Category Archives: Daily Digest

Scientology Daily Digest: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Here’s the promised “science fiction double feature” since I couldn’t get a post out last night.

Most surprising news is that Devon Newman, former head of PR for Las Vegas Celebrity Centre, picked up in a bizarre plot with her roommate to kidnap and murder police, was allowed to cop a plea and walk out of court with a year probation.  See below for further details. This was entirely unexpected given the bail amounts involved and the statements of the police and the DA.  I still think her co-conspirator, a convicted pedophile with a long record, is not going to be so lucky.

Check out the rest of the “General Press” section as there are a number of interesting cult-related articles including an interview with PR powerhouse Pat Kingsley, who Tom Cruise fired in favor of his sister.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Today, Tony reported that Judge Whittemore will allow the Garcia’s to conduct discovery to look for bogus behavior in the diversity jurisdiction issue before the court in the Garcia case, given that the cult hid the fact that the two trusts involved were California based until it started losing. Apparently, the scope of discovery is fairly limited.  When I read it, the tone of the order makes it sound like Whittemore is not all that optimistic that the Garcia’s will succeed, but he’s just crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s properly.

The post also talks a bit about the UK high court ruling permitting Scientology to conduct marriage ceremonies, which is attracting plenty of press.  There’s a particularly lame BBC interview, where a tame reporter says nothing, though Marc Headley gets in some pretty good comments.

Selected comments: 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

Today, Mike found a couple of amusing bits of FAIL on the main Scientology web site. Minor details like the page where they promise to open a bunch of Idle Morgues by the end of 2013 — three weeks hence — after only opening four this year (versus 11 last year).  They’re gamely struggling to believe that they have a chance of getting Ideal Orgs done in Battle Creek, MI and New Haven, CT.

I can’t imagine why Battle Creek would be home for an org, given its metro area population of less than 140,000.  Incidentally, if we believe that there are 15,000 Scientologists out of a total US population of 310 million, then that implies that there ought to be a total of 6.6 Scientologists in the Battle Creek metro area.  That’s an opportunity to go straight up and vertical, baby!  Perhaps the Battle Creek org is a stealth strategy to penetrate the burgeoning metropolis of Kalamazoo, just 25 miles west on I-94.  With a population approximately double that of Battle Creek, Kalamazoo might be home to approximately 13 more Scientologists.

Mike also points out just how inept the cult’s Volunteer Minister response to the recent Philippines typhoon has been.  Apparently, the site for what Miscavige claims is the most effective disaster relief force in the world still has the same picture of four people at a photo opp, not the thousands of volunteers they try to suggest they have.

Yesterday’s post contains an utterly illiterate marketing piece by Sharron Webber, who, last I heard, was the #2 on the Freewinds.  Unlike so many of the young recruits, Webber is a native English speaker.  Perhaps the nicotine in six packs of unfiltered Kools a day are causing excessive cerebral vasoconstriction?  The thought that someone with such a low level of literacy is in charge of a complex piece of aging machinery which can, if ineptly operated, kill hundreds of people, is rather sobering.

Forum Sites

General News

  • The Raw Story, another site in the burgeoning Tony Ortega media empire, ran a breaking news story that Devon Newman, the former head of PR at the Las Vegas Celebrity Centre, pled guilty in the bizarre Sovereign Citizen police kidnapping/conspiracy that hit headlines in August.  She gets a year probation in return, though her sociopath roommate will probably get a bit different outcome at trial in March.  It will be interesting to see what the cult makes of this for internal PR — talking about how Tone 40 intention beats “wog” justice every time, or something.
  • suicide by defenestration at an office tower holding a number of Scientology-related businesses remains a bit of a mystery as the Clearwater PD has not released the identity of the victim.  The building is or was home to various cult front groups and WISE businesses, including a Narconon office.  It’s unclear whether the Narconon office is still in the building.  Some of the businesses are connected to the Feshbachs and at least one is apparently connected to cult PI Dave Lubow, who’s a figure in the Monique Rathbun suit.  ESMB and OCMB threads will presumably keep up with status updates.
  • Missionary Kid scored a nice find with an academic journal article on the Haifa (Israel) mission going independent.  I don’t know the researcher or the prestige level of the journal, but it’s interesting to note that this unique (in recent history, at least) secession from the corporate church is attracting attention in academic circles.
  • Pat Kingsley, the legendary PR maven who Tom Cruise famously fired in favor of his unskilled sister right before the Oprah couch-jumping incident started to crumble his reputation, checks in from retirement.  Towards the end of the article, she talks about her relationship with Cruise; while mostly diplomatic, she talks about how he started to get crazy about the cult before they parted ways.  After reading the whole profile, I’m impressed by Pat.
  • RadarOnline ran a story about forced labor in cult facilities, harvesting juicy bits from the declarations filed earlier this week in the Monique Rathbun case and putting them together, with yet another epic cult denial at the end.
  • The lead story in the latest issue of “Freedom” magazine begins “The excitement rolled across more than 10,000 Scientologists gathered in multiple large venues at the religion’s Flag Land Base in Clearwater on November 15, 2013…” This is one of the documents presented by the defendant’s attorneys as argument for not deposing Miscavige. It’s a cult-operated site so you should know that they’ll harvest your IP address.

