Scientology Daily Digest: November 6, 2013

Editor’s Note: More hassles today; the longer article I had hoped to get out today will appear tomorrow.

Thanks to “AegerPrimo” for our first tour through ESMB and WWP threads.

As I’ve said before, this is a work in progress; I welcome suggestions on how to make it better. And if you’re willing to help out by taking on compiling parts of this (particularly ESMB, WWP and other forum sites) on a regular basis (perhaps signing up for one day a week), please be ready to jump in.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Today’s post covered three topics:

  • Various Michigan Narconon facilities under the banner of Per Wickstrom, in a development that should surprise exactly nobody familiar with the hijinks at Narconon Georgia, may be involved in insurance fraud, from a patient whose insurance was billed $200,000 without his knowledge.
  • Angry Gay Pope got arrested for protesting at Pac Base and is charged with stalking of a Sea Org member who had a now-expired restraining order against AGP.  Apparently, AGP will be spending the night as a guest of the authorities, until an arraignment to fight the $150,000 bail and felony charge, which sounds like it may well be over-charging, given that Tony reports the LAPD decided not to charge him with a crime after viewing his camera footage of the event.
  • A picture from the Million Mask March in London last night shows comedian Russell Brand standing next to well-known ex Samantha Domingo.  No word on who got whose autograph.

Key comments for the day:

  • Former Narconon Arrowhead President Lucas Cattona commented that insurance fraud could blow the whole Narconon thing up; I and several others had previously thought so, but it’s nice that an insider confirms it.
  • “Once_Born” suggested that a massive wave of lawsuits from Narconon could be impossible for the cult to handle.  I expanded on this to say that Miscavige can’t scale — the Anon 2008 protest was a “scale” attack, with perhaps 10,000 protestors appearing outside a substantial percentage of cult facilities; Miscavige remains traumatized by that.  “Anonymous” observes correctly that this was the cult’s strategy against the IRS that drove the 1993 exemption agreement: so many lawsuits in different jurisdictions that the IRS could eat up their entire litigation budget fighting them all. The thread is visible by clicking here and scrolling up.
  • Luke Catton also points out that the cult is trying to re-brand some of these facilities to escape from under the Narconon cloud, but he believes it’s not likely to succeed.
  • Also, Catton’s financial data on Narconon contribution to the cult jives nicely with estimates we’d been carring in our spreadsheet but not yet published; nice to have validation from an expert without having to slice up all those boring IRS Form 990s.
  • Still_On_Your_Side poetically compares David Miscavige to Norma Desmond, the aging diva from Sunset Boulevard.
  • OTVIIIisGrrr8! explains how everyone has some serious M/Us when it comes to the idea that Narconon would engage in something as distasteful-sounding as insurance fraud.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Mike’s first post highlighted the crazy coming from David Wilson, a Kool-Aid drinking whale who sent out a “regging” letter with some extremely bad reimagining of a bit of dialog from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  To make it even worse, the “Clear California” logo from the top of the document features the figure of a knight who looks more than a little like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, not the sort of knight you want on a life-or-death quest for glory.
  • Mike’s second post relays a story about the management of the Johannesburg Ideal Org getting replaced after being recalled to Clearwater.  Click through to the underlying articles on a blog for SA-based Indie Scientologists.  The article says that a number of people with decades in the cult have recently been declared, and a new management team from the Sea Org has been sent in; more declarations are expected.  I would estimate based on a quick cut of the numbers that there are perhaps 400 Scientologists in SA, so this may be an example of implosions to come in other countries, and perhaps even in US cities.  Suddenly, the formerly sleepy cult scene in SA seems a lot more interesting, and the recently-launched backincomm blog appears to be a great source for what’s going with those still in the cult down there.

Marty Rathbun’s Blog

  • Radio silence now of seven days.  There has only been one other period in the last four months where Marty has been off the radar for this long.

