mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“State Of Disaster”: How Many Natural Disasters Will It Take For The Lone Star State To Wake Up To The Disaster Of Its Elected Officials?

As extreme weather marked by tornadoes and flooding continues to sweep across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has requested – and President Obama has granted – federal help.

I don’t begrudge Texas billions of dollars in disaster relief. After all, we’re all part of America. When some of us are in need, we all have a duty to respond.

But the flow of federal money poses a bit of awkwardness for the Lone Star State.

After all, just over a month ago hundreds of Texans decided that a pending Navy Seal/Green Beret joint training exercise was really an excuse to take over the state and impose martial law. And they claimed the Federal Emergency Management Agency was erecting prison camps, readying Walmart stores as processing centers for political prisoners.

There are nut cases everywhere, but Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott added to that particular outpouring of paranoia by ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercise. “It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed upon,” he said. In other words, he’d protect Texans from this federal plot.

Now, Abbott wants federal money. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency is gearing up for a major role in the cleanup – including places like Bastrop, Texas, where the Bastrop State Park dam failed – and where, just five weeks ago, a U.S. Army colonel trying to explain the pending military exercise was shouted down by hundreds of self-described patriots shouting “liar!”

Texans dislike the federal government even more than most other Americans do. According to a February poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, only 23 percent of Texans view the federal government favorably, while 57 percent view it unfavorably, including more than a third who hold a “very unfavorable” view.

Texas dislikes the federal government so much that eight of its congressional representatives, along with Senator Ted Cruz, opposed disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy – adding to the awkwardness of their lobbying for the federal relief now heading Texas’s way.

Yet even before the current floods, Texas had received more disaster relief than any other state, according to a study by the Center for American Progress. That’s not simply because the state is so large. It’s also because Texas is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather – tornadoes on the plains, hurricanes in the Gulf, flooding across its middle and south.

Given this, you might also think Texas would take climate change especially seriously. But here again, there’s cognitive dissonance between what the state needs and how its officials act.

Among Texas’s infamous climate-change deniers is Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, who dismissed last year’s report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as “more political than scientific,“ and the White House report on the urgency of addressing climate change as designed “to frighten Americans.”
Smith is still at it. His committee just slashed by more than 20 percent NASA’s spending on Earth science, which includes climate change.

It’s of course possible that Texas’s current record rainfalls – the National Weather Service reports that the downpour in May alone was enough to put the entire state under eight inches of water  – has  nothing to do with the kind of extreme weather we’re witnessing elsewhere in the nation, such as the West’s current drought, the North’s record winter snowfall, and flooding elsewhere.

But you’d have to be nuts not to be at least curious about such a connection, and its relationship to the carbon dioxide humans have been spewing into the atmosphere.

Consider also the consequences for the public’s health. Several deaths in Texas have been linked to the extreme weather. Many Texans have been injured by it, directly or indirectly. Poor residents are in particular peril because they live in areas prone to flooding or in flimsy houses and trailers that can be washed or blown away.

What’s Texas’s response?  Texas officials continue to turn down federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, thereby denying insurance to more than 1 million people and preventing the state from receiving an estimated $100 billion in federal cash over the next decade.

I don’t want to pick on Texas. Its officials are not alone in hating the federal government, denying climate change, and refusing to insure its poor.

And I certainly don’t want to suggest all Texans are implicated. Obviously, many thoughtful and reasonable people reside there.

Yet Texans have elected people who seem not to have a clue. Indeed, Texas has done more in recent years to institutionalize irrationality than almost anywhere else in America – thereby imposing a huge burden on its citizens.

How many natural disasters will it take for the Lone Star State to wake up to the disaster of its elected officials?

 

By: Robert Reich, The Robert Reich Blog, May 31, 2015

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Greg Abbott, Natural Disasters, Texas | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Perry To Texas; Stop Being Insane”: Buckle Up Guys, 2016 Is Going To Be Nuts

An Infowars conspiracy theory about military takeover of the American Southwest might become a surprising wedge issue among Texas’s Republican presidential candidates.

The Daily Beast detailed last week how the Jade Helm 15 military training exercises—wherein U.S. Special Operations forces will move throughout the Southwest preparing for atypical warfare conditions—have set off such a noisy panic that Texas’s governor has ordered the state’s military to keep an eye on things.

