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TBR News September 16, 2019

Sep 16 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 16, 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.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for September 16: “I see now that America is the world’s greatest oil producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. If this is the case, why does American buy oil from the Saudis and Russia? Where are the producing oil fields located? The Internet information sites never seem to be able to mention them. America does have large refineries and does refine crude oil for other countries but it is also true America is the world’s largest consumer of oil…and gasoline. This is nothing but rather crude propaganda, designed to assure gas-guzzling Americans that all is safe and comfortable. The gross lies one finds on the Internet are fascinating. YouTube is packed with them as are many sites disguised as ‘news sites.’ For a long time, the Internet kept away from attacks on the crooked Trump but now that the power elite people are after him, they have quickly changed course and are attacking Trump and all of his allies. And the so-called social media is designed solely to allow American intelligence agencies to keep an eye on her population. This I have personally from an FBI computer expert who told me his agency set up Internet II for the sole purpose of spying and Facebook was under their thumb. Eventually the public will become angry about this and eventually sabotage will raise its head and soon enough the social media will fade away like a rotting spring flower in the garden.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Attacks on Saudi facilities threaten spare oil capacity, price hikes
  • Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University dogged by growing claims of corruption
  • ‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence
  • Trump is seriously, frighteningly unstable – the world is in danger
  • The Holocaust and Jesus
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

Attacks on Saudi facilities threaten spare oil capacity, price hikes

September 14, 2019

by Collin Eaton

Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Saturday’s attacks on key Saudi Arabia processing plants will test the world’s ability to handle a supply crisis as it faces the temporary loss of more than 5% of global supply from the world’s biggest crude exporter.

The Iranian-backed Houthis group in Yemen claimed responsibility for attacks that shut two plants at the Abqaiq facility, the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which will cut the kingdom’s production by about 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd), more than half of the kingdom’s output, according to a statement from state-run Saudi Aramco.

Crude prices could spike by several dollars per barrel when markets open Sunday night as a prolonged outage could prompt the United States and other countries to release crude from their strategic petroleum reserves to boost commercial stocks globally. The U.S. Energy Department said on Saturday it is ready to release oil from its strategic reserve if needed.

“Oil prices will jump on this attack, and if the disruption to Saudi production is prolonged, an SPR release … seems likely and sensible,” said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University in New York.

It is too early to know the extent of the damage to the processing plants and the Saudi supply chain that brings crude from oil fields to export facilities. The chief executive of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, said in a statement that the company will have more information within 48 hours, as it works to bring back the lost output.

Aramco exported more than 7 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude last year, with almost three-quarters of its crude exports delivered to customers in Asia last year. The country has about 188 million barrels in reserve, or roughly 37 days of Abqaiq’s processing capacity, according to a Saturday note from Rapidan Energy Group.

The spare capacity held by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tmsnrt.rs/2kxzPFn (OPEC) to supply consumers in the event of a significant production shortfall has been declining for decades as aging oil fields have lost production capacity.

Saudi Arabia’s 2.3 million bpd of effective spare capacity in August accounted for more than two-thirds of OPEC’s on-hand supply of 3.2 million bpd, according to the International Energy Agency, with most of the rest from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia may have spare capacity following the international pact between OPEC and its allies to curb production in support of crude prices, analysts said.

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently holds about 644 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Department, roughly equal to 52 days of U.S. production.

A prolonged outage could spur higher production and exports from the United States, but it takes months for U.S. companies to respond to price signals because of logistical limitations, analysts and traders said.

The United States now produces more than 12 million bpd and exports more than 3 million bpd, but it is unclear if U.S. export facilities can handle additional shipments.

“Every day the facility is shut down, the world loses another 5 million barrels of oil production,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “The world’s spare capacity is not 5 million barrels per day.”

Reporting by Collin Eaton in Houston; Editing by Leslie Adler

 

Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University dogged by growing claims of corruption

Trump ally’s political influence may be on the wane as he calls for investigation at evangelical university

September 15, 2019

by Miranda Bryant

The Guardian

Since January 2016, when the head of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed Donald Trump for president, the influential evangelical university has been on a fast-track to the heart of American politics. Since being credited with helping Trump earn the loyal support of the Christian right, Falwell has become a regular presence at the White House.

Meanwhile, the university, founded in 1971 by his late father, the Rev Jerry Falwell Sr, has expanded exponentially. Under Falwell Jr’s leadership, the Lynchburg, Virginia, not-for-profit university’s assets have reportedly grown from $259m in 2007 to over $3bn and it has more than 100,000 students.

But lately, a series of alleged scandals appear to be threatening Falwell’s grip on power. And this week, the stakes were raised even higher amid accusations of corruption and Falwell’s own demand for an FBI investigation

On Monday, Politico published a report, citing more than 24 current and former “high-ranking” Liberty officials, which claims they are losing confidence in him. Falwell, it alleges, “presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains”.

Jim Guth, politics and international affairs professor at Furman University and an expert on the religious right, said: “There’s becoming a lot of unease within the Liberty network among people in response to all of these kinds of reports that have been circulating for the last couple of years and seem to be becoming more serious, and I think that in some ways parallels what’s going on in the larger evangelical community politically. And although it’s remained very much supportive of Mr Falwell’s favorite politician, President Trump, there seem to be increasing cracks in that approval – and I think that the same thing is happening in terms of Falwell’s image within his network.”

Conservative evangelicals’ preference for “strong political leaders”, he said, can make it difficult to criticize authorities, but he thinks growing pressure on Falwell could result in a leadership challenge.

“I’m not quite sure what to expect from this point on. I think that given the kind of developing opposition and concern on the board and elsewhere at Liberty, you may see his leadership challenged within the organization in the next few months.”

In the last year, Falwell has been linked to university business deals that allegedly benefitted his personal trainer, Benjamin Crosswhite, whom he reportedly helped to buy university property. Falwell also allegedly had close dealings with Michael Cohen, Trump’s disgraced former personal lawyer.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence, said he helped the university president deal with some racy “personal” photographs in 2015. Falwell has denied these claims.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC and Liberty’s chief information officer and vice-president of analytics, was hired by Cohen to try to rig online polls to favor Trump before the presidential campaign. He was also reportedly asked to create the @WomenForCohen account – which described him as a “strong, pit bull, sex symbol” – to raise his profile.

The recent Politico article alleges Falwell hired his son Trey’s company to manage a university-owned shopping center, loaning university money and awarding university contracts to friends. “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” one source reportedly said.

The magazine also published photos of Falwell and Trey on the dance floor of a Miami nightclub in 2014, prompting Falwell to claim that the pictures had been “photoshopped”. Liberty is strict about such activities – students can reportedly be punished with “demerits” for dancing with members of the opposite sex and can face expulsion for drinking.

On Tuesday Falwell issued a dramatic response to the article. He declared it an “attempted coup” and a “criminal” smear campaign and claimed he would be asking the FBI to investigate.

“I’m not going to dignify the lies that were reported yesterday with a response, but I am going to the authorities and I am going to civil court,” he told the Associated Press, calling its reporter a “little boy”.

The FBI declined to comment.

On Thursday, Reuters published claims that Falwell in emails had referred to a student as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded” and the university police chief as a “half-wit”. Liberty has not commented on the report.

Liberty declined a request for comment on the Politico claims but directed the Guardian to a 19-page document published on Friday on the university website. Titled “Omitted statements of Liberty University regarding business transactions recently questioned in media”, it claims to list information provided to three publications, adding: “All chose to not report Liberty University’s side, leaving an unbalanced public narrative in place.”

While Falwell may have proved pivotal to Trump’s election in 2016 – and universities like Liberty remain an important platform for Republicans – his political influence could be on the wane.

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Centre for Politics and author of The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President, said: “From Trump’s perspective, he is a proven commodity now with white evangelical Christians to the point where I don’t think he needs outside validation from figures in the white evangelical movement such as Falwell … It also leads on to the question [of] how much value Mike Pence has to Trump now.”

 

‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence

More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.

September 9, 2019

by Brandon Ambrosino

Politico

At Liberty University, all anyone can talk about is Jerry Falwell Jr. Just not in public.

“When he does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants and not keep it totally secret,” a trusted adviser to Falwell, the school’s president and chancellor, told me. “But they won’t rat him out.”