ESMB & WWP

  • “Suspicious Scientology Deaths….MURDER?” is the name of a a TruTV segment published today that looks into the deaths of Lisa McPherson, Susan Meister, Flo Barnett (DM’s mother-in-law) and Quentin Hubbard. It also references Kyle Brennan and several other deaths at cult-related entities.  This ESMB thread has extensive commentary including several lengthy posts by Arnie Lerma.
  • There will be a 5-day “Flag Down” conference in Clearwater, FL, in May 2014. Activists are requesting funds to host a conference to expose abuses of the Co$. Scheduled speakers include; John Duignan, Nancy Many, Victoria Britton, Hana Eltringham Whitfield, Mark Plummer, Patty Moher, John McGhee, Jamie de Wolf, John Sweeney, Arnie Lerma, Karen Pressley. This thread is running at ESMB and WWP.
  • WWP highlights (perhaps “lowlights” would be a better word) an interesting thread that showed one of the hazards of the “clay demo” part of Study Tech. NSFW unless you are one of the pigs who work on the trading desk in Global Capitalism HQ.
  • Some discussion on ESMB on whether Marty is completely dissociating himself from Scientology as a result of his “slavery” article a week ago.
  • Apparently, the city of Clearwater just approved construction of a new aquarium on a site next to Flag, which the cult opposes.  Guess there will be a whole new range of freaky alien life forms from the world’s oceans on display in downtown Clearwater.

“Scientology” on Google News

  • The Tampa Bay Times is back with an update on the plans for the big events in Clearwater. Sounds like the city is toughening up on the cult. According to the TBT, “City Manager Bill Horne said the city won’t begin reviewing the new IAS permit request until the church complies with conditions the city is placing on arrangements for another celebration: the grand opening of Scientology’s new Flag Building and related events, scheduled to begin Nov. 15.”

 

  • sugarplumfairy

    Flo Barnett.. 3 shots to the chest and one shot to the head with a rifle.. That is one impressive suicide..

    • OrangySky

      Flo Barnett’s death stinks to high heaven.
      The only thing that makes “suicide” more believable to me is…she had David Miscavige for a son-in-law.

  • AsthmaticDwarf

    Nice, John P. Like the way the site is developing. Rock on, brother !

  • Missionary Kid

    Snark. Are any of the “…new range of freaky alien life forms from the world’s oceans on display in downtown Clearwater” going to be thetans? Can they swim?

    • John P.

      I don’t know how well the sharks moving into the neighborhood are going to do when they come up against the scary, more established predators. Here is what I imagine your average Scientology “reg” on patrol to look like:

      • Missionary Kid

        I wrote this over 50 years ago.

        In the sea of sharks and little fishes
        Ultimately,
        It’s the little fishes who determine
        How many sharks there are.

        One of the things that will speed the collapse of Co$ is that as there are more defections of ordinary $cientologists, staff, and sea org members. That means there will be fewer sources of cheap labor not only to do the organizational work, but to maintain the orgs.

        Trying to make orgs ideal puts an additional strain on any workforce left.

        The amount of money collected from the plankton (sea org) and little fishes (most public) may pale in comparison with the whales (large donors), but they have been a source of cheap labor. When that labor source starts to dry up, either costs are going to skyrocket, or orgs will be closing even faster.

        Think of it this way: once a facility is built and staffed, Co$ has a history of making the staff that work there responsible for not only bringing in more bodies and donations, but all the other tasks, like doing janitorial work and maintenance. This has kept costs down, but it also has led to the deterioration of facilities.

        The whole push to make orgs “ideal,” with more square footage, can also only drive costs up for the new “ideal” orgs once they’re opened. Since the {parishioners} have already been regged to death to get the org to that status, little or no money will be left to keep it going. The pressure on the few remaining {parishioners} for money will be tremendous.

        IMO, there will be more defections, suicides, and, I hope not, some disaffected clam going postal.

        • tetloj

          I certainly feel that we have passed the tipping point but it still taking so dang long to topple.

          • Missionary Kid

            Remember that $cientology and Dave have always depended on illusion, and the illusion that they will try to maintain the hardest is that they are a vibrant, growing group because that one is necessary to keep the denizens of their unholy Oz in line. The whole group of events that
            are going to take place soon in Clearwater are being managed to give the illusion that each event is filled to capacity, and that there are stupendous, earth shaking events taking place all the time, and that everyone else is filled with enthusiasm.

            IMO, their problem is that the previous little Nuremberg Rally scale of events can’t be done because there are so few left. The troops are suffering from defections, scheduling problems, and donation fatigue and won’t be turning out at the rate they used to, so they are being held in the big tent instead of a place like a convention center or even a stadium so everything will look filled. The smaller tents are
            there to provide cover so us SPs won’t witness how few people there really are in attendance. They also provide a rat warren so that people won’t be able to see the big picture.

