Monday, January 03, 2022

Kevin Trudeau: poised for release, still hustling, and possibly shadow-running GIN

 

A brand new year is upon us, and although many folks may be viewing the coming year with trepidation, given all of what's gone down in the past two years (and with 2021 taking Betty White from us!), I imagine one person who is super excited about the year to come is imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau (aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled), who is scheduled to be released on May 9, 2022. There are increasing signs that he is busily laying the groundwork for taking up where he left off, scamwise.

As reported on this blog
in January of last year, in early 2021 Trudeau entered a Chicago-area Residential Reentry Management (RRM) program overseen by the Bureau of Prisons. He's not in a "halfway house" facility per se, contrary to what some of his fans seem to think, but instead is on "home release" in a Chicago suburb as he serves out the remainder of his ten-year prison sentence for criminal contempt. And he seems more than ready to hit the ground huckstering the moment his sentence is completed, perhaps through the Global Information Network (GIN), the "success club" that he founded in 2009 but no longer "officially" owns, or perhaps he intends to broaden his scampire.

Of course, if you've been following this blog for the past eight or nine years, you know quite well that Kevin Trudeau has never really stopped being a huckster. Pre-trial confinement in Chicago's grim Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), and subsequent incarceration in a relatively cushy federal prison camp (FPC Montgomery AL) didn't thwart his ambitions at all; throughout this time he never stopped begging for money and pushing various products and "trainings," while building on yet another marketing hook by presenting himself as
a witness to miracles and a wise spiritual leader. (And the rubes have actually bought that crap.) He used proxies as necessary to get his messages to social media and websites, but it was clear that he was always controlling the messaging, with the ultimate goal being to line his own pockets. I've written about this topic many times on this blog, this January 3. 2015 post being but one example.

I'm far from the only writer to point out that Trudeau never stopped hustling despite being a federal prison inmate. On January 3, 2017, the
Chicago Tribune published a short piece with the headline, "After 18 years, TV fraudster Kevin Trudeau's case is over, 'we hope,' judges rule." (Here's a link to the digital edition version in case you can't get past the Tribune's paywall.) The article explained why the appeals court judges could only express their hope, but not a solid promise, that the Katie court saga was over.

On Facebook last week, Trudeau's backers continued to solicit donations to his legal defense fund from his 29,000 followers, promising them they could “DOUBLE YOUR MONEY.”

And in a pre-Christmas message presumably relayed through supporters from his cell at the Montgomery, Ala., federal prison camp, Trudeau told his fans he would “share 2 secrets that will give you success in every area of your life.”

If they followed his advice, the convicted fraudster, formerly of Oak Brook, wrote, they would “vibrate frequencies that will allow you to create the life you want.”

We've heard all of that before, for sure.

But what about today? What's up with
"GuruKev" as he prepares to be a free(ish) man?

Reduced circumstances, but still better than federal sleepaway camp
It appears that Trudeau is currently residing in the home of one of his long-time toadies, David Krueger, in a near-northwest suburb of Chicago. (If I'm wrong about this, and you want me to write about it, feel free to send in corrections and I'll publish them.) Before this, Katie was reportedly staying with another Chicago-area fan and GIN member in a one-bedroom apartment, and my guess is that he drove that poor GIN member crazy. And no doubt Katie was going a little crazy too, because a one-bedroom apartment, no matter how nice it might be, simply isn't the same as
a gaudy McMansion in Ojai, Cali or a fake castle in a swanky Chicago area neighborhood. Reportedly, however, the authorities overseeing Kevin's home confinement/parole are compelling him to live in relatively humble circumstances for the time being, which must truly be agony for him. Break out the violins.

At least Katie is now in more comfortable digs, though, even if his current situation is still far from the opulent lifestyle to which he had become accustomed before his conviction and sentencing, and to which he almost certainly plans to return as soon as he possibly can. For the time being David Krueger seems to be providing Kevin with a safe haven until the great KT can be restored to his full power, though when I think of this pairing I can't help but be reminded of the arrangement between Professor Quirrell and Voldemort (except without the turban), and I wonder how long it will be before Dave and Kev drive each other nuts, assuming it hasn't happened already.

But I digress. Lately Trudeau has been stepping up his efforts to beg people to give him money to support that very endeavor, though he pretends that a third party is doing the begging on his behalf, since he is too busy Humbly Serving Humanity to beg for money for himself.
Read about it here, especially if you're even marginally tempted to send money to this guy.

You've met David Krueger on this blog previously:
initially back in 2012, when I reported that David was all excited about getting to ride on the same airplane as Kevin -- in first class, no less! -- and was absolutely over the moon because Kevin bought drinks for everyone on the plane, not just the first class passengers but the peons too. And David's mama had won a BMW Series 500 through GIN. (Later on, unfortunately, after Kevin's legal troubles began to seriously accelerate and GIN was taken down a notch or two, the authorities took the BMW away from Mommy, but apparently that didn't faze her son in the long run, since to this day he remains a KT loyalist.)

I also mentioned David in passing on
this May 2020 post, following a remark that he had made on the Facebook KT fan page, claiming that Facebook and YouTube were censoring the real "truth" about COVID-19.

A dream come true for three lucky rubes

Infomercial Kings-in-Training?

On December 30, 2021, David Krueger
was featured again, not on this blog but on the Kevin Trudeau Fan Club page on Facebook. Apparently a trio of young hucksters-in-training got to spend some quality time with both David and Kevin earlier that month, and they took full advantage of the visit to push the MLM (overpriced cookware) in which they're involved:

Spectacular weekend with Kevin Trudeau and David Krueger, read about the Mushyakov brothers’ experience here: https://kevintrudeaufanclub.com/spectacular-weekend-with...

Here's a direct link to the post about that "spectacular weekend," in case the one above doesn't work. In breathless, starstruck prose the author(s), who claim to all be high level members in GIN, describe a personal meeting and sleepover with Kevin and David on the weekend of December 10, 2021. It's not a very long post, but it mentions a specific brand of pricey cookware no less than nine times, which is about par for the course for insufferable MLM-ers who just can't shut up about whatever it is they're hawking. Here are a few snippets.

...What a wonderful weekend we have spent with Kevin, David and of course my amazing brothers Nathan and Ruben. Words cannot describe the feelings and energy I felt. I know you will feel the energy in my words and immense gratitude with your hearts and souls.

First, I would like to thank Kevin and David for your generous hospitality by allowing us to spend the weekend with you...

...My family and I are forever grateful for the exposure to GIN and this new found wisdom it has provided us. The energy we felt during this weekend was mind blowing. It was very surreal. The smiles on our faces and the emotions we experienced were just simply spectacular.

Spending one on one time with Kevin was a dream come true. This seed was planted as soon as I started listening to “Your Wish is Your Command”. It has been watered and nurtured for some time now. This weekend the fruit has been harvested with many tasteful meals and conversations with Kevin and David. Many other seeds were planted along the way and I’m excited to see them come to fruition.

The energy among us was powerful. It has enlightened me to become a better person, a better husband and father, a better friend, a better brother to my family and to all the GIN brothers and sisters...

...When I woke up in the morning in Kevin’s house I felt like I was in a movie. With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, I sat across from Kevin on the couch and had an intellectual conversation. I was able to ask anything that came to mind without any sensation of being rushed.

Every morning Kevin would lead us in an hour exercise which was incredible. Even with muscles getting sore, I continued to push through because of Kevin’s leadership. We are all half Kevin’s age, yet we were not able to keep up with his stamina.

After the exercise we had the pleasure of using TEETER inversion table and other favorite gadgets of Kevin’s like the Kloud. All my aches and pains were gone, aside from the muscle soreness that felt great.

After all the morning activities, I felt amazing and energized...

...After dinner, cigars in hand, the conversations continued as we couldn’t get enough of Kevin’s life experiences and wisdom. Thank you again for this spectacular and unforgettable weekend. It will be remembered for the rest of my life!...

The post reads as if the writer(s) had been coached by Kevin himself, but at the very least, they were clearly inspired by Kevin's nearly lifelong devotion to aggressive selling, often via MLMs. (GIN itself was a very scammy MLM back in the day; the "product" being sold was a Level One membership to the seekrit club.) Reading about this "spectacular weekend" left me with the sense that the weekend was much more about training or rehearsal for producing an infomercial than about deepening the bonds of friendship and brotherhood. (Which wouldn't be at all surprising, come to think of it, since while he was in prison Kevin was marketing an infomercial training course for the low, low price of only $997.) Woven throughout the near-worshipful words about excitement and energy and intellectual conversations and life-changing, life-saving wisdom, there is persistent promotion: the nonstop selling, selling, selling of stuff.

Which is exactly what Kevin does. Turds of a feather....

Naturally, the readers of the post on the Kevin Trudeau Facebook fan page were excited about it, and gushing words of praise in several languages followed in the comments section. One person, however, had a question:

Matthew Manahan Does he have the ankle bracelet on under the table ?

To which I responded:

Connie Schmidt Matthew Manahan If the terms of his home confinement are typical, he has to wear an ankle bracelet, plus he has to answer random calls from a land line to make sure he hasn't wandered off of the premises (in this case, apparently, David Krueger's house -- perhaps a stopgap until he can move into a McMansion again. Big dreams!). So unless he has a way of forwarding that land line number to his cell phone, he has to stay put.

Of course, it totally is possible to forward your land line number to your cell phone. And Kevin reportedly is allowed both a cell phone and a laptop in his home-confinement setup. But presumably he is being properly supervised to ensure compliance with the terms of his home release. I don't know if this includes monitoring of all of his communications, including his activity on Telegram, the popular messaging app for all manner of hucksters, conspiranoids, and far-right wingnuts. (They probably can't monitor his email account, however, since his provider is apparently a Swiss company that stores all data on servers in data centers in Switzerland, and is not subject to US or EU laws.)


What's really going on behind the scenes?
Your guess may be as good as mine. But it seems that David Krueger rose in the ranks of GIN in early 2021 -- and I'm guessing that this was due to the influence of Kevin, who perhaps felt that David should be rewarded for being such a good and faithful manservant. Apparently David was even doing
the weekly "GIN updates" for a while, which in recent times were normally perpetrated by one of the GIN owners. Rumor also has it that the few remaining members of the loyal GIN office staff, the folks who had been keeping the whole thing running for years and years through thick and thin, were fired around the time David rose to prominence, and I'm thinking that this was also at Kevin's behest.

Dr. Tom and the Chosen One (for now, anyway)
at a GIN event, summer 2021


You may be wondering how Kevin could possibly be dictating what goes on in GIN, since he hasn't officially owned the company since 2014, but... oh, who are we fooling? Kevin has always been the big draw in GIN, before, during, and after his criminal trial and sentencing, and the current owners, who are three of his very long-time buddies and scam partners, know this very well. (If you need to catch up on that, you can read about it here and here.)

It's very possible that the GIN owners -- chiropractors Tom and Ted Morter and inveterate MLM hustler Blaine Athorn -- are actually a bit intimidated by Kevin, and are nervous about the probability that if they don't do his bidding he'll take his mailing lists and his fan base, and form another
seekrit exclusive club. With a big ship and everything.

In fact, if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that Kevin Trudeau is for all practical purposes shadow-running GIN, quite possibly in violation of the terms of his home release/parole, and that he might even be raking in significant bucks, most likely tax-free, through direct donations to the current Katie fund being run by his fan club. (And
his loyal minions do so love to promote that fund. A previous donation fund that was set up for him was supposedly for the purpose of paying off his lawyers, but I'm guessing that those guys have since given up on ever being paid. Shades of Trump, eh?)

Given the way hucksters like this work, and having some idea of the fealty that GIN's owners have to Kevin, I think it is possible that he might even be getting a slice of the GIN pie, safely funneled through the donation fund, perhaps as another attempt by Ted and Tom and Blaine to placate their prima donna and meal ticket.

I'm just speculating about much of the above, and accordingly do not have links to source material to back up my speculation. Again, if you have different or additional information and would like me to share it here, or even if you just want to tell me that I'm full of crap, my contact info is on this blog, or you can send in a comment. Comments are moderated to filter out spam, so yours may not show up right away, but I welcome your input.

In any case if I were
Judge Ronald Guzman, who declared Trudeau "deceitful to the core" back in 2014 as he sentenced him to ten years, I'd probably want to look into these issues. For that matter, Judge Robert Gettleman, who presided over Katie's civil case -- and to whom Katie wrote a letter back in January of 2020 asking for post-prison scam guidance -- might also be interested, just in case Kevin still owes money on that nearly 40 million dollar FTC fine, which he claimed for years that he couldn't pay because he had no money.

Did prison change Kevin Trudeau?
As you may also know if you've been following this blog for a few years, I generally do not believe in prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, not even incorrigible con artists like Kevin Trudeau. I have mentioned that point several times on this blog and on other forums, and it's a stance that has put me at odds with several of my friends and long-time allies, some of whom have asked, "So how are you going to keep a convicted fraudster from continuing to scam?" But being imprisoned certainly didn't stop Kevin from scamming. Prison, on the contrary, is an incubator for scams;
it certainly has been for Trudeau, both during the time he served on felony charges in the early 1990s and throughout his most recent stint in the clink.

Other defenders of lock-em-up policies say that even if being incarcerated doesn't completely prevent a scammer from scamming, there's a mitigation factor because jailed offenders are at least temporarily restricted from committing fraud on the scale to which they've been accustomed. Point taken... but see the paragraph above.

There's also the school of thought that confinement provides at least a small measure of punishment (or poetic justice, perhaps), because even the most cushy min-security facilities are still... well...prisons, as opposed to the ill-gained luxury accoutrements that many fraudsters had previously enjoyed. Surely the contrast between prison life and his mythic lifestyle as a free-range flim-flammer had to have bothered Kevin on some fundamental level.

A chronicle on the Kevin Trudeau Fan Club site, written by one of Kevin's prison mates at FPC Montgomery, Charles Wilson, may provide some insight.
This is from Part 8 -- Covid," in which Wilson describes the experiences at the prison camp as COVID-19 was wreaking havoc throughout the facility.

I logged in my journal February 3, as a special day of sickness and noise in our wing. Big Jim had a 4-step process of cough, choke, snorting, and throat clearing. This would go on for hours at a time with no change. Kenny would yell at him or combat with a symphony of sewer farts. John was nonstop cleaning shoes, coughing, and yelling to “Little Man” about laundry and side hustles. Loui, right behind Kevin, was coughing, hacking, and spitting repeatedly. Dr. Mark was in the corner eating dozens of cough drops per hour, with intermittent coughing and throat clearing. “Papi” was blasting his ears out to American 80’s jams and singing at the top of his Puerto Rican lungs in broken English. KT was in the corner shuffling a deck of cards and practicing his Italian. My throat had just gotten sore, and I sat at my desk trying to enjoy the unique chaos of human survival in prison... 

Wow, not quite the ritzy and elegant surroundings to which Katie was accustomed, and that he used as a marketing hook for GIN in order to get people to fork over thousands and thousands of dollars to "upgrade," with the promise that they, too, could (eventually) enjoy the same enviable lifestyle. "See you on the beaches of the world!"

In fairness I must point out that all of these prison chronicles center around what a great man Kevin Trudeau is, and how he manages to remain unruffled and to inspire people even in the grimmest of circumstances. Consider the scene described above: even amidst the coughing and snorting and hacking and spitting and sewer-farting, there was Kevin, sitting in a corner shuffling cards and practicing his Italian. Congruent with this narrative, he (naturally!) managed to avoid getting COVID, at least according to Wilson, although I have heard from other sources that at one point Kevin did test positive for the virus.

However, notwithstanding the near-mythical image perpetrated by his admirers, and by the great man himself, who often described his prison daze as an experience of perfect bliss, it has always been clear that Kevin Trudeau did not actually enjoy being in prison. At all. In fact I think it would be fair to say that he hated it. And over the years, in numerous failed efforts, at times enhanced by tears, to get the courts to grant him leniency, he and some of his defenders have claimed that incarceration has changed him for the better, making him more humble and truly "reformed."

It's true that prison does change people, but rarely for the better, and I have a feeling that if it has changed Kevin, it has only made him more cynical and greedy. I've heard credible rumors that former friends and loyalists have been taken aback by the ego and greed and even the occasional abusive behavior that he has displayed since being semi-released in early 2021 -- in stark contrast to the humble-and-enlightened-servant-of-humanity image that his minions, almost certainly under his direction, have been trying so hard to push. Rumor has it that even his longtime generous supporter and sycophantic enabler, former Congressman Ed Foreman, is appalled by this new behavior.

