Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

On Death Ray, Salty Droid, and manly men

I'm not yet up to writing anything long and thoughtful, but in the continuing interests of revitalizing this Whirled, here are a few little snippets to close out the cruel month of April.

Death Ray is still at it
If you can access Facebook and can stomach it, here is a beyond-disgusting bit from
convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray's presentation at last week's "Wealth Summit" held in Clearwater Beach FL (which also happens to be Scientology country). Here's the link, and don't say I didn't warn you:

https://www.facebook.com/100009492367881/videos/2047490262244033/  

The good news is that Death Ray is still playing to much smaller audiences than he did in his glory days, and he had to share billing with several other hucksters, including fellow star of
The Secret and third- or fourth-tier Scamworlder, Lisa Nichols.

The bad news is that he is still playing to audiences, and getting them to chant stupid things like, "The naysayers don't know how to count!" He is still framing his imprisonment for negligent homicide, and
his lame attempts at a scumback, as a heroic journey. And even if only a very few folks are buying that shtick, that's still far too many.

Salty Droid on QTR podcast
My friend and favorite scambusting blogger/lawyer,
Jason Jones, aka Salty Droid, did a podcast for Quoth The Raven earlier this month. While it could probably benefit from a bit of editing, it's still well worth a listen, being a powerful reminder that in Scamworld, there are no neat and tidy endings, and that the more things change with MLMs like Herbalife, the more they stay the same.

One aspect that really struck out for me is that Jason remains consistent in his refusal to condescend to victims of scams, even people who are serially victimized. As frustrating as it may sometimes be to someone observing a friend or loved one under the spell of an obvious scam, any one of us could be vulnerable to even the most blatantly scammy scams given the right (or grievously wrong) circumstances. And it can happen more than once; being screwed by one scam or scammer is almost never a guarantee that you won't be screwed again, in much the same way, by yet another scam or scammer somewhere down the road. In fact that probably happens more often than not. As Jason has pointed out to me (and I quoted him in
this October 2017 post), "Manipulation causes susceptibility to manipulation as a side effect."

Here's the link to the podcast.


Manly men, redux
This little blog may not have many readers, and the conversations may not be as active as they were in years past, but it does still get comments, which I greatly appreciate. It shows me that someone is still paying attention. Just yesterday I got a comment to
a post I published in January 2011. Framed around criticism of the men's LGAT (Large Group Awareness Training) organization The ManKind Project, the post also covered the mythopoetic "men's movement" in general, a phenomenon that took hold in the culture back in the 1980s.

A woman named Aimee
sent in a comment thanking me for my post and providing a link to a 2015 guest post her husband had written on the EcoFeminist blog. Her husband had been "groomed" by his therapist to attend a ManKind "Warrior Training" event that, she says, left him traumatized for years. And apparently there were repercussions from the therapist in question following her husband's abandonment of the "training."

Here is a link to the blog post by Aimee's husband. I think he did a wonderful job of pointing out what is wrong about ManKind Project and as an extension, about the whole mythopoetic-men's-group phenomenon. Some of my favorite bits:
Its apolitical and anti-rationalist thinking narrows down the concept of manhood to fairy tales and atavistic concepts that reinforce separation from women rather than look at rational and practical ways to heal disparities, discuss inequalities and examine existing power structures. Kind of like a ‘they have their side of the bus, we want ours’.

I don’t want to be part of a bastardised Grimm fairy tale.

I don’t want to be part of an epic.

If I’m wounded, I don’t want to exclude a great portion of the world in seeking solutions, let alone run around in the bush banging drums and howling like a fucking wolf and pretending I am carrying the strength of male lineage in my family.

I don’t want to make up stories about childhood abuse or repressed memories (a highly dubious technique with very little empirical support).

I don’t want to shed my identity and name myself after an animal.

I’m not interested in
LGAT and the rabbit holes it can lead you down and I don’t want to place my emotional/ psychological wellbeing in the hands of someone who has no background in professional mental health services or who subscribes to outmoded and pseudo-scientific ‘therapies’.

I want to be the author of my own story.I want to walk through the bush quietly comfortable in my own skin (and maybe see a real live wolf). I want to be proud of all of my traits no matter how they are labeled.
Good for him. As for me, I need to be the author of my own story too, but for now I'll settle for being the author of this blog, and I'll be back with more in (what I hope will be) the merry month of May. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Back to the Whirled: Let us prey

Cosmic Connie here, reporting back for duty after being mostly absent for a bit longer than intended. For several reasons, it has been a chaotic couple of months, but I am beginning to feel as if I've landed on my feet, though there are some days when I wonder whether I've landed at all. I won't bore you with details (or, alternatively, I won't top off your bourbon or other drink of choice with a splash of schadenfreude, should you happen to be a scammer in whose blubbery hide this blog has been a thorn). I'll just say it has been a fairly rough road, one that involved transitioning from the Shire to the Woodland Realm, and leave it at that. It's very green here, and lovely, and there are many distractions, some upsetting and some quite wonderful. But I need to get back to work.

We're probably long past the point where I have to explain that this is not a political blog, except when it has to be. And in fact it has had to be on too many occasions in the two-plus years since
Donald J. Trump, scammer extraordinaire, finally and fully insinuated himself into the presidential race, irreversibly blurring the line between my normal beat and politix.

In large part because of said blurring of lines, another line has been fuzzed as well: the one between my normal beat (New-Wage/McSpirituality etc.) and That Old-Time Religion. I've been asked on more than one occasion why I don't spend more time going after religion, i.e., more traditional faiths. The short answer is that this isn't a "religious" blog either, except when it has to be. But. When you have
fundie hypoChristians and evangescammers getting together to pray for Trump to "protect" him from various sources of evil ... well, there you have it: it sort of has to be.

Earlier this month televangelist
Frank Amedia appeared on the show of his religious-huckster colleague, convicted fraudster Jim Bakker.* Amedia is the perpetrator of something called Touch Heaven Ministries, which, according to their web site, "is commissioned by the Spirit of God as an outreach to the world to help to Prepare The Way for The Coming of Our Lord.  Jesus is indeed returning, the time is short, and ALL of us have much to do."

More to the point of this blog,
he is a self-proclaimed "Christian policy advisor" for Trump's campaign, and even claimed to have once stopped a tsunami. (In the latter regard he has plenty of company among the New-Wage hucksters and earnest but misguided McSpirituality practitioners who make up my normal beat. They've been known to stop hurricanes and wildfires.)

