Scientology Daily Digest: December 1, 2013

We return to action following a Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Fortunately, the news from the world of Scientology watching was fairly light and fluffy, and easily digestible, unlike the gluttonous feast most of us in the US consumed.

Chez moi, the supermodels behaved themselves, and the fights that broke out at some of the emporia where the rural riff-raff shop (the camouflage fishing tackle department at the local Wal-Mart) were not in evidence at the Vera Wang dress shop at Bergdorf’s or the Christian Louboutin shoe shop on upper Madison Avenue.  Whatever the supermodels did, it didn’t involve my credit cards and the drama quotient was low when Supermodel #1 and I returned from our vacation to my parental units’ waterfront estate.

The other major American holiday of “Black Friday,” an ode to materialism the way that Thanksgiving was an ode to gluttony, appeared to be pretty solid.  We’ll be interested to see who has a take on how the various retailers fared on the biggest shopping day of the year.  Our biggest find: we checked with some sources in the retail electronics business and it appears that Apple may have underestimated demand, since a number of outlets we checked with were out of various iPads.  Retailers seemed to have fewer units in stock than they wanted.  But it appears that the folks at Samsung were anticipating this, as the stores we talked to had plenty of Samsung tablets in stock, and many frustrated consumers who walked in looking for an Apple product left with a Samsung unit instead.  There are no Sony Playstation 4’s to be found anywhere, and lots of begging and whining from parents desperate to get one.

In Scientology news, more photos ratchet around Teh Intertubes from the IAS event, including a bunch posted on Tony’s blog.  Mike Rinder captures the incredible gulf between the breathless hype around Golden Age of Dreck 2 launch and the reality of what’s been happening inside the cult, contrasting people saying it’s the biggest thing since Dianetics versus stats giving a peek at the plummeting membership roster.

The best Orwellian disclaimer comes from the bottom of a cult flyer from the land Down Under, where it says “Joining Scientology staff is a religious commitment and all activities are entirely voluntary. Scientology is a religious philosophy and offers total freedom.”  The fact that they feel compelled to append this disclaimer actually calls negative attention to their cause, especially since the ad had absolutely nothing to do with being on staff.  It reminds me of a Karin Pouw statement about the RPF which stresses its entirely voluntary nature.

Also, don’t miss Mike Rinder & Mike Bennitt’s aerial stunt at the IAS event, having a plane tow a banner asking “Where is Shelly Miscavige?”  Fun, but not quite as epic as the helicopter over the Super Power building opening.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Sunday’s story featured the usual Sunday Funnies.  As always, there’s something to laugh at.  I still can’t quite help feeling that the staff is so stressed that the creativity level has been on a bit of a slide lately.  A lot of the Photoshop gurus on Tony’s site are turning out higher quality art in less time than the cult’s marketing department can generate with a lot more effort.  In particular, they’re reaching down even deeper to get the Hubbard quotes than they have in the past, and they’re coming up with ever more inane stuff.

The bigger news was the IAS event held Saturday night in the big tent in Clearwater.  The best comment ever on Tony’s blog, both in one-liner puckishness and especially when considered against the backdrop of the author, is Paulette Cooper’s comment with a suggestion for a slightly different banner that could have been flown over the event by Rinder & Bennitt.  I did love the picture of the knight on the horse.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • A great data point: Mike takes apart some breathless assertions of success in Pasadena, where they have had one Golden Age of Knowledge completion in six years, and walks through the numbers to estimate the Pasadena public at about 300, no more than 500, in the greatest concentration of Scientologists on Earth (Glendale, next door to Pasadena, is home to tons of Scientologist-owned businesses).  That’s got to be embarrassing.
  • Further evidence that grammatical standards inside the cult are plummeting: Mike happened on a fund-raising letter which says that “The next MASSIVE, ULTRA MAJOR BOMBASTIC blow against psychiatry to date is being released at the [IAS] event.”  Someone needs to word clear “bombastic.”
  • An article dredging up an old e-mail about the expansion of the Seattle Ideal Org gives a real insight into Hubbard-style management insanity as practiced by Miscavige.  Apparently the reason that the Ideal Org strategy is failing is that the cult is not doing enough of it.  If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” what is the word beyond insanity when you do more of something that doesn’t work and expect success?

