Monday, August 31, 2020

#2377: Ed Vitagliano

We’ve had plenty of opportunities to familiarize ourselves with the American Family Association (AFA) here, but in any case: the AFA is a fundamentalist homophobic hate group. Ed Vitagliano is its Executive Vice-President and news editor for the AFA Journal, and was formerly its “research director” (“research” for the AFA doesn’t require research qualifications and it is probably an advantage not to have them). He is, in other words, a pretty significant figure on the religious right. As research director for the AFA, Vitagliano determined for instance that gay men are naturally uncivilized: the reason “promiscuity in the male homosexual community” is rampant is because gay men can never be civilized if they don’t marry women, as “there is no civilizing influence in their lives,” cf. God’s plan” for women. In fact, Vitagliano doesn’t really believe in women’s agency at all, claiming for instance that women voted for Obama only because George Clooney told them to. 

In general, homosexuality is a symptom of a society in decline: “the homosexual movement has had such great success because Americans have become idolatrous and arrogantly self-indulgent. Straight America has embraced homosexuality because straight Americans first embraced the sexual revolution for the satisfaction of their own perverse sexual appetites. Thus homosexuality often becomes the barometer of a culture rotting out from the inside.” And it’s a dire warning sign, for “by the time a culture accepts idolatry, abortion and homosexuality, it is already ripe for the devastation wrought by God’s wrath.” The downward spiral apparently started with the false idea of a separation between church and state and the idea of a “secular” nation, which led to the “sexual revolution and inevitably to a situation where [t]he country is no longer being run by ‘We the People.’ The country is being run by activist federal judges [i.e. judges who issue rulings Vitagliano doesn’t like], it is being run by a fairly lawless executive branch.” Of course, the majority of Americans currently support marriage equality, so by “the People” in “We the People”, Vitagliano means the people whose religious views agree with his – those are the people that count. To avoid the “downward death spiral” that will incite divine wrath, pushing gays “back into the closet (if that were possible)” is, however, not “enough to forestall judgment;” rather, we must go further and drive out the “underlying wickedness that permeated the entire culture.” 


Vitagliano has, of course, also claimed that marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples will ultimately lead to not just the legalization of polygamy but also legal approval of marriages to buildings, cars and dogs (he doesn’t really have a penchant for those fine distinctions), but that’s really neither here nor there: what he cares about is gay marriage. And for the record, Vitagliano isn’t only opposed to gay marriage, but has also claimed that it is necessary governments to observe “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and has therefore praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.” (What the AFA official position on sodomy laws is at present is not always clear).


Weighing in on popular culture, Vitagliano is adamant that “it is not Disney’s place to assume the role of parent deciding when to confront children with alternative lifestyles … I’m not saying it’s wrong for children to know gays and lesbians exist, only that parents should be the ones to tell them. Disney should not circumvent parents on this matter.” He also urged producers to think of the children back in 2005, in relation to the Simpsons episode “There’s something about marrying”; according to Vitagliano, the episode presented same-sex marriage in a way that was “very one-sided”, which, as responses go, is on the feebler end. And when Christian singer Vicky Beeching came out as a lesbian, Vitagliano was confused: “I think most men would think that Vicky was a very pretty lady,” he wrote, which “makes the subject of sexual orientation rather difficult to understand at times.He has some problems with Archie comics, too.


In 2013, he wrote his own movieAccidental Activist, about a conservative who gets into conflicts after he signs a petition against same-sex marriage. The movie was meant to express Vitagliano’s sadness that gay people, even “the ordinary homosexual non-activist,” may for some reason not want to maintain a friendship with someone who opposes his or her right to marry: “I don’t know how many homosexuals would want to be friends with a Christian who signs what we would call a pro-marriage petition.” The goal of the movie was accordingly for gay people to “see that in the culture war, Christians are victims as much as they see themselves as victims.” At least it’s a nice expression of the fundie religious persecution delusion: If I consistently deny you your autonomy, or support those who would, and you don’t want to be my friend as a result, then I am as much a victim as you.  


