#politics, Cults, Psychology, public figures

#NXIVM: A #Trump Supporting Conspiracy Theorist’s Wet Dream

Frank Parlato, the man who is responsible for bringing NXIVM to your attention through his tenacious and brave blogging – the “whistleblower” who alerted The New York Times to the cult- is generous enough to share others’ wild stories on his blog. He’s also clever and cautious, prefacing those accounts with the disclaimer that they are alleged, rather than confirmed as absolute facts.

Months ago, Stormy Daniels denied, through her rep, that she had ever had anything to do with NXIVM and it’s sexual slavery sorority DOS. Nevertheless, one young man brought forth a rambling tale that sounds like a conspiracy theorist Trump supporter’s wet dream…or a hallucinogen-induced, mania-fueled rant.

Per Parlato’s The Frank Report, FrankReport.com:

The story claims that Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, James Alefantis, Eric Schneiderman, and Stormy Daniels joined sex slaver and pedophile Keith Raniere, Allison Mack and the Bronfman heiresses, Clare and Sara, at a NXIVM party to recruit young women to be nannies for children.

Big League Politics’ Patrick Howley writes:

“Ben Szemkus details an experience he had at a 2007 NXIVM party in Hamden, Connecticut. Szemkus, an independent citizen, testifies that he saw porn star Stormy Daniels, and Clinton adviser Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner.

“NXIVM is a Satanist sex cult that sees its leaders Keith Raniere and Allison Mack standing trial for human trafficking and child sex trafficking.

“’I attended a NXIVM Recruitment Party/Mixer in February 2007 in Hamden, Connecticut in which I met Stormy Daniels as Well as some High Powered Political Figures and NXIVM Founders, Major Supporters and Members. Here is a written statement detailing My experience that night,” writes Ben Szemkus, detailing that Yale University female students were in attendance at this party.’

“Transcripts from Szemkus’ account are presented below. He describes the party as being “The Belly of the Beast.”

You can read more here: https://bigleaguepolitics.com/sex-cult-party-guest-stormy-daniels-schneiderman-huma-and-weiner-were-all-there/.

If it sounds too insane to be true, it probably isn’t…But, sadly, I do know people who will eat this story up voraciously without hesitation.

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Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#SouthernCharm: Bashing Ashley Isn’t My Thing

There’s something I’ve been wanting to address for a while about Southern Charm. Yes, Ashley Jacobs is the villain of the season and she’s done some godawful things that have been captured on camera, but when it comes to her dramatic weight loss, her past escapades, or the rumors about her being an escort, I’m not going overboard in the discussions.

I feel that Ashley has approached Kathryn Dennis all wrong and I feel indignant about her scathing commentary on Kathryn as a mom, but I’m not going to respond by dredging up every salaciously “slutty” (please note, I use quotation marks) photo from her college years, or mocking her boob transformation. I understand the notion of “people who put themselves on reality TV are fair game,” but I feel these tactics are not only somewhat ludicrous and overboard, but also…besides the point. I can drag Ashley for telling Kathryn she’s nothing but an egg donor, but I wouldn’t feel good about myself ragging on the appearance of her hair texture in response, or hopping on her Instagram page to suggest she eats a hamburger.

Some of the “Trashley” posts seem a bit too much to me, targeting someone who – in my opinion – appears to be suffering physically and psychologically from doing this stressful show (she wasn’t paid either). And look, I’ve certainly lambasted reality stars in the past (I didn’t even pause after one reality star called me a “pussy” three times in a phone call and felt anything was deserved after that) and I’m not telling YOU not to do it. You all have free will and are afforded free speech, but I personally am trying to keep my commentary about Ashley linked to what we see on television and will call her out for rantings about others when cameras aren’t rolling.

