Jade Helm takeover was #FakeNews but plans for this counterattack were real

With everything we’ve learned about the ability of Russian bots to grossly amplify the reach of #FakeNews, we shouldn’t be all that surprised by this week’s revelation that the 2015 Jade Helm conspiracy theory was an early triumph of this toxic technology.

But before we make our jokes about tin foil hats and move on, we should recognize how such cyber chicanery can have a very real impact.

This part barely made headlines here, likely because it involved wingnuts in North Carolina. But in August 2015, the feds arrested three men who were building bombs, stockpiling guns and preparing to attack our government because of Jade Helm.

Back then, we were all busy rolling our eyes at Gov. Greg Abbott tasking the Texas State Guard with monitoring the U.S. military training exercises happening that summer in Bastrop County, while similar special ops training was held in several other states. But the notion of a martial law takeover by the U.S. military was not an obvious hoax to Walter Eugene Litteral, Christopher James Barker and Christopher Todd Campbell — then 50, 41 and 30, respectively.

HOW WE GOT HERE: A timeline on Jade Helm 15

According to arrest affidavits, these men gathered the materials to make pipe bombs and explosive tennis balls covered in nails. They had dozens of guns, military-issue Kevlar helmets, body armor vests and handheld radios with throat microphones. They planned to ambush U.S. soldiers on a 99-acre camp in Clover, S.C., a town not far from Charlotte, N.C.

“According to (Campbell),” the warrant stated, “he and Litteral intend to booby-trap the camp and draw government’s forces into the camp and kill them.”

Thankfully that showdown never came. The owner of a military surplus store where the men bought their gear learned of their plot and alerted the FBI, according to the Washington Post.

Of course it’s possible Litteral, Barker and Campbell would have planned their attack even without the involvement of Russian bots. After all, the bots simply spread the conspiracy theory that was already out there. It was a real person, right-wing provocateur Alex Jones, who conjured the fever dream in March 2015 that Jade Helm, the multi-state military training exercise planned for that summer, was somehow something sinister.

RELATED: The Americans are coming! Jade Helm and the politics of paranoia

But as the conspiracy theory spread online with lightning speed, with a flurry of comments and shares that suggested legions of alarmed residents, real people took notice. And a handful of elected officials pandered to the paranoia.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, issued a statement in May 2015 saying “true patriots” had cause to be “legitimately suspicious.” That same month, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, then making his run for president, demanded answers from the Pentagon because “the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration.”

I know Republicans had major differences with the Obama Administration. But I think we can agree Gohmert and Cruz didn’t exactly nail this one.

ALSO READ: Race, Russian bots and the angst around #AustinBombings

In providing this week’s revelation about the Russian bots, former CIA director Michael Hayden helped us understand how the clearly ludicrous Jade Helm conspiracy theory spread so far and wide, and how the success of this operation paved the way for Russian meddling in the social media chatter around the 2016 presidential campaign. And that’s troubling enough. But let’s not lose sight of the life-or-death stakes in this realm of Internet mischief.

Just over a year after the foiled Jade Helm counterstrike in North Carolina, a gunman walked into a Washington, D.C. pizzeria, convinced it was harboring a child sex ring.

Fake News. Real danger.

Texas can, should do better for state living center residents

Liz Belile visits her sister Shanna in the Austin State Supported Living Center in West Austin Monday October 30, 2017. Belile’s sister suffers from a seizure disorder and needs permanent care, but having her in Austin has provided her with the opportunity to look in on her regularly and tend to her other needs. (RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

A glint of hope. That’s how Austin American-Statesman reporter Andrea Ball described the slow, gradual progress Texas has achieved in eight years to improve the state’s 13 supported living centers for people with developmental disabilities.

It’s an adequate description. As Ball’s recent investigation showed, all 13 centers report improvements in medical care, fewer resident injuries, and fewer cases of abuse and neglect. However, substandard medical care and safety remain a problem in some centers.

Texas’ 3,000 supported living center residents are among the most severely disabled and hardest to place because they require a level of care and security that can only be provided in an institutional setting.

