Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is The GOP Shrinking In Collin Co. Like It Is Nationally?

In more than 7,000 interviews conducted by the Pew Research Center in the four months of 2009, just 23 percent of voters self-identify as members of the Republican Party. (Pew Report) That's down from 30 percent in 2004 and down from 25 percent as recently as January in previous Pew polls.

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 Asks Feds For Help With Swine Flu.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who has made headlines for months by saying the federal government is the problem, never the solution and suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu outbreak in Texas:
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.


Long Time Alternate Election Judge At Carpenter Park Early Voting Location Has Passed

It was with profound sadness that I learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Jordan Lofye on Sunday April 26, 2009 in Plano Tx. Jordan, age 76, who retired several years ago from Texas Instruments, was a long time Alternate Election Judge at the Carpenter Park Recreation Center Early Voting location.

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.

Race To Fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R) U.S. Senate Seat

There are now six people gearing up for a run to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat. Plus, there are at least five or six more that have been rumored to be considering throwing their hat in the ring for that race too.

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.

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.
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.

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)
Bill white senate John sharp senate 2 Michael williams senate
Florence shapiro
Roger williams senate Elizabeth ames jones senate

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)
Kay granger senate
David dewhurst senate Joe barton senate
Jeb hensarling
Greg abbott senate

Pictures from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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.

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.

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:

Favorable / Unfavorable

RACE VERY
FAV
FAV UNFAV VERY
UNFAV
NO
OPINION
PERRY (R) GOV 17 34 24 19 6
HUTCHINSON (R) GOV 27 37 16 13 7
SCHIEFFER (D) GOV 9 17 6 5 63
ABBOTT (R) SEN 21 24 13 13 29
DEWHURST (R) SEN 15 24 17 14 30
WILLIAMS (R) SEN 13 20 13 12 42
SHAPIRO (R) SEN 11 17 14 10 48
SHARP (D) SEN 17 19 14 10 40
WHITE (D) SEN 16 17 12 11 44
OBAMA (D) -- 20 25 26 27 2
Full poll results available here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Republicans Seek To Rename The Democratic Party

Republicans ushered in totally unregulated free-market enterprise in every business and public interest quarter while they controlled all branches of government. Unregulated free markets simply means there is no rulebook and no referees to enforce rules of fair and honest play. That permitted corporations to grab monopolistic control over markets and drive reckless speculative excesses, thus overriding the power of free market competition.

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

Organizing for America Office Coming To Collin Co.??

The Dallas Morning News TrailBlazersBlog:
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.

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.
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.

On January 15th Barack Obama announced the formation of a new group known as "Organizing for America" to continue the grassroots advocacy organization that supported his run for the presidency.

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.

Related Postings:

Monday, April 20, 2009

May 9, 2009 Plano City and ISD Election

The Dallas Morning News: Plano city and ISD elections will be held on May 9th with backdrop of economic downturn.
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.

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.
Plano City Website Election Info Page: Click here

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)
  1. 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
  2. David W. Fincannon Age: 48
    Occupation: CEO of pest control firm
    Community highlights: community volunteer; involved with Preston Meadow Homeowners Association
Plano City Council Place 2 - two former members of Plano's parks and recreation board compete in this race: Ben Harris, a pharmaceutical sales agent, and Susan Plonka, a former publisher and founder of her own Web business.
  1. Ben Harris Age: 30-something
    Occupation: pharmaceutical sales
    Community highlights: former parks and recreation board member; board of directors, Plano Youth Leadership
  2. 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
Plano City Council Place 8 - incumbent Lee Dunlap, an architect who is finishing his first council term, has drawn two challengers: Greg Myer and Imran Khan.
  1. Lee Dunlap (I) Age: 58
    Occupation: architect
    Community highlights: City Council member; former chairman of planning and zoning commission; former chairman of transportation advisory committee
  2. Imran Khan Age: 27
    Occupation: teacher
    Community highlights: community volunteer
  3. 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
Plano City Council Place 4 - Lissa Smith, who serves as district director for state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, is running unopposed in Place 4.

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
For the Plano Independent School District two places for the seven member Board of Trustees will appear on the ballot:

Plano ISD Board of Trustees Place 6
  1. Marilyn Hinton
  2. Nathan Barbera
  3. Steve Navarre
  4. Rama Lavu

Plano ISD Board of Trustees Place 7

  1. Missy Bender (incumbent)
  2. Robert Canright
The Dallas Morning News:

May 9, 2009 Municipal Election Early Voting Locations & Times

May 9, 2009 General Election Early Voting for
will be conducted at several early voting locations in those cities (see table below) on behalf of those municipalities by the 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?
  • City Council and Mayor Seats - depending on the city
  • City ballot initiatives and bond issues (some cities)
  • School Board Trustees (Most ISDs)
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.

MAY 9, 2009 Election Early Voting Locations for Frisco, McKinney and Plano:

POLLING PLACE ADDRESS CITY
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:

Dates Hours
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

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.
  • Disability
  • 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

To find May 9, 2009 election ballot and voting locations for other cities in Collin County, not list here, please contact your local city hall.

Texas Sec. Of State May 9, 2009 Election Law Calendar

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
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.

Texas Republican conservative icon Tom DeLay, who also thinks secession is a valid option, said on Hardball Thursday he thinks Governor Perry is "standing up for the sovereignty of Texas."