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

Aeger Primo comes through once again with summaries of interesting discussion threads.  Thanks!

  • Two threads about the Ideal Org in Taiwan opening on December 7th at ESMB and WWP.  News is that the COB himself will be there for the opening ceremony.  If true, that’s pretty remarkable, because DM is rumored to be chartering a Boeing Business Jet these days. Those charter for about $15,000 per hour wet, which means that round trip airfare from Hemet to Taipei is over $400,000.  That’s probably more than the total revenue of the Kaohsiung Ideal Org over the next two to three years.  Wonder if Dave is billing them back the cost of the jet charter or if he’s paying that out of Int Management’s budget.
  • An interesting indie group called the “True Source Scientology Foundation” is apparently making Scientology material available in a central location over the internet. ESMB is discussing what that might mean in terms of legal action by the cult.
  • Narconon Arrowhead is apparently offering voluntary Bible study as part of its treatment program. It’s just another ploy to stay under the radar.
  • Bruce Wiseman, former president of CCHR (Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights) is apparently hiding cash for the cult in the Cayman Islands. Does this thread confirm it because of a change in Cayman law?


  • Natasha Boris

    It may not be a data point, but it illustrates how far biggidy-wigs in Scn will go for PR: Bruce and his wife used to host fundraising galas and parties at their house in the hills. Except it wasn’t his house, he was the caretaker and lived in the caretaker’s cottage. This wasn’t widely known, as they would use the main house for all of their functions as if it were their own. I don’t recall if the homeowner was a Scn or not. I do remember when I first found out, having to drop something off to him back in the early 90’s, asking if it wasn’t a little deceitful. All of his money at that time was only what he and Burke were making through Wiseman & Burke, their financial management company in Glendale. Most of their clients were Scn’s, so they also got paid a nice chunk of change in commissions when they got their clients to donate.

    • John P.

      Is Wiseman & Burke the company where Bodhi Elfman is a silent partner? Can’t recall.

      Thanks for yet another data point on the consistent low-level bad behavior of Scientologists, inflating their credentials and ripping off other Scientologists. Scientology: where you can get the veneer of success, not actual success itself…

      • Natasha Boris

        Bodhi wasn’t a partner when I had involvement. He may have become one later. I know that W&B was heavily involved in the Reed Slatkin debacle and have their own hinky history. Here’s a fun one from 2011:

        • John P.

          Thanks. That’s a great catch on the dox of Wiseman’s shenanigans. I’m surprised the SEC didn’t also go after him. They take a much dimmer view of people calling themselves “financial advisors” or “investment advisors” without the proper registration. And they do usually act on such things because those are open-and-shut cases to win; not a lot you can do to defend against.

      • media_lush

        I did quite a bit of research on this a year or so ago and posted my findings on VV blog comments…. I had to joinn up with to get the info on Wiseman & Burke … unusually they seemed to think I was an employee. Anyway I did find out that Bohdi Elfman was, indeed, the silent partner of a whole bunch of companies – the vast majority of which seemed to be small non commercial rental cartels based in Clearwater and it’s surrounds. These were reasonably high end properties in small condos so I’m sure they were nothing to do with scientology members. The impression I got was that Elfman was the “hidden” landlord of them.

    • Exterrier

      Wasn’t Wiseman’s daughter one of the original founders of the ESK website, as well? And she maybe was talked or coerced into returning in some manner to the cult? Geesh, that was not his mansion? I attended something there once. This keeps getting worse. All of them are desperate people, it seems.

      • Natasha Boris

        That’d be Kendra, right? I believe so, yes.

        No, it was definitely NOT his mansion. The caretaker cottage was tucked back at the end of the property, lots of trees around it and very hard to see/find. That was their actual home.

  • ThetaBara

    Thanks so much for doing this, JohnP. It’s really valuable.
    I especially appreciate you and Aeger Primo keeping an eye on ESMB and OCMB. I can only read so much of them (and Marty) before my brains start running out of my ears.

