CRESCENTS BEHIND EVERY CORNER…. Right-wing activist and media personality Frank Gaffney has a real problem with the Missile Defense Agency’s website logo. In fact, he thinks it’s part of a “nefarious” plot.


Now, he wasn’t the first to raise a fuss. Some far-right observers insisted that the agency’s logo was made to look too similar to President Obama’s campaign logo. But Gaffney went much further, arguing that the “just-unveiled symbolic action” seems to “fit an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah.”

Yes, as Gaffney sees it, when one combines the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo, you get this new image for the Missile Defense Agency’s letterhead. It’s one big conspiracy, which relates somehow to the president’s non-existent affiliations to Islam.

Al Kamen, however, looked into this a bit and found that the agency developed the logo three years ago. In other words, the Bush/Cheney administration was, to follow Gaffney’s logic, taking the initial steps towards official U.S. submission to Islam and Shariah law.

It’s easy to laugh at the stupidity of all of this, but I think Max Bergmann’s point is a good one: “Gaffney is a prominent member of the right wing security establishment. He writes a regular column for the Washington Times, is a frequent commentator on cable television, and runs his own right-wing defense organization. Just this past October, at Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy ‘Keeper of the Flame’ annual award dinner, Vice President Cheney was the featured speaker and recipient of the reward. Other guest speakers included Sen. Jon Kyl and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”

Right. It’s tempting to think some paranoid nutjob with bizarre conspiracy theories is irrelevant in modern American politics. But prominent conservatives consider Frank Gaffney a credible figure.

The mainstream of fringe lunacy is one of the key differences between the left and right in contemporary politics. Both sides have their nutty fringe, but only side thinks its whackjobs are sane.

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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.