Scientology Daily Digest: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perhaps the biggest news today is the Tampa Bay times story that some Clearwater businesses have seen sales plummet in the wake of the Super Power opening, as staff apparently don’t wander between buildings as much, and as the cafeteria in the basement is capturing money that used to go to them.  Way to relate to the community, Scientology! 

Also, Tony’s blog had more insights on how people react to the OT III level, Marty Rathbun posts a particularly provocative long quote from Hubbard on conducting intelligence operations against enemies, Mike Rinder mocks Mark VIII e-meter marketing, and the general press unloads on the cult.

Today’s post is worth a close read as there are some pretty funny discoveries of videos and news stories from around the world.

Thanks to a large number of tipsters and commenters who brought stories to my attention today!

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony’s regular Tuesday feature delves a little deeper into the “mysteries” of the OT III level as seen through the eyes of former staff Claire Headley and Bruce Hines; it also features a fun video from Karen de la Carriere and J. Swift on the Ideal Org scam.

My take: What’s really interesting is that both Bruce Hines and Claire Headley said that their first reaction was “what a load of crap!” but their training instantly took over and their devotion to Scientology didn’t waver much.  They both figured it was something they didn’t understand, and vowed to come back later and try and overcome their shortcomings that made them unable to comprehend the brilliance.  Here are two fairly intelligent people who were so indoctrinated by the cult that they were unable to pull free when the alarm bells were ringing loudly.  That’s a pretty powerful warning to others who think they’re somehow immune.

Also horrifying is Claire’s recollection of an accident on the base that left her with a badly broken foot and a broken shoulder, which nearly killed her. The cult wasn’t allowed to call 911 when Miscavige was actually on the base, perhaps because of his paranoia about his personal security.  Just appalling.

From a purely literary standpoint, Hubbard’s description of “Incident One” is probably the lamest bit of handwritten nonsense I’ve seen him pen.  When you read about the Big Bang, even dry physics texts make it sound pretty damned awe-inspiring. But here, Hubbard manages to take any element of wonder and mystery, the key elements of any origin story, out of it and make it sound like a back-of-the-napkin reminder of how to write something so pathetic by comparison that it would get laughed out of town.

Selected comments:

Mike Rinder’s Blog

Mike posts about the craziness of the sales campaigns to get the new Mark VIII super-duper new e-meter in people’s hands immediately.

Apparently, one new and unique feature of the high-pressure marketing campaign is awards for the staff.  The org that sells the most meters will apparently get a gift-wrapped swag basket of some indeterminate contents at some point in the future.  For reference, Harry and David, the long-time gourmet gift basket retailer, offers a $200 gift basket as its most expensive.  Split 30 ways (assuming 30 staff per org) would mean about $6 per employee, or a bonus of the better part of a week’s pay.  This stands as a monument to cult cheapness, a paltry reward to whoever brings in hundreds of thousands in profits.  Of course, such cheapness goes back to “Source,” as Hubbard offered a small plaque as a way of thanking anyone who brought in any of the biggest celebrities then alive in the cult’s first celebrity recruitment campaign.

Mike does the math and thinks this means that the cult really expects to have 7,500 members doing courses actively, assuming a production run of 20,000 units (they were made when he was “in” and have been sitting in a warehouse since then, so he may have a reasonably good idea of exactly how many there are), less 5,000 for orgs and field auditors, divided by two because of the requirement that everyone have two in case one fails.

