BROUN KEEPS BRINGING THE CRAZY…. Once in a while, I get the sense that prominent far-right officials make ridiculous and offensive comments precisely because they want to drive crazy followers into fits of rage. It is, in other words, a feature, not a bug.

Rep. Paul Broun (R) of Georgia, for example, told constituents yesterday that Democratic leaders may be moving towards declaring martial law. David Weigel reports:

[Broun] spoke of a “socialistic elite” — Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who might use a pandemic disease or natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law.

“They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he said. “We’ve seen that historically.”

Now, as a factual matter, this is blisteringly stupid. But as a political matter, the only reason a right-wing lawmaker would say something like this is if he’s deliberately trying to drive already-angry conservatives over the edge. Broun sees a simmering fire, and he’s reaching for the kerosene. He realizes far-right activists are feeling paranoid and enraged, so he tells them the nation’s political leaders are “trying” to impose some kind of fascistic martial law on the populace.

It’s more than just irresponsible; it’s the kind of rhetoric people offer when they want to encourage a furious mob to get even angrier. While we ponder when the “right-wing primal scream” might get out of hand, we have elected members of Congress holding trying to amplify that scream.

This is, by the way, the same Rep. Paul Broun who said a public option in our health care system is “gonna kill people,” and who told reporters late last year that he feared that President Obama might establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans. He added at the time that Obama reminds him of Hitler.

Michelle Cottle recently wrote, “I have given up hope for a loyal opposition. I’d settle for a sane one.” I have the same thought, just about every day.

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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.