In fact, Vitagliano is skeptical of the idea that gay couples are even capable of love. (He doesn’t really believe in homosexuals, either, for that matter.) He does, however, think that there is a “tendency for gay activists to want basically the whole world to be gay.” Yes, he is just expressing whatever negative property his mind associates with homosexuality at any given time; coherence, facts or evidence has nothing to do with it.


Fortunately, he also offers some advice to parents on how to deal with having a child who is gay: “The standard Paul lays out seems to recognize a painful reality: having unbelievers in the home causes no small amount of chaos. It would be difficult for a man to help church members if he was constantly at war in his own home.” Fortunately, prayer might help; while Vitagliano ostensibly knows many people who have “prayed endlessly for God to remove their same-sex attractions – to no avail,” that is because they simply didn’t try hard enough; they didn’t call upon the power of God “to gain mastery over [their] impulses,” citing “the reality of ‘ex-gay’ people” as proof that “there are clearly many who have left the lifestyle.”


As suggested above, the threat to America these days doesn’t stem from gay rights alone, but from the deconstruction of traditional gender roles. The fact that the boy scouts have begun accepting girls is satanic, and reflects “the ongoing war against the Judeo-Christian worldview, the way God has established mankind, male and female” (he wasn’t very happy when they started accepting gay members either, claiming that tolerance is “a pagan sexual ethic rooted in moral relativism with the taproot deeply embedded in Darwinian evolution”) Meanwhile, teaching students about gender identity issues is “demonic” (which may or may not be different from “satanic”): “It’s part of the war against God. God made us male and female, and the progressive, secular left hates God – so they hate his order in biology.”


Vitagliano has also weighed in on the alleged repression of creationists and creationism in scientific institutions, i.e. that scientists don’t take seriously the religiously motivated pseudoscience that Vitagliano is sympathetic to, just because it is silly.


Diagnosis: Silly, evil, bigoted, nonsensical hatemonger. But he is quite influential. And he bites. Stay well away. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

#2376: Tom Vineyard

In 2011 Oklahoma City just passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not before a bizarre series of local clowns had been given the opportunity to speak their minds on the issue. Tom Vineyard, pastor of Windsor Hills Baptist Church, for instance, claimed that more than half of murders in large cities are committed by gay people, and received standing ovation for the remark. The claim was made as part of an attempt to argue that adding explicit protection against discrimination would “bring down God’s judgment on [the] city.” It is not the only time Vineyard has either just made up statistics to argue against gay rights or marriage equality, or picked them from old, strange websites like Tradition in Action (a radical traditionalist Catholic hate group that says that Hindus worship devils and apparently speaks approvingly of the Spanish monarchy’s 1492 royal edict expelling all Jews who declined to convert), the WND, a 1787 book that said Rome fell in part because of “an increasing interest and obsession with sexual perversions”, and the alleged 1963 congressional testimony of a Florida woman who said that Communists were promoting homosexuality as part of a plot to take over America. Relatively standard fare for people of Vineyard’s caliber, in other words. Otherwise, Vineyard is a fanatic advocate for gun rights, and his church is apparently offering plenty of gun training, also for children. 

Vineyard is also a (one-time) president of the Oklahoma Baptist College, a staunchly complementarian institution that pretends to offer “education” in line with Biblical principles (only men can take administration classes, for instance – women may choose between sewing and cooking classes), including teaching young-earth-creationism under the heading “scientific creationism” insofar no one would otherwise ever connect what they offer to anything having to do with science.


Diagnosis: Yes, he is a baptist pastor in Oklahoma, so minimal human decency, or cognitive abilities to rival rot, would be too much to expect. We know. Still.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

#2375: Chelsen Vicari

The Concerned Women for America (CWfA) is a group of wingnut fundies that was founded by Beverly LaHaye and is opposed to anything that can be interpreted as sympathetic toward homosexuality or marriage equality. Chelsen Vicari is one of the crazies who has made a bit of a name for herself as a leader and recurring spokesperson for the group. She is currently Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, where she seems to be promoting most of the same nonsense she promoted in her CWfA days.

