We've reached the end of the naughties. The first decade of the 21st century is officially over. It started with George W. Bush stealing the Oval Office and went downhill from there, America's worst decade.
Of course, we went through decade wrap-up stories a year ago, because people are transfixed by numbers that end in zero, and pretty much everyone knows the naughties sucked, so why bother revisiting it?
This past year was a kidney-stone of a year, too. I thought of two approaches to discussing it—the large amount of pure insanity that we saw, or the large number of lies we were asked to swallow. I opted for insanity. The trouble there is that everyone beat me to it. Several outfits and writers had whatthey called “The Year in Crazy”. That's probably a bit nicer than my proposed title, which was, “People-Who-Are-Fucking-Mental-And-Shouldn't-Be-Allowed-To-Run-Out-Into-Traffic.” One of the first I saw had a Top Ten in Crazy, topped, not by Glenn Beck, but by Virginia (Mrs. Slappy) Thomas. They nominated her based on her bizarre 7:30 AM call to Anita Hill's answering machine, demanding an apology for Hill's testimony at Slappy's clownish nomination hearings nearly 20 years ago. I would have broadened the reward to include her involvement in that bizarre right wing home shopping club thing, and the whole Tea Party membership drive. And her husband, possibly the worst associate justice in American history, should have gotten a gong for having the brazen lack of ethics to not recuse himself in Bush vs. Gore, even though Mrs. Slappy was part of the Bush campaign at the time. It takes someone like her to take a poor associate justice and turn him into a national joke.
That particular list included some entertainment clown who I had never heard of, and it occurred to me that I could easily double the number of names on the list and not even leave the realm of politics. There were so many deserving loons who went out and made utter fools of themselves this year. Christine (“I am not a witch”) O'Donnell wasn't on the list. Nor was the only Alaskan to make Sarah Palin look normal—Joe Miller. Art Robinson, head of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (a climate-change denial academy in a Quonset hut in a field in coastal Oregon) and Congressional candidate, deserved listing just for the chaotic and over-the-top monologue he directed at Rachel Maddow in one of the most bizarre attempts at an interview ever seen on cable television.
Double the list? Just double? You could make a Top 50 in Crazy just from the Teabag Party alone. This is an outfit, after all, that believes that giving the 400 richest individuals in America tax breaks of an average of $150 million EACH for EVERY YEAR doesn't hurt the deficit, but allocating $8 billion for lifetime needs of first responders crippled by the dust from 9/11 does. These are people living in dual-wides who are outraged at the thought of a tax on estates worth more than $3 million, but who can't see anything to be gained by paying unemployment funds to people who have actually already earned those funds.
Now, keep in mind, the Teabaggers are ordinary people who have been roped into a pseudo-populist movement by a bunch of psychotic right wing billionaires, and the political operatives that work for them. Does anyone REALLY think the Koch Brothers, the DuPonts, Scaife and the Hunts are actually championing the cause of ordinary Joes? “Eliminate 'the death tax'!” Yeah, that's really sticking it to the man. Power to the people, baby.
The operatives include Dick Armey and Karl Rove. They're the ones with the sheer audacity to say that Obama must be punished for the mountain of debt created by the failed tax policies of Reagan and the Bushes.
The billionaires added a surreal touch by resurrecting all the batshittery espoused by that group the Teabaggers are based upon, the John Birch Society. Even as they are told they represent the common man and must stand tall for the rights of all working Americans, they snap up books pushed by Glenn Beck and Art Robinson from long-dead Bircher crackpots who assure them that the American Negro has a volatile and child-like temper, and isn't really happy without a master. Robinson uses such texts as part of a home-schooling program that combines the KKK with the Flat Earth Society.
And let's not forget that the Teabaggers want to uphold the Constitution while pushing hard to get vast portions of it amended, including the 1st, 4th,14th, and 17th amendments. For some reason, the “common people” of the Teabag Party are furious that they have to directly elect their senators, rather than leaving it to state legislators in smoke filled rooms. We shall overcome, baby.
How can you follow conflicting directives like that and not sound like a total lunatic? The Teabaggers don't even try, and instead, just shovel out the crazy to an unquestioning media.
“Journalism” in America has never been more servile and prostrate for vested interests than the parody of a free press we have today. Yet the Teabaggers affect great fear of this sad and unchallenging pretense at public examination, clinging fearfully to their fellow party operatives at Faux News.
They don't have to self-censor, which actually works against them, since they feel free to let the lunacy flow.
I had to think twice about considering Faux News personalities for the loony list. Is it really crazy to be paid to say crazy things, knowing they are utterly insane? Is your typical news announcer for Faux as crazy as he sounds, or just whoring for crazy people? For instance, Gretchen Carlson likes to portray herself as a dim-witted beauty pageant blonde who once looked up the word “ignoramus” because she supposedly didn't know what it meant, but the fact is she graduated with honors from Stanford and went on to study at Oxford. I'm guessing she didn't really have to look up the word “ignoramus”. How much of the stuff those clowns say is actually nothing more than an act, part of Rupert Murdoch's drive to cultivate morons?
I've heard it said that Rush Limbaugh would be just as happy to spout liberal propaganda as right wing if there was more money to be made there. Only Limbaugh knows the answer to that one, and he ain't sayin'. I wonder what would happen if someone like George Soros would offer to double his salary if he went to work for Media Matters?
The same problem applies to regular Republicans who aren't teabaggers. Are they actually as crazy as they sound, or is it all just a dog-and-pony show for the dimbulbs who make up their base? During the early days of the primaries in '08, the seven dwarves running for the GOP nomination were asked in debate if they “believed in” evolution. Only one did, which says appalling things about the other six, the Republican Party, and America in general.
In effect, these clowns are running on a platform of throwing out most of known science, and giving the kids reruns of “The Flintstones” instead, where Noah used triceratops to haul timber to build his ark. Are they really that stupid? That crazy?
Sigh. Well, these are the same people who still insist that the route to wealth for all Americans consists in handing the national treasury over to the ultra-wealthy. So yeah, maybe they are that crazy. In which case, it wouldn't be too hard to draw up a list of top 50 crazies for 2010 from just that lot alone. Can anyone top Joe Barton apologizing to BP for American outrage over the oil spill? Or Michael Steele rewriting history and labeling Afghanistan “a war of Obama's choosing?”
So far we already have a top 50, and we haven't even tapped the richest lode of Crazy-in-public-life in America: the religious right. Since time is short and I like to keep these pieces under 2,000 words, I'll just put up two of my favorite quotes from 2010.
''It may be a blessing in disguise. ... Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.''
—Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010
''I had surgery and I can't lift luggage. That's why I hired him.''
—Rev. George Rekers, co-founder of the Family Research Council and one of America's most prominent anti-gay crusaders, after being caught in the Miami airport returning from a ten-day trip to Europe with a hired male prostitute
Hell, we could have had a Top ONE HUNDRED in Crazy without breaking a sweat. We didn't even TOUCH the entertainment industry, always a good source of crazy, or the paranoid conspiracy theorists. You could even have a top 365 In Crazy. Drag Gary Larsen out of retirement to do illustrations for a daily calendar, maybe.
I wish I could say 2011 will be less crazy, but that isn't the way to bet. If Jon Stewart is smart, he'll just fire his writers and just report the news. Who's going to know the difference?
Happy new decade. This is “the Teens”, always a term inimical to the notion of sanity. Try to keep your sanity.
Posted: January 6, 2011