Marty Rathbun’s Blog

Marty has posted a particularly telling Hubbard quote about intelligence operations and sliming enemies.  It’s a lot deeper than the oft-quoted one-liner justifying “Fair Game.”  To get the full effect of Hubbard’s paranoid viciousness in action, this is worth a read.  Secondarily, this might also serve as a quiet reminder to some of his readers that there is plenty of evidence to counter the view that “Hubbard always good, Miscavige always bad” that some Independent Scientologists espouse.  Incidentally, the full “Manual of Justice” that this quote is taken from appears at http://www.xenu.net/archive/go/man_just.htm.

In fact, the comments are worth reading on this one as they show a fairly diverse range of opinions on Hubbard’s pronouncements here.  The comments are definitely different from what I’d expect on this site or on Tony’s but there is not the lockstep agreement that some might expect.

Forum Sites (ESMB, OCMB, WWP)

Thanks yet again for Aeger Primo for her work monitoring the forum sites.

General News

  • The Tampa Bay Times reported this afternoon that some downtown Clearwater businesses are struggling now that staff are moving into the new Super Power building, and apparently have less time to get out to buy coffee or otherwise spend their meager salaries.  On the other hand, some hope that having all those culties out of the way will clean up downtown Clearwater’s image quicker and ultimately help business get back on track.  Apparently, some of the tourists find the Sea Org uniforms a bit intimidating.
  • The Tampa Bay Times also notes that the mayor of Clearwater sent a note congratulating Miscavige on the Super Power opening, though the article also mentions Mark Bunker’s excellent video about exactly why this is a bad thing for the city to do.
  • Sheriff Lee Baca may not have much time for gladhanding Scientologists, given the arrests of 18 officers and managers in the LA County jail system for a particularly heinous series of crimes.
  • “Enty,” the entertainment lawyer who posts at gossip site “Crazy Days and Nights,” thinks the Bauer Media attorneys could very well question Katie Holmes about whether Tom is Suri’s biological father, and if such questioning comes up, he speculates that Cruise could settle the Bauer suit quickly.  It looks like the Bauer folks have the momentum in the trial since Bert Fields’ clumsy attempt to tie Bauer’s German parent to some sort of Nazi behavior not only fell flat but earned him sanctions.
  • Apparently, “A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Christmas Pageant” is coming to a community theater in the San Diego area.  Since there are apparently almost zero Scientologists in the San Diego area (out of 3.2 million population), the cult will have to bus people down from LA to protest, sadly.

Scientology Daily Digest: Monday, December 9, 2013

David Miscavige and his advisors experiencing the disconnect between their view of how a psychiatric exam feels versus how most of us feel when we talk to a psychiatrist.  Fetch... the COMFY CHAIR!  And if that doesn't work, the CUSHIONS!

David Miscavige and his advisors experiencing the disconnect between their view of how a psychiatric exam feels versus how most of us feel when we talk to a psychiatrist. Fetch… the COMFY CHAIR! And if that doesn’t work, the CUSHIONS!

Two major news items today. First, both sides filed their trial schedule in the Laura DiCrescenzo case.  Of course, Laura’s side has a fairly straightforward schedule, but the cult has a byzantine process involving multiple mini-trials, with two weeks spent in the first such just arguing about First Amendment issues.  And of course, while Miscavige’s fingerprints are mostly absent from this document, he still managed to get into the text a demand that Laura be forced to undergo a psychiatric exam as part of the case.  It’s straight out of Monty Python.

The second major news item is the SP declaration of long-time staff member Ryan Hogarth from the South African branch of the cult, causing the African Scientology blog to speculate that the entire South African community could easily secede from the cult as the Haifa, Israel mission did.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony published the two vastly different proposed trial schedules from plaintiffs and defendants in the Laura DiCrescenzo case.  Laura’s attorneys propose a straight six week trial, while the cult proposes an avalanche of hearings, mini-trials, duplicative effort and other showboating that could easily approach four months in the courtroom, raising a pretty significant cost barrier to Laura.

My take: Usually, when you look through the cult’s legal filings, you don’t have to be a lawyer to spot the craziness that Miscavige has injected into the filing — inflammatory language, etc.  A relatively quick skim of the defendants’ filing shows a relative lack of crazy, which is worth thinking about.  Is Miscavige on vacation after the stress of the IAS event?  Is he distracted? Or is it just a relatively simple filing and not worth his putting his unique “imprimatur” on it?  About the only thing going on here that has any crazy is the proposal that Laura be ordered to undergo a psych evaluation, which to anyone who doesn’t believe in the cult, is kind of a joke.  Apparently, Miscavige is so isolated in his little bubble that he has no idea what an actual psych eval is like.  

