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They’re Baa-ack! If you thought the departure of Bill Clinton from office in 2001 was the end of Right-wing lunatics who spent the better part of the decade ramping up baseless hysteria and paranoia… think again. Last month, I observed the fact that the Right appeared to be losing touch with reality when I wrote, “Tuesday’s Presser Shows Right is Coming Unhinged“. Paranoia and bizarre conspiracy theories, once relegated to fringe elements like neo-Nazi’s and the McCarthy-ite “John Birch Society” are reemerging as mainstream Conservatism. But since Barack Obama was elected President… and not narrowly but with a legitimate “mandate” (taking 12 “Red” states from the GOP)… what was once considered “fringe” is quickly becoming the defining characteristic of an entire political Party. Paranoid (“He’s a secret Muslim”), xenophobic (“helping the terrorists”), homophobic (a gay marriage “stormfront“), racist (be it Obama’s own race or frenzied concern over “illegal aliens flooding across the Mexican border”), and apocalyptic (your usual Religious nuts seeing end-times prophecy in every major event). Of course, none of this is new.

Just over a year ago, prior to the Iowa Caucus, a mentally disturbed man committed suicide outside Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters (reportedly) in hopes of bringing attention to the need for “mental health coverage” in her National Health Care plan. My first thought was, “Here we go again. The return of Clinton derangement syndrome” (a term co-opted by the Right when Bush was crowned President in 2000) which I wrote about in “Remembering the Clinton-era Wackos” back in 2007.

The 90’s was the first time I remember a parade of Conservative extremists on a fairly annual basis committing some bizarre act of violence against a government they were certain was “out to get them” (I’m old enough to remember the Carter Administration. Plenty of outrage, but overt acts of violence and paranoia were rare).

First, there was the “Waco Siege” of the “Branch Davidians”, a gun-running apocalyptic religious cult. (Many Conservatives cite “Ruby Ridge” as an earlier example of Clinton’s anti-gunowner persecution. But the incident at Ruby Ridge took place in 1992 under Bush-41 before Clinton even entered office.) President Clinton had been in office a mere 38 days when the BATF (“Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms”) decided to act on a year-long investigation of the Davidians. But it was Clinton’s newly appointed AG Janet Reno that was in charge of the botched raid at the time, resulting in a daily month-long spectacle that played into the worst fears of both gun-nuts and religious fundamentalists… the core of today’s GOP… which helped define the Democratic Party in their eyes to this day. After Waco there was the man who dive-bombed his Cessna 150 single engine plane into the side of the White House (September 12, 1994), followed a month later by another man who shot up the front of the Clinton White House with a Chinese SKS assault rifle (interestingly, he purchased the weapon on September 13th, the day Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban… what is it about that month that brings out the lunatics?), a militia group calling themselves “The Republic of Texas” took two people hostage demanding the release of their Leader from jail and holed themselves up in a bunker demanding Texas secession (yes, it’s spelled right) from the union in 1997 (I once had the audio of their hilarious call for help over shortwave radio to every militia group in the country, but have long since lost it. BTW: no one “came to their rescue”. Probably because no one knew where the “country of Texas” was.)

Yesterday, April 19th, was the 14th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing where a Right-wing former military, government-despising lunatic (whose name I won’t repeat here but we all know) drove a rented moving-van filled with a homemade ammonium-nitrate & diesel-fuel bomb to the front of the OKC Federal Building, that killed 168 people in what is still to this day the worst act of domestic terrorism in history. The reason cited for the bombing: retribution for the Waco siege two years earlier (The FBI and BATF had offices in the building). Why April 19th? Because it was Hitler’s Birthday (technically, the 20th).

April 20th, 1999, two more gun-crazed social misfits planted homemade bombs (that mysteriously were never detonated) and started gunning down people they hated (“jocks” and other “popular kids”) at Columbine High School. Where did they get their guns? Mom & Dad, who gave one of the boys his first rifle when it was taller than he was. And once again, “Hitler’s Birthday” was chosen for their day of destruction.

Then George W. Bush became President and went on a Constitutional law breaking and privacy violating binge. BUT, he lifted Clinton’s ban on assault weapons, and suddenly we learned all that talk about “privacy” and “the government violating our rights” was just that: talk. Their President was wiretapping them, declared the right to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or Habeas Corpus rights, demanded passage of “The Patriot Act” that gave them the right to search your home… and even confiscate items within it (including guns)… without even an ex post facto warrant, and erected “free speech zones” at political events to stifle dissent, all while doubling the National Debt and turning a balanced budget into a $600Trillion dollar yearly deficit. And NOT ONCE did we see a single “tea party” on the evening news.

