Tuesday, October 23, 2018

O Trumpistan!

A new national anthem has been proposed for the Divided States of America. This one is far easier to sing than "The Star-Mangled Banner" -- so easy that even the Oaf of Office can probably learn it. At least it'll be easier to hum along to, since it's the same tune as "America the Beautiful." Not so many tricky high notes. He can hum along while he's (allegedly) mis-coloring the American flag. So put on your red cap and your brown shirt, open your mouth, and sing out. Don't forget to keep that right arm fully outstretched in a perfect salute throughout the anthem. #MAGA, baby!

Trumpistan the Beautiful
by Cosmic Connie

O beautiful for specious words
At rallies and in tweets,
And for our Orange King’s vows to crush
The mobs out in the streets

O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
We’ve finally heard God’s call
Restore the good white brotherhood
And build that splendid Wall!

O beautiful for corporate feats,
With regulations overturned,
And public lands destroyed.
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
May oligarchs march on
Till all progressive fantasies
Are finally dead and gone.

O beautiful for courage to
the Muslim bans,
And for his
pledge to save us from
The migrant caravans

O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
borders shall be sealed
And all Amendments we don't like

Effectively repealed

O beautiful for glorious guns
high-cap magazines;
And for our right to arm ourselves,
toddlers, and our teens
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
fight each "safety" law
And when
mass shootings happen, we
just blame "Antifa."

 O beautiful for legislators
Kneeling to their King

Who more than country love their jobs,
And to his robe do cling
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
Whose King
inspires such awe:
He has no soul,
no self control,
He lives
above the law.

O beautiful for
High Court rulings
Favoring the King

And for a hand-picked Justice boss
Who lives to kiss his ring

O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
All hail the Orange Crowned Head
We won't need three whole branches when
Democracy is dead

O beautiful for playing down
That irksome new disease

blaming Dems and media
And all those damned Chinese.
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
Let's stop this nonsense now
So what
if loads of old folks croak?
At least we’ll save the Dow!

O beautiful for hatriot dream,

steeped in white men’s fears
Thine crumbling towns and cities gleam,
Awash in liberals' tears
O Trumpistan! O Trumpistan!
We’re answering God’s call
Restore the good white brotherhood,
And build that splendid Wall!

Copyright © 2018, 2019, 2020 by Connie L. Schmidt

[Note: a few links and lyrics have been revised
since original publication,
and as the atrocities continue I can't guarantee that there
won't be additional verses or other revisions.]

PS ~ Please, if you're a US citizen and are eligible and registered, get out and vote in all of your local races as well as federal elections. If you're not registered, make it a priority. You can check your eligibility and get instructions for registering here. Given the volatile political environment and all of the irregularities, voter suppression, and attempted interference in our democratic process by hostile parties (both foreign and domestic), it's logical to wonder if your vote will really be counted... but I always try my best, and I think you should too. I am still hopeful, or perhaps naive, enough to believe that it isn't too late to save our country from actually becoming Trumpistan. (Or Trumpica, if you prefer a variation that is not based on a Persian word... and, given Trump's hatred for any Middle Easterners who are not his business partners or political allies, maybe Trumpica would be more appropriate. So feel free to substitute. Trumplandia could work too, if you delete the "O" from the refrain.)

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Trumpscendental meditation

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I've blogged a few times in the past about TM (transcendental meditation) and the so-called "Maharishi Effect" -- f'rinstance, this 2007 post about TM's grip on celebs and the popular culture, and this 2009 post about Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's TM-itation scheme. Well, TM is still going strong, and in yet another example of politix meeting Scamworld -- marginally, anyway -- The Daily Beast has published a piece mentioning that #NotMyPresident Donald Trump's surrogate wife Ivanka and her pet boy Jared are involved in TM.

