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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. Larry Pratt

Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt — who was last seen on this list warning that Obamacare is actually a gun-grabbing scheme that will force doctors to “submit medical information to the big computers in the sky” — claims the number five spot this week for reviving the smear campaign against the gun lobby’s least-favorite victim of gun violence: Trayvon Martin.

During an interview with NewsMax’s Steve Malzberg, Pratt claimed — falsely — that Stand Your Ground laws disproportionately benefit the black community, before sharing his own theory on why Trayvon Martin lost his life.

“Probably what killed [Martin] was the broken family that he was forced to deal with,” Pratt explained. “That’s often an indicator that a young man is going to have trouble, of either race, of any race.”

Divorced parents, a vigilante neighborhood watch coordinator with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol…really, what’s the difference?

4. Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Gage Skidmore via Flickr

When the FDA announced that it would dramatically increase regulations on trans fats last Thursday, it was inevitable that someone on the right would speak out for the latest casualty in President Obama’s war on freedom. The only question was who would win the paranoid race to the bottom.

Unsurprisingly, the answer is Rand Paul.

They’re coming after your doughnuts!” Senator Paul declared during a speech at The Citadel this week.

In reality, as Jonathan Chait explains, they aren’t. In fact, many major doughnut chains have already voluntarily eliminated trans fats from their recipes. But that didn’t stop Paul from declaring — in a move straight out of Marco Rubio’s “I’m not a scientist, man” school of policy — that only skinny bureaucrats should be able to decide what he eats.

“The FDA has banned unilaterally — some unelected bureaucrat has banned trans fats. And so I said we need to line every one of them up. I want to see how skinny or how fat the FDA agents are that are making the rules on this,” Paul said. “And not only that, any of them with a BMI over 16 or whatever the number you’re supposed to have, I want to see them on the treadmill and I want someone from maybe OSHA, lashing them while they’re working on the treadmill.”

Whichever Wikipedia editor Paul stole that quip from deserves a gold star.

It’s tempting to excuse Paul’s doughnut panic as a joke, but based on his long history of endorsing even the silliest conspiracy theories, it’s a safe bet that he’s as serious as the heart attack that his love of trans fats will eventually cause.

3. Alex Jones & Larry Klayman

Larry Klayman has had a tough time gathering support for his planned coup against the federal government — his dress rehearsal during the government shutdown didn’t go very well — but on Tuesday, he finally found an enthusiastic audience: conspiracy king Alex Jones.

Unsurprisingly, Jones is fully onboard with overthrowing the “Obama gang,” whom he describes as “offshore crony capitalist kleptocrats” who are using a “communist model” to take over the country.

“We have to rise up,” Klayman insisted. “We will succeed in the end but we need to show force.”

Video of their exchange, which is full of as many conspiracy theories as one could possibly fit into 90 seconds, is below:


2. Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly

Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly can usually be counted on say what the extreme far-right is thinking (as she did when she admitted that Republicans must limit early voting to keep Democrats away from the polls, or when she warned that immigration reform “will automatically” result in 11 million new Democratic voters). But her latest rant was so far out there, that it’s hard to imagine that she’s speaking for anyone but herself.

During an appearance on Crosstalk, Schlafly introduced a whole new reason for opposing comprehensive immigration reform.

“I would like to know if our immigration authorities are letting in people who believe in polygamy. Polygamy is against our law,” Schlafly said. “We’ve brought in thousands of Muslims; I want to know if they made them sign a pledge to assure they’re not bringing in a bunch of wives who will now go on our welfare.”

Polygamous Muslim welfare queens!

It takes a special brand of crazy to end up further out on the ledge than the likes of Steve King and Louie Gohmert would ever venture. But for Phyllis Schlafly, it’s just another day in the life.

Audio of her remarks is available at Right Wing Watch.

1. Jack Kimball

UN Peacekeepers Secure Port-au-Prince Bank

United Nations via Flickr

Jack Kimball, a Tea Party leader and the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, “wins” the week for a conspiracy theory that helps to explain why the Republican Governors Association reportedly thought $100,000 was a fair price to get rid of him.

In an email that was “intercepted” by the conservative NH Journal on Tuesday, Kimball warned that the United Nations may be invading the Granite State:

Hi Folks,

Just a quick heads up. This morning my Daughter and Son-in-Law were on Route 95 headed North to Maine where they observed 40 – 50 unmarked white trucks and humvee type vehicles headed South toward NH. There were also some cammo painted military type unmarked vehicles. All of these trucks were being driven by Military personnel. Some of them were clearly carrying fuel or water. Others were carrying other types of supplies. There were also some white buses interdisbursed in the group. A bit later they encountered an additional ten 18 wheeler’s that were being driven by military personnel but were, once again, unmarked. That’s roughly 60 vehicles. Don’t know what they were doing or where they were going but the white vehicles sound more like UN trucks. Be alert.

Jack

Sounds crazy, right? Thankfully, in a follow-up interview with Patch, Kimball explained that he didn’t mean to imply that the UN planned to put New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” motto to the test. “No, of course not,” he said. “Nothing like that.”

So why did he send the alarming email?

“We’re all concerned about what’s going on with Obama,” Kimball explained. “We’ve all been talking about what’s happening. We’ve got Chinese troops arriving in Hawaii… and Kansas. There’s a lot of things going on that are very suspicious. There are a lot of people that are very vigilant.”

If nothing else, Kimball at least has clarified why Ron Paul seems to like him so much.

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

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.