That’s beginning to change.

Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.

Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him.

More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.

In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.

“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Liberty employees detailed other instances of Falwell’s behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s founder and Falwell Jr.’s father, and his Moral Majority.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the run-up to Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen hired John Gauger, a Liberty University employee who runs a private consulting firm, to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor. Not previously reported is the fact that, according to a half-dozen high-level Liberty University sources, when Gauger traveled to New York to collect payment from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, a vice president at Liberty. During that trip, Trey posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram of around $12,000 in cash spread on a hotel bed, raising questions about his knowledge of Gauger’s poll-rigging work. Trey did not respond to requests for comment.

Jerry Falwell Jr. responded to more than two dozen written questions, defending his actions and criticizing the reporting of this article. “I fear that the true information I am sharing in good faith will simply not make any difference. And will only result in more questions,” Falwell said. He declined to answer subsequent questions.

The string of news articles over the past several months has had a minimal effect on Falwell’s leadership of Liberty University. As the namesake of the school’s founder, Falwell has never had his position seriously challenged. Liberty is thriving financially. Its enrollment has surged past 110,000 students—the vast majority of whom are enrolled online—and across its campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the hum of backhoes and bulldozers is omnipresent as construction crews work to keep pace with the university’s swelling ambitions.

But these new revelations speak to rising discontent with Falwell’s stewardship. The people interviewed for this article include members of Liberty’s board of trustees, senior university officials, and rank-and-file staff members who work closely with Falwell. They are reluctant to speak out—there’s no organized, open dissent to Falwell on campus—but they said they see it as necessary to save Liberty University and the values it once stood for. They said they believe in the Christian tradition and in the conservative politics at the heart of Liberty’s mission. Many knew Jerry Falwell Sr. and remember him with clear affection. “The day that man died was the day I lost a father,” one current university official said. All count themselves as conservatives. Many are strong supporters of Trump.

I am a graduate of Liberty University, and my time there overlapped the tenures of both Falwell Sr. and his son. Over the course of my years of reporting on the university, the Falwells have granted me considerable access, including sit-down interviews in the offices of both Falwell Jr. and his brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, who leads Thomas Road Baptist Church. I’ve written candidly about my time there as a student, reported about political divisions on campus and revealed that Trey co-owns a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.

Members of the Liberty University community are generally reluctant to go on the record. The school uses nondisclosure agreements to prohibit many university employees or board members from openly discussing what they’ve seen Falwell do. (“All trustees sign a confidentiality agreement that does not expire at the close of Board service,” Liberty’s attorney told board members in an email that was sent earlier this month after the school received inquiries from reporters on some of the issues outlined in this article.) Tenure and its protections are not available to Liberty faculty members outside the law school. If you teach or work at Liberty, you must get approval from Falwell’s office before you speak to the media. Talk to reporters without his approval—or publicly criticize him, even obliquely—and you could lose your job. If you’re a board member and do the same, you could get forced out, even if you have unimpeachable credentials in the Christian conservative movement.

“It’s a dictatorship,” one current high-level employee of the school said. “Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.”

“Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear,” said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty’s campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school’s hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. “Fear is probably his most powerful weapon,” a former senior university official said.

But even those who fear have their breaking points.

In speaking out, said one longtime current university employee with close ties to the school’s first family, “I feel like I’m betraying them in some way. But someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth.”

“We’re talking about the difference between right and wrong,” a current high-ranking university official said. “Not even ‘being a Christian,’ but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system.”

PART I: The Kingdom

Long before his May 2007 death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.—the Baptist preacher who founded Liberty University and whose creation of the Moral Majority marked the emergence of white evangelical conservatives as a national political force—made clear how he wanted the empire he’d built to be divided when the time came.

His two sons, Jerry Jr. and Jonathan, had each inherited different aspects of their father’s persona. For Jerry Jr., the elder of the two by four years, it was the stomach for partisan politics, ability to throw an elbow and the savvy to court influential friends. For Jonathan, it was the calling to ministry, his easy way with people and charisma as a public speaker. Jerry Jr. would preside over Liberty University, and Jonathan would lead Thomas Road Baptist Church. Each son had worked under their father at the respective institutions; each knew well what those positions would require.

A bigger question remained: Who would step into Falwell Sr.’s unique role as a national figurehead at the crossroads of evangelical Christianity and conservative politics—a man who counted presidents and senators as friends, a public figure whose outspoken statements riled critics and endeared him to conservatives, and whose endorsement carried real weight with a certain segment of voters?

After the death of Falwell Sr., many within his tight-knit community expected Jonathan to pick up the mantle. A preacher by training, Jonathan had pastoral sensitivities and a personable nature that his brother Jerry lacked.

“Jonathan’s a great speaker and orator, a people person,” one current top Liberty employee close to the Falwell family told me. “Jerry can’t complete a sentence in person. … He’s nervous. It’s just not him, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

But Jerry had a passion for politics, a talent for riling up a certain type of cultural conservative and a spouse, Becki, who, while publicly playing the role of the quiet, supportive, Baptist housewife, knew how to get her way.

“You know, there’s a head of every family,” said a former university employee who worked closely with Becki Falwell for many years. “But what turns the head? The neck. She’s the neck that turns the head wherever she wants it.”

“Until Big Jerry died, you wouldn’t have known [Becki] if she walked up and slapped you,” said a former longtime Liberty official. “Big Jerry dies, and all of a sudden, [if] you’re walking down the hall and you didn’t greet her right, you’re fired.” As if to underline this point, one longtime university employee shared a 2012 email in which Becki contacted four school executives at 7:06 p.m. to complain that a low-level university employee had posted a Facebook status on her personal account criticizing a lack of adequate parking on campus. “Someone needs to talk to this girl. I don’t think that we allow employees to post negative remarks about Liberty,” Becki wrote to the school officials in a message that included a screenshot of the employee’s post. Shortly before 9:00 p.m., one senior official replied, “We are attempting to call her at home right now.” The woman in question did not respond to requests for comment, but according to her Facebook profile, she is no longer an employee of Liberty University.

A half-dozen people with inside knowledge of the Falwell family said that, after Falwell’s death, Becki pushed to shrink Jonathan’s role at the university—a move current and former Liberty officials described as the start of Jerry and Becki consolidating power.

Right after his father died, Jonathan held a position with Liberty University that was limited but which allowed him “to make sure [Liberty] kept its compass,” as one former longtime Liberty official put it. According to a 2008 statement announcing Jonathan’s appointment as the school’s vice chancellor for spiritual affairs, his responsibilities would include upholding the “doctrinal integrity of the university” and advising his brother on “matters of faith.”

“We need to make sure … that we never go in any direction that we as a university shouldn’t go,” Jonathan said in the statement at the time. “That’s the area that I’m going to focus on and do everything I can to ensure that my dad’s life’s work stays continuing to fulfill the mission that he had in 1971,” the year the university was formed.

But now, top Liberty officials say Jonathan doesn’t hold any sway—spiritual or otherwise—over the university that grew out of the church he leads. “As a general rule,” said a former high-ranking university official with longstanding ties to Liberty and the Falwell family, Falwell Sr. “spoke every Wednesday in [convocation] all year long. His desire was that whoever was the pastor of Thomas Road would [continue the tradition and] speak at Liberty. I think Jonathan speaks … maybe a few times per year.”

“Jerry never removed Jonathan,” a former top Liberty official said. “He just kind of pushed him aside.” For one, Jerry used Liberty’s abundant resources to bring his father’s diffuse properties under his control. “He bought all the [Thomas Road Baptist Church] properties, [Liberty Christian Academy], Jonathan’s building at the airport, and a couple of others. Jonathan complained but never stood up to [Jerry] because he knew [Jerry] controlled the purse strings,” the former top official said. Jonathan did not respond to requests for comment.

While longtime confidants of the Falwell family make clear that Becki loves Jonathan—“they’re family after all,” said one former longtime Liberty employee—many feel that she worked hard to make sure that everyone knew it was her husband, and not her brother-in-law, who would assume the elder Falwell’s mantle as a leading figurehead in the conservative evangelical movement. Becki’s message to Jerry, one high-ranking university official said, was simple: You are Jerry Falwell Junior.

As in: the new Jerry Falwell—the new leader of the Religious Right.