Granted, despite Ivanka and Jared attending a TM gala last year, it appears that Ivanka's day-to-day involvement is limited simply to meditating 20 minutes or so twice a day as a means of "calming the mind, eliminating distractions, and boosting my productivity." At least that's what she wrote in her selfish-help book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,
which was published last year. On the other hand, at least in the recent past, she has had her staff TM-ing too, according to the above screen grab of a link to which I am forbidden access when I try to follow it. (But here's a Wayback link. And here's a link to a June 2015 article on My Morning Routine, which seems to be the article to which the screen-grabbed link refers.)

At any rate Ivanka's involvement, no matter how peripheral, gives an air of legitimacy to the TM scampire, as does every other celebrity who's involved in TM, given the fact that we live in such a shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture. Also, of course, Daddy's little lap sitter has publicly participated in events that promote TM, and she's good friends with the head of a high-profile TM advocacy foundation, making her more than just a garden-variety meditator. So perhaps those who are
bashing The Beast for "using Ivanka as clickbait" (as reported by the right-wing propaganda and conspiracy outlet RT) need to get off of their high horse and look around at what's really going on.

It's not as if The Daily Beast is breaking any new ground. There have been numerous truly groundbreaking exposés of the TM cult/scampire over the decades, and I don't even include my own contributions in this lot, because I certainly wasn't breaking any new ground either. But The Beast article does provide an important and arguably a timely reminder that the con is still on.

Which brings us to the point that what makes this matter Whirled-class blogworthy is that it is not just a meditation thing (and I should reiterate, as I have in previous TM-critical posts, that I have nothing against meditation). As has always been the case with TM -- and virtually every other branded scheme or cult -- there's a huge and pricey con going on too. From The Beast piece:

“You may have people looking at people doing yogic flying and say, ‘That’s strange,’” [Bob] Roth [CEO of the pro-TM David Lynch Foundation, who is Ivanka's friend that I mentioned above] added. “I happen to think seeing people playing football, or boxing and beating each other up, is strange.”

It couldn’t be more different from the TM introduced to most casual meditators. But it shows there are essentially two TM movements: a “retail” version for the general public with an anodyne message about ridding yourself of stress, and another, more spiritually oriented movement for a small but devoted cadre of true believers—a virtually unknown “secret society” of sorts—that promises to unlock supernatural abilities and provide all manner of
magical outcomes, some of which can allegedly be attained by paying teams of Indian monks thousands of dollars to chant for you half a world away.

TM is also a behemoth of a business. When the founder of TM died, he left an estate valued at $3 billion. TM has its own set of scientists, viewed with skepticism by the mainstream scientific community; its own universities and lavish properties around the world; and dubious claims to world government.
By the way, here's RationalWiki on "yogic flying." Also known as yogic bouncing up and down.

It's that whole
Maharishi Effect narrative that really draws in the suckers, though. The claim is that if a sufficient number of folks do the proper type of TM-ing, they can change the world for the better, affecting everything from crime rates to the economy to politics to war to climate change. It's all due to a shift in the quantum mechanical properties that make up the invisible fabric of our interconnected consciousness, according to the above-mentioned David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth. And of course TM's own team of researchers has the scientifical proof to back up their claims. Those spoilsport mainstream scientists aren't so sure, though. Lots of other folks are skeptical as well.
“The style of research they use is what I call ‘painting the bullseye around the arrow,’” says ex-TMer Patrick Ryan, who attended Maharishi International University, the progenitor to MUM, against his Navy master chief father’s advice, and spent 10 years in the movement as a “spiritual warrior” before quitting in the 1980s. “If a bunch of TM meditators get together and the stock market goes up, TM made it happen. If there’s another course and crime rates go down, or if accidents go down, TM created that. Find a positive thing that’s happened and take credit for it.”
Yep, that's pretty much the Scamworld/McSpirituality M.O.

And then there's this...

One of the most expensive programs in all of TM, according to their most recent tax filings, is the so-called “pandit program,” which gathers hundreds of young Indian men in trailer homes on a special campus in Iowa to chant yagyas—Hindu rites—nonstop for two years at a stretch in an effort to bring about peace on earth.

