Ginni T: Goofy Shit Believer, Political Warfare Queen
We all believe goofy shit. Most of it is harmless. But if she gets her way, the goofy shit Mrs. Clarence Thomas believes will topple our democracy.
“The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”
IN THE INTRODUCTION to his book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-Year History, the journalist and writer Kurt Andersen argues that
America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, by hucksters and their suckers—which over the course of four centuries has made us susceptible to fantasy, as epitomized by everything from Salem hunting witches to Joseph Smith creating Mormonism, from P.T. Barnum to Henry David Thoreau to speaking in tongues, from Hollywood to Scientology to conspiracy theories, from Walt Disney to Billy Graham to Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey to Donald Trump. In other words: mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that steep and simmer for a few centuries; run it through the anything-goes 1960s and the Internet age; the result is the America we inhabit today, where reality and fantasy are weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.
An early glimpse at the country’s “Fantasyland” element was afforded him by his neighbors growing up in Omaha, Nebraska: the Lamp family. His parents called them “black hats,” which was a euphemism for “total lunatics.” They were mom and dad to Virginia “Ginni” Lamp:
Ginni Thomas is an exemplar of, and a partial inspiration for a whole book about, the peculiarly American propensity for believing in goofy shit.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with believing in goofy shit. I believe in goofy shit. So do you. We all have our quirks and eccentricities. Believing in goofy shit only becomes a problem when, as Andersen puts it, we “[go] overboard, letting the subjective override the objective”—when we think and, more importantly, act “as if opinions and feelings were just as true as facts.” And even then, it matters little if the goofy shit we believe involves angels, communicating with the dead, or David Stern rigging the 1985 NBA Draft so Patrick Ewing would wind up on the Knicks.
But if the goofy shit is that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald John Trump, or that the covid-19 vaccine was a diabolical plot involving Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates and secret Ukrainian biolabs, or that the Vice President has the power to subvert the will of the American people in a presidential election by violating boilerplate procedure, or that news articles about the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia are “the enforcement mechanism of diversity narratives that seek to implement cultural Marxism,” or that democracy should be shit-canned to install a Christian nationalist dictatorship to protect the lives of the unborn and persecute gays, or, even worse, all of the above, the goofy shit becomes harder to laugh off. And if the individual who believes in that brand of goofy shit is not only a major Beltway power player but the wife of a sitting Supreme Court Justice, over whom she has such outsized influence that she serves as unofficial den mother to his law clerks and brings him to work to talk to her own interns in a concerted effort to build “connective tissue” among rightwing religious radicals and therefore subvert the courts—that’s dangerous. Like, really dangerous.
Ginni Thomas is smart enough to understand how to wield her enormous power, shrewd enough to leverage her husband’s status for maximum political impact, savvy enough to stay off the mainstream media’s radar, disingenuous enough to play coy when she’s in the general public’s eye, cocksure enough to proceed full speed ahead with her Christofascistic schemes, and yet somehow foolhardy enough to—in H.L. Mencken’s elegant phrase—“believe passionately in the palpably untrue.” If believing in dangerous goofy shit were a virus, hellbent on killing our democracy, it could hardly have found a more fruitful host than Mrs. Clarence Thomas.
Goofy Shit #1: Lifespring
Young Ginni got off to a bad start, as the youngest of four children to the “black hat” Lamp family. In his book, Andersen contrasts the beliefs of his own Republican parents with their across-the-street neighbors. The Andersens “loathed all Kennedys, distrusted unions, and complained about ‘confiscatory’ federal income tax rates of 91 percent,” but “were emphatically reasonable, disinclined to believe in secret Communist/ Washington/ elite plots to destroy America, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads about far-right acquaintances—such as our neighbors who opposed the fluoridation of Omaha’s drinking water and considered Richard Nixon suspiciously leftish.” Virginia Lamp attended the same (“all-white”) public high school that graduated Andersen, the future co-founder of Spy magazine, so her early education can’t be blamed for her kooky belief system. And while Creighton University, Ginni’s alma mater for both undergrad and law school, is a Catholic institution, it’s run by Jesuits—serious academics and therefore veritable liberals, in this day and age.