            My theory is that the tent was probably moved from England because they would have had a hard time being able to fill it with people there, so it was moved to the US, where there’s a lot more $cions.

            Remember that Co$ has a lot of experience in using illusion to hide the truth from the faithful, and they will never admit that numbers are falling. They still have any number of tricks up their sleeve, and money to back them up – for a while.

            The estimates are that the SP building is too big to be fully “manned” with fully trained staff. To give the illusion that it is filled, will they restrict the floor space that will be accessible to the attendees? Will they do this by telling the clams that “research” is being done behind the locked doors, or that only people who’ve completed the OT8 or other high level will have access to those areas?

            I believe that in the next several months we’ll get a better idea of the general “health” of the Clampire. They will, of course, as always, lie like hell about everything and try to hide the truth.

          • John P.

            it is still taking so dang long to topple.

            It always does. Nothing implodes on schedule, even if you call it right that it will implode. That is why analysis is a challenge. Even if you’re mostly right you can still be wrong in amazing ways. But that’s also part of the fun.

            Everybody in the West (political scientists, diplomats, economists, CIA) knew the Soviet Union was toast for at least a decade. But nobody predicted the date of the implosion accurately nor predicted the catalyst.

            On the Global Capitalism HQ front, I was one of the few who correctly predicted on the day that the iPhone was announced in January 2007 that BlackBerry was toast and that the stock would go to $0. I also called the catalyst — inability to extend the architecture of the operating system to be a real application platform. But I badly missed on the timing — I said 3-4 years, but here we are 7 years later and they are still limping along. It is still theoretically possible (though probably not) that new BlackBerry chairman John Chen, whom I admire greatly, will be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. And I also missed the move in the stock from $50 when I predicted this to over $140 a year and a half later before the death spiral began in earnest.

            So had clients followed my recommendation, they would have missed out on a huge opportunity to triple their money in a year before they did get an opportunity to avoid a 96% loss on their capital if they bought at the top.

          • tetloj

            Loved this comment on ESMB today (ILove2Lurk) on the SAfr staff leaving thread:

            “IMO, I can see reports of some staffs locking the doors at night and dropping the keys in the mail slots soon. Sorta leaving en masse, that is.”

            Still love my Blackberry Bold 9000

      • Missionary Kid

        I should add that additional pressure is placed on the staff at the orgs because they’re also responsible for paying for electricity, water, garbage collection, and other fees.

      • OrangySky

        Where’s MonkeyKnickers? She loves these creepy fish!

  • Sarah James

    I like your site John. I imagine it is a lot of work but worth the effort. Nice to have it condensed. I can see the forest through the trees or would that be the trees through the forest?

  • tetloj

    Came in to post ESM update and see Aegerprimo beat me!
    Would add this thread which is interesting
    http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33771-CULT-SOS-!!!
    Started out as an obsevation from HelluvaHoax that searches for Scientology on YouTube are only bringing up critical sites, not Scientology official sites. Some interesting observations about marketing (especially the tough jobs of a) marketing what no-one wants and b) trying to do effective PR when management constantly lie to you – JOhn P chimes in on this one. There is also a segue into the timing of Leah’s involvement in the Sweeney documentary – “Do I look crazy to you” celebrity interviews, which was not too long after Tom and Katie’s wedding and the “You don’t have the F*ing rank” comment from Tommy Davis. General comments about cientology vs the internet (spoiler alert: the internet won)

  • GlibWog

    Hi John.. I love that you have Disq Perfect.. I will be coming over.. Congrats. I see my friends are here.

    John.. I love your set up.. I like the Reader’s Digest version.. Good Luck. I’m not a Super Model.. but Baby Ronnie smoking his Kools will be showing up! xox Glibby

    • OrangySky

      You’re a super model to me, Glib.

      • GlibWog

        OMG am I glad that I came back.. Orrrrrrrangy… you could not be sweeter.. ( if you saw me in real life you would laugh along with me..) ha

      • Miss Tia

        She is!! She’s beautiful inside and out!! ♥

        • GlibWog

          Good Lord you guys.. blushing.. I’m NOT worthy..ha..

    • Miss Tia

      Yes, and Glibby, we’ll guard disqus here too won’t we? 😉

  • Dana Knight

    The Daily Summary is exceptional John. I love that I am spending half the time I use to, and am completely caught up on the cult in 30 minutes.

    • Miss Tia

      Yes! I am really enjoying this!!