Concerns about those training exercises have been fueled by Alex Jones’s goofball site Infowars, which soberly suggested that this might be the beginning of a military war on the Tea Party. That is not a thing that is happening. Still, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas stated he was directing the Lone Star state’s military to tail U.S. troops in part “to ensure that Texas communities remain safe.” Abbott’s move generated much levity, with one Texas Democrat consultant suggesting that the governor’s next area of concern might be abominable snowmen.

When I was reporting out that story, I reached out to a number of presidential contenders’ camps for comment and got radio silence. Most of the candidates’ spokespeople didn’t even bother to reply to my email, and understandably—who wants to go on the record awkwardly not commenting about a wacky conspiracy theory that has a small but vocal sector of the Republican base buying hollow-tip ammo and investing in survival food?

But a few of those presidential contenders have spoken about the issue to other media outlets, and their answers are quite telling. On April 21, conservative Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson asked Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul if he knew what the deal with Jade Helm was.

“You know I’ve gotten a few questions about it on the road and I really don’t—” Paul replied, per Talking Points Memo’s transcript. “I’m not sure about exactly what is going on with that.”

“It’s making some people nervous, but it doesn’t take much to make people nervous nowadays,” Mickelson replied. “If you get a chance to, I’d like to know what the rest of the story is on that.”

“We’ll look at that also,” the Kentucky senator replied.

Never fear, citizens of the Southwest: Rand Paul is going to make sure the military doesn’t take over your Whataburgers.

Not to be outdone, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican convention that he’d had his office reach out to the Pentagon to make sure everything is OK.

“We are assured it is a military training exercise,” he said. “I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

Former Texas governor Rick Perry drew the sharpest contrast with Abbott’s Infowars pandering.

“It’s OK to question your government. I do it on a regular basis,” he said on May 5, per the Dallas Morning News. “But the military is something else. Our military is quite trustworthy. The civilian leadership, you can always question that, but not the men and women in uniform.”

Questioning men and women in uniform is exactly what Abbott did, and exactly what Cruz and Paul endorsed. Now, thanks to Infowars and unfounded anxieties, we have an early way of differentiating between some of the most conservative—and, in Perry’s case, potential—presidential candidates. Buckle up, guys. 2016 is going to be nuts.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, May 7, 2015

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Greg Abbott, Texas | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Indulging The Lunatics On The Right”: What So Many Republicans Do With The Crazies On Their Side

Ask a Republican about the elaborate conspiracy theories that are so popular with many on the far right, and she’s likely to respond that, sure, those people are there, but liberals have their wackos, too. But there is a difference, in not just how far to the center of Republican power the wackos get (consider how many Republican members of Congress still aren’t sure that Barack Obama was born in the United States), but in the way the wackos are treated by the rest of the party. Which brings us to Texas:

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor federal military exercises in Texas after some citizens have lit up the Internet saying the maneuvers are actually the prelude to martial law.

The operation causing rampant suspicions is a new kind of exercise involving elite teams such as the SEALs and Green Berets from four military branches training over several states from July 15 to Sept. 15

Called Jade Helm 15, the exercise is one of the largest training operations done by the military in response to what it calls the evolving nature of warfare. About 1,200 special operations personnel will be involved and move covertly among the public. They will use military equipment to travel between seven Southwestern states from Texas to California.

On Monday, command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria attended a Bastrop County Commissioners Court meeting to answer community questions and was met with hostile fire. Lastoria, in response to some of the questions from the 150 who attended, sought to dispel fears that foreign fighters from the Islamic State were being brought in or that Texans’ guns would be confiscated, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.

So in response to the fact that some of Texas’s dumbest citizens emerged from their doomsday prepper shelters long enough to harangue a colonel about their belief that martial law is coming to their state, Governor Abbott issued an order to the National Guard to monitor the movements of the U.S. military just to make sure they aren’t herding citizens into re-education camps or dropping Islamic State infiltrators into Galveston. I guess we’re safe from that, for the moment anyway.

Every politician encounters nutballs from time to time, and it isn’t always easy to figure out how to respond to them. But what’s remarkable about this is that we aren’t talking about an offhand remark Abbott made, or an occasion in which a constituent went on a rant to him and he nodded along to be friendly instead of saying, “You, sir, are out of your mind.” This is an official action the governor is taking. He’s mobilizing state resources, at taxpayer expense, because of a bizarre conspiracy theory that has some of Texas’s more colorful citizens in its grip.