The program began in 2007, and reactions among locals were mixed. Residents
reported being approached by pandits on rural roads, asking for money and begging not to be sent back to the compound. In 2014, a mini-riot by some 60 pandits resulted in a sheriff’s deputy allegedly being attacked by members of the group.

Bob Roth said the domestic pandit program has now been all but shut down, maintaining that they have “like, four” pandits left in Iowa. According to its
most recent tax filings, the TM affiliate which fundraises for pandit expenses reported spending $2,164,960 on pandit support in Iowa in 2016. However, the cost of fully implementing the pandit program’s Global Peace Initiative, according to the organization, is $45.5 million a year.

If you want a team of pandits to
chant for you personally, the costs of which vary “depending on the size of the desired effect and the magnitude of the problem being averted or defused—for example a natural disaster, violent outbreak, or severe economic downturn,” that’s also available.

For a minimum donation
of $1,500, you can get wedding anniversary prayers from a team of pandits. For $1,000, the pandits will chant for your newborn child. And for $1,250, the pandits will recite the necessary prayers to “resolve the pressing problems confronting the United States, including joblessness and economic recession, and government gridlock, obstructionism, and extreme partisan infighting.”

Hey, if they could just yagya Herr Twitler out of office, I would become a true believer. 

I seem to recall that Mr. Fire was also a fan of those remote prayer rituals called yagyas (also known as yagnas), and was pushing them in conjunction with his own McMiracles schemes. (By the way, that linked story about his "best friend" being miracle-healed by a yagya...take it with a grain of salt. The book from which the excerpt was taken was published several years after the death of the person in question. She was still alive when he first started spreading the story, but in subsequent publications he didn't mention, at least in the context of that story, that she died a sad death. Some more insight about this can be found in the discussion section of this October 2007 Whirled post.)

I buried the lede. So shoot me.
Notwithstanding all of the above, I am always open to learning new things. And it turns out that I may have been totally wrong about Donnie John. According to at least one passionate TM fan, Trump is a highly creatively intelligent human person.
Here's a site that is not an official TM site but that is apparently operated by someone who is a fan of both TM and the Trump family.

And lest I be accused of burying the lede, I have no defense except for poor planning. For this matter is actually far more significant in possibly every way that matters on this blog than the mere fact of Daddy's girl being a Transcendental Meditator. One of the pages on the site linked to in the previous paragraph reveals
"The Qualities of Creative Intelligence That Helped Donald Trump." I give you...
Click to enlarge

SCI points, in case you're wondering, refer to the Science of Creative Intelligence. You guessed it: it's a Maharishi thing. On that same page, we get a glimpse of Donnie John's Vedic ass-trology specs.
For the past eighteen years, Donald Trump has been in his worst dasha -- Rahu. Rahu acts like an eclipse, a cloud darkening the mind, insanity, the material world, obsession (in this case with his tenth house of power in the world), cruelty, and darkness in general. But on October 14, just before the election, he entered the best dasha of his life -- Jupiter. During his acceptance speech, he talked about unity and working together. Jupiter, a very good planet in his chart, rules his fifth house of purva punya, return of good deeds from the past. It also rules his eighth house of transformation. So these two areas expand during his 16-year Jupiter dasha. Jupiter represents The Guru, good fortune, wisdom, kindness, giving, forgiving, teaching, healing and helping others. So he has moved from the worst time of life to his best time of life, and just a month before the election. Jupiter dashs, the Guru, made him president. We should see a completely different Donald Trump in the next few years. This event coincides with rising world consciousness. Everyone should forget his past and look to the planets to see what he is about to accomplish. His family is the first in the White House to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. That's a First Family! ---Gerard Owmby