A good example is her 2013 attack on Starbucks for supporting marriage equality, something she claimed would lead to anti-straight discrimination; Vicari called Howard Schultz “prejudicial and bigoted” for telling some anti-gay activist (Thomas Strobhar) to sell his shares in the company if he was overly distraught over Starbucks’ endorsement of same-sex marriage legislation in Washington state, and claimed that Starbucks “refuses pro-marriage supporters service” and “is only tolerant of approximately 2 percent of America’s 300 million citizens who live homosexual lifestyles.” That first complaint is telling: not only is supporting gay rights, in itself, anti-straight bigotry as Vicari sees it, but being heterosexual is incompatible with promoting marriage equality: if the Starbucks CEO is supportive of marriage equality then Starbucks might as well have “two separate drinking fountains for liberals and conservatives or ‘now hiring’ signs reading, “Heterosexuals Need Not Apply.’


Here is Vicari and Wendy Wright (on Sandy Rios’s show) attacking Jon Stewart for discriminating against Christians in a hypothetical scenario they imagined.


Diagnosis: Silly, bigoted fundie. Yeah, there are lots of them, but Vicari seems to have achieved a position of moderate influence. Should be watched.

Monday, August 24, 2020

#2374: Louie Verrecchio

Louie Verrecchio is a fundie Catholic author, columnist and speaker, as well as president and founder of Salve Regina Publications, Inc. He is apparently particularly notable for his Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II series of conciliar document study materials that explore the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, but has apparently become gradually more fundamentalist since writing it – he currently claims that Pope Francis has “judged himself a formal heretic” and, as a consequence, has surrendered the Petrine office and become an antipope. In particular, Verrecchio is concerned with questions related to marriage, condemning divorce and – but of course – gay marriage. 

And Verrecchio is not content with dry, academic-theological musings and concerns. In a column for the anti-gay conspiracy site RenewAmerica, for instance, he expressed his dismay that NBC Sports hired openly gay figure skater Johnny Weir to provide commentary for the 2014 Winter Olympics, warning parents not to let their children watch figure skating alone. Weir is, according to Verrecchio, “a flamboyant, cross-dressing [entirely unlike this dress-clad fellow], homosexual man who thinks he has a ‘husband’ ” and a model for “the moral decline of society.” Continued Verrecchio: “So, unless you want your children exposed to the likes of Johnny Weir, an icon of the popular culture’s Hell bent determination to undermine the objective truth about marriage and family. If you allow it at all, don’t let your children to watch the Olympics without supervision.” Because just watching a gay person talk on television might contaminate you. Meanwhile, LGBT rights supporters are “nothing more than Satan’s little soldiers.”


Diagnosis: Deranged fundie idiot bigot. He used to be a somewhat significant figure among traditionalist Catholics, and it would be interesting to know his current standing in that group (among bigoted fundie wingnuts in general he is pretty undistinguishable, at least). 

Friday, August 21, 2020

#2373: Bertha Veronneau

So this is pretty obscure. We have no idea where Bertha Veronneau currently is, whether she is American, or whether she’s even alive. But the lunatic idiocy she represents is just too good to pass over. “Dr.” Veronneau, D.D.,D.Sc. (those credentials go for around $30 online at present, we believe) is one of those alternative medicine promoters who doesn’t really belong to any particular school of nonsense but instead imagines her way to whatever she wants as she goes along. And if you for instance should happen to wonder whether any of her claims has even the most tenuous anchoring in science, evidence or reality, you should be aware that, to the extent that Veronneau has even heard of science, it would all be wrong anyways.  

Science textbooks, for instance, would never tell you that the heart has seven ventricles and pumps air, or that if you look at molecules through a microscope you can not only see them but observe that they have little red, blue and black dots in them (the black dots are metals), as suggested by the toy models you might have seen (“[r]emember there are two levels of all minerals, a higher which is always of vegetable origin, and the lower mineral, which is foreign to the human body, usually coming right out of the ground,” says Veronneau, and it’s the latter that a microscope will be useful to identify; moreover, “[a] chromosome is identified from a molecule by having a thicker membrane,” and “[i]f we lose chromosomes [there seem to be six of them], then we have a form of cancer”). Nor will medicine textbooks tell you that the liver chews things and sends kelp or alfalfa to the thyroid gland and penicillin to the salivary glands (here is Veronneau on how the heart works). There is just so much that simply isn’t there in the textbooks. It is probably a conspiracy.


