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This Week In Crazy: Armed And Ludicrous

Trump-mania, gun-nuttery, and the world’s scariest reality show. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Lou Dobbs

The Fox Business host, who previously was chased out of CNN for being such an overbearing anti-immigrant conspiracy nut, has turned lately into a full-throated fire-breathing pro-Trump zealot.

Randomly sample a dozen or so of Dobbs’ tweets from the past several months and behold the missives of a man on a holy mission, heedlessly sheering himself of even the most nominal pretenses of objectivity in his quest to herald the coming of The Donald. To take just one example, Dobbs suggested recently that Paul Ryan was unfit to be House Speaker for showing even the slightest reluctance to support Trump as the nominee of his party.

Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity may be smug and persistent in the oily, obsequious manner in which they roll out the carpet for Trump, but nobody matches Dobbs, whose unbridled devotion to the man resembles the frenzied, speaking-in-tongues ardor of someone who has touched the feet of God. (Seriously, just look at some of these.)

You know you’ve reached a low point in the annals of cable news bombast when Bill O’Reilly, of all people, has to be the one to bring you to task. And yet, so it was on the Factor Wednesday night when O’Reilly challenged Dobbs on his blind devotion to Trump and demanded to know if Dobbs was capable of saying anything critical about the candidate.

When Dobbs grumbled and blamed the mainstream media, O’Reilly shot back, “If he’s Jesus, how can you analyze him?”

He concluded, “According to Dobbs, Donald Trump is Jesus… And Jesus never put out his tax returns!”

Next: Ted Nugent

4. Ted Nugent

A board member for one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in America has suggesting that the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president should be shot in cold blood. That’s just kind of where we are right now.

“I got your gun control right here, bitch!” Ted Nugent wrote to Hillary Clinton in a Facebook post published Tuesday, linking to a YouTube video depicting the former secretary of state being gunned down by Bernie Sanders.

Right Wing Watch notes that “this sort of gleeful violence is nothing new to Nugent, who in a 2007 onstage rant relished the prospect of killing Clinton and then-candidate Obama,” proclaiming “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun,” while carrying two machine guns.

Nugent also told his Facebook followers that President Obama “should be tried for treason & hung. Our entire fkdup gvt [sic] must be cleansed asap,” a few short months ago. The man has long been the patron saint of American gun nuts, and of unhinged threats against people in power. Good thing he doesn’t hold any positions of influence — right?

Next: Tennessee

3. Tennessee

As some states are learning, passing anti-LGBT legislation into law can cause a real headache.

Two weeks after Tennessee passed a controversial law empowering psychologists to refuse service to gay patients under the pretense of “religious liberty,” two conventions in a row canceled their events in the Volunteer State

The Tennessean reports:

In protest of a state law they say is an affront to the profession of counseling and the worst legislation the group has tracked in decades, the American Counseling Association has canceled its annual conference scheduled for Nashville next year.

[…] For Nashville the loss of the convention at Music City Center could cost the city more than 3,000 visitors next year, $4 million in combined local and state tax revenue and a local economic impact of up to $10 million.

The American Counseling Association’s CEO said the law was “in clear violation” of the group’s ethics code. He added: “No other state has a law like Tennessee’s.”

Then the Colorado-based Centers for Spiritual Living, which had planned to hold a conference in Nashville, piled on. Its leader told The Tennessean“There are a lot of LGBTQ people that are involved in the world, period, but (also) in our organization. We did not think in the practice of openness and inclusivity that that law would serve them very well. They felt violated in the action of that, so we chose to take a principled stand. It’s against what we hold to be true and believe. We believe in the equality of all humanity.”

Next: Paul Manafort

2. Paul Manafort

Remember when people were hailing Trump’s hiring of Paul Manafort as an indication that his campaign was going to shift toward becoming more serious? Never mind!

“This is the ultimate reality show,” the campaign manager of the presumptive GOP nominee said. “It’s the presidency of the United States.”

Manafort made the dubious remarks during a Tuesday night appearance on Hardball.

He said that Trump had run “the first modern campaign in the social media era. He understood how to use earned media instead of paid media. Instead of using 30-second spots, he had a dialogue with the American people, both through his access to the media and through his campaign appearances. And he also had a vision of what the American people wanted.”

Hat tip and video courtesy of Media Matters.
Next: Troy Newman 

1. Troy Newman

There was much hand-wringing from the Religious Right when a crass, big city, philandering, secular totem like Trump all but walked off with the GOP nomination. To a purist Christian theocrat, of the sort that rallied behind Ted Cruz, Trump’s record on abortion and LGBT rights is dubious to say the least.

