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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5: Steve Stockman

Genuinely crazy congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) has been on a roll recently. First, the man whom Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy once described as “the closest his state ever came to electing a gun” added to the reform debate by tweeting this:

 

Then on Monday, Stockman appeared on right-wing activist Steve Deace’s radio show to share his loony theory that immigration reform is really a backdoor plot for President Obama to “destroy America.”

During the same interview, Stockman accused NPR of referring to undocumented immigrants as “unregistered citizens,” — a charge for which there doesn’t appear to be any evidence — and said it would be like calling drug dealers “unregistered pharmacists.”

At least that is finally a topic about which Stockman — who was charged with felony drug possession in 1977 — actually knows something.

4: Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Photo:y Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

This Week in Crazy denizen Glenn Beck took a break from his ridiculous “Common Core” conspiracy theories this week to express his amazement at falling gold prices.

Of course, given Beck’s proclivity for conspiracies, and his long history of shilling for Goldline, he naturally determined that gold’s slump is actually a government lie.

“The only thing I have to fear is the government, quite frankly,” he said. “The government lying to you, the media not telling the truth. I mean, gold is the original gold standard, and something doesn’t smell right. Such a currency of last resort that it’s so unstable that the central banks are buying it up.”

Later in that very show, Beck seemed to suggest that the Boston Marathon bombing is a good reason to stock up on gold.

“Let’s say this turns out to be a terrorist operation with multiple bombs around the city. The stock market tanking, things going awry — wouldn’t this exactly be like how it would happen?” he asked. “You’d better have a plan and know what you and your family are going to do in the time of more difficult days ahead.”

A Beck spokesman denied to BuzzFeed that Beck had intended to connect gold and the bombing, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Beck has sought to exploit a tragedy.

3: Gun Owners Of America

gun owners of america logo

Many pundits have credited the National Rifle Association with successfully manipulating Congress into blocking gun reform efforts, against the wishes of 90 percent of Americans and a majority of the Senate. Less credit has gone to the 300,000-member-strong Gun Owners of America, which takes pride in being the only “gun rights” organization more extreme than the NRA.

Maybe that’s because, while the NRA was lobbying Congress, the GOA was warning that expanded background checks would lead to the plot of the movie Minority Report.

Background checks are “a huge slippery slope problem,” GOA communications director Erich Pratt explained on Monday. “You don’t take God-given rights and say we’re going to have government check you out first just to make sure. If anybody has ever seen the movie Minority Report, that is where we end up going, where government sets up a pre-crime unit and it is screening everybody and catch us before we do anything wrong.”

While Pratt may picture himself as Tom Cruise when he looks in the mirror, the jump from requiring a background check to buy an assault rifle to psychics predicting crimes before they happen seems a little much.

Audio of Pratt’s crazy statement is available at Right Wing Watch.

2: Peter Hansen

Gay Marriage NH

AP Photo/Jim Cole

Despite the Republican National Committee’s desperate effort to moderate the party’s tone and stop driving women voters towards the Democrats, Republican politicians are still not doing a very good job getting with the program.

The latest example is New Hampshire state representative Peter Hansen, who sent an email to his colleagues this week referring to women as “vaginas.”

“What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam?” Hansen asked in an email debating New Hampshire’s proposed “stand your ground” law. “Why children and vagina’s [sic] of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims.”

After colleagues from both parties immediately rebuked Hansen, he stood his ground, writing that “having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation.”

If Hansen really thinks that labeling women as “vaginas” is a well-founded communication strategy, then he’s probably not as well educated as he seems to believe. In any case, as Salon reports, he did eventually offer up a pseudo-apology, saying “It was not, and is not, my intention to demean women at any time. It is apparent that the intent of my remarks has been misinterpreted, the true goal of the message lost and for that I apologize to those who took offense. “

1: Louie Gohmert

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is this week’s “winner,” for advancing one of his craziest (and most grammatically challenged) conspiracy theories yet: that “radical Islamists” are currently in Mexico “being trained to come in and act like Hispanic [sic].”

During an interview on C-SPAN after the Boston Marathon bombing, Gohmert parroted Iowa Rep. Steve King’s theory that the attack should cause Congress to halt its immigration reform efforts.

“We know al Qaeda has camps over with the drug cartels on the other side of the Mexican border,” Gohmert said. “We know that people that are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic [sic] when they are radical Islamists. We know these things are happening. It is just insane not to protect ourselves, to make sure that people come in as most people do … They want the freedoms we have.”

Of course we don’t, in fact, “know” any of the things that Gohmert asserted as rock-solid facts. But hey, if there’s one group whose “freedoms” Gohmert always respects, it’s Hispanic immigrants…right?

Photo by expertinfantry/ CC BY 2.0

At this moment, the president of the United States is threatening to "throw out" the votes of millions of Americans to hijack an election that he seems more than likely to lose. Donald Trump is openly demanding that state authorities invalidate lawful absentee ballots, no different from the primary ballot he mailed to his new home state of Florida, for the sole purpose of cheating. And his undemocratic scheme appears to enjoy at least nominal support from the Supreme Court, which may be called upon to adjudicate the matter.

But what is even worse than Trump's coup plot — and the apparent assent of unprincipled jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is the Democratic Party's feeble response to this historic outrage. It is the kind of issue that Republicans, with their well-earned reputation for political hardball, would know how to exploit fully and furiously.

They know because they won the same game in Florida 20 years ago.

During that ultimate legal showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when every single vote mattered, a Democratic lawyer argued in a memorandum to the Gore team that the validity of absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be challenged. He had the law on his side in that particular instance — but not the politics.

As soon as the Republicans got hold of that memo, they realized that it was explosive. Why? Many of the late ballots the Democrats aimed to invalidate in Florida had been sent by military voters, and the idea of discarding the votes of service personnel was repellent to all Americans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, who was overseeing the Florida recount for Bush, swiftly denounced the Democratic plot against the soldiers, saying: "Here we have ... these brave young men and women serving us overseas. And the postmark on their ballot is one day late. And you're going to deny him the right to vote?"

Never mind the grammar; Baker's message was powerful — and was followed by equally indignant messages in the following days from a parade of prominent Bush backers including retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the immensely popular commander of U.S. troops in the Desert Storm invasion that drove Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait. Fortuitously, Schwarzkopf happened to be on the scene as a resident of Florida.

As Jeffrey Toobin recounted in Too Close to Call, his superb book on the Florida 2000 fiasco, the Democrats had no choice but to retreat. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel," conceded then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, during a defensive appearance on Meet the Press. But Toobin says Gore soon realized that to reject military ballots would render him unable to serve as commander in chief — and that it would be morally wrong.

Fast-forward to 2020, when many of the same figures on the Republican side are now poised to argue that absentee ballots, which will include many thousands of military votes — should not be counted after Election Day, even if they arrived on time. Among those Republicans is Justice Kavanaugh, who made the opposite argument as a young lawyer working for Bush in Florida 20 years ago. Nobody expects legal consistency or democratic morality from a hack like him, but someone should force him and his Republican colleagues to own this moment of shame.

Who can do that? Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party ought to be exposing the Republican assault on military ballots — and, by the same token, every legally valid absentee ballot — every day. But the Democrats notoriously lack the killer instinct of their partisan rivals, even at a moment of existential crisis like this one.

No, this is clearly a job for the ex-Republicans of the Lincoln Project, who certainly recall what happened in Florida in 2000. They have the attitude and aptitude of political assassins. They surely know how to raise hell over an issue like military votes — and now is the time to exercise those aggressive skills in defense of democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.