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TBR News September 30, 2019

Sep 30 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 29, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for September 30: “As I said yesterday, a considerable number of lower level White House employees are talking about resigning in light of the pending impeachment activities in the Congress and this coupled with the obviously unhinged screamings by Trump about arresting members of Congress for daring to question him and then threatening the person who turned his conversations with the Ukrainian over to Congress. There is no question, in my mind at least, that Trump is old and in the midst of severe mental problems. He does have control of the briefcase and he did launch a missile attack on Syria over a invented poison gas story. This constituted an act of war but was quietly ignored…in public but not in private. Trump would be better off full of Prozac and sitting in a cage on public display.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Another First For This Era: # Impeach.
  • U.S. House impeachment inquiry to intensify; Trump remains defiant
  • Trump lashes out at whistleblower and renews attack on House intelligence chair
  • What If President Trump Is In Cognitive Decline? No, Seriously
  • 21 outlandish conspiracy theories Donald Trump has floated over the years
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

Another First For This Era: # Impeach.

September 26, 2019

by Kevin Roose

New York Times

Even before the impeachment inquiry against President Trump was announced on Tuesday, the president’s re-election campaign blasted an email to supporters, urging them to defend Mr. Trump against the “baseless and disgusting attacks.” Facebook quickly filled with ads for impeachment-themed merchandise, including $3 “Impeach Now!” bumper stickers and $35 “Impeach This!” T-shirts. In a private chat room, pro-Trump internet trolls discussed which memes, videos and news stories to push on social media in order to reclaim the narrative.

The last time America watched an impeachment inquiry, it was largely an analog affair. When the House voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton in 1998, only one in four American homes had internet access. AOL and Yahoo were the biggest websites in the world, and “tweet” was a sound birds made.

If the inquiry opened by House Democrats this week results in a formal impeachment of Mr. Trump, it will be the first of the social media era. In many ways, it is a made-for-the-internet event. The political stakes are high, the dramatic story unspools tidbit by tidbit and the stark us-versus-them dynamics provide plenty of fodder for emotionally charged social media brawls.

As impeachment looms, disinformation experts are bracing for a fresh cyclone of chaos, complete with fast-twitch media manipulation, droves of false and misleading claims, and hyper-polarized audiences fiercely clinging to their side’s version of reality.

“We’ve seen quite a surge in disinformation in the last two days, most of it from trolls and bots, to a degree we haven’t seen in a while,” said Yoel Grinshpon, vice president of research at VineSight, a start-up that detects disinformation on social media. “We assume that this will last a few days, and then come back in waves, whenever a new development in the Biden story or the impeachment process comes to light.”

In the past, Democrats have been caught flat-footed by Mr. Trump’s internet fans, who have proved to be adept at inserting noise and confusion into political controversies in real time. When the Mueller report was released this year, the pro-Trump internet rushed to claim victory, blaring “NO COLLUSION” headlines even before the proverbial ink had dried. Fox News and other conservative media outlets joined in the celebration. By the time it emerged that the report had not totally exonerated Mr. Trump, Democrats found themselves shouting through a fog of exaggerations and half-truths.

If Democrats want their impeachment narratives to stick, they will need to do a better job of controlling the online battleground, where partisan opportunists jockey to set the narrative in real time and undermine the opposing side.

“Politics is being consumed like entertainment,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist. “It’s a choose-your-own-adventure reality.”

On Wednesday morning, when a memo summarizing Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was released by the White House, the pro-Trump internet seemed unusually sedate. Breitbart, the right-wing website, called the whistle-blower’s report “another deep-state coup” — the equivalent of a ho-hum, “move along, folks” headline. The top-ranked post on Reddit’s biggest pro-Trump forum, r/the_donald, urged followers to pray for Mr. Trump, saying that “he is fighting the American Communist Party all by himself.” On Infowars, the website started by the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the impeachment news appeared below a story about Mattel’s new line of gender-neutral dolls.

But by the afternoon, these sites had found their voices, and the battle was raging. Right-wing websites recycled misleading claims that congressional Democrats requested an investigation into Mr. Trump in 2018. Trump partisans stoked a years-old conspiracy theory involving CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that has been falsely accused of helping Democrats conceal Ukraine’s involvement in meddling in the 2016 election. They also circulated negative claims about Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whose business dealings in Ukraine are at the center of the impeachment firestorm. On Wikipedia, volunteer editors scrambled to remove dubious information from Mr. Biden’s page.

Democrats have also seized the impeachment moment, using social media to solicit donations and gather names and email addresses for voter outreach lists. Julián Castro, the Texas Democrat running for president, bought Facebook ads urging his supporters to sign an impeachment petition. So did Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, two other presidential contenders.

Facebook ads bought by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign offered membership in the “Impeachment Defense Task Force” to people who donated or gave their email addresses and phone numbers, while other ads offered spots on the “Impeachment Defense Team.” Both groups appeared to be primarily marketing tactics, rather than official entities, and the ads gave few details about their activities or mandates.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Veteran digital strategists characterized the impeachment inquiry as a potent opportunity for raising money and collecting voter information. On Wednesday, Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, claimed that the campaign had raised $5 million from small donors in the 24 hours since the impeachment inquiry began.

“When we fund-raise online, we’re always looking for ways to create a sense of urgency, like a deadline,” said Mr. Wilson, the Republican digital strategist. “This is like the ultimate deadline.”

Impeachment is a lengthy, drawn-out process, and it remains to be seen how long it will capture Americans’ attention. Several partisan online publishers said that the appetite for news about Mr. Trump’s potential impeachment appeared to be lower than the appetite for other four-alarm internet events, like the release of the Mueller report or the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh last year.

Mark Provost, a manager of the left-wing Facebook page The Other 98%, said that progressives’ interest in impeachment was “there but tentative.” He added that stories about Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist whose impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week became a viral sensation, were outperforming impeachment-related stories on the page by a 100-to-1 ratio. A moderator of the pro-Trump Reddit forum r/the_donald, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity, speculated that interest in impeachment would increase in the coming days, as more details emerge about the contents of the whistle-blower’s report.

In the pre-internet world, impeachment was a dramatic, singular event — the last-ditch option enumerated in the Constitution as the remedy for a lawbreaking president. But today, it’s just one more skirmish in a long-running information battle being fought between partisan keyboard warriors using Twitter threads, YouTube clips and Facebook memes to seize control of the national conversation.

“They’ve been through this time and again,” said Jeff Giesea, a Washington-based communications strategist. “This is just another day at the office.”