Amedia's message on the Bakker show centered around a so-called "conspiracy" against Trump. This is congruent with Trump's own narrative, since
Trump himself is a conspiracy fan, as are many of his followers. Anyway, Amedia led a group prayer of evangescammers to protect the Mad King against those evil conspirators, and at one point Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church, added:
We lift up witches and warlocks who have been a part of this assignment, as they have gathered in numbers almost immeasurable to curse this specific president. We cancel, we bind their authority, we bind their curses, we lift up your word that says you shall not revile the gods and neither shall you bring a curse upon the rule of God’s people. We declare those assignments null and void and we claim the souls of many of the witches and warlocks.
When I shared the link to the Amedia vid on Facebook, my husband Ron commented, "And he isn't even including the orcs and cave trolls! Woe is 'Murika!"

But here. You need to watch it yourself.
Here's a link, or just click below.




In case it isn't painfully obvious why the above-referenced blurring of lines has necessitated a few potshots at religions that were once mostly outside the normal scope of this Whirled, the answer lies in the astonishing fact that the notoriously libertine Donald John continues to be the darling of the evangelical set. The more "scandals" emerge about his past and present, the more passionately they seem to embrace him. Partly that's because he shamelessly panders to them, seemingly welcoming their retrogressive ideas and allowing them to dictate policy, thus preserving the white patriarchy and helping to move America dangerously in the direction of theocracy. As well, the "End Times" enthusiasts have glommed on to him because they believe he is helping to hasten the Second Coming. They apparently just can't wait to be Raptured Up so they can watch the rest of us suffer from a safe distance.

It would be funny, if it weren't kind of scary. Oh, who am I fooling. It's funny anyway.

But also scary.


* As you might imagine, Bakker himself is up to no good, using his pulpit to spread hypoChristian propaganda, a recent example being his declaration that the Good Lord has already tried to send two people into this world who were destined to cure cancer, but alas, they were aborted before they had a chance.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Feed the snark: another shameless bump

https://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2010/03/feeding-of-snark-entreaty-in-one-fit.html

As much as I don't like begging for money, the Whirled is in a bit of a crisis at the moment, so if you feel so moved to do so, there's a Donate button over there on the left-hand side of the screen (on the web version, anyway). If you need some more inspiration, and happen to be a fan of Lewis Carroll, click here. Thank you in advance for anything you can contribute to the cause of setting the Whirled -- and my world -- aright again. I will be back as soon as possible with some real posts.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Conspiranoids shoot off their mouths about Florida school shooting


Every picture tells a story, and it's very much the same old story when it comes to screen grabs of Facebook posts from cancer fraud, proud hatriot, and conspiracy peddler Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld (though, granted, his star is fading rapidly, so both his stupidity and evil-ness may be moot)*. In the wake of yet another school shooting, the one that took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day, LoonyC returned to his keyboard to push the tired old "crisis actors" motif. The implication is that the whole thing was a fake and was totally staged in order to push gun-control agendas.

At the same time, Not-Dok also seems to be pushing the unfounded theory that this school shooting, and pretty much every school shooting in the past 20 years,
are a result of the widespread use of psychiatric medications. So that looks like an acknowledgment that the shooting was a real thing and not a staged event. (And Coldwell, who pretends to be highly trained in medicine and psychology, has made noise in the past as if mass shootings are real. A few years ago he speculated that in his expert opinion, Jason "Salty Droid" Jones could very well be "the next mass shooter." That was in 2015, when Coldwell was engaged in a ludicrous flawsuit against Jason and me and a few other parties. So far the expert opinionator's prediction about Jason hasn't panned out. I keep looking for and not finding Jason's name when another tragedy strikes. I guess Jason is too busy practicing law to go around shooting up schools.)

The false-flag narrative seems to have the most traction in LennyLand, though, and unfortunately, he is far from the only idiot blathering about crisis actors and whatnot; he is very much a part of a much larger problem, which is my only reason for bringing him up again in the first place. Thousands of other dimwitted souls are pushing the same nutty conspiracy stories, as is almost always the case these days whenever there is a mass shooting (
or a natural disaster, for that matter).

For the record,
here's the scoop about David Hogg, the "crisis actor" featured in LoonyC's Facebook posts.

As ridiculous as the conspiracy narratives are, they can have serious consequences. Hogg and other survivors of the shooting, as well as their families, have reportedly been
getting death threats because of this idiocy.

But one arguably bright spot in this mess is that the mainstream media are finally focusing
a decent amount of attention on the stupidity and ubiquity of the conspiranoids, as well as the fact that their false flag/crisis-actor theories have become so distressingly commonplace, thanks in no small part to social media and alt-right blowhards, not to mention a #NotMyPresident who loves him some good conspiracy tales. Better late than never, MSM. (Not that news outlets' attempts to counter the stupidity will do much to persuade the idiots and Trump fans who are convinced that all of the MSM are "fake news," but you have to give the journos an A for effort.)

The even brighter spot is that
the students themselves are bringing a bold and passionate new energy to the debate over gun violence in America. I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and the right to responsible ownership and use of firearms, but, contrary to what the firearms fetishists and ammosexuals are insisting, this wave of violence is very much about guns. You can argue about other societal factors and insist that there's a deeper sickness in our culture, a sickness that goes soul-deep, and your argument may have merit, but the truth is that we need saner gun policies, as well as, of course, enforcement of those policies. In the meantime, I couldn't be more pleased with this passionate new generation; maybe they really will be the tipping point.

And maybe the conspiranoids like Loony Coldwell will finally be shamed into silence. Oh, I'm only kidding; clearly, Lenny and his ilk are incapable of shame.

* Lenny may be yesterday's news in the U.S., but he is apparently still trying to re-ignite the fire in Germany, as indicated on his numerous German-language web sites. Below is a Googlish translation of the bio from the latest incarnation of his German IBMS Master's Society. Currently he seems to be trying to recreate the infamous GIN (Global Information Network) cruises, of which he was so much a part for a couple of years, back when he was still sucking on the teat of now-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau. (He was fired from GIN in spring of 2012.) Click on pic to enlarge.


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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hysterical "Health Ranger" gratuitously attacks Dr. David Gorski -- again

In light of the endless foul stink bombs generated over the past year by the Oaf of Office, #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump, it may be tempting to dismiss the foibles of Scamworld as relatively minor matters, comparatively speaking. Even so, Scamworld is still this blog's main beat, and although, as I've noted previously, Herr Twitler has sucked a lot of oxygen from this pitiful little outpost of the blogosphere, Scamworld remains a matter of consequence both here and in the larger world, as do the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health gurus who keep that big sick machine humming. Given today's milieu they are doubly consequential in the cases where Scamworld and politix intersect, and since several of this blog's least-favorite snargets are Trump fans, that intersection is pretty busy these days.

Anyway. This isn't the newest of news, but it's less than two weeks old, so just in case you missed it....

