Friday Evening Open Thread: Cruise Ship of Certified Fools

Fortunately for the crew — and boy howdy do I feel sorry for those poor folk! — Beck’s target audience is almost certainly old enough to be outside the measles-susceptible anti-vaxxer demographic. Unlike the wretched Scientologists on the Seastead earlier this year…








Wrapping Up the Weekend Open Thread








#QAnon and ‘the Church of Trump’: A Grifter Runs Through It

“Pushing the theory on to bigger platforms proved to be the key to Qanon’s spread — and the originators’ financial gain”:

In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website’s message board.

Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of “Q,” the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump.

Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate among conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order to make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q’s mysterious posts.

While the identity of the original author or authors behind “Q” is still unknown, the history of the conspiracy theory’s spread is well-documented — through YouTube videos, social media posts, Reddit archives, and public records reviewed by NBC News.

NBC News has found that the theory can be traced back to three people who sparked some of the first conversation about Qanon and, in doing so, attracted followers who they then asked to help fund Qanon “research.”…

The hell of it is… #QAnon’s true believers probably wouldn’t find its grift-based foundation disqualifying. Believers are notorious for being able to hand-wave away much worse behavior, and it’s been argued that the hardcore Deplorables of Trump’s base are already using his rallies as a substitute for the communal bonding they can’t find in more ‘mainstream’ churches. Alex Wagner, in the Atlantic:

Last spring, my colleague Peter Beinart looked at the increasing secularization of American society and how it had contributed to the rise of political tribalism:

As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.

Non-college-educated whites are the Trump base, now set adrift:

Establishing causation is difficult, but we know that culturally conservative white Americans who are disengaged from church experience less economic success and more family breakdown than those who remain connected, and they grow more pessimistic and resentful.

You could draw a straight line from a disenfranchised, pessimistic, resentful audience to Trump’s brand of fear-driven, divisive politics, but this would leave out an equally important part of the Trump phenomenon, and something critical to its success: the elation. Go to a Trump rally, speak to Trump supporters, and the devotion is nearly evangelical…

Durkheim’s theory—that a gathering of the tribe can create a certain energy that renders particular people or objects sacred—goes a long way toward explaining Trump’s infallibility among his supporters. But it also brings to the fore something that Trump critics have missed so far when focusing on his (not insignificant) negatives: Trumpism, like many forms of non-secular worship, makes its believers feel good

Organized worship, cultish or not, has been a method of social bonding for as long as humans have come together in groups. And for as far back as we have records, there’s been satires about the failings of the local clerical class — satires that in no way measure the actual religious belief of the worshippers laughing at them. If the Proud Deplorables are really treating Trump as the figurehead of their communal worship, then the self-interested profit-seeking of #QAnon’s “experts” are not necessarily going to wean them off the conspiracy fantasy, any more than the steady parade of Evangelical preachers exposed as grifting frauds / sexual abusers has weaned their base away.








Late Night Eyes-Cast-Up-to-Heaven Open Thread: Who Among Us?…

… hasn’t publicly speculated about dating their teenage daughter?

For all their valiant attempts to “normalize” his behavior and that of his most racist supporters, Donald Trump remains an enormously unpopular and polarizing figure. So the NYTimes roots around in the Christianist swamps for a new and hopefully more convincing argument from this dude at the ecumenical, conservative and, in some views, neoconservative religious journal” First Things

People I knew from college or had met in New York expressed distaste for Mr. Trump’s behavior. If they were religiously conservative, they stressed his infidelity while also objecting to his insults of women. If they were liberal, they objected to his treatment of women and viewed his infidelity as a sign that his religious supporters were hypocrites. Not a single peer of mine in New York — no matter how conservative or religious — publicly supported Mr. Trump.

In contrast, almost all of the people I know in my hometown in Nebraska proudly supported him. They glossed over his infidelities and stressed that he seemed to be a good father. They were impressed by his “respectful” sons and admired the success of his daughters.

