Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Whirled turns 11

Today is the eleventh blogaversary of Whirled Musings, which began life in July 2006 as a humor blog targeting New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health scams and scammers. I didn't have any particular expectations for the blog and figured I would continue writing it as long as it continued to be at least marginally entertaining for me and for a few other folks. And for quite a long time it was enormously entertaining, at least for me, and for the most part I kept things on the light side. Then things took a rather serious turn in the latter part of 2009 with the James Arthur Ray "sweat lodge" deaths, which brought home the point that Scamworld has its dark side too.

Still I continued my attempts at humor in between the serious stuff, and even managed to work in a little bit of journalistic reporting regarding matters such as the ongoing saga of
serial scammer Kevin Trudeau and the civil and criminal cases against him. Real journalists even contacted me while working on their own Trudeau stories, not that I ever received any public credit as a source, but that's just the way things go.

In 2012 my Whirled began colliding with one of Trudeau's former boyfriends, cancer quack and faux-doctor
Leonard Coldwell, who tried for years to silence me by posting lies and doxing me, and eventually suing me (unsuccessfully). But the Whirled kept spinning.

And it spins even today, although not everyone likes the spin, particularly as I've become
more frequently political, despite the fact that Whirled Musings is not a political blog, except when it has to be. Some former pals who were disillusioned with the likes of Trudeau and Coldwell were, as it happened, fans of the Scammer-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump, and didn't like my expressions of disdain for the #NotMyPresident.

Trump famously said in a private meeting back in 2013 that he was going to
"suck all the oxygen out of the room" once he really decided to run for president. And he did, and he continues to do so, as well as continuing just to suck in general. I fear that he has sucked a lot of oxygen out of this blog as well, for since last year I've been spending far less time blogging my normal beat and more time with political posts on social media.

But I still haven't forgotten or abandoned my original beat, and I have plenty more to write. Thank you again for your support over the years, and if you feel so inclined, blogaversary gifts in the form of donations are always welcome.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Another year, another moment of silence for Colleen Conaway

Eight years ago today, on July 25, 2009, a 46-year-old woman named Colleen Conaway died at a San Diego shopping mall after attending a "wealth creation" seminar by James Arthur "Death" Ray, convicted killer and star of the New-Wage moviemercial for magickal thinking and McSpirituality crapitalism, The Secret. Most of you who have been following this blog and/or the blogs of several others who have written about it -- especially Salty Droid and Yakaru of Spirituality is No Excuse -- know Colleen's story well. But it is a story worth mentioning again, in the service of never forgetting.

If you don't know the story, a good place to start is
this 2012 Whirled post, which contains links to more detailed accounts. From that post:
Colleen, who reportedly had no history of emotional or mental problems, apparently had a psychotic episode at a James Ray event in San Diego in July 2009, and she leaped to her death from a third-story shopping mall balcony. After Ray found out about it, he and his top minions apparently worked to cover it up, shielding the rest of the attendees from the unfortunate event, and they all partied on that night. If you don't know Colleen's sad story, my pal Yakaru has written a good summary of this tragedy, linking to several Salty Droid posts.
At the time Colleen died, Death Ray was not yet a convicted killer. That distinction came in 2011, in the form of three convictions for felony negligent homicide, not for Colleen's death but rather for the October 2009 deaths of three other people -- Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman -- in a Sedona, Arizona faux-sweatlodge/torture chamber. For these three deaths, Ray served a disgustingly short term -- less than two years -- in an Arizona state prison. And while he has reportedly settled with Colleen's family (I still don't know all of the details there), he was never criminally charged, tried, or convicted, and therefore has never served prison time for, her death. In fact, Colleen's story, though reported in local newspapers, didn't really become widely known until after the Sedona story broke months later.

In the years since Ray was released from prison, he has been trying his best to make a comeback, and
has worked the Sedona deaths into his narrative, painting himself as a hero/martyr who has survived a trial by fire and has emerged stronger than ever, prepared to charge others for his hard-earned wisdumb.

In 2009, after rising to the top of the industry, James was involved in a terrible incident that claimed the lives of three of his clients who he cared about deeply.

True to his own teachings, James maintained an attitude of personal responsibility coupled with resilience. James is constantly focused on extensive study of great philosophers, as well as an in-depth analysis of himself.   As a result, he has defined a new approach that will radically disrupt traditional thinking and present a fresh and dynamic approach to being successful in both life and business...

