The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: jade helm 15

When Trump Throws Post-Election Dung, How Will His Fans Respond?

So now the big crybaby says he’s losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind. It’s straight out of the WWE “Wrestlemania” playbook. It’s not for nothing that Donald J. Trump was inducted into the professional wrestling Hall of Fame, as I’ve noted before.

It’s all there: the boasting, the strutting, the racialized taunts, and the simulated mayhem naïve observers sometimes mistake for real. But it’s all make-believe, and deep down nearly all WWE fans know it. I expect most Trump supporters do too. Having failed miserably in his televised debates with Hillary Clinton—if he hadn’t been so outclassed, it’d be tempting to say he choked—Trump now claims that the entire U.S. political system is corrupt.

“The election is being rigged by corrupt people pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president,” the GOP candidate whined. “We can’t let them get away with this, folks….Remember this, it’s a rigged election….It’s a rigged election…It’s a rigged election.”

No, Donald, you’re just a big loser. Possibly one of the biggest losers in the history of American politics. “A third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity” is how Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi puts it.

From a purely psychological perspective, it’ll be interesting to watch how Trump copes with his seemingly inevitable defeat. Beaten by a woman, no less, which to a man with the psychological makeup of an adolescent chimpanzee—all chest-beating and ritualized threat displays—is doubly worse.  

Among the great apes, it’s common for a humiliated combatant to defecate in his hand and fling it at his rival.

But I digress. The big question is how Trump’s impassioned supporters will respond to his dung throwing. “Election officials brace for fallout from Trump’s claims of a ‘rigged’ vote,” the Washington Post warns. The Boston Globe cautions that “Warnings of conspiracy stoke anger among Trump faithful.”

Globe reporters definitely found a few real humdingers among the crowd at a Trump rally in Cincinnati. There was Joe, a 39 year old first-time voter who fears Sharia law but apparently dozed through eighth-grade civics. “This is my prediction,” Joe said. “Trump is going to win the popular vote by a landslide, and the Electoral College will elect Hillary, because of all the corruption.”

Then there was Steve, a 61 year-old carpenter planning to heed Trump’s call to monitor suspect precincts. “I’ll look for …well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them…I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Also Dan, a 50 year-old contractor who anticipates the worst:

“If [Hillary Clinton’s] in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot….We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take.  I would do whatever I can for my country.”

As I say, this is your basic pro-wrestling crowd. They’re mostly there for the spectacle–blowing off steam.

So my predictions are as follows: Joe won’t vote this time either. Why bother if it’s fixed?

Steve’s enthusiasm for racial profiling will fade after election officials inform him that harassing voters is a federal crime.

As for Dan, I’m guessing that the 50 year-old revolutionary’s zeal for a “Second Amendment solution” will vanish after the Secret Service knocks on his door. He’d probably been drinking.

Multiply those three by millions. Look, we’ve been hearing semi-hysterical rhetoric from Cow State white folks for many years. If it’s not the Tea Party, it’s the End Times delusions of the Left Behind novels. Only last year, a substantial proportion of Texans persuaded themselves that U.S. Army maneuvers code named “Jade Helm” constituted the opening wedge of an Obama-sponsored invasion.

Empty Walmart stores would serve as barracks for foreign soldiers; hundreds of miles of secret tunnels were being dug to help ISIS fighters infiltrate. Christian patriots would be imprisoned in FEMA re-education camps. Texas Gov. Greg Abbot promised vigilance. Sen. Ted Cruz made sympathetic noises.

And then? Nothing happened.

So this year’s mass hallucination is Donald J. Trump. Well, it says here that none of these dread outcomes are likely to happen. In Arkansas, where I live, Trump will probably win by twenty points. Obama Derangement Syndrome has turned the state deep red. So what happens after Hillary Clinton’s declared the winner come November 9?

Well, the Arkansas-LSU game in Fayetteville three days later. Don’t bother us, we’re busy.

Sometimes I think the only thing in American life as predictable as Cow State paranoia is Blue State intellectuals taking it far too seriously.

This Week In Crazy: Everyone’s Got Secession Fever

Donald Trump is railing against immigrants trying to get into the country, meanwhile we’ve got conservative activists and officers of the court angling to get out. Misogyny, paranoia, xenophobia, oh my! Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Lee Bright

LeeBrightThe bill to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina state grounds made its way relatively briskly through the state legislature and on to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk — where she signed it Thursday afternoon.

