GOP rebranding: Clean out the crazy!

not-sure-if-onion-headline-or-republican-saidThe Republican Party has been talking a lot about rebranding itself in response to losing the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.  They’ve mainly talked about changing their image (without changing their policies or attitudes) among racial minorities and women.  I’d like to suggest another effort that might help restore the public’s comfort level with the GOP: Clean out the crazy.

What I’ve gathered here are mostly examples of insanity expressed by Republicans actually holding or running for public office or important party position.  I’ve excluded most of the army of preachers, pundits and broadcasting “personalities” that fuels much of the fever on the Right.

I’m not saying the Left doesn’t have its crazies — it does — just that the crazy usually gets filtered out before it reaches elective office. You rarely see Democrats in office embracing ideas from the fringe.  The Right, however, seems to have lost its filter, and the crazy flows quickly from the fringe to Congress.

Favorable ratings for and party ID with the GOP (and its Tea Party wing) are at historic lows, as polling shows people think the party is out of touch and wrong-headed. The irresponsibility of the government shutdown hurt the GOP brand, but the brand also suffers from the constant drip of craziness  —  climate denial, evolution denial, birtherism, anti-immigrant nativism, death panels, Black Panthers, fraudulent claims of voter fraud and “creeping” Sharia law, denying that rape can lead to pregnancy, etc, — that occupies their time instead of jobs and economic growth makes the party sound cold-hearted, irresponsible and just plain nuts.  What follow are, in comparison to what’s available, just a few examples:

Captain crazy  Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) labeled evolution a lie from the “pit of hell.”  He also said:

  • funding NPR and Planned Parenthood is “unconstitutional”;
  • federal employees don’t have real jobs (does Broun not realize he is one?);
  • the Civil War was a “war of Yankee aggression” that’s just like health insurance reform;
  • we should repeal the 16th and 17th amendments to stop the “socializing” of America (putting aside the fact that “socializing” simply means gathering with others and communicating, Broun was under the impression that allowing Americans to freely elect their Senators and allowing those Senators to levy an income tax will have us heading down the road to the Soviet Union); and
  • the federal government will be calling you every day to make sure you eat your vegetables.

Reductio ad absurdum VP candidate and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to do more than outlaw all abortions:  “We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered.”  After all, he says that rape is just another method of conception.

We want our bullets back!  Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced bills to stop government agencies from buying ammunition because he thinks Obama is trying to prevent others from getting it by hoarding it himself.

Government murder  New Hampshire state Rep. Stella Tremblay (R) believes the government planned the bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 150 others.

The slippery slope of marriage  Republican candidate for the US Senate Matt Bevin says if same-sex marriage becomes legal, parents will be able to marry their children.

Charles Dickens, we need you! West Virginia Delegate Ray Canterbury (R) suggested having poor school children work for their lunches.

Two crazies for the price of one  Rep. Steve Stockman’s (R-TX) campaign bumper sticker reads “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.”

See no evil  Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal refused to even respond to students who asked for an end to racially segregated high school proms.

Is our children commies yet?  Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) claimed that an effort to make a more uniform framework of standards and benchmarks in schools, Common Core, is actually a plot by the federal government to “indoctrinate” students, breed “socialism,” “control opinions,” and weaken American exceptionalism.  Being right for all the wrong reasons must take a lot of effort.

Nothing to see here, move along  The House GOP won’t even let the Paycheck Fairness Act come up for a vote.  If we pretend to see unfairness, we don’t have to fix it.

You thought it would go over better the second time?  Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) said Mitt Romney was correct in his infamous “47 percent” statistic, adding that Americans need to pay taxes to participate in the political process.

God’s name is James Madison?  Former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) said  “…God created this nation [and] that He wrote the Constitution…”

Because we all want to work more and get paid less?  GOP leaders are introducing measures to destroy  the weekend and weaken overtime protections.

Zombie lies.  Benghazi!

This ought to be embarrassing. Republicans have made so many attempts to repeal “Obamacare” that the scorekeepers have lost count. (It was 67 times in July 2013.)

Hitting too close to home?  They even oppose even Michelle’s fight against childhood obesity?  The definition of a conservative being, of course, a person who’s too cowardly to fight and too fat to run.

Because grief-stricken parents are irrelevant?  After the slaughter at Sandy Hook, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters that the coming debate on gun control will have nothing to do with the families of the victims from Newtown.

Planning for your future is just so radical!  Kansas State Rep. Dennis Hedke (R) introduced legislation that would ban Kansas state and local governments from spending public funds on sustainable development.