As for her medical advice? Well, here’s a sample: “At this time of life of the intelligence of the Cosmos, we understand the Molecule (Ion, atom) to be the basis of all chemical substance, A chemical substance can be a monad, or a kenetic grouping. A determination of the quality of the substance is determined by the molecule as seen in the microscope. Is it of the human body, or is it toxic to the human body? This is important to know. Are we consuming foods and medicines, or applying lotions to our bodies that might cause deterioration. When a product has a side effect it is destroying something in your physical self. We need to learn to renew our bodies... rebuild. You cannot rebuild the body with toxic substance.” What really boggles the mind is that she apparently has followers who believe she’s onto something.


As for genes, “we have twenty-four,” and they “are different in appearance from a molecule, or chromosome, in that they do not have any sections, but in normal status are circular with a central dot.” And the “twenty-four genes, coming from our parenting, are accounted for in this manner: twelve male parentage and twelve female parentage; six of the twelve are from the father, plus three are from his father, and three from his mother; six are from the mother of the child, plus three from her mother, and three from her father.” You could, of course, try to read that passage again to identify the great insight, but it would probably be pointless with a limited brain like yours. You can read more of Veronneau’s insights about the DNA of blood here (recommended).


Diagnosis: We’re genuinely happy that there are people like Bertha Veronneau around. Keep in mind, though, that the distinction between her advice and the advice at, say, GreenMedInfo, is primarily a matter of eloquence.


Hat-tip: Ratbags

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

#2372: Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an anti-feminist journalist who writes articles for Fox News. Venker is also the niece of Phyllis Schlafly, and has even co-written books with Phyllis (The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say) published by WND Books. Her style, topics and approach are pretty much what you’d expect from a wingnut member of the Schlafly family, and she is, in particular, profoundly confused – even admitting so herself – about what feminism actually is.


A sympathizer with MRA causes, Venker was a central part of Fox News’s 2012 coverage of “War on Men”, their MRA-style attempt to rebrand the War on Women. She wrote a book with that title, and the ideas presented in that book constitute a recurring theme in her more recent writings, including lamenting how Mad Men is a thing of the past and women only have themselves to blame. Well, media is to blame, too, for instance through insidious feminist tools like Everybody loves Raymond. She is, however, remarkably vague on what reversing the trend would actually amount to.


A defender of some version of complementarianism, Venker has also asserted that in order to be happy in marriage, one must admit that men and women are not equal, defending the claim with your typical patriarchal heteronormative nonsense – for instance in her book 7 Myths of Working Mothers: Why Children and (Most) Careers Just Don’t Mix (the qualifier matters since Venker herself has both children and a career), which of course takes it for granted that women, when faced with the choice, should choose the latter – Venker is the kind of anti-feminist that would right away tell a young daughter not to become a brain surgeon because it would inferfere with her baby-making (her example). As such, it is, according to Venker, a problem that society has bred “alpha women incapable of love”; as she sees it, “women have become too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.” Her attempts at slut-shaming must almost be seen to be believed.


Her book How to Choose a Husband is superbly reviewed here. She had a follow-up interview on the book and the breakdown of marriage in America with a highly sympathetic Rush Limbaugh, who has been married at least four times. They did not appear to grasp why some people would perceive a certain irony here. Meanwhile, Beyoncé, for instance (wingnut fundies are remarkable obsessed with Beyoncé), is, according to Venker, “a poor excuse for a wife” given her “slutty behavior”, and she will never be able to find a “quality husband” that way.


Diagnosis: Now, we suppose most readers would groan at such hateful silliness, but keep in mind that Venker’s position e.g. with the Eagle Forum makes her quite influential in certain wingnut circles.

