Texas Governor Fears Military Takeover of State

Greg Abbott (CC: Gage Skidmore)

Greg Abbott (CC: Gage Skidmore)

There have always been conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it seems that there are more of them now. It also seems that they are more outrageous. The Internet and social media definitely play a role, but the real villain is the human tendency to imagine what is not there as if it was real.

Barack Obama has become the center of many of these deluded theories. It isn’t only gullible, political novices being sucked in by these fantasies either. Recently, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, jumped on board the crazy wagon.

The four branches of the military are conducting Jade Helm 15,  a training exercise in Texas and neighboring states. Military organizations are prone to do that because practice makes for efficiency. Unfortunately, it has the wacky leadership in Austin fearing that this is a pretext to a coup.

Abbott ordered the national guard to monitor the military forces conducting Jade Helm 15 so “that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”

Let’s pause and go over this again: An American Governor fears that the U.S. military is about to conduct a coup under the direction of President Barack Obama. As difficult as that is to believe, it isn’t satire. Sadly, it is true. As Obama’s term winds down, these bizarre fears are apt to grow worse. There are many people who are certain that Obama is going to find an excuse to cancel the next presidential election and begin a dicatorship.

To be fair, Jade Helm 15 is an unusually  large training operation. It is spread over seven states from July to September. That still shouldn’t be enough to unhinge Abbott into believing that the U.S. military is about to ditch the Constitution though.

However, Mr. Conspiracy, Alex Jones, stirred up this story a few weeks ago and Drudge then carried it. The story disseminated. Now, a significant number of Americans expect UN black helicopters to appear and cart off patriots to secret concentration camps. Somewhere in this paranoia, the fearful are muttering concerns over the implementation of the conspiracist fantasy known as Agenda 21.

Local meetings in Texas have drawn hundreds of concerned citizens wary at a possible federal takeover. Despite the pleadings of military representatives, the crowds have remained skeptical.

It would be nice to just shake one’s head of this nonsense and dismiss it as a few strange people. Yet, it’s not just a few and includes high public officials like Governor Abbott. It is this type of thinking that stands in the way of dealing with today’s true problems like climate change, marriage equality, police brutality or marijuana legalization. The political pathways are filled with people who only want to believe what they want to believe. Counter facts mean nothing. They simply refuse to acknowledge anything contrary to their core belief system.

This scenario is the nature of today’s political debate. Yet, debate isn’t the proper word. In today’s environment, debate is a shout down. Perhaps that is the problem. Technology and culture have created a situation where rational discourse is nearly impossible and demonization of the opposing side is the norm. As society grows increasingly complex, people continue looking for simple answers. The casualty is rational thinking.

Crazy conspiracy theories are not a new development. Senator Joe McCarthy’s assertion of communists infiltrating the federal government was another examply by a prominent politician. The difference today is the poliferation of this craziness, even after the theories have been widely discredited.

If the lack of civility and willingness to embrace baseless conspiracy theories continues, it can only weaken our entire system of government. This is something that all of us must guard against and renounce the lunacy whenever we see it.

In the meantime, as much as it would be fun to look at Governor Abbott and snicker, his political gullibility is nothing to laugh at.

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Rand Paul’s Connection to the Biggest Conspiracist in the Country

Rand Paul (CC: Gage Skidmore)

Rand Paul (CC: Gage Skidmore)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the current frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination. Of course, Bush hasn’t announced yet, but the odds are that he is in. His lead is not dominating. Bush can’t even break 20% in the crowded Republican field. If Mitt Romney enters the race, as he is currently hinting, it will become a two-man race. That doesn’t mean the rest of the field doesn’t have a chance. In the next tier, hovering around 10%, is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (who has recently announced that he will not run), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Why Carson is pulling around 8% is shocking and has more to do about the weakness of the Republican field than Carson’s political allure. Behind these candidates are even more at 5% and less.

The odds are that the candidate will be Bush, Romney, Christie, Huckabee or Paul. Bush, Romney and Christie occupy the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party. That’s usually where the nominee comes from. Huckabee has a lot of support from the religious right. The only chance that Huckabee has rests with the moderates splitting the vote. That may happen, but Huckabee would be creamed in the general election by the Democratic nominee. That leaves Rand Paul, and Paul is an interesting politician.

Paul is a bit of a wildcard in this race. He has the potential to end on the top tier of candidates. Paul has a close allegiance to the libertarian wing of the GOP from his father’s, Ron Paul, long association with libertarianism. That gives him a strong base of support. He isn’t close to the religious right like a crowded group of other candidates are, but does have connections to the Tea Party. Increasingly, he has presented a moderate image of late. For example, he is authoring a bill with liberal California Dem. Sen. Barbara Boxer that offers tax breaks for companies that bring overseas profits into the United States.

Although Paul is trying to appear as a sensible candidate, his cultivated image is far from some of his previous associations. Most notably, Paul has a long history with Mr. Conspiracy, Alex Jones. Jones claims to have interviewed Paul since 1995. Jones calls Paul “awesome.” Jones goes on to suggest that Paul is playing a moderate image, but in reality is more like Jones.

That is frightening because Jones has never found a conspiracy that he didn’t like: 9/11, New World Order, vaccinations, JFK assassination, the Boston Marathon bombing, etc. This is the tip of the iceberg of strange ideas and theories that float in Jones’ head.

Despite Jones’ reputation, he has pulled in respectable guests at times from the right and left. No reasonable politician or guest should ever appear on his show, but politicians and reason don’t always go together.

It would be easy to accept Paul as one of the guests who simply made a wrong decision by allowing himself to be interviewed by an extremist conspiracy thinker. The problem is that not all of those guests have the long history that exists between Jones and Paul. Plus, Jones doesn’t give high praise to everyone like he does to Paul. It’s enough to create a cloud of doubt. Jones’ conspiracies usually involve secret government operations, none of which have a shred of evidence. The thought that a candidate who has a chance at being president might buy into this craziness is frightening. Hopefully, that thought keeps enough voters away from Paul ever getting close to the Republican Party nomination.

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