I don’t know why it gets to me

I don’t know why it gets to me September 27, 2022

• Sarah Posner writes about bullies: “The Christian nationalist boot camp pushing anti-trans laws across America.”

The “boot camp” is run by “the Family Policy Alliance, the political arm of Focus on the Family.” That should really be a political arm of Focus on the Family — it has several political arms, as well as political legs and a thoroughly political torso.

Posner writes, “In 2016, [the Family Policy Alliance] launched the Statesmen Academy, a program which ‘provides pro-family legislators early in their career with the training, mentorship, support and coordination necessary for effective, Christ-centered public service,’ according to its website.” One wonders what it costs to enroll in this “academy,” and who pays for that enrollment.

Here’s Posner on one “Statesmen Academy graduate”:

Walsh, who co-sponsored the Missouri bill that Lundstrum traveled to Jefferson City to endorse, has also co-sponsored or supported legislation that, if passed, would create a Rush Limbaugh Day; ban the use of the 1619 Project, The New York Times’ award-winning exploration of the legacy of slavery in America, in schools; allow people to carry firearms on public transportation; and prohibit vaccine mandates. (Walsh’s husband, who, like her, was not vaccinated against COVID-19, died after contracting the disease last year.)

I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to ponder how “Rush Limbaugh Day,” banning teaching about slavery, open-carry on buses, and anti-vax nonsense constitute a “Focus on the Family.”

• Speaking of right-wing white-/Christian-nationalist bootcamps … “Two Christian ranches, meant to help troubled teens, were hotbeds of abuse.”

It’s not true that “ministries” like these are all run by sexual predators and sadists. Many of them are also run by exploitative grifters who simply don’t care whether or not their staff includes predators and sadists.

• Before reading Erik Loomis’ graveside obituary of Susan and Tony Alamo, I did not realize that the over-the-top televangelist grifter was also a fashion designer and that Susan Alamo designed the jacket that Michael Jackson wore on the cover of Bad.

• Speaking of disgraced former televangelists … did you know that Jim Bakker once shared a cell in federal prison with Lyndon LaRouche?

The Queen of England died on LaRouche’s birthday. For those too young to remember the 1990s, let me try to explain why that’s funny.

LaRouche was the last of the analog conspiracy theorists, His network of followers spread their vile, bonkers, hateful nonsense the old fashioned way — via newsprint, tracts, photocopied fliers, and street evangelism from folding tables set up outside the post office of any town unfortunate enough to have an active cell of his disciples. His movement was eventually eclipsed by cable television and then the internet, but some of his followers are still around (one of them comes through the Big Box every few weeks, leaving pages from their “newspaper” on shelves throughout the store).

The LaRouchies took a fevered “Yes, and” approach to paranoid conspiracy theorizing, happily incorporating the fantasies, phobias, and bigotries of others into their own sprawling, shifting Grand Scheme. Making sense of such nonsense was impossible, but — like all conspiracy theories — it was ferociously antisemitic, revolving around the claim that the world was secretly run by a nefarious cabal of Jewish puppet-masters who controlled the Federal Reserve and the World Bank and the CIA and, especially, the British monarchy.

Lyndon LaRouche had a lot of ideas about the British monarchy in general and about Elizabeth II in particular, blaming her, personally, for everything from AIDS to international drug trafficking.

The digital conspiracy theorists of the 21st century took the baton from LaRouche and ran with it, spinning even more absurd claims about Elizabeth. Robyn Pennacchia valiantly tries to sort through some of those here: “Was Queen Elizabeth a Satanic Lizard Person Who Died of the Covid Vaccine?” She highlights the incoherent, contradictory claims about the queen now circulating on the right — a combination of pro-monarchy, pro-imperial authoritarianism and an agglomerated mess of QAnon-related fantasies.

All of that may seem as beyond-the-fringe as the bizarre assertions made by those addled LaRouchies at the folding table outside of the post office but, as Pennacchia notes, this stuff is now core doctrine for most of the Republican Party and for most of the white evangelical, Charisma-INCsters supporting it.

Back when they were cellmates in the ’80s, Jim Bakker thought Lyndon LaRouche was a paranoid nutjob. But Bakker was also taking notes and he’s been profitably applying what he learned from his old cellie in his new dominionist-prepper scam. Doug Mastriano built his military career on LaRouchite fever-dreams and he’s now the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania.

In the white church and the White People’s Party, none of this nonsense is fringe anymore.

• “Christian Colleges Look for ‘Missing Men’,” Hannah McClellan reports for Christianity Today.

The apparent “gender gap” in college enrollment seems like it ought to be a self-correcting problem. If your school’s enrollment is 60% female then I don’t think you need to spend a lot of time brainstorming new ways to make the place more attractive to male potential students (like my alma mater’s new football team). You just have to tell them that your student body has a 3-to-2 ratio of girls to guys.

• “Lawrence Brook Carvings, New Brunswick, NJ.” As a kid, I spent much of my summers riding my bike with friends, often winding up rock-hopping or turtle-chasing in many of the various brooks and streams near our Central Jersey homes. If we’d ever heard anything about this — secret codes? hints of pirate treasure? — we’d have gone full Goonies and been there every day it didn’t rain.

• The title for this post comes from Matthew Sweet’s “Divine Intervention.” There’s a few good live videos of this online, but I think I like the studio version here best.

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