Yeah... the best time of his life, and the worst time of ours. This shameless orange-nosing makes former Trump buddy Oprah's egregiously misplaced optimism in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election look almost rational by comparison. I think it's very interesting because it shows that "spiritual" sycophancy of the Drumpf dynasty, and willful blindness to their awfulness, are not restricted to hypoChristian nutcakes such as the folks behind the silly new-ish movie, The Trump Prophecy (which the base loves, of course, and which had most other folks with any taste or discretion rolling in the aisles), or any of the other T-vangelicals who litter the landscape with their mighty declarations that Herr Twitler is God's Chosen One. In other words, you don't have to be a Bible thumper to misuse religion in the service of Trumpboosting.
According to the article in The Daily Beast, there are those who suggest that the TM organization is slowly dying, particularly since the current leader of the org, Tony Nader, lacks the cult-like devotion associated with the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But that really doesn't matter, because there will always be derivatives, as well as newer cults and scams arising to take the place of the old, particularly as long as there are celebrities and reality show stars and starlets to embrace and endorse the schemes. And if those celebs are part of a powerful political family, all bets are off. As we also like to say on this blog, in Scamworld (and politics), there are no neat and tidy endings.

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Monday, October 08, 2018

James Arthur Ray Death Lodge 9th Anniversary: Never Forget

It has been nine years since James Arthur Ray, selfish-help/McSpirituality guru and star of the New-Wage moviemercial The Secret, held his infamous faux-sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona, that resulted in the deaths of three people: James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman. And as I mentioned just last month, Death Ray is still trying to make his comeback in the industry after having served less than two years in an Arizona state prison (for negligent homicide) for the deaths of these people. 

And he never served a moment of prison time for another death for which he was responsible, that of Colleen Conaway in San Diego in July 2009.

Since Blogger seems to be malfunctioning at the moment, I'm just going to post this as a "stub" for now. There is more information, as well as several relevant links, in my Death Lodge anniversary post last year. And of course, a quick Google search will yield much more

For now, I just want to say that my heart goes out to the family and friends of those who lost their lives, and to the many other survivors who were injured -- either physically, emotionally or both -- as a result of Ray's arrogance and recklessness. I wish all of you peace and comfort as you continue to come to terms, each in your own way, with your losses and your pain. And for what it's worth, there are still many of us who, though not directly affected by Ray, will...
Never Forget.
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Friday, October 05, 2018

Trump fires up the conspiranoids again

As the near-certain confirmation of chubby-cheeked faux-choirboy Brett Kavanaugh pushes the Supreme Court ever more dangerously to the right (and so much for conservative outrage over "judicial activism," ya know?), Kavanaugh's defenders and fans of #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump continue to find ways to trivialize and vilify the opposition. Trump himself has been openly mocking Kavanaugh's accusers at his near-nightly Nazi rallies, and just ahead of the cloture vote on Friday morning, he fired up the base against every conspiranoid's favorite scapegoat, George Soros. Wrote Herr Twitler:
The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don't fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers.
Yep, it wouldn't be a right wingnut party without a rousing game of Pin the Tale on Soros. Trump really should know better, but he'll tweet or say anything to keep the ignoranti happy.

And Trump has a lot of room to talk about grass-roots or organic political expression, given that his Nazi rallies are carefully orchestrated and staged, with audience members -- especially those on camera behind Trump -- being coached on how to react and even what to wear.
Remember the tale of "Plaid Shirt Guy" at the rally in Montana last month? He got escorted out and "replaced" -- either because he made silly faces in response to some of Trump's spewing, or because he simply wasn't "excited enough."
The question I have to ask once again, as I've asked numerous times before, is this: why is it so difficult for some folks to believe that thousands, if not millions, of Americans are genuinely and sincerely displeased with Trump, and that they are protesting or otherwise politically expressing themselves of their own accord -- and not being paid for it? So what if some of them carry professionally designed/printed signs? Does anyone honestly think that all of those bright red MAGA caps and T-shirts and "Women for Trump" signs at the Trumpian pep rallies were "made in the basement from love?"