One of Donald Trump's most histrionically vocal sycophants is pseudoscientist and conspiracy monger
Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, whom we've snargeted here numerous times before. Adams loves him some Trump and has even written that in order to save a divided America from civil war, Trump should do everything possible to "shut down" the subversive, evil left, apparently by imprisoning them and destroying all of their media. Now, as I've noted before, Adams could just be playing the role of provocateur in order to get clicks and sell his numerous frauducts to stupid right-wingers, and it's possible that he does not really believe that freedom of expression should be totally destroyed in the US. But you never know with these alt-right types.

Another thing to know about Adams is that he is irrationally and hysterically anti-vaccination -- in fact, that's another one of his pet causes, perhaps even more beloved than the cause of keeping his nose well-browned from rooting around up in Trump. On January 20 of this year, Adams
posted about a threatening email that a deranged vaccine advocate apparently sent to another vocal anti-vaxxer, Suzanne Humphries, M.D. (Not-Doktor Leonard Coldwell, another alt-right lunatic who's considerably stupider and more evil than Adams, but is just as enamored of Trump, copied and pasted Adams' post for his own "blog.")

The email Dr. Humphries claims to have received is a blatant, expletive-filled death threat, but instead of treating it as an aberration the anti-vaxxers, including Adams, are reacting in their usual way, conflating an isolated loony with the entire "pro-vax" movement. Since the email is crude and only marginally literate, it could hardly be expected to be the work of professional propagandists from Big Pharma, but that is exactly what some of the alarmed anti-vaxxers are suggesting (just read some of the comments
on this post on the Vactruth.com site).

Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not claiming that Dr. Humphries is wrong to be alarmed; she should take every due precaution to protect herself. But tossing the sender of this lunatic threat into the same category as the millions of health professionals, scientists, researchers, and ordinary folks who don't practice the anti-vax true religion is either (1) ignorant; (2) misinformed; (3) disingenuous; or (4) just plain stupid. Indeed, the anti-vax movement is characterized by all four of those factors -- it's a big tent, so big that it even has room for
Donald Trump -- so take your pick.

If the Health Danger had just stuck to his anti-vax message in his January 20 post, it wouldn't have grabbed my attention, but he apparently felt compelled to drag Dr. David Gorski, who writes
the excellent Respectful Insolence blog under the name "Orac," into the drama.

After quoting -- in full -- the offending email received by Dr. Humphries, Adams added, gratuitously (and out of courtesy for Dr. Gorski, I have removed Adams' embedded links):

This threatening, psychopathic language, by the way, reminds me of Dr. David Gorski, an extremely dangerous, sociopathic vaccine-pushing doctor who viciously attacks and lies about anyone trying to expose the truth about vaccines. Dr. Gorski’s colleague, Dr. Farid Fata, was indicted by the FBI for cancer treatment fraud and is now serving 20+ years in federal prison. Dr. Gorski worked alongside this cancer fraudster and evil criminal in the Detroit area, with links to the Karmanos Cancer Centers.

Natural News has previously reported Dr. Gorski to the FBI and has named him as one of the six most sickeningly evil propagandists currently operating in the realm of medicine. He currently works for the Karmanos Center Center in Michigan and spends his work hours editing Wikipedia to savage “vaccine truthers” by posting false, defamatory and slanderous information on their Wikipedia pages. Dr. Gorski is a surgical oncologist who scars black women for profit and pushes deceptive cancer propaganda on the public, much like his colleague Dr. Farid Fata also did before he was arrested and indicted for multiple felony crimes.
This is far from the first time that Adams has defamed Dr. Gorski (see this April 2016 post, f'rinstance, under "Mike Adams defames Dr. David Gorski"). On the very ill-named TruthWiki, which Adams has claimed is an "objective" alternative to that evil bastion of liberalism, Wikipedia, Dr. Gorski has even been gifted with special tags and categories (e.g., "lunatic blogger"). Now, that's real objective. On many occasions Dr Gorski has addressed these false accusations against him, but it does no good; Adams just keeps hammering away.

And make no mistake: As biased, untruthful and irrational as they are, Adams' defamatory rants against Dr. Gorski have exerted their influence on the search engines.
Actor William Shatner was even fooled by Adams' nonsense last year when doing "research" on Gorski and the vaccination issue (see "Captain Kirk goes berserk." There's also a link to the Respectful Insolence post about the matter.).

So despite
Adams' longstanding whines about Google suppressing and oppressing him, the world's favorite search engine has in fact been one of his greatest enablers.

What you probably won't be hearing from Mike Adams -- or Dr. Suzanne Humphries, for that matter -- is that Dr. Gorski is just as alarmed and disgusted about this email as any anti-vaxxer. And he stated this in no uncertain terms on a January 24 blog post on Respectful Insolence. Wrote Gorski/Orac:
OK, full stop right here. If you’re a pro-vaxer and want to make death threats against anyone, even antivax loons like Suzanne Humphries, you are not on my side. I don’t care what your reasons are. I don’t care if you weren’t serious. I don’t care if it was your idea of a sick joke. I don’t care if you were just trying to rattle her (which you clearly succeeded in doing in a spectacular fashion in this case). I disavow you. I condemn you. I spit on you. I hope the authorities find you, even though I know the chances for a successful prosecution in these cases are low.

Now here’s the thing. I know of no pro-vaccine advocate who feels otherwise. I know of no one on our side who approves of behavior like this directed against antivaxers—or anyone else. We don’t want this sort of stuff being associated with our side, because it’s wrong. We don’t need it, because we have science on our side, and anything like this hurts our cause, not helps us...
Following that, Gorski reproduced the email in its entirety, as Adams and the anti-vax web sites had done. He then added:
Yes, this is utterly vile and despicable, and it just goes to show that there are assholes and disturbed people everywhere, and not all pro-vaxers are pure in motivation and behavior. Regardless of where they came from, such threats deserve only our contempt. Even if this idiot was not serious and was just trying to frighten or rattle Humphries, he (and it’s almost certainly a he) deserves nothing but contempt.

On the other hand…

Am I alone in thinking it…odd…just how eager antivaxers are to publicize this? I’ve gotten the occasional death threat before, albeit, admittedly, none quite so long and extravagant. I’ve never publicized them. I rarely mention them. I know a number of skeptical bloggers who’ve had the same experience. I’ve known skeptics who’ve had stalkers. They rarely mention the issue.

Yet, here we have Suzanne Humphries proclaiming the issue to the world. We also have the Health Danger
weaponizing this e-mail against me...

And "weaponizing" is exactly the right word for what Mike Adams is doing to David Gorski. (I will say, though, that it's not really surprising that antivaxers, and indeed many of the most vocal alt-health advocates, are eager to publicize threats against themselves, both real and imagined. In the shrill video he made about the threat against Dr. Humphries, Mike Adams also brings up the fallacious "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"). The alt-health hysterics never miss an opportunity to push that contrived story, which is part of a larger false narrative: that of the Brave Maverick Doctor.)
 
