More On Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Massive Leadership Failure


Texas governor Greg Abbott says that he’s monitoring the eight-week military exercise, known as Jade Helm 15, that will take place in his state and six others, so he can bring calm to some Texans who fear it is a prelude to an armed U.S. take-over.

Honest. That’s really his explanation.

Abbott wants Texans to understand that the military is only there to be better prepared to protect them, not to install martial law or take away their guns.  He says been in contact with the military, and has been assured that the exercise will be a normal military operation. “It’s so important to understand that there probably is no state in America that is more deeply connected to the military or honors the military more. And my office has been in communication with military at multiple levels, and we have the greatest assurances that these are normal military operations and they’re going to work out just fine,” Abbott said.

With supporters like Abbott, the federal government should find ISIS less threatening by the minute.

Hey, Governor! Texans are convinced that a Jewish cabal is trying to undermine financial system! Quick: put state monitors in the synagogues to reassure them that it’s not true! Oh, and they think gays are out trolling for young boys to convert to queerdom. Make sure you surveil all openly gay men, so you can reassure straight Texans that their fears are unwarranted. A lot of your voters also think that Democrats are secretly in league with the Communist party. That’s nuts, so tap the Dems’ phones so you can reassure the good Texas that they are not Red, just wrong

The Big Lie tactic works when a scurrilous and unjustified smear is given legitimacy by efforts to deny it, and the claim that the U.S. government is preparing to jackboot conservatives into submission is a classic Big Lie. Playing right along, Abbott gave credibility to the insane, and I use the word without hyperbole, belief that standard military exercises were secretly an attempt to remove Texas citizens’ rights by force when he  behaved as if the threat might be real.

This isn’t just pandering leadership and irresponsible leadership. It is disloyal, un-American and incompetent leadership. If Abbott really wanted to address these irrational fears, he had an obligation to do so like a leader who trusted and respected the national government to at least the essential minimum: no, they don’t want to enslave and kill us.  He should have said,

“Apparently some of our citizens are concerned that a planned military exercise involving U.S. Specials Operations Forces such as the Navy Seals and the Green Berets might be a hostile attack on our state.  Shame on them. We are all Americans, and while we may differ intensely on the best policies for our nation, we are united by a love of country, reverence for its values and traditions, and the Constitution of the United States. The suggestion that the President is any less dedicated to those values, or that our military would ever participate in an efforts to destroy them, demonstrates the depths to which political discourse has fallen. It has been suggested that I use the State Guard to monitor these exercises. I will order no such thing. To do so would be an insult to our President, our armed forces and the nation. I trust the good will and patriotic motivations of our national government without reservation, and so should every patriotic Texan.”

Instead, Abbott chose to fan the flames of division and distrust.


Ethics Hero: Todd Smith

Be vigilant, Governor! Next, Obama will be coming after your precious bodily fluids...

Be vigilant, Governor! Next, Obama will be coming after your precious bodily fluids…

I was preparing to comment on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s absurd, embarrassing and recklessly divisive action of calling on the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise in the state juuuuust in case that sneaky, fake American Commie dictator Barack Obama is getting ready to put the Lone Star State under bayonet and martial law, as some local wackadoodles are claiming from under their ten gallon tin-foil hats. I decided that it was too obviously stupid to criticize before I read the approving comments by unhinged Texans on the governor’s  Facebook post announcing the order.

It received more than 25,000 likes and thousands of comments. Among them (My reactions in bold):

  • “Thank you, Mr. Abbott, but I doubt they listen to you or anyone, Obama will soon demand Marshall law, We need to keep them totally out of Texas. The devil is breathing down our necks right now. Everyone better pray.”  Now Marshall law, I have no problem with…
  • “Here comes Martial law Folks… get ready! ALL Texans need to be armed. It’s our right! I pray our Military will do what’s right! Not want the Commander and chief ( and I use that term loosely) wants them to do! STAND UP AMERICA… IF we don’t GOD HELP US ALL! If you look at the map that was posted.. Texas is listed as a hostile state, along with other repub. states!” THEY’RE HERE! THEY’RE HERE!!!! Oh, wait, I was thinking of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”…
  • Thank you sir I have no trust in our current goverment. Your actions on a day to day basis are giving me hope for our state goverment. If that’s how you’re spelling “government,” I have no hope at all…
  • “Governor Abbott’s got a pair, and he will not let them mess with Texas!” Well, thank God for that! If he let’s his pair mess with Texas, it would be the worst sex crime in history. Also: Ewww.

Luckily, a Republican, a Texan, and former state House member did it for me. Here is Todd Smith’s letter to the Governor. Continue reading

Three Republican Candidates: Gaffes, Disqualifications, Or Something Else?

shooting-yourself-in-the-footI felt badly about piling up three posts recently on unethical female Democrats running for office, and was inspired by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent to do some analysis of Republican candidates who, at least according to Sargent, deserve equivalent criticism to what has been leveled at Alison Lundergan Grimes for refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama. [She did it again last night in her debate with Sen. McConnell.]