Liberty University has transformed under Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership. When he took over as president in 2007, the school, which is a nonprofit, had listed assets of just over $259 million on its then most recent IRS Form 990; in its filing for the fiscal year ending in June 2017, its assets surpassed $2.5 billion. That number is now more than $3 billion, according to public statements Falwell made in 2018.

That growth is driven largely by a vast increase in the number of online students at the school, who now number some 95,000. Many Falwell confidants are concerned with where they see that university tuition money going: into university-funded construction and real estate projects that enrich the Falwell family and their friends.

Among these projects is a Lynchburg shopping center that is owned by Liberty University but which members of the Falwell family have a personal financial stake in operating, according to emails obtained by me.

In an email dated July 18, 2012, Falwell informed several university executives that his son, Trey Falwell, was “starting a new company to do the management” of properties owned by the school, including the shopping center. Trey Falwell, whose given name is Jerry Falwell III, is now a vice president of Liberty University. On August 7, 2012, Trey registered that privately owned company, JF Management LLC, with Campbell County, Virginia. As the address of its principal office, he gave the location of a house where he and his wife, Sarah, resided.

Experts on tax law and nonprofit organizations said that having the president of a nonprofit university directing university business to a company led by his son would be troubling.

“It raises red flags to have your kids being able to profit off the activities of the organization,” said Philip Hackney, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School who specializes in taxation and nonprofit management. As a general matter of law, “a nonprofit director or officer owes a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the nonprofit. What this means is he cannot take unfair advantage of the nonprofit he controls to his advantage.”

It’s the responsibility of nonprofit leaders to look out for the best interests of their organization, Hackney said, and as a standard practice, those leaders should be able to show how their financial transactions further the nonprofit’s mission in some way.

Asked how the property-management arrangement furthers Liberty’s mission, Falwell said the shopping center was donated to the school in poor condition. “Frankly, there are fewer professional property managers who would be interested in running it for us.”

A stone’s throw from the shopping center is a LaQuinta Inn whose ownership also raises questions about whether Falwell is directing business to family and friends.

The LaQuinta is owned by Comeback Inn LLC, which is registered to Chris Doyle, who manages real estate for the university. In a December 2018 affidavit, Falwell Jr. described Doyle as his “partner in … real estate ventures in Virginia.” Multiple current and former university officials with knowledge of the LaQuinta arrangement said Trey Falwell is a silent shareholder in Comeback Inn.

In an email responding to questions, Doyle declined to discuss the issue. “If my personal and business relationships are of value and interest to the public, I should write a book and [see] no reason to comment at this time,” Doyle said.

Emails obtained for this article show that on at least one occasion, university employees were asked to promote the LaQuinta on the school’s website—what several current and former high-ranking Liberty officials and employees described as part of a process where the school “funnels business” to the hotel.

Falwell denied having a financial interest in Comeback Inn. “I have not financially benefitted from Comeback Inn’s business and I have never owned any interest in Comeback Inn, LLC,” Falwell said in a statement. He did not answer for his son. “I will let Trey Falwell respond separately on his own behalf if he has any comment regarding your question.” Trey Falwell did not respond to requests for comment.

“What I have found over the years is if something doesn’t make sense and Jerry really wants it to happen, he in some form or fashion has a personal interest,” said a current high-ranking Liberty employee with knowledge of Falwell’s financial dealings.

The line between where the Falwell family’s wealth begins and Liberty’s finances end is blurry.

University officials describe Liberty loaning money to the Falwells’ friends, even when these loans arguably are not in the school’s financial interests. According to emails and loan documents obtained for this article, in 2014, the university gave loans of at least $200,000 to Prototype Tourism LLC, a “destination marketing” company founded by Liberty graduate Josh Oppenheimer, whom Jerry Falwell Jr. described to me as “a friendly supporter.” According to emails I’ve reviewed, several high-ranking Liberty officials knew about the loan, including Vice President Trey Falwell. The graduate had difficulty repaying the loan—“not surprised,” Trey wrote in an email.

When asked about the loan, Jerry Falwell Jr. clarified the school’s role with Prototype Tourism. “Liberty University was not simply a lender, but was a minority investor in Prototype Tourism, LLC,” he wrote. Falwell described the company’s goal as promoting tourism to Lynchburg. “Due diligence was performed by multiple individuals who discussed the pros and cons and the consensus was that it was worthwhile to proceed,” Falwell wrote. “In the end, I reluctantly agreed with the recommendation and allowed the transaction to proceed. In hindsight, it was not a good decision. … LU lost its investment and the loan portion of the deal was only partially paid back.”

Other loans were precursors to massive contracts. In 2013, Robert Moon, a friend of Falwell’s with deep family ties to the Falwells, founded Construction Management Associates Inc., a construction company devoted to work on and around campus. Previously unreported is the fact that Liberty gave Moon a loan of $750,000 to form the company before awarding it more than $130 million in contracts and selling it land owned by the university.

When I described this arrangement to Hackney, the associate professor at Pitt Law, he said: “This is not standard or good practice. … A nonprofit that is not in the business of loaning money has little reason to be conducting such activity. It raises issues of whether these are in fact charitable activities that further the nonprofit’s mission.”

Asked whether such loans were a common practice for the university, Falwell wrote in an email that “Liberty has considered investments in other local start-up businesses that would help the University’s business model and the local economy.”

“On the other hand,” Falwell continued, “Liberty University has one of the largest unrestricted endowments in the nation and frequently invests in hundreds, if not thousands, of companies across the world purely for the return on investment whether the company has any nexus to Liberty’s mission or not. The same is true of every major university.”

Moreover, Falwell continued, “I have not personally benefited financially from CMA’s or any other contractor’s work for Liberty University nor has any member of my family.”

At the outset, some in Falwell’s inner circle were not so confident in the arrangement with Moon. Before his CMA Inc. became Liberty’s go-to contractor, the school bid out its construction work through an office on campus. (“Free enterprise tends to do pretty well,” one high-ranking university official said.) The prospect of changing that—giving CMA control over campus construction and its associated costs—rankled some senior university officials.

Early on in the CMA partnership, before CMA became the university’s single-largest contractor, Charles Spence, the school’s then-vice president of planning and construction, expressed unease about the high costs Moon was quoting for certain school projects. “Jerry I am very concerned about cost control on all the projects,” he wrote to Falwell in a November 2014 email. “Over the last couple of weeks we have had a lot of meetings and conversations on cost and cost overruns. We are just seeing the information begin to trickle in and there really don’t seem to be good answers just a response that the cost we are seeing are fair, and being handled appropriately.”

“I hope that I am over reacting,” Spence continued, “but I assure you I am concerned.”

“I am fine with going back to bidding every project out if CMA can’t run with the big dogs!” Falwell replied. “Let’s hold their feet to the fire!”

In each of the two years that followed, Liberty paid CMA more than $62 million, part of at least $138 million in contracts from Liberty since the company was formed, according to publicly available tax documents.

Senior Liberty officials might whisper about the propriety of these business deals, but they told me that Falwell’s decisions on campus are rarely ever challenged by the school’s board of trustees. “There’s no accountability,” a former high-ranking university officer said. “Jerry’s got pretty free reign to wheel and deal professionally and personally. The board will approve an annual budget, but beyond that … he doesn’t go to the board to get approval. … It simply doesn’t happen.”

In his statement, Falwell said he and Moon “are on friendly terms and [have] interacted socially in past years but neither of us would list the other on their list of close friends and associates. It is completely a typical arms-length business relationship.”

But there is evidence to the contrary—much of it documented on the Falwells’ own social media accounts.

In June 2013, for instance, the year CMA was formed, Falwell shared a photo on Instagram showing him, Becki and Trey joining Moon for a cruise down the James River on Moon’s private boat. When asked about the photographs, Falwell admitted to joining Moon on his boat “about five or six times.” “These afternoon outings did not cause me to lose my negotiation skills or abandon my fiduciary duties to enter into deals in the interest of the University,” Falwell wrote.

In July 2014, Falwell, Trey and Moon traveled to Miami together. Falwell said in his statement that he recalls “discussing University business” on the trip.

During the trip, photos were taken of Jerry and Trey Falwell partying at a Miami nightclub—photos that multiple Liberty University officials said Jerry Falwell tried to make disappear.

