Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Donald Trump's Scamworld playbook isn't unique

Note: I've added A LOT of content and links since first publishing this post on May 31. At this point it's still best to just consider this post a work in progress.

As I mentioned in passing in a blog post on April 29, 2016, US presidential candidate and enemy of the First Amendment Donald Trump has been whining about some civil lawsuits against his fraudulent flopportunity Trump University, claiming the cases (and there are actually two of them under the judge he is scapegoating)* are going forward only because a "Spanish" or"Hispanic" judge had it out for him.

Subsequent whines became progressively more ranty and bigoted-sounding as Drumpf railed against the "Mexican" judge, Gonzalo Curiel of the U.S. District Court -- a man who was born in Indiana and as a citizen of the United States is technically not Mexican. In fact Judge Curiel has been a very strong and brave fighter against the Mexican drug cartels. And contrary to the claims of the neo-con alarmist nitwits who are also vilifying the judge, he does not have ties to a radical "pro-Mexican" group.

But never mind that. Trump has repeatedly said of the "Mexican" judge, "...I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater."


Whether the rants influenced Judge Curiel or not,
the judge has unsealed documents related to the one of the cases.

As Politico noted:

It's unclear whether Curiel knew of Trump's latest volley of attacks when the judge issued the order Friday afternoon, but it seems possible. Curiously, the Republican candidate laid into Curiel at about the same time the judge was holding a hearing less than a mile away on a motion by The Washington Post seeking unsealing of the Trump University-related files. The judge's order was released a couple of hours after the hearing.
Trump has made noise about moving to recuse Curiel from the suits, but as of the day of the Politico writeup from which the above quotation was pulled, his lawyers had not yet brought such a motion.

Even though some of his allies, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have winced at the remarks about Curiel, Trump has not backed down, not only sticking by but escalating his rhetoric against the judge, and continuing to call for his recusal. It's all about the Rule of Trump versus the Rule of Law. The possible consequences of Trump having his way on this matter are pretty scary to contemplate. Trump's insistence is absurd on its surface anyway. Should female judges not be allowed to preside over cases involving alleged male rapists? Should African-American judges not be allowed to preside over cases against white racists? It seems to me (and to others who know much more about the law than I do) that the judge would be within his rights to slap Trump with contempt, but he probably won't, and in fact he has postponed the trial on the case that he had cleared for trial until after the election.

And in case you are wondering, the reason Judge Curiel has not yet spoken out in his own defense is that he is bound by the judicial code of ethics, which precludes a judge making public comment about the merits, or lack thereof, of a pending case.

The case of the disappearing plaintiff
Trump has actually been bitching about Curiel for a couple of years now, since long before the judge's latest actions. Currently Trump bases his public anti-Curiel rants mostly on the judge's Mexican heritage (because of that whole Wall thing, y'know). One complaint he has made, most recently on CBS's Face the Nation on June 5, is that the case (though he didn't specify which one, it is the Low (formerly Makaeff) case) should have been dismissed when the plaintiff's lawyers asked that the originally top-named plaintiff be removed, and the judge agreed. That should have been the end of it, insisted Trump... but the judge is "Mexican!" And Trump wants to build that Wall. It's so unfair, don't you know.

Trump did not mention that the woman who had been removed in the referenced case -- he didn't name her but she is
Tarla Makaeff -- had only been removed recently, by her own request, because she said she was sick of being publicly harassed by Trump. Obviously there were plenty of other plaintiffs in the case, and sufficient contested points to move it forward. But Trump tells a different story. On Face the Nation he said that the plaintiffs' lawyers had decided that this woman was a "terrible witness" and that she had fallen apart during her deposition, and that any judge who wasn't a Donald Trump hater would consequently have seen that the whole case was invalid and would have thrown it out.

Trump also insisted that Ms. Makaeff had previously written glowing reviews of Trump U, as had thousands and thousands of other folks, according to him. What he didn’t mention, perhaps because he doesn’t know, is that people at Scamworld events such as these, particularly pricey events, often write those reviews while in the throes of event afterglow, and often it’s because they’re strongly encouraged (manipulated/coerced) into doing so, and also because they are trying desperately to convince themselves that they didn’t just throw hundreds or thousands of their hard-earned dollars down the toilet.

More to the point here, the article about Tarla Makaeff that I linked to above (here is that link again) addresses the matter of her formerly positive reviews.
One of the key Trump attacks against Makaeff center on videos of her praising Trump University when she was a student.

But her lawyers argued that she didn't realize at the time that she and other students had been deceived by false promises from Trump University, and because the school had promised students it would continue to provide contacts and other assistance on future real estate deals.

The court agreed with that argument when dismissing Trump's counterclaim against Makaeff. It ruled two years ago that "as the recent Ponzi-scheme scandals involving onetime financial luminaries like Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford demonstrate, victims of con artists often sing the praises of their victimizers until the moment they realize they have been fleeced."
In March 2016 Judge Curiel granted Makaeff's request to remove her name from the litigation, apparently agreeing with her that she had suffered undue stress from Trump's attacks on her character and his attempts to silence her via a (failed) counter-suit. But the judge did allow her to remain on the case as an unnamed plaintiff, eligible for any moneys that may be collected should the plaintiffs prevail. Clearly Judge Curiel simply examined the evidence and saw sufficient reason to warrant moving the case forward. From what I have seen, the content in those unsealed documents tends to support his decision. As do the complaints from numerous former "students" about the utter scamminess of the operation.

Closing the barn door after the horses have escaped
In light of the content of those documents, it is no surprise that the Trump attorneys had been
fighting to keep them sealed, citing "trade secrets," the release of which they claim could harm new incarnations of the scam that may be launched once the court cases have been resolved. But Judge Curiel poo-pooed the notion of a new and improved Trump U, and said that besides, much of that proprietary information is already public anyway.

Politico published one of the Trump U playbooks back in March of this year, though Trump U playbook content had actually been leaked as early as 2014, as noted by The Atlantic. From Politico:
The book told employees to collect financial information from those who attended and rank them by their liquid assets to see who could afford more coursework. And staffers kept hotel ballrooms at a precise temperature — no more than 68 degrees — at the expensive real estate seminars.