  • B.B. Broeker

    David Wilson’s Julius Caesar reg piece is quite possibly the most counterproductive example of Scientology propaganda that I’ve ever seen.

    On one hand, he confronts the crushing sense of fear so many Scilons must have about being forced into bankruptcy. That’s a bold move, but one that I imagine the Church will begin to have to take more often in the future, as it becomes impossible to pretend that the dwindling remnant of faithful are being desperately overregged. The problem is that, after acknowledging the elephant in the room, Wilson goes on to invite the elephant to squash his guests. The Caesar parallel is so spectacularly ill-chosen as to seriously lead me to question whether Rinder was duped into posting a parody.

    But if that’s real…man. I don’t have words for the sheer idiocy and tone-deaf nature of the thing.

    • John P.

      If your ears aren’t scorched by “Thank You for Listening” and the rest of Hubbard’s musical oeuvre, and your fingers aren’t numbed by the sensations of the oiliness table, and your nose isn’t seared by the dank, rotting smell of pus from a ruptured sebaceous cyst and a major case of halitosis, then certainly will not have the literary sensibilities to see just how atrocious this attempt to rewrite Shakespeare is.

      It’s even worse than this attempt to rewrite Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Watch this starting at 1:06 then all the way through. Hard to beat this version, but Wilson manages to do so quite handily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqiUGjghlzU

    • Natasha Boris

      You do realize that most Scns have never actually read Shakespeare, right? Any under the age of say 35 probably barely have a high school education. The older ones have been in so long and haven’t read anything but Hubbard for so many decades they’ve forgotten everything else. Classical literature, history, geography, economics, science and advanced maths? Bwahahahaa!

  • Orglodyte

    Congratulations on your new blog! I have a sort of circuit I go through every morning, ESMB, Tony, Rinder … your digest is going to be really handy, thanks.

  • The various deaths do indeed appear suspicious, and there are dark mutterings when ex-members gather, but we critics should be wary of hearing what we suspected all along… That said, some of the know incidents (Susan Meister) are really difficult to see in any other light because of the behaviour of the criminal organisation known as the “church” of $cientology. With this much malice in plain evidence it becomes very hard to ascribe all of those deaths to mere incompetence.
    And I agree that the insurance fraud sounds like it could be a very real problem for the Co$. Good.

    • OrangySky

      This is a really, REALLY good sign that TruTV is not afraid to touch on this. I wasn’t clear on whether this was an episode for a show, or just a blog piece – but it is definitely a smaller, less powerful cable network willing to poke the hornet’s nest in a big way.

      VERY good sign. The stranglehold of fear that the cult had over the media is really lifting. The more elements of the media that join in the pile-on, the less recourse COB will have to fight back.

      Removing the teeth from the monster, one by one by one. Nice.

  • Penny

    Just read this. It’s going from bad to worse at this org. . http://possiblyhelpfuladvice.com/?p=15298 This is a great site for people that have recently left the church.

    • tetloj

      This leaking of real-time info from still-ins to the internet is fantastic. More holes in the dike.

    • John P.

      This is a great description of an org imploding. Best quote:

      We haven’t closed a person with an OCA evaluation in our org for over three years.

      The other great revelation is that they have only about 70 valid names in “CF” (Central Files, the list of people who maybe bought a book before who could be called as prospective customers). In other words, no prospects to “work” to sell them on stuff. I wonder how many file folders they maintain in the org on the pretense that they are all relevant.

  • Unex Skcus

    WTF is with the Clearwater council? Can’t understand why they won’t just say “You obey our regulations (re the signage), and then we’ll discuss closing Clearwater down.

  • Eivol Ekdal

    Wow – the Johannesburg eviction,18 OTs – Mostly VIIIs, from the Big Brother House had to come directly from the little tyrant. Could it be something as simple as not confirming your IAS Gala attendance?

    • John P.

      This is certainly an interesting development.

      Booking today to travel a week from today from JNB to NYC (couldn’t get a quote from Travelocity to TPA for some reason) is only about $1,200 though some flights involve a couple stopovers. That’s significantly less than I expected given the time frame. So expense is not massively greater than traveling from LAX to TPA.

      But I would guess there has to be something a little deeper. There are undoubtedly plenty of other orgs that aren’t sending enough people to these events, and we haven’t heard anything from them. It’ll be fun to watch the BackInComm blog and see what emerges over time. It’s a small, relatively isolated community of Scientologists there, so the truth almost certainly will out.