Most telling is the proposal for a ten-day hearing on First Amendment issues. Recall that Judge Sohigian was completely upheld on the issue of “priest/penitent confession” laws in the first First Amendment issue raised by the cult.  As one of Tony’s legal team points out, the cult is essentially trying to argue that the “Church” can do whatever it wants to religious workers when it tries to claim that the Court can’t get in the middle of a religious dispute.  Of course, the logical extension of this is the belief that churches can sanction murder, rape, arson, fraud and all sorts of other violations when they come from sincerely held religious beliefs.  But there are plenty of crooked pastors (Jim Bakker, and many many more) who have done jail time for their crimes.

Selected comments: 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Mike’s post today reflected the South African Scientology blog post of how Ryan Hogarth, decades-long Scientologist and former Scientology South Africa President, got declared as the goon squad from Headquarters continues to bang heads together, apparently randomly. Mike observes that Ryan Hogarth was the first local staff person to be allowed to introduce His Imperial Amazingness at an event, instead of using the game show host-like tones of Jeff Pomerantz in a pre-recorded blurb, so great is Hogarth’s credibility among the locals.  Hogarth is a third-generation Scientologist (first one I’ve heard of) who was on staff, mostly in South Africa, for 25 years.  He headed DSA (the local equivalent of OSA) for much of that time, and served for a time as President, which he equates to a figurehead. There’s some great details on the fiasco of acquiring and renovating the Ideal Org building, and more on life in the cult in a far-flung outpost.  The post from Ryan Hogarth himself is relatively long but useful to read, as it details how the Internet brought him to his senses, when he discovered Marty Rathbun’s then-new blog. 
  • Mike’s post yesterday covers the craziness of Super Power marketing, giving yet another example from source documents of how the disconnect between the hype and the reality will accelerate the meltdown of the cult, with more people blowing.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

General Press

  • RadarOnline is picking up the Tom Cruise slave labor story all over again via the declarations of Jon Brousseau, Marc Headley and others that were filed last week in the Mosey Rathbun case.  While Tony reported Brousseau’s story in mid-2012, I’d suspect we’ll see other sites picking up and re-broadcasting the RadarOnline story over the next couple days.

 

Scientology Daily Digest: Saturday, December 7, 2013

Probably the biggest news today is the Lori Hodgson interview on Inside Edition, a US news magazine show, where she traveled to her son’s workplace in Austin, Texas and paid him a surprise visit which was recorded.

But the best performance clearly goes to Mark Bunker’s three-minute appearance in front of the Clearwater City Council on the anniversary of Lisa McPherson’s death, where he eloquently pointed out the absurdity of trying to make peace with the cult given how they’ve treated the citizens of the Clearwater area for the last forty years.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony covers the Inside Edition segment on ex-Scientologist Lori Hodgson paying another surprise visit to her son, who disconnected from her, at his work place in Austin, Texas.  Tony has written several times before on the heartbreaking treatment that Lori Hodgson has received at the hands of the cult and the painful way her kids have chosen Scientology over their relationship with her.

Also, there’s a video of Mark (“Wise Beard Man”) Bunker speaking to the city council in his new home town of Clearwater about the death of Lisa McPherson on the anniversary of her death.  Money quote: “I understand that the city is thinking about finding a better way to work with Scientology, sitting down and mending fences with David Miscavige.  I’d ask you to remember that when Scientology was criminally charged in Lisa’s case, Scientology didn’t bat an eye before destroying key evidence in the case and whisking people out of the country before they could be questioned by the police.”  He then goes on to talk about the harassment of Marty Rathbun, about disconnection, about forced disconnection.  Perhaps he can add an Emmy for performance in front of the camera for this video to the Emmy he received for his work behind the camera a few years ago.

Selected comments:

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Today’s post spotlights a couple who used to be field auditors, but who now go for the big bucks traveling around and “regging” people.  He points out the lulz in some of their statements gushing about the Super Power rundown and a few other choice topics.
  • Yesterday’s post contains Mike’s thoughts on the “Cause Resurgence Rundown” (a.k.a., the “running program”), which is now held on an entire floor of the new Sooper Powerz building.  Mike recalls being forced to do it at Int Base back when it was a staff punishment.  He thinks it might be an even bigger bust for $2,500 than Super Power.