 

U.S. House impeachment inquiry to intensify; Trump remains defiant

by David Morgan

September 30, 2019

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday intensified his attacks on a lawmaker leading the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, suggesting that congressman Adam Schiff should be arrested for “treason.”

Witnesses are due to testify in the House this week in hearings related to Trump’s request that a foreign power investigate Joe Biden, one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to challenge him in 2020.

A U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint citing a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

The whistleblower has not been publicly identified.

In a series of Twitter posts on Monday morning, Trump appeared to reference comments made by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff during a committee hearing last week.

In those comments, Schiff says the call to Zelenskiy “reads like a classic organized crime shakedown” and parodies the president’s remarks.

“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

A spokesman for Schiff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Monday’s post followed a string of tweets from Trump on Sunday evening in which he said he wanted to meet the whistleblower, who he called “my accuser,” as well as “the person who illegally gave this information” to him or her.

Trump has also accused the whistleblower and White House officials who gave the whistleblower information of being spies and suggested they may be guilty of treason.

Democrats accuse Trump of pressuring a vulnerable U.S. ally to get dirt on a rival for personal political gain. The phone call with Zelenskiy came after Trump froze nearly $400 million in aid intended to help Ukraine deal with an insurgency by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. The aid was later provided.

The Intelligence Committee is leading the inquiry in the Democratic-led House which could lead to approval of articles of impeachment against the Republican president and a subsequent trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.

Schiff said on Sunday he expects the whistleblower to appear before the panel very soon.

MOVING AHEAD

The U.S. Congress is on a two-week recess but members of the intelligence committee will return to Washington this week to carry out an investigation that is likely to produce new subpoenas for documents and other material.

The committee is scheduled to hold a closed-door hearing on Friday with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who has concluded that the whistleblower complaint was of urgent concern and appeared credible.

House investigators are set to take the first witness testimony from two people mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint.

On Wednesday, three House committees – Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight – are due to get a deposition from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump labeled “bad news” during his call with Zelenskiy.

On Thursday, the committees are set to get a deposition from Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as Trump’s special representative for Ukraine after the whistleblower complaint named him as one of two U.S. diplomats who followed up with Ukrainian officials a day after Trump’s call to Zelenskiy.

Some House Democrats said articles of impeachment against Trump could move to the House floor as soon as next month.

“In my mind, it’s several weeks,” House Judiciary Committee member David Cicilline told reporters last week. “He has already admitted that he contacted a foreign leader and discussed with him ginning up a fake story about one of his political opponents.”

Last Friday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to the Ukraine scandal. House Democrats also have sought material from the White House and Justice Department.

Schiff said any effort by Trump to stonewall the probe could be used to impeach him for obstructing Congress.

Trump has withstood repeated scandals since taking office in 2017. House Democrats considered, but never moved ahead with, pursuing articles of impeachment over Trump’s actions relating to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election aimed at boosting his candidacy.

The United States has been giving military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham and Sonya Hepinstall

 

Trump lashes out at whistleblower and renews attack on House intelligence chair

  • Attorney: president’s demands prompt safety concerns
  • Robert Reich: Trump can do more damage than Nixon

September 30, 2019

by Ed Pilkington in New York

The Guardian

Lawyers acting for the whistleblower at the centre of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s attempts to solicit foreign help for his re-election campaign have warned that their client’s personal safety is in danger, partly as a result of the president’s remarks.After they did so, Trump continued to attack the whistleblower on Twitter and also suggested the chair of the House intelligence committee be arrested for treason.

Andrew Bakaj, the lead attorney for the unnamed intelligence official who sounded the alarm about Trump’s conduct relating to Ukraine, expressed fears on Sunday that the whistleblower could be put “in harm’s way” if his or her identity were made public.

In a letter to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, Bakaj pointed directly at Trump’s aggressive statements that he said prompted “concerns for our client’s safety”.

The letter, first reported by 60 Minutes on CBS News, quotes Trump’s comments on Thursday to staff at the US mission to the UN in New York. In his remarks, made behind closed doors but reported by the New York Times, the president made a thinly-veiled threat that showed disdain for the institutional protections afforded to whistleblowers under federal law.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now.”

Bakaj said the indirect nature of Trump’s comment in referring to the person who fed the whistleblower the information “does nothing to assuage our concerns for our client’s safety”. The lawyer added that individuals were also offering $50,000 rewards for information that would out the intelligence official.

In an accompanying letter to senior Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate, Bakaj made an impassioned plea to the political leadership of both parties to “speak out in favor of whistleblower protection”.

He asked them to make clear that “this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied. We further expect that political leaders from both parties condemn any intimidation against our client and others.”

The whistleblower is reviled by the White House for having filed a complaint on 12 August that exposed the president’s efforts to engage the Ukraine government in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, the former vice-president who is a frontrunner to challenge Trump in next year’s presidential election.

Trump has responded by belittling the whistleblower, questioning his patriotism and trying to breach his anonymity.

On Sunday night, Trump returned to the subject on Twitter.

“I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower’, represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” he tweeted.

Trump was referring to the whistleblower’s account of the 25 July conversation between the US president and his opposite number in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. A reconstructed transcript of the phone call shows that the whistleblower’s account was entirely accurate.

The president went there again on Monday, tweeting that: “The Fake Whistleblower complaint is not holding up. It is mostly about the call to the Ukrainian President which, in the name of transparency, I immediately released to Congress & the public. The Whistleblower knew almost nothing, its 2ND HAND description of the call is a fraud!”

In fact, the whistleblower’s complaint follows protocol in drawing on eyewitness accounts by direct participants.

On Monday, Trump also revisited an incendiary attack, also mounted on Sunday, on Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee who is leading the impeachment inquiry and who said on Sunday he hoped to call the whistleblower to testify as part of the proceedings in a secure and private setting.

Trump accused Schiff, a Democrat, of having “illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people.”

At a committee hearing with acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, on Thursday, Schiff said in his introduction he would represent “the essence of what the president communicates”, not providing “the exact transcribed version of the call”.

“It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call,” Trump wrote on Monday. “Arrest for Treason?”

Trump was also criticised on Sunday night by a member of his own party for quoting on Twitter a comment from Pastor Robert Jeffress on Fox News. Trump wrote: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger said the quote was “repugnant”.

Even before the latest presidential threats, lawyers working with whistleblowers had warned that Trump’s belligerent language would send a chill through the intelligence services and dissuade other officials troubled about misconduct from coming forward in future.

