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Eccentric former software wizard made headlines for his legal troubles in Central America

It will be nearly a year before America's next presidential election -- and several months left before the start of the primary season -- but it's already clear that this will be in many ways a race of colorful characters.  After all, what other conclusion could be drawn from a field whose leading candidates include a Bush, a Clinton, a billionaire-turned-reality TV star, and a democratic socialist?

I. McAfee's Wild Years -- Discerning the "Résumé Lies" From the Truth

But if you thought things couldn't get any stranger they just have.  John McAfee, an eccentric icon of the software industry, has entered the race, running for a newly formed political party which he dubbed the "Cyber Party".

Cyber Party
[Image Source: YouTube]

Okay, so McAfee doesn't stand a snowball in the Sahara's chance of winning (I think).  But like most things about the man, his entrance is equal parts colorful and neurotic.

McAfee

John McAfee [Image Source: Psychology Today]

Even in his less colorful days, McAfee still found a way to draw attention, both good and bad.  The son of an abusive alcoholic father who would commit suicide when John was just 15, McAfee would transcend his circumstances and gain a reputation as a math prodigy.  After obtaining a degree in mathematics from Roanoke College, a Salem, Virg. liberal arts school, he flirted with a career in academia.

Roanoake
A postcard from Salem in the late 1940s. [Image Source: Pinterest]

In 1968 he was in the process of pursuing a PhD in mathematics at the college now known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe.  But as a 2012 interview with Wired recounts, he got kicked out of the program when it was discovered he was sleeping with an undergraduate student from one of his classes (he would reportedly later marry her).  
In the Wired interview McAfee recounts that when police in the Central American nation of Belize accused him of possibly manufacturing methamphetamine a few years ago, he replied: 

That’s a startling hypothesis, sir.  Because I haven't sold drugs since 1983.

Indeed, by the sound of its McAfee's run through the 1970s was a mix of drugs and coding.  After his exit from ULM (then Northeast Louisiana State), he went to work at Sperry Rand's UNIVAC supercomputer plant in Bristol, Tenessee, reportedly helping them with punchcard programs.  Wired recounts:

[McAfee in 1968] ended up coding old-school punch-card programs for Univac in Bristol, Tennessee.

But McAfee had a side job -- selling pot.  And in early 1969 (or late 1968?) he got busted by the cops.  Lawyering up, he miraculously escaped conviction, but Sperry Rand was done with him.  But in months he took up a new job at Missouri Pacific Railroad (MPR) in St. Louis, with some help from a "fake résumé".  While with MPR, he worked writing train scheduling code for International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) mainframes, while experimenting (and by the sound of it, selling) LSD and DMT.  The latter drug, he recounts "shattered" his mind, leaving him lost on the streets of downtown St. Louis.

DMT crystals
McAfee's experience with the crystal hallucinogen DMT drove him to the brink of madness.
[Image Source: Erowid]

Given McAfee's own admission of falsifying his résumé, and his rampant drug (ab)use of in the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s, his early employment record is the stuff of confusion.  The Toronto Star, for example, reports:

By the late 1960s he was in New York, working at NASA’s Institute for Space Studies while nursing an increasing penchant for drugs.

Some reports place this employment stint from 1968 to 1970.  But that seems highly unlikely, given that McAfee was in college -- first in Virginia from 1964-67, then in ULM from 1967-68.  And the rest of the decade he was reportedly employed far from the  National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Institute for Space Studies (ISS) in New York City, first in Tenessee with Sperry Rand in 1968, then in St. Louis with MPR in 1969.

If his supposed stint at NASA is anything other than outright fabrication, it's chronology is clearly widely misreported.

Even McAfee's stint at Univac sounds somewhat curious.  After all, the Bristol location was basically an assembly plant, which employed lots of electrical engineers (see ad below, courtesy of the Google News Archive), but few (micro)programmers.  Most of Sperry Rand's programming was done at its headquarters in Blue Bell, Penn.  And what wasn't done at Blue Bell was sourced to satellite offices in Irvine, Calif.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Roseville, Minn.  Was this another fabrication?