Was it jealousy?  Virginia Attorney General and candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli tried to outlaw oral sex.

Do you swear to tell the lie, the whole lie, and nothing by the lie?  Legislators in Kansas’ Republican-led state House and Senate passed a draconian anti-abortion bill, including provisions that order physicians to lie to their pregnant patients by telling them that breast cancer is a risk of abortion — a hoax that has been debunked.

Love the second amendment, but no so cool with the first  If you introduce legislation to set up a state religion and have states nullify federal laws, people are going to suspect the quality of your thinking and judgment.

Be careful who you worship. If your philosophical framework is formed by an artless novelist who thought greed was a virtue, most folks are going to think you’re crazy (and if you’ve also lived most of your life on a government check, they’ll also think you’re a hypocrite).

Maybe if he looked beyond the country club gates…  Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said he couldn’t find any unemployed people who were not on drugs.

How dare you ask cruel people to be held accountable!  Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt (R) described the Humane Society as radical and accused it of promoting rape-like tactics against farmers after the Human Society had written to ask him to oppose legislation that would criminalize activists who exposed animal abuse on factory farms and in slaughterhouses:

“I am extremely pleased that we were able to pass HB 1191 today to help protect livestock in Tennessee from suffering months of needless investigation that propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists, who are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women.”

“You work for a pathetic excuse for an organization and a pathetic group of sensationalists who seek to profit from animal abuse. I am glad, as an aside, that we have limited your preferred fund-raising methods here in the state of Tennessee; a method that I refer to as ‘tape and rape.’ Best wishes for the failure of your organization and it’s true intent.”

Please tell me this man’s genes have not been passed on…. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told a group of Tea Party supporters on a conference call that gay marriage would be a slippery slope to polygamy and bestiality:  “When you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman or four women and one man? Or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal or…? There is no clear place to draw a line once you eliminate the traditional marriage.” Gohmert has a special knack for wearing the tin foil hat, having stated that wide gun-ownership is needed to protect against Sharia law, that Obama intervened in Libya to allow al Qaeda to spread, and that the president is seeking to take credit for starting a new Ottoman Empire.

Uh… OK, what is it with the GOP and sex with animals?  Presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) equates marriage equality to bestiality and pedophilia: “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever, to my knowledge, included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.”

At least she didn’t mention any animals.  Sue Everhart, head of the Georgia Republican Party. declared gay marriage “not natural” and predicted it would lead to Americans engaging in sham weddings to obtain benefits. An opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution satirized Everhart’s comments: “Sham marriages, of course, would be an entirely new and different thing in the human experience,” wrote political columnist Jim Galloway. “Lord knows how we could cope.”

Let them eat cake! And more sex with animals.  Missouri state Rep. Steve Cookson (R) thinks poor kids who don’t have 90% attendance at school shouldn’t be able to eat (following the lead of Republicans in Michigan and Tennessee). He also introduced a bill to ban the word “gay” in public schools s a way to prevent students from learning about the “homosexual agenda” and bestiality.

Cutting ties with Crazy Shelly.  When you send this level of crazy to Congress, expect the nation to be skeptical of everything else you do.

Whatever happened to “local control” being a conservative value? Wisconsin State Rep. Chris Kapenga wrote a bill to preempt local living wage ordinances that apply to employees whose work is even partially funded by state funds.

He does know the South lost, right? Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS) uses Twitter to promote white supremacy, neo-fascist groups, Southern nationalism, secession and claims of black oppression of whites. He also blames gun violence on hip hop music and attended at least one neo-Confederate conference.

An apt name.  The “suicide caucus” of House Republicans was willing to both shut down the government and force the government into debt default, endangering the global economy, unless everyone else agreed to reverse health insurance reform.

There’s no such thing as a liberal Christian?  That’s just crazy.

Because discrimination is such an American value….? Arizona actually passed a law saying it’s OK to discriminate against people because you don’t like who they love.  In Kansas, State Rep. Charles Macheers (R), one of the leading proponents of a bill that would “allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if ‘it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations – movie theaters, restaurants – can turn away gay couples at the door,” said the proposal would “prevent discrimination” and would put Kansas “on the right side of history.” This he said with a straight face.  Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R) sponsored a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gays.

It was about slavery, OK?  You know it, we know it, everybody knows it.  The sooner you give it up, the sooner you’ll clean the crazy from your party.