That’s not to say there weren’t some snags. In the House, Representative Michael A. Pitts (R) introduced several amendments in an effort to protract the debates and stall the bill’s passage. Not a single amendment passed, and the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday.

A few days prior to Pitts’ filibuster, Republican South Carolina state senator Lee Bright took to the floor to go on an extended rant — that had very little to do with the Confederate flag. He enjoined his fellow senators to “take a stand” against the “tyranny of five judges,” and the godless agenda of a president who dares to sing “Amazing Grace” one moment and then light up the White House with “abomination colors” the next.

Bright choked back a sob as he said: “We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want but the Devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him!”

Raw Story has the video:

Unmoved by Bright’s free association, the state Senate passed the bill 37-3. And the flag’s set to come down Friday morning at 10 a.m.

Via Raw Story

Next: Jade Helm Reactionaries 

4. Jade Helm Reactionaries

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

It’s been a while since we checked in on the federal government’s plot to conquer Texas.

With all the hullabaloo over marriage equality, South Carolina conceding the Civil War after a century-and-a-half delay, and Donald Trump’s endless supply of hot air, I guess it just fell through the cracks. I’m happy to report that Jade Helm 15 — either a series of war games or an Obama-masterminded plot to take over the Lone Star State, depending on which side of the sanity fulcrum you fall on — is coming along nicely.

And so Texas is taking steps to make sure it remains sovereign, self-sufficient, and backed by shiny, shiny gold.

Texas is the only state that still maintains a stockpile of gold — “approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million,” according to the AP — and now they’ve decided they want it all back within their borders. (The bullion is currently in a Manhattan bank.)

According to the Inquistr, “Texas politicians who support the decision to move the gold to Texas have tried to downplay allegations that they are anticipating the possibility that developments could lead to a secession bid.”

Meanwhile, Chuck Norris has put Obama on notice not to “infringe” on Texas with his military exercise thingy.

And Alex Jones — the talk-radio host who got the ball rolling on much of the conspiracy theorizing when this started — has said: “This is going to be hellish. … Now this is just a cover for deploying the military on the streets. … This is an invasion.”

Long before Texas secedes from the Union, it appears to have seceded from reality.

Next: Roy Moore and Randall Terry

3. Roy Moore and Randall Terry

RoyMooreAndRandallTerrySpeaking of secession, we’ve got a whole bunch of people so worked up over the Obergefell ruling that they’re ready to pack their bags rather than follow the law of the land.

The problem is some of these people are tasked with enforcing said law. That includes the county clerk in Kentucky recently caught on camera refusing to grant any marriage licenses rather than grant them to gay couples; the Texas attorney general who said he would support clerks who took such action; the Texas clerk who posted her own July 4 Declaration, this one in “Defense of Natural Marriage,” in which she asserted her moral and lawful right to be immoral and unlawful.

Conservative activist Randall Terry wants to go a step further: Just secede. Just say “we’ve had enough of this.”

At least Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, with whom Terry sat down for a conversation Monday, appears to be the relatively cooler head here. Moore said it’s “not time to secede” just yet — but officers of the court do have to “take a stand” and not “obey an unlawful order” — invoking the Nuremberg logic that Nazi soldiers had the duty to honor a “higher law.” Yes, really.

Moore asserted that marriage equality is “going to destroy the nation.”

“Then why not get out of the nation?” Terry asks.

Right Wing Watch has the video:

Via Right Wing Watch and The New Civil Rights Movement.

Next: Peter Nolan

2. Peter Nolan

nolan (1)Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) are an especially odious species of twit that has crawled out from the slime. Given an occasional brush with legitimacy — as when MRAs under the gentler title “suffragent” get wheeled onto Fox News, most of them exist in dark, rat-trap corners of the internet to sling their venom at anyone in sight.

Peter Andrew Nolan is one such MRA. According to We Hunted The Mammoth, a blog that “tracks and mocks the New Misogyny online,” Nolan has been celebrating a little prematurely the legitimization of the murder of women, claiming that Australian law has made it so.

According to a series of tweets directed at various handles, including that of actress Denise Richards, Nolan believes that the “time for talk is over. The time for men killing women to get your attention has arrived.”

This goes on at some length, and you can view screenshots of the various horrifying tweets here. (Nolan’s Twitter account has been suspended.)

Nolan is also an acolyte of the Sovereign Citizen movement, and so uses unconventional spelling and strange symbols in his name because he believes it undercuts the government’s jurisdiction over him. (He currently goes by the name Joschua-Boehm©.)