PART II: The Fixer

On July 19, 2014, popular Swedish DJ John Dahlbäck performed at Wall, a nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla. That night, the club happened to have a photographer on-site to grab candid shots of the revelry. The photos were shared online by World Red Eye, an outlet that documents Miami’s nightlife scene, and Jerry and Trey Falwell were visible in some of the pictures—the outlet identified Trey by name.

In a statement on August 21, Jerry Falwell denied the existence of any photo of him at the club. “There was no picture snapped of me at WALL nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell wrote. “I’m sure you already knew that though.”

When told that I had obtained a photo of him for this article, Falwell said I was “terribly mistaken.” “If you show me the picture, I can probably help you out,” he wrote. “I think you are making some incorrect assumptions, or have been told false things or are seeing something that was photo–shopped.”

After I sent him the photo, as well as a photo of Trey at Wall, Falwell responded: “I never asked anyone to get rid of any pictures on the internet of me and I never have seen the picture you claim is of me below. If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped.” In a second email sent 23 minutes later, Falwell wrote: “But the bigger question, Brandon, is why would I want a picture like that taken down if I had seen it?”

According to several people with direct knowledge of the situation, Falwell—the president of a conservative Christian college that frowns upon co-ed dancing (Liberty students can receive demerits if seen doing it) and prohibits alcohol use (for which students can be expelled)—was angry that photos of him clubbing made it up online. To remedy the situation, multiple Liberty staffers said Falwell went to John Gauger, whom they characterized as his “IT guy,” and asked him to downgrade the photos’ prominence on Google searches. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.

Gauger has worked at Liberty since earning his MBA from the school in 2009. In 2016, he was promoted to become the school’s chief information officer about a year and a half after he was named deputy CIO. To several university sources, his rapid rise to the C-suite was shocking.

“I’m not being disrespectful, but John was a nobody,” one longtime Liberty official said. “And the next thing you know, he’s high up in IT.”

Longtime Liberty officials describe Gauger as a sort of fixer for Falwell, a man promoted because he would do what Falwell asked of him without complaint. But Gauger is more than just a university employee: Since 2009, Gauger has also run RedFinch LLC, an online business he founded that specializes in search-engine marketing and does lucrative contract work for Liberty. Tax records show Liberty paid RedFinch $123,950 during 2016, for what sources described as search-engine recruitment of online students for the university. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.

RedFinch’s online work for the school goes beyond typical SEO marketing. In an email from August 2013 obtained for this article, Falwell asked Gauger to defend him in the comments section of a local news article that Falwell felt reflected too negatively on him. Falwell even emailed Gauger the exact wording to post.

“I’m having my RedFinch guys blow this up right away,” Gauger responded. “I’ll tell you how it goes.”

When Falwell told Gauger a different employee already chimed into the conversation, Gauger insisted that he’d “have a few accounts turn the conversation elsewhere just for good measure.”

According to several longtime Liberty employees, it’s extremely unusual for university employees to be allowed to own side businesses that do contract work for the school. “I’ve always had a problem with RedFinch because there never was any clear and distinct lines,” one former Liberty employee told me. “You can’t work at Liberty 8-5 on the clock and get paid from somebody else for the same hours.”

Multiple university officials said Gauger is very close, both personally and professionally, with the Falwells, especially Trey. At Liberty, Gauger reports to Trey, and Trey answers only to his dad.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2014 and 2015, Michael Cohen hired Gauger’s side business, RedFinch LLC, to rig online polls in Donald Trump’s favor while he considered a run for the presidency. Gauger’s work consisted of writing a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump in two online polls; his company would get paid $50,000 in return. Instead, Gauger told the Journal that after a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Cohen paid Gauger roughly one-fourth of that amount—between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash—and gave him a boxing glove worn by a mixed martial arts fighter.

Through his lawyer, Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for tax fraud, making false statements to Congress and violating campaign finance laws, declined a request to comment for this article.

Previously unreported about this incident is that Trey joined Gauger on the January 2015 trip to New York, and posted a photo to Instagram showing a large amount of cash spread atop a bed in a hotel room. Liberty officials who saw the since-deleted post and described its contents said it raised questions about Trey’s involvement in the pro-Trump poll-rigging effort.

“The idiot posted [a picture of] money on a bed?!” one current senior Liberty official said. “Why do that if you’re not involved with it?”

Liberty officials also pointed to a tweet sent out by the university’s Twitter account on January 23, 2014, linking to one of the polls that the Wall Street Journal reported Gauger had rigged. The poll was conducted by CNBC and asked readers to vote for the top American business leaders.

As a nonprofit, Liberty University is legally prohibited from engaging in “political campaign activity,” to use the IRS’ phrase, at the risk of losing its nonprofit status.

When asked about the tweet, Falwell told me he authorized the university’s marketing department to send it as way of thanking Trump for speaking at Liberty. “A representative of the Trump business organization asked for Liberty University to use Twitter to encourage followers to vote for Donald Trump in the annual CNBC poll. We often get requests from Convocation speakers to promote their books, movies, music and other projects. And we do it all the time,” Falwell said. “After speaking for free at [a 2012 Liberty] Convocation and being so complimentary to our University in his remarks, I considered Donald Trump to be a friend of Liberty University and was happy to publicize the poll in hopes that Liberty followers would be willing to vote for him on the heels of his very positive recent campus appearance.”

Falwell noted that at the time the tweet was sent, “Donald Trump was not a candidate for president and no one at Liberty even knew he would run for President.” However, as the Wall Street Journal reported—and as several sources independently confirmed in the course of my reporting for this article—Cohen had hired Gauger, a Liberty employee, to rig the poll in Trump’s favor for the purposes of garnering support ahead of his presidential bid.

“A 501(c)(3) organization trying to influence a poll so that a candidate’s fortunes are promoted or demoted is not permitted,” said Eve Borenstein, an attorney and tax expert known as the “Queen of the 990,” a moniker used to introduce her ahead of congressional testimony she gave about the IRS Form 990 in 2012.

While 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to “do objective analysis of [an] electoral horse race,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, “tweeting out a rigged poll if Liberty knew it was rigged probably does not fall into that safe harbor.”

Liberty officials said that the arrangement is characteristic of how Falwell wields power. “This paints a picture of how Jerry operates,” one former high-ranking university official said. “Gauger gets promoted, [Liberty] contracts for RedFinch for online recruitment … and [Gauger] gets hooked up with people like Cohen to make more money via RedFinch.” And in the end, Falwell gets what he really wants: “A guy that will do whatever he is told.”

Michael Cohen’s connection to Jerry Falwell Jr., veers into deeply personal territory.

In May 2019, Reuters reported that Cohen helped Falwell contain the fallout from some racy “personal” photos. Later that month, Falwell took to Todd Starnes’ radio talk show to rebut the claims.

“This report is not accurate,” Falwell said. “There are no compromising or embarrassing photos of me.”

Members of Falwell’s inner circle took note of the phrasing.

“If you read how Jerry is framing his response, you can see he is being very selective,” one of Falwell’s confidants said. Racy photos do exist, but at least some of the photos are of his wife, Becki, as the Miami Herald confirmed in June.

Longtime Liberty officials close to Falwell told me the university president has shown or texted his male confidants—including at least one employee who worked for him at Liberty—photos of his wife in provocative and sexual poses.

At Liberty, Falwell is “very, very vocal” about his “sex life,” in the words of one Liberty official—a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support. In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled. Falwell did not respond to questions about this incident.

More than simply talking with employees about his wife in a sexual manner, on at least one occasion, Falwell shared a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume, according to a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge of the image and the fallout that followed.

Falwell intended to send the image to his and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite, as a “thank you” for helping his wife achieve her fitness goals, the employee said. In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.

In a statement, Falwell denied this. “I never had any picture of Becki Falwell dressed in a French maid uniform, and never sent such a non-existent photo to Ben Crosswhite.”

Crosswhite did not respond to requests for comment.

The Falwells’ close relationship with Crosswhite is the source of consternation for some of Liberty’s top brass because of what they characterize as a sweetheart business deal Falwell had the university offer Crosswhite.