On Sunday night another of the whistleblower’s legal team, Mark Zaid, said that discussions were continuing over a possible congressional meeting “but no date/time has yet been set”.

 

 

What If President Trump Is In Cognitive Decline? No, Seriously

September 6, 2019

by Steve Almond

Cognoscenti

For the past few days, our president — back at work after a busy August spent golfing and rage tweeting — has been making stuff up about Hurricane Dorian, the deadly storm currently battering the Southeast.

Late-night comedians have been roasting Donald Trump for his lies, including Seth Meyers, who aired a segment this week about Trump’s meteorological ignorance.

The segment is supposed to be funny, obviously. But as I watched Trump repeat the exact same phrase about various “Category 5” storms — sounding each time as if he was uttering this phrase for the first time — I felt a familiar sense of dread.

I remembered the same experience in dealing with my late mother, who struggled with cognitive decline for years before her death.

To be clear: nobody knows for sure if our sitting president is experiencing cognitive decline, which is why so many psychiatrists and mental health experts have called for him to be tested.

What I do know is that if you examine the Trump presidency through the lens of cognitive decline, some of its more bewildering aspects start to make a lot more sense.

Observers — particularly those troubled by the cruelty of his regime — tend to view Trump as lazy, incompetent, demagogic and mendacious. But it seems increasingly possible that the president’s behavior is also a function of his desperate attempts to mask serious cognitive struggles.

Anyone who has dealt with a friend or relative in cognitive decline can tell you that the person in question almost never admits to their struggles. Instead, they go to elaborate lengths to hide their impairment.

A person in cognitive decline — whether Democrat or Republican — shouldn’t control the nuclear codes.

Maybe the reason our president is reported to spend up to nine hours per day engaged in “unstructured executive time” isn’t just because he’s lazy. Maybe he’s trying to duck parts of the job he can’t handle. Maybe the reason he doesn’t read anything — including briefings — is because he can’t absorb or retain complex concepts.

Maybe the reason his unscripted speech is so often incoherent and littered with vagaries (relying on placeholder words such as  “thing” and “they”) is because he cannot summon the specific vocabulary he wants to use.

Maybe the reason Trump seeks out friendly media outlets and rallies is because he can only function in venues that feel safe and familiar, where no one will expose his struggles, where he can ramble and repeat the same slogans and stories and still receive applause.

In her own way, my own mother employed similar forms of subterfuge. She sought out familiar environments, and routines. As she struggled to track conversations, her responses became more confused and confusing. And the more cognitive function she lost, the more irritable and defensive she became.

Which brings us back to Trump and his increasingly defensive behavior.

What many of us don’t understand about cognitive struggles is the tremendous shame people feel. Particularly people — like Trump — who are in constant danger of being exposed.

Perhaps the reason he makes such a point of bragging about his big brain and his amazing memory is because he’s racked with doubts about both. Perhaps part of the reason his lies are so frequent and brazen — consider the whopper he told about why he skipped the climate change meeting at the G7 — is because he doesn’t have enough executive function to orchestrate his lies.

I say none of this lightly.

Trump is unfit for office based on his personal corruption, his disloyalty to the Constitution and his documented crimes.

All of these offenses are predicated on the notion that Trump is, in fact, in control of his faculties. But what if he isn’t?

That may sound like a partisan question, but it’s really a medical one. Simply put: a person in cognitive decline — whether Democrat or Republican — shouldn’t control the nuclear codes. We should all agree on that. And you can be sure that if a Democratic president behaved in the ways Trump does, Republicans would be howling for a thorough cognitive evaluation.

But think about this in a more personal way: If a loved one of yours began behaving as Trump does, would you be concerned about them? Would you want them evaluated, just to be sure?

 

 

21 outlandish conspiracy theories Donald Trump has floated over the years

August. 12, 2019

by Joseph Zeballos-Roig, John Haltiwanger and Michal Kranz

Business Insider

After financier and alleged sex offender Jeffrey Epstein reportedly killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell, social media was  ablaze with conspiracy theories offering alternative explanations for his death. Then President Donald Trump doused gasoline onto the flames.

He retweeted a video from a conservative comedian making a baseless assertion that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton killed Epstein.

But this certainly was not the first debunked or unverified conspiracy theory Trump has entertained during his time in the political spotlight.

Throughout his presidency, on the campaign trail, and even in the years prior, Trump has floated theories fueled by the conspiratorial-minded corners of supermarket tabloids and the internet, something unprecedented in modern politics. He’s often used them as weapons against his opponents.

Here are some of the most notable conspiracy theories Trump has entertained:

  • Questions about Ted Cruz’s father’s potential ties to President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

On the eve of the Indiana primary in 2016, Trump attempted to undermine former Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz’s father’s legitimacy by parroting an unverified National Enquirer story.

It claimed Rafael Cruz was photographed in the early 1960s handing out pro-Fidel Castro leaflets with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Cruz campaign denounced the piece as ” garbage.”

  • Questions about President Obama’s birth certificate.

While mulling a potential 2012 presidential bid, Trump became the most high-profile figure to promote the rumors suggesting that President Obama was not born in the US.

Trump claimed he’d deployed private investigators who “could not believe what they’re finding” about Obama’s place of birth.

He also repeatedly clashed with reporters who pushed him on the issue. During one contentious interview, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he’d been “co-opted” by ” Obama and his minions” when the anchor tried to push back on Trump’s claims.

When Obama eventually released his long-form birth certificate, Trump  questioned the document’s authenticity.

Trump has since continued to push the conspiracy theory in recent months during his presidency, according to advisors who spoke with  The New York Times. One sitting US senator echoed these reports.

“[Trump] has had a hard time letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States,” the senator told The Times.

  • Questions about a former Bill Clinton aide’s suicide.

After Vince Foster, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, was found dead in 1993, various law-enforcement agencies and independent counsels determined he committed suicide.

But Foster’s death spawned conspiracy theorists who questioned whether the Clintons themselves were involved in Foster’s death.

In an interview with  the Washington Post, Trump suggested Foster’s death was “very fishy.”

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said of Foster’s role in the White House. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”

He added: “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

  • Questions about whether Syrian refugees are ISIS terrorists. 

Trump has, in part, justified his plan to temporarily bar Muslim immigrants from entering the US by claiming that refugees coming from Syria ” could be a Trojan horse.”

“It could be one of the greatest coups of all time,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in 2015. “They could be ISIS. It could be a plot. I mean, I don’t want to think in terms of conspiracy, but it could be a plot.”