I feel terrible for Luzanne Otte, a private woman who got dragged into the Ashley and Thomas story and I wrote about that, but I tried not to go too much further in saying anything disparaging beyond what was exhibited. I also did write a post about how the cast suspects some random Twitter accounts belong to Ashley as that’s been a major topic of discussion on social media prompting the hashtag #HiAshley. I try to address things that are happening in real time, but without getting carried too far away.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in a few episodes, Ashley will make the offhanded remark to Shep Rose “Would you date me?” (Meaning: because things are rocky with TRav, are there hypothetical scenarios and options so she won’t have to leave the Charleston area.) This is not something that is said in earnest necessarily, but it’s a comment that is sure to lead to tons of Ashley bashing on social media. There’s no way this is an incorrect prediction. I can see that the stress is already taking a toll on this woman. Is she desperate? Perhaps. Misguided? Possibly. Evil? I’m not so sure.

I think Ashley may one day have the hindsight to say she behaved badly on television. I think that we see her clinging to this relationship with Thomas Ravenel for one reason of another. Whether it’s money or fame, as people have concluded, I sense she is incredibly stressed out. Her alarming weight loss signals to me that she’s trying to maintain control over a situation that she feels, frustratingly, she has little control of.

I can’t help feeling some sympathy as I rage-watch her on TV and sometimes want to slap her for what she’s said to KD. This is the reason why I won’t tweet out the gifs and caricatures mocking her, or resort to name calling on Twitter. Something about it doesn’t sit right with me intuitively, but as a reality TV anthropologist, I’ll snark and weigh in on what’s said on the show.

I’ll feel a lot better about writing this post if/when we see a reflective Ashley, one who looks upon this past season and her time with TRav and realizes where she went wrong, when she spoke out of turn, and who she hurt while trying to protect herself.

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Cults, Psychology

#NXIVM: A Focus (Again!) on the Children Who are Victims

In a prior post I wrote about NXIVM’s Rainbow Cultural Garden, a chain of nursery schools for kids of the cult members. I spoke about how the children are immersed in 7 different languages simultaneously which results in confusion, utter babble and delayed speech, as well as attachment issues (because children are separated from parents for lengthy periods.) NXIVM has shut down its professional development centers (where expensive classes are held), but the nursery centers are allegedly still operating.

Here is what one concerned citizen wrote to NXIVM whistleblower Frank Parlato of The Frank Report:

Ferdinand Rinder: A few points on Raniere

by Reporter

By Ferdinand Rinder 

Hi Frank;

First: I wanna thank you for your awesome hard work done so far. I like most your statement in the video interview with Vice News.

“He (Keith) went to win, I (Frank) went to win. He (kR) lost!”

Applause.

Good job well done. Including a big thanks to DOJ.

Second: The Rainbow Cultural Garden operations are mistreating innocent children and as far as we know still up and running –  around the world – with illegal nannies training kids with unproven and unlicensed teachings of KR.

These need to be shut down ASAP and hold the teachers accountable.

Third: The bookkeepers and funding sources of NXIVM, conducting tax fraud by instructing through KR, need to be locked up as well. There is/was a big cash flow by membership fees and there should be taxable income – which I am sure was not reported.

Fourth: The cauterizing doctor and the brain expert doctor – are they still practicing? When do their licenses get revoked? They are a risk to the public.

Now some observations;

Frank, with all due respect to your hard work – much of what you write is below your level – unless you need the clicks – by stressing over and over a sex story.   The judge has proven he is smart and looked through the bail game.

His statements, reported in all media, including your own clear summary, are loud and clear: We keep you [KR] here and roast you slowly. You can waste Clare’s money as long you like but you ain’t going nowhere.

Let it go for now:  You made a cool statement in your video interview which I liked most: “He went to win, I went to win, he lost.”

This statement was presented very cool and convincing and came across very strong.

I’d focus on new subjects with priority to rescue those kids in Rainbow and deprogramming Nxians who wanna leave. If you push them, they may support the gov. with a plea to speed up trial and make sure nothing will be missed.