Monday, August 17, 2020

#2371: Paul Veit

A.k.a. “The Dino Pastor”

More creationist nonsense! Paul Veit is a fundie and creationist who “spends his time traveling the country dismissing evolutionary theories.” He seems to have adopted the “Dino Pastor” moniker in an attempt to fill the vacuum left by “Dr. Dino” Kent Hovind after the latter went to jail for income tax violations. Like Hovind, Veit seems to fancy himself a bit of a researcher, having gathered plenty of evidence that appears to support the conclusions he wants to support if you don’t look at the details and dismiss all the rest of the evidence. And to explain the fossil record, Veit invokes, as creationists feebly do, the Flood. “The Grand Canyon is the loudest screaming graveyard,” says Veit: “It says God doesn’t fool around when he deals with sinners.” Creationists’ miserable failure to explain the Grand Canyon notwithstanding.


Of course, Veit doesn’t know much at all about evolution, and refuses to learn, insofar as such information might shake his confidence in his favorite counterarguments. His shows are accordingly primarily aimed at children and parents who don’t know enough about evolution to challenge him either – this is not a battle of arguments and evidence, but of outreach and marketing. Veit is also apparently the Founder and Director of Declare God’s Wonders, Inc., an evangelistic ministry, and The Dinosaur Encounter, a “Creation Learning Center” located in Bridgton, Maine.


More recently, his presentations seem to have been focusing a bit more on the Biblical case against aliens. Apparently, he has gotten it into his head that “evolutionists definitely needs [sic] aliens,” and main challenges to evolution accordingly include the distance from any exoplanet to Earth, the scientific laws and that the Bible only teaches about God and heaven: “The Bible mentions no other beings, that’s not fair to aliens.” Accompanying him on his travels is also his mobile museum of authentic fossils and replicas for presentation.


Diagnosis: Certainly a sideshow attraction and moderately amusing at first glance. But it will possibly leave you somewhat uncomfortable after a while, for there is a deep sadness to the whole act.

Friday, August 14, 2020

#2370: Barret Vanlandingham

Rev. Barret Vanlandingham of the Fort Gibson Church of Christ is a fundamentalist and a young-earth creationist, who is unafraid to parrot all the standard creationist canards or to display his utter lack of grasp of science or how science works. Commenting on the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, for instance, Vanlandingham pretended to be startled that Nye dismisses the Genesis Flood as the myth it is, for as Vanlandingham sees it, there is “vast amounts of evidence in favor of a worldwide flood”, mostly because he doesn’t seem to understand what evidence is (here is Vanlandingham further discussing what he thinks about evidence, brilliantly supporting our assessment). Among his purported evidence is the claim that “every major culture around the world has reported a worldwide flood” (utter nonsense) and the fact that trilobite fossils have been discovered all sorts of places, something that science, apparently, is not able to explain but the Bible is (it really isn’t). Equally importantly, for Vanlandingham, is the absence of evidence for evolution; for instance, “there is no fossil evidence that one species or animal ever became a different species” because Vanlandingham simply dismisses that massive amount of evidence. The conclusion, of course, is that Big Bang and evolution are just as much articles of faith as the Biblical account, since there is no evidence and “[s]cience says that for something to be believable, you have to be able to measure it and repeat the experiment,” which is a completely expected misunderstanding from your typical creationist who has no idea how science is supposed to work.* Vanlandingham’s conclusion, of course, is that “the Bible has never been proven wrong, on anything” (here’s a brief list) but actually “been very helpful in discoveries related to all areas of science” (here is a list). That’s the conclusion you will be able to draw when you can, by assertion, just dismiss the evidence you don’t like, and use your own imagination and wishful thinking to generate the evidence you want to have. “Delusion” is the common term for the process. 

Diagnosis: Creationist with a creationist’s standard complete and utter lack of understanding of what science is and what the point of science could possible be. Not a big player in the religious fundie anti-science brigade, perhaps, but nonsensical enough to merit an entry.