As such, officials need to continue to push for improvements until each institution delivers the care and protection owed to this vulnerable population.

Sadly, Texas had for decades failed to comply with demands for better medical, dental and psychiatric care for state living center residents. On more than one occasion, Texas promised to do better. Each time, state leaders failed to deliver.

Until now, I hope.

The wheel of change began to move after a 2008 Justice Department investigation found a long list of medical care failings at state living centers, including the deaths in a single year of at least 114 residents, 53 of those from preventable conditions. The Justice Department required the state to overhaul the services the centers provide, the way they perform them and the way they measure success.

Since 2009, the state has spent $233 million to hire, train and monitor new employees. Texas has spent another $24 million for Justice Department-required, independent monitoring teams to evaluate all centers on a regular basis, and $12 million for consultants.

As expected, change has come slowly.

According to Ball’s reporting:

  • From 2010 to 2016, a 35 percent decrease in confirmed cases of abuse, from 429 to 277.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, a 25 percent decrease in reported injuries to residents, from 42,673 to 32,166.
  • Of injuries reported, 298 were considered serious, down from 516 in 2014.
  • Since 2014, a 32 percent decrease in reported injuries to center employees by aggressive residents, from 1,624 to 1,111.

Any progress made so far helps, but when Medicaid officials threatened to halt the flow of federal money to nine centers a total of 25 times in the last year over concerns of resident safety and substandard medical care, it’s a loud signal that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

State officials are on the right track. A change in how the Justice Department and state measure progress, by focusing more on individual outcomes instead of processes, should put centers on a faster track to meeting the federal expectations, according to officials. Officials must seize this opportunity to move the needle for meaningful change further and faster.

For most residents, their profound disabilities make them dependent on these institutions. It’s important that officials get it right for them. In doing so, maybe, officials help redeem the word of Texas.

Lack of offensive content can’t be the only measure for newly proposed Mexican-American textbook

In 2016, Texas State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez, Jr. speaks out against the error-prone Mexican-American Heritage textbook voted down.
RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

After rejecting a proposed Mexican American studies textbook that critics blasted as a racist portrayal of Latinos, members of the Texas State Board of Education have two months to review another book. If adopted in November, the new book will be added to a list of recommended textbooks available for use by Texas students next school year.

On Wednesday, the board was presented with the latest proposal, “The Mexican American Studies Toolkit,” written by Tony Diaz, a Mexican-American studies professor at Lone Star College and a Houston-area activist.

Diaz’s book, which was written in less than a year, is the second Mexican American studies textbook the board has considered since last September. Board members should proceed carefully with their review given how quickly the project was produced. Most academic textbooks take more than a year to write — sometimes longer — experts say. Last November, board members rejected another textbook that critics said was an error-riddled racist portrayal of Mexican Americans.

Last year, about 100 people filled the Texas State Board of Education meeting room to protest “Mexican American Heritage,” which referred to Mexicans as “lazy” and contained about 140 factual errors, according to Mexican American history experts.

“The Mexican American Studies Toolkit,” focuses on identity, race, culture and political issues facing Mexican Americans today.

In its preface, Diaz writes:

“Most media outlets can provide short answers to deep questions but there are not enough places where we can engage in deep discussion about identity, race, culture and other issues that not only influence one group of Americans but all of us. … This book is part of the answer.”

Diaz also writes that the book is intended to “dispel the illusion that Mexican American history and culture is foreign.”

Board Chairwoman Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, and Vice Chairman Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo, said they are optimistic they can adopt Diaz’s book in November, but the board still needs to ensure that the contents are error free and meet state requirements, the American-Statesman reported.

That’s encouraging. But the board should also ensure that the book shines a light on how the inspiring achievements of Mexican Americans are woven into the fabric of American history. That’s what experts and the Mexican American community expect. Board members should give serious consideration to feedback from those who have reviewed the book. When Diaz presented the book last week, he was the only person to comment on the book before the Texas School Board of Education.

