Tag Archives: fringe

Governor calls out State Guard to protect Texas from federal takeover

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” amid Internet-fueled conspiracy theories that the war simulation is really part of an effort by President Obama to take over the state and force people to give up their guns.

The request came on April 28, a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate their guns and implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said “conspiracy theorists” and “fear mongers” had been in a frenzy.

“It’s a sad when people’s greatest fear is their own government,” Pape said. “Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it’d be hard to sleep.”

Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as “hostile” for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren’t unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.

Texas and six other states are hosting the exercises on public and private lands. The Army says the terrain and topography in the areas selected are ideal to replicate foreign combat zones.

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

Tea party groups such as InfoWars and the Oath Keepers are behind the frenzy.

While boosting his popularity with the fringe right, Abbott’s antics have drawn the scorn of many in his party. Former Republican state Rep. Todd Smith penned a letter to the governor, which stated in part:

“Let me apologize in advance that your letter pandering to idiots who believe that US Navy Seals and other US military personnel are somehow a threat to be watched has left me livid. As a 16 year member of the Texas House and a proud patriotic AMERICAN, I am terrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to standup to those who do. I’m not sure which is worse.”

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria attempted in vain to calm down the conspiracy-theory crowd in Bastrop, telling them that the exercise will involve 1,200 soldiers and all four branches of the military, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He said people with a “personal agenda” about the exercise had been spreading misinformation.

Lastoria spoke for two hours, but some left the meeting still unconvinced.

Pape told The Associated Press that some came from as far as Houston and Dallas to attend the meeting. He said the county could reap as much as $150,000 in economic activity from the exercise, which in Bastrop is set to include 60 soldiers, two Humvees and a helicopter.

Bastrop County is home to Camp Swift, the largest base for the Texas National Guard, and Pape said most people likely won’t even notice.

“There’s been a lot of dust thrown in the air, a lot of haze,” Pape said. “Those who wanted to raise concerns on the one hand succeeded. They’ve raised a lot of attention about this. But the fact is the message is clear: Jade Helm is a well-designed and a well-constructed training operation.”

Associated Press Writer Eva Ruth Moravec contributed to this report.

GOP on fast track to the fringe

The Republican Party in Wisconsin has been moving further to the political right for decades. But in recent years, the party has been taking the fast track to the fringe.

The culture warriors and other extremists have taken over and largely purged the GOP of real conservatives and traditional Republicans. Although the current Republican establishment uses some of the same words, it has dramatically changed the definitions.

In 1982, Republican Wisconsin Gov. Lee Dreyfus signed into law the nation’s first statewide gay rights law. Contrast that with today’s Republican Party, which has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists.

Many of the Wisconsin Republicans in positions of power today are the same people who promoted the discriminatory 2006 constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Today’s Republicans rant against “big government” unless they are busy forcing their theocracy-based big government onto the personal lives of others.

Today’s Republicans have elevated some of the most hateful organizations in our state. The most recent example came during the recall elections, when the Republican machine funneled massive amounts of money through the gay-obsessed group Wisconsin Family Action. And, as if we didn’t already have enough of those kinds of extremist front groups, Republicans reached into their endless supply of special interest cash to establish even more of them.

You can tell quite a bit about some of the new front groups based on their leaders. As Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, the spokesperson for one of the new Republican front groups recently graduated from a non-accredited fundamentalist school that describes itself as “unashamedly Fundamentalist and militantly separatist.”

A new poll underscores just how extreme the Republican Party in this state has gone. The poll found that Wisconsin Republicans favor either Texas Gov. Rick Perry or U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., for president.

Bachmann is known for her over-the-top rhetoric and her mixing of rigid fundamentalism with public policy and politics. She has repeatedly described being gay as “bondage” or dysfunction. She has said the very use of the word “gay” is “part of Satan.” Her husband runs a counseling center that promotes the abusive idea of “praying away the gay.”

Perry used an arena prayer-a-palooza event as his prelude to entering the presidential race. Running for president is an odd choice for a governor who’s expressed interest in seceding from the union. But Perry is consistent in his role as a culture warrior. For instance, he’s continually promoted abstinence-only education in Texas, even though the policy has caused a massive jump not only in teen pregnancy but also in repeat teen pregnancy.

Neither Bachmann nor Perry is a traditional conservative Republican. They’re both lunatic fringe leaders with an aggressive religious agenda that defies the vision of our Founding Fathers. But they are the choice of the majority of Wisconsin Republicans.

That says everything about how far to the extremes the state’s GOP party has been pulled.