Rational Americans, appalled by these events, showed their displeasure by giving Democrats a mandate in 2006 that only grew with the election of Barack Obama and even more Democrats to Congress in 2008. The remaining irrational fringe Conservatives… all that are left of the GOP… apparently suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of all these Democrats back in charge of Washington because they’ve been spewing a non-stop torrent of false accusations and paranoid delusions since before President Obama even took office.

I’ve already recently spoken of Fox News’ latest rubber-room candidate Glenn Beck who believes there are “FEMA Concentration Camps” in existence (no, seriously!) ready to incarcerate any Conservative that dare speak out against the Obama Administration (although to be fair, he’s not 100% sure these nonexistent camps actually exist. More like just 99% sure). The fact Beck appears to be confusing his paranoia with a scene from the 1998 X-Files movie (once on YouTube, since pulled) doesn’t appear to matter to his compatriots at Fox “News”.

Of course, Beck isn’t the only whack-a-doodle that believes in government “reeducation camps for Conservatives” that don’t exist. Enter recurring rising star on Planet Wingnuttia Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who shares Beck’s paranoia over camps she knows exist, but can’t actually find any evidence of. Add this to a growing laundry-list of “Bachman-isms” (yes, I just made that up. Let’s see if it catches on) such as the non-existent “global currency” and accusing fellow Congress members who’ve dedicated their lives to serving their state of being “anti-American“.

Last week, the Department of “Homeland” Security (can we PLEASE change that name now? It gives me the creeps) released a report (PDF) based upon a yearlong investigation on dangerous “far Right” radical fringe groups targeting disillusioned, PTSD-stressed, weapons-trained returning Iraq/Afghan war veterans for recruitment. Their use of the term “far Right” sent Conservative pundits into hysterics, complaining that Obama’s DHS was “targeting Republicans”. Ignoring for the moment the fact the report was commissioned… and research began… under the Bush Administration, one can’t help but sense a Freudian slip when Conservatives equate “far Right fringe radicals” with the Republican Party. Innocent mistake I suppose. I can’t tell the difference myself sometimes.

Last week, a Pittsburgh gunman (again, no names) shot and killed three police officers after they arrived to evict him from his mother’s house (when Mom is calling the cops to have you evicted, you KNOW you’ve crossed a line somewhere). The gunman had posted numerous rants online regarding his fears of “Obama coming to take our guns away” and the looming “New World Order”. The source feeding much of his paranoia? Fox News of course (along with Conspiracy Theorist and radio personality Alex Jones, author of “The Obama Deception”, which our gunman read and oft quoted.) It deserves mention that in the DHS report noted above, our Pittsburgh gunman is the ONLY person mentioned BY NAME.

Amid the current/growing economic crisis (which I intend to cover in more detail in the coming weeks), the recent well-spring of feigned Republican outrage being fostered by Conservative media, followed by acts of violence so early in Obama’s Presidency, already has me fearful of 90’s-era gun-toting, government-despising Right-wing lunatics making a deadly & destructive comeback.

Postscript: Last week, the Obama Administration released a report detailing illegal torture methods used by the CIA under the previous administration. Outraged Conservatives took to the airwaves all last week to accuse President Obama of “jeopardizing national security” by letting the terrorists know our interrogation techniques and how to prepare for them. The Obama Administration’s response: “Let them train. We’re no longer using torture, so the information is useless.” This is good. What no one in the OA has actually said is the fact that “by releasing this info, we’ve rendered the techniques useless for FUTURE administrations as well.” Releasing the info was a way to help ensure that we never again engage in torture, even after he’s out of office. The man is playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers.

During yesterday’s “Fox News Sunday”, their Conservative “Power Panel” was vocally upset over the release of the “Torture Memos”, repeating the argument that not being allowed to torture has made us “less safe”. Chief windbag at Fox News, Brit Hume, challenged token Moderate Juan Williams’ assertion that releasing these torture memos helps us more than it might hurt us (not the greatest defense). Hume snapped back, “How does revealing torture techniques and telling them we won’t torture help us?” (not an exact quote). Williams failed to give a convincing response, so I sent my own in to the show:

We tortured *innocent* people who were later released. Do you think maybe THEY might have revealed these techniques already?

Abu Ghraib was used as a recruiting tool, which prolonged the fighting and cost more lives.

Fighters afraid of capture are less likely to surrender and more likely to fight to the death.

If you are depending upon the enemy for your intel, you’ve ALREADY failed. For decades, this country relied on robust intelligence gathering to defend this country. We won WWII without resorting to torture. Instead, we PROSECUTED Japan for waterboarding. Defending our own use of these techniques now in disgusting.

I’ll let you know if they read it on the air. Don’t hold your breath.