A Mexican-American studies professor, Diaz has credentials to create a worthy book for Texas students.

“I haven’t seen anything or heard from anybody that leads me to think there is an area of concern. That’s good news,” board secretary Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville, said Wednesday. Cortez was among many who were critical of the first proposed textbook.

That Diaz’s book has not produced any serious reasons for objection may be a good sign.

Texas students deserve an honest and complete representation of the role Mexican Americans have had in shaping our state and nation. Here’s hoping Diaz has delivered on what his book promises.

Payroll deduction ban would silence teachers, not save taxpayers money

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott describes the items he wants addressed by a special legislative session during a press conference at the State Capitol on June 6, 2017. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott officially invited Texas legislators to head back to the pink dome July 18 for a 30-day special session to pass legislation that will keep five state agencies – including the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Medical Board – open.

Once those agencies are taken care of, Abbott wants lawmakers to turn their attention to several items that failed during the 140-day regular legislative session and others that weren’t a part of it.

While limits on local control – including a bill banning transgender-friendly bathroom policies – are among the most talked about issues on Abbott’s 19-point conservative agenda for the special session, Abbott also proposes lawmakers push for some troublesome public education measures.

Members of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, including executive director Gary Godsey, shared their concerns Monday with the American-Statesman’s editorial board about the upcoming special session.

For instance, while the ATPE supports Abbott’s call for improving the state’s school finance system, the organization – like many other public education advocates – hoped for real solutions during the regular session. Abbott wants lawmakers to establish a commission to study school finance reform.

“Our public schools deserve more than another interim study and local taxpayers deserve a reprieve from shouldering so much of the state’s obligation to fund public education,” ATPE said in a statement.

Two other items that worry the folks at ATPE and other pro-public education organizations are Abbott’s unfunded teacher raise mandate – an item that was not a part of the regular session – and a proposed ban on union due payroll deductions.

Yes, ATPE advocates for increased teacher salaries. As they see it, pay raises make sense. Not only do they help recruit and retain good teachers, but in some school districts, a pay raise could also help a teacher offset the high cost of healthcare, Kate Kuhlmann, an ATPE lobbyist told us.

If the state is going to mandate $1,000 raises for all Texas public schoolteachers, then the Legislature needs to help pay for the raises, Godsey said. Most school districts have strapped budgets. Demanding that struggling school districts comply with a state mandate could mean cuts to areas that can’t afford them – like teacher retirement plans or educational programs.

Godsey is right. We should all support teacher pay raises, but not like this.

Another point of concern for many public education advocates is a legislative push to ban union fees deductions from payrolls, a measure that some – including ATPE – say aims to silence teacher voices.

During the regular session, Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) introduced “anti-union” bills designated as priority items by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to get Texas out of the business of collecting union dues. Similar bills by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) are expected to be filed for the special session. Huffman’s bill proposed to deny some public employees – with teachers comprising the largest group – the ability to deduct membership fees to organizations from their paychecks. However, the bills exempted unions representing law enforcement, firefighters and first responders.

Why are police, firefighters and EMS union dues excluded from such bills, you ask? Some argue that it is because the exempted are public servants, Godsey told us. Under that rationale, educators belong as part of the exempted group. Teachers are the front line of public service.

The bill’s authors along with Abbott and Patrick have said such deductions costs taxpayer money. Groups who oppose such measures say taxpayers don’t pay to administer deductions because state statutes require organizations to pay that expense. (The deduction process is no different than when a state employee requests a payroll deduction for donations to nonprofit organizations like United Way).

Godsey shared with us that he’s asked lawmakers who support the measure: If payroll deductions are so bad, then why not cut them across the board and ban all state employees, not just some. The question merits an answer.

In short: There’s no need for such a measure other than politics.

“Educators have long fought to protect class sizes, strengthen school services, and reduce the emphasis on standardized testing,” Godsey wrote in an online-commentary in March. “By making membership in educator associations as burdensome as possible, these bills are designed to hurt teachers and students.”

Oh, and public schoolteachers also have fought against school vouchers.