These details and scores of others are embedded in thousands of pages of documents that comprise the lawsuits attacking a set of education courses GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has boasted about.
The link to the PDF of the 2010 playbook is embedded in the quotation above, but here it is again in case that link doesn't work. As appalling as it may seem if you're not somewhat familiar with these types of schemes, this is in many ways a typical Scamworld playbook, with every detail covered: from the temperature of the room, to the positioning of the chairs, to the grilling about participants' assets, and it was all orchestrated to ensure maximum coercion and money extraction.

Among many other things the playbook outlined methods of suckering attendees of free sessions into buying a $1,495 ticket to a three-day workshop. That workshop was promoted at the free sessions as providing everything participants needed to start getting rich. It will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Scamworld tactics that the $1,495 classes were not all-inclusive after all, but were merely conduits for upselling. The playbooks urged the sales team to aggressively promote classes with a "mentor," which could cost between $9,995 and $34,995, presumably depending upon how much the marks had in liquid a$$ets.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones weighed in with a piece titled,
"Trump U Records Unsealed, And It's Not a Pretty Sight." Among other sources he quoted a piece in the Washington Post, regarding Trump's involvement in the scam.
Donald Trump was personally involved in devising the marketing strategy for Trump University, even vetting potential ads, according to newly disclosed sworn testimony from the company’s top executive taken as part of an ongoing lawsuit....“Mr. Trump understandably is protective of his brand and very protective of his image and how he’s portrayed,” Michael Sexton, Trump University’s president, said in the 2012 deposition. “And he wanted to see how his brand and image were portrayed in Trump University marketing materials. And he had very good and substantive input as well.”
And then there's this from the New York Times, and it will be very familiar to any of you who have followed the saga of imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's big fraud, the Global Information Network (GIN) -- or any of the other sad Scamworld stories so diligently covered by bloggers such as Salty Droid for years.
Corrine Sommer, an event manager, recounted how colleagues encouraged students to open up as many credit cards as possible to pay for classes that many of them could not afford. “It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,” Ms. Sommer recalled their saying.

Ms. Sommer recalled that a member of the Trump University sales team, who had previously sold jewelry, was promoted to become an instructor. He had “no real estate experience,” she said. She added that many of the instructors had the quality that the school seemed to value most: “They were skilled at high-pressure sales,” she said.
According to a separate deposition Trump did not personally select instructors and "faculty" members for his "university," even though the promotions for Trump U had clearly stated that they had been "handpicked" by him, with Trump himself saying as much in some of the ads. He was certainly involved in crafting the ads, and clearly the scam company eagerly leveraged Trump's celebrity status, with his approval. It was all about the Trump brand.

The 2014 Atlantic piece I linked to above (here is that link again) concluded:

Even though Trump University is facing two multi-million dollar fraud lawsuits, Donald Trump continues to defend his educational efforts, calling Trump University “a terrific school that did a fantastic job.” But if Trump had read his school’s own playbook, he might have foreseen the likely outcome of running a university with comically lax standards. At one point, the playbook advises Trump staffers: “If a district attorney arrives on the scene, contact the appropriate media spokesperson immediately.”
But Attorneys General should be okay, as long as they're from Texas or Florida. More on that in a moment.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Drumpf
Apart from being a scam, Trump U was yet another example of Donald Trump's hypocrisy. On June 2, David Corn at Mother Jones wrote about the big con behind Trump's phony university, citing several instances in which Trump clearly said that success in business and in life owes more to intrinsic factors than to anything else. In other words, Trump doesn't really believe that success can be "taught." From the article:

Trump, who has campaigned as a champion of the little guy, has often stated his belief that only certain humans have the potential to be achievers. In a video for a 2006 book he co-wrote, Why We Want You to Be Rich, Trump was asked, "Do you think anybody can be rich?" His answer was no, and, in explaining this, he dumped on the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence:
No, I don’t think anybody can get rich. I think unfortunately the world is not a fair place. I think you have to be born with a certain intelligence. And it doesn't have to be a super intelligence, it has to be a certain intelligence. You can't take somebody that's not a smart person and say, "By the way, this is what you do, and here's your little card, and you're gonna follow these rules and regulations and you're gonna become a rich person." The world is not fair. You know they come with this statement "all men are created equal."

Well, it sounds beautiful, and it was written by some very wonderful people and brilliant people, but it's not true because all people and all men [laughter] aren't created—now today they'd say all men and women, of course, they would have changed that statement that was made many years ago. But the fact is you have to be born and blessed with something up here [pointing to his head]. On the assumption you are, you can become very rich.
Trump's all-folks-are-not-created-equal view was nothing new. In a 1990 Playboy interview, he noted that when it came to success, "I'm a strong believer in genes." Years later, in a CNN interview, Trump noted, "I think I was born with a drive for success. I had a father who was successful. He was a builder in Brooklyn and Queens. And he was successful and, you know, I have a certain gene. I'm a gene believer. Hey, when you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse. And I really was, you know, I had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that." And at a Trump rally earlier this year in Biloxi, Mississippi, the mogul proclaimed, "I have Ivy League education, smart guy, good genes. I have great genes and all that stuff which I'm a believer in."
That was not the message of Trump University. Its ads promised that its students—who paid up to $35,000 for courses—would learn Trump's "secrets" for amassing wealth and be taught how to apply them right away. "Above all," Trump said in the promotional video for this business, "it's about how to become successful." The pitch essentially said this: Anyone can do it. Yet Trump has frequently indicated that he doesn't really buy that. Instead, you need good genes, Trump-type genes, to succeed and score big in this not-everyone-is-created-equal world. In that case, there's not much point in trying to teach inferior Trump wannabes to be like the superior Trump, unless your aim is to redistribute wealth—from them to you. But, in keeping with Trump's elitist belief in the power of genes, this setup might be called financial Darwinism. (To the guys with the good genes go the spoils—and the cash!) And soon the courts will determine if it's also fraud.
Just another day in Scamworld 
The same day the Drumpf U documents were unsealed, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman slammed Trump U as being "phony" and "shameless." Schneiderman subsequently appeared on Morning Joe on June 2 to discuss his ongoing lawsuit against Trump U, which is a separate one from the California case that spurred the release of the potentially damning documents. Writing for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent noted that Trump had been caught in yet another fib.
The quote from Schneiderman that drove some buzz today is the one in which he claimed that Trump University was “fraud,” and added that Trump had privately offered to “settle” the lawsuit with New York’s Attorney General. If true, this contradicts Trump’s previous claim that he has not sought to settle the lawsuit “out of principle.” After all, only a big loser would settle a lawsuit, while winners like Trump win them, right?

