Well, we finally have a co-conspirator's confession of how the NIA operates.
In a previous post, I mentioned that a mysterious figure named George4title had some connection with the founding of the group. His real name, it turns out, is George Hemminger, and he has finally given an inside account
of how the National Inflation Association
came to be and what it is up to.
Basically, George became well-known due to his series of (inexplicably) popular YouTube videos about stocks and such. He built up a community of followers, some of whom later decided that he was himself a con artist of sorts. Maybe so, but it appears that he was genuinely down-at-heels. One can almost forgive him for leaping at the opportunity when Jonathan Lebed, the notorious pump-and-dump scammer, asked George to promulgate a website called inflation.us, home of the NIA.
As I suspected, Lebed was and is the true power behind National Inflation Association. He had tried to establish himself as a stock "adviser" under his own name, but that name had been tarnished by his previous encounters with the SEC. Thus was born the NIA, which uses Lebed's pal Gerry Adams as front man.
Privately, Lebed and Adams told George Hemminger not
to invest in any of the stocks recommended by the NIA.
Their shtick was prophesying financial apocalypse, cribbing many of their memes from Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente and other stars of the far right. That was how they built up an audience of paranoids. They convinced the already half-convinced that dollars would soon have no value -- therefore one should buy precious metals. Gold and silver.
To be specific: They had a gold mine for sale. In the wake of The College Conspiracy
's popularity, they sent out an alert telling folks to invest in a little-known gold-mining company, one with no proven reserves. Naturally, the recommendation sent the stock price soaring -- for a while.
I'm still not clear as to how FOX News got on board with these scammers, but there seems to have been a corporate decision to push the NIA. Cody Willard, the one FOX newser to slam Lebed, was soon given the ax. Gerry Adams made appearances on several FOX business programs, where he was treated as a sage.
How does this happen? We're talking about a couple of 24 year-old kids with no experience in industry, no degrees (that I know of), no books or articles bearing their byline (save those published by themselves), no real resume at all. Johnny had a notorious history as a scammer and Gerry was featured on "The Ripoff Report." Yet they somehow became FOX stars.
Obviously, Lebed had -- as the Israelis say -- a "horse." Someone pulling for him.
I have written to both Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, asking about their association with the NIA. So far, no response.
We do know, thanks to George Hemminger, that Johnny and Gerry are living very high on the hog. (Odd phrase, that. I wonder how it came about?) If they really believed that the country was poised for disaster, these two kids would have moved to Gstaad. But no. They seem intent on spending the loot as fast as they can get it, which is the sort of behavior one might expect from kids in their mid-20s.
How do they make their money? Hemminger confirms that the videos cost a pretty penny. Yet they are made available for free, as is the newsletter. The NIA does charge $1000 to anyone who wants to receive their stock tips before the rest of the world -- in other words, if you cough up a grand, you too can have the chance to be a pump-and-dumper. It appears that the NIA receives payment from the companies whose stocks are pumped in the newsletter -- but I don't think that's the full story.
When the NIA recommends a stock, the small print tells the audience that the group does not own any shares in that stock but reserves the right to do so in the future. Of course, a phrase like "the future" is somewhat amorphous. It could mean that the NIA made a stock buy three minutes after the recommendation was sent out to subscribers.Great tropes of the far right.
it with the American right and precious metals? Every since I was a kid -- and I am, at this writing, parlously distant from kid-hood -- I've heard conservative fringe-dwellers and survivalist types screaming that we should buy gold and silver now now now
because the dollar would soon be worth less than the paper it is printed on.
There are other classic right-wing tropes, of course. My favorite is the advice to move out of California because the "coming Earth changes" will soon cause the West Coast to slide into the ocean. I first heard that one around the time of the 1972 Sylmar earthquake. Rumor had it that in the weeks after the quake, a guy in Arizona was selling "beach property."
Another classic concerns the Great Gun Round-Up. You've all heard it: "It's gonna happen any day now! The law is on the books, passed secretly in the dead of night." I first heard that
one during the Ford presidency.
Around the same time, I first heard that Soviet troops were gathering in Mexico, just waiting for the "go" signal to come stampeding into the U.S. That myth had one last, absurd surge in popularity in 1994 -- well after the fall of the USSR. Don't discount the possibility of a revival.
Comets are also big. As I was standing in line for The Exorcist
back in 1973, someone passed out pamphlets warning of a Great Comet Strike that would wipe out humanity. Every five years or so, someone revives the meme.
All of these are variants of the Apocalypse theme. The most popular variant, of course, was codified in a kook classic called The Late, Great Planet Earth
. That book now seems somewhat embarrassing because it had a lot of Cold War crap in it, and because it hinted that the Big Event would occur in 1988. Tim LaHaye revised the scenario in his popular Left Behind
series. Twenty or thirty years from now, another fundamentalist con-man will offer a further revision and scare a new generation.
I once spoke to the daughter of one of those fake preachers working the tent show circuit. She revealed that the audience demands two things from an evangelical sermonizer: Damnation and Armageddon. The hoi polloi
does not want to hear about tolerance, forgiveness, mysticism or any of that nonsense. They demand Hell, and they want to be told that the world (especially the U.S.A.) will soon go there. Her dad didn't believe in that crap, but he delivered the goods anyways. Made a decent living, too.
Want to be a millionaire? People will fork over big money if you tell 'em that it's all going to end tomorrow -- and your fortune is secure if you can think of a truly new