Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows just 21 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans and the latest NBC/WSJ (original poll here) shows only one in five (20%) adults self-identifies as Republican.
That's the lowest since the fall of 1983, when just 19 percent identified themselves as Republicans. From a high-water mark of 35 percent in the fall of 2003, Republicans have slid steadily to their present low state in the several recent party identification polls.
The Associated Press reports that a polling firm with close ties to the GOP found in its latest survey that the public holds greater confidence in Democrats than in Republicans in handling most of the issues. Democrats were favored by a margin of 61 percent to 29 percent on education; 59 percent to 30 percent on health care and 59 percent to 31 percent on energy. Democrats were even viewed with more confidence in handling taxes.
According to the Pew Research data Republican identification has sunk by more than five points in all four regions of the U.S. Just one in five voters in the Northeast call themselves Republican, the party's worst region, while 25 percent of Southerners say they are Republican, the region where the GOP performs best.
But these Republican losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains. Voters who once called themselves Republicans are not ready to call themselves Democrats.
So far in 2009, 35% of adults nationwide identify as Democrats, about the same as in 2008 (36%). While GOP identification has fallen seven points since 2004, the Democrats have gained only two points over that period. Instead, a growing number of Americans describe themselves as independents, 36% in 2009 compared with just 32% in 2008 and 30% in 2004.
Looking at the individual monthly surveys since December suggests that both political parties are facing declining membership in the wake of an engaging election cycle.
In the Pew Research Center's April 2009 survey, 33% identified as Democrats, down from 39% in December 2008. Over the same period, the share calling themselves Republicans has fallen from 26% to 22%. By contrast, the number of independents has risen from 30% in December to 39% now. While it is not unusual for Republican and Democratic identification to grow over the course of an election and subside afterward, the magnitude of these changes is noteworthy.
The pattern of partisan change in recent years has been remarkably consistent across the nation. Since 2004, the GOP has lost at least five points in party identification in every region of the nation. Meanwhile, Democratic identification in 2009 is either at or just slightly above 2004 levels.
It is just my opinion, but I think the trends described in these national polls also describe what is happening in Collin Co. and Texas. If so, then Democratic candidates in Collin County can appeal to newly "independent" voters not by waving the Democratic Party flag, but by talking sensibly about the issues. That's what the GOP is planning to do.
The GOP is set to launch a new rebranding effort to revive the image of the Republican Party. The new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will involve an outreach by a group of GOP'ers, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of President George W. Bush. The group is planning town halls around the country, to discuss issues like health care, the economy, energy and national security.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu.Dallas Morning News: So far, 3 'probable' swine flu cases have been found in Dallas County:
The three - a 24-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 3-month-old – have not been hospitalized, and the cases do not appear related, said officials, who also began urging bus travelers arriving from Mexico to seek medical help immediately if they feel sick.
on Sunday, the White House announced a public health emergency, a step officials described as a routine measure designed to help ease the distribution of vaccines. Twenty cases of the disease have been confirmed in five states, including two in San Antonio, though no one has died of it here.
In Mexico, Churches were shut down in Mexico City and soldiers were distributing surgical masks to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Jordan was again scheduled to serve as the Carpenter Park Recreation Center Alternate Election Judge for the May 9, 2009 municipal election early voting period starting, Monday April 27, 2009.
Jordan, apparently in good health and high spirits, was testing the voting equipment at Carpenter Park just the day before his death to make sure everything was operational for the opening day of early voting.
Those of us who worked with Jordan at Texas Instruments in his capacity as the Manager of Texas Instrument's Computer Center Design/Support Group and as Alternate Election Judge for Collin County Elections hold him in the highest esteem.
Jordan, a friend, colleague and dedicated public servant, will be missed by the community and all who knew him.
The problem is nobody, with the possible exception of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, knows when or if she will vacate her Senate seat to run against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry for the Governor's Mansion.
Hutchison might resign from the senate by the end of this year, or it could be after the March 2010 Republican primary election, in which she hopes to make Perry a lame duck. Or, she could wait to resign from the Senate on Jan. 1, 2011, the day she is sworn in as governor, assuming she wins the 2010 primary and general elections.
Senator Hutchison has publicly denied reports that she will not resign from the Senate while running for Governor, and has stated that she may resign as early as late 2009. (See "Senate Run May Spur Dewhurst to Pick Up the Pace," p. B-8, Austin American Statesman, March 26,2009 / also see Did Hutchison Make Promise to Set Up May '10 Elections Months Ago?)
In contrast to that denial, fearful that a special election for U.S. Senate could result in a Democratic victory, Congressional Republicans appear to be pressuring Hutchison not to resign unless and until she is elected governor. Republican insiders have been indicating Hutchison will not resign at all if she is unsuccessful in her bid for the Governor's office.
Under Texas law, if Hutchison resigns earlier than shortly before the November 2010 election, Rick Perry, a Republican, would appoint a short-term replacement for Hutchison until a special election can be held.Two Democrats — Mayor Bill White and former state Comptroller John Sharp — and four Republicans have announced their candidacies and set up fundraising committees over the past few months. While six candidates have thrown their hats in the ring, none know for sure when or if their names might appear on an election ballot - it all depends on when Hutchison resigns.