Reasons, voices opposing ban on sanctuary city outweighed support

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday May 1, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Gov. Greg Abbott made it clear soon after taking office in January 2015 that eliminating so-called sanctuary cities was one of his priorities for the 85th Texas Legislature.

Today, Abbott is one step closer to achieving that goal as Senate Bill 4, which punishes local jurisdictions that decline to assist with federal immigration enforcement, is en route to his desk.

After the Senate accepted on Wednesday the House’s controversial bill, Abbot took to Twitter to post: “The Texas sanctuary city ban wins final legislative approval. I’m getting my signing pen warmed up. #txlege #tcot

However, the measure is wrong for Texas — even if our leaders refuse to acknowledge it.

The negative effects associated with this bill could be troubling. For instance, companies in the tech and medical sectors might think twice before relocating to Texas if they perceive an anti-immigrant measure will affect their recruiting efforts. And in some areas of the state, policing could become more about harassing people who look a certain way than about focusing on the worst of criminals in a community. Those ramifications just scratch the surface.

As the American-Statesman editorial board has written on several occasions, such a measure will hurt Texas more than keep it safe, as Abbott and proponents of the bill proclaim.

But the board was not the only voice against Senate Bill 4, as Texas law enforcement leaders went before state lawmakers to testify that the measure will be a burden for taxpayers and officers. Many more individuals testified about the potential this law presents for law enforcement officers to intimidate immigrants.

For now, the voices of so many have gone unheard.

We reflect some of those thoughts on the issue with these editorials:

We also present a sample of guest commentaries by community members who wrote against a state ban of sanctuary cities:

Not all were opposed banning sanctuary cities:

Time will reveal the impact this measure will have on the Lone Star State. One thing is certain: It won’t do much for Texas’ reputation as a ‘friendly state.’

Dallas’ deadly shootings: What others are saying

A Dallas police officer covers his face as he stands with others outside the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Center, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas on Thursday night, killing some of the officers. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
A Dallas police officer covers his face as he stands with others outside the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Center, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers in the heart of Dallas on Thursday night, killing some of the officers. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

be a peaceful gathering to protest the recent deadliest incident for law enforcement in the U.S. since 9/11. Two civilians also were injured.

The attack on police in Dallas has left many speechless and fearful. Others, however, are putting voice to our worries and fears. Here is a sampling:

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“There are problems that our society has no idea how to fix — and the issues of race and policing are fall in that category. Body cameras help; better training helps; community policing helps; but these are not complete solutions.
Ridding ourselves of these senseless shootings requires a degree of honesty about cultural bias, white privilege and perceptions about black and brown people that I’m not confident our society can muster. And as long as the immediate — and human — instinct is to draw a weapon in the face of fear, it is inevitable that an officer will eventually shoot to kill without cause.” — Tara Doolittle, Viewpoints editor

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“(Dallas) Mayor Mike Rawlings’ assessment was tragically correct: ‘Our worst nightmare happened.’
Now we must wake up and unite. If we lead with anger, nobody wins.” — Dallas Morning News Editorial Board

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“As Thursday night melted into Friday morning, Facebook began to send messages: So-and-so is wondering if you’re OK during The Violent Crime in Dallas, Texas.
No, I’m not OK.”  — Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Morning News city columnist

—————

“Because it’s what the heart demands when it aches, we tend to search for brightness among unimaginable darkness. Sometimes the darkness is so dark the search is unimaginably difficult.” — Ken Herman, American-Statesman columnist

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“Yes, the good guys need our support. And I, for one, still believe in good guys.
They are the ones who ran toward the gunfire, who scrambled to get innocents out of the way, who stood in salute of fallen brethren outside the Parkland Hospital ER.
They are the only thing standing between us and the cowards who attack from comfortable perches on a peaceful Dallas street.” — Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle columnist