On July 23, 2013, Liberty University began renting space to Crosswhite for use as a fitness center. “The facility was specifically built into the old Racket Club for Jerry and Becki to train privately” with Crosswhite, a longtime university official familiar with the arrangement said. Over the course of the Falwells’ private training, Liberty began to pay for expensive upgrades to the facility, according to documents reviewed for this article. Eventually, in 2015, Falwell had a university executive draft a proposal for Liberty to sell the property to Crosswhite at a discount, paying him up front for Liberty’s use of the facility for the next seven years.

“We raised his rent some to cover the investment. LU then sold it to Ben,” one senior university official said. “Nobody else was allowed to bid on it.”

In a September 2015 email, Liberty University Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Smith wrote Crosswhite to let him know the terms of the deal. The university would sell Crosswhite “the club and all real estate associated with it” for $1,216,000. Liberty employees would be allowed to use the facility, Crosswhite could decide what the value of that was—roughly $82,000 per year, he decided—and the school would pay in advance for seven years of use.

At closing, per Falwell’s approval, Liberty would pay Crosswhite approximately $575,000, which effectively cut Crosswhite’s total cost for the $1.2 million property in half. “The net amount that you would need at closing is $641,062 more or less,” Smith wrote. “After reviewing, if the terms are acceptable to you, then I will get final approval from Jerry to proceed,” Smith wrote Crosswhite.

“Hell of a deal,” a former high-ranking Liberty official told me. “We gave Ben everything he asked for.”

In emails obtained for this article, David Corry, lead counsel for Liberty University, expressed concerns about the appearance of the deal. “Please note, though, that Ben Crosswhite enjoys a close working relationship with several LU administrators, including the President, so I suggest whatever course of action is taken, it is done cordially and professionally with knowledge ahead of time that it may be second guessed,” Corry wrote in a September 2017 email to top Liberty staff.

When asked for comment on August 22, Corry four times asked me to turn over to him the email thread. When Corry was provided the exact wording along with the date he sent the email, he replied that he wasn’t shown his “signature block,” perhaps suggesting he had not sent the email in question. When Corry was presented with a screen shot of his email, including his signature block, he said his comment was taken out of context and alleged the sources for this article “are intentionally feeding you partial facts in hopes you will do their dirty work in a very public way.” On August 27, Reuters broke the news of Liberty’s property sale to Crosswhite.

In a statement for this article, Falwell wrote that the athletic facility had been donated to Liberty University and was “a drain on University resources that was disproportionate to its value.” “I wanted to reverse that and allow the University to get what it needed from the facility but eliminate the annual costs of maintenance, staffing and operations,” Falwell said. “Since Ben Crosswhite would not be receiving full use of the entire property” given the university’s continued use of the facility, Liberty decided “Crosswhite never received full value of the whole property and thus should not pay full price.”

“Unless you are approaching this with some sort of pre-determined outcome, the transaction is very easy to understand,” Liberty COO Smith wrote in an email responding to questions for this article. “It is VERY common practice for the university to dispose of an asset that is in financial and operational distress … especially if it can do it in a fashion that is advantageous to the university. To accomplish that while still making the facility available for the university to use is what most would consider to be a win-win situation.”

Smith said the idea for the financial arrangement used to sell the athletic facility to Crosswhite was his. “I proposed that the university commit to renting … from him for a number of years and we could pay that in the form of a credit at closing,” Smith wrote. “To answer your question, yes, creative deals are commonplace at Liberty University.”

“When I hear the laundry list of interested transactions and the questionable use of Liberty University’s assets … I hear a nonprofit that is not well-governed in a sense that I would hope and expect from a sizable nonprofit,” Pitt Law’s Hackney said. “It has the sense of being managed for a charismatic leader and his family and friends rather than for the mission of Liberty.”

PART III: The Power and the Glory

It will surprise no one that Jerry Falwell Jr. is a Republican. He has that in common with the vast majority of people connected to Liberty. But sometimes his partisan allegiances manifest in ways that directly influence the governance of the school—which, as a nonprofit, must not endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

Just days after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, top university officials were already considering ways to ensure that Liberty students voted in 2010 local elections in Lynchburg. Falwell and university officials weren’t simply talking about the sort of voter-registration drives common at many college campuses; they wanted students to tilt the balance of the election.

In emails obtained for this article, top school officials shared a local newspaper article documenting “concerns in some quarters [of Lynchburg] about the overwhelmingly conservative LU students and the possibility they could alter the balance of power on council and change the course of the city.”

“FYI – The challenge we will have in 2010 is [Lynchburg’s local Election Day] is finals week,” a top Liberty official wrote in a November 9, 2008, email to Falwell and other school leaders. “We would either need to get a polling station at LU or try and make this a reading day to get the kids out to vote.”

Falwell responded to the message just under four hours later, announcing that the problem was now solved: “We changed the calendar by one week. School will now let out on May 14 instead of [M]ay 7.”

This wasn’t a fluke. According to a former high-ranking university official who participated in some of these discussions, Falwell often takes “aggressive efforts … to register students in an effort to gain political influence.”

Similarly, in a 2014 email exchange, Falwell complained that Liberty’s commencement date meant that most students would be gone for the summer by the time voting began for Lynchburg’s local elections. “Why did we schedule commencement a week earlier this year?” he wrote in an email to several school executives. When one replied that commencement usually happened during the same weekend each year, Falwell pushed back. “We need to get that corrected for the 2018 graduation or else we will have no students in town to vote in local elections again,” Falwell wrote. “Let’s work on it.”

In the past, Falwell has defended any political actions he’s made as personal stances disconnected from his leadership of Liberty University. “I think our community is mature enough that they understand that all the administrators and faculty have their own personal political views,” he told the Washington Post after endorsing Trump. But it is as the president and chancellor of Liberty that Falwell changed the academic calendar to influence local politics.

In a statement, Falwell admitted to amending the academic calendar “so that students would not be prevented from voting in local municipal elections that used to be scheduled after their spring term exams.”

“They and their parents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation when it comes to the City meal and hotel taxes,” Falwell said. “It’s only fair that they have some say about who is elected to represent them.”

When I shared my reporting on the school’s date changes, legal experts reached different conclusions as to its propriety.

“This paints a picture of an organization that is intervening on campaigns more than it should,” said Pitt Law’s Hackney, although he added that other universities have “presumably” taken student voting into consideration when creating their schedules.

“Doing anything with the resources of a 501(c)(3) organization to promote or oppose candidates for elective public office is not a permitted operation by a 501(c)(3)-qualified organization under federal tax law,” Borenstein, the tax attorney specializing in nonprofit organizations, wrote in an email.

Still, Falwell’s actions here are “likely fine,” said Torres-Spelliscy, the law professor at Stetson University. “Many schools try to cancel classes or hold no classes on Election Day to encourage students to vote or be poll workers or engage in election protection activities. Though the IRS might consider Falwell’s stated partisan motivation if the IRS investigated Liberty to challenge its 501(c)(3) status, this type of investigation is highly unlikely.” In fact, according to Ellen April, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School, a very small number of 990 Forms are ever investigated. “The IRS is able to do very little enforcement of the rules applicable to 501(c)(3) because of their limited” resources.

Observers snickered when Donald Trump visited Liberty’s campus in 2016, veered off script and infamously referred to the Bible’s Second Corinthians as “two Corinthians”—making it appear as if he were learning of the biblical book for the first time. But his promises to religious conservatives—chief among them, his guarantee that he would fill Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court empty seat with a justice who opposed abortion rights—and his choice of Mike Pence as his running mate mobilized evangelicals to support him in 2016. In CNN’s exit poll from that November, 26 percent of the electorate described themselves as white born-again or evangelical Christians; 80 percent of them voted for Trump.

In 2017, with Trump in office and evangelicals strongly supporting him, the Falwells saw a branding opportunity, according to emails obtained for this article.

That spring, after Trump was invited to deliver the school’s commencement address, Becki Falwell asked university counsel Corry to look into whether Liberty could “permit third-party vendors to sell t-shirts and hats [on campus] during commencement weekend.” Corry advised that because of a contract between the university and Barnes & Noble, which had the exclusive right to sell “clothing, including any and all such items bearing Liberty University emblem, logo, insignia, or other identifying mark” on campus, the answer “depends upon who is selling them and whether Barnes & Noble consents.”