Gorski reiterates that all of the claims Adams made about him in his latest post are lies, as is the insinuation that Gorski would ever write anything resembling that email. He adds that he despises whoever made those threats against Suzanne Humphries, and then wonders if Dr. Humphries would do him a solid and "do the same thing regarding Mike Adams' campaign of lies and defamation" against Gorski.

"I won't be holding my breath," he writes. And given that Humphries seems to be allied with Adams (
judging from at least one of her Facebook posts from April 2016), I think Dr. Gorski is wise to hold his breath:
It looks like Natural News is filing a legal complaint that names "Orac", the self-proclaimed sci-blogger whose real name is David Gorsky [sic]. I'm sure his backers will get him the most aggressive attorneys and spare no cost on cutting him loose from the charges. Most of us vaccine critical doctors have been on the other end of his pen...
Much more recently -- on January 19, to be exact -- Dr. Humphries posted on Facebook about the death-threat email, saying that "the opposition is losing its mind."

I still think that Dr. Gorski may have the grounds for a seriously good defamation case against Mike Adams, but then again, I don't blame him for not wanting to waste time, money, and energy on the lunatic fringe of the anti-vax movement. Keep on blogging, Orac.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

#NOprah2020



A belated Happy New Year, y'all! Now let's get right down to business.

The world is gabbing about Oprah Winfrey's
instantly famous Golden Globes speech, an admittedly moving but at times histrionic bit of oratory that had much of the black-clad audience of narcissistic, self-important celebs in tears, and resulted in far more buzz than a sane country should be comfortable with about a Big O presidential run in 2020. And I have just one question: Has the elevation of an outrageously unqualified billionaire reality-show host to the most powerful position in the world really lowered the bar that much?

Now, in the plus column, Oprah has been pretty consistently liberal/progressive on social issues, and she's literate (and actually loves reading and encourages others to do it), and she has truly done some good in the world. So... totally not like Trump. But Oprah is also a billionaire celebrity and serial hawker (often of questionable people and concepts), and she has no political experience and no "qualifications" other than the ability to work a crowd. So... totally like Trump, though granted, Oprah probably is wealthier than Trump and actually earned her wealth. No silver spoon story for her, in other words.

But still. My initial objection to Oprah-as-president -- and central to this blog's normal beat -- concerns the way she has enabled Scamworld luminaries over the years, particularly those associated with the loathsome New-Wage moviemercial,
The Secret. One such luminary/Secret star was convicted killer James Arthur Ray. To my knowledge, Oprah never apologized for her part in elevating him to far, far greater heights of fame than he deserved.

I've mentioned the Oprah/Scamworld connection before on this Whirled, such as in
this May 2014 post. In that 2014 post I linked to a powerful blog post from Jean Brown Allison, the sister of Death Ray victim Kirby Brown. Jean has indicated that she will have a lot to say about an Oprah presidential run, and I will happily provide links when she does.

My blogging colleague Salty Droid,
now a practicing lawyer fighting Scamworld, has also written about the cozy relationship between Oprah and Scamworld. (Here's a link to more Oprah-tagged posts on Salty's blog. And by the way, Salty just announced that he intends to continue blogging, but in a more serious manner.)

And I can't overlook the contributions of the author and journalist who inspired me to begin blogging in the first place, Steve Salerno at SHAMblog. Over the years, particularly since the initial release of The Secret in 2006, Steve has written plenty about the Oprah effect.
 
In a comment to my Facebook post about an Oprah candidacy, my friend Kathryn wrote that she would not support Oprah as a presidential candidate even though that Golden Globes speech was inspiring. Kathryn added:

For too long she has promoted a new age, positive-wishful thinking prosperity paradigm, rather than naming the structural injustices that are undermining the working and middle classes. Her O magazine, unless it has changed in the last several years, peddled that paradigm with gauzy "live your best life" self help articles that promote products and experts that will presumably help one reach this best life. Personally, I can't forgive her for promoting the likes of Rhonda Byrne and Elizabeth Gilbert as gurus. Also, I don't think people should be elected based on celebrity. I want to support people who have experience and passion for public service and public policy.

Well said, Kathryn.

Of course Death Ray and The Secret are far from Oprah's only promotional sins,
as noted in this Slate piece (which does also mention The Secret, but not Death Ray specifically).

Then there is what could be viewed as a bit of hypocrisy, on Oprah's part, regarding the whole #MeToo/Time's Up thing. For there's no doubt that Oprah was pals with one of the villains at the center of #MeToo: film director Harvey Weinstein. The right-wing media have been on fire with this. Here's
The Daily Caller.

Now, don't get me wrong here. Contrary to what some of the wingnut memes are insinuating, I don't for a moment believe that Oprah was overtly conspiring to lure young women, such as Brit actress and La Toya Jackson lookalike
Kadian Noble, into Harvey's lair. But Oprah did hobnob with Weinstein, and even though she initially expressed shock and dismay at the allegations against her buddy, I think she still has a lot of 'splainin' to do. Her soaring rhetoric at the Golden Globes does not exonerate her.

(At this point I should probably interject that as a woman and a nearly-lifelong feminist I generally support the #MeToo/Time's Up movement, despite my snark at the beginning of this post. The conversations resulting from this movement are long overdue, even if they don't result in any measurable change over time (obviously it's too early to call). However, I do have several concerns. I'm concerned that in their eagerness to honor the stories of countless named and un-named victims of sexual harassment and assault, nuance is lost. Promoters of the movement sometimes verge on vilification of all things male. And apparently men who were at worst guilty of social awkwardness or poor judgment are being caught up in the net with true predators and victimizers. All of this does nothing but give strength to the inevitable backlash, providing ammo to the most loathsome misogynists and men's rights activists. But that's probably worth its own blog post.)

The Oprah/Harvey connection is potentially damning enough, but let's not forget
Oprah's history of friendship with Donald John Trump, who, in 1999, suggested that he'd pick her as his running mate if he were ever to run for president. As recently as 2015, he defended that choice. Following O's famous Golden Globes oratory, The Hill posted some past Trumptweets praising Oprah to the moon and back. And after the 2016 election Oprah made some statements that could charitably be described as desperately over-optimistic, but that in retrospect, one year into the reign of the Mad King, are idiotic. (To many of us, of course, these statements sounded idiotic when she first made them.) Notwithstanding her very public support of Hillary Clinton, O said she was "encouraged" by Trump's "willingness" to work with the transition team. She also said that she could sense by his body language during his acceptance speech that perhaps he'd been "humbled" by the experience of having been elected. (In fairness, she did say in passing that she could be wrong. Ya think?)