ComputerWorld Ad

Sperry Rand's Univac plant in Bristol, Tenn. didn't hire many programmers... is McAfee's story fact or just more fiction? (click to enlarge) [Image Source: Google News/ComputerWorld]

By the sound of it, McAfee spent much of the 1970s on the road.  The Toronto Star suggests he spent a year in Mexico in the early 1970s.  And an Outside Magazine piece dubs him a "gypsy king", recounting:

[McAfee] traveled through Mexico, sleeping in a van, buying stones and silver, and making jewelry to sell to tourists. Later, during the AIDS panic in San Francisco, he sold identity cards certifying bearers as HIV-free. 

The AIDS panic was in 1983 ... so if he was still hustling at that point it makes you doubt that much more of his story.  Nonetheless, it is clear that at some point he reentered the hot emerging computer programming scene in Silicon Valley.

According to legend he worked for Xerox Corp.'s (XRX) Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) operating system unit -- whos early graphic user interface would inspire Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) first Mac OS.  He also reportedly worked at Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) (who has a strong presence in Calif., as well).  Where as other points on his résumé (namely the NASA claims) clearly conflict with his own timeline from interviews, these jobs remain plausible.  He was certainly in California for parts of the 1970s and early 1980s.  Or they may be just more résumé lies.

We may never know if these biography items are more fabrications.  McAfee himself may not even know.

John McAfee
An undate photo shows McAfee in the late 1980s.  McAfee spent much of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s in a haze of hallucinogens and cocaine, faking much of his résumé, by his own accounting.
[Image Source: Wired]

The same could be said of McAfee's claim of working at OMEX, a Santa Clara, Calif. data storage company.  Wired assersts:

From then on he felt like he was always one step away from a total breakdown, which finally came at Omex in 1983. He was snorting lines of coke off his desk most mornings, polishing off a bottle of scotch every day, and living in constant fear that he would run out of drugs. His wife had left him, he’d given away his dog, and in the wake of what he calls a mutual agreement, he left Omex.

Finally he went to a therapist, who suggested he go to Alcoholics Anonymous. He attended a meeting and started sobbing. Someone gave him a hug and told him he wasn’t alone.

“That’s when life really began for me,” he says.

He says he’s been sober ever since.

Of course this is around the time of his alleged swindling of AIDS fearful in San Francisco, so there's cause to doubt that claim.  

And it doesn't help that RadarOnline has effectively revealed McAfee's claims of staying clean as baldfaced lies.  Apparently McAfee spent a good part of 2010 experimenting with MDPV, a psychoactive substance best known as "bath salts".  He allegedly posted:
'
Measure your dose, apply a small amount of saliva to just the tip of your middle finger, press it against the dose, insert. Doesn’t really hurt as much as it sounds. We’re in an arena (drugs/libido) that I navigate as well as anyone on the planet here. If you take my advice about this (may sound gross to some of you perhaps), you will be well rewarded.

Or was it all a prank?  In a comment to The New York Times, McAfee claims that it was all a highly elaborate prank, where he successfully lured users on drug forums into believing his not-so-secret alter-ego was real.  Indeed, he seems to be in on the joke in a recent video spoof featuring boxes labeled "bath salts".  

The video below is very NSFW, but is worth a watch.



Say what you will, but at least he has a good sense of humor.  Perhaps a little too good.

So does this mean he really did work at OMEX?  Perhaps.

II. Master Salesman

Anyhow, truth and reality couple more tightly in the mid-to-late 1980s when McAfee got a job working in Sunnyvale, California at Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), a top government contractor.  In 1987 reports state that he first heard about "Brain" one of the earliest computer viruses.  Created in 1986 by a pair of brothers in Pakistan, the virus had spread across PCs around the world within a year, thanks to computermakers poor understanding at the time of the security risks that would soon be emerging.

