Thursday, July 20, 2017

#1872: Don Larsen

Don Larsen is – or used to be (we can’t quite find the relevant information) – chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party. In 2007 Larsen gained a bit of attention after he apparently submitted a resolution warning that Satan’s minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention where he proposed the resolution, Larsen told those willing to listen that illegal immigrants “hate American people” and “are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won’t do.” They are apparently in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats to “destroy Christian America” and replace it with “a godless new world order – and that is not extremism, that is fact.” It is, of course, extremism, not fact, and that Larsen felt the need to explicitly claim the opposite should perhaps have been a clue. At the end of his speech, Larsen apparently began crying, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. “by self invasion.”

According to his resolution, in order for Satan to establish his “New World Order and destroy the freedom of all people, as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.” The resolution then proposed to “prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion” by closing the borders, thus trapping everyone in there with Larsen.

Diagnosis: This is not an exception. The voter base for a significant proportion of wingnut politicians consists precisely of people who respond to such public displays of deranged lunacy by voting for them. We haven’t heard about Larsen since this, but there are plenty of likeminded people out there running for office and receiving the support from morons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#1871: Jack "Kewaunee" Lapseritis

Ah, yes: Bigfoot. Now, Bigfoot is a pretty silly myth, and bigfoot cryptozoology is pitifully ridiculous, but even tinfoil hat groups like the Bigfoot hunters have their own radical fringes. The late paranormal investigator Jon-Erik Beckjord (called “perhaps the most colorful character in the history of the Internet”) theorized that the lack of hard evidence for Bigfoot’s existence is due to the creature being an interdimensional being that slips in and out of dimensions (rather than, you know, the fact that it doesn’t exist), and many – starting with B. Ann Slate and Alan Berry in 1976 – have linked bigfoot to UFOs, telepathic experiences and incoherent mumbo-jumbo.

Despite a distinct lack of empirical data to back up such hypotheses, people have picked up the thread; Jack “Kewaunee” Lapseritis, for instance, argues in his book The Sasquatch People and Their Interdimensional Connection (2011) that 187 documented cases have “objectified the reality of dimensional bigfoot creatures”. It seems that bigfoot, according to Kewaunee (it’s a bit hard to tell), utilize the multiverse to jump dimensions. Kewaunee’s grasp of the multiverse hypothesis is, needless to say, tenuous and rudimentary. There is also quantum: “[q]uantum physics describes the reality of mental telepathy, invisibility, inter-dimensionalism, and other PSI phenomena, and is actually juxtaposed with psychic Sasquatch and ET behavior,” as Lapseritis sees it. It does not.

Apparently Lapseritis’s work consists mostly of telepathic field work – according to himself, “Kewaunee has been successful in his research because of his benign, spiritual, field methodology (no guns or cameras) – not unlike Dr. Jane Goodall’s approach with chimpanzees, except the Sasquatch are highly evolved nature people. They are terrestrial extraterrestrials, living inside giants’ bodies.” Using senses unavailable to most humans, Lapseritis has apparently intuited for instance that the Bigfoot race was brought to Earth (“seeded”) by the Star People long before humans, ostensibly to provide us with psychic guidance: in 2012, for instance (The Sasquatch People was published in 2011) “there will be a huge shift in human consciousness that most earthlings are ill prepared to face. The Sasquatch people, who are the ultimate environmentalists, want to share their ancient wisdom with the human, but few are listening.” Lapseritis has also written The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection.

You can read more about it all on his strikingly designed website (embellished with random capitalizations and lots of different fonts). According to the book blurb for The Sasquatch People, Lapseritis himself is “a Holistic Health Consultant, as well as a Master Herbalist and Wellness Educator with 37 years of training and service in this field. Among many other resources for training, Kewaunee studied Herbalogy/Botany with the Ojibwa traditional shaman, Keewaydinoquay, PhD in Ethno-Botany; he is also a Master Dowser and a Sasquatch and ET contactee. Kewaunee is a world-traveled/trained herbalist who twice healed himself of cancer by natural herbal remedies and formulas.” Right.