As I noted in a recent Facebook conversation regarding Oprah and Weinstein, she is either a lousy judge of character, or she just doesn't give a damn.

The Big O and The Big Oaf may or may not still be buds, but I do believe that Oprah Winfrey's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate would, as many have suggested, be a gift to Trump and his supporters and enablers. So come on, America. I know Trump is unpresidentedly and unprecedentedly awful, and homophobic theocrat Pence is just as awful, and so are most of the likely-at-this-point Republican contenders.

But Oprah? Let's just not, okay?

Related on this Whirled -- March 2016: The Devil at the crossroads of politix and Scamworld (in particular, the part about Neil Postman and his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death)

Not to overstate the case, but... here's more about the Oprah effect:

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ruining Christmas

Today, December 24, 2017, marks the 24th anniversary of the day I moved in with the person who was to become the love of my life, and eventually -- nearly 20 years later -- would become my husband as well. (Ron and I do not believe in rushing into things.) One of the things I most remember about that long-ago move, and that Ron and I still chuckle about, is my mother's pointed accusation that because I chose that particular time to move in with Ron, I was "ruining Christmas for all of us."

True, it was a disruption -- for me most of all, because I hate moving at least as much as your average cat does. (Which
I mentioned a few years back (and then mentioned again) when Ron and I were prepping for our move out to the Edge of Nowhere.) But back in 1993 my mother wasn't talking about mere disruption; she was talking about ruination. You see, she had her own ideas about acceptable parameters for the holiday season, and I was violating them on two counts.

One point of violation was that my involvement in moving prevented my observation of my longstanding tradition of spending the night at her house to help her prepare for Christmas dinner the next day. The dinners had grown smaller and less elaborate in recent years, and she no longer had the steam to do the big Christmas Eve spreads of past years, but she still tried to keep up the Christmas Day tradition. And we both enjoyed our time together, even though I probably wasn't that much practical help to her. I did a little cleaning and straightening up, to the extent that she would allow in her cluttered home, and some minor food prep. Mostly I was just company, and we were both fine with that. I miss those times.

But more importantly, and central to her complaint about a wrecked Yule, my mom was distressed that I was breaking up with my then-husband, Roger, of whom she was very fond. She wanted at least one more Christmas in which the whole family was "together." In truth, the marriage had been in trouble for some time, and the separation/divorce was proving to be amicable. Roger, with whom both Ron and I remained friends throughout and after the divorce, seemed quite accepting of my decision to move out, though I was torn because of the pressure from my mother in addition to my own nagging doubts. Like I said, I hate moving. And there were moments when I wasn't entirely sure that I was doing the right thing. At times I was on the verge of accusing Ron of ruining Christmas by being so insistent that I move in with him. It was the classic should-I-stay-or-should-I-go situation.

"If you're going to leave, leave," said Roger, when I expressed my concerns. It didn't make any difference to him that Christmas was nigh. In fact, he helped me pack, which may say more about what a pain in the butt I am than it says about what a good sport he was.

So clearly, I wasn't ruining Christmas for Roger.

I asked my brother and sister and brother-in-law if I was ruining Christmas for them by moving in with Ron, and even though they all liked Roger too, they also liked Ron and assured me that they would survive the season. And I had no reason to disbelieve them, particularly since we all had a nice Christmas Eve gathering, post-move/minus Roger/plus Ron, at my sister and brother-in-law's home, with my mother by this point grudgingly accepting the inevitable. Eventually she came to accept and even to love Ron. But Ron and I and the sibs still joked for years about how I had "ruined Christmas."



* * * * *

Precisely ten years later, on Christmas Eve, as Ron and I prepared to celebrate not only the Yuletide but also a decade of living together, it was my mom who ruined Christmas. She had been having a variety of health problems, but nothing particularly serious that we were aware of; she still lived alone and seemed to be managing okay with a little help and support, particularly from my brother, who saw her frequently. But when he stopped by her house on the morning of Christmas Eve, he discovered that she had fallen. After that, I never could laugh at the once-ubiquitous jokes about those "I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up" commercials. When it's your own mother who has fallen and can't get up, it's not funny any more. She wasn't in pain; she just couldn't get up, so my brother helped her up and got her into her favorite recliner, then called the paramedics. They checked her out and saw that fortunately she hadn't broken anything, and her vitals were okay, though they did detect a heart arrhythmia. They offered to transport her to a hospital, an offer that she adamantly refused.

My brother didn't push it, but he made sure she had something to eat and drink, and that she was comfortable, before leaving her and promising to check in later. He immediately called my sister and me to inform us of what was going on. When we tried to call her to check up on her, there was no answer; normally she answered her phone after two or three rings. Panicked, I had Ron take me to her house, and my sister arrived at about the same time. We found our mom unconscious, sitting on the floor, leaning up against her chair. Apparently she had gotten up to try to answer the phone, and had taken another fall, once again having the great good fortune not to have broken anything. We were able to rouse her -- she seemed flabbergasted when I told her that it was Christmas Eve -- and we called the paramedics, who were understandably a little impatient when they showed up. This time we insisted she be taken to the hospital, and though she argued about it, we prevailed.

And that was the beginning of the last chapter of my mother's life. Christmas and the New Year passed in a cloud of anxiety. You're never really prepared for the decline of a parent; I likened it to being suddenly thrust into a wilderness with no guide and no provisions. It was a very scary time.

Shortly after my mom's fall, while she was still recovering in the hospital, I had a dream that was so blatantly symbolic that if I had heard it from someone else, I'd think that person was fabricating it. I dreamed that I was at my mother's house, and she walked down the hall from her bedroom, out into the den where I was waiting. Rather than being hunched and frail, she looked the way I remembered her from my childhood: young and pretty and perky and almost radiant, and she was wearing one of her vintage-1960s cocktail dresses. "I have a date!" she said, much to my surprise, because after my father had been killed many years previously, she had never been on even one date. Then she handed me a large manila envelope.

"What's this?" I asked her.

"Just the things from my purse," she said. Knowing that she never went anywhere without her purse, I looked at her quizzically. She quickly explained, "I don't need a purse where I'm going."

Then her doorbell rang, and she almost ran to the door and flung it open. And there stood my dad, smiling broadly, looking as he had in some early photos I'd seen of him. It wasn't just that he looked much younger than he'd been when he died; he was actually a sepia tone, and looking beyond him I saw that the lawn and streets and trees and sky were all in sepia too. "I'll see you later!" my mom said to me brightly, and then she disappeared with my father into that sepia world where I couldn't follow.