KR and Allison Mack have sufficient charges in the pipeline, with smaller ones likely to be dropped in favor of bigger ones. It doesn’t matter if he gets three life sentences, he will be locked up for the rest of his life.  This was clear after the last hearing.

Let’s focus on tax fraud. This will be the rope hanging Nancy and the Bronfmans. Be patient, reverse bookkeeping and restatement of their tax returns for 90 companies, will take any accountant weeks or months but I suspect the gov., is working on it.

Finally, does the MDC, where Raniere is being held do STD testing at welcome inspection?  There is no way a person can live for decades in the style Raniere lived without getting something contagious and giving it too.

The parasite.

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Cults, Psychology

#NXIVM: No Bail for Raniere, Operations Shut Down

Keith Raniere was not only denied bail, but Clare Bronfman was brought up in yesterday’s court hearing for the cult leader and co-conspirator Allison Mack.

The Frank Report says Bronfman may have fled to Fiji by way of France, so we can only hope she’s not beyond extradition and will be sitting in a courtroom sometime soon herself.

I had planned to attend yesterday’s hearing and meet up with Toni Natalie (Keith’s ex girlfriend whose life he made a living hell for many years). Unfortunately, family business and a series of necessary appointments got in the way.

Regardless, I think the coup of the day (at least in the eyes of NXIVM’s defectors and the victims of the ridiculously overly litigious Raniere and Bronfman) was that Bronfman’s name was finally brought up and it’s now clear that Clare is in the hot seat – well, not physically yet if she’s in Fiji, but it’s official: There’ zero doubt she’s on the radar screen of federal agents.

Despite Raniere’s lawyers’ pleas for his release on bail, the judge presiding over the case is no pushover. The defendant’s motion included a promise of having security watch him 24/7 to guarantee he’s no flight risk, but the gravity of his crimes certainly don’t warrant special allowances. For now (and hopefully for a VERY long time) he’s restricted to prison life, still able to consume more calories and be far better nourished than the women he allegedly forced to starve for sexual slavery.

The other news out of NXIVM is that all its operations have closed down. It’s actually quite astonishing that it took this long. The following report is from News10.com:

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – NXIVM announced it is suspending all operations until further notice.

The Capital Region cult says it will be in touch with more information for anyone currently enrolled in upcoming events and programs.

“While we are disappointed by the interruption of our operations, we believe it is warranted by the extraordinary circumstances facing the company at this time.  We continue to believe in the value and importance of our work and look forward to resuming our efforts when these allegations are resolved.”

Actress Allison Mack, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is facing trafficking charges for her involvement in NXIVM.

Keith Raniere, 57, of Waterford, N.Y., is the leader of the cult that masquerades as a self-group, was arraigned on similar charges.

According to NXIVM, the company’s mission is to “raise human awareness, foster an ethical humanitarian civilization, and celebrate what it means to be human.”

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#RHONY, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY: “Third Wife Syndrome”

I cannot take credit for the above title, but it was explained to me regarding some dynamics on Real Housewives of New York.

Third Wife Syndrome is not necessarily about literally being a third wife. However, it’s about one who glamorizes a past marriage, putting a sheen on it that was lacking during the actual relationship…and during the subsequent muddy divorce.

The “syndrome” may also include clinging to a title — i.e. Sonja’s obsession with the Morgan name and Luann De Lesseps calling herself “The Countess” despite being long-divorced from the Count (and having survived “It’s Not About Tom” D’Agastino following other post-divorce relationships).

In the cases of Sonja and Luann, by all appearances their famous ex husbands have thoroughly moved on. However, these ladies seem to live in and lust for the glory days of their prior unions (Luann desiring the royalty attached to the “Countess” moniker rather than the Count himself, who reportedly ran off with an Ethiopian princess). These relationships appear far grander in the rearview mirror than they actually were.

Sonja’s marital demise was allegedly more sordid and salacious than she lets on. She claims it was a beautiful marriage, but if you’ve read RHONY cast mate Carole Radziwill’s most recent blog posts on BravoTV.com, or googled Ms. Tremont Morgan (Do so!), you’ll get some insight into the real story.