—————

“Dallas knows what comes next.
People will talk about guns, and hatred, and race, and Texas.
Everyone will have a hero, and a villain, and a solution, and a way to blame some political opponent.
And none of that will mean anything at all.
Because what happened Thursday night in Dallas will leave us with no easy solutions — just nightmares to haunt us for years after a bloodthirsty ambush attack on police officers of all colors who were guarding peaceful protesters of all colors.” — Bud Kennedy, Ft. Worth Star Telegram columnist

—————

“This horrendous attack on the police and the two killings this week demand sober reflection by the nation’s political and law enforcement leadership….with killings happening in cities, suburbs and rural communities, there needs to be leadership in every police department in the country that insists on cultural and attitudinal change. Credible civilian oversight of the police has to be a factor if community trust is ever to be restored. The latest ghastly images show how much has not been done, two years after Ferguson.” — New York Times Editorial Board

—————

“Brown commands more than 3,500 sworn officers, who patrol Dallas’ 1.3 million residents spread over 385 square miles. He knows, day after day, that his department is one gunshot, one overreaction, one dubious decision from becoming the next national story.
And even when they don’t, when they do their very dangerous jobs with skill and professionalism, when they run toward the gunfire to keep the rest of us safe, it might not matter. It didn’t Thursday night. And that’s the world we now live in.” — Mike Hashimoto, Dallas Morning News editorial writer

 

Courts should back disabled children of Texas, restore funding

Occupational therapist Amanda Halbert works with Brianna Dupuie, teaching Brianna how to get through her morning routine, like making toast with peanut butter. When Brianna was a year old, a babysitter shook her so hard she had a stroke. The stroke resulted in Cerebral Palsy, and she has had to re-learn how to walk, talk and do basic daily chores. Medicaid has helped pay for the weekly physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions because she was a foster child. But cuts to Medicaid could cause an access to care issue that would affect Brianna and 60,000 other Texas children with disabilities, impacting their progress. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Occupational therapist Amanda Halbert works with Brianna Dupuie, teaching Brianna how to get through her morning routine, like making toast with peanut butter. Medicaid has helped pay for Briana’s weekly physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions because she was a foster child. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

What a mess. That’s what you get when Texas lawmakers call for millions in cuts, as they did in 2015,  to therapy services for disabled children. Now, the courts are left trying to sort out the muddle.

Last session, Texas lawmakers approved a two-year budget that ordered a roughly 25 percent cut to the amount of money some pediatric therapists were paid by Medicaid. The cuts equal $150 million in state funds and $200 million in matching federal funds. Answering to the legislature call, Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials targeted the funding cuts around physical, occupational and speech therapies that affect an estimated 60,000 disabled children, including foster children. With any luck, the courts will find that funding should be restored and see that the commission’s decision to cut these particular funds is short-sighted.

Yes, short-sighted. The services targeted are long-term therapies that help children with limited abilities become more independent and self-sufficient to the best of their abilities. Studies show that greatest results are achieved when therapies begin at a very young age and continue into adulthood, if necessary. To cut or limit those therapies and services dramatically decreases the chances of these children to grow and be productive citizens.

Understandably, a group of in-home therapy providers and families of children with disabilities immediately sued the state in August to prevent the payment cuts from taking effect. Advocates and families argue that payments to providers for Medicaid patients would drop by as much as 28 percent. Such a steep reduction in payment would force some providers out of business and leave many children without much-needed therapies. It should be noted that these arguments were countered last week by a lawyer for one healthcare insurer who said in court that rate reductions could be carried out without a reduction in services.

Still, there has to be a better solution than to take aim at services that benefit the most vulnerable Texans: Children with severe disabilities with no money to pay for the services they need. Yet, the commission refuses to see it that way, even when many have said that state’s proposed cuts are based on faulty information.

The Legislature based the cuts on single independent study from Texas A&M Health Science Center researchers — parts of which state District Judge Tim Sulak, in signing a temporary injunction to the cuts in September, said were “seriously flawed.” Like I said: It’s a mess.

Yet, on Wednesday, during oral arguments in the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals, the attorney for the state’s health commission, Kristofer Monson, said the appropriations bill passed by the Legislature in 2015 mandated the cuts and left the commission with no choice but to carry them out. “The commission followed the rules,” Monson has said.