But the process for vetting refugees typically lasts 18 to 24 months, and immigration experts maintain it is one of the most difficult ways for terrorists to attempt to enter the US legally.

“It is extremely unlikely that someone who is a terrorist will be sent through the refugee resettlement program,” Greg Chen, the director of advocacy at the American Immigration Lawyers Association,  told Business Insider.

He added: “It takes a great deal of time, and it wouldn’t make sense for someone who is a terrorist for someone to go through that process. There are going to be easier ways for a terrorist to try to infiltrate, rather than going through the refugee resettlement program.”

  • Questions about whether an ISIS-linked terrorist attempted to charge at Trump on stage.

Secret Service agents form a perimeter around Trump after a man attempted to charge the stage at an Ohio rally.  reuters

After an attendee at Trump’s March 2016 rally in Dayton, Ohio, attempted to charge the stage, Trump  claimed a video he retweeted proved the attendee was a terrorist linked to ISIS.

“He was playing Arabic music. He was dragging the flag along the ground, and he had internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS. So I don’t know if he was or not,” Trump said. “But all we did was put out what he had on his internet. He’s dragging the flag, the American flag, which I respect obviously more than you.”

He added: “What do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the internet. And I don’t like to see a man dragging the American flag along the ground in a mocking fashion.”

Multiple news outlets and  fact-checkers debunked the video’s authenticity. No government agency has said the man was connected to ISIS or other terrorist groups.

  • Questions about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. 

Law enforcement determined there was  no evidence of foul play in Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death in 2016.

Asked about the circumstances of Scalia’s death, Trump said he was unsure about what caused Scalia’s death. Trump noted a pillow was found over the justice’s face, a claim  authorities rebutted.

“I’m hearing it’s a big topic,” Trump said  in a radio interview. “It’s a horrible topic but they’re saying they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”

He added: “I can’t give you an answer. It’s just starting to come out now.”

  • Questions about whether childhood vaccines cause autism.

At a Republican presidential debate in 2016, CNN host Jake Tapper asked Trump about his position that vaccines can cause autism.

“We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,”  Trump said.

Shortly after Trump’s assertion, former presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Ben Carson corrected the real-estate mogul, pointing out that overwhelming medical evidence suggests that there’s no link between autism and vaccines.

A 2013  study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no connection between vaccines and an increased risk of autism.

  • Questions about whether Muslims in New Jersey were cheering after 9/11.

Trump emphatically claimed he saw televised news reports of Muslims cheering in New Jersey after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down,” Trump said during an ABC interview.

He added: “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well-covered at the time.”

However, there is no evidence to suggest there were any American celebrations aired on television following the attacks.  Some media reports at the time cited rumors of celebrations in New Jersey. But reports were never substantiated, and there’s no evidence these protests were broadcast on national television.

  • Questions about whether wives of 9/11 hijackers fled to Saudi Arabia before the attacks.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee repeatedly stated last year that the terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks moved their families out of the US to Saudi Arabia several days before the hijacking.

“When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.”

The 9/11 commission report, the most extensive investigation into the events surrounding the attacks, determined that few of the hijackers kept in contact with their families, and none had family members living in the US.

PolitiFact also  called the claim false.

  • Questions about the legitimacy of climate change.

Though many Republican leaders remain skeptical of climate change, Trump has taken his skepticism a step further. In 2012 he suggested that climate change is a ” total, and very expensive hoax” perpetuated by China’s government.

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted in 2012.

Trump  backed off the tweet, telling Fox News that his comment was a “joke.” Still, the real-estate mogul has  repeatedly maintained that climate change was a hoax, and said climate-change studies are “done for the benefit of China.”

According to NASA, 97% of publishing climate scientists believe that human activities such as burning of fossil fuels have caused climate change.

  • Questions about whether asbestos is a “great con.”

In a  1992 interview with New York magazine, Trump suggested the mob’s “strong lobby” in New York may be responsible for asbestos.

“One of the great cons is asbestos,” Trump said. “There’s nothing wrong except the mob has a strong lobby in Albany because they have the dumps and control the truck.”

Trump has more recently embraced the reality.

Last year, the real-estate mogul  cited how he increased the valuation of one of his properties by millions after embarking on a massive asbestos-removal operation.

  • Questions about Marco Rubio’s presidential eligibility.

Trump has a long history of speculating whether potential presidential rivals are constitutionally eligible to serve.

In February 2016, the former reality-TV star  retweeted a supporter who claimed Rubio was ineligible to run because his parents were not natural-born US citizens, a claim that  no major constitutional experts support.

When confronted on ABC’s “This Week” about whether he believed Rubio was not constitutionally permitted to occupy the presidency, Trump, whose mother was born in Scotland, refused to disavow the tweet.

“I’ve never looked at it, George,” Trump said of the tweet. “I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not. And I retweeted it. I have 14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting.”

He added: “I’m not sure. Let people make their own determination.”

  • Questions about Fox News being owned by a Saudi billionaire.

Trump’s war with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly recently reached a detente.

But during the peak of Trump’s rhetorical battle with Kelly, he perpetuated a prominent outlandish theory from one of his Twitter followers.

In January 2016, the real-estate mogul retweeted a photo purportedly showing Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal with Kelly. The photo claimed the prince was a partial Fox News owner, which  multiple outlets found was untrue. Alwaleed’s investment company owns a small share of 21st Century Fox.

Questions about the legitimacy of the “Access Hollywood” tape

Toward the tail end of his presidential campaign, the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape featuring Trump apparently admitting that he likes to grab women “by the p—-” received broad coverage, and Trump  apologized for his comments shortly afterward.

More recently though, after various allegations of sexual harassment in media and politics have begun to surface, Trump has  walked back these comments.

“We don’t think that was my voice,” Trump reportedly told a senator, according to The New York Tiimes.

The Times’ sources did not elaborate on why Trump has begun to doubt the authenticity of the tape’s audio.

  • Claims that Joe Scarborough killed one of his interns.

In a  tweet Trump sent in November 2017, he made references to a  conspiracy theory that claims MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” murdered one of his staffers in Florida in 2001.

“So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin?” the tweet read. “And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!”

While Scarborough was serving as a Republican congressman in Florida’s 1st district, one of his interns, Lori Klausutis, was found dead in the office. A coroner found no evidence of foul play, and indicated that the death occurred because of a heart problem that caused the intern to fatally hit her head on her desk.