*Short explanation: The whole point of science is to gain knowledge of that which goes beyond direct observation because it is e.g. too far away in time or space, too general (laws are universal; what’s observable are particular instances) or has to do with cause and effect (correlations are directly observable; causality is not). But the crucial characteristic of science is that we test these hypothesis about the unobserved against their observable conseqeunces! The Big Bang is unobservable, but its effects are not, and by observing whether the predictions we derive from the Big Bang hypothesis hold or not, we confirm or disconfirm that hypothesis. And it is of course a standard requirement on scientific experiments and observations that they be repeatable. But now the fundamental and utterly idiotic misunderstanding systematically made by creationist morons like Ken Ham and Barret Vanlandingham should be obvious: It is the observations – the ones we test our hypotheses against – that need to be repeatable and measurable, not the state of affairs described by the hypotheses! Failure to recognize this point reveals not only a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method (distinguishing hypotheses from observations) but a fundamental misunderstanding of the very point of science (to gain knowledge about the unobservable). 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

#2369: Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats is a wingnut activist and politician (running for governor of Iowa on numerous occasions and even gaining the endorsement of Chuck Norris), CEO of the organization The Family Leader, and the National Co-Chair for Ted Cruz for President in 2016 – though Vander Plaats later claimed that God intervened to elect Trump. He has previously endorsed a range of religious-right-sympathetic political candidates. 

As a political activist, Vander Plaats has a straightforwardly theocratic vision of governance, where any policy must accord with his interpretation of the word of God: presidents, Congress and judges today “have forgotten who is the Lawgiver. That God institution (sic) government. He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government. Where those three intersect, that is the focus of The Family Leader.” As such, his principles for running government are fairly straightforward: “You apply his principles and precepts to economics, then your economic house is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to marriage and the family, well marriage and family is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to foreign policy, and foreign policy is in order.” At least he didn’t claim, when the Iowa House of Representatives had an opening invocation given by a Wiccan priestess in 2015, that it was a violation of his religious freedom; he did warn them that it might cause God to exact some sort of retribution, however. 


His group The Family Leader is an umbrella group that includes the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters, and a political action committee, the goal being to focus the efforts of religious-right groups to ensure a stronger influence on political campaigns.


Family values

“Family” is of course usually just a code for anti-gay bigotry in Vander Plaats’s speeches and columns. According to Vander Plaats, the Supreme Court’s 2013 DOMA ruling would cause a “constitutional crisis” because the ruling defied “the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.” In fairness, however, he has already made it clear that he doesn’t understand the Constitution. When a Kentucky judge struck down Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban, Vander Plaats insisted that the decision “runs contrary to liberty” and defies the Declaration of Independence (he failed to offer further clarification). Then he suggested that Congress should defund courts and judges that come to conclusions he disagrees with, just to emphasize once again his abject failure to understand the fundamentals of that Constitution thing. He did, on the other hand, praise Russia’s criminalization of speech supportive of gay rights, something that apparently makes Russia a beacon of liberty and a model for how to enforce the American constitutional amendments.


Here is Vander Plaats saying amazingly silly things about the 2014 Utah marriage ruling. One the one hand, Vander Plaats is a fierce defender of states’ rights and a critic of federal judges coming to decisions that aren’t in line with what he would like them to conclude with state constitutions, having even urged states to ignore Supreme Court rulings they don’t like; on the other hand, he is vehemently opposed to the “leave it to the states” position on marriage equality because gay marriage, like slavery, is something “you don’t leave up to the states. Of course, ultimately he is, of course, just against same sex marriage, and will use whatever argument is ready at hand – being concerned with contradictions is anti-American. 


Meanwhile, supporters of gay rights and marriage equality are really campaigning against liberty and America. Gay rights activists are, according to Vander Plaats,  “always going to throw stones” because Satan “wants to discourage” conservative Christians. He also links gay rights advocacy to advocacy for pot legalization to terrorism, and has compared a gay pride event with the Boston Marathon bombing. He has elsewhere argued (but of course) that legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to legalization of pedophilia and criminalization of the Bible, applying his usual aptitude for facts, reasoning and obvious distinctions. 


Note, however, that Vander Plaats is not merely the crazy fundie conspiracy theorist with a website he should have been, but someone with actual political power. In 2010, for instance, he led the (successful) campaign against the retention of three members of the Iowa Supreme Court who had voted to overturn Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act in Varnum v. Brien.