In September 2017 Kewaunee and “spiritual teacher” Kelly Lapseritis (probably related) will host the second annual Spiritual and Psychic Sasquatch Conference, where they will apparently speak “on behalf of the Sasquatch People, Mother Earth and all of Humanity” and “propose a spiritual and ecological approach to healing our planet and our own collective soul consciousness.” Apparently their “speakers will share their own personal encounters with these sentient beings as well as the messages that have been shared with them to assist in improving and healing ourselves, relationships, and perspective realities,” and they include, in addition to the Lapseritises:

- SunBôw, author of The Sasquatch Message to Humanity Part 1 and 2.
- Andrew Robson, author of Sasquatch Revelations and Symbols from Beyond the Veil.
- Garrett Duncan, Navajo Shaman.
- Su Walker, Clairvoyant and Medical Intuitive.
- White Otter, Shamanic Practitioner.

Diagnosis: Completely harmless, of course, and probably of limited influence. And one cannot, in all honesty, help feeling a bit of sympathy with how special he is and his possession of all these unique, magic abilities that few seem to take seriously.

Monday, July 17, 2017

#1870: Angela Lanfranchi

Angela Lanfranchi is an anti-abortion activist and cofounder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. She is currently one of the most vocal defenders on the utterly discredited idea, based on ridiculous junk science, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer – a central tenet of her institute – and probably the most important defender of that particularly who actually should have some formal competence in the field and who actually takes care of breast cancer patients for a living (she is not a scientist, though). Lanfranchi has herself published arguments in favor of such a link in the pseudojournal JPANDS, the house journal of the deranged conspiracy theory group The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which should relieve her of all assumptions of minimal credibility with regard to the issue. She is nevertheless somewhat influential, insofar as many of those unable or unwilling to look at the science are attracted to her conclusions for political reasons.

According to Lanfranchi, “[i]t amounts to child abuse to take a teenager in a crisis pregnancy for an abortion. At best, it will give her a 30% risk of breast cancer in her lifetime. At worst, if she also has a family history of breast cancer, it will nearly guarantee this.” The numbers are effectively PIDOOMA (discussed in detail here). Then she appeals to the Semmelweis gambit and asserts that doctors don’t dare tell you this because they’re afraid of their reputations, which they honestly should be if they said this since the claim has been completely debunked.

Conclusion: Crank who shamelessly pushes pseudoscience for ideological reasons. As such, she also has a certain influence among those who, for non-evidence-based reasons, agree with her conclusions. Sad.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

#1869: Janis Lane

Janis Lane is – or at least used to be – the president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party. In 2012 she got some attention even outside of Central Mississippi, though, when she argued that women shouldn’t vote: “Probably the biggest turn we ever made was when the women got the right to vote,” said Lane: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person. I do not see that in men. The whole time I worked, I’d much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them. Because women have the right to vote, I am active, because I want to make sure there is some sanity for women in the political world. It is up to the Christian rednecks and patriots to stand up for our country.” The sentiment was later echoed by by a Toronto website that calls itself the “newsmagazine of the Islamic movement,” in a critique of American culture. Then there was this, for which we would like to know the context.

Diagnosis: One cannot quite shake the suspicion that Lane is involved in a grand scheme to make the Tea Party look bad … but no: she’s just a delusional extremist.

Friday, July 14, 2017

#1868: David Lane

David Lane is, quite simply, one of the scariest and craziest people alive today. For years, he has been one of the leading and most influential Taliban-style dominionists (“Christian Nation” advocates) in the US, working steadfastly to increase the political power of fundamentalists and their causes. But he is still not particularly famous; as The New York Times put it, Lane is “something of a stealth weapon for the right,” who for the most part works well behind the scenes.