      • Eivol Ekdal

        Big cull! Must have been some dissension detected amongst the ranks.

      • GlibWog

        OK Now that price really shocks me JP.. I thought it would be $2,500 at the least.. Because of the dropping numbers and gross exaggeration of tiny boots inflated numbers..

        I’m expecting to see private events ” Small and intimate Soirees” For only those ” Special Elite ” ( Special Elite= Those that will attend! )

      • Eclipse-girl

        according to the april 2 post on Mike Rinder’s blog, most of the Corbetts had left the Idle (M)Orgue. I thought one of the daughters ( ? Tracy) had set up her own shop and was actually able to pay people living wages.

      • Lurkness

        Airfare to ZA has been relatively cheap of late and that is good for short notice. For your back of the envelope calculations, a big draw for events there is 800 people, but this includes audience stuffing with offers of free food. Event attendance discussed here : http://backincomm.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/under-new-management-but-will-they-come/#more-96

        • John P.

          I did see the BackInComm article. It’s interesting to see that there was some spike in attendance at events during some period way beyond what I think any reasonable estimate of the number of culties in the country would be.

    • GlibWog

      Ohhh Eivol.. I hadn’t thought of that.. OK NOW the plot thickens..

    • aegerprimo

      Woah… just another good example of the Co$ doing a nice job of destroying itself.

  • Natasha Boris

    I would like to add a correction/clarification on the Aquarium note: my understanding is that the vote does not guarantee the building of, only to now allow discussion and both sides presenting objections and solutions.

    • John P.

      Thanks for the clarification. These are always helpful to get a true understanding. One of the challenges in doing these Daily Digests is going fast enough to use time appropriately while managing the risk of missing something potentially material like this — now we know to watch for more lulz as the cult fights this in an attempt to buy the land at a discount if they can stymie the plans, further impoverishing downtown Clearwater.

      If you live in the area, might be fun to try to figure out if the guy who owns the land is hatching this plan as a way to increase the value of his land before ultimately selling it to the cult. I think with Sea World not too far away, and presumably with other interesting facilities nearby, the need for yet another aquarium in a suburb of Tampa might be stretching it a little bit.

      • Semper Phi

        My son and I visited the current incarnation of this aquarium while I was at Flag, and though there are other aquariums in the region, this one has a different mission that hopefully will give it a boost. It actively rescues sea creatures that are injured, rehabs and releases the ones it can, and provides a home for at least some that it cannot. That is why Winter ended up there. It’s a nice little aquarium in a refurbished sewage treatment plant at the moment, and I hope they can move up to better quarters. (Especially if it pisses off the cult.)

    • DeElizabethan

      It now allows the Aquarium to start collecting funds for the building. Now they have to really get to work in only a couple years time. As promoted this was one of the last chances, in our lifetime, the city had to take back the city ad to bring revenue and public. Frank Hibbard was mayor back when, and works for the Aquarium. He loves this city and wants to see change. Happily the people saw that by allowing them this chance. The opposition collected more than 40k to oppose. The Aquarium didn’t have fancy funds, but made it anyway through common sense of the voters. Now the hard part starts in gaining backers. I wish them luck.
      My vision is a very large hotel, where there is no height restriction, on top of the parking lot and land between the Oak Cove and the Marine Center.

  • Michael Leonard Tilse

    Thanks John P. This is a wonderful contribution!

  • N. Graham

    Hi John-

    With your permission I would like to post an article I did on cult apologists, focusing on a few items such as the Studies in Contemporary Religions series by Signature Books, the Scientology one in particular. I would like to use the article to introduce a discussion on how the perception of $cio has changed over the years and how media at first treaded lightly and how now there are some actual reporters writing the truth. It’s about 3 pages.

    • John P.

      No need to ask permission. I would be a fool to turn down well-reasoned interesting original work. In fact, while my ego would love it if this site were a vehicle with the sole purpose of showing off my staggering genius (:-), it will be a lot more fun for everyone to try and build a community dedicated to doing high-quality original work. Obviously, encouraging others to submit their own thoughtful research work would be the foundation of that sort of site. Over time, as readership grows, it will enable high quality work to attract more attention if it appears in articles rather than in comments.

      Why don’t you e-mail me what you’ve got and we’ll figure out the best way to give it an audience? johnpcapitalist at (“gee male”).