...James’ personal and business experiences have caused him to be considered an expert in leadership, entrepreneurship, mental toughness, resilience and emotional strength. His experience has proven time and time again…that it’s the challenges, adversity, and often crisis, that present the ultimate opportunity for growth and greatness if we’re only willing to utilize them in that way.
Ray even tried to get his three negligent homicide convictions overturned, but he was unsuccessful. He did get his rights to vote and hold office restored, however. Meanwhile, he continues to push his shtick, and though his crowds are considerably smaller now than they were in those heady post-Secret, pre-Sedona days, he still seems to have a loyal following of dolts who either don't know, don't remember, or don't care about his reckless past and unrepentant ways.

And in other, related news, the
Transformational Leadership Council, the New-Wage/selfish-help cartel that Ray helped found but that booted him out after the Sedona story broke, is getting ready to convene in yet another seekrit place on July 26-30, 2017 to bolster each other's egos. Their summer event always takes place around the time of the anniversary of Colleen's death, which is why I remember it. The TLC used to publicize their events, and the locations, well in advance, but in the past few years have been much more circumspect -- at least on their official site. But another co-founder, Jack Canfield, reveals on his site that the event will be in Tucson, Arizona.

And so it goes. Death Ray natters on, and the TLC continues to hold events where members congratulate themselves on being masters of the universe, and Scamworld hums away: the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

But that doesn't mean the dogs should give up on barking.

And once again, my heart goes out to the people who loved Colleen Conaway. Never forget.

PS ~ While some folks have all but given up on the self-help industry having any integrity, there are good people working to improve the industry. One example is the Ginny Brown, mother of Ray victim Kirby Brown. Following Kirby's death, Ginny and the Brown family founded a non-profit called Seek Safely to try to make the industry more accountable, guide consumers to make safe decisions, and track legislation affecting the industry. Check out Seek Safely here.

Related on this Whirled:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summertime, and the scams are still sleazy...

Oh, good Goddess, it's hot, and
probably growing hotter all the time. But the intensifying heat hasn't stopped the scammers from scamming, and once again I've been negligent about even trying to keep up with all of it on this blog. But I feel that I have to make a stab at it and so, despite the torpor imposed by the brutal Texas summer, I have heroically dragged myself to the keyboard to natter on about just a few of the scammers and scams. Understand that I would much rather be sitting on my breezeway sipping lemonade or a peach smoothie and re-reading The Wind in the Willows (the 1980 Michael Hague illustrated edition is my current favorite), or Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu or some other delicious bit of escape literature that is far removed from the roiling scams and political scandals, but I have a responsibility to the three or four people who read this blog. I am doing this for y'all. You're welcome. And I apologize for redundancy if you've read any of this on my recent Facebook posts.

Little Hitler strikes again

For a guy who is constantly whining about his own free speech being censored, Mike "the Health Ranger" Adams, disingenuous alt-right conspiracy peddler, frauduct pusher and Donald Trump a$$-kisser, sounds disturbingly like a dedicated enemy of free speech -- almost Nazi-like -- when he advises his readers, in a July 5, 2017 post on Natural News, to "burn the leftist-scripted newspapers."

But he may just be playing the part of rabble-rouser, as he has a gleeful tendency to do. More importantly, in the above-linked post he paints
#NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump as some sort of hero who will save all of us from the evil machinations of Big Pharma. Adams predicts, without offering any real substantiation, that Trump is poised to order the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs on TV. And he gleefully speculates that without Big Pharma ad revenue, "fake news" outlet CNN will collapse and go bankrupt, which of course will be a triumph for Trump and for all good people who are tired of fake news and seek the truth from reliable sources such as Adams, Alex Jones, Breitbart et al.

Several things are wrong with Adams' reasoning, apart from the obvious fact that he fails to acknowledge that numerous other TV news outlets such as Fox News -- not to mention a wide variety of print media, including conservative print media -- also benefit from Big Pharma ad revenue. First, let's imagine that CNN or any of the other outlets were to suddenly be deprived of those creepy ads in which hapless consumers move in slow motion through surreal worlds, while being stalked and harassed by their upset stomachs, overactive bladders, or irritated bowels, whilst also battling their plaque psoriasis and/or new or worsening depression. Would these media outlets collapse? It's highly doubtful. Absent Big Pharma ad revenue, the outlets would no doubt sell more ad time to other big spenders, such as car manufacturers, beer brewers, big food companies, and so forth. It's not as if Big Pharma is the only industry that buys ad time on TV.