A special election would likely be held in November 2009 if Hutchison resigns her U.S. Senate seat before September 28, 2009. If she resigns late in 2009, the special election for her senate seat likely could not be scheduled to coincide with the March 2010 primary and would instead be scheduled for May 2010.
If Hutchison does wait to resign until about early September 2010, the special election for her open Senate seat could be held concurrently with the November 2010 general election, ensuring maximum turnout for any Republican senatorial candidate.
If Hutchison doesn't resign until after the November 2010 general election, assuming she is elected governor, she could theoretically name her own short term replacement and call a special election for her Senate seat for May 2011.
Of coarse, if Hutchison wins the March 2010 primary and doesn't resign by election day November 2010, and a Democrat is elected as the new Texas Governor in the November 2010 election, that would deny Democrats the opportunity to challenge her Republican Senate seat until the 2012 election cycle.
Candidates: (Left to right) Houston Mayor Bill White (D), former State Comptroller John Sharp (D), Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams (R), State Sen. Florence Shapiro (R), former Secretary of State Roger Williams (R) and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones (R)
Potential Candidates: (Left to right) Rep. Kay Granger (R), Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), US Rep. Joe Barton (R), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R), Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and TX State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)
So far, the Texas Governor's race has been a battle between two Republicans. Conventional wisdom says that if Perry manages to pull off an unexpected upset in the primary, he's actually vulnerable in the general election. (Perry is the most unpopular politician in the state of Texas, and probably the least popular Governor in memory.)
Conventional wisdom also says that if Hutchison wins the primary match up against Perry, she will likely skate to the Governorship in the November 2010 general election. Things are looking a little less certain for Republicans to retain the Texas governor's mansion, even if Hutchison does win the primary, now that long time Texas Democrat Tom Schieffer seems ready to join the Texas governor's race.
Tom Schieffer is a former State Representative, former partner in the Texas Rangers, brother to Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer, and Bush-era Ambassador to Australia and Japan.
Schieffer, a lifelong Democrat, did endorse G.W. Bush for the offices of both Governor and President, but he supported Barack Obama for the 2008 primary and general election, and he supported Democrat Chris Bell in the 2006 Governor's race. Conventional wisdom suggests that Schieffer can attract not only Democrats, but Independents and even some moderate Republicans.
Research 2000 Texas Poll of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections conducted from April 20 through April 22, 2009 provides a current snapshot of candidates for the U.S. Senate and Texas Governor races:
Dallas Morning News: "We are experiencing a crisis of leadership," said Schieffer, a former U.S. ambassador under President George W. Bush who plans to run as a Democrat.
He dismissed his ties to the former Republican president, saying Texans want leaders who are less partisan and more effective in dealing with issues like education and health care.
"Our politics have become less substantive, less thoughtful, less creative and less innovative," said Schieffer, 61.
Favorable / Unfavorable
Saturday, April 25, 2009
As Republicans eliminated the regulatory guidelines of prudent business and banking practices, unscrupulous home mortgage lenders were free to unfairly prey on both American home buyers and securities investors. Mortgage lenders were free to aggressively market risky sub-prime home mortgages to unsuspecting home buyers and then speculatively trade those risky sub-prime loans in banking and securities markets to such unrestrained levels that the financial system was at the brink of collapse.
The resulting financial system "crisis of credit" froze business and consumers out credit markets literally freezing the flow of business transactions, particularly in the housing and auto industries. The U.S. government was forced into bailouts of banks, securities companies and "too big to fail" corporations to avert economic disaster.
An unregulated free-market system is like asking professional football teams to play a season without a rulebook and without referees to enforce the rules of play. The game of football would be reduced to chaos and a lot of casualties on the field of play.
Over the last eight years we have seen what happens when the free market rulebook is scrapped and the referees leave the free market field of play. Democrats want to restore healthy free market competition, which naturally drives innovation and economic growth, by making sure that American business and financial institutions follow some basic rules of fair and honest play.
To this idea that business must have a rule book of fairt play and referees to enforce the rules Conservative Republicans cry "Socialism."
Refering to Democrats as members the "Democrat Party" rather than the "Democratic Party" is not derogatory enough for Republican National Committee conservatives.
In an e-mail sent to the 168 voting members of the RNC committee, RNC member James Bopp, Jr. is urging the membership to adopt a resolution that requires Republicans to always refer to Democrats as members of the “Democrat Socialist Party.”