It’s really hard to keep people from believing outlandish things. But you don’t have to indulge them. And that’s what so many Republicans do with the crazies on their side: They indulge them. Doing so doesn’t reassure them or calm them down, it only convinces them that they were right all along and encourages them to believe the next crazy thing they hear.

So please, Republicans, next time you’re tempted to say that extremism and fantastical thinking are just as prevalent and meaningful on the left as on the right, remember this.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, April 30, 2015

May 3, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Greg Abbott, U. S. Military | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Texas Guv Surrenders To Conspiracy Nuts”: Pandering To Paranoid, Secessionist Fools

Texas’s governor moved this week to protect his state from an Obama-led military takeover.

Governor Greg Abbott, who decisively beat Wendy Davis in the 2014 to take Rick Perry’s job, announced on Tuesday that he’s going to sic the Texas Rangers on the U.S. military.

Not really. But it sure sounds that way.

What’s actually going on is U.S. troops are doing training exercises—called Jade Helm 15—in several states throughout the Southwest, including Texas.

The mission will involve Special Operations forces moving through the Southwest and training for covert missions. A declassified map posted online in March (whose legitimacy The Washington Post confirmed) identified several of those states as “hostile” and “leaning hostile.” That isn’t particularly unusual, as Dan Lamothe explained at The Washington Post, but it has a small number of Texans—including, apparently, the governor—totally freaking out and (arguably) overreacting.

Conspiracy theories about the training exercise have spread through cyberspace with all due speed, as such theories are wont to do.

And, naturally, Alex Jones, of conspiracy theory-touting Infowars fame, is involved.

The Drudge Report aggregated a number of stories about the exercises, directing readers to Infowars—including a March 24 story that said the trainings in Utah and Texas led observers “to fears that traditionally conservative areas may be a simulated target for future domestic operations.”

Yipes!

That story also said “military scholars” have started hypothesizing that such troops “would be used to target political groups such as the Tea Party.”

On March 26, Drudge linked to another InfoWars story suggesting the operations could be preparing for the implementation of martial law, which would certainly be big news indeed.

Those stories and others drew traffic and stoked fears.

On April 27, Raw Story reported that an Army spokesman appeared before a packed crowd at a Bastrop County Commission meeting in Texas to try to quell the citizens’ anxieties.

“The Army spokesman assured participants that the United Nations was not involved in the operations, but the crowd jeered when he told them he was not familiar with Agenda 21,” wrote Travis Gettys on the site.

That little meet ’n’ greet didn’t have its desired effect.

The next day, Abbott announced that he had directed Major General Gerald “Jake” Betty, commander of the Texas State Guard, to monitor Jade Helm 15.

In a letter to Betty, he said he made the move “[t]o address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe.”

The Texas military has three branches, as its website details, including the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard, as well as the Texas State Guard. The governor, in this case, is its commander-in-chief.

And per The Houston Chronicle, it hasn’t completely ironed out all the specific details of how exactly it will monitor the U.S. Army.

Abbott’s decision to err on the side of Alex Jones has drawn a bit of joshing from the left.

“Abbott’s c would be comical if it wasn’t so costly and frightening,” said Glenn Smith, the director of the Progress Texas PAC. “Abbott has the state military confronting the U.S. military because some nutcases fear, what, armed U.S. takeover of Texas? Seriously? What next? Will Abbott call out the troops to protect us from alien abduction, abominable snowmen and Bigfoot, or should I say an invasion of Bigfeet?”

Jason Stanford, a longtime Democratic Texas consultant and member of the Truman National Security Project, said Abbott’s move is great news for conspiracy-mongers everywhere.

“A lot of people think he’s more sensible than this, but he has yet to stop campaigning for a Republican primary that he won virtually unopposed,” he said. “Most Texans aren’t like this.”

That said, Abbott isn’t without defenders. Republican State Representative Jonathan Stickland defended the move enthusiastically and said Texans’ distrust of the Obama administration probably informed his decision. He said that the exercises have caused “justified concern.”

“I don’t want to instill panic,” he added. “I’ll tell you what’s scary is if we get to a place where it’s not normal to question our government or their motives. We should always be questioning government.”

And Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican consultant, said he would be surprised if Jade Helm 15 was a subversive plot to occupy Texas. But he added that he understands Texans’ concerns.

“It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s false,” he said. “Is every single conspiracy theory wrong? No. Most of them probably are.”

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, April 30, 2015

May 1, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Greg Abbott, Texas, U. S. Military | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: