They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

David W. Smith, the leader of the Orange County, Texas-based Golden Triangle Militia, wants people to know he is no white supremacist or conspiracy theorist.

“If you say you’re part of a militia, people start cowering with fear,” he told TPM in a phone interview last week. “They start calling you a white supremacist or part of the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] when it’s open for every single resident that lives in the county.”

Smith has been on a quest to persuade the Orange County Commissioners Court to recognize his group as the county reserve militia for over a year and a half. Last week, commissioners were about to vote on a resolution recognizing the Golden Triangle Militia—which would have been a first in the Lone Star State—when one commissioner expressed reservations about the group’s vetting process and requested more information, according to local TV station KBMT. The vote was tabled.

Smith expressed frustration, saying he believes his group already is the county’s reserve militia by default.

“The Golden Triangle Militia is a reserve militia according to that government code,” Smith told TPM. “That’s what I’m trying to do there, because the law says that the reserve militia is supposed to already exist but it’s never been officially organized according to the law in the state of Texas since it’s been on the statutes since 1987. Nobody’s ever done it.”

TPM spoke with Smith, who said he’s a U.S. Air Force and Texas Army National Guard veteran, at length about his effort to get his group recognized as the reserve militia for Orange County. Smith is a former phlebotomist who now runs a business building monolithic domes. He tried to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) last year as an independent and casually name-drops Texas politicians, including former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), whom he says he’s spoken to about his militia movement. He also offered his take on those "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theories that have been catching fire in the state and elsewhere.

Below is a transcript of the conversation which has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Read More →

Managing a strip club is hard work: beer coolers break down and must be replaced, difficult employees need to be dismissed and bouncers need to be kept in line.

Managing a strip club is even harder when it's technically your side gig and your main source of income comes from working for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Those two income streams just aren't compatible.

Read More →

When conspiracy theories about a possible military takeover of Texas were just starting to bubble up on fringe blogs in late March, the acting mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi wrote a letter inviting U.S. Army special forces to conduct the “Jade Helm 15” training exercise during the first week of August.

Any mention of “Jade Helm 15” disappeared from the paperwork by the time the Biloxi City Council approved a resolution in early May allowing the military to train there. But that still didn't stop bloggers from speculating that martial law was creeping its way to Mississippi.

Read More →

It's been a few months since talk of Muslim "no-go zones" was all the rage among conservative politicians and pundits, but the people in that same circle are starting to gin up fears of "creeping Sharia" law again.

The uptick in concern about the threat of Sharia law to the United States came even as some prominent conservatives surprisingly refused to lionize Pamela Geller, the notoriously anti-Muslim blogger who organized the Mohammad cartoon-drawing contest where two gunmen opened fire earlier this month in Garland, Texas.

Here are the four most recent examples in which conspiracy theorists have been sounding the alarm about what they saw as Islamic law's threat to the First Amendment and the U.S. government.

Read More →

Politicians across the country jockeyed to get a piece of the "Jade Helm 15" action after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asked the State Guard to monitor the planned U.S. military training exercise. Texans waded into the fever swamp of conspiracy theories surrounding the training exercise in recent weeks and took some of their elected representatives along for the ride.

But what's lost in all that noise is the training exercise itself: how service members plan to execute it and what the military aims to accomplish.

Read More →

LiveWire