Saturday, May 09, 2015

Today, Eags Roasts The Latest Passengers To Climb Aboard The Dumbo Clown Bus (With Special Emphasis On 2-Bit Huck)

Trader Joe's may schlep 2-Buck Chuck from its wine shelves, but the Dumbos have 2-Bit Huck as the latest flavor o'the week. Eags also provides a history of the 2008 GOP circus as he imagines the primary season of 2016: more than double the number of chuckleheads. So, it's poison-by-the-drip as next week will bring even more loons aboard the Dumbo campaign bus. Long ago, these crackpots would be locked in an attic or in a shed out back of the house because their families were ashamed of them. Thanks to cable McNews, these loons are out of the attic and onto the news set. "But, first, these messages...." If this is the (fair & balanced) Lunatics' Hour, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Fringe Festival
By Timothy Egan

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In 2008, Mike Huckabee ran for president as a likable chucklehead who had lost 100 pounds. And you can, too! Now he’s running for president as a grievance–burdened theocrat who has lost his mind. In the interim, he lent his name to infomercials hawking a dubious diabetes treatment of cinnamon and some other concoction, putting the Huckster in Huckabee.

In 2005, Carly Fiorina was fired as chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, after laying off nearly 30,000 people and overseeing the collapse of the company’s stock price. She left with a $21 million severance package. She then lost a Senate race in California by a million votes. Now she’s running for president. And why not? Rewarded for failure in business, she’s trying it in politics.

Up until 2013, Dr. Ben Carson was known mainly as a celebrated neurosurgeon, much in demand on the speaking circuit for his inspirational talks. But then he compared President Obama to a psychopath, said expanding health care was the worst thing to happen to this country since slavery, and claimed homosexuality was a choice, because “people go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” Of course, he’s now running for the highest office in the land.

As David Axelrod noted, politics ain’t brain surgery. It’s harder.

Last election cycle, the Republican presidential field was a clown car, holding the thrice-married Newt Gingrich lecturing about values, the pizza magnate Herman Cain fending off sexual harassment claims, and Michele Bachmann confusing John Wayne with a serial killer. That was just the front seat. This time around it’s a clown bus, with as many as 17 Republicans expected to compete for the nomination.

Most of them are unelectable, to say the least. But can any of them get out of the party’s winnowing period without saying things they picked up in the far right netherworld? Probably not. As previous gaffe-a-matics have shown, it pays to be crazy. And for many Republicans, crazy is the new mainstream.

In Texas, the elected Republican governor, Greg Abbott, is not quite sure if simulated military maneuvers planned for his state are routine exercises by our men and women in uniform, or a plot to take everyone’s guns and enforce martial law. He’s ordered the state guard to monitor his own government’s soldiers — just in case. Oh, and Walmart is involved as well. Something about tunnels beneath abandoned stores.

There is no ceiling for crazy in Texas, nor political consequence. This year, the Lone Star State’s most odious export is Senator Ted Cruz, who also has some concern about the nefarious designs of our military, and those Walmart tunnels. He couldn’t just say, as the Pentagon did, that our troops would soon be conducting a long-planned field operation, called Jade Helm 15. He had to dog-whistle to the mouth frothers.

“I understand a lot of the concerns raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm,” said Cruz. “It’s a question I’m getting a lot, and I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of citizens.” Dwight Eisenhower — look him up, Texans — is rolling over in his five-star grave.

If you don’t think the inability to distinguish a military exercise from a totalitarian takeover disqualifies you from leading the free world, Fox News has a hosting chair for you in its studios. That’s where Mike Huckabee promoted his brand of Gomer Pyle politics over the last few years, building a following for quack health remedies and Christian victimhood. [Don't forget rightwing history.]

Since moving out of the Fox nursing home, he’s gone ever deeper and darker, all while traveling by private jet and building a palace in Florida. He suggested that military recruits should wait until President Obama leaves office before joining the service. He said asking a Christian to accept same-sex marriage was like “asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in his deli.”

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister who learned his shtick on the traveling preacher circuit, has become an outright theocrat, attacking the constitutional foundation against state-sanctioned religion.

“You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history,” he said last year, regarding same-sex marriage. “This is the right side of the Bible.”

Ben Carson, like Huckabee, sees the secular world through Scripture. He makes much of his standing as a Seventh-day Adventist, those nice people who show up at your door with pamphlets, prompting little kids to ask their parents, “What’s a Seventh-day Dentist?”

But the Adventists, to their credit, are distancing themselves from Carson. Following his presidential announcement, the church released a statement warning officials that the pulpit should remain neutral in politics, based on “our historical position of separation of church and state.”

For those of you keeping score, in the last week Republicans have gained two people whose political philosophy could find a home among Iran’s governing ayatollahs, and a failed chief executive who thinks driving a great company into the ground is a good business model. All are featured prominently in conservative media.

What this shows is that, if you’re on television long enough, you start to think you’d make a good president. Or perhaps it just shows that if you run for president as a Republican, you can ensure that you’ll be on television long enough. Either way, one enforces the other, and ultimately influences the nominee. And that’s when the rest of us start paying attention. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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