While RNC Chairman Michael Steele does not strongly support a RNC resolution to officially rename the opposing party, he supports the idea of "branding" Democrats as socialists for supporting the concept that a healthy free market system needs business to follow some basic rules of fair and honest play. “The Democrats are indeed marching America toward European-style socialism, and I will continue to criticize their dangerous policies in that regard,” Steele wrote in a memo to RNC members.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Some news from suburbia this week... Word on the street is that President Obama's new grassroots issues campaign -- Organizing for America -- is kicking the tires on putting an office in conservative Collin County.While running to become the President of the United States, Barack Obama's campaign recruited millions of campaign supporters and contributors through online social networks. Over two million joined myBarackObama.com, a website fusing social networking with volunteer political organizing, while more than 5 million supported Obama's profile across other social websites like MySpace and Facebook. More than a million people asked for campaign text messages on their cell phones and yet more kept up with campaign information on Twitter. Most importantly, over 13 million voters signed up for regular e-mail fundraising pitches and other communications.
The chatter coincides with activity elsewhere. Earlier this month, the group [announced Luke Hayes as the Texas State Director for Organizing for America.] Now, Hayes is embarking on a Texas-wide "listening tour" to chat with and recruit volunteers.
When asked about the possibility of a Collin office, Natalie Wyeth, a Democratic spokeswoman in Washington, said in an email that nothing has been decided.
"We've asked local supporters and volunteers for suggestions on where it would be useful and convenient to have an OFA office in their area. Right now, Luke is working out of the Democratic Party headquarters in Austin. Anything else folks are saying about office space is speculative," she wrote.
Establishing an official campaign office in Collin County, of course, would be a bold move for Obama. Republicans have dominated the affluent suburban area for decades.
Still, experts say that the last few elections have revealed subtle Democratic shifts. Stay tuned.
The key idea behind "Organizing for America" — is that the 20th century model of communicating with and motivating supporters has given way to a 21st century Internet media model of communication channels built around YouTube, Social Networking, Twittering, etc. — as was evident during his campaign and as is already evident in the White House’s media strategy. (see White House YouTube video channel bar in the right sidebar of this blog)
Organizing for America is now operating under the umbrella of the Democratic National Committee. The organization is looking at ways to leverage thousands of trained field organizers and tens of thousands of neighborhood coordinators to provide valuable grassroots support for Democratic candidates committed, or thinking about, running for office in the 2010 mid-term and 2012 election cycles. And not just national and state office candidates, but also local county and city office candidates - even in Republican strongholds like Collin County.
- Can Texas Go Blue Like Colorado?
- Republican Brand Growing Weak In Texas
- The Incredible Shrinking Republican Base
- Politics Is No Longer Local - It's Viral
- Texas voters increasingly unhappy with GOP - DMN
- Poll's shocking SOS for Texas GOP - DMN
Monday, April 20, 2009
Yet this is hardly a typical year to run for Plano City Council. Tax collections are down. Property values are flat or even falling. And service cuts and tax increases could be in the city's future.Plano City Website Election Info Page: Click here
That is the dour backdrop as one of North Texas' largest, most affluent suburbs prepares to choose a new mayor, a new City Council and the fate of a nearly $130 million bond package. The election is May 9.
Cuts of all kinds – from park upgrades to middle school police patrols – are already on the table. Even with those reductions, the City Council may choose to increase the property tax rate, raise city fees or both as they seek to craft a new budget by Oct 1.
Municipal elections typically draw low voter turnout. But with the next mayor and council set to decide the course of a mega suburb that is both cash-strapped and aging, voters have much at stake.
For the City of Plano the mayor's office and two of the City Council's seven seats are contested. The mayor and council members serve three-year terms.
Plano Mayor (Place 6)
- Phil Dyer Age: 57
Occupation: bank executive
Community highlights: former City Council member; former planning and zoning commission member; former parks and recreation board member; former board chairman of Plano Chamber of Commerce
- David W. Fincannon Age: 48
Occupation: CEO of pest control firm
Community highlights: community volunteer; involved with Preston Meadow Homeowners Association
- Ben Harris Age: 30-something
Occupation: pharmaceutical sales
Community highlights: former parks and recreation board member; board of directors, Plano Youth Leadership
- Susan Plonka Age: 51
Occupation: owner of Web business
Community highlights: former chairman of parks and recreation board; former chairman of Plano Metro Rotary Club
- Lee Dunlap (I) Age: 58
Community highlights: City Council member; former chairman of planning and zoning commission; former chairman of transportation advisory committee
- Imran Khan Age: 27
Community highlights: community volunteer
- Greg Myer Age: 37
Occupation: information technology manager
Community highlights: former chairman of library advisory board; Republican Precinct Chair; Self describes as a Conservative Republican
The Plano City Ballot includes several bond propositions totaling nearly nearly $130 million:
- Proposition no. 1 - The issuance of $11,368,000 general obligation bonds for public safety improvements
- Proposition no. 2 - The issuance of $8,000,000 general obligation bonds for renovations to municipal facilities for technology services purposes
- Proposition no. 3 - The issuance of $34,754,500 general obligation bonds for street improvements
- Proposition no. 4 - The issuance of $1,750,000 general obligation bonds for library facilities
- Proposition no. 5 - The issuance of $48,650,000 general obligation bonds for parks and recreation improvements
- Proposition no. 6 - The issuance of $24,100,000 general Obligation bonds for recreation centers
- Proposition no. 7 - The revocation of $3,500,000 general obligation bonds for an overpass project to provide grade separation at preston road and legacy drive
Plano ISD Board of Trustees Place 6
- Marilyn Hinton
- Nathan Barbera
- Steve Navarre
- Rama Lavu
Plano ISD Board of Trustees Place 7
- Missy Bender (incumbent)
- Robert Canright
Collin County Elections Office. Early Voting will run from 8:00 AM Monday, April 27, 2009 through 7:00 PM Tuesday, May 5, 2009.
