#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…
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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.



Open Thread: What Kayla Moore “Knew”

It is not, so I’ve read, uncommon for men with socially-unsanctioned sexual urges, once they approach forty, to “settle down” with a wife… who may, or may not, be aware of her spouse’s proclivities. Of course the hormones are less urgent as one ages, but just as importantly, an older man has much more to lose if his undercover activities are exposed; his credentials, his career, his network of social contacts become more valuable than the young man’s fantasy of escaping to a fresh start and a new identity. Frequently such men — such couples — become dependent, even to a cult-like degree, upon a rigid religious or ethical text that will “protect” them from the vile temptations of our sinful world. Roy Moore seems to have been a “social Christian” before his marriage; his determination to drag the rest of us into his interpretation of “Bible-based law” came with his… maturity.

Did Kayla Kisor know about her prospective husband’s dubious habits, back in 1985? She was in the same class as the woman who Roy called out of trig class to ask on a date. And she was sufficiently aware of possible embarrassment that she claimed they met at Bible study — when in reality, Roy would say that he first noticed her when she was 17 and performing at a junior college dance recital.

But what she knows now, for certain sure, is that she’s put 32 years into a fruitful working relationship, and suddenly it’s all coming undone, because Godless liberals:

“He has never one time lifted a finger to me. He is the most gentle, most kind man that I have ever known in my life. He’s godly. He’s loving — and everybody in this community knows it,” Kayla Moore, 56, said, looking around at the people gathered that night. “These are our church members, these are our family, these are our friends, these are people that know him just like I do.”

Over the past week, as several women have come forward to publicly accuse Roy Moore, 70, of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, Kayla Moore has become her husband’s most visible and aggressive defender. In addition to her defense on Monday night, she has used Facebook to question the credibility of her husband’s accusers, threaten lawsuits and spread information that sometimes turns out to be false…

Friends describe Kayla Moore as a deeply religious wife, mother and grandmother who has devoted her life to her family and gushes lovingly about her four children and five grandchildren. She served on the board of her husband’s Foundation for Moral Law, which he founded to promote Christian values, and then took over the nonprofit as president in January 2013, when Roy Moore was elected to a second term on the state Supreme Court.

For years, Moore has helped coordinate her husband’s political campaigns. In his race for the Senate this year, the two have traveled nearly everywhere together — with him often at the wheel as she navigates…

The FML also paid Kayla Moore a total of $195,000 over three years through 2015″, on top of Roy’s “salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work.” (And of course when she’s right by his side, it’s that much easier to be sure ol’ Roy doesn’t let his eyes or his hands wander.)
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Open Thread: Suite “Home” Alabama

That “unsure” 11% seems important. CNN:

Democrat Doug Jones — once thought to be a longshot in the Deep South — has tied Republican nominee and former judge Roy Moore in Alabama’s US Senate race, a new poll shows…

Moore and Jones will face off in a special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat December 12.

The poll confirms Republicans’ fears that Moore — who campaigns on a theocratic, anti-LGBT message and has twice been ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice, once for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument and once for refusing to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage — would be a uniquely vulnerable candidate in a state President Donald Trump won last year by 28 percentage points…

Jones, a former prosecutor who convicted two former Klansmen in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, has sought to portray Moore as someone who would embarrass Alabama on the national stage…

Moore has a history of under performing compared to national Republican leaders in Alabama. In the 2012 race for state Supreme Court chief justice, he won by just 2 points over little-known circuit court judge Bob Vance in a year Mitt Romney won the state by 22 points…

Roy Moore’s Senate run is turning into the roadshow version of Trump’s campaign, and that was a farcical imitation of a real campaign…


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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Thoughts & Prayers?


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The news stays this bad, people are gonna revive the old superstition about the health of a nation depending on the health of its king. Given the season, Trump’s handlers should probably be suspicious of any invitations for him to visit an oak grove, Bohemian or not…


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Apart from doing what we can to help those most in need, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Repub “Base” Remains A Threat

Even to other Republicans / conservatives, because theirs is a clan of cannibals serving a zombie ideology:

In remarks at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Tuesday morning, Nick Ayers also warned that Republicans are “on track to get shellacked” in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities.

But Ayers reserved his harshest criticism for congressional leaders and members who have not offered full-throated support for the president….

One attendee later asked how the donors could “rally the congressional delegation that does support the president and vice president, and rally them and push them to change the current leadership in both the Senate and the House.”

“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,” Ayers responded. “But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, No. 1. And No. 2, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”

He continued, “Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again, we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.”

The crowd laughed and burst into applause.

The remarks are some of the most extensive to emerge from Ayers, who joined the White House over the summer after initially opting to remain on the outside. A longtime adviser to Pence and a top aide on the 2016 campaign, he’s widely respected in Republican circles as a sharp-elbowed and strategic operative…

And in the Washington Post, news of another would-be cannibal king “Roy Moore’s disruption of Washington has already begun, and more is on the way”:

Moore didn’t meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or stop by the White House to make nice with the forces­ that tried to defeat him. Instead, he huddled with Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist and one of Moore’s most outspoken advocates, and spent time in the office of a House Republican from Alabama.

The latest skirmish in the escalating war for the soul of the GOP was more than awkward: It was a window into what might be coming for Republicans next year, when hard-right conservatives emboldened by Moore’s runoff victory last week against Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) are likely to target still more establishment incumbents.

It also has immediate and potentially dire implications for the GOP’s slim working majority in the Senate. Although Moore still faces a general election on Dec. 12, he is widely seen as the front-runner in that race, given Alabama’s heavy conservative tilt.

The growing hostilities threaten the effort by Senate GOP leaders to foster enough unity in their ranks to pass a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws — which they are wagering is the only thing left that can reverse the political damage the party has sustained this year. Moore is seen as a wild card who could complicate, if not derail, that task.
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