Meanwhile in the real and multi-colored world, my mother's attending physician at the hospital said it was time for a "new phase" to begin, which was his way of warning that we all needed to start thinking about new arrangements for my mom, as clearly she could no longer live alone in that big house she'd occupied for nearly 40 years. We struggled with this matter in various ways for the four years and four days that remained of her life. Accompanying her on numerous doctor visits, I did end up toting around some of the contents of her purse -- Medicare card, drivers' license, insurance documents -- in a big manila envelope along with my pages of notes I took during her appointments.

That Christmas Eve, 2003, marked the beginning of a long goodbye, but at least we had the luxury of saying goodbye and learning, in our own fashion, to let go. We were profoundly saddened but not really shocked when, in 2007, she ruined the Christmas holiday once again by leaving this life on December 28.

On the last full day of her life I spent hours at her bedside, sitting with her well into the evening. By now she was refusing food and water, and was lying on her back, her eyes closed, her lips moving but her speech for the most part inaudible. To whom was she talking? Was she praying? I really couldn't tell. She responded audibly to my direct questions but never opened her eyes. So I sat there, just being with her, while she had her conversations I couldn't hear with someone I couldn't see.

At one point, though, she spoke aloud, still without opening her eyes. "Let me go," she said, and I assumed her plea was directed at me, since I was the only other person in the room at the time. "Go where?" I immediately responded. She replied, "I just need to go somewhere to rest. I'm tired. Please just let me go."

And the next morning, after a panicked trip to the emergency room that probably did little except cause her pain, including a collapsed lung no doubt sustained during resuscitation efforts, we finally did let her go. When the ER doctor came into the room to essentially tell us that only machines were keeping her alive, he seemed hesitant, his eyes full of sadness. He appeared visibly relieved that we accepted his prognosis and gave him the go-ahead to take my mother off of life support. At this point I was numb, and the doc seemed to need comforting more than I did, so I gave him a hug.

All I could think about at the moment was how grateful I was for the last exchange I'd had with my mom before I left her bedside the previous night. I had told her I loved her, and she had replied, quite audibly, "I love you too."

But gosh. Way to ruin Christmas, Mom. And I miss you fiercely. And so does Ron.


* * * * *

Ron's own mother, Maggie, managed to ruin both his birthday and Christmas 25 years ago by passing away four days after his birthday and two weeks before Christmas. She also ruined her chances of getting to meet me in this life; Ron and several others have said Maggie and I would have loved each other, and I am sure we would have.

And two weeks ago one of my Facebook friends observed the 30th anniversary of her own mother's death, and another Facebook friend just lost her mother yesterday. It's a terrible, terrible time of year to lose a mom. But then, there's really no good time.

And it isn't only parents who leave at inappropriate times. Dear friends can depart without notice too. On December 10 -- two weeks ago today -- Ron and I lost our sweet friend Alma, who was our across-the-pasture neighbor for several years after we moved out to the Edge of Nowhere. Alma was the sort of person who seemed like a Grumpy-Cat type when you first met her, but you didn't have to know her long at all to realize that beneath the gruffness was a wicked sense of humor and a huge heart.

Alma was no recluse, but she loved the silence and darkness of the country; she loved the darkness so much that she never even left a porch light on at night. But she also loved Christmas, and at Christmas time she did put lights up. It always made me smile to look out my kitchen window late at night, across the great expanse of darkness, and see her lights burning.

Alma was a book lover, a rescuer of dogs, an inveterate gift giver, and an unimaginable gift herself. And although she always had other plans and other obligations on holidays, she managed to join Ron and me for our feast on nearly all of the major holidays. It got so that it didn't really feel like a holiday without Alma.

But she underwent emergency open-heart surgery earlier this month, and there were complications, and she did not survive the ordeal. Now there's going to be another empty space at our holiday table. Way to ruin Christmas, Alma. We love and miss you more than we can express. *


Of course our human friends don't have a monopoly on breaking our hearts; sometimes our fur babies ruin Christmas for us too. Ron's and my big sweet boy cat, Sabu, left us on December 21, 2014. Our lovable goofy whippet, Snapper, checked out on December 23, 2000. I have loved ones and friends who lost beloved animal companions earlier this year and whose hearts are wrecked by spending the first Christmas without them.

And so on, and so forth.

I think most of us reach a point when, if we're not careful, Christmas -- or any other major holiday, for that matter -- becomes as much a time for dwelling on all that we have lost as it is a celebration of what, and whom, we still have. The so-called season of joy is incredibly difficult for those whose losses are recent or profound or extensive or any combination of the above (I'm thinking especially of all those who lost so much in the recent hurricanes). But holidays are also quite difficult at times for those whose losses are cumulative, as is inevitable in the course of a normal human life. And in a season when most of us are under such constant pressure to be merry and bright, the contrast between the outer trappings and our inner grief can seem like a cruel joke. We keep forgetting that, with the notable exception of terrorists and sadists who calculatedly wreak their havoc on cherished holidays, tragedy and calamity have an utter disregard for the calendar. Christmastime is just another opportunity for sh-t to happen. The gods may throw a dice/Their minds as cold as ice/And someone way down here/Loses someone dear. (
Thank you, Abba.)

Nevertheless it is good and useful, perhaps especially at this time of year, to try to find as many somethings and someones as you can for which to be thankful. That's why, despite my cynicism about self-help exercises in general, I'm all for gratitude exercises, and my Facebook friend Marie, the one who lost her mom 30 years ago around this time, definitely has the right idea with her daily postings about the people and things for which she is grateful.

Truly, there are so many ways that Christmas can be ruined, but with a little effort I think that most of us can pick our way among the ruins and still find something good and whole. Me? I still love the holiday, despite being
a cynic for many years. And Ron and I always find a way to celebrate the season with family, food, and friends. True, we can't have a Christmas tree due to the fact that we have cats, and they have hands, and they know how to use them, but I manage to festoon the house with garlands and wreaths and shelf elves (most of the elves being vintage 60s and 70s fellows who spread Christmas cheer at my mom's house for many years) and other accoutrements. More importantly, I can even manage to smile rather than cry when I think of the people and fur babies who have passed. After all, I am still surrounded by people I love, including a houseful of four-legged folks who are constantly clamoring for love and attention (as well as some of Alma's dogs who haven't yet found new homes). I am happy to accommodate them.

And at night, which falls so early in the dead of winter, I can walk out of my gate and past the motion-sensitive solar light that was Alma's last gift to Ron and me. Like most solar lights it automatically comes on once darkness falls, but when we walk past it, it shines a little brighter for a couple of moments.

Most of all this Christmas, I look forward to beginning year 25 with the person who helped me ruin Christmas so many years ago. Moving in with him was the best choice I ever made, next to marrying him.

May your own holidays be filled with as much joy, and as little ruin, as possible. Be kind to yourself and to those around you who are hurting. And give what you can, of your time or money or both, to help ease their pain.