Lest anyone is encouraged to dismiss him outright as a troll, We Hunted The Mammoth warns that Nolan

does indeed believe that he is at war with Ireland and Australia, that murdering women is legal in both countries, and that he has the right to enforce these claims of his as best he can.

This isn’t the first time Nolan has justified or indeed celebrated violence against women. His declarations of “war” are not new. He’s offered some (barely) qualified praise for far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik, and at one point he warned any women thinking of commenting on his laughable Facebook ripoff MAN-BOOK that he just might just kill them for it.

But these recent Tweets are pretty brazen, even by his standards. He is clearly a threat to women, as well as to politicians and government employees regardless of gender.

Via We Hunted The Mammoth

(Please note: This page is called “This Week In Crazy,” but WHTM correctly notes that “mental illness does not cause hate.” Nolan’s vile ideology and threats perhaps warrant more sober consideration than the light touch I’ve given them here.)

Next: Michael Savage

1. Michael Savage

Screenshot: YouTube

Garrulous gasbag and radio host Michael Savage is the patron saint of trolls, reliably churning out the crazy for this page like a well-oiled machine of madness. If he did not exist, I would have to invent him, but I’m not disturbed enough to recreate his mental aerobics, in which everything can be connected to everything else and it all ends with the same solemn condemnations: Grr, Obama. Grr, liberals. 

His unhinged arias are paeans to paranoia. One of his latest — from his show Tuesday night — follows a chain of association from welfare programs to — you guessed it — Holocaust-level injustice occurring on our own soil.

“It’s all well and good, the welfare state,” he says. “Until you can’t afford it anymore. And guess what happens then. The country collapses!”

Then you get what the government has always wanted: civil war, insurrection, martial law — “And guess what happens then.”

Yep, “internment camps.”

And guess what happens then.” And here Savage takes aim at liberals who are content to let this all transpire because, after all, liberals assume that they won’t be the ones locked up in camps. Because liberals think they’re “all powerful” and “above the law.”

Liberals won’t be subjected to the New Obama Order — only Christians and veterans, Savage insists, will be gathered up and locked away. Liberals have what Savage calls the “Army of the Night” behind them, which consists of “illegal alien gangs.”

“We understand your entire plan!” Savage puts liberals on notice. Especially you, Obama, “the insane-est person on the planet.”

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

“This is what liberalism brings you,” Savage concludes. “Insanity and murder — and death and disease. It’s the opposite of what they sold you!”

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

I listened to your show, Mike. I tried — I really tried — to connect the dots, but all I got was a page of scribbles and a ringing in my ears.

Via Right Wing Watch

Image above: Jesse 1974 via Flickr

Texans Don’t Like Federal Aid. Until They Need It.

Texans don’t trust the federal government, and Texas politicians don’t like federal disaster relief. Until they do.

As floodwaters ravaged Central Texas, President Obama reached out to the state Tuesday afternoon to pledge the full cooperation and support of the federal government, exactly the kind of aid Texas has desperately needed and vocally rejected for so long.

Kriston Capps at Citylab has a comprehensive account of the Lone Star State’s tangled and troubled relationship with FEMA. As Capps notes, “Texas suffers more natural disasters than any state in the nation” and it “absorbs more federal disaster assistance funds than any other state.”

The state’s antipathy toward any kind of federal involvement reached comical heights in recent weeks, when residents of Bastrop County, Texas became convinced that a training exercise taking place near them was part of a federal plot to invade the state. Texas governor Greg Abbott caved in to the insanity when he ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the wargames, and Ted Cruz (R-TX), senator from Texas and GOP presidential candidate, supported the move.

Unfortunately, this mentality has destructive consequences. As Capps writes:

FEMA plays a prominent role in this fever dream: Conspiracists fear that the agency means to erect prison camps. In fact, FEMA stands to play a prominent role in places like Bastrop, where county emergency officials performed multiple water rescues after the Bastrop State Park dam failed.

The tragedy unfolding in Texas highlights why it was so dangerous for Governor Abbott to flirt with extreme paranoia in the first place. By endorsing extremist skepticism of the federal government, even tacitly, the governor exacerbates unfounded fears of FEMA and other federal assistance providers. And at a time when the state cannot provide for adequate flood-control infrastructure—and cannot pass legislation to let cities lead the emergency housing response—the state of Texas cannot afford to promulgate widespread fears about FEMA.