Early voting for Allen, Anna, Celina, Lovejoy ISD, Lowry Crossing, Melissa, Princeton, Prosper, Wylie is available at the Collin County Main Elections Office in McKinney and at a designated municipal or ISD building in your city. Click on the city name to find more early voting information for that city.
What are we voting on?As a general rule, if you are registered to vote in Collin County and live in Plano, Frisco or McKinney, you can vote the ballot for your particular city, council place and school district location at any of the Early Voting Locations located within those cities.
- City Council and Mayor Seats - depending on the city
- City ballot initiatives and bond issues (some cities)
- School Board Trustees (Most ISDs)
|Collin County Elections Office |
(Main Early Voting Location)
|2010 Redbud Blvd., Suite 102||McKinney|
|Carpenter Park Recreation Center||6701 Coit Rd.||Plano|
|Christopher A. Parr Library||6200 Windhaven Pkwy.||Plano|
|CCCCD – Central Park Campus||2200 W. University Dr.||McKinney|
|CCCCD – Spring Creek Campus||2800 Spring Creek Pkwy.||Plano|
|CCCCD – Preston Ridge Campus||9700 Wade Blvd.||Frisco|
|Frisco Fire Station #4||4485 Cotton Gin Road||Frisco|
|Haggard Library||2501 Coit Road||Plano|
|Harrington Library||1501 18th Street||Plano|
|McKinney Fire Station #5||6600 W. Virginia Pkwy.||McKinney|
|McKinney Performing Arts Center||111 N. Tennessee||McKinney|
|Murphy Municipal Complex||206 N. Murphy Road||Murphy|
|Plano ISD Administration Center||2700 West 15th Street||Plano|
|Renner-Frankford Library||6400 Frankford Road||Dallas|
The dates and hours designated for early voting are as follows:
|Monday, April 27, 2009, through Wednesday, April 29, 2009||8 a.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Thursday, April 30, 2009||8 a.m. to 7 p.m.|
|Friday, May 1, 2009, and Saturday, May 2, 2009||8 a.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Monday, May 4, 2009 and Tuesday, May 5, 2009||7 a.m. to 7 p.m.|
Absentee Voting and Ballots By Mail
Texas Sec. Of State May 9, 2009 Election Law Calendar
All currently registered voters in Collin County are eligible to request a ballot by mail if any of the following conditions prevents them from voting in person during the early voting period or on election day:
- Expected absence from the County during both the early voting period and election day.
- The ballot must be mailed to an address outside the county.
- 65 years of age or older
- Confinement in jail and not finally convicted of a felony
Applications for ballots by mail must be received and processed by the Collin County Elections Administration, 2010 Redbud Boulevard, Suite 102, McKinney, Texas 75069. Applications must be received no later than May 1, 2009. Contact the Collin County Elections Administration at 972-547-1900 to request an application for a ballot by mail. More information on Ballots By Mail
Friday, April 17, 2009
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Republicans, now largely reduced to a regional party south of the Mason Dixon Line, have found their issue to regain national power -- abandon their pledge of allegiance and build up a head of steam to secede from the republic altogether. Texas Gov. Perry hinted that Obama's programs to save the nation from economic disaster may be such a blow to the constitution that the people of Texas may raise up to secede from the Union.
If the situation were reversed, if a Democrat suggested secession when Pres. Bush was still in office and Republicans controlled congress, that Democrat could well have been "renditioned" to Git'mo as an anti-American terrorist, or at the very least pilloried by Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative media. To Perry's suggestion of secession Rush says,
"In light of all that's happening, Obama's speech on the economy justifying the basic destruction of the US... [Perry's] Support of States' Rights... is great stuff..."Some other prominent Texans sum up my thoughts better than I can manage:
Texas state senator Rodney Ellis:
“It was only 12 years ago that Texas had a deadly stand-off with those [Republic of Texas movement] urging secession. Governor Bush stood up to those fringe elements. I urge Governor Perry to ramp down the rhetoric and state unequivocally — as Governor Bush did in the 1990s — that secession is not only not an option, it isn’t going to be part of the political discussion.
“In the last week, we’ve seen an extremely troubling escalation of rhetoric. Talking about state’s rights, the oppressive hand of the federal government and secession brings up some pretty bad memories in this state. It was not all that long ago that those were the exact words used by those who opposed desegregation and the civil rights movement. The top elected official in the second largest state with our history simply cannot be so loose with his comments. He’s not a radio or cable TV talk show host."