  • Claims that Obama had wiretapped Trump’s phone.

In March 2017, Trump sent a  tweet accusing Obama of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower.

“Terrible!” Trump wrote, “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

PolitiFact and other outlets have  debunked the claim. An Obama spokesman also  issued a response to the allegation, saying: “Neither Barack Obama nor any White House official under Obama ever ordered surveillance of any U.S. citizen.”

  • Claims that voter fraud in the 2016 election cost him the popular vote.

In a  tweet sent shortly after the November 2016 election, Trump wrote: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

This unsubstantiated claim was  repeated by Kris Kobach, the chairman of Trump’s panel on voter fraud, in July. The fact-checking site Snopes has  debunked the claim entirely, citing “zero evidence.”

In November 2017, Trump caused  diplomatic havoc by  retweeting three videos posted by Jayda Fransen of the ultra-nationalist, anti-Muslim organization Britain First that purportedly showed Muslims in Europe committing crimes and destroying Christian icons.

Britain First has  frequently targeted mosques and Muslims in the UK in order to brand all Muslims as violent extremists, and Trump’s retweet of the videos was widely seen as a tacit endorsement of the group’s efforts.

Although the authenticity of the videos has been called into question, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has maintained this  doesn’t matter.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” she told reporters.

  • Claims 3,000 people didn’t die in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and that Democrats inflated the death toll.

In a September 2018 tweet, Trump claimed 3,000 people didn’t die in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and accused Democrats of inflating the death toll to make him “look as bad as possible,” rejecting the findings of a government-funded study in the process.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” he  said. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…”

He then  added: “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

A study commissioned by the Puerto Rico government that was released in August found that 2,975 people died in the wake of the storm.

Trump has been widely criticized for his response to Hurricane Maria, particularly by San Juan Mayor Carmin Yulín Cruz.

In response to Trump’s claims on Thursday,  Cruz tweeted, “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”

  • Claims windmills cause cancer

In April 2019 Trump railed against wind power and claimed the noise fron windmills causes cancer.

If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value,” Trump said  at a Republican congressional fundraising dinner. “And they say the noise causes cancer.”

Iowa’s two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst,  called his remarks “idiotic” and “ridiculous,” respectively.

A  2014 report for the National Institutes of Health concluded while wind farms could cause disrupt a person’s sleep or induce headaches, its negative impact health doesn’t go beyond that.

“The weight of evidence suggests that when sited properly, wind turbines are not related to adverse health,” the researchers wrote.

  • Claims the Clintons killed Jeffrey Epstein

In August 2019, Trump  promoted a baseless conspiracy theory on his Twitter account connecting former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the death of financier and alleged sex offender

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 30, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

Conversation No. 60

Date: Wednesday, January 22, 1997

Commenced:  10:01 AM CST

Concluded:  10:21 AM CST

GD: Good day to you, Robert. Thank you for the mailing on Costello. I will send you his death certificate after the weekend. Of course it was AIDS. Lee was almost hysterical when I told him this.

RTC: I wonder why?

GD: He’ll probably rush to his doctor for a checkup.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory. Unkind.

GD: Well why get your balls into an uproar when you find out someone died of AIDS?

RTC: There could be many reasons.

GD: Yes, no doubt, but the first assumption is one of personal concern, not sympathy. I understand Costello’s brother, who is in the RN, refused to accept the body. Ah, well, in the midst of life, Robert.

RTC: Of course. Just the certificate?

GD: And the post-mortem report. It was the AIDS pneumonia that took him off on the plane. I wonder if rigor had set in when they landed? They would have to carry him off in a sitting position. Maybe they put one of their cheap blankets over him and pretended he was a broken seat.

RTC: You are in a fine mood today, I must say.

GD: I beat Jesus at poker last night and he wouldn’t pay up. He keeps hiding cards in that hole in his side.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: I wanted to ask you about this business with Oswald. You know, shooting with two guns out of the window, shooting some Dallas cop, and so on. Can you give me any input here?

RTC: Oswald had nothing to do with the business. Nothing at all. He was an asset of ONI and he worked for both of us at Atsugi. That’s our U-2 base in Japan. He spoke Russian, after a fashion, and was instructed to act like a Marxist to rope in some Jap spies there. A clever young man but a bit of a troublemaker. No, Oswald had nothing to do with it. I said we had used him once and we had a dossier on him. He was perfect for the role of patsy. Married the niece of a top MVD officer, an avowed Marxist and so on. And, joy of joys, he worked at the book building. We had the presidential cavalcade rerouted to go right past it, to be certain. And we had a resource in the Cuban Embassy in Mexico who swore Oswald was in there trying to flee to Cuba. It does pay to have people in the right place, Gregory. Never know when you might need them.

GD: Interesting. And he was using an Argentine Mauser which magically turned into a Mannlicher-Carcano. My God, you couldn’t hit a barn with that piece of shit if you were inside it. The Mauser, on the other hand, was a good gun.

RTC: Yes. The Mauser belonged to the wrong people, so the other piece was substituted. We made sure that it could be traced to him. And we got the wife to admit seeing the wop gun. Of course in her condition, she would identify a crossbow or a polar bear.

GD: And the Ruby business. Too pat.

RTC: Of course. Ruby was from the Chicago mob and I had connections with them through my father. You see, Ruby had cancer and knew he was probably going to die soon enough so he was put up to silencing Oswald. Oswald was not involved and if it ever went to trial, it would all come out. The Navy didn’t want it to come out that they hired him and the FBI didn’t want it out that he had worked for them so everyone was happy when Ruby did his deed in the basement. Of course, later he found out they might execute him instead of letting die comfortably in a Dallas hospital so he got alarmed and was trying to get out of it. I don’t know why, Gregory. He knew all about keeping quiet, but he was a Jew and very emotional. Not stable, but he did his work as he was told. And we had some use for him earlier over sending guns to Castro. I suppose you knew that the Company was an early supporter of Castro? Put him in place, as it were. Now that was a classic mistake. I had nothing to do with that. We spent years trying to clean that one up. Kennedy found out about our role in that because he had Bissel’s phone tapped and loose lips can sink careers as well as ships.

GD: The tangled web.

RTC: What?

GD: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

RTC: Sounds like Shakespeare.

GD: Walter Scott to be exact. Anyway, given all the loose ends, I’m amazed none of this has come out.

RTC: No, we had an army of real idiots running around with fifty different weird theories and stories, so the public had other things to amuse and entertain them. The umbrella man, the man in the sewer, the tramps in the railroad yard, shooting at General Walker and on and on.

