Politics & Media
Jul 15, 2015, 09:52AM

Jade Helm 15, Day 1

A little paranoia is healthy, suggests Todd Seavey.

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Today is the first day of the big troop-training exercise called Jade Helm in the Southwest. It will almost certainly come and go without incident like countless other police and military training exercises that, for good or ill, happen all the time in this country, useful prep for combating foreign foes or domestic insurrection alike. Yet a small subset of my fellow libertarians devote a great deal of their mental energy to worrying about conspiracy theories surrounding such exercises.

Conspiracy theories have a life of their own that defy ideological categories, of course. Conspiracy theories even have a knack for unthinkingly breaking down barriers between religions and, in an effort to be wide-ranging and ecumenical, being casually heretical. (I’m not religious, but I find it interesting the ease with which people who purportedly are slip into odd, novel theology, such as thinking that angels routinely take the form of helpful Walmart cashiers or that Jesus lived in South America for a while.)

I stumbled across a conspiracy theory site the other day that was both ecumenical and unusually optimistic, claiming: “A great war has been going on between the Lord and the Satanists. Many underground bases have been destroyed and great numbers of Greys, Reptiles, Annunaki, and NWO Satanists have also been destroyed. The secret space program has been also been destroyed.” Hey, great news! I’m not sure who was doing the destroying, but it sounds like they’re on our side. Bummer we couldn’t have salvaged that secret space program, though.

One problem, from a purely strategic libertarian perspective, with the conspiracy-theory mindset is that paranoid people don’t tend to stay paranoid solely about the government.

Extremely popular libertarian conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is a case in point. I applaud his wariness about government and even think the world could use more people who saw, as he does, the friendly ties that often exist between power brokers in government, corporate boardrooms, non-profits, academia, mass media, and the arts, all sometimes subtly pushing the same message at the same time, usually to justify some massive new government endeavor. But he’s just about as paranoid about GMOs, industrial agriculture, gay atheists, and testosterone-reducing chemicals as he is about government.

Worse, though, are the fellow travelers for whom libertarian principles actually end up taking a back seat to conspiracy fears.

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, for example, seems like a well-meaning guy—and he’s popular. I once saw him speak on the same platform as my fellow libertarians Gary Johnson, Kennedy, and Judge Andrew Napolitano at NYU, and the vast crowd, disproportionately made up of young males, went wild for Ventura. (I was reminded of the time I went to hear Chuck Palahniuk speak and was taken aback by how young and male his Project Mayhem-ready fans skewed.)

But as my online pal and Counterpunch contributor Camilo Gomez informs me, Ventura is now supporting socialist Bernie Sanders for president. Anything to stick a thumb in the eye of the establishment, I guess.

Still, we may need the paranoid. Much of the scorn directed at Texans fearful of Jade Helm must seem out of place to, say, the aging hippies of California who have survived military-style raids of their villages by helicopter-borne, machine-gun-toting anti-marijuana troops. There is a reason so many California hippies and postmodernist novelists sound a bit more anarchist than their East Coast establishment brethren. They aren’t just paranoid because of the pot.

I will strive to remain skeptical about government without succumbing to pure paranoia, though if I were smoking something, I might well stare protractedly at that transparent shoe in the center of the weird Jade Helm logo, wondering what exactly its connection is to the mission slogan “Mastering the Human Domain.”

It’s government, man. It really can’t be anything good.

Todd Seavey can be found on Twitter, Blogger, and Facebook, daily on Splice, and soon on bookshelves with the volume Libertarianism for Beginners. He’ll be onstage Sat., July 18, 7 p.m. at the PIT in Manhattan in the “Electoral Dysfunction” political comedy show. 

  • I appreciate Alex Jones. But he loses all credibility for shilling vitamins and gold to his gullible audience. Shameless capitalist.

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  • Texas is lucky It's not the DEA, in which case they'd have real reason for concern.

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  • Given that the massacre at Waco resulted in no accountability, Texas can be forgiven for being a bit twitchy about another fed effort.

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  • Sure. They go from doing that quite a ways back to a military takeover of Texas. Maybe that was just a dry run.

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  • Who needs a military takeover.? Another couple of dozen women and kids..... All in a day's work. The vics were othered by the Chattering Classes. Subhuman. Not worth bothering about. Rednecks. Religious fanatics. You could get called a really nasty name by mentioning Vicky Weaver. Yes, before somebody jumps on the geography, the feds killed people in Idaho for the same bunch of non-reasons.

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  • You're hitting all the talking points. Idaho was - what? - 20 years ago?

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  • Alex Jones is a disinfo agent, a blogging Mockingbird. Learn the difference between paranoia and hypervigilance. Read some Pynchon.

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  • Yeah, it was. So/ Point is, both at Ruby Ridge and Waco, none of the feds suffered any penalty at all. Not even delayed promotion, afaict. The thing is IT WAS NOT A PROBLEM FOR THE FEDS in terms of what they said/did about it. I watched the hearings. The feds stipulated to--to get the boring stuff out of the way--more than the wackiest survivalist could have imagined. They tried to frame Richard Jewell. They did frame Ted Stevens. And Englebrecht, after starting a voting validity group, was visited by the IRS, EPA, OSHA, FBI, and ATF. There is no reason to trust them, and so watching them is entirely reasonable. i guess you'd want to make the case that the murderous bastards are gone and replaced by honest law enforcement?

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  • Since we're talking about the possible military invasion and takeover of a state, your examples citing Fed agencies run amok hardly seem relevant.It would be a little harder to finesse this one through a Congressional hearing.

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  • I expect it would seem relevant to Texans who recall meaningless massacres. We don't need a military takeover for that. In fact, the massacre at Waco wasn't a military takeover. It was in all the papers. But it was fed all the way, including the possible violation of posse comitatus, the use of fed troops in law enforcement. There were some reports that soldiers from Ft. Hood were driving the armored vehicles. It's why they use the Guard,who are state troops, for riots. Full disclosure, my enlisted MOS was Light Weapons Infantry and my commissioned MOS was Airborne Infantry Small Unit Commander. But,if all we have is another massacre, we can congratulate each other that the feds didn't declare martial law and start taking over. You, we can talk about a state takeover, but the history is of other things which are so often dismissed by pointing to the victims as some kind of subhuman expendables.

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  • Not sure what most of that was about, but there is certainly no rest for the paranoid.

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  • sub. You're not stupid. But the only thing left is to pretend not to udnerstand. That's old, too. Transparent. Some Texans are worried about what the feds might do, given their history in Texas. What's hard about that? Snorting that there isn't going to be a fed takeover is meaningless. There wasn't one after Waco, either, but some people still think the number of dead was excessive. I mentioned my military history because, at Benning in '69, with everything going on, we got rigorous training in posse comitatus. It's a Very Bad Thing and if the feds did it at Waco, it's a crime. Surely you understand, but, of course, you can't afford to admit it. By the way, the Texas Guard is different from the Texas National Guard. Organized, armed, and not subject to federalization. No reason to suspect the feds--might do some shit again. 'cause after the first time, they really got punished...not.

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  • Oh,that clarified it.

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