Numerous letters and comments made by at least 60 legislators, show that the lawmakers don’t agree with Monson.

In fact, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Flower Mound Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson, the chairman of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee, told Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor he had “the flexibility to strive for achieving $100 million in savings in Medicaid therapy services while preserving access to services.” The key here is access to care.

No one argues that identifying corruption and pockets of waste is a bad idea — that, after all, was the initial intent for the legislative bill. Looking for ways to make the best of taxpayer money should be a priority.  However, what we are dealing with here is not comparable to unnecessary dental services for a healthy kid, but  limiting the life-altering therapies of a disabled child. Hopefully, the courts will see on April 25 that the commission was short-sighted in their call for these particular cuts and restore funding for Texas disabled children.

 

 

Now it’s serious for Sid Miller

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The Texas Rangers are investigating allegations Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller misused taxpayer money during two out-of-state trips. (2015 American-Statesman)

In 2001, the American-Statesman profiled a new legislator on the Capitol block, one 45-year-old Sid Miller of Stephenville. Miller was described as “an unabashed conservative,” and like a lot of freshman lawmakers, he had come to Austin with high hopes of serving his constituents and making a difference. The profile concluded with Miller saying he would “rather be a statesman than a politician,” because “a statesman does what’s right no matter what the cost. A politician does whatever it takes to get elected. I hope when I’m done they say I was a statesman.”

Over the next decade, Miller would become familiar with getting re-elected — until he lost re-election in 2012. But he wasn’t ready to call it a political career so he ran — successfully — for agriculture commissioner two years later. Miller’s a professional rodeo calf roper, but during his first 15 months as ag commissioner, he has acted more like a rodeo clown.

And now he’s the subject of a Texas Ranger investigation into whether he misused taxpayer and campaign money to travel in February 2015 to Oklahoma to receive an anti-inflammatory “Jesus shot” and to Mississippi to compete in the National Dixie Rodeo. Progress Texas filed the complaint on March 21, amended on Wednesday, that prompted the Texas Ranger investigation. Miller says he did nothing wrong and the source of the complaint against him allows Miller to blame his situation on a “a very liberal, left-wing organization.” But Miller could be in real trouble.

If the Texas Ranger investigation results in charges against him, Miller would join Attorney General Ken Paxton as the second elected leader of a state agency under criminal indictment. Paxton is facing two state counts of securities fraud. This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission added to Paxton’s legal troubles, accusing him of investor fraud. Paxton says he has no plans to resign.

Miller took office in January 2015 and immediately announced himself as an embarrassment. He took aim, in the name of freedom, at a nonexistent statewide ban on cupcakes in classrooms. (Frosting may be liberty but surely liberty is more than frosting.) He later called for the return of deep fryers to the state’s schools. If these actions offered hints of Miller’s own personal diet, then a Jesus shot to rid him of some rodeo aches may be the least of his health worries.

Miller also created four assistant commissioner positions, each paying $180,000 a year, and hired other staffers for jobs that were not publicly posted as open. And Miller paid $413,700 in bonuses to 144 employees at a time he was increasing fees on state-regulated occupations.

Then, of course, there’s Facebook Miller, sharer of jokes, tidbits from history, and Abbott and Costello clips — but also sharer of Internet memes that call for the nuking of Muslims, compare Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes and portray President Barack Obama as a supporter of Che Guevara.

More than 15 years into his state political career, Miller has proved he’s hardly a statesman. He’s state government’s equivalent of that old high school classmate we all have on Facebook who keeps posting hoaxes that he could easily discover are false if he only weren’t more interested in sharing and confirming his political biases. And any poor fool who tries to tell him he’s posting fake or inaccurate information will be told that a) all he was trying to do was stimulate conversation or b) you’re too stupid to understand satire.

Whether Miller understands the difference between fake news and satire, or at least good satire, or that a statesman is someone who elevates our discourse beyond a viral meme is unknown. But he can’t ignore that this week things got a whole lot more serious for Sid Miller.