The courts disagreed. In 2009, after years of very public litigation, a federal appeals panel upheld the SEC’s charges and fined Stansberry $1.5 million.
Stansberry — who had enjoyed some respect in financial circles and whose First Amendment argument (though not his conduct) was endorsed by respected news outlets who feared the case would set a precedent for punishing the press for publishing incorrect financial analysis — did not take the verdict well.
He did not stop peddling advice — but these days, it’s about more than get-rich-quick schemes. Evidently soured on the government by his brush with the law, Stansberry has turned from scam artist to antigovernment radical, using various Internet publications to mix dubious investment advice with apocalyptic warnings about a coming era of tyranny that will destroy America.
His most recent insight? According to a YouTube video distributed across a multitude of far-right websites and discussed with great seriousness by figures like antigovernment conspiracist Alex Jones, President Obama is planning to overthrown the Constitution, implement socialism, and seize a third term in office.
According to Stansberry, Obama won’t even have to use force to do it. Instead, the president plans to buy his third term with untold profits gained from mining America’s vast shale oil deposits, which will lead to an era of extraordinary prosperity unlike anything America has seen before.
“All of this new wealth,” Stansberry says, “will seem like a gift from the Prophet Muhammad to the administration of Barack Obama.”
And his supporters will eat it up. Once the black gold really starts flowing, Stansberry claims, the president will execute a Hugo Chavez-like power grab, distributing money and favors to friends, cronies, and political allies, who in return will cheer for him in the streets as he seizes an unconstitutional third term — and, possibly, even a fourth — in office. During his reign of terror, Obama will replace America’s market economy with a socialist dictatorship and “punish and tax those who work hard,” using the wealth they create to “buy favors and luxuries for millions of Americans … who have done nothing to earn it.”
America, of course, will be ruined.
Stansberry is not the only ultra-libertarian to promote such ideas. One of his most prominent fellow travelers is Doug Casey, an antigovernment “investment guru” who on Nov. 29 told subscribers to his newsletter that being a taxpayer in America today is analogous to “being a Jew in Germany in the mid-1930’s.”
On the surface, Casey (who often cross-promotes Stansberry’s articles on his various websites and newsletters and who is described by Stansberry as a friend and mentor) seems a cheerful misanthrope, whose breezy manner and self-deprecating wit (he often says Uncle Scrooge McDuck is his hero) is a refreshing change from the pompous grandiosity of his close cousins in the far-right “Patriot” movement.
The one charge against OWS that seemed to have some shelf life was the claim, initiated by the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel and amplified by a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, that OWS was thick with anti-Semitism. It must have seemed to these groups, along with the scores of others on the right who parroted their claims, an easy case to make. After all, it’s an ancient canard that Jews control the banks that OWS is protesting.
The brunt of their attack came in a video the Emergency Committee shot in New York. It shows a man holding a “Hitler’s Bankers” sign and shouting, “Jews control Wall Street.” Another shot shows someone shouting at a Jewish man, and a third shows someone suggesting that the media is controlled by Jews. Separately, a YouTube video of a woman making anti-Semitic remarks at a California OWS protest was promoted for days on a whole array of far-right websites.
That’s it. There is no other “evidence” of anti-Semitism in the OWS movement. As a matter of fact, as has been repeatedly pointed out, much of the OWS movement is Jewish and hundreds of Jews joined Jewish religious celebrations at the New York OWS encampment. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman, while condemning anti-Semitism, pointed out that the movement is not about Jews and the videotaped comments did not represent its “larger view.”
But evidence has never hindered the likes of radio heavyweight Rush Limbaugh, who noted that the 1 percent of Americans being criticized by OWS is equivalent to “roughly the percentage of Jews in the population.” Limbaugh went on to suggest that this might mean that “this group is being organized and paid for by a bunch of anti-Semites.” With that kind of incredibly dimwitted logic, of course, Limbaugh could have accused OWS of practically anything at all.