But just as the “establishment” and “moderate” flanks of the party are learning to swallow their poison and get behind the Donald, so too will the religious extremists. This week we got an early indicator of that shift in Troy Newman, an anti-abortion extremist and a weathervane for the sort of feeble about-face we can expect to see from the Religious Right, which is on its way to making a Devil’s bargain with Trump.

Right Wing Watch’s Miranda Blue writes:

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue and a driving force behind last year’s series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, writes today that although Donald Trump “has said and done many things that most Christians would find despicable,” he will vote for him — although not formally endorse him — in the presidential election.

Newman articulates his shift in the form of a “pithy” acronym: He supports the Donald because he will Take back the Supreme Court; Remove and Replace [ObamaCare]; Undo! [everything]; Make America Great Again [like the baseball cap sez]; Prosecute Planned Parenthood. (RWW has reposted the acronym in full here.)

That last point may be a curious one to anyone who watched Cruz inundate Trump with criticism for his stated belief that Planned Parenthood has done some “very good work for millions of women.”

But perhaps this is just another reminder that this election shall serve to make feckless hypocrites of everyone on the right who once condemned Trump: from the moderates to the extremes, everyone is getting in line behind Donald.

Hat tip Right Wing Watch

Illustration: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments! Get This Week In Crazy delivered to your inbox every Friday, by signing up for our daily email newsletter.

This Week In Crazy: Rush To Delusions

Hypocrisy, zealotry, and gobbledygook. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. David Daleidan

The mastermind behind the fraudulently shot and deceptively edited videos meant to smear Planned Parenthood into oblivion is now complaining about unfair treatment.

David Daleidan was head inquisitor (or, as Fox News characterizes him, citizen journalist) behind the Center for Medical Progress — the contemptibly misnamed anti-abortion outfit that released films which supposedly exposed the non-profit women’s health care network as a trafficker in human remains. Several state investigative probes and a congressional investigation later, and the only indictments handed down have been against Daleidan himself and his accomplice.

That indictment came in Texas, but it seems like California is potentially about to follow suit. The Washington Post reported:

Investigators with the California Department of Justice on Tuesday raided the home of David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist behind a series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood, the activist said.

Authorities seized a laptop and multiple hard drives from his Orange County apartment, Daleiden said in an email. The equipment contained all of the video Daleiden had filmed as part of his 30-month project, “including some very damning footage that has yet to be released to the public,” he said.

Daleidan and his conservative supporters have been quick to condemn the raid by officials as a politically motivated action. His own outside-the-law actions, of course, remain inscrutably righteous.

Next: Tennessee

4. Tennessee

The curious habit of state legislatures enshrining Official State Things is innocuous enough for the most part. Lately, though, Tennessee has been taking the practice to bizarre extremes.

Recently, the Volunteer State elected to make its official state firearm one of the most deadly weapons available for civilian use — so powerful it can down a commercial airliner, apparently. And then, as an encore, the legislature voted to make the Holy Bible the state’s official book.

As reported by The Tennessean

After nearly 30 minutes of debate, the state Senate on Monday approved the measure, sponsored by Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, with a 19-8 vote, sending the legislation to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

While proponents stressed the historic significance of the holy book and its religious meaning, some opponents argued that the bill trivializes something they hold sacred while others stressed constitutional reservations.

Lowering the Bar helpfully notes that this is both plainly unconstitutional and stupid — and furthermore that Tennessee isn’t even the first state to try to do this. In Louisiana, LTB writes, “the debate was not over whether to do it but over which version of the Bible would be appropriate.”


Next: Andrea Tantaros

3. Andrea Tantaros

Fox’s Andrea Tantaros earns her seat on the Outnumbered couch by being progenitor of some fairly outlandish — and incorrigibly ditzy — Obama conspiracy theories

Tantaros is what happens when you cross Dale Gribble from King of the HIll with Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons, by which I mean she manages to somehow hybridize the dopiest bromides of a self-righteous PTA meeting with the conspiracy theories of Alex Jones.

Here is the Fox News luminary in her own words, speaking about Barack Obama on Tuesday’s show:

Why would the administration give cover to ISIS? Is it about his legacy? Some people are asking the question, is he covering for ISIS? Why would the administration be pressuring these agents to not give us the facts on the ground?

Video below, courtesy of Media Matters.

For another example of super-sleuth Tantaros in action, check this out.