In her mid-twenties, while working at the Chamber of Commerce, the stalwart conservative lobbyist group founded by William Howard Taft’s labor secretary, Ginni Lamp starting taking “classes” with Lifespring, a “human potential” organization that had all the hallmarks of a cult. To her credit, she figured this out, extricating herself from the group’s clutches in 1985. She subsequently joined the Cult Awareness Network, a support group founded by a prominent cult deprogrammer. Here she is, in 1989 video surfaced by cult expert Steven Hassan, talking about her experiences:
So yes, Ginni Thomas escaped the cult. But she also joined it in the first place. The experience left her vulnerable to similar efforts at mind control. “Sadly,” Hassan tweeted, “the people who helped deprogram Ginni were also apparently involved in right-wing causes. As is the case with SO many former members, she was overly susceptible and went from one cult to another (The Cult of Trump).”
After Lifespring, in other words, she was ripe for radicalization.
Goofy Shit #2: McCloskey’s Crusaders
Not long after her Lifespring liberation, Ginni Lamp started dating Clarence Thomas, then the head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They tied the knot in 1987. Five years later, after the confirmation hearing scandal, she converted to Catholicism—the strain espoused by Antonin Scalia, who, like her husband, was involved with the Catholic Information Center in Washington, and thus influenced by the Opus Dei priest C. John McCloskey. Here’s an excerpt from a piece Charles P. Pierce wrote for the Boston Globe in 2003, about a group he called “The Crusaders:”
There is a glow to the priest when he talks…He is talking about a futuristic essay he wrote that rosily describes the aftermath of a “relatively bloodless” civil war that resulted in a Catholic Church purified of all dissent and the religious dismemberment of the United States of America.
“There’s two questions there,” says the Rev. C. John McCloskey 3d, smiling…“One is, Do I think it would be better that way? No. Do I think it’s possible? Do I think it’s possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it’s OK to kill women and children or for—quote—homosexual couples to exist and be recognized?
“No, I don’t think that’s possible,” he says. “I don't know how it’s going to work itself out, but I know it’s not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way.
“If American Catholics feel that’s troubling, let them. I don’t feel it’s troubling at all.”
This is not the Catholicism of the Jesuits at Creighton. And it’s certainly not the Catholicism of the “American Catholics” McCloskey regards with thinly-veiled contempt. This is an extreme, fascist, anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-choice Catholicism better suited for the fifteenth century than the twenty-first.
McCloskey was removed from his position at the Catholic Information Center when he was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman involved with the Center—not the first time he was booted out of a plum job. That incident happened in the early aughts. Opus Dei paid almost a million bucks to settle the case.
By then, Ginni Thomas would know all about sexual harassment.
Goofy Shit #3: “High-Tech Lynching”
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, by then a D.C. Circuit Court judge, to fill Thurgood Marshall’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Already controversial because of his lackluster stewardship of the EEOC, Thomas became even more radioactive when he was accused by one of his former direct reports at the agency, Anita Hill, of sexual harassment.
The salient paragraphs from Hill’s testimony are worth revisiting:
My working relationship became even more strained when Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex. On these occasions he would call me into his office for reports on education issues and projects or he might suggest that because of time pressures we go to lunch at a government cafeteria. After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to discussion of sexual matters. His conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts involved in various sex acts. On several occasions Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess…
For my first months at the EEOC, where I continued as an assistant to Judge Thomas, there were no sexual conversations or overtures. However, during the Fall and Winter of 1982, these began again. The comments were random and ranged from pressing me about why I didn’t go out with him to remarks about my personal appearance. I remember his saying that someday I would have to give him the real reason that I wouldn't go out with him. He began to show real displeasure in his tone of voice, his demeanor and his continued pressure for an explanation. He commented on what I was wearing in terms of whether it made me more or less sexually attractive. The incidents occurred in his inner office at the EEOC.