Housewife Dorinda Medley has tweeted, without mincing snark, that the current Mrs. Morgan (who is allegedly Sonja’s former bestie!) might not be so thrilled with Sonja’s recent statements idealizing her marriage with Mr. M…

Or the fact that Sonja talks about carrying on the family name through her business ventures (rather than focusing on having her daughter, a Morgan by blood, carry it on). I only regret that I never got to purchase a Morgan Toaster Oven to see how it stacks up to the old gadget in my kitchen. You know, the one that I abandon for the more high tech microwave. We all have our greater loves in life…But I digress.

Average folks like me have no problem saying we are publicists or writers, lawyers, doctors, gardeners, stay-at-home mothers, bloggers, job seekers, what have you….but when you are a hostess or a nurse and you’ve struck gold and married more in a minute than you would have made in a lifetime, it’s difficult letting a trumped up title go.

In fact, it’s easy to understand why one might glorify a union that irreparably shattered. I feel bad for Sonja because I get the sense that she is constantly plagued by What Ifs. I think she looks back now and has mentally applied a lacquered coating on that period with Mr. M. She thinks it was never actually half as bad as it was, and had she only done things differently….

I’m speculating, but based on her behavior this season, it gels.

We saw Dorinda explode when Sonja made her divorce out to be worse than Dorinda having buried a husband. On social media, people argued that a divorce can feel like a death. Some were annoyed with Dorinda for minimizing Sonja’s pain. However, I’m #TeamDorinda on this one. Dorinda actually divorced her husband Ralph around the same time Sonja divorced Mr. Morgan, a little known fact. Dorinda was fortunate enough to meet and marry the love of her life, Richard Medley, after that divorce from Ralph. As Carole mentions in her blog, we rarely hear a word about Ralph from Dorinda.

In fairness to Sonja however, people say that the best way to get over someone is by getting under someone new. As the Samantha Jones character of this franchise, Sonja Morgan has bedded numerous men, but it doesn’t seem that any of them have truly captivated her or have come close to being a “Mr. Right.” Getting under someone for Sonja would mean fully getting under….their spell, being totally and indisputably in love.

From everything she has conveyed on RHONY, Sonja is not ready for that and for the give and take that a serious relationship requires. But perhaps once this time comes for her – if she is ready for it any time soon- we’ll see a new Sonja who is realistic about the past and what to expect from the future. Perhaps we’ll see a Sonja who fully gets that her husband didn’t die prematurely during the happy days of a marriage (and regrets comparing her situation to Dorinda’s), but that bad things happened requiring them to part.

There are other Mrs. Morgans as Sonja was actually her ex’s FOURTH wife. (Regardless, I liked the term “Third Wife Syndrome” that has a certain ring to it.) There are the Mrs. Morgans who divorced Sonja’s Mr. M and there is also the woman who is currently married to him. My advice to Sonja is to remove herself from the Mrs. Morgan Club and leave the handling of that legendary last name to her daughter. She could then forge ahead anew with ventures under the Tremont name.

To paraphrase a popular Israeli expression: You change your name, you change your luck.

Incidentally, Tremont Toasters has a very nice ring to it.

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fashion, Psychology, public figures, suicide

Kate Spade Tragedy: Andy Spade Addresses the Media

A message was just released from Andy Spade, the husband of designer Kate Spade, who tragically succumbed to the demons of anxiety and depression that had plagued her for years. I have personally been horrified reading comments from random people asking: “How could she do this? She abandoned her young daughter.” Suicide is not something that the lay person necessarily understands. It’s important to know that someone who takes their life is at their wit’s end and feels completely hopeless. We cannot even fathom what their inner turmoil is or judge another human until we’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes. Sounds trite, but it’s positively true.

Andy Spade (whose brother is comedian David Spade) was quite peeved about the media reports stating that a message had been left for the couple’s daughter,saying he had only read about that in the onslaught of press coverage.