Next: Rush Limbaugh

2. Rush Limbaugh

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Rush Limbaugh, patron saint of shock jocks, is quite flexible.

That’s judging by his catalogue of contortions this week, which included the talk radio host defending Trump’s obscene remarks about “punishing” women, then defending his remarks defending Trump by saying that he was not, in fact, defending Trump, while still defending them… his remarks, that is. Like I said, he’s flexible. Being spineless can do that.

First, there was Limbaugh blasting MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for “setting up” Trump with a hypothetical question. He also tried to explain Trump’s answers away by blaming New York City liberals for inculcating poor Donald Trump’s brain with horrible caricatures of conservative ideologies, which he had little choice but to parrot on national television.

Then, there was Limbaugh asserting that Trump was technically correct in his assessment that, if you believe abortion is murder, then yes the woman should be punished. Trump’s only error was that he was “politically” in the wrong. (Side note: Take a moment to relish the editors at DailyRushbo’s decision to describe Limbaugh’s characterization of Trump’s comments as “politically wrong,” and not “politically incorrect,” because, you know, thesauri have a well known liberal bias.)

Then there’s the delicious not-about-face about-face the shockmeister performed over the next several days: pushing back against accusations that he was defending Trump, then recalibrating to explain that he had merely wanted to limit the damage Trump’s comments had done, whining:

It wasn’t pandering, it wasn’t an excuse.  It was an attempt to explain to people who want to support Trump why he might have screwed it up.  It was an attempt to explain to people who don’t want to support Trump why it might not be what you think it is.

Who are you going to believe — Rush, or your lying ears?

Next: Her again? 

1. Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s style is much more conducive to dittohead rallies than stately functions. No crowd seems to work as well for her as a throng of Tea Partiers cheering and sloshing around their drool buckets every time she says something like “No-Bama.” This was most cruelly illustrated this week by her insane, nonsensical — even by the extremely relaxed standards of the Alaskan governor — speech this week at a Wisconsin Republican function.

It was as if each word was plucked from her own worst game of Boggle. Palin’s latest bag of dictionary confetti impelled even the journalists in the room (who you’d think would be inured to her antics after all these years) to start caustically live-tweeting the event. The governor’s penchant for internal rhyme and folksy nonce words was in evidence, making the 20-minute monologue resemble nothing so much as a Wasilian riff on “Jabberwocky.”

If you don’t have the stomach or time to endure Palin’s 20-minute monologue resembled, you can view the best bits edited together in the following video (courtesy of Mediaite):

Sarah Palin Goes on Bizarre RambleSarah Palin went on a truly bizarre and rambling 20-minute speech in Milwaukee on Friday. Here are the highlights.

Posted by Mediaite on Monday, April 4, 2016

It demands a response, and this was the best one I could find:

Image: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments! Get This Week In Crazy delivered to your inbox every Friday, by signing up for our daily email newsletter.

Chattanooga Shooting Suspect’s Mideast Travel Being Probed

By Rich McKay

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Reuters) – U.S. authorities are investigating trips that the suspect in the fatal shootings of four Marines in Tennessee took to the Middle East, including at least one to Jordan and a possible visit to Yemen, a source close to the probe said on Friday.

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, identified as the shooter by the FBI, was shot to death in a rampage on Thursday at two military facilities in Chattanooga.

The suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, first went to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes. The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police.

The attack, which comes at a time when U.S. military and law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the threat ‘lone wolves’ pose to domestic targets, also injured three people, including a sailor who was critically wounded.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the suspect had any contact with militants or militant groups, but at this point have no evidence that he did, the source told Reuters.

U.S. law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar group.

Islamic State had threatened to step up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Friday evening.

The extremist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility when a gunman in Tunisia opened fire at a popular tourist hotel and killed 37 people in June. On the same day, there was an attack in France and a suicide bombing in Kuwait.

At a news conference late Thursday, Edward Reinhold, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville, Tennessee, division, said investigators had found nothing that tied the suspect to an international terrorist organization.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist groups, said that Abdulazeez blogged on Monday that “life is short and bitter” and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to “submit to Allah.” Reuters could not independently verify the blog postings.

The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that his father had been under investigation several years ago over possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization. His name was later removed from a terror watch list.