One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office. He got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can, and said, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” On other occasions he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women with oral sex.
As if that weren’t enough, Clarence Thomas was sexually harassing Anita Hill while he was dating a federal prosecutor named Lillian McEwen, who claims in a memoir to have engaged in three-ways with the “extremely seductive and romantic” jurist. She corroborates one of Hill’s assertions—that he dug porn—and generally paints a picture of a guy who would do exactly what Hill accuses him of. Not only that, but another of Thomas’s EEOC employees, Angela Wright, was prepared to testify before the Senate about her own experiences of sexual harassment, but was never called to appear. (Note: That hurly burly all happened before he met Ginni Lamp.)
Thomas denied the accusations—sort of—and blamed the “old order” and low-key racism for his humiliation: “This is a circus. It is a national disgrace,” he told the Committee. “As a Black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas….It is a message that, unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.” The nation then had to endure the embarrassing spectacle of old white grandstanding Republicans suggesting that believing the sworn testimony of a Black woman was racist.
To walk away from that hearing not convinced that Clarence Thomas was lying through his teeth required a level of suspension of disbelief rarely encountered outside a lab. As fate and luck would have it, one of the few humans gullible enough to take the new Justice at his word was his goofy-shit-believing wife.
Ginni Thomas recalled her feelings at the time in a 2016 interview with the National Catholic Register. “We knew before we went in that the left would galvanize and throw everything at him,” she said. “But after the allegations, which were completely false, it became something different, [like] spiritual warfare.” Rather than accept that her husband had behaved like a pig, she chose to believe that the “left” had concocted this entire narrative out of whole cloth and found people he’d worked with willing to risk their careers and perjury changes to lie about it under oath, at a fucking Senate confirmation hearing, all to take poor Clarence down.
And she really believed this. She really thinks Anita Hill made the whole thing up. In 2010, out of the blue, she called Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, and left a voicemail message:
Good morning, Anita Hill. It’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray on this, and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. Okay, have a good day.
You don’t do that unless your faith in Clarence’s good word is absolute.
Goofy Shit #4: Cultural Marxist Memes
During the long period between Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and Donald Trump’s electoral college victory in 2016, Ginni Thomas became a prominent, if un-splashy, political activist. Her goal, shared with many Christian nationalists in her vast network, seems to be the eradication of the separation between church and state.1
Another loon of her acquaintance was the late Rich Higgins. A military guy associated with Mike Flynn in Afghanistan, Higgins worked at the Pentagon and then as the director of strategic planning for the National Security Council. He was sacked in July of 2017 by H.R. McMaster, after circulating a memo that May that the press charitably termed “controversial.”
“POTUS & Political Warfare” is seven single-spaced pages of QAnon-style conspiracy theory mumbo-jumbo. Here’s a taste:
Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction. For this cabal, Trump must be destroyed. Far from politics as usual, this is a political warfare effort that seeks the destruction of a sitting president. Since Trump took office, the situation has intensified to crisis level proportions. For those engaged in the effort, especially those from within the “deep state” or permanent government apparatus, this raises clear Title 18 (legal) concerns.
The Opposition. While opposition to President Trump manifests itself through political warfare memes centered on cultural Marxist narratives, this hardly means that opposition is limited to Marxists as conventionally understood. Having become the dominant cultural meme, some benefit from it while others are captured by it; including “deep state” actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans. Through the campaign, candidate Trump tapped into a deep vein of concern among many citizens that America is at risk and is slipping away. Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed. Atomization of society must also occur at the individual level; with attacks directed against all levels of group and personal identity. Hence the sexism, racism and xenophobia memes. As a Judeo-Christian culture, forced inclusion of post-modern notions of tolerance is designed to induce nihilistic contradictions that reduce all thought, all faith, all loyalties to meaninglessness. Group rights based on sex or ethnicity are a direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed. “Transgender acceptance” memes attack at the most basic level by denying a person the right to declare the biological fact of one’s sex. When a population has 2 + 2 = 5 imposed on it, there are many that benefit[,]
including the “deep state.” Higgins continues: “The successful outcome of cultural Marxism is a bureaucratic state beholden to no one, certainly not the American people. With no rule of law considerations outside those that further deep state power, the deep state truly becomes, as Hegel advocated, god bestriding the earth.”