Second, and perhaps even more important, Adams' insinuation that Trump will do much of anything to rein in Big Pharma is absurd. Even though Trump has made derogatory comments -- during the campaign and since the election -- about the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in regard to exorbitant drug prices, he has demonstrated time and again that overall he is a friend to big business and industry, with his main agenda being to get rid of "onerous" regulations that he apparently believes prevent companies from realizing their full profit potential. As
a March 2017 piece on the USA Today site points out:

...while President Donald Trump said he wants to reduce the high costs of prescription medicines, he is also expected to encourage fewer government restrictions on the development and marketing of drugs.

Third, Adams seems to be insinuating that this is a left-vs-right, liberal-vs-conservative issue, with the leftists/liberals being on the side of the wicked, greedy Pharma monsters, and the rightists -- particularly the alt-rightists like Adams -- being the heroes who, with the help and support of their superhero Trump, are fighting to protect the people from those monsters. In reality, the "leftist, liberal" press has been on Big Pharma's case for years and years, probably since Adams was in elementary school. Certainly, liberal-leaning outlets such as NPR are addressing the issue.
Here's a doctor (yes, a real medical doctor), writing on about the true dangers of direct-to-consumer Rx advertising.

Moreover, pro-bidness conservative types are far more likely to be tolerant of drug manufacturers' (or any other business's) obsession with profits over people. And left-of-center politicians such as
Bernie Sanders have been very outspoken about the greed and bad practices of Big Pharma. Granted, politicians on both sides of the aisle have accepted Big Pharma money, with Hillary Clinton having received millions in contributions. But overall, the big drug companies have poured more into GOP coffers. In an article published on STAT just before the 2016 U.S. election, back when most people still believed that Clinton would win the presidency, Dylan Scott wrote:
The drug industry has traditionally leaned Republican, and this year more Republican members are at risk than sitting Democrats. Even so, 2016 appears notably lopsided. Drug makers this election cycle have supported Republicans in those closest campaigns by a 6-to-1 margin, while giving the vast majority of their dollars in competitive open seats with no incumbents to Republican candidates...

...The dangers that a Democratic wave would pose to the drug industry are no secret. Biotech stocks
are already stagnating over fears of such a sweep; one stock analyst called it the “worst-case scenario” in a note to investors last week.

Among other proposals, Clinton has raised the possibility of setting up a government panel to penalize companies for egregious price hikes. She wants Medicare to
directly negotiate the drug prices it pays, a now-standard stump line for Democrats, and to limit tax breaks for drug makers...

...The drug lobby “is pretty scared of what a Clinton [presidency] could do to the industry,” one source said, “and relies heavily on lobbying power with Republicans to block damaging legislation.”

The STAT analysis shows that, even in competitive House races with no incumbent, if the industry has donated any money, almost all of the dollars have gone to Republican candidates.
Left-leaning media outlets and politicians aren't the only entities who have groused about the industry, including about the ubiquitous drug ads. Numerous consumer groups -- not to mention mainstream medical organizations such as the AMA -- have been complaining for years about direct-to-consumer Rx drug advertising. All things considered, Adams, in his railing against the business practices of -- and aggressive marketing by -- the big drug companies, can neither claim originality, nor can he or Donald Trump lay claim to the moral or political high ground regarding any legitimate complaints against the pharmaceutical industry. The operative word here is "legitimate." Trump's complaints about the industry are clumsy and half-hearted attempts at demagoguery. He'll say what he thinks his base wants to hear, whether it's griping about high prices (a legitimate complaint) or waxing alarmist about the dangers of vaccines (a mostly bogus issue). And Adams' protests are tainted with his own agenda and histrionic extremism; he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that pharmaceutical drugs have also been lifesavers for millions of people.

Finally, Adams' insinuation that Trump's critics are the real enemies, and Trump fans are the only decent, civilized folks remaining in America, is worse than ludicrous. But it's typical of
the spin you'll find on his many web sites.

One devout anti-Semite eulogizes another: LoonyC mourns Ryke Geerd Hamer
Speaking of little Hitlers: Longtime Mike Adams ally
Leonard Coldwell -- phony doctor, cancer quack, and the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld -- recently used his German-language Facebook page to post a eulogy (or "Epilogue," as he would have it) for Ryke Geerd Hamer, founder of "German New Medicine." Hamer died at the age of 82 on July 2, 2017 in Sandefjord, Norway, where he had been more or less in exile during the latter part of his life.

I've really not written anything substantial about Hamer to date, though I did mention him in passing in
this August 2014 post, after a reader and defender of Coldwell mentioned Hamer in a comment to a previous Whirled post about "heroes" and martyrs of the alt-health movement.

