Jade Helm and the Left’s Short Memory

 

shutterstock_1959361The professional Left is having a good laugh about the conspiracy theories swirling around Jade Helm 15, a military training exercise taking place across the American Southwest. The knuckle-draggers on the Right have evidently concocted some fantasy in which the federal government uses its military power as — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — a tool of domestic tyranny! Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, et al. are having a field day.

According to the New York Times, the idea that Jade Helm 15 is part of a secret plan to impose martial law represents “the outer edges of political paranoia.” Perhaps, but those outer edges are more often occupied by leftwing fantasists than Tea Party activists. In 2007, for example, when Congress granted the president expanded powers to federalize the National Guard (in response to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco’s refusal to cede control of the Guard during Hurricane Katrina), progressives howled that tyranny was just around the corner. Patrick Leahy, the famously progressive senator from Vermont, objected that “the last thing we need is to make it easier for presidents to declare martial law.” The Daily Kos warned: “Congress is voting on whether to give Bush more power to invoke martial law. This is huge.” And yet, now the Daily Kos says that the Jade Helm martial law conspiracy is “the single stupidest thing to come out of Texas.”

The fear of a reactionary president imposing martial law goes way back on the left—at least to the 1980s. In 1987, the Miami Herald reported that the Reagan Administration had a secret plan to declare martial law in the event of a perceived emergency, including “national opposition to a US military invasion abroad.” Although this secret plan was never confirmed, a 1996 book written by a progressive academic, Christian Smith, and published by the University of Chicago Press, states that “evidence strongly suggests that in 1984, the [National Security Council] and FEMA collaborated in designing a top-secret contingency plan, named Rex 84, to suspend the US Constitution, declare martial law, appoint military commanders to run state and local governments, and detain masses of people considered to be national security threats.”

I don’t think that Jade Helm is a prelude to martial law. But I do think that the Founders envisioned a military balance between a federal army and state militias. That balance ended with the federalization of the National Guard, which was largely accomplished between 1903 and 1933. The predictable result is that whichever side is out of power in Washington tends to be concerned about the federal government’s potential to abuse its virtual monopoly on military force. When conservatives take these concerns to the extreme, they’re paranoid lunatics; when liberals do it, they’re just concerned citizens.

Published in Domestic Policy
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  1. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    Adam Freedman:

    The fear of a reactionary president imposing martial law goes way back on the left—at least to the 1980s. In 1987, the Miami Herald reported that the Reagan administration had a secret plan to declare martial law in the event of a perceived emergency, including “national opposition to a US military invasion abroad.” Although this secret plan was never confirmed, a 1996 book written by a progressive academic, Christian Smith,and published by the University of Chicago Press, states that “evidence strongly suggests that in 1984, the [National Security Council] and FEMA collaborated in designing a top-secret contingency plan, named Rex 84, to suspend the US Constitution, declare martial law, appoint military commanders to run state and local governments, and detain masses of people considered to be national security threats.”.

    Historically, military contingency plans for dealing with potential internal strife go back decades earlier, to the days of the color-coded war plans drawn up in the 1920s and 1930s under the auspices of the Joint Army and Navy Board. The plan for dealing with domestic insurrection was known as Emergency Plan White, which anticipated communists as being the most likely instigators of such an event.

    • #1
  2. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Mike LaRoche: …The plan for dealing with domestic insurrection was known as Emergency Plan White, which anticipated communists as being the most likely instigators of such an event.

    This is key.

    That plan was targeting a reasonable target.

    With these modern exercises, they do not target Islamofacists or South American drug cartels, or Baltimore street gangs… Instead they create PC strawmen by targeting the TEA Party or aviator-wearing Texans…

    The bizarre leftist fiction is that if the exercise targets MS-13, all Latinos will feel threatened because they can’t tell the difference between themselves and MS-13. Same with Muslims not being able to distinguish themselves from ISIS…

    In a world where TEA Party activists and patriotic Texans are not killing people at all, let alone every day, how does the left not expect TEA Party activists and Texans to conclude that the government is preparing to get them?

    • #2
  3. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    “You can keep your doctor.”  “You can keep your health care plan.”   Solyndra et. al.  “At this point, what difference does it make?”  “I have a phone and a pen.”  “Shovel ready jobs.”  IRS targets conservatives.  Ad infinitum.

    Is there any reason to trust what then Obama administration tells us now?

    • #3
  4. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    “Texas Republican and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mack Thornberry told the Dallas Morning News that the idea of the American military acting as President Obama’s “private army” was “just silly.””

    I liked this part.  So the military does not execute the commands of the Commander and Chief?  It does not go into combat without congress’s approval?  Let’s be honest.  The military goes and does what the President tells it to do, where and when the President tells it to do so.  One of the primary purposes of the Presidency is to command the military.  The President knows this, so does the military.