Every Texas elected official takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I take oaths seriously, and that one most of all. And every day during the legislative session we pledge "allegiance" to the flag of the United States.
We even require every public school child to recite the pledge -- every day. That is "one nation, under God, indivisible."
Yesterday, our Governor had the opportunity to disavow anti-American rhetoric of secession. He chose not to, and instead he chose affirm those who believe and actually contemplate that our nation is divisible.
What do I say to my youngest daughter when she asks "why do I recite the pledge every day at school, if our Governor doesn't believe it?"
Hopefully Gov. Perry simply made a mistake; a mistake I call on him to correct by unequivocally declaring that our nation is one and indivisible, and that talk of secession from the union is thoughtless and reckless.
Perhaps he did not understand that words are important and that talk of secession carries heavy meaning.
Some hear this talk and associate it with racial division - an issue that caused over 600,000 Americans to lose their lives in a Civil War.
Others are incited by this kind of reckless rhetoric. I believe that the role of Texas Governor is to lead us to a better place, not stoke the fires of divisions.
Talk of secession is an attack on our country. It is the ultimate anti-American statement. Serious discussion that we would even contemplate dividing our country, the greatest country in the world, shows lack of judgment -- and any words from the Texas Governor will be taken seriously. Finally, such statements -- particularly in a time when we are at war overseas, with over 4,000 American lives lost, and thousands in combat as we speak -- are both offensive, irresponsible and not the words of a patriot.
I am surprised that Governor Perry would reinforce a sentiment that is so clearly anti-American. He should choose his words more carefully unless they are intentional, and if his words were intentional, they should be condemned.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall -- one of three tea parties he attended on Wednesday that,
"I believe the federal government has become oppressive. It’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion in the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.Perry told the crowd he didn’t believe they were all “right-wing extremists,” as others had sought to portray them. “But if you are, I’m with you!” he shouted.
Texans need to ask themselves a question. Do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecedented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents.
Where’re you gonna’ stand? With an ever-growing Washington bureaucracy, or are you going to stand with the people of this state who understand the importance of state’s rights.
Texans need to stand up. They need to be heard, because the state of affairs that we find ourselves in cannot continue indefinitely..."
Later, in response to reporters' questions, Perry said,
Perry added that when Texas entered the union in 1845 it was with the understanding it could pull out. Perry got that wrong, however; Texas negotiated the power to divide into four additional states at some point, but Texas did not reserve the right to secede.
"At some point Texans might get so fed up they would want to secede from the union. There's a lot of different scenarios. ...if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that..."
In this video of a press event several days ago, Governor Rick Perry declares Texas' sovereignty from the U.S., saying that,
"...We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.
That’s what this press conference, that’s what these Texans are standing up for. There is a point in time where you stand up and say enough is enough, and I think Americans, and Texans especially have reached that point."
Perry is appealing to the Republic of Texas movement members. The Republic of Texas is a group of secessionists that claims annexation of Texas by the United States was illegal and Texas remains an independent nation under occupation. The issue of the Legal status of Texas led the group to set up a provisional shadow government for the sovereign nation of Texas on December 13, 1995. The movement had been discredited after two of its members, Jack Abbot Grebe Jr. and Johnie Wise, were convicted in 1998 of threatening to assassinate several government officials, including President Bill Clinton, and the group, while still active, had remained largely out of public view. Activists within the secessionist movement claim over 40,000 active supporters; however, there has been no public support for an independent Texas -- at least until Governor Perry breathed new live into the movement with his recent public statements of support of a sovereign Texas.
Gov. Perry publicly supports Texas State Rep. Brandon Creighton's Concurrent House Resolution (HCR50) of Texas "states’ rights" submitted in the 2009 81st session of the Texas legislature.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
One doesn't normally think of a tea bag as a threat to national security. But the small packets, when mailed to a member of Congress as a form of tax protest, can trigger alarms, given the post-9/11 anthrax scare. But as innocent as tea bags seem, they can cause false security responses when mail processing center sensors detect an unknown substance. After the anthrax scare of 2001, when letters with the deadly spores were mailed to Congress, authorities don't take anything, even tea bag letters, for granted.
Such letters sent to Congress must undergo costly special handling at tax payers' expense as they are diverted to special facilities to be irradiated, opened and inspected before they are delivered.
People sending tea bags in the U.S. Mail are not only jeopardizing the security of Americans by diverting Homeland Security resources, they are wasting millions of tax payer dollars -- the very thing they are protesting -- in unnecessary security operations!
Then again, maybe the Department of Homeland Security has good reason to be on alert. If you think the conservative "Tea Party" movement is just a passing fad, then take a look at a new report issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that says right-wing extremism is on the rise throughout the country. DHS reports no specific information about pending violence saying threats had so far been "largely rhetorical." Even so, DHS warns that the current political climate could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists."
Next Sunday will be the fourteenth anniversary of the worst act of domestic terrorism in US history.
On April 19, 1995 right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 800.