To which I can only respond that there's nothing at all new about that behavior. His pals are just now noticing he's egotistical and greedy? Even many folks who have never even met him (including me) noticed it years ago. And I'm guessing that more than one of his ex-wives could vouch for his tendency to be emotionally abusive; consider ex-spouse Kristine Dorow's story in
Aaron Gell's January 20, 2015 article for Business Insider (under the sub-head, "Up Close And Personal"). From what I've heard, his most recent wife, Nataliya/Natasha Babenko, had a pretty rough time of it too.

Despite his lofty spiritual rhetoric about leaving the ego behind, Kevin's own ego is large enough to have its own zip code. One of his goals appears to be to eventually live in a huge house again, but this time with lots of servants... er... volunteers/students/acolytes... to cater to his every whim, while he fools them, or allows them to fool themselves, into thinking that they are the ones who are really benefiting, just by being in his presence. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration speculate that Kevin, a longtime dabbler in Scientology, wants to be the next L. Ron Hubbard. In fact I wrote about that last year.

Does/did Kevin Trudeau really belong in prison, though? That's not up to me to decide, of course. I do think it's a bit of a pity that his ten-year(ish) sentence was for his deceptive infomercials about a deceptive diet book, and not for the millions of dollars he pilfered from thousands of gullible GIN members, some of whose lives were reportedly decimated by the mega-scam.

Many if not most of those who were bamboozled have no doubt moved on, some with great difficulty, while others just slid on to the next flopportunity/flim-flammer, because some people never learn. (In several cases, disillusioned/angry GIN members or KT buddies or staff formed their own GIN ripoffs, such as the
IBMS Masters Society and the World Information Network (WIN). The WIN founders initially tried to take over GIN and keep the MLM going, but the government said no.)

And there's at least one former GIN member,
Abe Husein, who once made a lot of noise on the national news media about having been cheated out of big bucks by GIN and KT, but apparently has now forgiven him and has even expressed "mad respect" for Trudeau. See this January 2021 Whirled post, under the first subhead, "Ex-GIN 'whistleblower' still has a crush on Kevin Trudeau after all."

But the fact remains that the GIN MLM was a huge scam, and was launched chiefly as a private piggy bank for Kevin (as revealed in numerous court documents,
this one being just one example), and lots of people lost lots of money. And while Judge Guzman may very well have taken some of these facts into consideration when handing down Trudeau's sentence, GIN was not the reason for the criminal charges or the prison sentence.

Why this still matters, after all these years
Over the years I've been asked why my blog posts so frequently focus on scammers such as Kevin Trudeau, when there are so many more important issues and world problems (and problematic people) to worry about. I've addressed this question numerous times previously on this forum, but for the sake of review (and at the risk of annoying some readers with my redundancy as well as my tendency to write too-long blog posts), I think it's important for me to go over this once again.

Actually, in July of last year
an anonymous commenter, clearly a Trump supporter/right wingnut/anti-vaxxer, harrumphed that I should just stick to writing about Kevin Trudeau and similar scammers, and stay out of politics and world issues altogether, because clearly I'm a dunderhead who is "blinded by Liberal rhetoric." If you'll pardon me for quoting myself at length, here is one of my responses:

For years...[p]eople who were supporters/defenders of various scammers such as Kevin Trudeau, Joe Vitale, and a host of minor Scamworld gurus helpfully offered suggestions, some with more than a tinge of hostility, that my focus on these people was a waste of time and my talent. They said that I should be focusing instead on larger, more important issues such as government corruption, corporate malfeasance, politics, etc. For instance, when I was frenemies with Peter Wink (former shill for Joe Vitale, then for Kevin Trudeau, then for Leonard Coldwell, but now apparently retired from the shilling-for-scammers biz), Peter suggested to me more than once that I really needed to turn my attention away from KT and on to larger and more relevant topics. Not surprisingly, this was when Peter was working for Trudeau; later he very publicly turned against his former boss, and even helped various government agencies with their criminal and civil investigations of KT.

To all of those who advised me to focus on important matters, I would respond with some variation of my opinion that in blogging as in life, you have to pick your battles. And in the case of blogging, it's a good idea to narrow your beat. For years I mostly resisted political posts, because there were (and are) already so many political blogs and other forums online. And from 2009 on, Kevin Trudeau was certainly one of my favored targets (I had known for years that he was/is a scammer, but 2009 saw the launching of GIN and the alliance of Trudeau with some of my other favored targets, e.g., Joe Vitale).

Then Trump waddled his way to the front lines of American politix... and for me it finally sank in that Trump was like the worst of the Scamworld scum, writ large. One of my initial posts about that topic was this one, from March 2016:
https://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-devils-at-crossroads-of-politix-and.html

That was far from the first time I'd written about Trump, but that was the first post to really focus on the unholy marriage between American politix and Scamworld.

The point is that it looks like I've come full circle, and am now being advised by people who defend Trump and far-right-wing ideologies to abandon political subjects and focus on the likes of Kevin Trudeau. But I'll continue to blog about the matters that interest me and that I think are important.

And one major reason that I think Kevin Trudeau is still important, apart from my concern that he has spent decades cheating people out of their hard-earned money, is that he is flagrantly symptomatic of a nearly out-of-control trend of misinformation/conspiranoia crapitalism.

Of course Trudeau was in many respects far ahead of the curve, since he has been trading in "information that 'They' don't want you to know" for decades. Most of that "information" has consisted of misinformation, distortions, exaggerations, lies, repackaged selfish-help/McSpirituality content, or, in some cases, cherry-picked data about issues that have been addressed by far more responsible consumer advocates, whistleblowers, and muckrakers. But the nebulously evil "They" were the perfect scapegoat for Trudeau's marketing strategies.

Shortly after Trudeau was convicted and sentenced back in 2014, Salon.com published a piece by Mary Elizabeth Williams, which I've cited on this blog before,
but here it is again. The headline reads, "Kevin Trudeau's empire of 'they' collapses," and the tag line said, "The TV pitchman goes to prison -- but his conspiracy shtick lives on." The piece was spot-on in many ways, but the truth is that Trudeau's own scampire never did completely collapse. As noted, he continued to run it throughout his confinement

And unfortunately, the Error of Trump mainstreamed the conspiranoid, "alternative-facts" mindset that has been the foundation of KT's hugely successful marketing efforts for years, and that has attracted so many gullible people to his "teachings" and schemes. Kevin and his most devoted fans and enablers are emphatically part of the problem, but the problem is so much bigger than they. It's bigger than
Alex Jones and Mike Adams and the other conspiracy-porn peddlers I've written about on this blog. It's even bigger than Donald Trump.

What is happening now goes beyond the fact that
conspiracy theories have become a booming business. America (and to a large extent much of the developed world) have entered a "post-truth" era in which we're all susceptible, some of us more than others, to conspiracy theories, science denial and extremism. In the May 2021 edition of Scientific American, Andy Norman wrote that we are all being played by liars, and that those lies not only further divide us but also manipulate our brains in a way that we lose the capacity for reasoned reflection.

The deep culprit here is not a shadowy government insider. It’s not an aspiring demagogue or a corrupt political party. Trace the problem to its roots and you find a compromised cultural immune system. Astonishingly irrational ideas proliferate because they’re playing us.

This goes for "liberals" too, wrote Norman.

When we fixate on the wingnut outrage of the day, and nurse our own grievances, we suppress our own higher brain function...Right-wing provocateurs love to "own the libs" and too often, we liberals play along. When we do, we play ourselves.

I feel that there's a bit of a false equivalency here, since in contemporary America, right-wingers/conservatives are considerably more likely than left-wingers/liberals to fall for conspiracy theories and worldviews, anti-science dogma, and even political extremism. In fact, it is the right’s stubbornly persistent embrace of the big lie about the “stolen” 2020 US presidential election that led to the violent and deadly insurrection last year and that continues to seriously imperil American democracy. It may be my own "liberal bias" at work, but I think that overall the right is significantly more reality-impaired than the left, and at this point far more of a threat.

The deeper issues touched on in Norman's opinion piece are quite beyond the scope of this blog, but the point I wish to make is that this "post-truth" problem is a serious one. Bringing it back to our original topic, Kevin Trudeau has made money for decades not only on peddling questionable products for which he has made outrageous and in some cases fraudulent claims, but also, and more importantly, on pushing conspiracy narratives and misinformation that he always frames as exclusive info that "They" are trying to keep from you, but which can be all yours -- for a price.