    • #4
  5. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    One of the easiest things to do, these days, is to pick out the lunatics on the other side, and then wallow in the lunacy. It’s a staple of cable news; every “debate” between ideologies is really one sane guy (representing your ideology) versus the goofiest whacko they can find (representing the other side).

    It’s cheap and it’s cowardly. It’s also a Jon Stewart staple (but I repeat myself). But Hannity does it also – I saw a clip on Real Clear where some muslim cleric was telling Pamela Gellar that she should be executed. Where did they dig up this guy?

    William F. Buckley could demolish anyone, but he never shied away from taking on the Left’s best. When he debated legitimate liberals, and kept it on a high level, the conversation edified both sides. Defeating a lunatic is just cheap.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Our President has acted lawlessly. His Attorney General ignored law to push racist favoritism. Congress passes unread monstrosities like Obamacare and disregards its legal duty to pass a budget. And our Supreme judges rule whichever way the wind blows, not according to legal precedent.

    We are already becoming a lawless society from top to bottom. Under such conditions, the unthinkable will happen… as it did in Wisconsin.

    President Bush didn’t demonize his opponents as President Obama and Democrats regularly do. To the Left, we are enemies with no inviolable rights or moral considerability. They do not withhold force for any reason other than lack of overwhelming power.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I certainly hope that the government has plans to impose martial law in the event of certain types of emergency.  I can think of many possible, though very unlikely, events that would require such a step.  Domestic insurrection, mass rioting, major coordinated military or terrorist strikes, unprecedented epidemic, major earthquake or volcanic eruption, and asteroid impact all come to mind.  It seems to me that it ought to be someone’s job in the government (probably the military) to have plans in place for a variety of contingencies.

    This should not be surprising or alarming.  I would expect our military to have a wide variety of plans prepared for war with many other countries in many circumstances.  As an extreme example, I would hope that we have plans in case China launches an attack on Taiwan, or Russia invades Estonia.

    The existence of such plans does not mean that we have any intention of putting them into effect, except in the extreme circumstances contemplated in such a plan.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OmegaPaladin

    KC Mulville:One of the easiest things to do, these days, is to pick out the lunatics on the other side, and then wallow in the lunacy. It’s a staple of cable news; every “debate” between ideologies is really one sane guy (representing your ideology) versus the goofiest whacko they can find (representing the other side).

    It’s cheap and it’s cowardly. It’s also a Jon Stewart staple (but I repeat myself). But Hannity does it also – I saw a clip on Real Clear where some muslim cleric was telling Pamela Gellar that she should be executed. Where did they dig up this guy?

    If that was Anjem Choudary, he’s a big name in British Islam.  I’ve heard him quoted before.  Yeah, Islamic supremacists are a big part of Islam.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    U.S. Army General Wesley Clark’s despicable, dishonorable, and probably illegal actions during the Waco Siege notwithstanding, I trust that the military has good reasons to conduct the exercises where they are being held in July.

    That said, the Democrats have stirred up a race and class war for the last six years, and they would know better than anyone the mood of the people they have stirred up. It wouldn’t surprise me if the military were also thinking that they need to be ready for anything.

    Democrats are very manipulative. They tick people off and upset them, and then they stand back and say, “Why are you so upset?”

    Over the last six years they may have created something that has whirlwind potential, and they are afraid they won’t be able to get their limos and private jets out of town fast enough.

    • #9
  10. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    Comparing one set of idiots to another set of idiots doesn’t make the either sets of idiots any less idiotic.  Comparing one unfounded partisan freakout to another unfounded partisan freakout doesn’t make either less unfounded, less partisan, or less shrill.

    That said, hyperactive freakouts like this over the use and abuse of military power are a proud American tradition, right up there with citizen’s militias, rioting in the face of intolerable living conditions, and bickering over religion.

    • #10
  11. user_532371 Member
    user_532371
    @

    Arizona Patriot:I certainly hope that the government has plans to impose martial law in the event of certain types of emergency. I can think of many possible, though very unlikely, events that would require such a step. Domestic insurrection, mass rioting, major coordinated military or terrorist strikes, unprecedented epidemic, major earthquake or volcanic eruption, and asteroid impact all come to mind. It seems to me that it ought to be someone’s job in the government (probably the military) to have plans in place for a variety of contingencies.

    You forgot zombie apocalypse.

    • #11
  12. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Why is it that when a young black person is killed by a police officer it is a valid reason to riot, to protest and express concern about the government’s use of force against it citizenry?  But if somebody expresses concern about the government running the largest military exercises in decades across multiple states for several months they are considered conservative wingnuts?  It seems to me that both sides are concerned about the same thing.  An increasingly militarized government that seems almost casual about displaying and using force against its citizenry.

    So why is one point of view considered acceptable even encouraged by the press but the other is considered a bunch of kooks that the press needs to make fun of?

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @KermitHoffpauir

    You would not believe the nutters of FB, most of which are Mark Levin/Ted Cruz fans.

    • #13
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