Looking forward, it doesn’t seem like Texas’s knotty relationship with FEMA will get any better.

Under new FEMA rules, states seeking federal money for disaster preparedness will be required to summarize the future hazards facing them, and that includes acknowledging the “changes in weather patterns and climate” that pose a threat. For governors who, like Abbott, deny the science on climate change, this makes it difficult to adequately protect against natural disasters.

Other governors in a similar fix include Florida’s Rick Scott, who has banned all mention of climate change, and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, who called FEMA’s new policy an act of “coercion” that was forcing states to “submit to [Washington’s] liberal ideology.”

Via Citylab

Photo: Volunteers Steven Moon, from left, Joseph Buswell and Garett Roy help remove a flattened house on the banks of the Blanco River after the flood in Wimberley, Texas, on Tuesday May 26, 2015. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

This Week In Crazy: Let Biker Gangs Fight ISIS!

ISIS is on the rise in American schools! The only ones who can stop them are Texas biker gangs! But then who will defend the Lone Star State when the feds invade? Only God can say. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Rick Perry

Rick PerryAh, Jade Helm 15. Depending on your point of view (and level of sanity), it’s either a military training exercise or the first shot in the federal government’s cunning plan to surreptitiously invade Texas and declare martial law. Among the people in the latter camp: radio shock jocks, gun-clutching paranoids, presidential candidates, the current Texas governor, and now the former Texas governor, Rick Perry.

Perry spoke on Glenn Beck’s radio show Tuesday, and neither man would exactly confirm or deny whether he thought the feds were invading Texas — Beck, for his part, acknowledged that the idea was more than a little nuts — but considering the current administration, they agreed that it sure was easy to understand why people feel this way. (This is more or less the same line Ted Cruz toed when he was asked about Jade Helm; it’s a tricky balancing act to appease paranoiacs afraid of the White House, while asking them to vote you into it.)

Although he has not yet announced a run for the Oval Office, Perry stated, “If I were to become President of the U.S., I think there would be a clearly changed attitude towards that office. […] I hope people always question government. They should.”

Take note, voters. When Perry is president, nobody need be afraid of him.

Via Raw Story and Right Wing Watch

Next: Pat Robertson

4. Pat Robertson

MadPatPat Robertson, noted crackpot for Christ, sees demons everywhere. Including, apparently, in eating disorders.

On Tuesday’s edition of The 700 Club, Robertson got to discussing those who have struggled with anorexia and other eating disorders (including Karen Carpenter, who Roberston said “had a marvelous sound”).

Mad Pat has a reputation for applying his unique perspective to a variety of topics: He has warned us in the past that God is planning to unfriend America and that marriage equality would force everyone into having gay sex. But as near as I can tell, nobody ever turned to him for advice about anorexia. Which is probably good, because his tack is to treat it like a case of demonic possession and dispel the insidious disorder as one would exorcise a malevolent spirit.

“This can be treated as a demonic possession thing,” Robertson said. “It is like a demon and it needs to be rebuked and cast out.”

He continued: “It’s not something you can just pat ’em on the back and say ‘well, hey hey, why don’t you eat? I’ve got you a nice steak.'”

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Matthew Hagee

3. Matthew Hagee

HageeIt must be nice to have all the answers to everything. Especially when the answer is always: “God.”

It gives you such a leg up when trying to understand senseless acts of violence — such as the recent gun battle in a Waco, Texas, parking lot, which cost nine people their lives, and apparently was the result of longstanding conflicts between rival biker gangs.

Now, you could try to unpack the tangle of issues at play here, maybe open up another conversation about violence and American culture, or discuss the underlying social factors that drive men to shoot each other over a parking space.

Or you could just… you know…say “God.” As Texas-based pastor Matthew Hagee did Tuesday on his “Hagee Hotline” program, an evangelical web series that offers “unedited commentary on the state of our nation and current geopolitical events from a Scriptural perspective.”

“I believe it’s important to consider these facts,” Hagee said after noting that the parking lot bloodbath was very likely a sign of the End Times. “The Bible tells us we are to fear God.”

He continued: “One of the things I’ve noticed in the world is that the less we fear God in heaven, the more we fear each other. […] Right now, law enforcement is fearful of what a rival gang might do […] Right now, citizens are fearful about what’s going to happen in their city next […] When a simple fear of God and a reverence for his Word could cure a lot of problems.”

Glad we solved that one.

Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Rachel Campos-Duffy

2. Rachel Campos-Duffy 

Fox News’ Outnumbered sunk to a new, hitherto unsunk-to low Thursday morning when co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy blamed American schools’ embrace of diversity and multiculturalism for ISIS’s success at recruitment.

How do you square that with the ethos of the decidedly un-inclusive, affirmatively unicultural Islamic State?

Campos-Duffy’s comments came on the heels of a story about FBI agents and local police warning U.S. high schoolers against joining ISIS. According to the report, ISIS recruitment videos have become increasingly sophisticated at manipulating young minds.

And how did the youth of America become so vulnerable?

It seems that by recognizing other cultures, conceding that the U.S. is not perfect, and downplaying American exceptionalism, what we have actually done is not broaden children’s perspectives, but instilled in them an “anti-American, anti-Western ideology” that has poisoned them against their own homeland and made them easy pickings for ISIS.

Campos-Duffy laid it out thus:

What’s happening in the culture that would actually make this seem attractive? […] And I’ve thought about it a lot. And I think that what’s happening is that, you know, think about, there’s not very much assimilation, and then once kids go to school, we have removed any kind of positive celebration of our culture, of our founders. And so there’s this vacuum. […] These kids from elementary to secondary to college… they’re buying into this multicultural “we’re the imperialists, we’re the bad guys,” and so we have created a system that doesn’t reinforce and make people feel like they belong to this country.

Via Media Matters

Next: Sandy Rios

1. Sandy Rios


Both the police handling of the Waco shootout and the subsequent media coverage have drawn criticism for demonstrating some glaring double standards.

When rival gangs turned a public parking lot into a scene from a John Woo film, it seems that very few in the press thought to call it an “act of terror,” or the people spraying bullets at each other “thugs.”

Sandy Rios, Director of Governmental Affairs for the anti-gay outfit American Family Association (AFA), has an answer for why that is.

It turns out that the Bandidos and Cossacks — two of the rival gangs involved in the fight — are not who we need to be afraid of. Because these roaming gangs of heavily armed men who run drugs, and engage in organized crime, are not the “real” enemies.

Rios clarified her position on her radio show Monday: “Police have their hands full fighting our real enemies,” she said. “The cartels, the Islamists. And now they’re fighting motorcycle gangs?”

This senseless violence, Rios said, could be avoided if only these “motorcycle gangs” could refocus their energies more constructively. She continued: “Let’s have a little retraining… for motorcycle gangs and put them on our side, fighting our enemies.”

Rios distorts the very real threats posed by these biker gangs by likening them to unruly children that can be turned around.

(Remember last August, when she called a reporter who got arrested covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri a “punk”?)

In fact, as NBC News notes, the Bandidos are “one of the most dangerous gangs there, on par with the Bloods, Crips and the Aryan Brotherhood,” and have been responsible for a significant amount of crime in Texas.

Recall that just last week Rios criticized the media for failing to mention that the engineer on the Amtrak train that derailed outside Philadelphia, was gay, saying it was an interesting factor in the story and deserved attention.

Well Sandy, most of these biker boys are career criminals who went on a violent rampage in a public place with little regard for bystanders — I think that is an interesting factor too. You might even call them… “punks.”

Right Wing Watch has the audio:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Via Crooks and Liars and Right Wing Watch

Photo above: Tom Small via Flickr

This Week In Crazy: Satan Is In Your Marijuana

Weed is the Devil’s leaf! Sharia law has invaded Walmart! The federal plot against Texas thickens! Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Stewart Rhodes

StevenRhodesThe Oath Keepers is a self-proclaimed “patriot” organization, comprising mostly veterans and retired police officers, that was founded six years ago in order to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is the domestic variety that came under fire last week.

At a summit in Tempe, Arizona, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes denounced the “GOP good old boy network” that he claimed had sabotaged Ron Paul’s unsuccessful runs in 2008 and 2012.

To wit: He put the crosshairs on Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, the Establishment’s “pre-ordained, anointed candidate who would go along with the program of the destruction of this country.”

“John Cain [sic] is a traitor to the Constitution. He should be tried for treason before a jury of his peers,” Rhodes said, to wide applause.

He concluded his rant: “After we convict him, he should be hung by the neck until dead,” which was met with somewhat less enthusiastic, scattered clapping.

Video courtesy of Right Wing Watch:

In a Skype interview with KPNX Tuesday, Rhodes doubled down, claiming “John McCain is every bit as nuts as Adolf Hitler was.”