And Trudeau has never missed an opportunity to crapitalize on the fears and concerns of the masses, while placing himself firmly front and center as the only source to be trusted for vital information. He has long played on and nurtured people's growing distrust of government and mainstream media. It's hardly surprising that for a while in 2020 he was exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic by posting "updates" that were little more than a repackaging of the most out-there narratives from the alt-health and right wingnut fever swamps, all framed around promoting GIN membership or other outlets for Kevin's "teachings," and in some cases, promoting health frauducts.

I wrote about these COVID "updates" here and here, and in the body of my posts I provided summaries of and links to individual "updates," though the links no longer seem to be valid. For the benefit of those who don't feel like following those links or trying to find Trudeau's original COVID posts, some of the main takeaways were that...
(1) COVID is no big deal
(2) the government is lying to us and seriously exaggerating the seriousness of COVID, just like they exaggerated the seriousness of AIDS for years
(3) COVID is mainly a hoax arising from a conspiracy by the mainstream media and the evil elite "They" to ruin the US economy, thus making Donald Trump look bad and ruining his chances for re-election

(4) the shutdowns and lockdowns are seriously hurting the economy and while that really sucks, hey, don't worry: a few enterprising folks will find a way to make tons of money even during the worst of the shutdowns and especially when all of this is over [with the clear implication being that if ya stick with Kev, he'll show you how to rake it in]
(5) there's so much more that Kevin really wants to share with you about COVID, and it is information that you can't get anywhere else because he's getting it from a select seekrit group of elite international experts (as well as, apparently, from other dimensions or planes of existence), and even though he's doing as much as he can for you by providing these updates, if you want to really get the inside scoop you need to join GIN and/or get on Kevin's mailing list and/or or give him money, and/or... well, you get the drift.


However, Trudeau seems to have been silent about COVID since he has been on "home release," though for all I know he has continued to spread misinfo via private forums such as his Telegram channels and his ProtonMail account. But the main point is that he continues to spread misinformation not only in the service of selling products, but also to maintain his brand as a source of forbidden secrets and indispensable wisdom.

From what I've been observing for many years now, Kevin Trudeau is the quintessential personification of the adage about leopards and spots. I know I'm repeating myself, but it can't be stated emphatically enough that he is all prepped to hit the ground scamming, full force, just as soon as he possibly can.

Caveat emptor.

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021, how COULD you?

 

With the month -- and the year -- fast running out, I was all set to finish up and publish a post about one of this blog's favorite serial scammers. But then... this happened.

Way to suck even more, 2021.

Celebrity deaths don't usually faze me all that much, with the exception of Leonard Cohen in 2016,
which was made exceptionally awful because of the other horrifying thing that happened around the same time.

But... Betty White?!? I only wish it were
a hoax, but I can't live my life in denial.

I will be back early in the New Year with more bloggish material. For now, I hope you have a safe New Year's Eve. Stay off of the mean streets, and stay far away from crowds... in fact, if I were you I'd stay in altogether and watch Life With Elizabeth or Mary Tyler Moore (beginning with Season 4) or The Golden Girls or Boston Legal episodes, or find a way to watch Lake Placid. Or The Proposal. Lake Placid is on Ron's and my schedule tonight.

Rest in power, Betty. And as for you, 2021, as
Mrs. Delores Bickerman said in Lake Placid, "If I had a dick, this is where I'd tell you to suck it."

Monday, November 29, 2021

Happy Holidaze

November has been another busy month and once again, I haven't been tending to my Whirled the way I should. But I've got some good stuff in the hopper -- including the latest on one of this blog's unfavorite serial scammers -- so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone who is observing any sort of holiday this holiday season is having, or will be having, happy one(s). Ron and I had a belated T-Day feast on November 28 -- a Friendsgiving, you might say -- celebrating with dear friends who are like family to us. And today we celebrated science by getting our COVID boosters.

Overall it's been a fairly crappy year for so many people, but there's still a lot to celebrate, and I think that better times are ahead. I'll see you here soon.

Monday, October 25, 2021

From TRUTH Social to alt-health scam sites: Trump & other right-wing grifters continue to battle Big Tech, fuel fascism, & rob the rubes

By now you've almost certainly heard about #NeverWasMyPresident Donald Trump's grand plan to launch yet another alternative to major social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook -- his way of sticking it to Big Tech for banning him.

I'm referring, of course, to the absurdly ill-named TRUTH Social, which will be developed by a new enterprise called Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG). Announced by
Trump surrogate Liz Harrington on Twitter on October 20, 2021, TRUTH Social is being launched to "stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech."

Trump
had famously already failed at least once in the social media arena, promising months ago to immediately launch a platform of his own after he was booted off of Twitter and Facebook due to his incitement of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Or maybe his big plans just got delayed. In any case, instead of the promised social media platform, a laughable blog appeared briefly... and was gone within a month. There was buzz for a while that Gettr was the new home for Team Trump and his allies... but that buzz faded too.

The idea of alternative Twitters and Facebooks and so forth is not new, of course.
Right-wingers have been snowflaking for the past few years about being "censored" online, and many have taken their toxic whines not only to the courts but also to numerous alternate social media apps that have sprung up in recent times. But a Trump-branded social media alternative is truly newsworthy, because Trump unfortunately remains so high-profile, not to mention that he's the biggest and loudest whiner of all when it comes to griping about censorship.

If you think that TRUTH Social is going to be a safe haven for "free speech," however, think again. First off, the site will censor its own users.
Saying bad stuff about Dear Leader or his platform or its parent company is verboten.

And if you think that this platform is destined for long-term success, you need to reconsider that too. From
The Daily Kos, October 21:

...Most of the attention focused on [the announcement about TMTG] has been centered around the announcement of something called “TRUTH Social”—also known as yet-another-Trump-focused-Twitter-clone. But that’s not the real point of TMTG. The real point is that this is a scheme through which Trump can collect several hundred million dollars, even if his new social platform never posts a tweet, or a toot, or a fart, or whatever they end up being called.

The truth behind TRUTH Social is right there in the first paragraph of the announcement, which is not focused on the technology behind the platform, or anything that Trump is bringing to the table. Instead, that paragraph is dedicated to explaining how the project has been given "an initial enterprise value of $875 million" and "a cumulative valuation up to $1.7 billion." Which is amazing, because what it seems to have is nothing more than a credit line and some highly generic code that was hacked within minutes of the beta address becoming known.

No sooner had the first test invites been handed out than
someone spoofed Trump's account and posted, well, as Daily Beast contributor Steven Monacelli accurately puts it, "a photo of a pig defecating on its own scrotum." Two hours after it first went up, the whole site came down.

However, it doesn't matter if the site ever sticks its head above the waste pool again. Because that's not the point. Donald Trump is potentially walking about with $340 million, even if it fails completely. That's the point.

The site seems to be up again now, but right now it's just a page that invites you to "Join the Waiting List!" or to pre-order the app in the Apple Store. The launch is supposed to happen in November of 2021.

But there seem to be a few other bumps in the road, not the least of which are credible accusations that the Trump app's developers
appear to have purloined code without giving due credit to the code's creators. Oops.

Coding issues aside, it goes without saying that this whole thing was designed as yet another money op for the former Grifter-in-Chief,
who was a grifter long before he infested the White House, and has continued his grifting nonstop since being legitimately voted out. (If you sincerely believe he wasn't legitimately voted out, you're in a cult. Please seek help.) Like countless other media outlets that have reported this news, the Daily Kos article cited above goes on to explain the scheme.

What Trump is attempting here is something called a SPAC, or Special Purpose Acquisition [Company]. It's also known as a "reverse merger" or a "blank check company." It's a scheme in which some low-value shell company that's already listed on a stock market "buys" a private company, then relists itself under the name of that new company. In almost all cases, what's really going on is that the private company is just taking over the empty husk of that shell company—a company that may have existed for no other purpose than to serve as a placeholder for some future SPAC.

Why go through these steps? Because getting listed on a stock exchange generally requires clearing a number of hurdles, including meeting requirements from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SPACS can just pop into existence, taking a fast track to a stock listing while dodging almost every qualifying step.