McAfee launched a home business, which in the beginning was equal parts paranoid pitch and expertise.  Operating out of a Winnebago (think Winnebago Man) which he dubbed artfully as the world's first "antivirus paramedic unit" and using his home as an office, he in his off hours travelled to the homes of people in southern California who were experiencing computer trouble.  His pitch was potent if hyperbolic.  He proclaimed that his outlandish camper was "the first specially customized unit to wage effective, on-the-spot counterattacks in the virus war."

McAfee
McAfee is seen appearing on ABC News in 1989.

And many people bought in.  By 1989 (according to the Wired report) he left Lockhed Martin to focus full time on his new "antivirus" business, "McAfee Associates".  Wait, 1989?  Again, illustrating McAfee's questionable powers of recollection, earlier books placed his departure as 1987.  Maybe he didn't even work at Lockheed Martin!

Regardless, he did found McAfee Associates -- that much is known fact.  And we also know that he was a tireless promoter of public fear of the computer virus.  In 1989 he would gain attention by publishing an early book on malware, entitled Computer Viruses, Worms, Data Diddlers, Killer Programs, and Other Threats to Your System.  While some computer veterans blasted the title and overall content as alarmist, exaggeration or not the book at least made the public more aware of the very real emerging hacker threat.

Computer Viruses book
[Image Source: eBay]

Ironically, by the time he became famous, the self-envisioned software mogul already looked far older than a man in his 1940s.  But as his success grew, McAfee seemed to reverse age as the years have rolled by, to the point where in some regards he looks younger than he did in 1989.

More fearmongering based in more modest fact would position his company on top of the growing antivirus software market.  In 1992 he would appear on numerous news programs, prophesying that the Michelangelo virus, a DOS virus.  McAfee claim the bug was poised to "destroy" 5 million PCs worldwide.  He would later reveal in a 2000 blog (from the Wired report):

My business increased tenfold in the two months following the [Michelangelo virus] stories and six months later our revenues were 50 times greater and we had captured the lion’s share of the anti-virus market.

Of course the claims were a massive overprediction or exagerration, depending on which term you prefer.  The true number of systems that lost data were between 10,000 and 20,000 [source].  As an IBM research report points out, the irony was that Michelangelo wasn't even the worst malware infection at the time.

In 1994 McAfee took his company public and resigned.  Some claimed that his resignation was due to ongoing criticism over his claims about the Michelangelo virus.  But McAfee cash out to the tune of around $50M USD (more recently sources have claimed it was closer to $100M USD).  And his decision to leave the company, may have proved a blessing in disguise.

McAfee
Copies of McAfee 2010 sit in store. [Image Source: Getty Images]

Free of its controversial leader, McAfee (the company) would go through a merger in 1997 and be reborn as Network Associations, but in 2004 it ultimately opted to switch the name back to McAfee, Inc., gaining legitimacy via its acquisition of FSA Corp., a well-respected Canadian security startup.  In 2010 Intel Corp. (INTC) bought McAfee, Inc. for $7.68B USD.  Today in spite of McAfee's vocal disdain for its products, the mass market security firm claims 100 million customers, all of which are using the product that bears his name.

As his former firm evolved in the years following his departure, McAfee moved on to new ventures.  He would buy 400 acres in Colorado and start up an internet business called PowWow.  One part social network and one part messenger client, PowWow attracted around 8 million users and was arguably a precursor to the likes of today's Facebook, Inc. (FB).
PowWow now


But the site was too far ahead of its times -- or perhaps simply mismanaged by the ever unhinged McAfee.  By 1999 it claimed only 3 million users  But again McAfee timed his exit well, selling the software for an undisclosed sum just before the Dot Com Bust.  PowWow would shutter shortly thereafter in 2001.

PowWow
McAfee's PowWow made a small splash as an early dating/social network of the 90s, but it shut down soon after he sold it.  It had a monthly newsletter titled "The Tribal Voice" and monetized by selling "communities".

Taking his windfall from McAfee Associates and PowWow, he would buy 1,000 acres of property in Hawaii.  He also invested in ZoneLabs, a rising security startup.  His endorsement proved a key sales tactic for ZoneLabs.  Meanwhile controversy continued to follow McAfee who clashed with Hawaiians over his plans to develop his newly purchased land [source].