“I want to make sure that we have a lot of options available to purchase,” Becki Falwell replied, adding additional Liberty officials to the email thread. “It’s great advertising for Liberty to be on products with Trumps name.”

In a follow-up email to the Liberty officials, Becki wrote, “I spoke to Michael Cohen and he said to make sure any shirts we buy are made in America! He loved the designs!”

The school ended up printing and selling Trump T-shirts and hats. The shirts, in MAGA red with white type, read “TRUMP” in large block letters and “Liberty University Commencement 2017” in a much smaller font size. Another design, used on both hats and T-shirts, borrowed Trump’s campaign slogan and signature style: an all-caps “Making America Great Again,” then in a script font: “One degree at a time.”

Liberty University actually benefited by having President Donald Trump speak at commencement and by associating his brand with the University’s brand,” Jerry Falwell said in a statement, expressing his disappointment that the emails were shared. “Because Donald Trump is conservative, there is a benefit for a conservative Christian school to be associated with him, so long as the association does not cross the legal line set by the federal government.”

Told about the merchandise, experts suggested that the Trump-Liberty T-shirts might cross that line. “A 501(c)(3) organization cannot be selling those shirts or gifting space to someone selling t-shirts with a candidate’s name on it, since that is advertising for a candidate,” Borenstein said.

Ever since Falwell endorsed Trump ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucuses, political pundits have speculated that Trump was simply using Falwell to achieve his own political ends. That might be true: From his regular appearances at evangelical events to his claim that he single-handedly brought back the phrase “Merry Christmas,” Trump seems to be keen on shoring up his evangelical base. What better way to do that than to cultivate a very public relationship with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.’s son?

But multiple associates of Jerry Falwell Jr. said the popular narrative is backward: It’s not Trump who has the most to gain from the relationship, it’s Falwell. Trump just went along with the arrangement.

Falwell has become known as a Trump loyalist who is willing to put his—and his school’s—reputation on the line to defend the president from any critic. In Trump, Falwell said in 2017, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” When asked by the Washington Post late in 2018 if there were “anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders,” Falwell said “No.” In a May 2019 tweet about the Mueller investigation, Falwell appropriated the language of reparations for descendants of slaves to argue Trump’s term should be lengthened: “I now support reparations. Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”

In Trump, Falwell has found the opportunity to secure his own status as one of America’s preeminent Christian political leaders—the chance to finally obtain the national relevance of his father. Now, Falwell is a national figure—a friend to a president, a man prone to outspoken statements that rile critics and endear him to supporters, a major leader on the religious right despite not being a pastor. He is closer than ever before to the kind of status the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. wielded.

But for those at Liberty who know both Falwell Jr. and his late father, there’s no comparing the men.

“Jerry’s daddy was a respectable, honest, decent, hardworking man,” said a longtime Liberty official who worked for both father and son. “Big Jerry hired people that were smart and capable and put them around himself. He made sure you knew you were appreciated. There was never an ego involved. You knew you were working for a higher calling. Jerry’s father was very generous and promoted all of us in an enlightening way.”

With Falwell Sr., “you could feel his passion and love for the Lord and others. He knew everyone’s names, their stories and struggles. He was genuine and loving. And that love bled from the campus,” a former longtime university official said. “It’s a cold place now.”

“With [Jerry’s] dad, there were never questions about his business dealings or whether he was profiting from a business deal,” said still another former longtime high-ranking Liberty official who worked closely with both men. “There was never a hint or suspicion of that because Falwell Sr. was only doing things that were for the benefit of the university or church—not for himself.”

The feeling is different with Junior in charge.

One source pointed to a tweet Jerry Falwell Jr. sent out in June 2019 criticizing David Platt, an evangelical Virginia pastor who apologized for welcoming Trump to his church. “I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God,” Platt said. “Sorry to be crude,” wrote Falwell in a since-deleted tweet, “but pastors like [David Platt] need to grow a pair.”

After Falwell came under criticism for his tweet about Platt, he responded to critics with a two-part Twitter thread, which, in the words of one current high-ranking Liberty official, “a lot of people found troubling.”

“I have never been a minister,” Falwell tweeted. “UVA-trained lawyer and commercial real estate developer for 20 yrs. Univ president for last 12 years-student body tripled to 100000+/endowment from 0 to $2 billion and $1.6B new construction in those 12 years. The faculty, students and campus pastor @davidnasser of @LibertyU are the ones who keep LU strong spiritually as the best Christian univ in the world. While I am proud to be a conservative Christian, my job is to keep LU successful academically, financially and in athletics.”

To those who worked for Liberty under the late Rev. Falwell, the sentiment appeared to signal a serious departure from his father’s legacy. “Bragging about business success and washing his hands of any responsibility for spiritual life at the university—that was frankly a pretty Trumpian line of commentary,” said one former university official with longstanding ties to both Liberty and the Falwell family.

Under Falwell Jr., Liberty University is “a totally dysfunctional organization,” one board member wrote in an email reviewed for this article. “Very similar to Trump’s White House.”

 

Trump is seriously, frighteningly unstable – the world is in danger

It is almost too late for impeachment. The 25th amendment is untested. The ballot box offers our only remaining hope

September 15, 2019

by Robert Reich

The Guardian

In retrospect, what’s most disturbing about “Sharpiegate” isn’t Trump’s clumsy effort to doctor a National Weather Service map or even his brazen move to get the same agency to lie on his behalf.

It’s how utterly petty his motive was. We’ve had presidents trying to cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such lengths to cover up an inaccurate weather forecast. Alabama being hit by a hurricane? Friends, this is not rational behavior.

Trump also cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting was to have been secret. It was scheduled for the week of the anniversary of 9/11. He cancelled it by tweet.

Does any of this strike you as even remotely rational?

Before that, Trump cancelled a state visit to Denmark because Denmark wouldn’t sell Greenland to the US. Hello? Greenland wasn’t for sale. The US no longer buys populated countries. The state visit had been planned for months.

He has repeatedly told senior officials to explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes hitting the US. He believes video games cause mass shootings. He thinks climate change is no big deal.

He says trade wars are “good and easy to win”. He insists it’s Chinese rather than US consumers who pay his tariffs. He “orders” American firms to stop doing business in China.

He calls the chairman of the Federal Reserve an “enemy”. He retweets a comedian’s sick suggestion that the Clintons were responsible for the suicide of convicted sex offender Jeffrey

I think we have to face the truth that no one seems to want to admit. This is no longer a case of excessive narcissism or grandiosity. We’re not simply dealing with an unusually large ego.

The president of the United States is seriously, frighteningly, dangerously unstable. And he’s getting worse by the day.

Such a person in the Oval Office can do serious damage.

What to do? We can vote him out of office in 14 months’ time. But he could end the world in seven and a half seconds.

There’s also the question of whether he’ll willingly leave.

Can you imagine the lengths he will go to win? Will he get Russia to do more dirty work? Instruct the justice department to arrest his opponent? Issue an executive order banning anyone not born in the US from voting? Start another war?

By the time the courts order him to cease whatever unconstitutional effort he’s making to remain in office, the election may be over. Or he’ll just ignore the courts.

It’s almost too late for an impeachment. Besides, no president has ever been sent packing. Nixon resigned because he saw it coming. Trump would sooner start a civil war.

Also, being unstable is not an impeachable offense

Two Republicans who have announced primary challenges to him have suggested another possibility: the 25th amendment.

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld recently tweeted that Trump is “a clear and present danger” to the US, with the hashtag “#25thAmendment”. Former Illinois representative Joe Walsh says the amendment should be “looked at”.

Last February, former deputy director and acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe said officials in the Department of Justice had discussed using the 25th.

Ratified in 1967, it allows the vice-president to become “acting president” when “the vice-president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or such other body as Congress may by law provide” declare a president incapacitated.

The only attribute Vice-President Mike Pence has displayed so far is sycophancy: most recent illustration, overnighting at Trump’s golf resort in Ireland. But with rumors flying that Trump might exchange him for another lapdog, who knows? Maybe Pence will discover some cojones.

Another problem: the amendment doesn’t define who “principal officers” are and the constitution never mentions the word “cabinet”. If Trump thought a revolt was brewing, he’d fire everyone instantly.