I have several dear friends who have actively participated in numerous anti-Trump, pro-progressive demonstrations -- sometimes making their own signs, and sometimes carrying signs that were printed in a print shop -- and they joke that they are "still waiting for that big paycheck from George Soros." Even as I am still waiting for that big paycheck from Big Pharma for writing all of those blog posts about cancer quack, fake doctor and neo-Nazi Leonard Coldwell.

Some truths about "paid protest"
None of the above is an attempt to deny that paid protesters exist. They do, of course, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
But they're just as likely to be paid-protesting for a right-wing cause as for a leftist one, and some would argue that the right is more likely to use paid protesters. Below are a few links that offer some perspective.

From Cracked.com, March 2017:
I Know Paid Protesters Are Real (Because I'm One Of Them)
As the author explains, not all grass-roots activism is completely spontaneous, and even the Civil Rights movement back in Rosa Parks' day had some behind-the-scenes handling.

A lot of people hold to the idea that grassroots activism has to be spontaneous. That thousands of people become so angry and so motivated by the same issue that they all simply happen to gather at the same place at the same time with thematically consistent signs to make their voice heard. But in reality, "spontaneous" protests are usually called riots. An actual protest needs organizers...

...Of course, there are real "paid protesters" (said with that hateful inflection). It's enthusiasm and faith that makes the difference between someone like Matt
[a paid protester whose story is told in this article] (who accepted the $20 stipend to make his activism possible) and the paid actors who attended Trump's
campaign announcement as his supporters. We spoke to Angelo Carusone, the journalist who broke that story, and he said that his first big clue that the event was (at least partially) staged was that "nobody was posting any selfies." Turns out $50 (the rate those actors were supposed to have been paid) isn't enough to motivate someone to get on social media. Only narcissism and video games can do that...

...The very same problems that call for protests also make it super hard for those most affected to protest, since protesting requires the kind of energy and time that the downtrodden don't have. Hence, the protesting.
From Salon.com, June 2017: There are real paid protesters, but they're all right wingers
Well, in all fairness, they're not all right-wingers, but a lot of 'em are, and that's something that the right doesn't seem any too keen to acknowledge. The author cites, as an example, an incident in New York City in mid-June 2017...

...when the right wing decided to aim its selective outrage at a free staging of Shakespeare’s play "Julius Caesar" held in New York City’s Central Park. Mike Cernovich, a self-described member of the alt-right who thinks the U.S. should give immigrants IQ tests, put up a YouTube video in which he offered cash to any protesters willing to disrupt the play for pay.

“I’ll give up to 10 people $1,000,” Cernovich says in the 
footage. “I need you to get up with either a ‘CNN is ISIS’ or ‘Bill Clinton’s a rapist’ or ‘The media is terrorism’ [sign]. And if you’re able to get up and be escorted out by security, then I will give you $1,000.”

In other words, Cernovich was actively and openly looking to recruit paid protesters. You know how conservatives made up that ridiculous myth about George Soros sending checks to liberals who march in protests? This is the real version of that, only sponsored by Cernovich.
And finally, bringing it back to the present...

From the Washington Post, October 2018: The irony of Trump's debasing allegation that Kavanaugh protesters are paid
The author makes some of the same points that the writer of the Cracked.com piece made, regarding the fact that protests require organization.

Large-scale protests on both sides require organizers to get permits, arrange timing and plan tactics. They often make signs to coordinate a central message. None of this suggests that the protesters themselves are not sincere. The Center for Popular Democracy has done a lot of organizing around Kavanaugh. (The group’s executive director was one of the women who confronted Flake, but there’s no evidence that the “elevator screamer” who confronted Hatch was linked to the organization.) Most stories about the group in the conservative media, though, include a pointed mention of Soros, highlighting an obvious subtext.