III. Mellow McAfee Weathers Recession

It hasn't all been controversy though.  An avid Maharichi yoga practioner, McAfee would periodically host yoga workshops, like this 2002 summit in Arkansas.  He would also self-publish four yoga books in 2001.  He even repurposed his Colorado estate as a yogic retreat.

The Yoga Being
An ad from the Sept 2002 edition of "Yoga" magazine.

McAfee pitched something he called "relational yoga", which was a quirky mix of self-help and traditional yogic practices.  Later he would invent another odd reenvisioning -- "observational yoga" (basically the idea that watching others doing yoga is yoga itself).  Both concepts have drawn a number of fans over the past decade and a half.

Financially McAfee would suffer from the recent global recession, which made it increasingly difficult for his exotic self-selected lifestyle.  A 2009 report by The New York Times claimed that he had fallen to around $4M USD of assets, from a peak net wealth of $100M USD.  The report stated that he was selling off his "last big property."  The report generated a lot of hate commentary among readers who generally seemed to view McAfee as overly entitled and self-pitying.

McAfee countered in a followup that he was anything but, writing:

I fully agree that I had little need for most of my toys. I spent money on houses that I seldom visited. I conspicuously consumed...But life changes us. And over the years the absurdity of my consumption came home to rest. Two years ago I began divesting myself of the heaviest of my excesses. I began to give my stuff away. Last year, even after the loss of much of my fortune, I gave away $2 million worth of art, furniture, vehicles etc. to the residents of Hidalgo County, one of the poorest counties in America, in a fun free for all out of a large airplane hangar. I gave a million dollar boat to the Belizean Coast Guard.

I have given to small businesses about to collapse, to individuals, to families. And none of these donations, as the IRS can attest, were listed as exemptions on any of my tax returns....I am not remotely disturbed by any of my financial losses. I am in good health, and, as one one of the comments noted: tanned and smiling.

Indeed it's true -- McAfee for all his neurotic behavior has been prone to fits of extreme generosity.

And then there's Belize. Around 2008 or so McAfee reportedly began to round up venture capital to support a biotech startup, which he named QuorumEx.  

QuorumEx

The premise was that he would find antibiotics in rainforest plants.  In 2009 it would relocated to a beachside compound in Belize.  An antivirus pioneer starting a biotech firm to fight organic viruses?  It sounds like a joke that's too farfetched to be real.

McAfee
Many believe McAfee, pictured in Belize in this image, was using his alleged Belize biotech startup as a ruse to womanize and engage in drug use. [Image Source: Brian Finke for Wired]

And perhaps it wasn't.  By 2010 investors were growing antsy.  And a report in Fast Company painted a rather unflattering picture of QuorumEx's authenticity, describing:

Three months before I arrived, [McAfee's female researcher] says, McAfee had a brainstorm: What if they went looking for an herbal compound that would bolster the female libido? The potential market could be huge — a distaff corollary to Viagra. And with that, libido-boosting herbs had become a second priority. Adonizio had been scouring the countryside for new plants and had found five candidates. It was a diversion from the mission she'd signed on for, but once it paid off, she and McAfee would really have the time and resources to focus on quorum-sensing drugs.

I leave San Ignacio confused. For all his declarations of commitment, McAfee hardly seems very focused on his grand project. So what is he really doing down there in Central America?

The report goes on to cite sources as suggesting McAfee might be using his expedition to Belize as a ruse to try to escape a wrongful death suit he was facing via family members.  The suit stemmed from a business McAfee owned that advertised "aerotreking" -- risky rides in small, lightweight aircraft.  His nephew was a guide and was involved in a fatal crash in 2006.

Ultimately the Fast Company report proved somewhat prophetic, but also a little sensational.  While an Arizona jury indeed found McAfee liable in the young man's death, he was only ordered to pay $2.5M USD in damages -- not necessarily as dire a financial outcome as the report seemingly implied.