McVeigh, a former soldier, was connected with the ultra-conservative right through ulta-conservative books, pamphlets and early right-wing radio that prominently featured Rush Limbaugh.
If the ultra-conservative right had been using the Internet in the early 1990's as they are today, no doubt McVeigh would have been soaking his terrorist rage against the U.S. government from the online anti-government content too.
From the New York Times:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Operation Vampire Killer 2000 author Jack McLamb
Mr. McVeigh was an avid reader, his barrack mates recalled; he devoured Soldier of Fortune and Guns & Ammo magazines, the genre of paperback novels about survivors of apocalyptic war and lone commandos that are part of the post-Vietnam culture described by [sociologist James William] Gibson and, above all, "The Turner Diaries," a venomous novel by William L. Pierce, a former physics professor and official of the American Nazi Party. " 'The Turner Diaries' was Mr. McVeigh's bible," said a person closely involved in the case.
Mr. McVeigh's reading, which he pressed on his sister, Jennifer, among others, also included Spotlight, the newsletter of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby, Patriot Report, a far-right Christian identity newsletter that would later declare the Oklahoma bombing a plot by "the real hate groups," namely the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to crack down on armed paramilitary groups, and a strange document titled "Operation Vampire Killer 2000."
Written by Jack McLamb, a former Phoenix police sergeant, it seeks to enlist police and military personnel against "the ongoing, elitist covert operation which has been installed in the American system with great stealth and cunning." It continues, "They, the globalists, have stated that the date of termination of the American way of life is the year 2000."
Click hear to read more about how right-wing rhetoric, when transmitted long enough and loud enough, results in the terrorist bombing of federal buildings.
. . .embraced a panoply of conspiracy theories. He told a 1996 rally that government officials were smuggling drugs into the country in a bid to incite racial hatred.
In 1999, he asserted that Vice President Gore intended to reduce world population by 90% through some kind of end-of-the-millennium Y2K plot. He suggested that Communist-led Latinos planned to take over the Southwest.
Along with his friend, Green Beret-turned-Patriot James "Bo" Gritz, he sold plots of land in Idaho as the perfect place to survive the coming troubles.
But when the much ballyhooed "Y2K" collapse failed to materialize, McLamb began to peddle his ideas on the tax protest circuit, instructing students last fall that "Taxes are Voluntary!"
Read the whole Department of Homeland Security right-wing extremism threat report here:
If you are planning to attend one of the several tea party events schedule across Collin County on Wednesday, stop and think about the if the anti-government message being promoted by conservative tea party organizers is good for America...
Last week hundreds gathered in Austin to make comment on the voter photo ID bill (SB 362) before the House Elections Committee. The Texas Senate already passed Senate Bill 362 on Mar 17, 2009 in a party line vote. Sometime in the next 27 days the House Elections Committee Chaired by Euless Republican Todd Smith, who supports the bill, will vote to pass the bill out of committee to the house body for floor debate in a probable party line vote of 5 Republicans for and 4 Democrats against the bill.
SB362 would pose untold hardships on senior citizens, minorities, rural residents, high school students who turn 18 during the school year. During public comment on the bill before the House Elections Committee Republican Senators Dan Patrick, Tommy Williams and Steve Ogden verbally attacked Daniel Kohrman, Senior Attorney for AARP, during his testimony against the bill. They called him a liar and a political hack. They challenged him to name one Texas AARP member whom he represented. (Of course, Mr. Kohrman didn't have an AARP Texas membership list with him.) They claimed that ALL their elderly constituents favor SB362. They accused Mr. Kohrman of lying about a brief that the AARP prepared on the voter ID issue.
Harris County Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez is under fire this week amid accusations that staffers from his office misled the House Committee on Elections during testimony on a controversial voter identification bill last week. The Texas Capitol Annex has more:
Monday, April 13, 2009
ThinkProgress notes some key take-aways from the report:
Anti-immigration: “Rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.”The report is getting a lot of push back from angry conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin:
Recruiting returning vets: “Rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”
Gun-related violence: “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms...may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.”
By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives. And the intent is clear. As the two spokespeople I talked with on the phone today made clear: They both pinpointed the recent "economic downturn" and the "general state of the economy" for stoking "rightwing extremism." One of the spokespeople said he was told that the report has been in the works for a year. My b.s. detector went off the chart, and yours will, too, if you read through the entire report -- which asserts with no evidence that an unquantified "resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalizations activity" is due to home foreclosures, job losses, and...the historical presidential election.Moe Lane from RedState.com asks "Are you a Rightwing Extremist, too?":
Why? Well, it's a document that discusses the potential threats that we can expect from "rightwing extremists" (no hyphen, for some reason) in the coming months; there's the usual stuff about guns, illegal immigration, and disgruntled war veterans, plus the new wrinkle of our having elected an African-American President. The report concludes, unsurprisingly, that we have to worry more about "lone wolves and small terrorist cells" than anything else.Read the whole Department of Homeland Security right-wing extremism threat report here:
In fact, conservatives are back to being as crazy and paranoid as they were when Clinton was President. But that paranoid craziness worked; They took over the Presidency, the House and the Senate. Then they started wars. They tortured people. They tapped every phone in America. They appointed corporate lobbyists to run every agency. They filled the courts with Federalist Society judges that rule for the corporations and religious right every time. They stole billions -- in one documented case actually having the Fed ship truckloads of pallets of hundred dollar bills directly to Iraq to be distributed to Bush cronies. They destroyed the economy of the world. And they got away with it -- who is being held accountable for any of that?