Forum Sites (ESMB, WWP, OCMB)

General Press

  • The celebrity press is all over the “chick fight” where Kirstie Alley has taken her usual high road in responding to Leah Remini’s recent comments about disconnection and other problems with the cult.  There are lots of articles in different media including some pretty repulsive fawning from Perez Hilton.  TV Guide weighs in, as does Huffington Post. Leah stays classy and positive throughout, but Kirstie stays true to form, living proof that the cult makes the able more able, and the asshole more asshole.
  • The National Enquirer is reporting that Leah Remini is trying to get back in the good graces of Katie Holmes in order to get Katie to become involved with Leah’s anti-Scientology book project.  The Enquirer claims that Leah could command an advance as high as $5 million but the story claims that publishers want to get Katie Holmes involved as well to ensure the book’s popularity.  I’ve only seen this in the Enquirer, so I don’t know how conjectural the piece is, though the Enquirer is relatively careful with stories to avoid getting sued. After all, Bert Fields never followed up with that threatened suit against the Enquirer over the TomKat divorce.

 

Scientology Daily Digest: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scientologist after attempting to navigate the complexities of the new sales process and the legal agreement governing use of the recently announced, new and improved Mark VIII e-meter.

Scientologist after attempting to navigate the complexities of the new sales process and the legal agreement governing use of the recently announced, new and improved Mark VIII e-meter.

The big news today came on Mike Rinder’s blog, where he relays a note from a contributor about the craziness around the requirement to upgrade to the super-duper all-new (except for the part about being in a warehouse for a decade) Mark VIII e-meter.  The whole article is worth reading carefully, because it sure sounds like the cult is desperate to not only sell the new meter quickly, but to prevent it from falling into “the wrong hands” (i.e., independent Scientologists).

Mike says that some of the annual check-in is to reset a timer on the unit itself that keeps it working for another year.  Apparently, you don’t have to send the unit back for “calibration” every year or two, but if I’m reading the post correctly, there’s a timer that expires every year, after which the meter can’t be used.

And apparently, you can’t pay for the new meter from money that you have on deposit for courses — you have to pony up new cash, immediately, or you won’t be able to be audited, and you won’t be able to continue any courses that are in progress.

Wow.  Just… wow.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony’s story today features the news that Russell Miller’s Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, originally published in 1987, will be back in print in February.  It’ll be published by Silvertail Books, which published BBC reporter John Sweeney’s The Church of Fear earlier this year.  Tony also posted a picture of Lisa McPherson to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

Selected comments:

Mike Rinder’s Blog

As noted above, the cult is engaging in a Kafka-esque nightmare of obstruction, obfuscation and bullying, to get people to buy the new decade-old Mark VIII e-meter.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

Thanks yet again to Aeger Primo for keeping an eye on things on these sites…

General News

 

Scientology Daily Digest: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The big news on the day came early in the evening, when Tony Ortega posted a story with a major wave of filings by Monique Rathbun, plaintiff in the harassment suit against the cult.   We predict there’s enough detail there that the Court in the Rathbun case will have to order that Miscavige be deposed.  In my view, this may lead Miscavige to propose a settlement if the cult loses this motion, but I believe that Monique will insist on a far larger amount than was paid in the Debbie Cook case plus permanent restrictions on the cult’s conduct towards her and towards Marty.  However, I predict that the cult will not be able to resist breaking the permanent injunction; it’ll be interesting to see what a Texas court will do to the cult if they don’t follow a negotiated permanent injunction.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the anniversary of Lisa McPherson’s death.  As the Anons say, this is why.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Tony filed two stories today.  The morning story features an interview with Mark Headley, who worked at Int Base and was involved in the project to build the new Mark VIII e-meter, which debuted at the Golden Age of Dreck 2 launch, but which was designed and built about a decade ago. Several thousand units have been languishing in a warehouse until now.  Headley points out that a professional outside designer was used (I think the product is actually fairly appealing even if it does resemble the recently redesigned Easy-Bake oven) and says that Miscavige claimed to have spent $20 million on the design. That number seems high to me, even given the usual last-minute micromanagement Miscavige is known for, even if they had to re-do the final production molds for the case multiple times.

Tony’s AM story also notes that Eric Tenorio, a former Narconon staffer who is now a key opponent of the quackery-based alcohol treatment facility, relapsed after surgery earlier in the year and almost went back to Narconon, but managed to find a real rehab facility, one based on sound medical techniques and on use of 12-step programs to aid in recovery.  Glad to see him back in action.

Early this evening, Tony relayed a major filing by Monique Rathbun in her harassment case against the cult.  In that case, Tommy Davis’s deposition was supposedly scheduled for today in Austin.  The next hearing is for December 11.   In these filings, declarations from numerous former cult executives including Mike Rinder and many others all testify that Miscavige is a hands-on micro-manager.  The filings also have significant portions of Debbie Cook’s testimony under oath from her 2012 suit against the cult.  Ray Jeffery raises the obvious point in his legal argument that since the Warren McShane deposition and others didn’t answer whether Miscavige is actually in control of things, DM himself should take the stand to explain things.

Mike Rinder’s declaration contained a few interesting and somewhat obscure Hubbard quotes about how to ruin opponents, which Rinder uses to point out that Miscavige is actively directing operations to smear and destroy perceived enemies.  This may be a watershed, given Mike’s post on his own blog shortly thereafter, in his version of “independent Scientology,” as he’s making it harder for his readers, many of whom I would term “doctrinaire indies” (Hubbard perfect, Miscavige evil) to continue to believe that Hubbard had clean hands while he ran the cult.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  •  Late this evening, Mike posted a brief story linking to Tony Ortega’s story about the Monique Rathbun case filings.  Mike’s commentary is quite important, since it calls attention to some Hubbard quotes in his declaration.  The Hubbard quotes are all about how to attack, undermine, disrupt and injure opponents of the cult.  Rinder points out that Miscavige is applying the “tech” correctly, which might ruffle the feathers of some of the “Hubbard always good, Miscavige always bad” crowd just a wee bit.
  • Mike’s earlier story echoes a story from the “BackInComm” South African blog about the dire shape of Scientology in South Africa.  This time, the “Life Improvement Centre” in a suburb of Johannesburg is profiled, and it appears to be open for business only intermittently, with creeping weeds and graffiti marring the building.

Forum Sites

Yet again, Aeger Primo comes through with a detailed scan of the forum sites, including the discussion with Eric Tenorio’s announcement of his meltdown and his (new and improved) path to recovery.

Scientology Daily Digest: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tommy Davis’s deposition in the Monique Rathbun litigation is scheduled for today (Wednesday) in Austin.

Thursday marks the anniversary of Lisa McPherson’s death.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

Today’s regular installment in the series where Claire Headley, recently joined by “tech” veteran Bruce Hines, walks readers through the process of actually doing Scientology, featured the OT III “Wall of Fire.”  In this one, as most of us know from reading tons of stuff over the years, Hubbard introduces the Xenu mythos in an unveiling of the holiest of holies of Scientology out of a locked briefcase.  Even with all the hype and build-up before opening the envelope with some notes scrawled in Hubbard’s handwriting, apparently quite a few people do wake up and say, “WTF?” on their way out the door.

Apparently in this level, Hubbard giveth and Hubbard taketh away.  Part of the study involves explaining why you can’t show anyone else, even other Scientologists, that you can levitate ashtrays or do any of the super powers that OT’s are supposed to have.  This is obviously a key reason that people still believe in the OT powers without any evidence that they produce any results; they know that all those OT’s are doing amazing things in private; they’re just not allowed to show anything more interesting than keen parking space hunting capabilities.

Selected comments:

 

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Today, Mike put up a fairly important post, with some estimates on the total number of Scientologists in the world, via the work of a source who did the actual number crunching.  They’re estimating 25,000 to 35,000.  The numbers for the most part look credible, though I think the Sea Org size is a bit high, as is the estimated public coming in through the mission system.  “Deep Six” gives some further details that are useful.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

  • Apparently, Tory Christman was involved in leading a rescue of someone from a Narconon facility in Michigan.  ESMB and WWP both cover the adventure.
  • Both ESMB and WWP provide more detail on the blight of the empty Philadelphia Ideal Org building, which was purchased six years ago.
  • The Way To Happiness Foundation is achieving peace and sanity in the Middle East.  I didn’t know that either, until I read the credible and accurate cult PR piece.
  • OCMB is covering the FBI probe of LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, who seems to be a little too friendly to Scientology relative to the size of their membership among his voters.  

