Skip to main content

Winning Through Acting Crazy

Robert Illes: Time to do something utterly insane ourselves. And I hope Obama does just that on September 8th when Boehner finally allows him to speak before Congress.



Did it all start with “You lie!” shouted by demented right wing congressman, Joe Wilson during a joint session of congress, to the President of the United States? Heckling, from a member of the people’s house? Not only was that only mildly reprimanded, but he immediately got an influx of campaign donations.

Or was it the “tea party”, a faux movement concocted by the Koch Brothers and lapdog Dick Armey, bussing in “grass roots activists” to town hall meetings in order to scream at Democratic congress members, or wandering Republicans, in rather frightening terms (one guy brazenly wore a holstered gun to an Obama speech).

Or was it the emergence of crazy person Glen Beck, aka Limbaugh 2.0, and Fox “News” hosting faux grassroots events and reporting they were real grassroots events (using canned crowd footage to bolster appearances). Beck also went on network TV to declare The President of the United States “a racist who hates white people”. 

And how “unprecedented” was John Boehner saying “screw you” to the President when he requested to speak at a joint session of congress? 100%. Never happened before, ever. Boehner was wrong, but craziness won again, because, don’t you know, “Obama caved”.

Or how about the Supreme Court of the United States and its ruling in “Citizens United”, bookending their vaunted “Bush v. Gore” case?

As Charlie Sheen would say “hello! Winning!”. Or as his co-star Gordon Gekko might say, “Crazy is good. Crazy works. Crazy cuts through and clarifies…”

Or did it start with 9/11, 10 years on, when the crazies bombed us, and the crazier Bushites said “we’ll take it from here, fellas”, and proceeded to scare the hell out of us and convince us that wiretapping is patriotic, torture is just “enhanced interrogation” and that war hero John Kerry was a coward.

Some call these events “unprecedented”. Indeed we’ve never seen these people and events before in our heretofore civilized, reasonable history. But unprecedented is too nice a word.

I call it crazy, and I suspect crazy is winning.

And sure enough, in November 2010, they managed to convince enough people, and disgust enough people (i.e., Dems) to stay away from the polls, that they scored a convincing victory in congressional races. The mad men filed into our Capitol not this time to “protest” but to take their seats, where once sat Henry Clay and Abe Lincoln now sat Rand Paul and Joe Walsh. And you know how it works with crazy people, and those voices in their heads: “You belong here. This is real. Complete your mission. You must now burn things down!” Hate government, but love the pay check. And the health care. Crazy.

When the crazy are convinced they have won, they don’t stop there. They get MORE crazy.

But the Debt Ceiling “debate”. Now that had it all: hostage taking, terrorist threats, and the batshit crazy winning.

The Debt Ceiling “debate” that kept us and Chris Mathews in thrall for two weeks was the economic equivalent of crashing planes into the Trade Center – suicidal, and incredibly devastating. And unprecedented! It had NEVER happened before, not since the Debt Ceiling raising became a pro forma event in congress in 1917. It is a crucial device, enabling the government to honor past existing debt (not a “blank check for Barack Obama” per economic scholar Michele Bachmann).

Yet to hear the Republicans tell it, they were perfectly willing to let the ceiling go unraised, and allow the ensuing, international financial chaos (which they denied would happen, much as they scoff at global warming; all scare tactics just so Democrats can raise taxes and hurt corporations) - if their blackmail demands were not met; the blackmailing having to do with cutting taxes and cutting entitlements for grandma, presumably only Democratic ones. (Hey wait, as an aside, weren’t they worried about pulling the plug on grandma during the health care “debate”?)

But the mad man faction in the Republican membership - many of whom arrived in the November 2010 elections from Hell – vociferously harangued on talk shows to forget “negotiations”; they WANTED the calamity, (while naturally claiming there would be no calamity). Their mouths were watering about the number of social security checks that would not be issued, or the number of government funded projects that would be suspended, or the number of federal employees who would be terminated.


So naturally, poor tear stained John Boehner, who seemed to both play a hostage himself, and a power broker, wielding his crazy minions like a cudgel (“don’t make me unleash the hounds! I can’t stop them, you know!”), would be able to walk out of Presidential negotiations (unprecedented!) without fear of retribution.

The sane man in the White House, like most sane people when confronted with sociopathy, found himself at an 11th power impasse. The crazy guy is about to jump off the building, and take his hostages with him, or set off the doomsday device, evidently not concerned that he would go up in smoke too. Choose your analogy. Do you return crazy with crazy, and see if crazy blinks first, or do you defuse the situation as best you can, given the disadvantages of reason and sanity. And our damned constitutional structure.

In any case, through otherwise unacceptable means, i.e., pretty much giving into the crazies, the “crisis” was averted – well for the moment. Now it’s all in the hands of a “super congress” – starring on our side, of course, the one and only Max Baucus!?? -- to determine a way out of the deficit morass. It’s ok, take your time getting to the stalemate. 30 million Americans out of jobs, houses underwater, driving on crumbling bridges, they can wait.


Still, despite the “deal” to raise the ceiling, there was some injury to the 300 million or so hostages (i.e.,we the people), to the extent that a reduced bond rating causes economic injury. And there was the real strategy: political injury. To the sane guy.

There will be no jobs, no taxes for the rich. Never mind the hungry and the homeless, such things might make Obama look good at re-election time. Unprecedented – just ask one time right wing freak now seeming like a reasonable progressive, Alan Simpson. Or the one time face of the now extinct “moderate Republican”, Chuck Hagel. Both are appalled at the relentless brinkmanship. “I swear, we’ll drive this bus off the cliff!”

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The crazy is out of the bag, and, insofar as Obama is TIED in polls with even the lunatic Rick Perry, looking for what may well be the final victory they require in 2012.