Sometimes finding Republican candidates who deserve an Ethics Alarms slap is hard, unless they say something bat wacky like, say, Richard Mourdock. If a Democrat is flagged by The Daily Beast or the Post, I can be pretty sure there was something said or done that was objectively troubling, because the mainstream media will bury anything from a Democrat that is vaguely defensible. A Republican, however, might be accused of certified insanity for a statement that offends progressive cant. Fox and many of the right wing websites, meanwhile, will ignore any Republican whose pronouncements don’t rise to “I am the Lizard Queen!” level of derangement, and will find fault with Democratic candidates on dubious grounds. Here are the GOP candidates for today’s ethics audit: Joni Ernst (U.S. Senate in Iowa); Tom Cotton (U.S. Senate in Arkansas); and Greg Abbott  (Texas Governor race): Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Wendy Davis’s Controversial “Wheelchair Ad” Attacking Greg Abbott

1. The campaign of Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has issued an attack ad directly referencing gubernatorial rival Greg Abbott’s partial paralysis, and includes the image of an empty wheelchair. Davis could claim—and will, if she hasn’t already–that  the implication that his use of a wheelchair argues against his qualifications to be governor is inadvertent or imagined, except that her supporters were caught in a Project Veritas video mocking Abbott for his disability, and Davis has made gaffes relating to his handicap before, as when she said that he hadn’t “walked a day in her shoes.”

2. She is a member of a party with supporters in the media ready to pounce on any Republican who makes a similarly provocative reference to an opposing candidate’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender or “abled status.” The double standard is certainly a campaign boon to Democrats, but they have to take advantage of it a bit more subtly than this.

3. What is primarily wrong with the ad, however, isn’t the wheelchair, or the use of tactics that would called an appeal to bigotry if they were used by Republicans. It is that the arguments the ad seem to be making are stupid, unfair and wrong, and ones that Davis, who is a lawyer, must know are stupid and wrong, or she is stupid and wrong. Continue reading

Ted Nugent Ethics, Part I: The Ted Nugent Rule


This is really simple. From this point on, any one who intentionally gives Ted Nugent a public forum  is to be considered irresponsible regardless of what Nugent says, and accountable for whatever offensive garbage he does say.

Nugent’s uncivilized and hateful description of the President of the United States as a “sub-human mongrel” set this rule in stone. Anyone who wants to argue   that the Ted Nugent Rule should apply retroactively to Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who foolishly allowed Nugent, with  his already wretched record of making uncivil, vicious, and obnoxious statements unfit for civilized public discourse, to represent his campaign for Governor  will get no argument from me.

The rule also applies to talk show hosts or interviewers seeking to goad Nugent into making inflammatory statements that they can use to generate controversy and discredit those who agree with any of Nugent’s political positions, based on the flawed theory that all  opinions held by an idiot must be idiotic.  Sorry: if you let Ted Nugent speak under circumstance where his words will be broadcast, reported or put into print, you are as responsible for the resulting carnage as he is, an accessory to outrageous and destructive incivility.

A good argument could be made for Nugent-like rules for some other prominent flame-throwers, like Bill Maher, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter, but that is for another day. As for Nugent, he is like the party guest who repeatedly arrives drunk, molests your teenage daughter and throws up on the couch. He’s persona non grata, and has forfeited the privilege of being invited to any more parties, because he can’t be trusted not to ruin them for everybody else.

Ethics Quiz: Rank The Unethical Politicians!

Three pols

For your first Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the New Year:

Consider these unethical politicians from Florida, Texas and California…

Unethical Politician A:

California State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

Ethics Failures:

Competence, Responsibility, Diligence

Explaining his proposed legislation SB808, dealing with “ghost guns” (that is, home-made weapons) at the California Capitol in Sacramento last week, de Leon held up such a firearm and said, “This right here has the ability with a .30-caliber clip to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second. Thirty magazine clip in half a second.”

This is genuine anti-gun gibberish that could not possibly be uttered with a straight face by anyone even slightly familiar with guns. There is no such thing as a “30-caliber clip;” he is referring to a 30-round magazine. (There is also no such thing as a “30 magazine clip.) “Caliber” refers the measurement of the width of a bullet or the internal diameter of a gun barrel, not what the magazine will hold. And the average rate of fire for a semi-automatic rifle, which is what he was holding, is about 120 rounds per minute, not 3,600 rounds per minute.

Why are legislators who don’t care enough about guns to educate themselves about what they are, how they work and what they are capable of doing, submitting legislation about guns? Because they just know guns are dangerous, and in their infantile, knee-jerk reasoning, that’s all they have to know. The rest is fakery: the legislator is pretending that he has sufficient expertise to be credible on the issue, when he is too lazy and arrogant to do the minimum study necessary to render him qualified to vote on gun regulations, much less author them.  This is the equivalent of a legislator who thinks babies are delivered by storks proposing abortion laws. Continue reading