Here’s his full statement:

“Kate was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the kindest person I’ve ever known and my best friend for 35 years. My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can’t even begin to fathom life without her. We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already.

Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.

For the past 10 months we had been living separately, but within a few blocks of each other. Bea was living with both of us and we saw each other or spoke every day. We ate many meals together as a family and continued to vacation together as a family. Our daughter was our priority. We were not legally separated, and never even discussed divorce. We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how. We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break.

This is the truth. Anything else that is out there right now is false. She was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last 5 years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety. There was no substance or alcohol abuse. There were no business problems. We loved creating our businesses together. We were co-parenting our beautiful daughter. I have yet to see any note left behind and am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media.

My main concern is Bea and protecting her privacy as she deals with the unimaginable grief of losing her mother. Kate loved Bea so very much.” 

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Cults, Psychology, Uncategorized

#NXIVM: That “Kiss-Ass” New York Times Magazine Piece

Those who know a ton about NXIVM are outraged by yesterday’s New York Times Magazine piece https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/magazine/sex-cult-empowerment-nxivm-keith-raniere.html. Writer Vanessa Grigoriadis went “inside NXIVM” as much as she possibly could – meaning, as much as the group, which had banned media for 14 years prior to her arrival, would allow.

Her access seemed to have been greatly controlled, and the people she met with (including Nancy Salzman, Clare Bronfman, Keith Raniere and Allison Mack) used carefully crafted language that reflected intense media training.

The result may have been the most positive coverage of NXIVM as an “empowerment group” to date. Which is truly baffling. The lengthy article omitted numerous important negative aspects like the “terrorism by litigation” (Raniere ex Toni Natalie’s term) that Raniere and Bronfman vengefully subjected former members to.

Frank Parlato, the NXIVM publicist- turned NXIVM whistleblower, took to his website The Frank Report (www.FrankReport.com) to document the glaring ironies and inaccuracies in Grigoriadis’s piece. Shortly after, he and I corresponded:

“I think she (Grigoriadis) was selected by Clare Bronfman’s PR team to deliver a positive story for them and she did deliver a positive story for them. This was good public relations work by Bronfman. The problem is: it is a case of too little, too late. Raniere got arrested between the interview and the publication of the story. The story was meant to protect Raniere from getting arrested, show Allison created DOS and that all of it was consensual, but it came out too late which proves that timing is everything in PR. Against the backdrop of negative PR, it hardly moves the needle.”

I then asked a friend of mine what her thoughts were on this article. She is extremely well-versed in NXIVM facts as a voracious reader with a photographic memory. She often refers to herself as an “armchair psychologist” and frequently shares insight with me. She is also fascinated with and keeps current on every aspect of this cult. “It was a very kiss-ass article,” she remarked, “It was like a PR piece and everyone was prepped. Frank (Parlato) must be pissed.”

In fact, Frank Parlato did have a lot more to say:

“…On the other hand, it shows that Bronfman money can even buy a positive story in The NY Times. Lastly, my best laugh came from Raniere crying about Pam Cafritz his late pimp woman. Those were tears on cue. He never showed emotion to his followers when she died. But maybe the tears were real – for himself. Pam could get him the underage and pretty young women workout resorting to branding. Allison replaced her as head pimp and she did not have Cafritz’s talent for pimping and had to use branding. The gentle dove Raniere, crying for his lost love and speaking of the importance of intimacy and love while he lies to a harem telling them each he is going to father their avatar baby. Maybe Trump should hire her PR people.”

It is worth reading The Frank Report to see not only how Frank Parlato himself dissects Grigoriadis’s article, but to note the comments section that is filled with feedback from NXIVM defectors.

A “fluff piece” on NXIVM – at least an article that appears as such – just seems incredibly ill-timed with Raniere’s next hearing scheduled for June 13th…Plus ALL ELSE that’s recently come to light.

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