In fairness, and as opposed to many family values advocates, Vander Plaats has been a critic of the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the Mexican border, calling it “unconscionable. Inexcusable.”


There is a good Vander Plaats resource here.


Diagnosis: Lunatic bigot with a frightening amount of power and influence. It says, unfortunately, a lot about many of the good people of Iowa that he has this power.

Monday, August 10, 2020

#2368: Katherine Vandemoer

Kate Vandemoer is a Montana-based hydrologist, blogger and birther activist, most famous for instigating the Usurpathon, a “Rolling ‘Velvet Revolution’ to Remove the Usurper [i.e. then-president Obama], et al,” from office. The plan – one of many similar ones – was to bring 10,000 protestors to the Mall, Congress, and the White House to lay siege to the administration. (Two people showed up.) The claims and arguments featured on Vandemoer’s blog, meanwhile, may be characterized as ludicrous even by birther standards, featuring – in addition to relatively standard birther nonsense – secret codes that will show that Obama’s birth certificate is a “definite forgery” and claiming that Hawaii was a communist outpost in the 1960s. 50s-style red-baiting is a pretty characteristic feature. Vandemoer was also a consultant for the Tea Party group Concerned Citizens of Western Montana (headed, at least at one point, by white supremacy-sympathizer Terry Backs).

Now, Vandemoer is, indeed, a hydrologist, and she used to work as a retained consultant/rep for the Northeren Araphao tribe for a set of water management and recovery programmes set up by Congress. After her contract failed to be renewed in 2010, Vandemoer commented that she “was wrongfully terminated without cause from a position and I have strong circumstantial evidence that the decision came from somewhere else.” Of course, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to take her delusional insanity into account when making a decision on whether to renew her contract, but Vandemoer, ever the martyr, of course assumed that they perceived her as a threat, which only requires a common fallacy to serve as evidence that her claims are correct.


She is currently, it seems, chairman of the board of something called the Montana Land and Water Alliance, which appears to be a group primarily created to oppose certain water treatment plans and policies in Montana. We won’t claim any deep familiarity with those issues, but at least Vandemoer’s contributions are characterized by her trademark failure to grasp the facts, lying, idiotic reasoning and conspiracy mongering; even so, her claims seem to have found at least some traction with certain parts of the legislature. Apart from that work, Vandemoer is pushing geoengineering and chemtrail conspiracies: “we know what they are spraying, why they are spraying, and the additional tools that are used to manipulate the human environment and inject trouble into our very breathing space. While each one of these tools is dangerous in itself, the combined use of HAARP [but of course], chemtrails, and nanotechnology is wreaking havoc across America.” Moreover, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 was a false flag operation, and the government is artificially generating earthquakes and tornadoes. The goal, ultimately, is to create a crisis that “allows the government the ‘opportunity’ to step in and take over.” 


Diagnosis: Dingbat crazy conspiracy theorist. At this rate she’ll probably be nominated for Congress before you know it. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

#2367: Cindy Uwanawich (?)

Almost not worth covering, but Cindy Uwanawich is a self-proclaimed psychic of Crestline California who used to operate something called The Psychic Door, and who was arrested in 2013 for fleecing her clients. In particular, this particular “psychic” told a client that she was able to remove some spirit that had attached itself to said client on the condition that she brought her nine pennies, nine nickels, nine dimes, nine quarters and $9,000 for nine days. We somehow doubt that those coins would make much of a difference if push came to shove. 


Now, we harbor some serious doubts about the extent to which Uwanawich believed her own story (tried reading her last name slowly, anyone?), and her grift is pretty much par for the course and not much different from that of prosperity gospel preachers, except for the obvious South-East Asian horror movie inspiration and the fact that the preachers tend to get off the hook. We are not really sure, however, how much it matters whether she believes in her own powers or not. That a murderer falsely thinks his murdering makes the world a better doesn’t really make shit difference, assessment-wise.


Diagnosis: A fairly common specimen, distinguished from the flock mostly by the fact that she was caught.