Trump’s inclusion of the billionaire in his sweeping indictment of the protesters who confronted Hatch is meant to stoke conservative anger and to dismiss his opponents as opportunists who don’t really oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. Kavanaugh, meanwhile, has so far benefited from
$12 million in broadcast ads supporting his nomination, paid for by a group called the Judicial Crisis Network — and whose donors are shielded from the public.
But there are sharp ironies to Trump's criticisms of those who protested Kavanaugh's nomination.
The first is that Trump himself faces allegations of assault. In a news conference last month, he suggested that those women who had come forward to allege that he’d assaulted them had been discredited by having been paid to make the claims. This isn’t true.

Then there’s this: On June 16, 2015, he announced his candidacy for the presidency from the lower lobby of Trump Tower. As he began, he celebrated the people arrayed around the balconies above him showing their support.

Some — not all — of those people were there because they were paid to be, $50 a head. They had professionally printed signs and shirts, not signs crafted with love in their basements. Several of the actors posted photos of themselves online; the firm that organized their attendance created a video highlighting its work on the event.

The kicker? Trump’s campaign didn’t pay that firm, Gotham Government Relations, for months, leading to an FEC complaint. That was reported on
the day of Trump’s inauguration.
If you want more information on paid protest, that info is only a quick Google search away (just be sure to consider the source, of course). I'm not holding out much hope that any amount of facts will make much difference to those who are rabidly attached to the tired old narrative about the evils of Soros and lib'ruls and the left... but at least you'll be better informed.

If you are eligible to vote in the US midterm elections, and you're tired of this crap, please
make sure you're registered, and then please, please get out and vote on November 6. There may not be a blue tsunami or even a blue wave, but every little bit of blue will help in combating the toxic red tide that is threatening the very foundations of the republic.

Elsewhere on the conspiranoia front: martial law is okay as long as it's alt-right martial law
I'd intended to blog about this after Facebooking about it last month, but got sidetracked as I so often do. On a September 23, 2018 "Emergency Report," conspiracy-porn peddler, rabble-rouser and dedicated Trumpster Mike Adams of Natural News
continued to expand on his fascist wet dream of his idol Trump imposing martial law. Of course it will only be temporary martial law, because we Muricans would never consent to such a setup permanently. And it will only be imposed long enough to give Trump time to lock up all of his "deep-state" enemies. Mike assures us that Trump will only impose martial law long enough to really "drain the swamp," and then he'll step aside and go down in history as the Greatest US President of All Time, who saved Murica from communists and traitors. And besides, we're already under martial law, thanks to Obummer:
What most people fail to realize is that we’ve been living under many forms of “martial law” put in place by Obama that are still damaging America and its citizens to this very day. For example:
  • The tech giants’ deplatforming of InfoWars, Natural News and other pro-Trump channels is an extremely dangerous form of digital martial law, where citizens who say certain things are not allowed to exist in the online ecosystem.
  • The left-wing media, now fully complicit in deep state treason against America, is handed daily marching orders by Obama’s CIA factions that determine what “news” is allowed to be broadcast across America. The “media” is not the media. It is the anti-America propaganda arm of Obama’s CIA, which is still in power and still working to destroy this nation.
  • Deranged left-wing activists have placed all prominent conservatives under a form of de facto martial law where no prominent conservative can venture out in public without being harassed, threatened or violently attacked by hysterical anti-Trump lunatics.
  • The economic sabotage now being committed against InfoWars and other pro-Trump platforms (by PayPal, Citibank and others) is a form of financial martial law, where deep state-driven financial institutions commit selective economic sabotage against targets identified to them by Obama’s CIA.
  • Close associates of Trump now routinely find themselves indicted and prosecuted by Robert Mueller under a kind of prosecutorial martial law where only selected political targets are subjected to legal scrutiny while pro-Clinton operatives are granted universal immunity from all crimes (including those crimes committed by Hillary Clinton herself).
  • The Obama administration weaponized government agencies against targeted citizens’ groups, deploying the IRS to enforce a selective “taxation martial law” policy of denying tax exempt status against conservative non-profits.
And so on, and so forth... you've heard it all before.

Now go and cheer yourself up, and do
a Google image search for "idiot."

Related on this Whirled:

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