Guess who read that memo and thought, “Wow! Heady stuff! So wonderful! I should record an interview with this brilliant thought leader!” Yep: Ginni Thomas. Here she is in June of 2017, talking to Higgins like he’s Nelson Mandela or something:
She’s all-in on “POTUS and Political Warfare.” She calls the memo “stunning” and “masterful.” She thinks this guy is the cat’s meow. And that tracks, because, as we’ve seen from the Anita Hill imbroglio, she really believes there are “deep state” forces working against her and her husband and god knows what else. What Higgins lays out in his wackadoodle memo validates what she already thinks. Don’t you see that “political warfare memes centered on cultural Marxist narratives” is exactly what befell her innocent husband?2
Goofy Shit #5: The Big Lie
One takeaway from the January 6th Committee hearings is that no one in Trump’s circle, including Trump himself, really believed that the election was stolen. That was just a narrative they pushed, an attempt at directing the actions of their cult followers via mind control.
You’re not gonna believe this, but one individual who appears to have bought the bullshit cover story is Ginni Thomas. She exchanged texts on January 6, 2021, with Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and she isn’t wishy-washy about which side she’s on. Here’s a sampling of her messages to Meadows, both that day and back in November:
“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”
“Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.”
“Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”
“Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back.”
“House and Senate guys are pathetic too... only 4 GOP House members seen out in street rallies with grassroots... Gohmert, Jordan, Gosar, and Roy.”
“Just forwarded to yr gmail an email I sent Jared [Kushner] this am. Sidney Powell & improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and Fraud exposed and America saved.”
Assemble the pieces from that jumble, and the picture becomes clear: Ginni Thomas really believes the Big Lie! She thinks the election was stolen from Trump. She’s pissed at rank-and-file Republicans for not being more active in MAGA’s attempt to overthrow the will of the people. She holds with noted crackpot Sidney Powell. She thinks there is a Biden crime family, and that barges will be used to transport the guilty to Guantanamo Bay. This is loony tunes! If she believes this, she’s fucking nuts.
And if she doesn’t believe it, but is propagating the lies regardless, using mind control techniques she’s intimately familiar with as a means to an end—that’s even worse. In her book The Power Worshippers, Katherine Stewart says that “the religious right has become more focused and powerful even as it is arguably less representative. It is not a social or cultural movement. It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power….This is not a ‘culture war.’ It is a political war over the future of democracy.”
To put it in terms the Christian nationalists will understand: this is a Manichean struggle. There are only two sides. On the fascist side are Trump, Putin and MBS, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, and the radical religious right. On the other side, the side of democracy and inclusion, is everyone else.
Don’t be distracted by the playing-card-hued scarf: Ginni Thomas has shown her true colors.
Photo credit: This is a crop of a photo by Gage Skidmore, manipulated by me, of Ginni Thomas speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Among the many individuals in her Rolodex: Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, Frank Gaffney, Jr. of the Center for Security Policy, real estate developer and conservative donor Harlan Crow, the judges Jay Mitchell and William Pryor, Jr., Chris Hodges of the Church of the Highlands and the Association of Related Churches, and Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA. As this is all important and underreported, I’ll cover them more extensively in a later piece.
There’s a sad coda to this part of the story. Higgins later wrote a memoir, The Memo: Twenty Years Inside the Deep State Fighting for America First. In his book, he explains, “The COVID-19 pandemic is an escalation by the Deep State in their efforts to prevent the American people from reclaiming their country. They will do anything to stop us.” He died this past March, just after receiving a bowel transplant he needed after complications from the coronavirus he came down with the previous January.