McAfee security force
His security force would later draw heat from local officials after a man was murdered next door. [Image Source: Wired]

That said, since the 2009 NYT piece on his losses, McAfee has been dogged by skeptics who suspect he's moved his money out of the country overstating his losses.  Such suspicions are tempting given his seeming ability to live large as the years roll by on a fortune that's reportedly no longer all that large.  That said there's no definitive evidence support such claims.

IV. Murderer or Master of Social Engineering?  McAfee's Fugitive Flight

Taken somewhat more seriously by media sources is the the claim that McAfee was using Belize as a personal brothel of sorts, given the fact that he "employed" individuals he acknowledged openly to be ex-prostitutes.  Ultimately this angle would prove incendiary, when his neighbor -- a land developer whom he was known to quarrel with was shot dead.

Belize -- McAfee
In Belize, McAfee -- an avid gun enthusiast -- became a "person of interest" when he  neighbor was shot dead. [Image Source: unknown]

McAfee claimed corrupt local officials were framing him for a hit that was actually meant to take his life.  Via clever social engineering (including authoring a fake report claiming he had been captured) he escaped Belize, but was detained by authorities in Guatamala, while trying to pass into Mexico.  

VICE published a series of video blogs, detailing his escape and subsequent detention.





And in yet another strange twist, it appears that it was VICE who outed McAfee's location and betrayed him to authorities (unbeknowst to the freelance photographer they had employed to videotape his journey).  The matter is the subject of ongoing legal drama, mostly between the the videographer and VICE.



The case was obviously all manner of bizarre, but there's some evidence in support of McAfee's claims that he was a political target.  For instance, authorities charged him with manufacturing unauthorized antibiotics, seemingly a bogus accusation considering that was after all the purpose of his company (which they were well aware of).  As for the firearms they found on his property, they failed to show any smoking gun pertaining to the murder.  Ultimately, all they established was that that his security force (which included at least one 17 year old female) were well armed.

Whether or not he or his hired hands followed proper local protocol regarding those weapons in a matter of open debate, but it does sort of make sense that if McAfee truly believed that someone was trying to target him with a hit that he would keep a well armed security detail.

Belize eventually declined to charge him, although he was reportedly sued by family members of his dead neighbor in a wrongful death civil suit.  And after being allegedly tricked via a faked heart attack, Guatamalan authorities released McAfee to fly to Miami, Flor.  Belize's prime minister Dean Barrow commented on McAfee:

I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.

Indeed, you did get that feeling, but the comment also seemed a bit too glib given the seriousness of the manhunt for McAfee.  And while the whole situation remains very much ambiguous, McAfee has offered up interesting new details claiming that the whole household of attractive was just a ruse to populate the Belize and other local governments with spyware loaded hardware.  

McAfee -- the girls
McAfee's blog claims this video shows one of his "girls" loading spyware onto government laptops.

He detailed this claim in his blog "Who Is McAfee" in a two part series of posts entitled "The Girls".  He writes:

The photo above is of one of the American women working both in Miami and in Belize.  Frequently government ministers and officials flew to Miami (two hours from Belize City) for business, pleasure, parties or what have you.  I needed resources in Miami to keep tabs on targets.  Nicky is prepping a few computers for delivery to “friends” of hers in Belize.  She told all of her targets that she had a friend in the computer sales business and that the friend could provide computers for $100 each.  Even government officials like a good deal so the computers were easy to place.

But one thing McAfee didn't really address -- who was he working for?  His claims sound like something you might associate with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agecy (CIA) or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  

If his claims are legit, that becomes a more perplexing question, given his support of leaker Edward Snowden and criticism of U.S. government spying.  Are those attitudes just more lies and social engineering?  Or is the Belize spy tale the true fabrication?  Or possibly, is there a stranger truth that lies somewhere in between.

McAfee
McAfee is seen supposedly playing Russian roulette in this 2012 Wired photo.
[Image Source: Brian Finke for Wired]

Again, as with most things McAfee, for every answer or anecdote, there's more questions.