But I think another quote from Schneiderman deserves some attention: He noted that a lot of the victims of Trump’s alleged scam were people who had come to the school amid a dark period in the aftermath of the financial crisis, when they were desperate to find a way to make money.
Gosh. If only the New York AG had been as cooperative (or cheap whore-ish, perhaps) as those in Florida and Texas, both of whom chose not to pursue action against Trump U, and both of whom received political donations from Trump -- $25,000 to the Florida AG and $35,000 to the Texas AG who was running, and won, the gubernatorial seat. Texas' current AG, Ken Paxton, is actively trying to shush the conversation about the decision by the office of former AG and now-Gub'ner Greg Abbott not to pursue the case. And more information has resurfaced about Florida AG Pam Bondi, who apparently asked Trump for a donation before she stopped the fraud case. And to keep the circle jerk unbroken, both Bondi and Abbott have endorsed Trump.

So there's that. And there's also the fact that even though the former Trump University LLC, now known as the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC -- was shut down years ago, Drumpf is still earning a little pocket change from it.

But...yawn. I don't expect that this blatant proof of Donald Trump's Scamworld creds will faze most of his shouting, cheering, red-hat-wearing worshipers and hatriots. Many are already shrugging it off with the rationalization that the techniques in the playbooks are just par for the course with sales training in any industry. "What's the big deal?" they say. "Hillary's the real criminal! Make America great again!" It is actually a big deal, but most of Trump's supporters probably won't think it is.

Moreover, as I've griped about several times previously (
such as here), and as Salty Droid has noted many times over the years, few people in the media or outside of it seem to really care much about the bigger Scamworld picture, of which Trump U is but one piece. For instance, I'm pretty sure that Tony Robbins, the reigning king of Scamworld, has his own playbooks that use much of the same manipulation/coercive persuasion techniques to sell and upsell and up-upsell his pricey seminars. (I wouldn't be surprised if some of the folks behind the Trump U scam were Robbins graduates.) And Robbins has his own money-mastering infofrauducts and flopportunities. However good his intentions may seem to many who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, Tony Robbins is pretty much a flopportunistic huckster who apparently has no qualms about allying himself to the scum of the Internet. But at least he doesn't appear to buy into the idea that Trump's legendary business acumen qualifies him to be president.

The point is that these types of scams go on and on and on and on and on, and for the most part very little is done about them. The fallout from the scams is good for an occasional feature piece or "expose," especially if there's a high-profile player and/or a lawsuit involved... and then it's back to business as usual, with the media often playing their own parts in perpetuating the scams (e.g., by running scammers' infomercials and other more cleverly disguised paid content, and by playing softball on "investigative" pieces).

I think that Steve Benen, speculating on the Rachel Maddow blog that the Trump U brouhaha has turned into a full-fledged scandal for which there is no defense, may be exaggerating the case. And Benen, like most of the other reporters and commentators covering this matter, doesn't seem to realize that the real story isn't that one of a front-running presidential candidate's companies is a scam. The real story -- and the real outrage -- is that this type of scam isn't all that unusual. It's horrible, it's disgusting, and good people get screwed, so Trump should not be given a pass by any means... but it happens all the time

Furthermore the media seem to have turned their attention away from another big Trump boondoggle: the Trump Network multi-level marketing (MLM) scams, which received a spate of attention for a while earlier this year, but since then seem to have slipped back into the shadows. And few of those covering the scams correlated them to the much larger MLM scourge in this country. As usual, Salty Droid got it, years ago.

I'm not trying to trash the mainstream media; I'm just saying they could do a better job. Some are moving in the right direction. A more mainstream journo who also seems to get it, at least regarding Trump U, is Charles P. Pierce, writing for Esquire in a June 2 piece titled, "Always Remember, We Live in a Nation of Scammers" :

If there is a single, overriding question in the unfolding Trump University scandal, however, it is this: Why in god's name is anyone surprised?
Of course, the fact that He, Trump was behind this scam is prima facie evidence of some thoroughgoing shenanigans, but that's not what I mean. He, Trump is an apex bunco artist, but he also is a high-profile American corporate businessman of the late 20th century.

But I repeat myself.

Bernie Sanders gets roasted in some quarters for saying this, but it's true—for going on 40 years now, the primary business model for the American corporate class has been fraud. What we're getting a peek at now with the Trump University is indeed garish in its contempt for the suckers, but what it's not is surprising.
Corporate America is held aloft by scams and scammers, and it goes far beyond the selfish-help/New-Wage/McSpirituality/alt-health industries that are the normal beat of this blog. Again, Salty Droid got that too (and hopefully will be writing more about it in future posts on his new and improved site). Here he is in November 2015:
Scamworld isn’t creeping upward toward the real world in an effort to increase its reach/credibility. Scamworld is just the trickle down of the devastating devotion to lies and corruption that form the basis of the real world.
And here's Pierce again on the June 2 Esquire piece:
This isn't cynicism. This is the universe of our politics today, and it has been for almost four decades now. There are those In The Know and there are the suckers. There's nobody in between any more, and it's certainly not the government. Too often, the government is on one side while pretending to be on the other.
So, yeah, it's a goddamn shame what Trump University did to those poor people and I hope they sue him for everything, including his socks and underwear. But please, don't ask me to be shocked. This is the world we live in. The American democracy is becoming the longest con of all.
All things considered, though, I doubt that the newly revealed docs will do "irreparable harm" to Trump's campaign, though I would seriously love to be proven wrong on this one.

Many folks probably see nothing wrong with the Trump U "business" model
I acknowledge that my candidate of choice, Hillary Clinton, does not escape the pen of Esquire's Charles Pierce, who cites those infamous Goldman Sachs gigs. Many loyal Trump subjects who are outraged about Hillary's high-dollar speeches to Goldman Sachs, the shenanigans of Bush and Cheney, and the several other examples listed in the Esquire piece linked to above, simply don't see their king as being part of the crony-capitalist political system.