GD: The Warren Report is an un-indexed pack of creative writing.

RTC: Of course it is. Our many friends at The New York Times have been pushing that and the really silly Posner fairytale. Well, the Times is one of our finest assets right along. Not a bad paper, but they do what they’re told. And Jerry Ford running to Hoover, tongue hanging out, with the latest news of the commission’s meetings. Of course Colonel Hoover knew the whole thing. What a huge farce all of that was.

GD: I wonder why none of the truth ever came out?

RTC: Gregory, the American public is as stupid as a post. They’ll go for fried ice cream every time. And the press knows where their bread is buttered, so we never worry about them. Bought and paid for, Gregory, bought and paid for. And we had Ben over at the Post to cinch up matters there for us. Very reliable. He and Angleton cleaned up some of the messes after Kennedy was hit. No, the press can always be counted on.

GD: My late grandfather used to say something right on point. ‘Once a newspaperman, always a whore.’

RTC: Was your grandfather a reporter?

GD: No, a banker.

 

(Concluded at 10:21 CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Richard Sheridan

Perhaps this entry should be considered more of an intermission from our regular fare. Richard Sheridan is a local colorful of Dallas known for disrupting (or frequently speaking before) the Dallas City Council proceedings, making broad accusations of electronic vote fraud and claiming that a county commissioner “serves Satan.” Indeed, in 2015 Sheridan even ran for Mayor of Dallas and received an impressive 28 votes. Not entirely pleased with the results, Sheridan’s used his concession speech – on a voicemail left for local reporter Dan Koller – to declare how “extremely happy” he was that “Sodomite” Leland Burk lost to Jennifer Staubach Gates; Sheridan was apparently displeased that reporters hadn’t focused sufficiently intensely on Leland Burk being gay, whereas Sheridan himself “think I did a pretty good job of communicating to voters.” Then he proceeded to tell Koller, the reporter, that “you, sir, are cunt, bitch, coward, Mr. Koller. Dan Koller is a cunt, bitch, coward. And I don’t think you have one testicle, sir. You’re a sorry-ass, you’re a disgrace to our city, you’re a propagandist to the Sodomites […] And when I see you, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but minimally your eardrums will hurt, you motherfucker. Because the word fuck means abuse and if you’re in the gay lifestyle, the mothers that bring their children up in the world, wanting to do good, want to live a good life, and you go with the Sodomites? You motherfucker, cunt, coward Dan Koller.

In 2016 he pled no contest to incidents of spray-painting “666” graffiti targeting the gay community. Sheridan called the spray-painting “an act of love” and claimed that the “rabid” gay community was persecuting him over the incidents in a bloodthirsty quest for vengeance: “this is what will happen to anyone who dares to call out the immorality of the Gay lifestyle, to reference the Bible in saying that the Gay community is violating Gods laws,” Sheridan lamented.

In 2013 Sheridan ran for the District 13 seat on the Dallas City Council, gaining some attention for handing out posters at a council meeting that showed pictures of three openly gay candidates covered with an X, and later stating that “God’s voice was heard in Dallas Saturday. No openly gay LGBT City Councilmember!!”

Diagnosis: No more than a village idiot, though not, apparently, a particularly pleasant specimen.

 Roger Patterson

Roger Patterson is one of the creation “scientists” affiliated with Answers in Genesis. Patterson has no background in science, of course – otherwise he would not have had that job – but he knows how to swamp his writings with Bible quotes, and that is what matters.

Indeed, it is, for Patterson and the AiG, explicitlyall that matters. It is instructive to look at how Patterson and the AiG think critical thinking works. As he states in his writeup of how to do critical thinking, AiG-style: “To really determine what is true and what is false requires that you test everything in light of the only source of ultimate truth – God’s Word.” Indeed, “[w]hen we look to God’s Word as the standard for understanding truth, we have a solid foundtion from which to begin applying critical thinking to claims we hear. Further, God does not leave us alone in this endeavor. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and other believers to support us. Working together with the body of Christ from a biblical framework and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you can discern truth from lies, even in areas where you may not be an expert, by asking the right critical thinking questions.” The questions are:

– What is this person’s Authority to make such a claim?

– From what Starting point is this person looking at the world?

– How do they Know what they claim to know?

And the answer to the questions should be Scripture, of course. To determine whether someone has the relevant authority, look at whether they have a Biblical worldview. And the starting pointshould be the Word of God (“Ultimately, these are the only two options –  you either trust God or you trust man. Although humanistic philosophy must borrow ideas from a Christian worldview in order to make logical arguments, it is very dangerous to make human reasoning the absolute standard.”) As for the how do they know, “the knowledge claim must be compared to the truth of God’s Word. If the truth claim disagrees with a clear meaning of Scripture, it must be rejected.” In short, critical thinking AiG style involves neither criticalnor thinking. But it is probably in this light you should understand creationists’ argument that creationism should be taught in science class alongside evolution to promote critical thinking.

Here is Patterson discussing creationist debate tactics and how you should try to subvert a discussion of science to give you an opportunity to talk about God, essentially by pointing out that science doesn’t yield absolute certainty but God’s word does. With evolution and the origin of the universe, you see, we have no eyewitness testimony, and to Patterson it is incomprehensible how we can know anything without someone observing it directly. In short, he fully and completely reject using scientific methods to figure stuff out and seem unaware of the idea – science – of testing hypotheses about the unobserved by its observable consequences. It’s telling.

Nevertheless, Patterson wrote a Chapter on “What is Science?” for his AiG’s online creationist resource Evolution Exposed – Biology. It is, needless to say, a thoroughly confused document. To write The Evolution Exposed series, Patterson “got copies of the three major biology textbooks used in most public school systems across America,” then “carefully went through each of them and noted every place where there’s a reference to millions of years and evolution, […] researched the evolutionary claims [using AiG-approved resources, presumably], and then read hundreds of articles and contacted experts in their fields [remember, from above, Patterson’s point about authority] to ensure he’d write the best rebuttals possible.” The series is marketed as “your evolution answer-book for the classroom;” that is, the point is that students using any of the most popular textbooks can now go online and get AiG’s responses to the most unbiblical passages. Here is a summary of Chapter 2 on the Big Bang.

Together with one Joseph Paturi, Patterson is also the author of AiG’s guide to World Religions and Cults Volume 2, What Is Hinduism and Hare Krishna?(“they are ultimately pursuing salvation through vain means – denying Jesus as the Savior and only source of salvation for fallen men” – Patterson has a curious fondness for the word “ultimately”), which is typical of their guides to World Religions.