V. Homecoming, New Ventures, and Familiar Legal Troubles

Ultimately McAfee settled in Portland, Oreg. at an upscale apartment complex dubbed The 20 on Hawthorne, seemingly a solid fit for his self-proclaimed eccentricity.  But by late 2013,  he was on the move again.  The move was provoked by a spat with his building manager Conor Hyde who won a court order against McAfee over alleged stalking.  

McAfee
McAfee appeared tired at times in Portland as he tried to find his way.
[Image Source: Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian]

The dispute was allegedly provoked over accusations that the building manager was conspiring with the family of the dead neighbor from Belize. The dispute culminated with the protective order and McAfee's eviction.  Local reporters painted McAfee as a womanizer -- or perhaps he was just doing more "social engineering".

McAfee moved to Montreal for a bit; the stalking complaint would eventually be dismissed but he would not return.  Instead he relocated to the southwest.

He remains seemingly productive, largely in an endorsement capacity, and as always is courting the media to some degree, largely when it works to his advantage.  In 2013 he launched a new startup -- Future Tense.  The goal of the newly formed firm was to create a pocket-sized encryption peripheral which McAfee claimed could be used to keep user data private from the National Security Agency (NSA).  While some dispute the feasibility of his vision, even his critics admitted it was found on solid ideas.  In Oct. 2013, McAfee promised prototypes within six months and an eventual price tag of $100 USD.

So far the device remains MIA, but McAfee did manage to get an incubator space launched.  Located near Auburn University along the Alabama/Georgia border, the site -- "The Round House" -- was a former railraod station.  It's a six-hour drive for McAfee home, but he regularly drifts up to the site.  The facility is managed in part by Kyle Sandler, a former Google engineer.

John McAfee at the Round House
John McAfee speaks with reporters at "The Round House", his new offices in Alabama.
[Image Source: USA Today]

Instead of his magic box, McAfee and company have instead offered up a handful of security themed mobile apps, somewhat ironic offerings given his proclamation at last August's Def Con 22, where he stated:

The most promising privacy thing is stupid phones.  I’m dumping all my smart phones.

In May of last year he released CHADDER, an encrypted chat client for Android.  The app has a rather lackluster 3.7 star rating.  Generally users appear to be enthusiastic about the premise, but many complained of crashes, error messages, and other stability problems.  On the upside, there's been several updates since most of those comments, so it appears that McAfee and his associates have been working to patch their issues.  CHADDER, associated with CHADDER.im, is now also available for iOS, Windows Phone, the PC.  

The app is apparently primarily the work of Etransfr, a startup launched by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  Doubtless they have benefited from the name recognition, though.

McAfee has reportedly played a more intimate role in the development of DCentral1, and Android Permissions filtering/control app that has much better reviews.  Also released last year for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS Play Store, it's averaged a 4.6-star review, thus far.  In October McAfee's outfit released D-Vasive Pro, a ~$6 USD app that notifies users of attempts to activate the device camera, etc. by third party apps.  In spite of some users claiming it's a scam/scareware that doesn't do all that much, the app has drawn some positive feedback and has a 4-star average rating.



He recently remarried to Janice Dyson, whom Gawker users claim is a former Florida prostitute with multiple convictions.  (They also claim to have been personally threatened by McAfee and his associates.)  A LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) profile lists her as a "dance studio" owner, but that may be some play on a different Janice McAfee who owns a Missouri studio.  The couple has bought a home in Tennessee -- where McAfee claims to have worked four decades ago.

McAfee claims he's been shot at in recent months.  Some of his associates, including a reporter who supported some of his claims, also claim to have been threatened and harassed, as a USA Today piece entitled "McAfee's Last Stand" relates.

After seemingly keeping his nose clean for a couple years, last month he found himself the subject of some unflattering headlines after being arrested while intoxicated and reportedly in posession of a firearm.  He offered a bizarre mea culpa on Facebook, writing that the incident was due to a Xanax prescription, whilst claiming to have actually shot at the cops:

I just got a new prescription for Xanax and one pill felt good. Two seemed better. The shootout was nothing remarkable. No-one was hit.