And I think that is largely because they identify with Trump on some level. When attempting to project the real damage (or lack thereof) that the Trump U mess will do to his presidential campaign, we have to take into consideration the "like attracts like" phenomenon that I wrote about late last month. Not only does Donald Trump attract haters and a variety of narcissists and psychopaths (like not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell on both the "hater" and "narcissist/psychopath" counts), but he also attracts one-percenter wannabes and scammers who admire his success (again, the notorious not-doc Lenny fits into these categories), and for whom rationalization about the Trump U documents most likely won't even be necessary.
"Mr. Las Vegas" himself, Wayne Newton, showed that he understood the wannabe principle when he voiced his support for Trump last October on Fox & Friends.
“I love Donald, and he would make a great president,” Newton told hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade.

“Number one, he tells the truth,” said Newton. “Number two, he’s been where most of these guys want to be, in terms of riding on his own plane. He doesn’t have to worry about what hotels he stays in, he doesn’t have to worry about how his family gets to Hawaii, so on and so forth.”
But mainly Mr. "Danke Schoen" loves The Donald because "he tells it like it is."

Yet another scammer (and wannabe) who comes to mind is embattled "life coach" and long-time grifter Coral Grant, a Trudeau cohort (or, more accurately, Trudeau suckup) who is currently facing a fraud lawsuit of her own, though you'd never know it to see her cheerful Facebook posts. At the moment Coral and her co-grifter, hubby Mac Grant, are scamming through a company called Best Life Coaching Society, but that could change at any moment. They are promoting their Subconscious Release Technique, which is probably exactly what it sounds like: a way to get you to release all of your money to them without even being aware of it. Anyway, Coral has made no secret that she's a yuuuuge Trump supporter who seems to be trying to suck up to The Donald the way she did Trudeau, and who soooo looks forward to seeing Drumpf make America great again, and who recently got all teary-eyed by a pro-Trump propaganda vid that attempted to make her idol seem like the greatest humanitarian who ever walked the Earth.

So again, I think that for the most part the Trump U flap won't make a bit of difference to the Trumpians, who will defend their idol no matter what happens. Depending upon how the lawsuits go, the "scandal" might possibly put a slight damper on some Scamworld schemes, since Trump is such a high-profile example. Possibly it will lead to reforms in the industry... oh, who am I kidding?

Certainly I am glad that the fraud that was Trump U, and that may possibly be a slightly more subtle version of Trump U in the future, is getting some mainstream attention again, and that Trump in general is garnering more critical media attention now. But at this point I think that Paul Waldman's Washington Post opinion piece is a little overly optimistic in its projection that journalists' efforts to (finally) crack down on Trump will significantly harm the Trump campaign. After all, Trump is a powerful demagogue, and as the media light becomes ever harsher and Trump hollers more loudly about the unfairness of it all, it is far more likely that he will be able to turn his ardent admirers against the media (even more so than they are already)  than that the media coverage will turn them against him

But still. It is possible that a few people will wake up, and those on the fence may be convinced that putting the dangerously narcissistic Trump -- a man who truly is too sick to lead -- in the most powerful position on the planet is a horrifying idea.

NOTE (with important links):

Here is a link to a page on the web site of the law firm handling the Low (formerly Makaeff) and Cohen class action lawsuits. It hasn't been completely updated but it has some useful history, devoid of sensationalist headlines and editorializing.

And here is a link to another page, which includes information about the Cohen lawsuit in which civil RICO has been invoked. This page has a link to a portal that will lead you to numerous important court documents in both of the cases in which Judge Gonzalo Curiel is involved. (Also read their FAQ page.)

For those who have jumped on the "Trump is going to prison over RICO charges" bandwagon, hold on to your horses. It probably isn't going to happen. Civil RICO is, as my friend Max noted on a Facebook conversation, easy to invoke but very hard to prove. Besides, technically speaking, the word "charges" only applies to criminal cases, not civil, and at this point it seems unlikely that either one of these civil cases will become criminal ones, and highly unlikely that Trump will be imprisoned for anything. (Here's Ken White at Popehat lawsplaining about the ridiculous overuse of RICO accusations.) Frankly, I don't want to see Donald Trump in prison. But I damn sure don't want to see him in the Oval Office.

PS added on 8 June 2016: In another comical development, Drumpf is now denying that he ever attacked Judge Curiel's ethnicity, and he has vowed to shut up about Trump U and the judge. We'll see how long that lasts.

* The lawsuits over which Judge Gonzalo Curiel is presiding are known as Cohen vs. Donald J. Trump, Case No. 3:13-cv-02519 (the Nationwide Action) and Low, et al. vs. Trump University, LLC, et al., Case No. 3:10-cv-00940 (California/Florida/New York Action). In May 2016, the name of the Makaeff Action was changed from Makaeff, et al. vs. Trump University, LLC., et al. to Low, et al. vs. Trump University, LLC., et al.
~ Source: Trumpuniversitylitigation.com

Drumpf continues his hate-hate relationship with the press. As well, the man whom his supporters have so passionately embraced for not being beholden to corrupt Wall Street interests has been revealed, in one of the media that have been banned from Trump events, to be a Deutsche-bag with a massive conflict of interest that is unprecedented for a US presidential candidate. And in the larger world, North Korea has just added itself to the list of Trump supporters.

Heaven help us all.

Related on this Whirled:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Facebook "censors" Leonard Coldwell again: somebody call the waaaahmbulance!

Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell, he of the extravagant boasts and faux credentials, is once again complaining about being suspended -- or "banned" as he histrionically puts it -- from Facebook. This time around, on his Wednesday, May 25, 2016 entry, which is one of the few original "blog" posts he has ever published on his main site, he is claiming that the reason for the suspension is that he wrote posts supporting US presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Dr. Coldwell Banned from FB for Support of Trump – Lets [sic] Sue FB!

...screamed the big headline.