The Trump SPAC falls under a specific category known as a "celebrity SPAC," in which a high-profile person, known as "the Sponsor," raises capital by taking the SPAC public in an IPO. The SPAC uses the cash proceeds from the IPO and a large stock issuance to acquire a private company and make it public. But unlike traditional IPOs, the Sponsor gets a 20 percent stake without having to invest much of anything -- and there's much less regulatory scrutiny. While not all SPACs are scams, this one almost certainly is. The Kos article describes it as "nothing more than an exchange-based Ponzi scheme in which the original Ponzi is guaranteed to walk away with a mountain of cash." In short...

TMTG isn't a social media platform. It's a scam. Trump doesn't need another social media platform. He needs suckers willing to buy stock. And Trump has always been very, very good at locating suckers.

So while it's fun to point out that TRUTH Social has some of the most restrictive rules of any platform, including
rules that prohibit criticizing TRUTH Social, it doesn't really matter. The whole platform can be sh#t pigs all the way down. It can collapse under its own incompetence. None of that means a thing. What matters to Trump is that he gets to walk away with a bundle.

That's pretty much all that has ever mattered to Trump.

The SPAC stock linked to Trump's platform is Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC), and granted, it was quite the talk of the market last week, when DWAC shares shot from $9.96 per share at closing on Wednesday, October 20, to $94.20 per share on Friday, October 22. That's an astounding 845% rally in a mere two days. But
as CNBC reported today (October 25), DWAC was down 10 percent after 2:00 PM ET, so there appear to be signs that "the Trump-fueled craze has died down," according to the CNBC piece.

Short-seller Iceberg Research unveiled a bearish position on the DWAC on Monday, saying that investors face uncertainties in this blank-check deal as Trump could become a dominant shareholder after the merger.

“Now that initial excitement has passed, we see only risks for investors in near future. Based on Trump’s track record, at current price, renegotiation is likely to keep more of the merged company for him,” Iceberg Research said in a tweet.

“SPAC holders don’t own a piece of this project yet. Trump has leverage, not them.”

But I'm not shedding any tears for these investors. At this point, anyone who invests in anything related to Trump deserves to lose money. And as far as I'm concerned, that also goes for the countless small donors who have fallen for his myriad fundraising scams --- such as phony "membership cards" and other "exclusive" benefits (or promises thereof) designed to keep the rubes feeling like they're Someone Special. He'll almost certainly continue to run these scams long after the current SPAC cash cow has been milked dry. The cult members will just keep on forking over, feeding his coffers and his ego while he smirks and talks bad about them behind their backs.

* * * * *

Trump may be the most high-profile right-wing grifter to whine about Big Tech and try to compete directly with the major platforms, but he's far from the only one. Take Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams (please). Besides being a particularly vociferous Trump fanboy and advocate of martial law as long as a right-wing president is imposing it, Adams is a longtime peddler of alt-health frauducts and "advice" as well as a promoter of conspiracy theories and far-right-wing talking points. (He was also one of the featured speakers, along with Eric Trump and Roger Stone, at a three-day fascism/alt-health rally in Nashville this past weekend, The Truth [sic] About Cancer Live.)

Years ago Adams, apparently unhappy with the standards imposed by Wikipedia, created his own Wiki platform, "TruthWiki," which is every bit as hilariously misnamed as Trump's TRUTH Social. In
an April 2016 Whirled post (under the sub-head, "Trying to conquer the Internet, one comical alt-site at a time"), I described Adams as...

...the guy who is so afraid of people finding out the truth about him and his colleagues that he started his own lame version of Wikipedia: the very ill-named TruthWiki. (Here's the TruthWiki entry about David Gorski. And while we're at it, here's Gorski, as Orac, writing about TruthWiki in 2014.)

Dr. Gorski is an oncologist who's one of the people on Mike Adams' enemies list; Adams has seriously defamed him numerous times in his Natural News blog posts.

Then there's Adams' answer to Google,
GoodGopher. From the 2016 Whirled post I quoted above:

GoodGopher very carefully filters out what they consider "disinformation" and government/Big Pharma propaganda, instead stacking their search results with alt-nutty and rightwing sites (which are euphemistically called "independent news media") such as NaturalNews (of course!) as well as Breitbart, The Blaze, Washington Times (owned and run by Moonies), Drudge Report, Western Journalism and more.

It's a pretty lousy search engine, but it's tailor-made for
the no-evil monkeys who want to avoid any fact or opinion that might shake their carefully constructed world of alt-health advocacy, Scamworld delusions, conspiracy theories and right-wing spin.

I went to the GoodGopher site a little while ago, for the first time in years, and typed a name in the search engine. It was a name for which I knew there were numerous results on GoodGopher; at least there had been when I checked it last. But all I got for search results was a message: "Server is busying [sic] right now, please try again later." All righty, then!

Mike Adams may not be giving Wikipedia or Google a run for their money, but what his sites lack in quality they collectively make up for in quantity. His disinfo empire includes scads of alt-health and alt-"news" web sites, some of which are no doubt generating income from suckers, and with some of these sites he also seems to be succeeding in one important task: spreading the type of political disinformation that is eroding American democracy and further nudging us down the road to authoritarianism and fascism.

On October 18,
ArsTechnica published the revelation that Robert Willis, aka "Hacker X" -- the hacker who helped build an enormous US-based disinfo network that helped Trump get elected -- had confirmed that he was actually working for Mike Adams at Adams' NaturalNews.com site.

Willis had joined NaturalNews.com in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election and helped the site build out a network of anonymized websites that looked independent but secretly promoted the "health" information and pro-Trump political writings of Mike Adams and NaturalNews.com.

NaturalNews has long been linked to disinformation. In 2019,
The Atlantic named it one of the top producers of anti-vax content on the Internet. The site has touted homeopathy, urged "natural" remedies for things like cancer, and warned about "chemtrails." NaturalNews content has been banned from Facebook, and the site has been called a "powerful conspiracy empire."

Willis claims to have made little money from his work for Adams, and says that he has remorse "for a few reasons." He claims that he didn't really know what Adams was all about when he first joined his site, which is kind of hard to believe.

As for all the pro-Trump, anti-Clinton "fake news" that Willis eventually helped to propagate, he claimed that the reason he "didn’t know it was fake news at the beginning is because the machine needed to be built before it could be used, so I didn’t spend time inside stories outside of overseeing social media and numbers, at which point I did not factor in the aspect of whether the articles were true or not. I was strictly breaking down stories by headlines and breaking it down into numbers. With an occasional crazy headline that seemed harmless."

Okay, sure. Willis says the whole experience has made him apolitical and that he didn't vote in the 2020 election. Here's his statement about about his actions. And here's a post about "Hacker X" and Mike Adams by the aforementioned David Gorski, the target of some of Mike Adams' most vicious defamation.

* * * * *

If you feel like climbing even further down into the pit of alt-site failures, you might stumble across a silly Facebook alternative created last year by phony doctor/cancer quack/neo-Nazi/Trump fan/alleged predator and all-around evil dimwit Leonard Coldwell, who has been in a perpetual huff for the past decade or so about repeatedly being thrown into Facebook jail. Back in October of 2020 Lenny's favorite handmaid griped about Facebook for about the ten-dozenth time on his main English-language web site:.

Make no mistake accounts are being targeted. Those who have spoken out for truth on matters such as politics, COVID-Hoax, Masks, for natural health and not big pharma, called out Monsanto and Bill Gates, or even Georgy Sorros [sic] who wants to destroy the world as we know it are being scrutinized for every word they type.

Why?

Because Facebook is a communist/socialist website who
[sic] is pushing the agenda of the New Normal hard. They want you all to be obedient. They want (end game) for you to be vaccinated mindless drone of a slave to the system.

But never fear; there was a solution from the great "Dr." C:

Dr. Coldwell has created his own version [of Facebook]. Champ book. You are invited! https://champbook.tribe.so/  while much of it is currently in German we also are gaining many English speaking members and would love to have you. There will never be censorship like there is on Facebook.

Which isn't to say that there won't be censorship, I suppose. But it all seems moot because Lenny and most of the rest of the world appear to have all but forgotten ChampBook, as you'll see if you take a look at the endless stream of spam that meets the eye when you land on the site. But I have to admit that there is quite an impressive list of "Most reputable losers users," with a very reputable spammer called Мария Иванцова being number one, and Lenny himself appearing at the bottom of the list of most reputable users when I checked the other day, and not appearing on that list at all when I went back to check today. (Мария was still number one, though.) Poor little Lenny: he can't even compete with spammers and bots on his own site. Sad.