According to a resume believed to have been posted online by Abdulazeez, he attended high school in a Chattanooga suburb and graduated from the University of Tennessee with an engineering degree.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Eric Johnson in Seattle, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, David Bailey in Minneapolis, Frank McGurty and Katie Reiley in New York, Emily Stephenson, Julia Edwards, Lindsay Dunsmuir, Doina Chiacu and David Alexander in Washington, Dan Whitcomb and Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Photo: Police tape and a makeshift memorial sit on the lawn in front of an Armed Forces Career Center in this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, where earlier in the day a gunman opened fire, injuring one U.S. Marine in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015, (REUTERS/Damon J. Moritz/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

Gunman Who Killed 4 Marines Identified

By Michael Muskal, Christina Littlefield, Christine Mai-Duc and Julie Westfall, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

A shooting at a military reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, left four Marines dead and three people injured, including a police officer, officials announced Thursday.

The gunman was also killed, officials said. The FBI identified him as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

The deadly attack was preceded by a shooting at a nearby military recruiting center, where no one was injured.

“This is a sad day for the United States,” William C. “Bill” Killian, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, said at a news conference. “These service members served their country with pride, and they have been the victims of these shootings.”

Killian said the shootings were being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, but he later backed away from that label.

An FBI official said authorities will investigate the shooter’s motive to determine whether terror was the intent. “We will treat this as a terrorist investigation until it can be determined it is not,” Special Agent in Charge Edward W. Reinhold said.

The first shooting took place about 10:45 a.m., and both shootings were over within about 30 minutes, Reinhold said.

A federal law enforcement official described the shooter as a white man who pulled up in a gray Ford Mustang convertible with its top down, jumped out and “almost instantly” started firing. The shooter was heavily armed with multiple weapons, said the official, who asked not to be named because he or she was not permitted to speak about the investigation. The official does not believe the shooter worked at either of the military centers, but said the shooter might have lived nearby.

Officials said the police officer who was injured was pursuing the suspect from the first shooting at a recruiting center on Lee Highway and engaged a man at the scene of the second shooting, the reserve center on Amnicola Highway, about a five-minute drive away.

The officer was shot in the ankle, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said.

One of the victims who was injured is in critical condition, according to Chattanooga police.

The victims’ names have not been released.

In the first shooting, recruiters reported seeing a vehicle pull up in front of the center, shots being fired at the building and then the vehicle driving away, said Brian Lepley, spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.

It is unclear how many shots were fired or what damage the building sustained.

Four Army recruiters were in the building at the time, Lepley said, adding that they were not injured and had been evacuated from the center. Recruiting officers have been trained to react to threats since the 2009 shooting at a recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, he said.

The center recruits for all four armed services, he said.

“We are working closely with the U.S. Navy and local and federal law enforcement to determine exactly what happened today in Chattanooga,” said Maj. Paul L. Greenberg, a Marine spokesman.

Earlier, Berke had tweeted that there was a “horrific incident in our community. We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected.”

Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga “received some people” after the shootings, a spokeswoman said. She did not provide more details.

Nic Donohue, a computer technician at Desktop Solutions, which is three doors away from the recruiting center on Lee, heard some of the shots.

“At first, I had music playing in the background so I wasn’t able to clearly discern what was going on. I thought it could’ve been really loud banging at the front door, so I turned off the music,” the 24-year-old said.

“It was a couple seconds later that I heard the second grouping of shots,” he said. “In the back of your head, you really don’t want to believe that it is gunfire and something dangerous is going on.”

Donohue said he stayed in the back during the shooting, which is walled off and not visible through the store’s glass windows and doors, and tried to keep busy with repairs. A couple of minutes later, he went to the front of the store and saw police and emergency vehicles had arrived, he said.

Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and Chattanooga State Community College in Chattanooga went into lockdown amid the reports, but Lee University quickly lifted its alert. Chattanooga State, which is about a mile from the reserve center, lifted its lockdown later; the main campus is to remain closed for the rest of the day.

In Cleveland, Tenn., about 30 miles from Chattanooga, Bradley Square Mall went into automatic shutdown after the shootings because of a Tennessee National Guard recruiting center in the building, said the mall’s general manager, Stacia Crye-Shahan.

People at the recruiting center thought they heard shots fired and called 911, and police searched the building she said.

“There’s no evidence of shots fired, and no one was injured here, so we are very thankful for that,” Crye-Shahan said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it had agents responding to the shooting, and a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation.

(Tribune Washington Bureau staff writer Richard A. Serrano contributed to this report.)

Photo: A Chattanooga policeman holds a high-powered assault rifle outside the Reserve Recruitment Center at Highway 153 and Lee Highway on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press/TNS)