Via Talking Points Memo and Right Wing Watch

4. Ted Nugent

Ted NugentChildren get shot with guns in this country at a rate far exceeding that of other first-world nations. “On average, 20 U.S. children and adolescents were hospitalized each day in 2009 due to firearm injuries,” according to findings published in Pediatrics.

But don’t let any of this fool you. In a column published Wednesday in WND Commentary,Ted Nugent, the musician and vocal gun enthusiast, claims that all this anti-gun hysteria is predicated on a “Big Lie.” More children die from drowning than guns, he says. Why not outlaw swimming pools?

“The Big Lie about guns,” he writes, “is that innocent kids are being gunned down or are accidentally shooting each other. Compared to drowning, gun-related deaths don’t even register.” And furthermore, the “vast majority of teenagers who die as a result of guns are involved in gangs. They are punks, thugs and street rats who have dropped out of school and let out of their cages over and over again by a so-called ‘justice system’ gone bad.”

Timothy Johnson at Media Matters offers a lucid takedown of Nugent’s column, focusing on his highly problematic use of the phrase “Big Lie” (with caps) to describe and diminish gun deaths involving children. Johnson’s piece is a comprehensive and sobering rebuke to Nugent’s glib righteousness, and is worth reading in full.

Nugent especially might get something from it, since he claims that, “Facts still matter to those of us addicted to truth, logic and common sense,” and goes on to conclude that “Guns don’t kill kids, and neither does water.”

It’s a rhetorical flourish, sure, but it betrays a bloodlessmyopicand destructive way of looking at the problem.

Via Media Matters

3. Alex Jones

AlexJonesWithFansRadio shock jock Alex Jones doubled — nay, quadrupled down — on his claims that the U.S. military training exercise “Jade Helm 15” is the opening salvo in a federal government plot to invade Texas and declare martial law.

This makes the third week in a row that Jade Helm 15 has appeared on this page. Perhaps a refresher course is in order.

This curious outbreak of mass delusion began when a Texas community voiced apprehension about the wargames a-comin’ to town. Then in a risible public hearing, an exasperated military officer unsuccessfully argued that the federal government has no interest in conquering Texas. (After all, they do kinda already have it.)

Things truly took off into the stratosphere of folly when Texas governor Greg Abbott summoned the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on the exercise in order to “ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure, and informed.”

Reporters and pundits began springing the issue on GOP presidential candidates to see how they would respond. Ted Cruz took the bait, and said he could “understand the concern” because the federal government is so untrustworthy.

When presidential hopefuls are echoing the conspiracy theories of talk-radio hosts, we should be concerned. Which brings us back to Alex Jones. Since this mess began, he has been espousing some of the most baroque paranoid fantasias on his InfoWars program: There are secret military encampments hidden in abandoned Walmarts and soldiers are infiltrating the populace. Soon they will be silencing dissidents and seizing guns.

This hydra-headed blob of nonsense is filled with imagined enemies and secret collaborators, to which we can now apparently add ABC News. Jones is claiming the network used “dirty tricks” to prevent him from making a scheduled appearance on Sunday’s edition of This Week, by intentionally delaying his car ride to the studio.

But Jones won’t be silenced. He never is.

Via Talking Points Memo 

2. Allen West

Allen West 427x321Sharia law — that old conservative bugaboo — has infiltrated the most sacred of American institutions: the local Walmart! Yes, Walmart again. Not only does the discount chain provide a cover for sinister Jade Helm operations, but it is also the latest front in War on Christians!

Allen West, a former Florida congressman, claimed on his blog Monday that he was a victim of “Sharia law” when he noticed a Walmart employee place in front of one particular checkout aisle a sign that stated simply: “No alcohol products in this lane.”


“So being the inqusitive fella that I am,” West writes, “I used my additional set of eyes — glasses — to see the young checkout man’s name. Let me just say it was NOT ‘Steve.’ I pointed the sign out to [West’s daughter] Aubrey and her response was a simple question, how is it that this Muslim employee could refuse service to customers based on his religious beliefs, but Christians are being forced to participate in specific events contrary to their religious beliefs?”

How, indeed?

Now, if West had applied his inquisitive nature just a teensy bit more, and asked someone in charge what the deal was, he would have learned that NOT-Steve, the cashier, was under 21 years of age, and so was prohibited from selling any alcoholic products.

So informed, West eventually amended the title of his blog post from “Sharia Law Comes to Walmart” to “More ominous signs of Christian persecution,” but suggested that Walmart was still guilty of selectively caving to Muslim demands.