No, this isn’t slavery, OK? Rep. Allen West (R-FL) said welfare is “the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today…”  This guy is a wealth of crazy.

Hint: hypocrisy hurts your image  Virginia Republicans proposed a new plan to expand Medicaid under Obamacare — while touting that they’ve rejected the law’s expansion of the health care program.

Ibid.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says that he is prepared to make “all available resources” available from the federal government to assist in the recovery after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas — but the senator voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy earlier because he said it was “pork.”

Ditto.  After demanding that the Senate pass a budget, the House GOP refused to enter budget negotiations.

One more time.  When the Bush administration actually politicized federal law enforcement during the U.S. Attorney purge scandal, Senate Republicans couldn’t have cared less. Now that some wingnut activist is indicted for campaign-finance violations, they’re interested?

Dragging us backward several centuries  Missouri State Rep. Rick Brattin (R) has introduced a bill requiring schools to notify parents if “the theory of evolution by natural selection” is being taught at their child’s school and a bill that would allow the state to to execute condemned prisoners by firing squad.

He’s kidding, right?  In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) thinks fossil fuels may be an infinite, renewable, natural resource — and, no, he’s not kidding

When the word “nobody” means “I”  Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says “nobody cares” about redistricting reform.

Priorities!  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s staff quips “nobody cares about crazy people,” assuring then-candidate Walker that the starvation death of a mentally ill woman in a facility for which Walker was responsible wouldn’t hurt his chances.

The company you keep does matter.  Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, has the racist, sexist, sexual predator of underage girls* Ted Nugent campaigning for him, just a month after Nugent called President Obama a “communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” In 2007, Nugent performed at Gov. Rick Perry’s inaugural ball in Austin wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag. Nugent has referred to Obama with a term a term the Nazis often used when referring to Jews, called Hillary Clinton a “worthless b-tch” and a “c-nt,” said that “piece of sh-t” then-Senator Barack Obama should “suck on [his] machine gun,” told Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to “suck on [his] machine gun,” called Sen. Dianne Feinstein a “worthless whore,” and has a lengthy history of vile misogynist commentary. (*These statutory rapes he calls “beautiful.”)

Pandering to faux victims and claiming victim status

Despite the traditional conservative rhetoric about taking personal responsibility for our lives, the Right has made victimhood a political art form.  Telling people they’re victims, or making them fear they’ll become victims, is a favorite political ploy on the Right.  The goal is to make people feel persecuted and then see you as the white knight who will ride in and save them from their oppressors.  As Corey Robbins noted in his book The Reactionary Mind, “…victimhood has been a talking point of the right ever since Burke decried the mob’s treatment of Marie Antoinette.”   Conservatism enjoys a particular appeal among people who once had power and think they are losing it, so it’s a natural fit.

Obama will kill me!  Conservative hero and part-time GOP campaigner Ted Nuget predicted his victimization, saying in 2012 if President Obama was re-elected “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”  As of February 2014, Nugent is still alive and free. (I can’t decide which is crazier here, the paranoia or the delusion of grandeur. Does he really think the president gives a moment’s thought to the bile that oozes from a has-been pop singer?)

The FBI is coming for me! The Dinesh D’Souza conspiracy theory, which claims his indictment for campaign finance fraud is retribution for being an outspoken conservative, tarted with Alex Jones and Drudge, was then picked up by Limbaugh, then Fox News, and now four Republican senators.

Obama is stealing our guns! Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Texas, Todd Staples, ran a TV ad that showed him opposing marriage equality and environmental protection, pretending the president is acting like “a king,” and pointing guns and then concluded with “So Mr. President, if you still want to mess with Texas, we’ve got a saying for you. Come and take it.”  Asked whether they believe the Obama administration is coming to take their guns away, 62% of Republicans answered “Yes.”   This, despite the fact that no gun legislation of any impact whatsoever has shadowed the president’s desk since he took office.

Save the babies!  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus lambasted the mainstream media for “covering up” Planned Parenthood’s “support for infanticide.”  Of course, he was lying. Planned Parenthood doesn’t support infanticide and there was no cover up.

Save the grannies!  Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) warns — errantly — that the Affordable Care Act will make it harder for Grandma to get her cancer surgery.  (Hint: Grandma is covered by Medicare.)

The sky is falling!  Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) about why he opposed raising the debt limit:  “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare, so whatever deal is put together must at least reschedule the implementation of Obamacare,” he says. “This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”   America?  And everything in it?  Oh my!