    • aegerprimo

      Oh my… wouldn’t want anyone’s brains running out of their ears!
      Thank you ThetaB – means a lot coming from you. It is an honor to be able to help contribute a small piece to John P’s informative blog.

  • Missionary Kid

    If Davy deigns to take a smaller jet, like a Gulfstream, the cost is around $5K an hour, I’m assuming wet. That would still come out to be about $150K. Business class, from Tampa to Taiwan on Delta, $3,500 per person. Of course, that’s probably beneath him.

    • John P.

      I used to assume Dave was usually riding in something like a G500 or higher, which is as you suggest. You’d need to refuel a G500 somewhere on the trip from LA to Taipei (Alaska? Japan?). Some models of BBJ can make it LAX-SYD nonstop, because they have the supercritical wing of the 737-800 series (a little slower at Mach 0.85 versus 0.90 or 0.91, IIRC) and either come standard with or can be ordered with extra center tanks. I think Davey’s ego has gotten the better of him, since a lot of the BBJ’s have palatial bedroom suites including showers, exercise bikes, and all sorts of other crap. You can’t do that on any Gulfstream.

      Re B-class, I’ve done long trips like that in B-class and they’re still pretty tough versus a fully flat bed with a real mattress. And don’t forget that Davey travels with an entourage that includes mutliple chefs, hair stylist, make up artist, massage therapist, possibly a personal trainer, plus Danny Sherman, Lou Stuckenbrock, and a few others. So you’d be ordering a couple first class tickets and a bunch of B-class tickets for the crew. Even first class for everyone wouldn’t be enough to justify a BBJ and possibly not even a G600 on purely economic terms, however.

      • Missionary Kid

        The range for the BBJ is listed at (rough search) 11,100 miles, but that’s heading west, so there’s sure to be headwinds. I took the distance from Tampa to Taipei, which is approx 10K miles.
        From LAX to Taipei it’s about 6800smiles. Again, that’s running against the jetstream.

        I’m wondering if they’re going to do a layover. There could be a standby charge, too.

        If they’re leaving from Hemet, they could probably leave from San Bernardino International, if they want to make it a direct flight.

      • OrangySky

        Davey would NEVER travel commercial, not even first class on the finest airline first class (like Singapore, which offers “suites” on their overseas first class, or Emirates, which has private shower stalls). He is paranoid and terrified of the Wog public, unless surrounded by bodyguards and bulletproof whatevers. I would hate to be this guy. He’s so removed from the world, he can’t go anywhere – more isolated and protected than celebs like his buddy Tom Cruise.

      • Natasha Boris

        Given how financially strapped and genuinely hardworking most of the Scn’s I know are, this might be an interesting area to make more widely known. I know a LOT of people still in that would question Dear Leader’s spending $400k on a plane flight, when they are struggling to pay for food for the week. If nothing else it would create a cognitive dissonance, bringing home the disparity in lifestyles. Make a few people wonder “what ELSE does my money pay for?”

        • John P.

          That’s exactly why I want to bring this stuff to light. A credible estimate of the revenue of the cult plus estimates of what DM spends on his life style ought to be an interesting revelation to most people. I can easily get to $2 million or more in jet charter expenses annually for DM if he usually uses the Boeing Business Jet, just from adding up the distances to the Ideal Orgs that he does. That doesn’t even include the trips to the Freewinds for his personal scuba diving vacations, or other unannounced trips to Flag, etc.

          It is entirely possible to believe that DM’s lifestyle-related expenses are $5 million to $10 million per year, which is a lot coming out of total revenue that might look like $200 million per year. Having a credible analysis of this out there would certainly get the attention of some struggling mid-level donors who have to pay the second mortgage on their house every month. I am beginning to develop some contacts among the under-the-radar crowd, so analysis like that could spread. You have friends who are still in, so if we do the work here, you could be a great conduit to do exactly what you’re suggesting.

