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Ted Cruz Hops Aboard the Texas Military Takeover Crazy Train. Because of Course.

This man is a United States senator. He is running for president.
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I need to make something perfectly clear, so please listen carefully. It is essential that you put your support fully behind Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Let me repeat that: It is absolutely essential.

This isn't to say that Bernie Sanders, who's also running as a Democrat, isn't a spectacular legislator and a passionate leader whose ideas America should be willing to consider embracing on a national level, it's simply that Sanders cannot win the presidency. Despite not being as far to the left as he is, I respect and admire Bernie Sanders and hopes that his presence in the race holds Clinton's feet to the fire on many social issues, but I have no illusions about his chances and neither should you. Again, he cannot and will not become President of the United States. With that in mind, you have no choice but to rally around Hillary Clinton and do everything within your power to propel her into the White House. Why? Because, as Jonathan Chait said perfectly a few weeks ago, "she is the candidate of the only major American political party not run by lunatics."

I bring this up, because Ted Cruz has just stuck one foot out of the Republican 2016 clown car and put it squarely upon the Jade Helm 15 crazy train. Ted Cruz, who is running for the highest office in the free world as a Republican, says that he fully understands why there are those in his home state of Texas who believe that an upcoming military exercise there is actually nothing more than a plot to stage an armed takeover of the state. When asked about Jade Helm 15, the official designation for the exercises, Cruz told Bloomberg News on Saturday, "I understand a lot of the concerns raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm. It's a question I'm getting a lot. And I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens. That produces fear, when you see a government that is attacking our free speech rights, or Second Amendment rights, or religious liberty rights. That produces distrust."

Cruz went on to say, during a speech at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention,"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you." Because if there's one thing Republicans know how to do these days, it's bumper sticker sloganeer. He says he's spoken to the Pentagon about Jade Helm and has its assurances that the operation is on the up-and-up, but again -- this is a candidate for President of the United States and he's willing to lend legitimacy to the ravings of a group of tin-foil-hatted paranoiacs who believe every idiotic thing they read on the internet. Cruz is a U.S. senator and, like his self-proclaimed friend, the Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, rather than deescalating the madness he cranks it up further by giving it official sanction. If you're some anti-government yokel whom Alex Jones and his InfoWars stooges have convinced of the coming American junta, getting a sympathetic ear from people in positions of authority may be all the excuse you'll need to take your paranoia to the next level. Pandering to these people is dangerous.

The really tragic thing about this in terms of the national intellect is that an internet conspiracy theory that's fucking ridiculous at face value now has enough cultural currency that national lawmakers are being asked about it. The Defense Department is commenting on it. A U.S. Army Lt. Col. with decades of experience was forced to spend two hours of his life he'll never get back being pelted by questions from 200 dumb-shit Texans in camo hats who cannot accept that a military training exercise in rural Texas is a by-the-numbers affair. Wal-Mart has had to officially deny that it's allowed the military to build tunnels under five of its locations, which will be used as FEMA camps during the coming One World Government operation to disarm and enslave Texas. A fucking mental patient fever dream that should have gone no further a couple of preppers' panic rooms has now gained enough cultural clout that reporters are asking national leaders about it.

Except that, if you notice, they're not. If you pay attention, for the most part the only leaders who are being asked about this thing are Republicans. John Cornyn has commented on it. Rand Paul has commented on it. Lindsey Graham has commented on it. And there's a reason for that: because the insane paranoia over Jade Helm 15 is largely relegated to the anti-government right, the fringe elements of the Republican party that it should have long ago thrown under the bus but which it instead refers to lovingly as "the base." These are the people Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott are pandering to when they indulge paranoid delusions spun out of thin air.

This is what the Republican party has become over the past several years. It's a party run by lunatics. It's the party of science-deniers and Jesus freaks, xenophobes and voodoo economists. And worst of all, it's the party that willfully lends credence to the unfounded night terrors of heavily armed, anti-government fanatics. In 2016, you can talk all you want about upending the two-party system and you can raise your fist in the air and complain about not getting that perfect unicorn of a candidate who's going to give you literally everything your narcissistic little heart desires. But in the end, you have to accept political reality. You have to accept reality. You have to do this because there are people out there who have no grip whatsoever on reality -- and there's an entire political party ready to give them what they want.