* * * * *

None of what I've written above means that I am opposed to competition, including and perhaps especially in the area of social media and other online forums. Monopolies aren't good for business or, ultimately, for democracy. Nor does it mean that I am blind to the misdeeds -- some of them quite egregious -- of the Big Tech platforms. As more info continues to spill out about Facebook, for example, it becomes ever more painfully obvious that Big Tech companies value profit over any of the other fine values, such as truth or the well-being of their users, to which they pay lip service. But the problems created by Big Tech won't be solved by right-wing scammers, whose ludicrous forums are little more than echo chambers at best, and all too often are vehicles to pick the pockets of vulnerable people.

Grifting is not just a right-wing thing, of course. But these daze, the right-wing grift machine, fueled by an unending stream of fascist bat-crap both online and off, seems to be posing the greatest dangers, not only to public health but also to the health of American (and world) democracy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem, but it has been brewing for years now. Whether the grift comes in the form of a Trumpian "investment opportunity" and "TRUTH" platform, a slime trail of fake-news sites from "The Health Ranger," or a flaccid Facebook alternative from an angry and deranged little German scammer, it's all part of the same problem.

It has never been more important to stay informed, rather than misinformed or willfully uninformed. And it's never been more important for eligible voters who want to stop the madness to make sure they're registered, and then to get out there and vote.

Friday, October 08, 2021

A dozen years after Sedona "sweat lodge" deaths, James Arthur Ray is still hustling, and his victims are still dead

 

Today, October 8, 2021 is the 12th anniversary of the day that sociopathic New-Wage/McSpirituality guru James Arthur Ray killed two of his followers -- Kirby Brown and James Shore -- and set in motion the death, nine days later, of a third follower, Liz Neuman. The instrument of their deaths was a fake and utterly reckless "sweat lodge" ceremony in Sedona, Arizona, that also injured dozens of other participants. The phony sweat lodge was the "final challenge" at Ray's egregiously overpriced "Spiritual Warrior" workshop.

Ray, who had skyrocketed to fame following his appearance in the New-Wage moviemercial
The Secret, was convicted of negligent homicide for the three deaths in Sedona -- and consequently served less than two years in an Arizona state prison -- but he was never criminally charged in the death of yet another follower, Colleen Conaway, at a San Diego Ray event a couple of months before Sedona.

The families and friends of the four people killed by James Arthur Ray have all learned to cope with their losses in their own ways. 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.

Yet 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 the 2020 memoir,
This Sweet Life: How We Lived After Kirby Died, by Kirby's mother Ginny and her baby sister Jean. It is truly a lovely and haunting book, which I read last year and have yet to keep my commitment to fully review here -- but never mind my own negligence; I urge you to read the book.

For Ray, the daze of the four- and five-figure live events such as Spiritual Warrior would seem to be over, and that's a good thing. Though he has been struggling mightily to make a comeback since his release from prison, framing the whole Sedona thing as a super-major trial and tribulation for him, his audience has shriveled like the balls of a long-time steroid user.

For instance, so far he's only earned 2 "likes" for
his September 29. 2021 tweet about yet another "Warrior" workshop -- this one called "The Way of the Warrior," and set to be delivered via Zoom over eight weeks, with the co-deliverer being a drugged-out-looking brunette who calls herself "Bear" (short for Bersabeh), and who apparently had the appallingly bad taste to enter into a "committed relationship" with James. The promo video linked to on that tweet has only gotten nine views on YouTube so far. So... I'm guessing not much of a turnout for the "Way of the Warrior" Zoomer.

Even so, as long as he continues to try to claw his way back to the top of an industry that has more than its share of sociopaths and predators, and yet continues to attract millions via false promises and insidious lies, I feel duty-bound to post periodic reminders of why you should not listen to James Arthur Ray. He is still spewing his toxins, and the people he killed are still dead.

Never forget.

Related on this Whirled

 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Scamworld & politix: Eric Trump set to join alt-health/conspiranoid scammers in Nashville in October

 


Would you like a little fascism with your snake oil? Well then, you're in luck. In yet another example of Scamworld and US politix partying together, there's going to be an alt-health conference in Nashville October 22-24, 2021: The Truth [sic] About Cancer Live! convention. The event's anti-vax agenda is pretty blatant, but nearly as obvious is the right-wing political mission, as evidenced by the fact that the top-billed keynoter is none other than Eric Trump. And the conference organizers themselves are notorious perpetrators of The Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election. The upcoming event is not only a menace to public health, due to misinformation in the service of scamming, but it is also part of a disturbing trend of alliances that are endangering American democracy.

The media -- well, at least some of them -- have been abuzz with news that #NeverWasMyPresident Donald John Trump's middle and stupidest son, Eric, will be a keynote speaker at an alt-health (translation: anti-vax) event in Nashville in October. From The Daily Beast:

Trump is set to speak at the Truth About Cancer Live! convention between Oct. 22 and 24 in Nashville, joining a speakers’ lineup that includes some of the most prominent promoters of disinformation about vaccines, as well as leading figures in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

The conference is the brainchild of Ty and Charlene Bollinger, two major promoters of anti-vaccine disinformation who have
made tens of millions of dollars promoting both alternative health cures for cancer and vaccine fears. The Bollingers have dubbed the coronavirus vaccine “that abominable vaccine,” according to a Center for Public Integrity report, and sell a $200 video series promoting vaccine fearmongering on their website.

The promoters of TTAC Live '21 are using every cheesy, cliched marketing trick in the book, including "false scarcity," to push this (likely super-spreader) event.

Silver & Gold Tickets Are Sold Out
Bronze Tickets Now On Sale - Save $100

The "gold tickets" were supposedly $997, and the "silver tickets" $497 -- but if you act now, you can get a "bronze ticket" for the low, low price of only $197 (marked down from $297)! Heck of a deal.

At any rate, most of the reporting I've seen on this event puts the news about Eric Trump's scheduled keynote in the same bizarro category as
Daddy Trump's (virtual) appearance at a recent Moonie cult conference on the 20th anniversary of September 11. Be that as it may, Eric, who claims that he himself is vaccinated, poo-poos the idea that the event at which he'll be featured is in any way anti-vaccine.

Trump confirmed his scheduled speech in an email to The Daily Beast.

“I am not there to talk about vaccines,” Trump wrote. “I am in Nashville to talk about the accomplishments of the 45th President of the United States.”

Trump disputed the idea that the conference is “anti-vaccine,” pointing to his vaccinated status.

“As to labeling something an anti-vaccine event, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to attend as a vaccinated person if it was,” Trump wrote.

Well, as anyone with even rudimentary observational skills knows by now, little Eric is not exactly the brightest tiki torch in the white supremacist march. He most likely wouldn't know an anti-vax agenda if it crashed through his window at night and sat on his smug little rodent face (no offense intended to rodents) while Lara watched in feigned shock and reached for her Kiki de Montparnasse Etoile Bullet Vibe. (Look it up; I'm not going to provide a link.)

Face it: the
TTAC '21 web site makes its anti-vax (and anti-mask) agenda pretty clear just by its speaker lineup. Several of the scheduled speakers at TTAC, including Sheri Tenpenny and Erin "The Health Nut" Elizabeth, not to mention the Bollingers themselves, are part of the "Disinformation Dozen" who earlier this year were reported as producing 65 percent of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They make the anti-vax part of the conference agenda as glaringly obvious as Donald Trump's fake tan.

As with other media outlets reporting on the event, The Daily Beast mentioned several of these speakers in passing.

Other anti-vaccine speakers at the event [besides Eric Trump] include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Andrew Wakefield, the author of a vaccination with retracted study linking vaccination with autism—a claim repeated by former President Trump on multiple occasions. Judy Mikovits, who went viral in the summer of 2020 as the star of the “Plandemic” coronavirus disinformation video and has falsely claimed as many as 50 million Americans could be killed by the vaccine, is also scheduled to speak. In promotional copy for tickets to the convention, which range in price from $197 to $997, the Bollingers promise the event will reveal “the truth about vaccines.”

...Edward Group and
Mike Adams, two alternative health personalities who have been regulars on conspiracy theory hub InfoWars, are giving speeches as well. Trump adviser Roger Stone is also giving a speech.

(I mentioned Judy Mikovits and her Plandemic "documentary" in a May 2020 post about serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's enablers continuing to push COVID-19 conspiracy tales.)