The humanitarian Eric Cantor even wanted to hold up FEMA funding for the flood ravaged Joplin, Missouri some weeks ago – unless such funds were matched by cuts in, I dunno, say Medicare. But then in the last couple of weeks - and I give him mad props - he wanted to do the same to his own district, rocked in short order by BOTH an earthquake and Irene floodwaters. Shouldn’t he be getting a letter of warning from Pat Robertson? Do these guys believe in a punishing God or not? How much of a message does Cantor need?

And the story has been the same when stimulus bashing governors, such as Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and John Kasich, who joined the Luntzian chorus of “Mr. Obama, where are the jobs?” took office. They were then confronted with possible hypocrisy, so, despite suffering citizens, gulped and actually refused federal funding that would have built high speed rail systems etc. and put their people to work.


And so we come to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and, more importantly, the tenth anniversary of post-9/11 America.

9/11 was a lesson well learned. Boy was it. Never mind Saddam Hussein, the United States was shocked and awed and beyond. And, oh how eye opening it must have been, not just for the neocons in power, but the alleged attackers, to see how fearful and manipulated could we be by some spectacularly crazy act.

But in Reality - where most of us live - looks can be deceiving. Just like on reality TV shows, are we watching people really being themselves, or just doing some very good play acting? How CRAZY were the 9/11 perps, hijacking those planes? How CRAZY are these tea party perps, hijacking our country? Crazy is as crazy does. Or does it?

But what did the crazy terrorists hope to accomplish on 9/11? Knocking off a couple of iconic buildings and killing 3,000 civilians, yes that’s frightening. We’d find ourselves asking in the days following who was next? But what else did they want to achieve? They didn’t really have to do much as far as scaring us, because the Bushites took care of that with their own unleashed zeal. Did they want to scare us out of Saudi Arabia and off the Middle East oil teat, and give up Israel? Or did they want us to engage in a costly holy war that would deplete our finances, kill many thousands more, and recruiting a whole new cadre of crazy zealots to terrorize other countries, to keep that war, holy or otherwise, going for freaking ever.

It’s funny but that all also sounds like a neo con wet dream. So it appears the two dreams merged. Out of that 9/11 tragedy, which somehow made a hero out of Bush instead of an incompetent idiot, came a neocon nirvana. They got their perpetual war (s), and a new bogeyman better than the Commies (“Islamofascism” – and guys like Frank Gaffney, we now find, are being paid millions to foment that fear). They plundered the US treasury, paid for paying with credits two “wars” that were really needless but excellent make work projects for generals, Black Water and Halliburton. No more New Deal hand outs cause, we’re broke don’t ya know – unless you are Exxon or Koch (“job creators”).

“Hello! Winning. Winning.” “Crazy is good.”

Or is it just sheer diabolical genius?

In retrospect, given the propensity for the neocons to do “unprecedented things”, crazy if you will, and considering how much they shamelessly exploited 9/11, it is disturbing – horrifying - to think that, well, let’s say, maybe the official 9/11 story may not be the actual story. Sure, stuff crazy conspiracy theorists, right? And easy to dismiss. After all, what Americans would believe that government officials would act soooo crazy, so psychopathically, to reap amazing benefits that, to them, aren’t all that crazy. But after the wars, the wiretaps and the outing of CIA agents, the Wall Street bailouts and tax cuts, and all the rest, wherein the ends justifies the means, and wherein a few dead people are simply the cost of doing business… the mind wanders to dark places. You think it can’t happen here? Operation North Woods was a plan by zealous generals, and signed off on by Eisenhower and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to themselves commit acts of destruction and murder in the United States, blame it on Castro and the Cubans to get public support for an invasion of the annoying Communist island. Yes, unprecedented outside of Nazi Germany. Eisenhower wasn’t able to pull it off before the end of his term, and the Kennedy administration, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, said “no invasions of Cuba.

Read more here:


And now what crazy plans are there afoot to wrest the presidency back in 2012? Yes it seems as if the Tea Party crazies have been exposed, and there seems to be buyer’s remorse with certain 2010 results – such as Scott Walker - but crazy doesn’t go down easy.

And neither does the relentless pursuit of bipartisanship, of working together, of negotiating with the crazy people. That, in itself is crazy, if not it’s not been made abundantly clear. In fact it’s just plain freaking nuts. By pop culture definition: insanity is repeating the same action over and over, and expecting different results.

Which begs a question, do such crazy people reside in the White House?

So what do we do? We are caught between the crazy and the seemingly sane guy (who nevertheless continues to hope that the crazy become sane). Memo to the White House: IT HASN’T HAPPENED YET! How many warnings did the Mansons need that Charlie just wasn’t right, and wasn’t going to get any better? Staying away from the next election is crazy; the Supreme Court is at stake, and there’s a shot at taking back the Congress IF the crazies don’t succeed in destroying the voting system.

All I can say is, Obama and progressives are in danger in November 2012, and whether it’s recognizing the truth or fighting fire with fire, we must ourselves do something “unprecedented”. There is little time to be stunned by this unprecedented behavior, although we are. There is little time to scratch our head in disbelief, just believe it is happening. There is little time to think about whether these are really crazy.

No need, they are and they are winning because of it, convincing just enough people, and turning off just enough people and disenfranchising just enough people to make it work for them. And there is little time to figure out what to do, start figuring.

bob illes

The sanest thing to do is probably to give up. But LOSING through acting sane would be very crazy. Time to do something utterly insane ourselves. And I hope Obama does just that on September 8th when Boehner finally allows him to speak before congress.

Robert Illes

Internet radio show "Funny is Money" starring Bob Illes is now on nightly at 8 PM Pacific time

Republished with permission: Valley Dems United, Margie Murray, Editor