In their book “Red Families v. Blue Families,” Naomi Cahn and June Carbone popularized the idea of “blue” and “red” family models. Blue families prize equality and companionship between spouses while putting a low value on childbearing. Red families tend to be inegalitarian or complementarian, viewing the man as the primary breadwinner and the mother as the primary caregiver. Early marriage and multiple children are typical.

Red families tend toward conservatism, and blue tend toward progressivism, but the models share an upper-class stress on respectability and a strong taboo against out-of-wedlock birth.

A third model can be found among working-class whites, blacks and Hispanics — let’s call it purple. In these families, bonds between mothers and children are prized above those between couples. Unstable relationships are the norm, and fathers quickly end up out of the picture…
Read more








Creepy Evangelicals Open Thread: “Why Not Mike Pence?”

Sure, Mike’s a moron, and a very public enabler for one of the grossest public figures of our time, but Ross “Chunky BoBo” Doubthat has a dream!

In the 2016 election, once Marco Rubio was defeated and Ted Cruz dispatched, religious conservatives faced a binary choice: Vote Trump or get Hillary. One does not have to agree with the ultimate decision that most of them made to understand the logic that motivated a decision for Trump.

But the politics of the coming year, once the Mueller investigation ceases to be a black box and delivers whatever it’s going to deliver (you’ll get no predictions from me!), might offer a very different choice. If Trump were impeached and removed from the White House, the presidency would devolve to precisely the kind of man whom much of pre-Trump religious conservatism insisted that it wanted in the Oval Office: an evangelical Christian family man with a bluenose’s temperament and a boring Reaganite checklist of beliefs.

Which means that if, in what is no longer an absurd hypothetical, the president were to face real legal-political jeopardy over the Stormy Daniels business, the evangelical leaders currently fretting about Trump’s political position would face a case where doing the consistent thing — namely, returning to their Bill Clinton-era position that character counts in presidents and using illegal means to conceal gross infidelities are impeachable offenses — would actually deliver something closer to what they claimed to want, not so very long ago: not a liberal in the White House, but President Mike Pence…

A Republican Party that ran in 2020 with a boring Midwestern guy (albeit, yes, one sure to be trailed by protesters in Handmaid outfits) as the steward of prosperity would not necessarily be worse off than a party lashed to its current leader; if Gerald Ford could almost win in Nixon’s shadow, why not Pence in Trump’s? And a religious conservatism that sacrificed a lot of cultural credibility in defending Trump might regain a little by abandoning him, vindicating itself against what seem now like reasonable charges of “character for thee but not for me” hypocrisy…

I know the Repub, er “Evangelical” plan was to use Mike Pence as a catspaw cutout if/when Donny Dollhands got carted off by law enforcement, but the stench around His Vermillion Vulgarity is so intense it might even set Pence beyond the Pale. Ever-sensitive political weathervane Charlie ‘Chickenshit’ Baker, Republican governor of deep-blue Massachusetts, just made a rather public point of *not* showing up to greet Pence last night. Per the local right-wing tabloid, the Boston Herald:

The Herald reported yesterday that Baker was snubbing the vice president, who was in Boston last night to meet with local Republicans at a fundraiser for Trump Victory, a joint venture of the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. ­Baker told reporters yesterday that he “reached out” to Pence’s office to inform the vice president’s aides that he would not be attending and that they understood his reasons.

The fundraiser at the Langham Hotel, which was expected to raise about $500,000, was closed to the press.

When first asked Monday about Pence’s visit, Baker said he had not been aware of the event ahead of time and had already committed to an appearance in southeastern Massachusetts…

Baker’s actual wording, as reported before the event:

Baker told reporters that he’s missing the Pence event “because my calendar has other stuff on it” and insisted he wasn’t trying to send a message to the Trump administration…

Yes, as a matter of fact, Baker is running for re-election this fall (don’t look at me, Massholes have a weird affectation concerning ‘moderate’ Repub governors, mostly since the office isn’t much more powerful in Massachusetts than it is in Texas). But if even Chickenshit Charlie can’t show Mike Dense a little public love, I don’t think Ross and his fellow sweaty ‘religious’ fellows are gonna have much luck pushing their Republic of Gilead dreams.