Although, as Mediaite correctly points out, the prohibitions regarding age and alcohol that are on the books in this country owe much more to the Christianity-driven temperance movement than to some insidious Islamic influence. So there’s that. Some theocracies get all the luck.

Via Media Matters and Mediaite

1. Gordon Klingenschmitt

Screenshot: Gordon James Klingenschmitt/YouTube

Colorado state senator, former military chaplain, and all-around crackpot Gordon Klingenschmitt makes an unwelcome return to This Week In Crazy.

Klingenschmitt, you might recall, hosts a program called Pray In Jesus Name, which provides him with a pulpit from which to spout his occasionally reprehensible, often hilariously uninformed nonsense. His tack is typically to trot out cherry-picked Bible verses as a pretext to comparing gay marriage to slaverypromising us that Jesus would personally send gay men to hell, and blaming legal abortion for a horrific attack on a pregnant woman.

That last one actually got him removed from a state senate committee — a symbolic gesture since he was reinstated a few weeks later.

At the time, Klingenschmitt claimed that he was being punished for “quoting unpopular Bible verses.” But he conceded that the fallout from his “wrath of God” comments suggested that it may not be a good idea to perform his roles as politician and YouTube preacher simultaneously.

Klingenschmitt appears to have forgotten his resolution, returning to his peculiar video stream to decry the horrors of marijuana — which is legal as a recreational drug in Colorado and also is apparently evil and demonic.

“I’m not saying the plant is demonic,” he clarified. “It’s just a plant.”

Oh, good. Glad we’re on the same page about that.

But beware the Satanic cannabinoids, Klingenschmitt warns, for when you imbibe the fiendish herb, “you begin hallucinating, I’m told, and you begin seeing these images.”

Oh, abjure the wicked bud, children!

He goes on: “You’re having apparitions and you are seeing and interacting with and welcoming to rule your heart a demonic spirit of drunkenness. That’s not recreational. It’s evil.”

“Do you really want to be devoured by the Devil?” he asks.

However, the Bible never actually calls out marijuana by name, so I’m wondering if Klingenschmitt has been getting his information somewhere else… Hmm…

Via Right Wing Watch

Photo above: Darwin Bell via Flickr

Anti-Government Resistance Now The Beating Heart Of GOP

Some folks thought it was “inflammatory.” Some said it was “irresponsible,” others, “absurd,” still others, “disappointing.”

Those are some of the words affronted conservatives used in emails last month to describe my column on the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. In it, I noted how Timothy McVeigh’s act of domestic terrorism shed light on a movement of like-minded zealots motivated, as he was, by hatred of the federal government and rejection of its authority.

“Twenty years ago,” I wrote, “the idea of anti-government resistance seemed confined to a lunatic fringe operating in the shadows beyond the mainstream. Twenty years later, it is the mainstream, the beating heart of the Republican Party. And while certainly no responsible figure on the right advocates or condones what he did, it is just as certain that McVeigh’s violent antipathy toward Washington, his conviction that America’s government is America’s enemy, has bound itself to the very DNA of modern conservatism.”

That’s the argument conservatives found “hateful” “sickening,” and “dishonest.”

So it is, depending upon your religious outlook, a fortuitous coincidence or superfluous evidence of God’s puckish sense of humor that a few days later comes news of conservatives accusing the federal government of trying to take over the state of Texas. It seems the four branches of the U.S. military are gearing up for Operation Jade Helm 15, an eight-week training exercise across seven states. Right-wing conspiracy theorists online and on radio are claiming the exercise is actually a pretext for a federal takeover of the Lone Star State, with — get this — abandoned Walmarts to be used for the processing of prisoners!

Nor is this being laughed off by conservatives in positions of authority. To the contrary, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state guard to monitor the exercise to safeguard Texan’s “civil liberties.” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert has asked the military to change the exercise. Senator and presidential wannabe Ted Cruz said he checked with the Pentagon and while he accepts that it has no plans to conquer Texas — how magnanimous of him — “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty” because the Obama administration “has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy.”

Forgive me if I don’t spend a lot of space pointing out that this is stupid, though I can’t resist asking: If the Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force were, indeed, planning to take over Texas, just what does Gov. Abbott think the state guard would be able to do about it?