So I want to say, please take the right seriously. They may appear to be crazy - and they are - but this doesn't mean it isn't going to work.
Read the rest of the story in the HuffingtonPost
"It’s a day to get together with fellow patriots all across the state of Texas... Let them know what you think about the bailouts, all this stimulus, all this runaway spending going on in Washington, D.C.," Perry said in a YouTube video about the rallies posted last week.
Many conservative followers plan to "spontaneously" attend tea bagging party all on their own this week - after Republican billionaires funded and heavily staffed conservative groups organized all the logistical and public relations necessary to set up the protests and conservative media like Fox News so heavily promoted the event.
I too am alarmed by the large national debt the U.S. now owes to China, Saudi Arabia and other foreign interests. I have been protesting this fact for the last several years while Pres. Bush and the Republican controlled congress piled up that debt and facilitated a near catastrophic economic collapse.
Our Republican representatives in Washington were for deficit spending, when Republicans controlled congress and the White House, before they were against deficit spending, now that a Democrats control congress and the White House.
In 2006, when the Republicans still controlled Congress, they actively rejected any attempts Democrats made to control deficit spending. The New York Times reported on March 14, 2006,
"Senate Republicans on Tuesday narrowly defeated an effort to impose budget rules that would make it harder to increase spending or cut taxes, a move that critics said that showed Republicans were posturing in their calls for greater fiscal restraint. ... Republicans said the push to add the rules to the budget was a back-door effort to make it harder to extend President Bush's tax cuts. 'The practical effect of this is to raise taxes,' said Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire and chairman of the Budget Committee."And, as tax cuts along side hundreds of billions of dollars of war spending in Iraq pushed the nation ever deeper into long term deficits, our Republican representatives never spoke a word of concern about deficit spending.When Pres. George Bush "tax cut" the nation from an annual budget surplus of $300 billion, as Pres. Clinton left office, to an annual budget deficit of $1 trillion, as Pres. Bush left office, our Republican representatives in Washington fully supported and voted for Pres. Bush's deficit spending policies and legislation without complaint. Now our Republican representatives in Washington and tea bagging conservatives fuss about deficit spending?
This smacks more of political expediency and posturing for the 2010 election than principled government philosophy that we can believe in. This is why fewer and fewer Americans are willing to take seriously staged conservative political stunts and why there is increasing disdain for Republican leaders against a backdrop of Republican bickering and poll results showing approval for President Obama's policies.
71% of Americans have confidence in Obama to do the right thing on the economy. Most have little or no confidence in the GOP Congress - Gallup:
Over two-thirds of Americans -- 71% -- have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in President Obama to do or recommend the right thing for the economy, a much higher level of confidence than is given Republican leaders in Congress.
Barely one-third of the American people have confidence in Congressional Republicans. Of all those tested, only the Republicans had a higher negative rating. When it comes to having confidence in the GOP on the economy, 58% of Americans have "almost a little or none." The Congressional Republicans have earned that lack of confidence. The GOP strategy of saying "NO" and staging the tea bagging event has resulted in NO confidence.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Summary: Numerous conservative media figures have called for a "revolution" or have invoked violent rhetoric while discussing the Obama administration or government in general. In addition to encouraging violence, such violent rhetoric has also included suggesting Obama's policies were doing violence to the American people and depicting Obama as a rapist, spousal abuser, or mobster.
Read the full story at Media Matters
Friday, April 10, 2009
Think Progress already reported on Republican lawmakers planning to speak at anti-Obama “tea party” protests taking place nationwide on April 15. Last night, Eric Odom of the DontGo website — one of the organizers of the protests — wrote a blog post stressing that these protests are displays of “regular American[s] in protest of government spending and extreme taxation,” rather than something affiliated with a political party or special interest agenda.Originally posted 3/23/09
Today on Fox News — which has actively been promoting the protests — Glenn Beck pushed the tea party talking points, similarly claiming that the protests aren’t “coordinated” and are fully organized by “regular” people. Watch it:
Despite these attempts to make the “movement” appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works.
The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests:
– Freedom Works staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”
– Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.
This type of corporate ‘astroturfing‘ is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a “single mom” to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader who now leads Freedom Works and is a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper.
Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Indeed Americans for Prosperity has coordinated pro-drilling ‘grassroots‘ events around the country.
Republicans are pushing the idea that there is a "spontaneous" populist uprising against President Obama and his efforts to pull the American economy back from the brink of collapse. As they tell the story, the public is so outraged by Obama's economic Recovery and Reinvestment programs that Americans everywhere are forming a "spontaneous" movement to overthrow the tyrannical king of the federal government by re-enacting the Boston Tea Party.
