False Pharaohs, Japanese Cults and election challenges

The Supreme Court tosses election challenges, but more keep coming; Why is a Japanese cult taking part in CPAC?

In this week’s Hat Tip:

  1. News: SCOTUS denies election challenges

  2. Considering: CPAC, antisemitism and Cults

  3. Happy Purim!


News: SCOTUS denies election challenges

Sometimes, the news is entirely predictable, but it’s still news. And everything is news to someone.

So when the Supreme Court denied certiorari in several election cases on Monday, the only people who were surprised were people who read the Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit; so basically, remaining die-hard MAGA fans and some QAnon types.

One suit that potentially had legs was the Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Degraffenreid, which was the challenge to counting mail-in ballots that were received after election day but postmarked before. This one reached the Supreme Court in September. After it became clear that these ballots wouldn’t make a difference this time around, the Republicans still wanted to have it heard anyway, but the urgency was gone and the Supreme Court decided it was moot. That said, Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch dissented, saying that it was better to settle the issues raised for future elections.

Anyway, that was probably the sanest and most reasonable election lawsuit, and it’s gone. So you can guess what happened to the other ones.

  • Wood v. Raffensperger was a weird suit where Lin Wood, a lawyer who’s fallen deep into QAnon conspiracies, was the actual plaintiff, trying to force Georgia to set aside its election due to stuff about the signature matching rules. It got thrown out repeatedly for basically every reason including standing, lateness, and the wildness of the remedy. The Supreme Court tossed this final appeal to have the case heard.

  • Trump for President v Degraffenreid, which was the case where the lawyers kept resigning and the claim kept being switched until in the end Rudy Giuliani appeared for the Trump Campaign, calling for ‘normal scrutiny’. Also tossed.

  • Trump and Pence v Biden and Harris et al, an even more bizarre set of claims which tried to sue all of the people for all of the things. Tossville.

So that’s the end of election cases? Well, no. They’ll never end. Even now, there’s comi-tragic drama going in what has become known as the “Gondor Case” after the complainants tried to get a judge to order the entire government of the United States be placed under the rule of a Steward. The lawyer for the Gondor case was Paul Davis, who calls himself the “fired Texas lawyer”. I say ‘was’ because he was just, erm, fired.

Over on Twitter, Mike Dunford keeps an eye on these cases even now. He did something similar over the years of Birther-conspiracy claims that kept being filed years after Barack Obama became President. Because it never stops.


Considering: CPAC, antisemitism and Cults

This time last year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) became famous mostly as a Covid superspreader event. A confirmed coronavirus case was at the conference, potentially infecting many attendees and exposing CPAC’s mismanagement of the crisis.

This year the “highlight” of CPAC will probably be Donald Trump’s first speech since leaving the White House this Sunday, where he’s expected to at least hint at a 2024 run for the presidency, as well as start talking about immigration again, an issue he basically ignored in 2020 after making it his main campaign topic in 2016.

But more generally, CPAC is nuts.

This week, CPAC cancelled one of their speakers, the rapper Young Pharaoh, after people decided to, erm, google him, which seems to be beyond CPAC’s capabilities. Young Pharaoh has a tendency to rant on Twitter about the Jews. as well as promoting QAnon, Pizzagate and other conspiracy theories.

So they cancelled him. Which is the right decision, but also pretty funny for a conference whose theme this year is “America uncancelled”.

No such cancellation, though, for Jay Aeba, who founded Japan’s CPAC counterpart.

Jay Aeba is also a senior figure in a Japanese cult called Happy Science. It sounds cuter than it is, honestly. Here he is in 1992:

Happy Science is too big of a topic for me to cover here, but they believe their leader, Ryuho Okawa, is effectively the incarnation of God on earth and writes books ‘interviewing’ dead leaders like Margaret Thatcher. The cult claims it can cure Covid-19 and, and it’s one of the main drivers of QAnon in Japan. This New York Times profile gives some sense of the deal there. Also thanks to @z3dster for spotting Aeba was speaking.

The US Conservative movement seems to have a a weird affinity for Asian cults. Hope Not Hate wrote about the links between Happy Science and CPAC a couple of years ago. And, of course, the Falun Gong cult is a huge promoter of Trumpism via their newspaper the Epoch Times. Definitely a trend to keep an eye on.


Happy Purim

The Jewish festival of Purim is this Friday, commemorating the salvation of the Jews in the Persian Empire according to the story in the Book of Esther. Religious read Esther from a scroll, give gifts of food to the poor and friends, wear costumes and masks and (traditionally) get extremely drunk. The drunkenness is actually a religious observance mentioned in the Talmud. As it happens, it often coincides with St Patrick’s Day.

Last Purim was the last time I went to a party. It’s the last time I was in a crowded room. We already weren’t hugging or shaking hands. Even then we knew it was the last hurrah before… this.

Approaching this Purim, I’ve been vaccinated and there’s hope. But there will still be curfews in Israel this weekend, to prevent parties and try to control the virus. Oh well. Next Purim will be wild.

Thanks for reading. As always, questions, comments and feedback welcome!