* With a little help from you,
our friend Alma can continue to rescue dogs in perpetuity.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Net neutrality in the reign of Mad King Donald

Google image results for "Mad King Donald"

I'm still here, Dear Ones. It has been another busy month, full of real-life distractions, not the least of which was the gluttony that took place over Thanksgiving weekend, so, naturally, I haven't been tending my Whirled. I have some Whirled-beat stuff to catch you up on, which I'll do in the coming weeks. Really. I promise. However, in the interests of keeping up my longstanding tradition of blogging at least once each month, here's a little snippet about something that extends far beyond the beat of one little blog.

As you may know, some of America's most cherished institutions and principles have been under attack ever since
Mad King Donald became the Oaf of Office in January of this year. (If you don't know this, or you aren't concerned about it, then I respectfully suggest that you may be part of the problem.) Attacks on civil rights... threats to freedom of the press... attempts to compromise the separation of church and state... and that, of course, is a far from complete list.
One matter that should be of particular concern for just about everybody is the serious threat to net neutrality under Drumpf's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair, Ajit Pai. The article linked to in the first sentence of this paragraph contains several other good links about some of the major issues.

If you wish to educate yourself about the threat to net neutrality, or you just want to review some of the pertinent points, take a look at
the Net Neutrality portal on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) site.

And then call or write to your representatives, and/or march in the streets, and/or take any other peaceful and legal means to help stop the Mad King's destruction of some of our most important freedoms.

I'll be back soon.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#FreeKevinTrudeau sucks up to Sheriff Joe



There is an October 21 update to this story at the end of this post.
~ CC

 

I've written before about the efforts of serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie, to persuade #NotMyPresident Donald J. Trump to free Katie from Federal sleepaway camp (aka Montgomery Federal Prison Camp in Alabama) and to pardon him. F'rinstance, I mentioned it back in February and in June.

The #FreeKevinTrudeau campaign continues, and
you can track it on this site. In his most recent entreaty to Herr Drumpf, dated 15 September 2017, Katie blames Obama and Hillary for the mess he's in. And he invokes fellow faux-hero/martyr and ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump did pardon back in August.

Citing
criminal contempt charges against Arpaio, which of course Katie proclaimed to be totally unfounded, Katie brought up his own conviction for criminal contempt.

My “contempt” was I dared to express my First Amendment rights of free speech on TV when talking about one of my books. The fact that my views and opinions were “conservative”, exposed special interest and political corruption, and were listened to by over 50 million people made my “free speech” even more “offensive” to the Obama administration.
Yes, Katie is quite the First Amendment stuporhero. And later on in the letter...
I have also been relentless at exposing the “Deep State”, the swamp as you call it! This means I have pulled no punches at exposing the Clintons, Obama, and all the Establishment politicians who go to Washington broke and within a few years magically become multi-millionaires.

For this, I have been on the Clinton and Obama “hit list” for decades. It has been said that Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State called me “politically dangerous” and “must be silenced”.

This is one of the first instances I've seen where Katie overtly plays the "Help, help, I'm being repressed because I'm conservative!" card. But he has been anti-immigrant/xenophobic for years, as noted in
this June 2011 Whirled post.

And while we're on the topic of anti-immigrant xenophobes, here's a link to
a suck-up letter that Trudeau penned directly to the loathsome Sheriff Joe shortly after the Drumpf pardon.

Dear Joe,

You are an American hero.

I just heard the great news that President Trump pardoned you!

CONGRATULATIONS!! I am SO happy for you!

You should now be given a medal by the President for all your service to America:
-for fearlessly enforcing the LAWS;
-and for fearlessly upholding the Constitution.

This is Kevin Trudeau, #1 NY Times bestselling author of 6 books (almost 50 million copies sold), former radio host, TV Celebrity, natural health freedom advocate, and promoter of Free Speech.

I am also a 100% Trump supporter and I have been a fan and outspoken vocal supporter of yours for years.

I watched you on Fox talk about your ordeal with the “Obama radical left judicial system and justice department”.

I watched in amazement at how a 50 year law enforcement professional, doing all he can do to protect the legal CITIZENS of America was unjustly targeted by the Obama Justice Department simply for doing his job.

And so on, and so forth, as Katie cleaves like a remora unto Sheriff Joe's sagging whatever.

You've probably read the horror stories about Sheriff Joe, but they're worth a mention here because, of course, they lend a truer context to Kevin Trudeau's shameless sycophancy. From
a Washington Post article published shortly after the pardon:
As sheriff, Arpaio was known for a hostility toward undocumented immigrants that was functionally indistinguishable from hostility toward Latinos. He conducted sweeps of Latino neighborhoods and stops of Latino drivers in attempts to find undocumented immigrants. He held inmates in brutal and degrading conditions. He installed publicly accessible webcams so that the public could gawk at inmates, and one of those cameras showed female prisoners using the toilet. And he was a leading proponent of the racist lie that President Barack Obama was not a natural-born American citizen.

Arpaio’s entire claim to national recognition was based on his being a xenophobe, a racist and an officer of the machinery of government who relished wielding that machinery to degrade some of the most powerless members of our society.
And here's another WaPo link: a first-person account from a former inmate/victim of Arpaio.
The rules of the tent city were strict, arbitrary and brutally enforced. There are no newspapers allowed; Arpaio hated newspapers. The only food allowed for those of us in the work furlough program was the food in the vending machines, which was grossly overpriced.

During the sweltering summer, the temperature could reach 115 or 120 degrees. I was in the tents when we hit 120. It was impossible to stay cool in the oppressive heat. Everyone would strip down to their underwear. There was no cold water, only water from vending machines; and eventually, the machines would run out. People would faint; some had heatstroke. That summer, ambulances came about three times. One man died in his bed.

But the winter was even worse. During the winter, there were no heaters. Most jackets and heavily insulated pants weren’t allowed; they don’t want you to be comfortable...

...Arpaio saved worse abuse for others. Those who were in full detention had to wear pink socks, underwear and flip-flops. They ate peanut butter and bread, and the only other meal they received was baloney and bread. They also had the option of “slob,” which was an unknown, disgusting substance that looked like some kind of thick stew and tasted like cardboard. (The poor people in the work furlough program who couldn’t pay for vending-machine food had no choice but to eat it.)

And in the unintended irony department, given
Herr Twitler's repeated threats to the free press in America -- which I've mentioned here previously, there's this August 4, 2017 post on the Free Katie site.

As I've also mentioned on previous posts, Katie and fans haven't limited their entreaties to Drumpf himself. Among others contacted, according to Trudeau's September 15 missive and several earlier posts on the web site and social media, the #FreeKevinTrudeau contingent have reached out to "KellyAnne Conway; John Kelly; Ivanka; Jared; Eric; Don Jr; Melania; Rudi Giuliani; Mike Huckabee; Carl Icahn; Sean Hannity; Andrew Napolitano; Janine Pirro; Laura Ingraham; Newt Gingrich; Jay Sekulow; and many others."

