GOP RACISM REACHES NEW DEPTHS OF STUPIDITY…. It hasn’t been a good week for local Republican Party affiliates in California. Yesterday, for example, we learned that the Sacramento County Republican Party posted materials calling for Barack Obama to be tortured.

This item, however, from Right Wing Watch, is arguably even more breathtaking.

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

You don’t say.

Asked for an explanation, the Republican group’s leader, Diane Fedele, denied sinister motivations. She said she picked food stamps, for example, to mock Obama for saying he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Fedele denied being a racist, and pointed to her previous support of Alan Keyes as evidence of her racial tolerance.

Asked why the image included Obama alongside a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, Fedele said, “It was just food to me.”

The mind reels.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.