[...]

Yes, I was arrested while under the influence of Xanax. It was a brand new prescription received the same day of the arrest (see photo) and the physician neglected to warn me about driving while taking it.

As to the weapons, I always carry them and, unless one is impaired, they are legal to possess and carry.

The shootout with the police was highly exaggerated and in fact no one was even hit by a bullet, let alone harmed by one. The Police knew me and I don’t believe their hearts were truly in the shootout, as it is not included in the official report. When I ran out of ammunition, I surrendered quietly and the officers and my self had a cigarette together and joked about my bad aim.

If there are any other questions I would suggest you call the arresting officer, I believe his name was James at 731 602 0394.

John McAfee
John McAfee was arrested last month on the suspicion of drunk driving and carrying a firearm.  He claims it was due to a Xanax prescription and that the gun was for self defense as he claims to have been shot at.

In support of his claim, he did look pretty relaxed in his mugshot.

John McAfee
From John McAfee's Facebook...

He followed up with the above Xanax prescription as "proof" of his claims.  You could say he handled that scandal in presidential fashion.

VI. Mr. President

And here we are a month later, and he's running for President.  And he appears to be taking the bid semi-seriously, as he has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to make his Presidential bid official.

John McAfee

Of course, drugs and wild behavior doesn't preclude one from the presidency.  Accusations of cocaine and booze hounded President George Walker Bush (R), and current President Barack Hussein Obama II (D) admitted to both dealing drugs and induling in drugs -- even cocaine -- in his wilder younger years.  Of course, with McAfee the issue is more complex given that allegations exist in the recent context.  And in spite of his recent marriage he remains dogged by accusations of his womanizing.

Really, McAfee seems better aware of current events that many of the candidates.  From the apparent North Korean hack of Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) to the recent Ashley Madison breach, McAfee always is happy to give his thoughts in interview.  And even if his hypothetical ramblings are a bit on the whacky side, it is clear this is a man who's well versed in current events.

But what am I talking about?  That all sounds like a serious analysis of his potential as a candidate.  Clearly as a third party he stands virtually no chance to get elected.  But don't tell McAfee that.  He tells CNN Money:

I have a huge underground following on the web.  I promise you I will win because I have the votes.

As for his strategy, he suggests he might poke fun at Donald John Trump's hair cut and Hillary Rodham Clinton's tolerance of her husband's antics.  But he adds that he thinks they're both "very smart" and that Trump "would've won" if he "didn't enter."  He assures:

I'm not entering this race to compete with other people.  I'm not going to sling mud at people or run as anyone other than myself. 

We are losing privacy at an alarming rate -- we have none left.  We've given up so much for the illusion of security and our government is simply dysfunctional.  The government can spy on people using their mobile phones while they're with their wives and husbands.  [At the same time, the government] lacks an understanding of the basic technology that runs the world.

Optimism aside, don't expect to see him on the ballot even if he's in the news.  Ballot access isn't even about votes alone.  As USA Today summarized in 2012, each state has its own rules and third parties must jump through a maze of hoops and red tape to simply get their chosen candidate on the ballot.  So it may prove difficult to impossible for "The Cyber Party" to crash the ballot in most states, although it may draw some write-in votes.

John McAfee

That said, ballot access won't stop McAfee from hamming it up on the media circuit spreading his pro-privacy reformist message. So it seems that some good may come of McAfee's "run", self-engrandizing as it may be in regards to the man's fame.

Ultimately it's hard to begrudge McAfee's self-promotion.    If he's self-serving perhaps that a notch toward him become a real bonafide politicians.  And at the same time at least he is actually standing for a legitimate cause he appears to believe in to some degree -- more than some U.S. politicians can claim.  Ultimately his arrival makes an already weird election weirder.  But then again, his appearance promises to keep us entertained, as well.

Sources: McAfee16.com, CNN Money





"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer













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