And now the good ex-doctor is gone. Here's a snippet from the Bing-enabled translation, helpfully offered by Facebook, of LoonyC's tribute:

My Epilogue:
Dr. Hamer as the founder of the "New Germanic medicine"
Thank you very much, he was a very big one.
The real cause of cancer and its treatment on
Psychological Base. The pharmaceutical industry is concerned with
Know the fraud base, and this is people's murder!
His persecution by purchased pharma idiots
And the European authorities spoke volumes. Already alone the
Tracking Dr. Hamer at the instigation of them exposed them
As a liar and a murderer! Would an honest act like that?
This really happened as in the case of Bruno gröning.

His more armored letters to the courts,
Authorities and Jewish-khazar intrigues that he put him in prison
Brought. He really went through the wall with his head!
... and did this for us too! Beware of a lot of courage!
He only spoke the truth and who the truth
Says he needs a damn fast horse!
His demise, I find a great loss for all people,
The chemotherapy as a lie and alternative medicine as
You know the truth. For everyone else you can see how
Seduced and brainwash they are - often from comfortable own
Blame.... the responsibility to the doctors....
And the pharmaceutical industry is stuffing your pockets!
Deserves to be paid to the sick and dying billions - and to the
Healthy Nothing! So?

We miss him and his letters and comments against the lobby and
Conspiracy about genocide by chemotherapy!
He had world class! .... Real theater ripe!
He went on the roofs and cried out the truth.... no matter
To his own person, the as he was!
De mortuis nil nisi bene !
About the dead only good....

About these dead - understand! ....
It reads like really, really bad poetry ("He had world class!...Real theater ripe!"), and is nearly impossible to understand without knowing a bit about Coldwell's shtick and, more importantly, about Hamer's. Actually, it's pretty difficult to understand anyway, which is no big surprise, considering who the writer is, and as I've mentioned here before, a couple of my pals who are fluent in German tell me that Coldwell's writing is nearly as incoherent in his native language. And I can vouch for the fact that his English-language offerings are similarly amusing. So we can't totally blame the clumsy machine translation.

But an understanding of Hamer's bigotry, as well as Coldwell's, is also necessary. The phrase that really sticks out for me in the above passage is "genocide by chemotherapy." Pair that with the mention of "Jewish-khazar intrigues," and the picture becomes clearer. He's not talking about genocide of Jews or of any other ethnic, racial, or religious minority group. Rather, he is referring to an imagined genocide of non-Jews... by Jews.

That Coldwell is anti-Semitic (and he's a racist as well) is no secret, for he proudly displays his hatred on Facebook whenever he can, which is the primary reason his account is repeatedly suspended. While Lenny has at times protested that he is not a hater, even going so far as to unsuccessfully sue me a couple of years ago for insinuating that he is (much more about that matter can be found here), I don't think that even the lawyers who took and then dropped that ill-fated flawsuit would now deny their former client's anti-Semitism and racism.

And the departed Hamer was clearly no fan of Jews either.
From RationalWiki:
Hamer purported that his method is a "Germanic" alternative to mainstream clinical medicine which he claimed is part of a Jewish conspiracy to decimate non-Jews. In this Hamer follows the antisemitic "Neue Deutsche Heilkunde" propagated in Nazi Germany. More precisely, he asserted that chemotherapy and morphine are used to "mass murder" Western Civilisation, while such treatment is not used in Israel where nearly no people die of cancer, according to him.[9][10][15] He promoted the idea that most oncologists in Germany are Jewish and that "no Jew is treated with chemotherapy in Germany". According to him, hypodermic needles are used during chemotherapy to implant "chips" containing "chambers of poison" that can be activated by satellite to specifically kill patients.[16] He proposeed that the swine flu vaccination campaign of 2009 was also used to mark people with those "chips" and denies the existence of HIV.[17] Hamer also believed that the denial of recognition of his theories and the revocation of his practitioner's licence is due to a Jewish conspiracy.[15]

In 2008, Hamer presented a document where one "
Chief Rabbi" "Esra" Iwan Götz confirmed the existence of a conspiracy among Jewish oncologists to use the "torture" of chemotherapy on all non-Jewish patients, while Jewish patients were to receive the "correct" treatment of GNM. Iwan Götz is a German holocaust denialist active in the German Reich revivalism scene who has been repeatedly convicted by German courts on counts of holocaust denial,[18] fraud, defamation, misuse of academic titles (the title "Chief Rabbi" is not legally protected in Germany), falsification of documents, among others.[19]
Apart from his prejudices, however, was there any validity to Hamer's work? It would seem not. Here's more from RationalWiki:
Following the death of his son in a shooting incident in 1978, Ryke Geerd Hamer developed testicular cancer. His wife also developed breast cancer at around the same time. Hamer came to believe that both cancers had been directly caused by shock at their son's death, and that they could be treated by resolving this emotional conflict. Despite that, he received a conventional operation for his testicular cancer in 1979, while his wife was treated by Hamer himself, as the first patient of his New Medicine, and died in 1985. [Sort of reminds me of another much-loved (including by Lenny) alt-cancer quack, the late Hulda Clark, who, as I mentioned in passing on an October 2016 Whirled post, died of cancer. ~ CC]