Funded to a large extent by the hate-group the American Family Association, Lane’s main goal is to motivate pastors and fundamentalists to take political action (“What we’re doing is the mobilization of pastors and pews to restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage [i.e. the parts that fit with the bigotry and wingnuttery Lane happens to favor]. That’s our goal”), and to get crazies elected to public office. Lane has, as part of those efforts, organized huge Taliban rallies and political briefings with appearances by fundamentalist pastors and politicians such as David Barton (Lane served as the executive director of The Texas Restoration Project, funded by Barton), Mike Huckabee (Lane orchestrated Mike Huckabee’s surprise win in Iowa in 2008), Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann. As Lane puts it “What we’re doing with the pastor meetings is spiritual, but the end result is political. ... From my perspective, our country is going to hell because pastors won’t lead from the pulpits.” There is a good portrait of Lane (and how frightening he is) here, and another one (focusing on his extensive influence) here.

In a 2013 essay Lane declared that religious war may be on the horizon, and his influential American Renewal Project has continued to actively prepare for that war, hosting all-expenses paid policy briefings for clergy and their spouses to rally his forces. In addition to those mentioned above, participants have included politicians like Mike Pence, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Donald Trump also addressed one such event in August 2016. As for ARP’s efforts to recruit and train clergy with a dominionist vision to run for office at all levels, at least Lane’s own pastor, Rob McCoy, won a city council seat in Thousand Oaks, California, in 2016 (though the results of the efforts have overall been a bit lackluster). The goal is explicit: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as a separation of church and state,” says Lane: “This was not established as a secular nation, and anybody that says that it is, they’re not reading American history. This was established by Christians for the advancement of the Christian faith. My goal is to return – to restore a biblically based culture and a Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Also in his 2015 essay “To Retake America, We Must Defeat Her False Religion” (for Charisma), the dominionist dog whistles sounded loud and clear. According to Lane, “[w]e just need a Gideon or Rahab the Harlot to stand.” According to the Bible Gideon, as you may recall, led an Israelite army in an ethnic cleansing of the pagan Midianites, and Rahab sheltered two Israelite spies in preparation for the fall of Jericho by Joshua’s army, where everyone but Rahab and her family were massacred. It’s worth thinking about why Lane chose those two examples.

Officially, of course, Lane advocates “religious freedom” (the goal of ARP is “to engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty”), which to him means that the Bible should be the primary textbook for public school students and that refusing to participate in school-led religious services and prayers should be banned – in the near future, predicts Lane, we will “watch Providence call for ‘punishment executed by angels’ to those who oppose His Word.” As a side note, is interesting to note how Lane juxtaposes predictions of victory and predictions of gloom – elsewhere, Lane has suggested that everything is going to hell and that we will soon have car bombs in Los Angeles and Iowa, and that such acts of terrorism will be God showing mercy on us (yes, his screeds often also veer into incoherent babble fuelled by hatred and delirious religious frenzy).

As opposed to religious fundamentalism, secularism is intolerant because secularists call people who want to criminalize homosexuality “bigots”. Secularists are also pawns of Satan. Not that Lane has a very clear understanding of “secularism”, which he thinks is simultaneously a religion and synonymous with liberalism. Ultimately, “secularism” is for Lane really just a catchall to designate anything he doesn’t like. But at least, according to Lane, “American education has collapsed under the weight of Secularism. Moral and academic anarchy now reign. Something curious has happened to those who define themselves as anti-fascist, who in reality are the fascists,” ostensibly because they criticize him and people like him for promoting the use of violence to establish a state in which everyone must bow to Lane’s religious convictions.

Unfortunately, however, God is at present “holding up His deliverance from pagan secularism in America” because of “flagrant sin” (indeed, “Barack Hussein Obama just might be the agent of the judgment of God on a nation that abandoned its Biblical-based culture”). Here is Lane claiming that the only alternative to Christian theocracy is Nazism. Here is Lane claiming that America is the great Satan.