Notably absent from the lineup, I feel compelled to mention, is fake doctor/cancer quack/scammer/(alleged) predator/neo-Nazi/Trump fan
Leonard Coldwell, who for several years was a staple at similar alt-health events, and who claims to have a 92.3 percent "cancer cure" rate. More than likely the omission is because Lenny, despite his nonstop griping about vaccines and Big Pharma and whatnot, has become too irrelevant and insignificant to include in a big-name event.

But I digress. Notwithstanding the blatant anti-vax mission reflected in the speaker lineup, I'd say that Eric Trump is probably on the level about his personal motives for being a keynoter at this scamapalooza. His presence at TTAC as a spokes-doofus for Daddy's "achievements" actually makes perfect sense when you take a closer look at several of the speakers -- I mean, apart from the excruciatingly obvious inclusion of Roger Stone, who's billed as a "health freedom advocate" and will apparently be speaking at least a little bit about cancer because his wife had it, but he'll almost certainly also be blathering about how viciously oppressed he has been by the "illegal" Mueller report and the Clintons and liberals and so on, and about how we can "restore" America and personal freedoms. (For that matter, DaddyT's appearance at the Moonie conference makes sense too, when you consider the rabid right-wing politix of the Unification Church.)

Regarding certain other speakers at the TTAC conference, though: consider alt-health "expert" and professional fear-monger Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, for example. If you've been following this blog for a few years, you know
I've written about Adams several times. And if you've been a reader during the lamentable Error of Trump, you almost certainly know that Adams has paraded himself as a staunch and downright fanatical supporter of Trump and Trumpism. On more than one occasion during the Trump "presidency," he advocated Trump imposing martial law in the US -- and committing other authoritarian acts that would make any old-school dictator proud -- in order to destroy "the left" and recreate America in the image of the neo-fascist wet dream. So there's that.

An even more blatant political connection lies in the organizers of the conference, Ty and Charlene Bollinger. From the Wikipedia entry, which cites external sources:

Bollinger spoke at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Nashville on November 14, 2020, repeating accusations of election fraud.[25]...

...
[Ty and Charlene Bollinger] played a significant role in organizing the pro-Trump demonstrations that culminated in a
riot at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.[31] They coordinated with leaders of the Stop the Steal movement to bring their supporters to the demonstrations. They introduced speakers to their crowd of supporters and according to Darlene, Ty joined the demonstration outside the Capitol; both afterward condemned the violence that took place at the event.[10][32][4] The Bollingers have been using QAnon hashtags in 2020 and promoted some of the movement's common conspiracy theories.[21]

To its credit, the Daily Beast article I linked to above does mention the Bollingers' contributions to the January 6 riots.

Along with their anti-vaccine activism, the Bollingers have faced criticism for a rally they organized just blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. During the event, Charlene Bollinger praised the rioters attacking Congress.

“We pray for the patriots that are there now inside,” Charlene Bollinger said during the event. “They’re trying to get inside that Capitol.”

In case it isn't painfully obvious after my characteristic belaboring of the point: Eric Trump's status as not just a keynote speaker, but the keynoter -- the one who gets top billing along with conference organizers/founders Ty and Charlene Bollinger -- shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's been paying attention. But it is another big red flag, on at least two levels.

First, Eric Trump is obviously a selling point for the conference, and it can't be overstated that, politics aside, the organizers' alt-health agenda is doing measurable damage to public health. Alejandro Ramirez, writing
in an article today on the Nashville Scene web site, really gets it.

It’s easy to point at the health care hucksters and laugh, but as several proverbs suggest, comedy and tragedy are often linked. In this case, they aren’t just preying on wealthy science-deniers but also desperate people who are looking for anything to help them or their loved ones survive. We’re talking about vulnerable people, physically and financially.

Secondly, Eric Trump (and Roger Stone) being featured as keynoters at an alleged natural-health conference is an indication of a continuing and growing trend of alliances between factions that not only care far more about their own power, wealth, and egos than they do about the well-being of the people to whom they so relentlessly pander, but who are also endangering American democracy with their cynical lies.

And that's no laughing matter.

PS. Wead it and reap, redux
In other Scamworld-meets-politix news, two GOP operatives have been charged with funneling Russian money to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016. One of the indicted guys, Jesse Benton, had previously been convicted of multiple campaign fraud offenses, but Trump pardoned him just before leaving office. The other guy, Doug Wead -- and here's where the Scamworld/politix angle comes in -- is a longtime selfish-help huckster and Trump sycophant who authored an ass-kissing book on Trump a couple of years ago. I've written about Wead on my blog, most recently in Nov 2019.

Wead is being represented in the case by two of Trump's former attorneys, Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin. Commenting on the charges, Sekulow said, “Doug Wead is a respected author and supporter of charitable causes. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will continue to respond appropriately in court.” Well, that should be a load off of all of our minds. Respected authors and supporters of charitable causes are always good guys, right?

But I'm thinking that maybe justice and accountability are not a given in this case, since it has been assigned to Judge Trevor McFadden,
a Trump appointee who donated to Trump's campaign and worked on his presidential transition team. We'll just have to see. 

Related on this Whirled:
Past musings on some of the ways in which Scamworld and US politics intersect. The era of Trump really brought this phenomenon out in the open, since Donald Trump himself has been a Scamworld hustler for decades. As well, some of this blog's most frequent subjects -- most notably, imprisoned (but soon to be released) serial scammer
Kevin Trudeau -- has been a longtime admirer of Donald Trump. Or at least he plays one on the Interwebz.

  • March 2016 -- The devils at the crossroads of politix and Scamworld
    This is the first post in which I really attempted to explore the deepening connection between US politics and Scamworld, as well as the blurring of lines between information and entertainment. I was far from the first to do this, but I think that this post marked a turning point on my blog.
  • May 2016 -- Trump and his Trumpsters: like attracts like
    A closer look at some of the Scamworld luminaries, as well as regular folks, who were and are drawn to Trump.
  • May 2016 --: Donald Trump's Scamworld playbook isn't unique
    My friend and blogging colleague Jason "Salty Droid" Jones was way ahead of me on documenting Trump's Scamworld shenanigans, but this post goes into detail about how "Trump University" was far from unique in the industry.
  • October 2016 -- Back into the black hole of politix...
    Conspiracy fans were and are naturally drawn to Trump, who for several years was the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief, and who is still driving dangerous conspiracy narratives even though he is out of office. Kevin Trudeau has also banked on conspiranoid tales for many years, and many if not most of the people who were and are drawn to him are big believers in Trudeau's message that he knows the secret truth about things that "They" don't want you to know about. In this post I muse about these matters, and about the fact that I apparently lost some "friends" (and readers) when I began blogging against Trump. These were people I'd "met" because they had become disillusioned with Trudeau's scams, and they considered me an ally and supporter. I was puzzled about these lost allies at first, but as I note in the post, the aforementioned Salty Droid pointed out to me that quitting one manipulative scam or scammer doesn't cure one of the thinking pattern errors that got them sucked in in the first place.
  • November 2016 -- Politix and Scamworld on an extended honeymoon
    When Trump chose Betsy DeVos as his Education Secretary, he was not only thumbing his nose at public education but was also elevating someone with notorious Scamworld (Amway) connections -- as well as plutocracy and theocracy creds -- to an influential office.
  • October 2017 -- #FreeKevinTrudeau sucks up to Sheriff Joe
    For years, Kevin Trudeau and his minions tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get Donald Trump to free Kevin from prison early and, ideally, to issue a full pardon. One of the tactics the Trudeau camp used was to shamelessly kiss up to the atrocious, racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump had pardoned. Shortly after the pardon, Trudeau wrote a letter to Arpaio, congratulating him and calling him an American hero.
  • August 2019: Conspiranoid claptrap & manipulative manifestos cloud narrative about El Paso & Dayton shootings
    Two tragic mass shootings brought out the conspiranoid crazies and power-mad cynics from both Scamworld and the political arena. Most of them -- at least the ones who actually accepted that the shootings were real and weren't merely the latest performances from "crisis actors" -- tried to pin the blame for the shootings on liberals and Democrats. "Health Ranger" Mike Adams, who is one of the scheduled keynoters at the fascism-and-frauducts gathering in Nashville in October 2021, weighed in with his usual right-wing rants. Their arguments didn't hold water, but that didn't stop them.
  • March 2020 -- Coronacrazy: COVID-19 virus brings out the conspiranoids & fraudsters
    This was just the beginning. Things only got crazier as the months went by.
  • March 2020 -- The Lie-land of Dr. Trudeau: Kevin Trudeau joins the ranks of the corona-crapitalists
    Of course Kevin Trudeau, undisputed master of misinformation that "They" don't want you to know, would have to get in on the COVID craze. He spewed out so much crap that I ended up doing a followup post, the link to which is at the end of this one. Trudeau's overarching theme was that COVID is no big deal and that the alarming stats are grossly exaggerated; he even wrote that he actually hoped he would get COVID so he could show the world it's NBD. (He did later test positive for COVID, but apparently he survived. He's been silent on the subject, and on everything else, since he's been out on "home release.") Where does politix come in? I'm glad you asked. One of the highlights of Trudeau's "exclusive" information about COVID -- and he claimed to be privy to seekrit conversations about the plot -- was that the pandemic was a fabrication of a cartel of "Them" in the media and other enemy factions, whose chief purpose was to make Trump look bad so he would lose the 2020 election.
  • April 2020 -- Bless this mess with MMS: phony church (and possibly a phony president?) tout bleachy cure-nothing for COVID-19
    Worth a look for the embedded Randy Rainbow video alone. But there's also an exploration of the phony church founded by one Jim Humble, most notorious touter of bleachy cures, whom I'd written about previously on this blog.
  • August 2021 -- Oleandrin: Are Trump and cronies trying to crapitalize on a new phony COVID-19 cure?
    I posted this in the wake of early reports indicating that Trumpophant Mike Lindell, the MyShillow guy, is bat-crap crazy. Lindell is definitely a loony with one foot in Scamworld and the other in right-wing politix. But his head is buried in a certain fat orange ass.
  • June 2021 -- Covidiocy and the new waves of anti-vax lunacy
    Back when I first started posting about COVID craziness, I never thought I'd still be posting about it more than a year later. But here we are...
  • August 2021 -- Covidiocy continues: Canadian crackpot, COVID camps, Carlson claptrap
    Yes, here we are. 
     