I wouldn’t completely rule out the 25th amendment, but the only thing that’s going to get Pence and a majority of Trump’s lieutenants to pull the plug before Trump pulls it on them may be so horrific that the damage done to America and the world would be way beyond anything we’ve experienced to date.

Which is to say, be careful what you wish for.

Pray that we make it through the next 14 months. Then do everything in your power to remove this man from office.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian US

 

The Holocaust and Jesus

September 16, 2019

by Christian Jürs

There are strong parallels between the Evangelical Christians and the Holocaust Jewish religious/political movements.

And these parallels are most certainly there.

Both are oriented to gaining political and economic power.

Both have made extensive use of fictional writings. In the case of the Evangelical Christians, the Rapture and the Battle of Armageddon  which are recent inventions (ca 1910) by a Charles Parham Fox and are not in the Bible. Parham Fox was a convicted thief and child molester.

Also, note that none of the Gospels were contemporary with the purported career of Jesus and in the ensuing centuries, have been constantly rewritten to suit current political needs. Further, the mainstay of Evangelical Christians is the so-called ‘Book of Revelation’ purported to have been written by John the Devine, Jesus’ most intimate friend. This was certainly not written by someone living at the time of Jesus’ alleged ministry but over fifty years later. The actual author was one John of Patmos who was resident at the Roman lunatic colony located on the island of Patmos. This particular work is beloved of Evangelicals because it is so muddled, obscure and bizarre that any meaning can, and is, attributed to it.

I refer the reader to “Foundations of Christianity” by Karl Kautsky (a Jewish German early Communist and secretary to Engels)

The nationalistic Zionist movement does not have a great body of historical supportive material so, like the early Christians, they have simply invented it. These fictions include, but certainly are not limited to, “The Painted Bird” by Kosinski, (later admitted by its author to be an invented fraud before his suicide, ) and “Fragments” by “Binjimin Wilkomersky” ( A Swiss Protestant named Bruno Dossecker who was born in 1944) that is mostly copied from the Kosinski book and consists of ‘recovered memory,’ and of course the highly-propagandized favorite “Anne Frank Diary” which was proven, beyond a doubt, by the German BKA(Bundes Kriminal Amt, an official German forensic agency) as a forgery, made circa 1949 (ball point ink was used on paper made after 1948 and the handwriting completely different from the original Frank girl’s school papers still extant) All of these frauds have been, and still are,  considered as seminal truths by the Holocaust supporters and the discovery of fakery loudly denied by them, and questioners accused of being ‘Nazis.’  This closely parallels the same anger expressed by the Evangelicals when their stories about the Rapture or the Battle of Armageddon are questioned by anyone. Here, doubters are accused of being ‘Satanists’ and ‘Secular Humanists.’

I refer the reader to “The Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish academic and the son of genuine survivors of the German Concentration Camp system.

When confronted with period and very authentic evidence that the death toll among Jewish prisoners never approached even a million, or that there were no gas chambers in use at any prison camp, the standard, and badly flawed counter argument is that while the accuracy of the period German documents is not in question, as everyone knows that 6 millions of Jews perished, therefore the names are on so-called ‘secret lists.’

When asked where a researcher could view these documents (the actual German SS records, complete, are located in the Russian Central Archives in Moscow) the ludicrous response is that because these lists are secret, no one has ever seen them! This rationale does not even bear comment.

The Christians have their Passion of the Christ, which may or may not have happened, (it was in direct opposition to Roman law which governed Judea at the time,) and the Jews have their long agony of the Holocaust, which is an elaborate and fictional construction based on fragmentary facts. A Jewish supporter, Deborah Lipstadt ( a well-known academic) has said repeatedly that the word holocaust must be capitalized and can only be used to discuss the enormous suffering of the Jewish people. The huge genocidal programs practiced by the Turks against Armenian Christians in 1916 and the even larger massacres by Pol Pot in Southeast Asia may never be likened to the absolutely unique Jewish suffering, according to current Zionist-Holocaust Jewish dogma.

Both stress the suffering and death of their icons, in the former case, the leader of their cult, which initially consisted entirely of very poor Jews, and in the second, an entire people. Both sides have enormous public relations machinery in place which is used constantly to promulgate both faiths and both are hysterically opposed to any questioning or debate on any aspects of their faith.

The issues of suffering, death and prosecution are both used to fortify their positions in society and render it difficult for anyone to attack them. These issues are also used to gain political power (for the Evangelicals) and money (for the Zionist-Holocausters)

Both of these groups seek a high moral ground from which to attack any questioning of their faith and because many of the adherents to both beliefs are aware that their houses are based on sand, fight fiercely lest a storm arise, beat upon both houses and thereby cause a great fall (to be Biblical in expression.)

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 16, 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. 23

Date:  Monday, July 8, 1996

Commenced:  1:40 PM CST

Concluded:   1:55 PM CST

GD: Am I disturbing anything there? I hear conversations in the background.

RTC: My son was just leaving. See you later…yes, I will…sorry.

GD: I can call back later if you wish.

RTC: No, everyone has gone.  Anything new?

GD: Yes. Talking about the Swiss, I just discovered that the Swiss minister, Bruggmann, was a brother-in-law of Henry Wallace. Married his sister Mary. Anyway, old Henry used to tell Bruggmann everything he knew and the Swiss fellow sent long reports to Bern. Unfortunately, the Germans were listening in and knew all kinds of things. Did you know about this?

RTC: Yes, we did. We found it out later. Henry was somewhat left of center and in ’44, tried to nail down the nomination for President. The party told FDR that they would not hold still for that so Franklin, who had more or less supported Henry as Vice President, dumped him for Truman. I think everyone, including Roosevelt, knew he was not long for this world and the VP would be our next President. Henry had the full support of Stalin and, through him, the Communist labor movement here. We missed having a red flag over the Capitol by very little. Henry drifted into obscurity and then vanished off the stage.

GD: I found out the same thing. Roosevelt pretended to be a liberal just as Hitler pretended to be a revolutionary. Got more votes. Hitler was a conservative but he posed as a radical. Remember the blood purge in ’34. He got rid of the real revolutionaries then and went over to the side of the professional military and the banking houses.

RTC: If Roosevelt had put Wallace in, there would have been serious trouble, believe me. Henry would have had a car accident as I was told.

GD: That’s what usually happens. Or the heart attack. That’s not as messy and much easier to arrange, isn’t it?

RTC: Yes, generally.

GD: Stalin said it was easy to plan a murder but a suicide was more difficult.

RTC: I recall that after Roosevelt passed to Valhalla with his stamp albums, there was a reaction to all his Commie friends and you recall the savage persecutions, don’t you?

GD: I was younger then but I recall McCarthy and the rest of it.

RTC: The Catholic church was behind him. Your friend Müller was also involved there. They did clean house of the lefties all right.

GD: I suppose in the process, they ruined quite a few perfectly innocent people.

RTC: Talleyrand said that you couldn’t make an omelet without the breaking of eggs.

GD: The innocent always suffer, Robert. That’s what they’re there for. By the way, I was reading about the surge of AIDS in Africa. What a tragedy. Once the evil white colonists were kicked out, taking all the skilled technicians with them, the gloriously freed natives surged forward. Of course all the countries there are falling apart. I suppose in a few years, spears will be back in fashion and at some meeting of the heads of state, one of them arrives late and asks another if he missed much and was told that everyone’s eaten.

RTC: Gregory…

GD: And did you hear the one about Desmond Tutu passing his brother in the forest?

RTC: Now that’s actually funny.

GD: Yes, the evil masters leave and the countries descend into poverty and are all infected with AIDS. In America, we all know that AIDS is the exclusive property of the homosexual and drug communities and since the average African makes about five dollars a month and can’t afford a box of Aspirin, I think they must all be gay. Instead of enlightened ethnic freedom, we have mass buggery and protracted death.

RTC: Well, Africa is very rich in natural resources. If we all wait long enough, the indigenous population will all die off and the rest of us will have free pickings.

GD:  A rational observation, Robert. Unkind but rational. I get so tired of people who reject reality and bleat like sheep. Why? Reality terrifies them and bleating along with other sheep makes them feel mighty and meaningful.

RTC: You speak ill of sheep, Gregory. You are not a sheep, are you?

GD: No, I am a wolf. I eat sheep on a regular basis. I am a civilized wolf, however, and prefer them roasted with mint sauce and new potatoes.