Lane on American history
The main element in his case against the separation of church and state is that the Mayflower pilgrims were religious extremists and explicitly tried to create a theocratic British colony. That the US later decided to split with the British and write a Constitution not based on the Mayflower document is less relevant (and Lane tends to handwave and lie a bit about that part). In particular, he argues that the pilgrims, who believed that their undertaking was “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith,” created a covenant with God that America must currently renew in order to survive, and that “the Founders established America legally as a Christian nation at the state level, rather than the Federal” – “Founders” here of course meaning those who established the colonies before the Constitution (Lane explicitly calls the 1607 Jamestown British colony charter “America’s foundation” and no, he really doesn’t seem to know the difference between a British colony charter and the Constitution) – and approvingly cites state constitutions at the time that required officeholders to be Protestant Christians (Catholicism is of course as bad as secularism – i.e. catholics are pagans; Lane doesn’t distinguish between non-Christians and Christians who don’t advocate religious theocracy – and other “dead religion[s]”). Some of Lane’s lies about history are briefly discussed here.

And Lane probably knows that he is lying when he claims that currently “The Pledge of Allegiance is forbidden” and that “Christmas carols are banned”, but the lies serves their intended purpose, which is to scare those delusional enough to listen to him to begin with.

The gays
Lane has a long career of vigorous opposition to gay rights; “homosexual fascism” will destroy America, says Lane, apparently not caring too much about what “fascism” could possibly mean beyond the fact that he imagines his audience associates something bad with it. And back in the days he achieved some substantial victories. In the 1990s, Lane helped (with the California Restoration Project) place Proposition 22 on the ballot in California 2000 to restrict California marriages to heterosexual ones, which  passed. And together with Laurence White he later helped pass opposite-sex-only marriage amendments to the state constitutions of Ohio (2004), Texas (2005), and Florida (2006). Moreover, in November 2010, voters in Iowa removed three Iowa Supreme Court justices over their constitutional stance in a 2009 decision allowing same-sex couples to marry; The New York Times reported that Lane was the “unheralded mastermind” of the campaign against the justices, directing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Gingrich and the American Family Association. To motivate people into action against marriage equality Lane has of course realized that lying is a good strategy, and he has claimed for instance that ministers will be forced to “give approval” to “the homosexual lifestyle” or go to jail.

In 2013 Lane called on the “moral majority” to “wage war” against the “pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage,” apparently (or pretending to be) oblivious to the fact that the majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage. According to Lane, “those who embrace homosexual marriage and homosexual Scouting,” along with “pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media,” are ushering in America’s collapse with their “multicultural false gods.” “America’s survival is at stake,” said Lane, adding that “this is not tall talk or exaggeration,” apparently dimly suspecting that some might think otherwise. He also called on Christians to “risk martyrdom” to stop same sex marriage – apparently “American Christianity has not done a good job of producing martyrs” (oh, the Taliban envy) – and concluded that America has to choose between wholesale slaughter of Christians and adopting a theocracy (and rejecting “the fabricated whopper of the ‘Separation of Church and State’”).

Here is Lane calling for a boycott of Frito-Lay over their Rainbow Doritos, claiming that Frito-Lay has proclaimed “solidarity with sexual anarchy” and is fueling America’s “rebellion against God” by spreading “Carcinogenic Secularism”. (The Rainbow Doritos were introduced to benefit anti-bullying projects).

Other political views
For the 2017 election, Lane supported Trump because Trump, according to Lane, would bring “moral, principled leadership”.

As for education, Lane has helpfully explained the purpose of public education (picture a Taliban-sympathetic imam saying this, if it helps): “Once we return to God, He will then attend to the honor of His name. Public education and universities will again focus on the principal component of education: incorporating the character of the Father into our children, thus creating an exceptional and virtuous people. Test scores in education will soar for, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’” (More here)

There is a good David Lane resource here.

Diagnosis: Delusional madman and hysteric fundamentalist theocrat, Lane is also among the most powerful people in the US. Quite simply one of the scariest loons we have covered thus far.