Noble: When weighing political rhetoric, actively search out blind spots and biases (column)
November 29, 2018
Remember the last time U.S. federal troops invaded Texas? No, not when Gen. Zachary Taylor's troops occupied the land in Texas during the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48, or when Gen. John J. Pershing, with troops on Harleys, transited Texas on his way to Mexico to hunt Pancho Villa. No, I am referring to the sinister-sounding Jade Helm 15 exercise in 2015.
Three long years ago, U.S. Special Operations Command conducted a realistic training exercise in several western states. About 1,200 troops were sent to various locations in Texas. Cue the conspiracy theories and Russian bots. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones led the charge, claiming, "Feds preparing to invade, list Texas as hostile." Augmenting Jones' effort was the most popular Texas succession page on Facebook, "Heart of Texas," which Facebook later shut down when it was exposed as originating in Russia.
Texas politicians were deeply suspicious of President Barack Obama, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, who claimed "patriotic Americans had reason to be concerned." Sen. Ted Cruz went so far as to reach out to the Pentagon for assurances because "the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercises.
Operation Faithful Patriot, initiated in late October of this year, involved the deployment of more than 5,000 federal troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, approximately 2,000 of which were sent to Texas, because of fears over an impending "invasion" by Central American migrants.
The Pentagon dropped the name and began referring to the deployment simply as "border support" on Wednesday, Nov. 7, after Election Day. Current Pentagon estimates provided to Congress for the cost of the operation top $200 million.
And what about those Texas politicians who were so concerned about a federal invasion in 2015? Crickets. Even Jones supports this infusion of federal troops into Texas. Cruz has not reached out to the Pentagon for any "assurances," and Gohmert is peddling conspiracy theories of his own, accusing the Democrats and George Soros of funding the caravan, without a shred of proof.
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It is not just Texas politicians who have contracted a nasty case of hypocrisy. Consider the recent revelation that senior advisor to the president and first daughter Ivanka Trump "… sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules," according to a report by The Washington Post.
She claims she was unaware of the rules. Her claim strains credulity given her boss/father's campaign strategy of berating his opponent for using a private email server for government business.
One wonders if Michael "Lock Her Up" Flynn will have an opportunity to reprise his role as chant leader? If so, he should do it before his own sentencing on Tuesday, Dec. 18, for lying to the FBI.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, without so much as a twinge of shame, recently penned a foxnews.com opinion piece with the headline, "Will Dems work with us or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?" Boy, that's rich coming from the man who obstructed President Obama at every turn, culminating in his refusal to hold a vote for Obama's Supreme Court nominee.
In 2000, George W. Bush ran for president on the promise of restoring dignity to the White House, capitalizing on voter exhaustion with the scandal-plagued Clinton presidency.
In a stunning reversal and capitulation of values, Republicans, white evangelicals in particular, willingly chose to ignore Trump's multitude of defects, which were abundantly clear during his campaign. This was a man whose other predominant campaign strategy was name-calling and insults. As Trump's lies mount, Republican support remains steadfast. Apparently dignity is not as cherished as it once was.
I'll confess to something you may have already suspected — I, too, am a hypocrite. For instance, I anguish over climate change but fill my car tank with fossil fuel and power my home with coal. I am disgusted that someone accused of sexual harassment/assault by more than a dozen women occupies the White House, but I was still sad to see Al Franken go.
My only saving grace is that I actively search out my blind spots and biases. I want to expose them and mitigate them. The question is, do you?
Claire Noble can be found online at clairenoble.org and "Claire Noble Writer" on Facebook.
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