RTC: I seem to have heard that you have lived by your wits and the money of other people.

GD: Robert, surely you realize that a fool and his money are soon parted?

RTC: Yes, so it would seem.

GD: I do love the crooked rich. They’re the easiest to prey on. I recall once when a friend of mine became enamored of the sculpting of Frederic Remington. He was a sculptor and made a small bust of an Indian warrior. I suggested he sign the wax with Remington’s signature and then put in the name of the Roman Bronze people. Then I took the finished product up to Butterfield and Butterfield in ‘Frisco and the greedy Bernie Osher bought it from me for a lot of money. Now, mark you, Robert, I never told Bernie that it was original. In fact, I told him I knew nothing about it and got it from my Grandmother’s attic after she died. The dumb schmuck actually signed the receipt ‘As Is.’ Which speaks for itself of course. Then he tried to sue me and lost. Lots of very bad publicity for him. In the meantime, Bernie and his co-religionists resold the same piece to a sucker in New York as genuine. And they sued me! I beat them.

RTC: How much did you get out of that?

GD: All together?

RTC: Yes. All together.

GD: Fifty thousand.

RTC: My, my, Gregory how comforting.

GD: No, beating old Bernie in court was comforting.

GD: How much did your lawyer get?

GD: I was in pro per. I was my own lawyer. I could easily pass any bar exam, Robert, but I never bother to inform people of that when contracting with them. I always get the long end of the stick and they get the squishy shit on the other end.

RTC: You set them up, don’t you?

GD: Always and they always assume I am a fool.

RTC: No, you are not. A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

GD: Very often, Robert.

(Concluded at 1:55 PM 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

Randy Sharp

We have dealt with the American Family Association (AFA) numerous times before. It is a reactionary, wingnut fundamentalist group, appropriately classified as a hate group by the SPLC. The AFA is ostensibly promoting family values but is currently best known for attempting to make homosexuality illegal.

Randy Sharp has for a long time been AFA’s Director of Special projects, and has thus managed many of the AFA’s numerous boycotts, such as the boycott of Home Depot (the campaign was ridiculous and unsuccessful, so the AFA declared victory and went home), and the attempt to urge parents to boycott the Boy Scouts – allowing gay boy scouts is “a very dangerous and unhealthy thing”, and lifting the ban on gay troop leaders would present a “clear and present danger” to boys, said Sharp. Other targets have included Walt Disney CO, McDonalds, Ford (the AFA claimed “success” in every case) and Planet Fitness. Back in 2006, Sharp and the AFA encouraged fans to register their dissatisfaction with Wal-Mart after Sharp had done some research on the Wal-Mart website only to discover that Wal-Mart actually sells books and videos that gay people might read (in particular, Wal-Mart was “pushing an agenda” by selling DVDs of “Brokeback Mountain”, which according to Sharp “wasn’t even a blockbuster movie”). To make things even worse, Wal-Mart was considering same-sex “partner” benefits, thus demonstrating that they had “moved from neutrality to actively promoting the homosexual lifestyle” – gays and lesbians don’t deserve health care! And in 2008 the AFA issued an “Action Alert” calling for members to protest the Campbell Soup Company after they had purchased ads in an LGBT magazine; according to the AFA, Campbell’s “sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support”; “when you specifically target a homosexual magazine, then your company is basically endorsing these activities; you’re endorsing the lifestyle,” explained Sharp, suggesting a poor grasp of the word “endorse”.

There are other distinctions Sharp and the AFA struggle with as well. The AFA is deeply critical of the “Day of Silence,” an event sponsored by GLSEN, saying that public school children should not be subjected to such “pro-homosexual rhetoric”. (Of course, since the Day of Silence is protesting prejudice, bigotry and, in particular bullying and abuse, aimed at homosexuals, saying that it constitutes “pro-homosexual” rhetoric only makes sense if you think that such bullying is okay.) Sharp encouraged parents and concerned citizens to take action: they should “write their school administrator and tell them they oppose the administration giving free rein to homosexual activist groups,” and that “if your school is participating in the ‘Day of Silence,’ that you simply keep your child home from school that day.” Of course, schools do not participate in the event; it is students at schools that organize it; the administration isn’t part of it. Truth, accuracy and basic distinctions don’t matter much to people like Sharp, however.

In 2005, Sharp managed to discern Walgreens’sreal agenda behind sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago: “homosexual encounters will take place in the thousands”, resulting in large numbers of new HIV patients; “Walgreens must be salivating at the prospect of new customers this will create,” said Sharp.

It isn’t just gay people that tick off Sharp and the AFA, however. In 2006, they launched a campaign against Sam’s Club over their use of the word “holidays” in some places where they could have used “Christmas” in their catalogue. The AFA has launched similar campaigs against e.g. Gap and RadioShack, and apparently maintains a “Naughty or Nice” list of retailers.

And according to Sharp, when political opponents give money to candidates, just like they do themselves, the AFA considers it a breach of ethics.

Diagnosis: Dull, obtuse and bigoted. Though they are slowly losing the culture wars on more or less every front, one shouldn’t forget that the AFA – and thus also Sharp – remains an influential force of evil, and they are still able to do plenty of harm.

Trace & Beth Embry

After a series of major figures (Drake to Egnor) we’re currently doing a number of less distinguished miscreants of the looniverse. Less distinguished does not mean less deranged, just that the impact they have occurs at a slightly more local level.

Trace and Beth Embry are, at least, utterly insane. They run what is known as “Shepherds Hill Farm”, which is a “wilderness therapy program”. That is, it is a behavior modification facility marketed as a Christian Boarding School. Here parents, for the modest sum of $58,900, can sign over parental guardianship for their troublesome young (sinners who quarrel with them, fail to honor Jesus appropriately, has some sort of behavioral condition the Embrys don’t recognize as anything but the devil’s work, and so on). Here the kids live without electricity or contact with the world in the forest and are repeatedly told that they are despicable sinners who will burn if they don’t change their sinful ways and that their parents are equally horrible people who have failed them (Trace and Beth are now their parents). The schooling is strictly Christian – science classes are adamant that evolution is a Satanic lie and primarily rely on Kent Hovind’s writings (an emphasis on very careful explanations of the abominable nature of homosexuality). Apart from that, school for the most part consists of reading from the Bible..

. Of course, the Embrys have absolutely no clue about mental health issues – which is what they appear to claim to deal with at the camp.

On Trace’s own website you can among other things download podcasts explaining the relationship between depression, ATD, modesty, sin and the Bible. Or there’s also this site featuring Trace and one Walt Reed, who must also be indicted as a complete loon.

Diagnosis: Vile, deranged, and insane Jeebus-nazis. They may mean well, but their evil through ignorance is overwhelming (and, heck, their greed suggests that they may not be having the best of intentions either). These people are truly dangerous and would, if reason and moral considerations reigned, have taken down business a long, long time ago.

John Edward

John Edward is an alleged mentalist who tricks, consciously or not, people into thinking he is talking to the dead, and is most famous for tricking money out of desperate people by offering them to communicate with the spirits of his audience members’ deceased relatives.

To appear convincing, the John Edward shows are heavily edited and uses plants (people in on the deal placed at random in the audience; their job is to speak to the audience members whose relatives Edward is supposed to communicate with then relay that information to Edward – see here, and here). Chances are, in other words, that he’s a fraud, but since he might still believe that he has some sort of supernatural powers, and I think his inclusion in our encyclopedia is justifiable.

His technique (apart from the obvious cheats) is mostly cold reading.

It seems that he is able to fool Sean Hannity, but I don’t think convincing Hannity is evidence that there is something worth considering in your claims. He has actually been considered one of the five greatest psychic frauds of all time (entering right after Sylvia Browne). Apparently Oprah likes him as well (which does to your credibility approximately what “endorsed by the Discovery Institute” would do).

Diagnosis: Might be a fraud, but likely believes in the stuff he is doing. In that case he would have to have utterly succumbed to confirmation bias – but he has displayed no affinity for critical thinking anyway. Must be considered vile for his ability to pressure money out of people in difficult situations. Seems to be relatively popular, although the efforts of people like James Randi and Derren Brown have helped make people like Edward seem like the fringe loons they are.

 

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