Hamer announced the creation of his "New Medicine" in 1981. Despite his theories being rejected by the scientific establishment, he opened a series of cancer clinics between 1982 and 1985, all of which were closed down by the authorities for illegal practices. The vast majority of his patients died at these clinics, although Hamer continued to publicly present his treatment methods as successful.

In 1986, Hamer's medical licence was revoked. He has continued to practice illegally in various European countries ever since, in between prosecutions and stints of jail time. Unsurprisingly, courts have found him to be mentally unstable, and thus unfit to practice medicine. Alarmingly, he has been supported and defended by some of those to whom he has been peddling his false treatments.
And for good measure, here's a July 2009 post from a blog that takes a critical look at "alternative" cancer treatments.
Undaunted, in the following years Hamer opened various illegal clinics in Germany. He treated large groups of patients, including his own wife Birgit who suffered from breast cancer.

Birgit died in 1985. Hamer claimed this was because she was sceptical about his GNM. Later he would maintain that he ‘cured’ her of breast cancer no less than five times.

By the end of 1985 charges were brought against Hamer because of the scandalous goings on in his private clinic in Katzenelnbogen. Less than a year later his medical licence ws revoked. However, to this day this hasn’t stopped Hamer from continuing to ‘treat’ patients and the number of victims of the GNM has reached
frightening proportions.
And here's another 2009 post on the Science Based Medicine blog, written by my favorite physician blogger, Dr. David Gorski (who currently blogs under the name Orac on the Respectful Insolence blog).

You get the idea.

"But, Cosmic Connie," some of you might be saying, "in order to be fair and balanced, you should also post some positive stuff about Dr. Hamer!" To which I will say that you can find plenty of that stuff on the Internet. Believe it at your own peril.

Lest you wonder, as I initially did, whether Coldwell believes that Hamer was murdered, and his death another chapter in the ongoing "dead holistic doctors" conspiracy narrative --
which I initially wrote about in this August 2015 post, and then again in July 2016 (under "Dead holistic docs conspiracy rages on") -- he does not seem to be making that claim outright in his long, rambling "Epilogue." On the other hand -- and again, I'm going by the awkward translation -- Coldwell does appear to insinuate that the stress Hamer experienced from years of "persecution" may have hastened his death. He also leaves open the possibility of murder, suggesting that Hamer might have been poisoned.
For Clarification:
Dr. I don't think hamer was killed, he was 82 years old, too.
But the trouble, in which he, unfortunately, has always increased emotionally too much, has
5 years of his life....
Subject to the fact that you have not poisoned him yet - who knows?
I don't trust them!
However, I do not know the details now, so subject to....
Diagnosis of poison I can now ask myself without celebrated doctor
To be, so much experience I have in it.... (if the body becomes black, then it's poison)
LoonyC never met a conspiracy tale that he didn't like. Especially if it centers around a Brave Maverick Doctor, as Loony fancies himself to be.

Mother Russia revisited
Finally, I'd like to remind you that this week Stephen Colbert, who has helped many of us maintain our sanity in Drumpf's Amerika,
will be presenting his much-awaited "Russia Week," highlighting his recent trip to Mother Russia.

Due to
the whole Trussia thing, there's a lot of serious talk about Russia these days, but I think we should never forget that Russia has its silly side too, which I celebrated extensively here years ago. Here's a link to some Russia-themed posts from the Whirled archives.

I think I used to be a lot funnier than I am now.

That's it for now. I'll be back soon to celebrate this blog's eleventh (!) birthday, which rolls around on July 27. For now, I'm going back to spend some quality time on the riverbank with the Mole and Ratty and Mr. Toad, or perhaps with Toulouse-Lautrec and gang in nineteenth-century Paris. And who knows, in between all of that, I might even get some real work done. If more of you would
donate to this blog, I might not have to work, but it is what it is, and it isn't what it isn't, and as you know I don't spend a whole lot of time begging, except when I do. Anyway, I'll see you next time.