As usual, Coldwell's claims make no sense at all. Look at it logically, though to do so you have to overlook the fact that logic and Lenny don't even belong in the same blog post together. If people got suspended from Facebook merely for writing supportive posts about Trump, there would be no pro-Drumpf content on Facebook whatsoever. But my feeds are constantly cluttered with users' posts supporting The Donald's presidential run (I do have Facebook friends who are Trump supporters), as well as links to "news" and opinion pieces that are favorable to the orange blowfish. And there are scads of Facebook pages and communities devoted to supporting Trump's presidency.

Nevertheless Lenny is crying martyr again, and not surprisingly is once again waving the litigation banner, inviting his idiot followers to join him in a one-billion-dollar class action lawsuit.

Said he:
Dr. Coldwell Re-Posted on FB a post in regard to the fact that Trump is not a Muslim Hater.
He was shortly after banned for his actions despite the fact that we, as Americans, still have free speech under the second [sic] amendment.
It is time to start a Class A Lawsuit against Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg. He believes his corporate policies are binding for the Facebook user without any form of justice or way to question their unlawful actions. There is no method set up to defend a post and reverse their unlawful and criminal Actions.
Law is not a one-way street. Since Facebook profits from our posts and participation, we have the right to sue for a part of that money and as freelancers. Simply put, we have rights, possibly employee rights. We have the right to get our regular hourly rate if Facebook does not obey and adhere to their own policies and rules.
Let's take a closer look at this matter.

First...Second... one of those numbers... the point is, we love Trump!
To begin with, it is the First Amendment that addresses free speech, not the Second Amendment, and you would think that the guy
who describes himself as "one of the leading authorities for Constitutional Law (Common Law ) Sovereignty and the fight for Liberty and Freedom" -- and who is co-author of the best book ever written about the subject would know his First from his Second Amendments. (By the way, as mentioned here a few times previously, Coldwell's co-author on that great law book, "Dr. Sam Kennedy," is currently serving prison time for tax evasion).

My husband Ron attempted to set little Lenny straight.

Nice try, Ron, but I doubt that your comment will ever see the light of day. Except here.

On a Facebook discussion about the matter, Ron added, "And BTW, Herr Genius, before you can claim to have rights as an employee or freelancer, you must first have an employment or work-for-hire contract. Feel free to post evidence that you have either. We'll wait."

I suspect we will have a long wait. I do have a feeling that eventually LoonyC or one of his admins [I originally speculated it would be Sarah, but she seems clueless or indifferent about it at the moment] will realize the mistake about the amendment, most likely as a result of reading Ron's comment, and will silently correct it, hoping no one else noticed. But look, I have a screen shot (as usual, click to enlarge).

And here's the rest of the little screed.


The amendment gaffe was proudly paraded on Facebook as well, also on May 25, on The Only Answer to Cancer page, which is one of numerous pages Coldwell maintains and from which he has not been suspended. (Which makes his whining seem all the more... whiny.) His favorite admin and "little sister" Sarah provided a supportive comment without making note of the First/Second confusion.

Now, I suppose this whole thing could be viewed as a Second Amendment issue if you stretched the definition a little and framed it as a case of Lenny being deprived of an opportunity to "shoot off" his mouth. But clearly this was an error on the part of Lenny and/or his admin(s), and it hasn't been corrected yet as of this writing.

For the benefit of Lenny and Sarah and anyone else who may be reading this: here is a very basic summary of both the First and the Second Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. Be sure to take scrupulous notes so you can work the information into your presentations about sovereignty and freedom and Constitutional law at the next IBMS Masters Society (GIN ripoff club) meeting... or are you not having those in the USA any more? That club was doomed from the beginning, though the death knell really seemed to be ringing back in December 2014 when Peter Wink apparently left the party... but I digress.

Regarding amendments, your idol Donald Trump is indeed a supporter of Second Amendment rights, or at least he comes across that way, though your ignorance about amendments and numerous other subjects might endear you to the man who says that he "loves the poorly educated." But what about the First Amendment, which -- not to belabor the point -- is the relevant one in this instance? Donald Trump is clearly no friend to freedom of the press, at least when it comes to content that is critical of him. In that regard, he's much like... well, you know.

Not to belabor the point, of course.

Is Coldwell telling the truth (stop snickering) about the Facebook suspension?
Is there any truth to Lenny's claim? Did he really get suspended (not banned, but suspended) from Facebook simply for saying that Donald Trump is not anti-Muslim? In light of the fact that there are hundreds of much more passionately pro-Trump (and stupider, more toxic anti-Muslim rants) on Facebook -- and that all of these are allowed to remain unmolested by that criminal Zuckerberg -- I think we can safely assume that Lenny is not telling us the entire truth, to put it very kindly.

Here is a May 21, 2016 screen shot that appears to show a part of the story Lenny didn't tell on his blog post.

Although there is indeed a relatively innocuous (though comically misinformed) pro-Trump statement in this post, that statement appears to have been written by someone else, judging by the fact that everything is spelled, capitalized and punctuated by someone much more literate in written English than Lenny is. But look at the clearly anti-Semitic comment about that statement by "Dr. Leonard Coldwell" (the name he uses on his German-language Facebook page):
How the Jews run the world -- lets [sic] see is [sic] Zuckerass blocks me now too in that case.
On his German page on the same day, "Dr." Leonard Coldwell posted essentially the same complaint.

I simply do not have the ability to trace the entire history of the posts on both the English and German pages, but I think the above screen shots give enough of a clue. If Facebook did indeed remove a post of Coldwell's because "it doesn't follow the Facebook Community Standards," you can be pretty sure that there was some anti-Jewish or other hate-filled screed (possibly a toxic anti-Muslim screed that he's not showing us) attached to that non-Coldwellian #TRUMP2016 post. You can also be pretty sure that the removal happened because someone reported Loony for the hatement, not for being a Trump supporter.

Moreover, if you look at the screen shots that Coldwell shared on his May 25 "blog" post, it appears that all of the controversy centers around content on his German ("Dr. Coldwell") page, and as noted, he hasn't been suspended from that page. He's still posting, as anyone who has Facebook access can see by clicking on this very public page. But the tone of his challenge to "Zuckerass" ("Lets [sic] see is [sic] Zuckerass blocks me now too") makes it appear that he actually wanted to be blocked/suspended, just so he could have another opportunity to whine.
Also worth noting is that if the offending post was originally published on his German page, this would make arguments about the First (and Second) Amendments all the more irrelevant. 

