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The twin GOP debates on Wednesday night were a five-hour opera of posturing nuttiness — but far from the only conservative inanity on display this week. 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. Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was Kim Davis before it was cool to be Kim Davis. (Please note that it is still not cool to be Kim Davis.)

In the months before the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, the conservative Moore announced loudly and proudly that he would not honor any such decision, likening it to — of course — the judicial immorality of Dred Scott (which is kind of the go-to bogeyman for these obstinate government officials when they want to discredit the rule of law).

Moore, whose record is checkered with defending segregationist language in Alabama’s constitution and flouting a judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from courthouse grounds, is back in the media spotlight, speaking at the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, Missouri last week, where, according to Right Wing Watch, he “dedicated his entire speech to attacking the Obergefell decision and, like Davis’ lawyers, compared the clerk to victims of the Holocaust.”

After reading Martin Niemöller’s poem “First They Came For The Socialists…,” Moore decided to write his own version in honor of Davis: “Ladies in gentlemen, we can say the same thing today. They came for the bakers, I didn’t bake cakes. They came for the florists, but I didn’t deal with flowers. They came for the little clerk down in Kentucky by the name of Kim Davis, but I’m not a clerk, I have nothing do with issuing licenses. Then they came for me, and nobody was left.”

“This will touch every person in this room, every child in this room eventually,” he said of Obergefell. “This opinion is not like other opinions that have been issued.”

He’s right: This opinion is not like Dred Scott.

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: John Price and Rick Wiles

4. John Price and Rick Wiles

Something odd happened in the last couple of years. As gay and lesbian couples won the right to marry throughout the U.S., conservatives began viewing Russia, our onetime and perhaps future Cold War foe, as a shining city on a hill. The reason: Putin’s Russia is virulently anti-gay and recently banned pornography websites. And this is how our once “godless” enemy became a bastion of divine justice and safe haven for Christians in the hearts and minds of deluded American right wingers.

Indiana Republican pol and author of The End of America, John Price, went on Rick Wiles’ TruNews radio program last week to tell all American Christians of conscience that it’s high time to pack up their bags and set sail for “godly” Russia.

He called the U.S. the “mother of abominations” because we export our culture of abortion, pornography, and same-sex marriage. “All of these things have the unfortunate result of destroying our country culturally,” he said.

“It’s been funny over the last five or six years,” Price continued, “to watch Putin and other elements of the Russian bureaucracy move to the right on some of these cultural issues at the same that the United States has gone—”

“We’ve become godless!” Wiles interjected.

“Totally, totally, that’s right.”

“We have become the godless communist nation and Russia is moving towards God. This is so bizarre to watch this taking place.”

We agree on that, at least.

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Ted Cruz 

3. Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is so very proud of himself for snagging an endorsement from a white supremacist nut.

Here’s how he did it. Remember when 20 first graders were shot to death in their classrooms? Wasn’t it just awful the way some uppity legislators thought maybe, just maybe, this was the signal that something about the country’s gun laws was terribly off?

“When Harry Reid and Barack Obama came after the right to keep and bear arms of millions of Americans,” Cruz recalled at Wednesday night’s debate, “I was proud to lead the fight in the United States Senate to protect our right to keep and bear arms and for that reason, I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America [GOA] as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on the stage today.”

Indeed, the GOA did endorse the Texas senator, in a rabid statement released on Sept 8 that praised Cruz’s “willingness to fight for our Second Amendment rights,” took aim (figuratively, for now) at “illegal aliens […] the majority of [whom] are anti-gunners who have ignored and flouted our laws,” and lamented what the group described as “the anti-gun Obamacare law, which will facilitate the disarmament of millions of gun owners once the law is fully implemented.”

So happens that the GOA is one of the most insane, outspoken gun-rights groups out there. It’s founder, Larry Pratt, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “stands at the intersection of guns and Jesus, lobbying for absolutely unrestricted distribution of firearms while advocating a theocratic society based upon Old Testament civil and religious laws.” He has likened gun control efforts to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and “believes that white Christians must arm themselves for self-protection in the inevitable social implosions and riots that are soon to come.”

Well done, senator. This is an endorsement that is well deserved.

Via Media Matters

Next: Ann Coulter

2. Ann Coulter

You know, for a while during the debate on Wednesday, it looked like some Republicans were running to be leader of a different country.

Bush said the U.S. needed to “send a signal […] that we have Israel’s back.” Fiorina vowed to make her first presidential phone call to “my good friend Bibi Netanyahu.” Huckabee promised — in the same breath — to make the U.S. and Israel each a safer place. Rubio swore he’d fly Air Force One “first and foremost to our allies: in Israel.” Cruz insisted that he would relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

There’s probably a legitimate criticism to be mined from the GOP’s showboating and the outsized influence of Israel in our foreign policy. Ann Coulter, as it turned out, is not the person to mine it.

“How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” she tweeted mid-debate, reacting to the relentless invocation of Israel.

As the caustic, hateful pundit stated over and over again in response to the tidal backlash her tweet unleashed, the object of her ire was not Jews, but the Republican Party’s shameless pandering to Israel at the expense of other issues. She was being “pro-Semitic,” she said. “Where is all the GOP pandering on Israel getting us? U.S. becoming Mexico very bad for Israel.”

The vectors of hostility and xenophobia are awfully scattered and tangled, making it difficult to discern what exactly is the target of Coulter’s generally loathsome behavior. But before we take her “pro-Semitic” claim too seriously, recall the following anecdote about Coulter, excerpted from David Brock’s memoir Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative:

And though she had dated Jewish neocon John Podhoretz, a virulent anti-Semitism that I indulged her in for far too long punctuated Ann’s private conversations. That she wanted to leave her New York law firm “to get away from all these Jews” was one of her gentler remarks.

Next: Pamela Geller

1. Pamela Geller

When police arrested a 14-year-old student in Irving, Texas for bringing to class a homemade clock, it made for an ugly picture: slight, bespectacled Ahmed Mohamed, wearing a NASA t-shirt and handcuffs, being taken into custody in his school, because panicky teachers mistook his harmless creation for a bomb.

People leapt to his defense on social media via the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed, and Mohamed received shoutouts of support from the president—who invited him to the White House—Mark Zuckerberg, and MIT, and even snagged a TV interview with Chris Hayes.

The whole affair kicked off a national debate about the consequences of racial profiling, the fine line between discrimination and vigilance, and whether or not we as a country should be afraid of circuit boards.

Of course, there was one person who saw it differently: Pamela Geller, the vile Islamophobic troll and head of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an active anti-Muslim group.

You may recall Geller as the agitator who merrily launched a “Draw Mohammad” event with the express intention of baiting Muslims: “Are we going to surrender to these monsters?” she said at the time.

On her blog, Geller offered her unique perspective on the events in Texas:

When questioned about the device was [sic], the student, Ahmed Mohamed, wouldn’t answer. Now terror-tied Islamic groups like Hamas-CAIR, their media lapdogs and even President Obama are waging jihad against the school.

Geller’s choice of the word “jihad” is specious to say the least, and her claim that Mohamed wouldn’t answer police questions is utterly false: The student repeatedly explained that he had made a digital clock, whose alarm just happened to ring at an inopportune time. Geller continued:

This whole thing smells like a set-up. With ISIS in America, and young moderate Muslims are fleeing to Syria to join the terror group, the Irving school’s response was rational and reasonable. [emphasis Geller’s]

[…] The teachers were just trying to protect the school and the school children. Islamic supremacists will have their heads.

Could this simply have been a case of law enforcement acting rashly and inappropriately? No, Geller asserts, it’s a “set-up,” inextricably linked with extremist violence the world over.

And why can’t the American people see that? Probably because the president’s a Muslim.

But the Texas teen was never charged. And it seems he’s pretty innocent, yes? No! Come on, his name isMohamed.”

What are you getting at, Pamela? ISIS. ISIS. ISIS. ISIS. ISIS.

Ah, good point.

Illustration above: DonkeyHotey via Flickr 

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

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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