Here is Patterson demonstrating that Earth is approximately 6000 years old, and not billions of years. The point is that using science to get billions of years is hard; using the Bible to get 6000 is easy. Therefore 6000 is correct. Moreover, scientific calculations depend on “assumptions [that are] unreliable and totally disagrees with the Bible. We are talking about thousands versus billions – that’s more than a rounding error.” Indeed it is.

The Roger Patterson in question is presumably not identical to (apparently long deceased) Roger Patterson, one of the originators of the modern Bigfoot myth.

Diagnosis: A very typical example of his ilk, really, and a fine illustration of the standard creationist combo – completely failing to understand the basics of science makes science look to them like a form of witchcraft, which they promptly fear and hate.

 Gwyneth Paltrow

Yes, a celebrity loon, but this one’s different. Gwyneth Kate Paltrow is, in addition to being an Oscar-winning actress, the, uh, brains behind the website Goop.com, which is notable for making even hardened tinfoil hatters hesitate over its promotion of sheer nonsense and delusional pseudoscience. If you can think of a health scam too stupid for regular people to fall for, we’ll promise you that Goop’s got something sillier, and that people do, indeed, fall for it. “Nourish the Inner Aspect” is their slogan, which is just as meaningless as most of the information offered in support of their health claims (the rest is just lying). Paltrow, however, seems to believe that she is offering advice that is actually helpful, though nothing she promotes is even remotely supported by anything resembling reality. Paltrow has no education or background in reality or truth whatsoever.

An incomplete list of health wellness woo offered or promoted by Paltrow and/or Goop (hat-tip: rationalwiki)

  • Vaginal steaming; perhaps their most famous item. Unless it’s:
  • Putting a jade or rose quartz egg up the vagina, which may lead to infections and potentially fatal toxic shock
  • Colonics, including a $135 coffee enema called “The Implant O’Rama”. It’s hard to resist the “if you fall for this one, you deserve it” sentiment.
  • Psychological astrology.
  • Urinating in the shower for health reasons. The rationale offered offers nothing by way of rationale.
  • Apitherapy. Oh yes, she does. She really shouldn’t have, but she does.
  • Yawning correctly, for health reasons. Again, the explanation is thin on substance and coherence.
  • Earthing. “I don’t really know that much about Earthing,” Paltrow admitted in an interview: “There’s this type of electromagnetic thing that we’re missing and it’s good to take your shoes off and walk in the grass … I don’t know what the f—k we talk about.”
  • Activated charcoal; the Goop brand has been instrumental in promoting the now-popular and idiotic idea that activated charcoal is a potent detoxifier for everyday use.
  • Annee de Mamiel, skin-cream maker and insane woo-promoter, notable primarily for her extraordinary prices.
  • After riding airplanes, you need to seek out nice warm, dank sauna and “sweat out” the germs. This is not how it works.
  • The strikingly thoroughly debunked bra–breast cancer link (still promoted by morons everywhere).
  • Quantum woo for every and any taste, including Masaru Emoto and Habib Sadeghi.
  • Water memory; water is sentient, and uses its cognitive abilities to make homeopathy work. Apparently yelling at water hurts its feelings – no really, Paltrow really thinks that. Of course, homeopathy does not work; looking for the mechanism would hence be tooth fairy science, to the extent that it even qualifies as pseudoscience.

– Ayurvedic medicine, since it’s really old and efficaciousness is a function of age, like wine and witch burnings.

  • Faith healing.
  • Crystal woo, including crystal healing.
  • All manners of fashionably nonsensical detox regimes.
  • Sound healing.
  • Homeopathy, including homeopathic parasite treatments: “You Probably Have a Parasite. Here’s What to do About It,” says the Goop website, referring to a claim by Linda Lancaster, a strikingly deranged and dangerous lunatic “Santa Fe-based naturopathic physician and homeopath.” You don’t have a disease caused by parasites. Lancaster recommends “safe, raw goat’s milk” for children as a preventative measure, which is definitely not a good idea.
  • Aromatherapy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Essential oils.
  • Psychic vampire repellents (“not evaluated by the FDA”), which contain “sonically tuned water, moonlight, love, reiki, and gem elixirs which is totally not left over water from a rock polisher.” They are marketed as “female empowerment”.
  • The Body Vibes stickers:, wearable stickers that promote “wellness” for the meager sum of $60–$120; ostensibly the stickers “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies” (indeed, they “come pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances”, whatever that is supposed to mean (nothing, of course)) and were falsely claimed to be made of a NASA-developed material. As Gizmodo put it, the marketing material sounds like “what you’d expect if you threw Enya lyrics in a blender.”
  • A “morning smoothie” containing Cordyceps, the parasitic fungus which turns insects into zombies by infecting their brains.
  • “spirit truffles” that contain “spirit dust” that apparently “feeds harmony and extrasensory perception through pineal gland de-calcification and activation”. No, seriously

The Body Vibes, by the way, are claimed to help with various ailments, including anxiety and pain, by using something called “Bio Energy Synthesis Technology,” a trademark of AlphaBioCentrix, a Nevada-based biotech company that sells “Quantum Energy Bracelets” and “Health Pendants.” Its founder, Richard Eaton, helped create Body Vibes after ostensibly meeting some “engineers” in a dark alleyway some years ago that revealed their secrets to him. “Without going into a long explanation about the research and development of this technology,” says Eaton (no shit he doesn’t) “I found a way to tap into the human body’s bio-frequency, which the body is receptive to outside energy signatures.” Unfortunately, “most of the research that has been collected is confidential and is held as company private information.” Yes, right. It is, however, important to remember that Paltrow’s idiocy isn’t only harmlessly funny. More on those vibes, including the completely ridiculously false claim that they are somehow connected to NASA technology, here and here.

Concerning the jade eggs, these are apparently made by one Shiva Rose. According to Rose, “The word for our womb, yoni, translates as “sacred place”, and it is a sacred place – it’s where many women access their intuition, their power, and their wisdom. It’s this inner sanctum that we can access when it’s not in use creating life. Sadly most people use it as a psychic trash bin, storing old or negative energy.” Yes, apparently whereas men think with their brains, and use reason, women gets their psychological proclivities from the womb. The distinction between woo marketed as “female empowerment” and misogynism too extreme even for MRA groups, is apparently blurry one. Paltrow is selling the eggs for $66. You should really rather take free advice from real doctors, who will point out that using them is definitely not good for you. The “energy glow” that Goop anecdotally observes in people using the product is probably not energy glow. Apparently you are supposed to recharge the eggs with “energy from the moon”. Apparently she is not joking. Meanwhile, critics of jade eggs apparently hate women’s sexuality.