  • aquaclara

    In trying to assess just how many people may have attended the Big IAS Tent Event, I will throw out some observations for everyone to add to. I believe the numbers were less than the figures observed attending the opening of Superpower, given that no street closures other than Garden Street were requested or needed, that again, the parking decks were observed to be quiet/empty or somewhat empty, and the entry to the Fort Harrison was shown in one photo as quiet on Friday. Too, the afterparty with the Jive Aces was shown as taking place poolside, likely the back of the Fort Harrison Hotel, a space not designed to hold thousands of people.
    I wonder how many public booking rooms/paying for food, etc would it take to consider this a financial success or at the very least, break even?

    • Echo_Effect

      The only known factor in determining the possible crowd size, is the size of the tent itself. Everyone present, apparently made it inside.

      From pictures, it would appear 40% of the tent area was used for the stage & back stage areas. Within the 60% remaining space, you also have to subtract square footage for a main entry area, aisles, & audio/video areas, etc. I made those subtractions using my memory of how some big venues were laid out. I then used some free website seat planning calculators to determine capacity. Like everyone else, I came up with 6500 seats maximum & 4500 seats comfortably.

      Of course the best reason to use the tent, has always been the seating flexibility. By things as simple as adding an aisle, making an aisle wider, putting 6″ between the sides of seats, etc., many seats can be eliminated. The tent venue could of easily been configured to seat 3000 people & look full.

      • Natasha Boris

        Knowing how accurately Scn’s can count *coughcough* I had friends who attended tell me there were about 6,000.

        • Eclipse-girl

          i would cut that by half, at a minimum. perhaps by 2/3

  • Echo_Effect

    JP, regarding Mike Rinder’s post on Pasadena; there is more there than meets the eye.

    The number of members determined, involved a fair amount of extrapolation. I’ll give Mr. Rinder’s analysis the benefit of the doubt, as he has far more knowledge of Org operations than anyone else.

    What I found far more interesting, was the hard list of completions for September & November. With a list of Fees for the various courses, you could get an idea of the revenue stream coming into the Org on a monthly basis for services rendered.

  • KJP in Portland

    I had a pretty good grip on Friday’s attendance numbers. I tagged it at 750-1250.

    I haven’t seen any pictures for Saturday yet. Did more people attend Saturday? I am keen on seeing a Saturday pic or two.

    • aegerprimo

      There are some pics from BlackRob for Friday AND Saturday IAS Events on this thread –

    • Free Minds, Free Hearts

      I know that quite a few orgs also had events the weekend before Thanksgiving to share the great news about GAT II – there was an event at Shriner Auditorium in LA, and also at the Sacramento Ideal org, and I am sure there were others such as NY. I think there were 15 people signed up in Sacramento for each night (11/23 and 11/24), possibly the same 15. Does anyone know about attendance at the Shriner event, or other events that weekend?

  • Missionary Kid

    The blurb that was originally released about Tom Cruise and Laura Prepon supposedly dating made sure to mention prominently that they had dined at a a $cilon restaurant. Of course, Tom’s people later came out and denied they were dating.

    Now, a friend of V4 Vacation got a random mailer advertising the Renaissance restaurant at the Manor hotel aka Celebrity Centre Hollywood.

    Could it be that they’re getting desperate for customers?