There is, however, a more pressing observation to be made. After all, chances are good you’ve never heard about any of this — the story hasn’t garnered major headlines — and that, hearing of it now, you are not terribly surprised. That speaks pointedly of how inured we have become to the insane, paranoiac, anti-government prattle flowing like sewage from the political right. Duly elected leaders, putatively responsible people, give credence to the crazy idea that the federal government is about to attack its second most populous state and we shrug because it’s just another Tuesday in the lunatic asylum of American politics.

Look, I get it: No one wants to be compared to McVeigh. And I’ll repeat: No one in a position of responsibility embraces his prescription of terrorist violence. But it seems to me beyond argument that in the philosophical struggle for the soul of conservatism, he lost the battle and won the war. Much of what now passes for conservatism proceeds from extremes of government loathing that would have stunned Ronald Reagan himself.

Some of my readers used many colorful words to characterize that argument. Here’s the word I’d use:


(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at

Photo: Matthew Prosser via Flickr

Why Did Texas Politicians Cave In To Delusional Paranoia?

The real news isn’t that many Texans seemingly subscribe to an apocalyptic, delusional worldview, one that has them convinced that a U.S Army training exercise called “Jade Helm 15” is the opening wedge of an Obama-led coup d’etat — seizing guns, importing thousands of ISIS fighters to subdue local patriots, and throwing dissenters into FEMA concentration camps.

Because where else would you start a military takeover but the strategic hamlet of Bastrop, Texas, commanding the crucial highway junction between Elgin and LaGrange? Never mind that Fort Hood, the largest U.S. military installation in the world, is maybe 75 miles up the road. Bastrop is the linchpin.

No, the real news is that name-brand Texas politicians such as Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz think it’s smart to lend plausibility to what is essentially a mass psychiatric delusion. Did you know that even Walmart’s involved? Rumor says recently closed stores are being refitted as barracks for foreign soldiers.

After a raucous hearing in Bastrop, during which a regular Army colonel who pointed out that he’d served five presidents over 27 years got accused of lying and shouted down, Gov. Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor U.S. Army war games this summer.

This so that “Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”

Probably because there’s lithium in the water, stuff like this rarely happens out in El Paso — home of Fort Bliss, the 1,700-square mile HQ of the First Armored Division. But just across the border in Chihuahua, according to the Family Research Council, there’s a secret ISIS base with thousands of terrorists poised to strike. Hundreds of miles of underground tunnels have been dug to facilitate the invasion.

Also lending support to the nutball faction was Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who expressed support for Abbott’s leadership.

“I understand the concern that’s been raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm,” Cruz said. “…I think part of the reason is, we have seen for six years a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens and that produces fear. When you see a federal government that is attacking our free speech rights, our religious liberty rights, our Second Amendment rights… That produces distrust as to government.”

Hey Ted, Republicans lost two presidential elections. Grow up. Arkansas’ own Mike Huckabee plays to similar fears with gratuitous twaddle about “criminalizing Christianity.” All this really amounts to, as Paul Krugman puts it, is fear that Obama will “seize control of [Texas] and force its citizens to accept universal health care at gunpoint.”

Look, it’s not just Texas. Mad conspiracy theories are nothing new in American politics. Historian Rick Perlstein’s book Before the Storm describes a similar paranoid outbreak in 1963. A California GOP senator complained about an avalanche of “’fright mail,’ mostly centering on two astonishingly widespread rumors: that Chinese commandos were training in Mexico for an invasion of the United States through San Diego; and that 100,000 UN troops — 16,000 of them ‘African Negro troops, who are cannibals’ [sic] — were secretly rehearsing in the Georgia swamps under the command of a Russian colonel for a UN martial-law takeover of the United States.”

Back then it was President John F. Kennedy, an Irish-Catholic Democrat, who afflicted the John Birch Society with fear of The Other. Today, it’s President Obama scaring an Austin-based talk radio and Internet conspiracy theorist called Alex Jones.

Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” explains: “I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.”

Left-wing paranoia is not unknown. However, in America paranoid mass movements are almost entirely a right-wing phenomenon, partly because they fit so well with the melodramatic themes of Protestant fundamentalism.

“The paranoid spokesman,” Hofstadter added, “sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms — he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization… he does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.”

Is that not totally Ted Cruz?

But you know what? Ted Cruz ain’t Texas.

Early indications are that Cruz and Abbott are widely perceived to have made fools of themselves. Coverage in the statewide press has been derisive. A retired GOP legislator, Todd Smith of Euless, wondered if he should be more “horrified 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 stand up to those who do.”

Good question.

Screenshot: Austin American-Statesman