Now, if Lenny would be willing to share a screen shot of his complete original post-- and the entire message from Facebook about it for that matter -- perhaps it would tell us a different story. Otherwise we can just assume that he is lying as usual. I know, I am as shocked as you are.
Threatened ass-action flawsuits and Lenny's history of Facebook abuse
I seriously doubt that Zuck is quaking in his boots about the prospect of being fake-sued by Lenny, who has fashioned a third or fourth career as a vexatious -- and unsuccessful -- litigant.

I also question the Len-sinuation that Zuck and Facebook are making tons of money from Lenny's poorly spelled, semi-literate, conspiracy-meme-filled and often hateful rants on his numerous Facebook pages. 

Coldwell has often promoted himself as one of the few sources of valuable information that can't be found anywhere else; therefore, according to him, every time he gets blocked or banned or suspended, people who could benefit from his valuable info are being criminally deprived. Oh, the humanity!

But does anyone really benefit from (and does anyone in the sane world really miss) moronic posts such as this one (posted a few days before the Great Ban), in which Loony says that HAARP is killing us with volcanoes? 


Hey, I know another guy who had a great volcano tale too.

Incidentally, the article that Coldwell's post linked to said nothing about HAARP (
which was shut down in 2013). That was Coldwell's spin. If you really want to know about the possible causes of increased volcanic activity worldwide, there is plenty of legitimate information and informed speculation on the Web.

Granted, the volcano post isn't hate speech; it's just stupid speech, and is merely one random example of the lunacy he likes to share when he isn't spewing hatred all over his Facebooks. But getting back to the subject of hate speech, I seriously doubt that many people (except for a few cretins) miss, or that Zuck is making millions off of, Lenny's unhealthy obsession with trans-genitals:


As many if not most of you know, Leonard Coldwell has a long history of writing abusive and hate-speechy posts on Facebook. Here's one of the abusive posts (personally abusive to me, that is) from October 2014. I reported this one to Facebook, even though I had not reported dozens of other abusive and defamatory posts he had written about me. Since this one had my home address and phone number I felt it endangered me. Facebook did remove this one and of course Coldwell complained about being censored, as usual. 

Here are another couple of posts, from the same time period, which he posted on his friend Abe Husein's page, but which Abe later removed after I brought them to his attention. I have mentioned, displayed and linked to these several times previously, of course, and ask those of you who have seen it all before to forgive the redundancy. But this is for the benefit of new readers. It's good to have all of the essential information in one place.

And if you want to complain about "
aristocracy like kingdoms, declaring rules and cutting people off at the knees when opinions do not match up" (in the words of Sarah the Creative on the aforementioned May 25 Facebook post), what about Coldwell's refusal to allow dissent on his own forums, and his decision to completely block people like me from participating on all of his many Facebook pages (and blocking me completely from even seeing his main page) -- while he freely used Facebook to publish my home address and cell phone number along with foul false accusations that I had killed his dog and was sexually harassing him

I wasn't allowed to speak up in my own defense, and anyone else who tried was promptly blocked and accused of being me under a fake name. I had to fight Facebook to get the worst of the posts removed, but some remain up to this very day, searchable on Google. When LoonyC failed at his attempts to shut me up by discrediting me and encouraging some of his rabid followers to get in touch with me, he tried to sue me (and a few others who had criticized him) into silence. We saw how that worked out.

So don't bawl about "cutting people off at the knees when opinions do not match up." Leonard Coldwell is one of the worst offenders in that regard.

UK wag Longdog has written a few blog posts about some of Lenny's past Facebook suspensions,
such as this one in January of this year. That time around, Lenny claimed he'd been locked out because of his posts about Obama. Longdog pointed out that the real reason was that Lenny was constantly posting "racist shite" like this.

The January suspension followed a long string of hateful posts, over the previous few weeks, some of which Longdog documented
in this December 2015 post. Longdog posted several screenshots of Lenny's spittle about Muslims and the "Negro," President Obama -- shots that clearly displayed Lenny's racism, bigotry and xenophobia. Then for good measure Longdog posted a shot of one of the complaints about me that Lenny made in his failed 2015 lawsuit against Salty Droid, RationalWiki, me, and a few other parties and web sites. The main complaint against me was that I had written posts accusing Lenny of engaging in hate speech. No irony intended there, either.

By the time Lenny was allowed back on Facebook after that suspension, he'd changed his story about the reason for the suspension, as documented again by Longdog. This time (and not for the first time), Coldwell blamed Facebook for writing posts on his page and then blocking him for those posts that they had planted.
"My Staff and I will start making new Posts here for a while but we will eventually supporting FB. FB made Posts that I did not make and blocked me because of their on Posts on my Site here. I deleted some of my FB Pages already but they are still there. Since they will block me soon again please write to..."
Bernie at the GINtruth blog also wrote about this matter in January 2016, sharing some more of Lenny's hateful and racist Facebook posts. The entire GINtruth post is not about Coldwell but a substantial part of it is. And it is noteworthy that Bernie included a link to an article about Facebook's announcement in early 2016 that it was going to take extra steps to monitor hate speech among its European users -- of which Coldwell (as "Dr. Leonard Coldwell") is emphatically one.

More recently, in the wake of attention drawn to an insidious and potentially dangerous strategy whereby Jewish writers are targeted by vicious anti-Semites and Neo-Nazis on social media,
Facebook, Google and Microsoft partnered with the European Union to crack down on online hate speech, making a pledge to delete offensive comments on their respective platforms in under 24 hours. (Note: As of June 3, Google has pulled the Chrome extension called "Coincidence Detector" that had been used to target Jewish people. So it looks as if the alt-right haters will have to come up with new code to do their dirty deeds.) In any case, if Leonard Coldwell continues to write posts about the nefarious Jews and the ways they rule the world -- or to make snide remarks about "the Negro" Obama or blacks in general or Muslims -- he can expect to be reported for those posts, and most likely to be suspended yet again.