We are victims of the gays!  Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema defends his decision to share a pseudoscientific “research” paper that alleges gays and lesbians are gonorrhea-riddled social deviants responsible for “half the murders in major cities.” After expressing surprise that people found the “research” and his subsequent comments to be hateful, Agema equated being gay with being an alcoholic.

Save the kids from the gays!  Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) insists gay people are bad parents, so we need laws to protect the kids from them.

Guns — now with Nazis and Rawanda! Former governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee warns that universal background checks for gun purchases — an idea supported by 92% of America — will allow the most centrist president in the post-WW era to confiscate all guns and set up a Nazi-like dictatorship. Not to be outdone, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took the fearmongering over gun reform to new levels in a Facebook post that compared expanding background checks to the Rwandan genocide.

Fear the immigrants!  Rep Louie Gohmert claims Al Qaeda has camps on the Mexican-US border and is training Islamic radicals to act like Hispanics.

Thin skin in NC?  After he became the (ahem) victim of a gay grocery clerk who quipped “Thanks for nothing,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) got the clerk fired. Before that, the Central Carolina Community College stopped airing “The Rant,” a weekly radio political program, after North Carolina State Rep. Mike C. Stone (R) objected to its commentary.  Voters get turned off when you look this weak.

Fear the UN! The GOP’s tin foil hats were on a bit too tightly when the Senate Republicans voted against ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, a treaty that describes the obligations of ratifying countries to promote, protect, fulfill, and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. The treaty embodies the American ideals that form the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): empowering persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens. Ratification was endorsed by the US Chamber of Commerce and every major veterans organization, and former Sen. Bob Dole (R). All but eight Republican Senators voted against it because former Sen. Rick Santorum (R) spewed conspiracy theories about the convention threatening US sovereignty and letting the United Nations dictate how people raise their kids.

Obama and his friends will kill your neighborhood, our nation, and God!  Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) claims  “elites” are waging a “silent war” on religious liberty that “threatens the fabric of our communities, the health of our public square and the endurance of our constitutional governance.”  As (cough cough) proof, Jindal points to the Hobby Lobby case, in which it’s being asserted that corporations are people with their own spiritual beliefs. It seems that, in Jindal’s mind, if you don’t give corporations the legal status of people worshiping God, you’re the enemy of religious liberty. Jindal had tried the same tactic earlier, when he asserted victim status for a guy who damaged his employer’s product.  Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) did the same, in a pointedly hypocritical moment, as did Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Palin is particularly fond of playing the victim.  She says she’s a victim of the “lamestream media.”  She cashed in on the victims of the phony war on Christmas by writing a pandering book about their victimization (and superiority).  She — a former governor, former national candidate and then star of her own TV show — complained that her privacy was being invaded.  When she was embarrassed by her own remarks about the Pope, she made both herself and the Pope out as victims.  (It’s much easier to claim victimhood than to consider whether your message, values and tone turn off most Americans.)  She posed as the victim of sexism, accusing critics of chauvinism against a strong woman. She claimed status as a victim of class prejudice, calling the Bush family “blue bloods” and whined that the snobs targeted her because she is “not so hoity-toity” and that the “sacrifices” she made for serving the public were “brutal.”  And, of course, according to Palin, tax payers are the ultimate victims, the equal of slaves.

Viral victimhood.  Presidential candidate Mitt Romney hinted, echoing a wingnut chain email and a stunt by the GOP House, said that President Obama planned to remove “In God we trust” from our currency.

Save us from the Girl Scouts!  One of Indiana’s GOPers says the Girl Scouts sell cookies, sex, abortion, Communism, and a lesbian agenda – in cahoots with Planned Parenthood and a “radically pro-abortion” Michelle Obama.

Pity the rich!  Presidential candidate Mitt Romey’s 47% quip was of way of saying we rich folks, the supermen who create the wealth, are victims because the wealth we create gets confiscated to pay for the losers.

Pity white men!  People of color are taking revenge, via Affirmative Action, against innocent whites.  Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma proposed the Affirmative Action Ban Amendment to their state constitution, to prohibit affirmative action policies in state employment, education, and contracting.

I want my country back!  Republicans believe they are “real Americans” whose country is being taken away from them. They see themselves as the victims of women, gays, non-whites, non-evangelicals and non-conservatives who are transforming the country by demanding their fair share of political power, rights, respect, opportunity and wealth — in other words, their American birthright that has been denied to them for centuries by political and cultural institutions now being dismantled.

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