Related off-Whirled:
Don't just listen to me. Here are a few pieces that offer some larger historical and cultural perspectives on the unholy marriage between Scamworld and right-wing politix.

  • These 'Conservative' Grifters Will Be The Death Of Our Republic
    Though Donald Trump may be the Grifter-in-Chief, he's hardly the first or only republican/conservative scammer. Not that Democrats and liberals are immune to the temptation to grift, but the republicans have taken the practice to dangerous new levels over the past few decades. Political commentator and progressive radio talk show host Thom Hartmann writes:

...it surprises nobody to discover that when Donald Trump and the people around him learned, in mid-November of 2020, that there was absolutely no meaningful voter fraud in that month's election, they chose, instead of acknowledging the truth, to go ahead with a plan to raise over $200 million dollars (and counting). That even today "President Trump" is sending out one or two fundraising emails a day, each one with the tiny "make this a recurring donation" box pre-checked.

Grifters occupy a unique niche in the world of criminals: they avoid direct violence, but live and act only to enrich themselves, whether it's with money, sex, power or all three. They're typically high-functioning sociopaths who sneer at the rules of civilized society the rest of us take seriously.

Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court cracked open the door for professional grifters in 1976 when, for the first time in American history,
the Court redefined politicians taking money from billionaires away from being "political corruption" and "bribery"—what such behavior had been called since the beginning of the republic—to instead say it was a mere "exercise of free speech" on the part of the morbidly rich...

Hartmann traces the history since 1976 of the ways in which the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government paved the way for epic scamming by those in positions of power.

  • Why some New Age influencers believe Trump is a "lightworker"
    Once upon a time, way back during the dawning of the Age of Aquarius (as documented by the tribal love-rock musical Hair), new-agey/McSpirituality types tended to be either blissfully apolitical or earnestly left-leaning. They were famous not only for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but also for protesting the war in Vietnam and embracing progressive social causes such as racial equality, feminism, gay rights, and a better, kinder, more loving world.
    I learned long ago that the love-and-light crowd wasn't and isn't all love-and-light by any means -- that new-age gurus and believers are just as prone to egomania and pettiness and back-stabbing and dishonesty and hypocrisy as anyone else (perhaps even more so) -- but even after those hard-learned lessons sank in, there were many years when I still pretty much took it for granted that new-agers who thought about politics at all were progressives or liberals.

    That's no longer the case, though, and at first it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I began to discover that many in new-age/New-Wage/McSpirituality circles are right at home with right-wing ideologies. It isn't so surprising that some of the less overtly "spiritual" Scamworld luminaries -- motivational gurus, infomercial hucksters, and Internet marketing grifters -- would lean rightward, or would at least be rabid libertarians, for the obvious reason that the fewer regulations and consumer protections there are, the more a scammer can get away with. But it does seem a little counter-intuitive that the more touchy-feely types would be right-leaning. Yet there's a perfectly logical explanation for this seemingly illogical phenomenon.

    In March 2021, Salon staff writer Nicole Karlis shed some light on the phenomenon of new-agey "lightworkers" embracing Donald Trump as a fellow "lightworker." She too acknowledged the changing demographics.

    This notion that Trump is a lightworker shares obvious parallels with the belief, held by some evangelicals, that Trump is comparable to Jesus; similarly, some QAnon followers believe that Trump is the "world leader" whose mission is to "save the children."

    Yet what makes the lightworker theory especially odd is that it has emerged from a demographic that would have previously been described as apolitical, or even far-left.

    However, as the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol showed, QAnon and Trump adherents are no longer just middle-aged, conservative white men like the Republican Party of yore. Many of those who embrace right-wing fringe beliefs are yogis, and love-and-light types, too. Take Jake Angeli for example, the so-called "QAnon Shaman" who donned a horned hat and spear-tipped American flag as he stormed the Capitol building on January 6. The 33-year-old, who identifies as having "shamanistic" beliefs, was recently granted the right to be fed an 
    all-organic diet in jail in line with his religious practice...

This piece also explains the phenomenon of "conspirituality," a word I wish I'd coined. It's well worth reading if you want to begin to understand the forces behind the craziness that's all around us. Perhaps the most disturbing aspects of this craziness are the historical parallels to the role that mysticism played in Nazi Germany -- a connection that my friend Chris Locke at the dormant Mystic Bourgeoisie blog documented very well some years back (this is just one link of several on his blog). Everything old is new again.

  •  Hacker reveals right-wing health care network made millions off ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine
    Snake oil is bigger business than ever these daze because of COVID. And once again we find Scamworld cozily in bed with (right-wing) politix.

    According to The Intercept, there’s a nice “network” of health care providers who have made millions on ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine during the pandemic. Do you remember the right-wing conspiracy theory-laden group of white medical uniform-wearing folks who called themselves America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS)? They promoted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle answer to COVID-19, and were able to get Republicans like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to reverse course on hydroxychloroquine bans. Guess what The Intercept found?

    America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group founded last year to promote pro-Trump doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, is working in tandem with a small network of health care companies to sow distrust in the Covid-19 vaccine, dupe tens of thousands of people into seeking ineffective treatments for the disease, and then sell consultations and millions of dollars’ worth of those medications. The data indicate patients spent at least $15 million — and potentially much more — on consultations and medications combined....

    And there's more!

    • Another prominent AFLDS person you might recognize is its founder, Simone Gold. The doctor and lawyer who helped get AFLDS off the ground was also known for telling the world in a May 2020 video: “We’re all acting as though there’s a huge medical crisis. I’m not sure that it’s front-page news.” Instead, Gold told viewers that “constitutional rights” being “trampled on” were the real issue. Now, Gold is better known for her more recent appearance as an insurrectionist on Jan. 6, 2021. Gold—who spoke into a bullhorn after trespassing into the Capitol building rotunda—is now facing five counts for her part in the insurrection.

      But as The Intercept discovered, the AFLDS wasn’t just saying awfully misleading and incorrect things into microphones, they were the propaganda wing of a nice money-making medical network. The network included telemedicine company SpeakWithAnMD.com, medical consultation platform CadenceHealth.us, and online pharmacy Ravkoo. They way it works is that AFLDS refers its followers to SpeakWithAnMD.com, which uses the Cadence Health and Ravkoo platforms to offer up $90 phone “consultations” with doctors who have supposedly been trained by the AFLDS to prescribe you drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

    Nice work if you can get it. Too bad people are dying because of schemes like this, while folks who have a legitimate need for the substances in question are unable to get them due to hoarding by greedy and cynical snake oil pushers and scads of gullible, misinformed yahoos.