  • Scooter

    I believe that the situation numbers-wise is a lot more dire than anyone has said so far. I blogged on ESMB why I think the cult is coercing the Faithful into putting up copy/paste “Success Stories” on Facebook and Mike Rinder has also exposed their use of identical emails sent by different “OLs” (Opinion Leaders) – the cult has done this sort of campaign in the past to “handle” internal situations.
    That there are so few actually posting gushing praise on GAT II/SoopaPowa/McSavage is testament to how few “True Believers” are left. These people will (IMO)have all been mobilized by “Special Briefings” to post up their comments and back each other up in the gushing praise. They ARE all that is left of the public. They are doing this to get the “ARC-broken,” “disaffected” or “off-lines” publics back into the fold – fat chance of that.
    Just to illustrate with a fact on numbers – the last sciloon event I went to in Sydney was in early 2007. The official attendance figure I was given (by a senior SO exec there) was around 800. The number of paying customers I saw there (and I knew all of them by sight so I wouldn’t have missed any) was less than 100. The rest were all staff/SO from either Sydney or elsewhere.
    We moved to Melbourne soon after that and the most I ever saw at events there was 200 all up – I didn’t know everybody but the staff/public ratio seemed to be about the same.
    So a MAXIMUM of 500 paying customers at the SoopaPowa event and probably less at the IAS event is what I believe you are seeing. I personally see it as no more than 300 paying public at SP event, judging by the number of trainees/SO in the pictures I’ve seen. Whether McSavage Hisself has ordered the copy/paste campaign or one of His minions has come up with it is moot IMO.
    Which brings me to Taiwan – someone posted on ESMB that there were 1,000 attendees at the GAT II event there. Using the example of Sydney above, you would have maybe 150 paying customers and the rest staff/SO all trying to sell something to the 150. No business can survive long on that ratio, and the cult’s been dying quite nicely in the last several years. Given that Taiwan is probably the last bastion of Co$ that hasn’t yet ben hit with multiple mass defections, I just don’t see this doing anything for Slappy’s bank accounts. He won’t even be able to get enough “product” sold to pay for the fuel to travel there let alone anything else.

    • Natasha Boris

      The last event I attended at my local org was about a year and a half ago, maybe a little less. There were fewer than 100 people, 30-40% were staff and families. I knew almost all of them and I was one of the youngest there, excepting the kiddies (pre-20 year olds). And I ain’t no spring chicken.

  • OrangySky

    “DM is rumored to be chartering a Boeing Business Jet these days. Those
    charter for about $15,000 per hour wet, which means that round trip
    airfare from Hemet to Taipei is over $400,000. That’s probably more
    than the total revenue of the Kaohsiung Ideal Org over the next two to
    three years”

    ^^^And this is why John P is such an important addition to the Scientology-watcher universe. Stuff like this…breaking down exactly what all those regging dollars are going to pay for.

  • Sandy

    Well, John, this may not qualify for the 3 second rule. But, I thinks many of us are glad these holiday happenings are behind us, and we can all go back to our regular scheduled programs.

  • baalhazor

    Another glaring grammatical error can be found in the Mark VIII E-Meter flyer – “Order your’s now!”

    This lack of competent editing by the church seems to be a fairly recent phenomena. You don’t even need an editor to catch that; just run it through spell-check.

    • aegerprimo

      Yet another example of how Scientology “Study Tech” makes people illiterate.

    • 448Beacon

      Has there really been a huge uptick in Scilon typos? Enough to possibly signal attrition of experienced personnel and/or native English speakers? I imagine the GATII rollout was especially hard on their marketing people.

      • John P.

        I actually believe there is an uptick in typos. I think this is because they have decimated the central marketing staff at Int Base (where Jefferson Hawkins used to work) because Miscavige is so paranoid for his own security and safety. I believe the editing process is not as well run when people are in the fray at either their local orgs or either at Pac Base in Hollywood or at Flag. And there seems to be credible evidence that an increasing proportion of staff in the US are people who are non-native English speakers, typically from Eastern European countries or Latin America. I think both of these trends have become more significant in the last two years.

  • Free Minds, Free Hearts

    From Mike Rinders blog today —

    “I find the membership question interesting and have some opinions based on my four decades of experience with the CofS. My speculation is the ratio of committed members versus OPENLY independent or disaffected ex-members is 4:1. BUT, the ratio of under-the radar members and ex-members to committed members is 25:1. This is extrapolation from my own circle of friends, family and acquaintances.

    “There is an ENORMOUS underground of SINOs (Scientologists in Name Only) and ex-Scientologists who just don’t care anymore. They don’t care to protest, post, or criticize or they don’t go on course, get auditing, or donate to the causes. They’ve left Scientology behind, gone on with their lives and for the most part don’t give it any air-time. They know how to pick their way through the mine-field to keep important relationships going with the committed members in their lives.”