I want to make it clear, as I have previously, that I have never reported Coldwell for hate speech on any social media platform. I have only reported him to Facebook for those posts that endangered me by posting my home address, and for writing posts accusing my friend Bernie O'Mahony of being a child rapist. And whether you agree or disagree with the policies or actions or the intent behind monitoring and removing hate speech -- and as I've said numerous times, for the most part I lean towards granting haters, including Coldwell, the right to spew -- this is not a matter of Facebook or the New World Order or the pro-Obama or anti-Trump forces or Big Pharma or anyone else targeting one little mustachioed madman. Rather it is a matter of Facebook policy, applied to everyone, in keeping with the platform's efforts to minimize hate speech.

Going back further in time: In a January 2015 blog post, Bernie wrote about Coldwell's social media and Internet martyrdom. And going even further back: In this February 2013 post Bernie wrote about the same issue, this time focusing on Coldwell's propensity for confusing spam with hacking.

Though Coldwell's claims about being "hacked" are for the most part bunk, he has been suspended from Facebook numerous times over the years -- thrown into "Facebook jail," as it's sometimes called. And every time it has happened he has made up some excuse about the reason: Facebook is censoring him for telling "the truth" about natural cures for cancer and other diseases; Facebook is trying to shut him up because they are part of some big criminal cartel that has it out for Lenny; Facebook doesn't like what he says about Obama; Facebook is banning him because he supports Trump. Or in some cases, Facebook is in cahoots with "criminal" bloggers who are being paid by Big Pharma to ruin "Dr." C's reputation.

But anyone with the ability to see Coldwell's actual Facebook posts, either on his pages or through some of those "criminal" blogs, knows better.

Lenny uncorks another bottle of whine
The day after publishing his fib about being banned from Facebook for supporting Trump,
Lenny was back in curation mode, copying and pasting a lament from Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams' Natural News site about how Facebook has it out for conservatives and alt-health heroes. Here is the link to the original rant on the Natural News site; note that the article was not written by Adams himself, but clearly it is consistent with his line of propaganda.

The Natural News whine was apparently in response to a recent flap about allegations regarding Facebook's anti-conservative/pro-liberal bias, as reflected in the way Facebook determined "trending topics." But when I read about Facebook's response to the allegations, it appeared to me that Facebook didn't list something as "trending" until it was mentioned in one or more sites on a list of mainstream or major media -- and there were several conservative sites on that list. Accordingly it appears that if there was any bias, Facebook was simply more biased in favor of mainstream media over "alternative" media, rather than liberal over conservative. And that is not at all the same thing as an anti-conservative or pro-liberal bias.

In any case, in an extravagant effort to equalize the platform (or kowtow to conservative whiners with a persecution complex, as the case may be),
Facebook announced changes in its policies in order to make sure that conservatives have their say. And following the initial allegations, Zuck himself had reached out to the cons.

here's some perspective on the larger issue, written by Clay Calvert, the director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida.
Do we really want or need social networks telling us what is important and what is trending? The very notion of “trending” itself is troublesome, as it reflects much larger problems with news delivery in this country. It mirrors, albeit on much more rapid timetable, the short news attention span we have and the exceedingly quick news cycles cable channels provide in an effort to keep eyeballs. An issue arises, it garners attention and then it rapidly fades away…
Me? I rarely click on the "trending topics" either on Facebook or Twitter. But the gist of Calvert's message was this:
… We need to acknowledge that bias – be it by man or machine – is inherent in news and, finally, we must seek out as many different and diverse sources as possible to learn what’s going on in the world and to find out what truly matters to us, not to a news curator or an algorithm.

Of course if you don't like the new improved Facebook or any of the other "news" or information sources, you can always turn to Mike Adams' alternative and totally objective resources, mentioned in
this recent Whirled post (see under, "Trying to conquer the Internet, one comical alt-site at a time"). Or you can just hold out for Adams' stale reruns on "Dr." C's "blog."

Zuck is the guy everyone loves to hate
Coldwell's constant whining about Facebook and his screeds against Mark Zuckerberg are so amusing because clearly, Facebook is very, very important to him. But he seems to be operating under the delusion that Facebook participation is an absolute birthright, not a privilege, and that the rules and guidelines and terms that are clearly spelled out for all participants simply do not apply to him. Instead of using Facebook merely to connect with others and promote his businesses, he continually does the online equivalent of accepting an invitation to a party and then spending the entire time trashing the host and being rude to many of the other guests. He is like the obnoxious drunk who just won't leave until he is kicked out. And he especially seems to enjoy the trashing-the-host part.

But everybody loves to hate on Mark Zuckerberg, I suppose. And many (me included) have a love-hate relationship with Facebook -- and for many reasons that's understandable. It's not just the conservatives, of course. Left-winger Peter Sunde, for instance, recently dubbed Zuck
the dictator of Facebook Nation. Sunde did have a few valid points; for instance:

Sunde also decried the technology world's lack of perspective. He denounced Facebook's policy requiring people to use their real name, as in some countries, this can get people persecuted and makes it hard to organize political movements.

"Mark Zuckerberg is a rich white dude from a really privileged background," Sunde said, explaining why he thinks the Facebook boss doesn't understand cultural differences. 

"The reason for the real name policy is Mark Zuckerberg wants to make another dollar."
Yep. As I and others have said, Facebook users aren't its customers; they are its product. And in that regard Facebook does make money off of all of us. But we're also all willing participants who can't participate unless we agree to Facebook's Terms of Use. So Lenny's half-cocked (heh, heh) plan to sue Zuckerberg for a billion bucks is just more lunatic rambling.  

In any case Lenny Coldwell has little to worry about regarding Facebook's real-name policy, or regarding any suspensions, for that matter. He has lots of Facebook pages, even apart from the "Dr." Leonard Coldwell mostly-German page, and the Only Answer to Cancer page. He just created another on May 27, 2016, using the name "Eyn Rand" (he is a worshiper of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, although I seriously doubt that he has ever actually read that weighty tome. But clearly he loves what other people say is in it.).

