This Day in Failure: December 9

2008: Texas death row inmate Andre Thomas, 25, plucks out his left eye and ingests it. Four years earlier he had plucked out his right eye while awaiting trial for the fatal stabbings of his estranged wife, their young son, and her 13-month-old daughter, all of whom had their hearts ripped out. “He is insane and mentally ill,” announces Bobbie Peterson-Cate, Thomas’ trial lawyer, after Thomas plucks out his only remaining good eye. “[Now] he will finally be able to receive the mental health care that we had wanted and begged for from day one.”

1958: The John Birch Society, the right-wing organization dedicated to preventing the spread of communism in American society, is formed by Robert H. Welch, Jr. Named after John Birch—the Baptist missionary and U.S. army intelligence specialist who was killed by Chinese Communists—the society revives McCarthyism and makes grand, unsubstantiated claims that a Communist conspiracy exists in the U.S.