Fraud," the piece summarizes some of the most damning information in the Times article. Miller opens by citing the campaign pitches Trump made back in 2015-2016 when he was pandering to the "forgotten Americans," promising to impose a new tax plan that would compel him and his wealthy friends to pay higher taxes. He claimed that he certainly didn't mind paying a little bit more if it would help the middle class, which he said, was "getting clobbered in this country." In September 2015, he unveiled a detailed tax plan and told reporters, "It's going to cost me a fortune, which is actually true." But, as Miller notes, it wasn't actually true, and wasn't just the standard politician's broken promise. Instead...

It was part and parcel of the broader so-called “economic populism” bill of goods that Trump and “sloppy” Steve Bannon, his pit-stained, triplicate-shirted, faux-everyman muse, sold the American people. They were going to raise taxes on the wealthy, take on Jeb and Ted and Hillary’s Wall Street cronies, and finally build a wall on the border, making Mexico pay.

None of this, of course, was true.

There was no economic populist agenda.

The tax bill Trump ended up signing into law was a boon to the wealthy and did nothing to address the “carried interest” tax rate he
promised would ensnare the private equity and hedge-fund guys. Trump gave Goldman Sachs the keys to his cabinet and billed the American people for millions upon millions of their hard-earned tax dollars for copious golf holiday Doonbegdoggles at his own hotels.

Meanwhile Bannon spent most of his time in the White House leaking to Vanity Fair and making immigrants’ lives as miserable as possible, and then was dispatched to a globetrotting yacht life funded by Chinese billionaires and the forgotten MAGA man
whom he allegedly bilked for millions to crowdfund a phony wall.

The reality is that saying that you are an economic populist who cares about the forgotten man is more respectable in elite political circles than admitting you are a race hustler. You can tell it to a journalist or to your friends at the country club and not feel judged. It almost makes you sound like a good person! You are fighting for the working man and want to make things more fair. If anything you are harming your own interests! These new policies might “cost me a fortune.” Sure it will.

A face-saving ruse. That’s all it ever was. A story for the rubes.

Indeed. The big question is this: How much will the New York Times' initial report, and any related articles that may follow regarding the financial info that Trump has fought so furiously to conceal, shake his loyal base? I'm guessing probably not much; the Trumpanzees are already echoing Trump's own cry that this is yet more "fake news," just another lame attempt by Trump's enemies to oust him from the Oval Office. The Biden campaign will almost certainly take advantage of the tax revelations, but how this will all play out in November is anyone's guess. After the last disastrous US presidential election, I'm not taking anything for granted. And you shouldn't either.

Which is why it's more important than ever to
get out and vote.

Related on this Whirled:

 

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Hallelujah, gonna sue ya: Trumpublican misinfomercial abuses Leonard Cohen's most famous song

You took his greatest song in vain
Though we'd made our refusal plain
You think you got away with it, now do ya?
You used this song to spread Trump's blight
You violated copyright
So now it seems we just might have to sue ya
Have to sue ya
Have to sue ya
Have to sue ya
Have to sue-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ya.

[Apologies to the estate of Leonard Cohen]


The Trumpublican misinfomercial, more commonly known as the 2020 Republican National Convention, has come and gone, thank goodness. The list of lies spewed, shouted, or screamed during that gaudy four-day spectacle, as well as the violations of various laws and norms, have been well covered. These are pretty big issues, to be sure. But since I am a nearly lifelong fan of the late singer/songwriter/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen, and have mentioned him numerous times on this Whirled over the years, I'm going to focus on what is, in the larger scheme of things, one of the more trivial violations. That would be the RNC's misuse -- not once, but twice -- of Cohen's most famous and most-covered song, "Hallelujah" (originally released on his 1984 album, Various Positions).

Leonard Cohen died one day before the most disastrous presidential election in modern US history, though the world didn't hear about his death until a couple of days after the election. Cohen has had a very devoted following for decades, a following that arguably has only increased and intensified since his death. So it's not surprising that fans were furious over the co-opting of "Hallelujah" by the RNC.

Yet, as anyone who is actually familiar with the lyrics knows, there is also unintentional humor in this song choice. For despite the repeated use of the word "Hallelujah," this song is not triumphant or celebratory, except perhaps in an ironic sense. Nor is it a religious or holy song, at least not in the traditional "Christian" self-righteous sense embraced by so many republicans and
fake-embraced by Caligula himself -- though it does reflect Cohen's longstanding themes of the symbiotic relationship between eroticism and holiness. The point is that "Hallelujah" is in essence a breakup song. It is all about disillusionment, cynicism, bitterness, and ultimately resignation in the wake of a failed love affair.

I have little doubt that Cohen himself would not have approved of this exploitation of his song by the RNC. When I first wrote about this
on Facebook on August 28, 2020, I mentioned that I would be interested to see if there are any responses from his estate and/or from Cohen's children, Adam and Lorca. I also expressed curiosity as to whether the Trump campaign paid applicable licensing fees for the public performances of this song (or any other copyrighted songs they've used, for that matter). After all, music copyright holders are pretty fussy about these matters. You have to pay a licensing fee for public performance of a copyrighted song, and even for quoting song lyrics in a book.

Some of my questions were subsequently answered. Representatives from the RNC had indeed approached the Cohen estate to obtain permission for a live performance of "Hallelujah." Their request was denied. But they went ahead anyway, with a recorded cover by Tori Kelly on the third night of the show, and, following Trump's
70-minute, lie-filled rant on the final night, a live performance by opera singer Christopher Macchio. The Cohen estate was not pleased.
Michelle L. Rice, the legal representative for the Cohen Estate, said the family was “surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah’, one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue.” As such, the Cohen Estate is “exploring legal actions.”

Rice added that “had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker’, for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”
Leonard Cohen is far from the only artist whose work has been co-opted by the Trump campaign without the permission of the artists and/or other copyright holders. From Vulture.com, here's a rundown of that growing list. (And as a bonus, also from Vulture.com, here's a list of performers who reportedly turned down an invitation to perform publicly at Trump's 2017 inauguration.)

I've never been one to advocate litigation to resolve every conflict or disagreement that comes along, but in this case, I hope Cohen's estate aggressively pursues legal action. After all, the Trump campaign
has been suing and threatening to sue a number of media outlets and individuals for years in a desperate but ultimately futile attempt to control the narrative about Trump -- even going so far as to sue a tiny TV station in Wisconsin for a political ad. Litigation seems to be their life's blood. So... fair's fair.

Related on this Whirled:
  • November 13, 2016: And even though it all went wrong...
    I wasn't the only one to view Leonard Cohen's death as darkly symbolic of the looming era of Trumpism.
  • November 10, 2016: You want it darker
    I wrote this one shortly after I found out about Cohen's passing.
  • November 9, 2016: Mourning in Amerika, and what to do next
    Written the day after the election. Even then we knew it would be bad, but our expectations have been surpassed many times over in the years since then.