In the screen grab below, notice the post from Amy King (real name Amy Lynn Chappell, Coldwell's current "wife"), whose account is one of the ones Lenny is apparently using at the moment to continue to have access to Facebook. You can tell it is Lenny writing because Amy is more literate than the writer of that post. I mean, c'mon... "Dr. C is feed up with F B." Amy can do better than that; she may have atrocious taste in men, but she seems reasonably literate. In reality she hasn't been actively participating on her own page in many months, leading some to wonder what actually happened to her. Maybe Lenny has her chained in the second kitchen at that big lake house he fake-bought in South Carolina, baking her Million Dollar Muffin. She had better finish her baking and they'd best skedaddle before the real owners of that house find out they're there, or the real renters get back from their vacation.

Anyway. When I first visited "Eyn Rand" it appeared that he didn't have any friends yet.


A subsequent visit, though, showed that he had managed to amass a mighty half dozen "friends," including the very "Leonard Coldwell" who is supposedly suspended at the moment. (How does that happen? To become friends with someone on Facebook, one person has to request and the other person has to accept, right? So how could "Leonard Coldwell" accept a friend request from one of his own fake accounts if he is locked out of one of the real account that he is whining about being locked out of?)

Anyway, clearly Eyn wants friends. So do him a favor, as the NOT-suspended "Dr. Leonard Coldwell" suggests to englisch (sic) speakers...

...and go friend him. Then maybe you can share your thoughts on his page. That is, if he allows others to participate.

And the "banned" preys on
Make no mistake about it: frequently being thrown into Facebook jail has been a marketing boon for Leonard Coldwell, who has placed himself at the center of a decades-long fake persecution drama that probably began long before Mark Zuckerberg was even born.

Every time Coldwell gets suspended from Facebook, or is even threatened with suspension, or every time one of his social media pages or web sites or email addresses gets hit by spamming or phishing or just some random technical glitch, he goes into full martyr mode. Hamhandedly employing fake-scarcity and forbidden-knowledge persuasion tactics (although I must say that his ex b.f.f. Kevin Trudeau was ever so much more refined and skillful at these), Coldwell whines that he is on the verge of being blocked and banned because of his truth-tellin', and that the only way you can possibly save yourself from being deprived of his life-saving information is to subscribe to his "newsletter." 

And voila! He gets a few more names to add to his sucker list. No doubt he has many thousands of names on his list by now, and this fact is most likely the basis of one of his recent boasts that his IBMS Masters Society, which costs money you'll never get back to actually join, has 26,000-plus "members" from 151 countries.

All that Coldwell's "newsletter" consists of are email notices about his "blog posts," nearly all of which are nothing more than curated content that mostly comes from conspiracy-monger sites like those of Mike Adams and Alex Jones. Coldwell truly has nothing original or ground-breaking or earth-shattering to offer. Ever.

But he does get new names from every Facebook suspension incident, and new opportunities to prey upon the desperate, vulnerable and truly stupid. The Facebook community, in the US and elsewhere, gets a brief reprieve from one consistent source of stupidity, comical misinformation, lies and virulent hate posts. And I get easy fodder for blog posts.

So I guess it's a win-win-win.

Update 30 May 2016: When I tried to follow the link to Coldwell's main site today, I was met with this message:

Warning: require(/homepages/14/d375068991/htdocs/drleonardcoldwell/wp-includes/category.php): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /homepages/14/d375068991/htdocs/drleonardcoldwell/wp-settings.php on line 150
Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required '/homepages/14/d375068991/htdocs/drleonardcoldwell/wp-includes/category.php' (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5.5') in /homepages/14/d375068991/htdocs/drleonardcoldwell/wp-settings.php on line 150

Either Lenny had one of his tech people block my IP address (perhaps my husband Ron's attempted comment to his "blog" post was the last straw, or maybe it was this Whirled post that really set his implants on edge)... or his site is down again. If the latter, I'm sure he'll blame the usual cartel of criminals who have it out for him. If the former, perhaps he is setting me up for some lame accusation that I "hacked" into his site even though I'm not allowed.

But I had been allowed, up until today anyway. And the screen shots and quotations from his web site, drleonardcoldwell dot com, were accurate at the time that Ron and I saw them. If any of y'all can get to his main site without receiving the above message, let me know, and then I'll know for sure that I am blocked from this very public site, one of the most popular sites on the Interwebz, according to him. Also let me know if he corrected that silly Second/First Amendment goof. I'm dying to know.

Update 31 May 2016: Well, it wasn't all about me after all. Several of my friends whom I asked also said they received the same error message when trying to get to Coldwell's main web site. But today the site is up and running again, and the Amendment gaffe has yet to be corrected as of this posting.

Not surprisingly, on the Dr. Leonard Coldwell (German) Facebook page, Lenny hollered about hacking. Gee, I didn't see that one coming. He's a little off on his numbers, though, as usual. His threat to sue Facebook was first posted on his "blog" on May 25. I checked the link every day after that and it worked fine. It worked when I originally published this blog post. Only on May 30 (yesterday) did I receive the error message referred to above. So I would say that this is a little longer than "2 hours." Also, how did a one billion dollar lawsuit suddenly become five billion? Or is he counting on his German readers who don't read English to take his word for it, and not to bother with trying to read the original post? Or did something just get lost in translation? Anyway, once again Lenny is crying "wolf," but he has a few idiot followers who won't bother questioning his claims.

As mentioned numerous times before on this blog and Bernie's as well as Salty Droid's, Coldwell loves to whine that his sites and Facebook accounts have been hacked. He has  been whining about being hacked for years. If you need another example, in this August 2014 post I documented some of Lenny's hilarious false allegations about "criminal" bloggers, acting in concert with some "Jews in Israel," supposedly "hacking" a then-new website of his. (The entire piece isn't dedicated to this subject; the hacking-allegation story is at the beginning of the post.) 
I am not completely discounting the possibility that Coldwell's sites have been hacked on occasion, though I also suspect that some if not most of the problems have been due to bungling by an insufficiently competent "technical" team. But judging by the error message I received the other day when trying to get to his main site (see above), that site is powered by Wordpress. And Wordpress sites seem to be particularly vulnerable to hacking as well as technical glitches. It has something to do with the associated database and with various plugins. I don't really understand it. But I do know that Salty Droid learned this lesson the hard way, and with the help of a technically competent person he finally fixed the problem. So maybe Lenny just needs to get someone who knows what they're doing to fix his web problems. He also needs to quit blaming everyone else for his own manic stupidity and hatefulness.