General Press

 

Scientology Daily Digest: Monday, December 2, 2013

Perhaps the biggest catch of the day is on ESMB, where a guy identifying himself as the former Director of Special Affairs (OSA boss) in several different locations has popped up on the radar screen and declared himself an Indie.

There are a couple epic advertising fails and some bad news for the Ideal Org building that the cult bought in Philadelphia six years ago, and which is now apparently causing neighborhood blight.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

A fairly light day, with a couple photos of the really tawdry Way to Happiness Foundation float in the really tawdry Hollywood Christmas parade, which has been in a steady decline to irrelevance for decades.  Apparently, the Dianetics Bookstore building at 6253 Hollywood Blvd. is for lease.  Straight up and vertical expansion, baby!

Selected comments:

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Today’s post contains a reg e-mail full of unctuous, smarmy praise for David Miscavige, the hero who apparently knows better than Hubbard just how to fix all those courses that kept people from bounding up their Bridge to Total Freedom like a couple of gazelles on meth.  The nauseating praise is a fun read.  My favorite: “You can tell a lot of thought and care went into this by someone intelligent and who understands grammar well.”  Yeah, when you’re telling me that this is the best thing to happen to Scientology since the invention of Dianetics in 1950, it makes me really want to sign up and buy when the best testimonial you’ve got is that the guy who pulled off this feat of “research” understands grammar really well.  It’s like how one actress, when asked in an interview about another, will say “well, he is really punctual.” If the best you can say about someone is that they show up to work on time, that’s not exactly high praise.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

General News

  • I missed this a couple of days ago, but the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about the urban blight of the new Ideal Org building in Center City.  Apparently, in the six years it has lain abandoned after purchase, it now has too many boarded up windows and is breaking an anti-blight ordinance.  Surprise, surprise.  The money quote is from an ex who says that there are only about 100 active Scientologists in Philadelphia.  Wish I knew who that was so I could try to understand the basis of that figure; while it’s possible that the number is that small, I don’t want to use that in anything I write until I know how it was derived.
  • A new low: in Israel, apparently, the cult is running ads inside of web-based kids video games on the local version of the site Webkinz.  Scientology is apparently blaming Google, claiming it has no control over ad placement.
  • The increasingly important “BackInComm” blog of South African independent Scientologists has a great document leak, with a nasty memo from the Executive Director of Johannesburg upbraiding the staff back in 2008, saying that in the 14 months since the release of “The Basics,” they have only graduated 4 people on the course sequence.  Apparently, 50 people have quit part-way through and the staff was so inept that they weren’t able to get them back on track; sounds like they blew the cult entirely.

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?

 

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Programming note: Today is the beginning of the US Thanksgiving Day holiday, a celebration of all things truly American: hours of epic gluttony followed by sitting in front of the television watching people in colorful armored uniforms colliding vigorously with each other, playing a slightly different version of “football” than that practiced in most other countries.

The next day is an even bigger holiday, and it is even more uniquely American.  Called “Black Friday,” people flock to shopping malls at improbably early hours to run up the balance on their credit cards, spending money they don’t actually have to buy the latest soon-to-be-obsolete consumer electronics gadgets and tons of clothes to overload their already bulging closets.

Thanksgiving is a little different for us in Global Capitalism HQ, however: the supermodels are not so big on the gluttony aspect and have no understanding of American football.  But they sure know how to shop for clothes on Black Friday.  So they spend Thursday stretching, practicing their martial arts moves, and checking the traction of their running shoes to make sure they can corner nimbly in the aisles at Barneys and all those trendy little boutiques in the Village to beat out all the other supermodels racing for the best deals.  When it comes to bone-crunching collisions, American football players have nothing on the supermodels going for a half-off Vera Wang number on the “better dresses” floor at Bergdorf’s.  They won’t have me to supervise them; the jet has already jetted off to the ancestral homeland, where I’ll be communing with the waves of coniferous trees at the Capitalist Parents’ waterfront estate and eating healthy.

To each his own.  And however you celebrate this holiday, I hope it’s with good friends and family!


Naturally, the last word on Black Friday comes from none other than Steely Dan…  I dedicate this to all of you who may be working retail tomorrow, long hours at low pay:


Technical note: I’ve been experimenting with the format of the blog a bit.  This may continue for some time to come as time permits.  Each new “theme” package comes with some lame picture for the top, so the default photo up on tonight’s post is not at all meaningful and will be replaced by something artistic when I have a chance.