It probably didn’t brighten new Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s day when an open letter to him from a former Republican legislator referred to “idiots” in its opening sentence.
Abbott had managed to look pretty good lately, simply by not being as in-your-face outspoken as new Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The governor sidestepped Patrick’s effort to draw him into a tax-cut battle between the Senate, over which Patrick presides, and the House. Patrick pushed the Senate to cut property taxes, while the House prefers to cut the sales tax.
But right-wing talk radio show host Alex Jones stirred up conspiracy theorists by loudly suggesting a federal military exercise in the southwest this summer, to simulate fighting in populated areas, including Texas, could be a Trojan Horse ploy to overthrow the government. Abbott seemed to buy into the paranoia that “we can’t trust the federal military,” or at least to court the conspiracists.
On Tuesday, April 28, Abbott sent an open letter to the commander of the Texas State Guard, Major General Gerald “Jake” Betty, ordering the Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15.
To address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinity, I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15. During the Operation’s eight-week training period from July 2015 to September 2015, . . .
During the training operations, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.
U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has assured Texas that each location selected for training exercises will pose no risk to residents or property and that they will coordinate with local residents via verbal and written communications. . . .
The action I take today comes with the recognition of Texas’ long history of supporting our military forces and our proud tradition of training, deploying and supporting our activeduty troops and returning veterans.
As governor, I have the utmost respect for the deep patriotism of the brave military men and women who put their lives on the line to fight for and defend our freedom. I remain certain that our military members will keep America the freest and strongest nation the world has ever known.
Former 16-year Republican state Rep. Todd Smith of Euless decided Abbott’s letter needed a response. Two days later he sent one, with copies to House and Senate members, and everybody else:
Dear Governor Abbott:
Let me apologize in advance that your letter pandering to idiots who believe that US Navy Seals and other US military personnel are somehow a threat to be watched has left me livid.
As a 16 year Republican member of the Texas House and a patriotic AMERICAN, I am 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. I’m not sure which is worse.
As one of the remaining Republicans who actually believes in making decisions based on facts and evidence — you used to be a judge? — I am appalled that you would give credence to the nonsense mouthed by those who instead make decisions based on internet or radio shock driven hysteria. Is there ANYBODY who is going to stand up to this radical nonsense that is cancer on our State and Party?
It is alarming that our State Republican leadership is such that we must choose between DEGREES of demagoguery. I know that in many cases you are the better of the two demagogues (see the Lieutenant Governor driven nut job rant regarding your Pre-K program as a recent example).
Having been there, I also know that politicians are not always able to speak their mind because they represent large groups of people and not just themselves. But this bone that you have thrown to those who believe that the U.S. Military is a threat to the State of Texas is an embarrassing distance beyond the pale.
You are Governor of Texas! This is an open request— from a ghost of our State’s recent Republican past—that you act like it.
Enough is enough. You have embarrassed and disappointed all Texans who are also informed, patriotic Americans. And it is important to rational governance that thinking Republicans call you out on it.
Sincerely, Todd Smith