A couple of days ago, the Post broke the news that Roger Stone — a former state GOP functionary who resigned after allegedly threatening Eliot Spitzer's family — was procuring money for Joe Bruno and pals from his other employer, a cultlike organization called NXIVM. Needless to say, we've been obsessed with the Albany-based NXIVM (pronounced, believe it or not, like “Nexium”) ever since. It's basically like Scientology masquerading as a self-help seminar, run by a guy named Keith Raniere. Raniere claims to have the highest IQ on record and have been a judo champion by age 11; he also demands to be called Vanguard by his followers (someone should introduce him to Mystery!). He is, in short, your classic swindler (his previous enterprise, a pyramid scheme called Consumers' Buyline, got kicked out of Arkansas in 1992) who's discovered the resale value on Ayn Randian mumbo jumbo. NXIVM's “executive success” program is designed to reel in alpha types who need someone to tell them that greed is good. Its big philosophy is that “human beings are born parasitic” (saying “I'm hungry” or complaining about pain, for instance, is parasitic behavior; the enlightened just take what they need). It also redefines “good” as “pro-survival” and “bad” as “destructive.” Students wear colored sashes and bow in the presence of the leader. You can see where this is headed.
Why should we pay attention to this psycho factory? Because it has well-placed, well-heeled members and appears to be actively pursuing an entrée into political fund-raising. Stone, paid by NXIVM, had funneled at least $20,000 to the state GOP; the heirs to Seagram's fortune are devotees; and, per the Post, Richard Mays — a Clinton friend and one of Hillary's top fund-raisers — is an “Espian” as well, having taken so-called intensive classes with Raniere. The Aleksey Vayner type who preaches that suicide can be good (if you're a counter-constructive person, removing yourself from the planet is a constructive act) becomes just a little less hilarious when you realize he's got the ear of people with actual policy decisions to make.