When confronted with the fact that their products lack scientific and evidential (and for the most part coherent) support, Goop and Paltrow point out that science doesn’t know everything. This apparently means that their products do work since you can know that water has feelings because scientists don’t know how to cure cancer. Goop is thus proud to emphasize that their supplier Anthony “gets his information from ‘Spirit’ – not from medical textbooks or studies.” Moreover, scientists are indoctrinated against alternative medicine and other ways of knowing (like the water-memory-is-real-because-solving-cancer-is-difficult-way of knowing and other types of PIDOOMA); as Paltrow puts it, in an effort to take the side of us ordinary people against the elites: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?’”). It is, admittedly, correct that their trainingtends to make scientists unable to know what Paltrow believes she knows because she wants it to be true. (Under the assumption that she actually believes the bullshit she peddles, which is not always clear).

On other occasions Paltrow has challenged her critics that “if you want to f**k with me, bring your A-game”. Apparently real doctors correcting her misinformation to save her victims’ health and lives are “f**k”-ing with her. Remember that her own A-team consist of luminaries like Eaton, Shiva Rose and Linda Lancaster; a couple more, featured at the Goop health summit, are discussed here). “When they go low, we go high,” Paltrow commented on her response to skeptics. They definitely did not go high. Here is a discussion of a good example of Goop’s response to critics – note the attack on the persons as well as the striking and complete lack of attempt to offer support for their own products and recommendations – and there is an excellent analysis of their defense strategy here; given the ideology and critical thinking abilities of Goop supporters, the strategy probably worked very well. There is also a fine and very telling summary of her LA Goop summit, where many members of her A-team gave presentations, here. The overall message is instructive (hat-tip: respectful insolence):

  1. Nature is always good and healing, never harmful or dangerous.
  2. Death is neither real nor permanent.
  3. Intuition trumps any other source of evidence.
  4. Love can heal anything, even death.
  5. Everything happens for a purpose.

“But that’s religion – it’s just like a religious cult,” some may say. And indeed: it is. This is religion– hardcore, religious fundamentalism whose message is all about community building and shielding oneself to criticism from the outside (and it will never come from the inside) – fluffy-solid, fundamentalist, religious extremism.

It is also worth pointing out that Goop, at an earlier stage, wanted to produce a magazine with Condé Nast, but that negotiations fell through because Condé Nast wanted fact-checking of the contents.

But let’s have a brief look at some members of Paltrow’s A-team

– Eben Alexander, who allegedly died but came back to share information about the afterlife.

– Tracey Anderson, Paltrow’s personal trainer, and one of the most cynical bullshitters in the whole Hollywood circus.

– Taz Bjatia, a former pediatrician who is now a “board certified” integrative practitioner and onetime guest on Dr. Oz’s show, which is not an endorsement to be proud of.

– Kelly Brogan, HIV denialist and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist who questions the germ theory of disease. One of the dangerous loons you may encounter.

– Richard Eaton, described above, a conspiracy theorist who has “found a way to tap into the human body’s bio-frequency” but won’t tell us how (trade secret).

– Julius Few, who offers natural face-lifts starting “at $3,500 and lasts two to three years.” (Blindness is apparently a potential side effect, but Few tends not to focus on that.)

– Jason Fung (by accident).

– Sara Gottfried, an OB/GYN who uses those who seek her advice to push expensive supplements, a “detox” plan and “hormone balancing.”

– Stephen Gundry, described here, one of the most spineless pushers of useless supplement frauds we have ever encountered.

– Laura Lynn Jackson, a “research medium”.

– Alejandro Junger, a dr. Oz acolyte, detox advocate and anti-gluten activist who scams his victims by pushing a battery of tests that show that they suffer from precisely the conditions for which he conveniently sells expensive treatments.

– Linda Lancaster, described above: deranged homeopath who claims that parasites are the main cause of our ailments but that it can be cured by raw milk, a claim roughly as far out there as claiming that it is caused by time-travelling aliens and can be cured by cutting down shrubbery with a herring.

– Anita Moorjani, who, according to herself, once died of cancer but remained conscious and decided to heal herself. No, seriously. (Turns out she was really in ICU and was, in fact, treated with chemotherapy, but since she doesn’t believe in chemotherapty that doesn’t count.)

– Aviva Romm, a vaccine skeptic who has later tried to distance herself a bit from Goop.

– Shiva Rose, described above, who produces the infamous jade eggs.

– Habib Sadeghi, who will teach you about “integrative photosynthesis,” “spiritual Wi-Fi,” “neuro-vegetative signs” and “the ontological experience called your life,” and who thinks that scientists don’t know how birds fly. “I am probably one of the most authentic human beings you will ever meet,” says Sadeghi.

– Sherry Sami, who tells us that children teach their mothers how to be “a great digestive enzyme” to help said children “metabolize their experiences” while leading the mother towards her “divinity.”

– Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, who can tell us that we are all pawns of something called The Field, “the invisible force that makes things happen that you can’t do on your own” but which is opposed by “a devil living inside you, a demon” who “wants to f**k you up any way he can.” (It’s pretty much The Secret).

Much of Goop’s marketing strategy is based on chemophobia and the toxin scare (e.g. “spray sunscreens are bad news bears, as you’re sending nano-particles of toxins into the air which can then be inhaled”), and Paltrow has accordingly presented her fans with non-effective detox after detox after detox regimes supposed to expunge unnamed toxins from your body. She is rather selective, however, and also has a whole section on her website devoted to the joys of alcohol, which is definitely both a carcinogen and a toxin. There is a good portrait of Paltrow and her toxins scare here.

Paltrow is also an important advertiser for anti-GMO activism. She has also toyed with HIV denialism and anti-vaccine views.

Finally, let us introduce the AI at Botnik studios trying to write its own Goop-style website. The results are both hilariously ridiculous and scarily convincing.

Diagnosis: Genuinely stupid. But if you are a celebrity, with plenty of cash, time and self-confidence, you can build an empire on stupid, and a horde of frauds and deranged lunatics will emerge from the woodwork to help you out (and benefit from it). Gwyneth Paltrow is, in other words, everything that is wrong with the world.

 

 

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