But so far, it seems that all of these communications have been for naught. Katie continues to languish in Camp Cupcake, waxing spiritual about his achievement of perfect peace and happiness out of one side of his mouth, while out of the other side he desperately begs some of the most despicable political figures in the U.S. -- and indeed in the world -- to free him so he can scam at large again. The more things change...

Important update, 21 October 2017: There's bad news for Sheriff Joe, but perhaps good news for some of those who have been harmed by him and might want to pursue legal action: on October 19, U.S. District Judge Susan Richie Bolton, stating that Trump's pardon of Arpaio does not "revise historical facts" of his case, refused to vacate her ruling that deemed Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt. From the NPR piece linked to above:
On Thursday, Bolton quoted Black's Law Dictionary to say that a pardon "releases the wrongdoer from punishment and restores the offender's civil rights without qualification." But she then added a further interpretation in her own words: "It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings."

Citing legal precedents, Bolton said that while a pardon removes the threat of punishment, it does not "blot out guilt." Instead, she wrote in her decision, accepting a pardon implies a confession of guilt. Bolton also suggested that the timing of President Trump's pardon — when Arpaio had not appealed her verdict — played a role in her decision to preserve it.
This situation, noted NPR, could land Arpaio in a type of Catch-22 scenario in which he would be powerless to clear his name fully in the legal record despite the fact that Trump's pardon saved him from being punished by the legal system (thanks for nothing, Donny John!). Arapio attorney Jack Wilenchik indicated that the pardon had robbed Arpaio of a chance to appeal the ruling, leaving him open to future lawsuits. Couldn't happen to a better guy, as far as I'm concerned. Natch, Wilenchik has appealed the judge's order to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, so the story isn't over yet.

No matter what happens in the Appeals Court, and regardless of whether or not Arpaio is sued again, and no matter whether or not he is ever held fully accountable by the justice system for his systemized cruelty... none of this changes what Arpaio did and who he is. And it speaks volumes about both Trump and Trudeau's character (or complete lack thereof) that they continue to support Sheriff Joe and laud him as a hero.


Related on this Whirled:

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

James Arthur Ray Death Lodge Eighth Anniversary: Never Forget

Death, it seems, has dominated the news even more than usual for the past several weeks: there is the death and destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (and we're holding our collective breaths about Nate as I write this); and, of course, there is the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas a week ago today.

I don't expect the mainstream -- or even most of the independent -- news media to remember, much less focus upon, deaths that occurred years ago on a much smaller and less dramatic scale; after all, the journos and commentators can barely keep up with all of the mass shootings in America, much less the deaths caused by the arrogance and reckless actions of a sociopathic selfish-help "leader." But here in this obscure little outpost of the blogosphere, the deaths of three people in New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality guru
James Arthur Ray's phony "sweat lodge" in Sedona, Arizona will never be forgotten.

It was on this day, eight years ago, that
Kirby Brown and James Shore perished as a result of their heavily manipulated/coerced participation in Ray's torture chamber. Nine days later a third participant, Liz Neuman, passed away as well, without ever awakening from a coma.

As I've written in previous anniversary posts, I knew none of them, though some of the family members are now my Facebook friends. But I think of them every year at this time. Mostly it is with sadness but also with anger, because the man whose recklessness was responsible for these three deaths (four, if you count
Colleen Conaway's death at another Ray event in July 2009), served a prison sentence of less than two years for the Sedona deaths. (He served no time at all for Colleen's death, and wasn't even charged, to say nothing of tried or convicted, although my understanding is that there was a civil settlement.)

But James Ray goes merrily on his way, scrabbling to reclaim his elevated spot in the selfish-help pantheon while spinning Sedona as his own personal tragedy. As I wrote here
last year:
...these days, James Ray is exploiting the Sedona tragedy and his time in prison for his own purposes, still parading as a success guru but with a new hook: he uses the pain and loss of others to portray himself as the hero who has walked through fire.

He may have walked through fire, figuratively speaking, but he did not die by fire, literally, as did James Shore, Kirby Brown and Liz Neuman.

He may have lost a lot, but he is still alive and capable of writing unmitigated crap such as, "In the process of losing everything...I actually found myself."

That theme -- redemption through profound loss -- is the one that Death Ray is still flogging.

Kirby Brown's family, trying to pick up the pieces and create something good and useful from the horror that James Ray bestowed upon their family and on so many others, continues to promote their non-profit, Seek Safely, whose purpose is to educate people about how to safely participate in the self-help industry. Check it out.

Others are doing their part too. As you probably know if you've been hanging around here for any length of time, one of my favorite blogging colleagues, who wrote in great depth about the James Ray nightmare, is Salty Droid, aka Jason Jones. He is a practicing lawyer again, and as I noted here, is using the law to go after destructive and potentially dangerous Scamworld players, e.g., MLM giant Herbalife, a company that, as he explained last month, he first began thinking about in 2009...

… when Liz Neuman died in James Arthur Ray’s fake sweat lodge. Liz got her first tastes of Death Ray’s self-help poison while attending Herbalife related events.

The deadly fake sweat lodge {that killed three people and seriously injured many others} was the culmination of James Ray International’s “Spiritual Warrior” weekend :: a deeply manipulative $10,000 event … the most expensive in a never ending sequence of events that Ray dubbed the “Journey of Power.

These events are dangerous :: weaponized fraud … and they permeate the scam industry. Every wretched festering scamhole I’ve climbed down has contained one of these escalating event sequences at the heart of the harm … anchoring victims to the bottom of Lake Misery.
Here is a direct link to the extended version of the Herbalife lawsuit (Rodgers et al. v Herbalife).

(Jason is also representing, pro bono, a blogger, Christina Hinks of the MommyGyver blog, who is being targeted and harassed by billion-dollar fashion MLM LuLaRue. According to the Truth In Advertising site, LuLaRue seems most upset by the blogger and other critics calling it a cult. Well, MLMs very often are cults in a sense, and it seems to me that the more cultish they are, the more likely they are to sue you for calling them cults or even hinting that they might be (consider the example of LGAT (large group awareness training) giant Landmark, f'rinstance...). Anyway, you can read Jason's take on the LuLaRue case here.)

I have neither a nonprofit nor a law degree, but as always I will continue, as I have for the past eight years, to do my part to make sure that people never forget what happened on October 8, 2009.

For insights into the sociopathic behavior of James Ray, and how it led up to Death Lodge,
see this post, written on the first anniversary of Sedona. Also read Connie Joy's book, Tragedy in Sedona. There's also a public Facebook group, James Arthur Ray is a Felon.

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