Everything about this so called spontaneous "Tea Party" movement looks more like a preplanned "marketing program" designed to covertly re-launch the old conservative anti-government "product" in a seemingly new spontaneous populist revolt.
Is it coincidence that CNBC's correspondent Rick Santelli rocketed from being a little-known second-string correspondent to a populist hero of the downtrodden American masses suffering under the onslaught of a 21st century socialist big government?
Within minutes after Santelli’s CNBC on-air “rant” calling for a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest President Obama’s economic plans conservative blogs and websites were online live to echo Santelli’s “rant” and call for protest "Tea Party" rallies in cities from coast to coast. Why were so many slick websites and blogs able to get online and live within minutes or hours after Santelli’s rant, calling for a nationwide populist revolt? (one example: the New American Tea Party website)
What hasn’t been widely reported is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names from the right wing machine from PR operatives, who specialize in imitation grassroots “AstroTurf'ing” PR campaigns, to billionaire money men known to fund conservative causes and PR blitzes. In marketing terms, Santelli’s February 19th CNBC network "rant" calling for a “Chicago Tea Party” serves as a prefect "launch event" for what appears to be a carefully organized and sophisticated public relations marketing campaign.
Conservative money men are pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines to stop Obama's classically Keynesian approach to stimulate the economy through government spending on public infrastructure, to reduce the massive budget deficits left by the Bush Administration by raising taxes on the ultra wealthy and to restore regulatory safeguards on those who irresponsibly exploit the financial systems of the U.S. and world.
---Click here for REST OF STORY!...---
Thursday, April 9, 2009
On Tuesday, State Rep. Betty Brown (R - House District 4, Athens, TX) let slip a glimpse of Republicans' underlying feelings about 'certain' Texas voters during Tx House debate on voter identification legislation when she said that Asian-Americans should change their names because they’re too hard to pronounce:Look in your purse or wallet - other than your Driver's License, what current (unexpired) government-issued photo ID do you find? Do you find a U.S. passport? Maybe; a few people have passports. Some seniors may find a Veterans Identification or Armed Forces Identification Photo ID Card, but they do not have 'issued' and 'expires' dates. In Indiana many older veterans, who had stopped driving and let their Driver's License expire, tried to use their Veterans and Armed Forces Id Cards to vote in 2008. Even those veterans who have served our county were turned away because every government photo ID card they possessed were either expired or not dated.“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.Yesterday, Brown continued to resist calls to apologize as Brown's spokesman said that Democrats “want this to just be about race.”
Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”
So, if you have an expired Driver's License, or if you are poor and don't own a car, and therefore never bothered to get a Driver's License, you likely do not have a current government-issued photo ID.A Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law study (and many other studies) finds that as many as 11 percent of citizens, mostly the elderly, poor and minority American citizens, do not have a current, government-issued photo ID. Another academic study of the 2004 presidential election conducted for the bipartisan Federal Election Assistance Commission found that states with Voter ID laws had an overall turnout reduction of 3%, a figure that reached 5.7% among African Americans and 10% among Hispanics. Former Texas Republican Party Political Director Royal Masset estimated that a photo ID requirement would reduce Democratic turnout in Texans by 3%. That is a lot Texans who would be denied the right to vote in Texas!
And, if you can't drive a car to the state driver's license bureau, where you must submit your original (or notarized copy) birth certificate, you can't get a government-issued photo ID and you will not be allowed to vote in any election under the new Texas Photo Voter Id law.
During the Texas House Elections Committee debate in the voter photo ID law on Monday and Tuesday Republican proponents of the law admitted there is no evidence of voter impersonation "fraud" in Texas. "We can't prove there is voter ID fraud. . . We may have a big voter impersonation problem we don't know about. I think we do," said Skipper Wallace, the Republican Party chairman of Lampasas County. [So, the bottom line Republican argument is they just have faith that Democrats are perpetrating voter ID fraud in Texas?]
Republicans are making photo Voter ID the highest priority even as they admit there is no evidence of voter id fraud in Texas and after Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott's $1.4 million two year investigation attempting to locate voter fraud failed to identify anything more than 26 cases where people forgot to sign and address the absentee ballot envelope.
"This is a racial issue, make no mistake about it," said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who is not on the committee but sat with it and was allowed to comment during the house committee hearing. "This is about skimming enough minority votes so some people can't get elected."
The success of Texas Democratic voter registration drives among minority, elderly and low income groups in 2008 threatens to tip the balance of power away from Republican candidates in future elections. As the tide of Democratic voters continues to grow across Texas, voter ID legislation would be an effective way for Republicans to hold back the tide.
Consequently, the use of baseless "voter id fraud" allegations to promote voter photo ID legislation has become such an urgent 2010 and 2012 election priority for Republicans in the 2009 Texas legislative session that Republicans in the Texas Senate were compelled to change long standing Senate rules to just to bring the photo ID legislation to a vote.