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."

Texas State House Democratic leader Jim Dunnam, had some words for the governor as well:

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."

"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

Gov. Rick Perry Declares Texas Sovereignty; Suggests Secession!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry so incited an anti-tax (and largely anti-Obama) "tea party" Wednesday with his anti-Washington and states' rights rhetoric that the audience began to shout, "Secede!"

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.

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..."
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.

Later, in response to reporters' questions, Perry said,

"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..."
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.

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

Tea Bag Letters Triggering National Security Alerts

Envelopes with soft powder-like lumpy contents and no return address sent through the U.S. Mail are increasingly triggering security alerts across the U.S. Postal system, in the mail rooms of Washington DC congressional office buildings and in the state and district offices of U.S. Senate and House members. These security alerts result in the evacuation of congressional office buildings in anthrax-like scares as Department of Homeland Security resources are diverted to investigate these national security alert calls .

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:

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."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Operation Vampire Killer 2000 author Jack McLamb

. . .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!"

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.

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...

Texas Voter Photo ID, The Next Step

Texas lawmakers are back to work from Easter break with 27 days left in the 2009 legislative session to move bills out of committees. Monday, May 11, 2009 is the last day for Texas House committees to report house bills and house joint resolutions.

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

Department of Homeland Security Right-Wing Extremism Threat Report

A new report issued by the Department of Homeland Security that says right-wing extremism is on the rise throughout the country.

ThinkProgress notes some 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.”

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.”
The report is getting a lot of push back from angry conservatives, like Michelle Malkin:
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" in the coming years; 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 text of this Department of Homeland Security rightwing extremism threat report here:

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

(U//FOUO) Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment

7 April 2009

(U) Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division. Coordinated with the FBI. (U)

Scope (U//FOUO)

This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.

(U) LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION NOTICE: This product contains Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information. No portion of the LES information should be released to the media, the general public, or over non-secure Internet servers. Release of this information could adversely affect or jeopardize investigative activities.

(U) Warning: This document is UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). It contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). It is to be controlled, stored, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS policy relating to FOUO information and is not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know without prior approval of an authorized DHS official. State and local homeland security officials may share this document with authorized security personnel without further approval from DHS.

(U) All U.S. person information has been minimized. Should you require the minimized U.S. person information, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch at IA.PM@hq.dhs.gov, IA.PM@dhs.sgov.gov, or IA.PM@dhs.ic.gov

(U) Key Findings

(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.

— (U//LES) Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.

— (U//LES) Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

(U//FOUO) The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.

— (U//FOUO) During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.

— (U//FOUO) Growth of these groups subsided in reaction to increased government scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and disrupted plots, improvements in the economy, and the continued U.S. standing as the preeminent world power.

(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

* (U) Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

— (U//FOUO) Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement.

— (U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.

(U) Current Economic and Political Climate

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors are driving a resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity. Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years. In addition, the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.

— (U) A recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwing extremism may be found in the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009. The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled “one world government.”

(U) Exploiting Economic Downturn

(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures. Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberate conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish “financial elites.” These “accusatory” tactics are employed to draw new recruits into rightwing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs. DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.

(U) Historical Presidential Election

(U//LES) Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

— (U//LES) Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action. In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.

(U) Revisiting the 1990s

(U//FOUO) Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.

(U) Economic Hardship and Extremism

(U//FOUO) Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.

(U//FOUO) Perceptions on Poverty and Radicalization

(U//FOUO) Scholars and experts disagree over poverty’s role in motivating violent radicalization or terrorist activity. High unemployment, however, has the potential to lead to alienation, thus increasing an individual’s susceptibility to extremist ideas. According to a 2007 study from the German Institute for Economic Research, there appears to be a strong association between a parent’s unemployment status and the formation of rightwing extremist beliefs in their children—specifically xenophobia and antidemocratic ideals.

(U) Illegal Immigration

(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages. They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing that these arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico.

(U//FOUO) Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool. Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that 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.

— (U//FOUO) DHS/I&A notes that prominent civil rights organizations have observed an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years.

— (U) In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons and explosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested had discussed and conducted surveillance for a machinegun attack on Hispanics.

— (U) A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 after communicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrants crossing into the United States.

(U) Legislative and Judicial Drivers

(U//FOUO) Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises. Such activity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.

— (U//FOUO) During the 1990s, rightwing extremist hostility toward government was fueled by the implementation of restrictive gun laws—such as the Brady Law that established a 5-day waiting period prior to purchasing a handgun and the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that limited the sale of various types of assault rifles—and federal law enforcement’s handling of the confrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

— (U//FOUO) On the current front, legislation has been proposed this year requiring mandatory registration of all firearms in the United States. Similar legislation was introduced in 2008 in several states proposing mandatory tagging and registration of ammunition. It is unclear if either bill will be passed into law; nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun control legislation and increased hoarding of ammunition, weapons stockpiling, and paramilitary training activities among rightwing extremists.

(U//FOUO) Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans—to make bulk purchases of ammunition. These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, further exacerbating rightwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity. Both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time.

(U//FOUO) Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the precise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalization tool.

(U) Perceived Threat from Rise of Other Countries

(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist paranoia of foreign regimes could escalate or be magnified in the event of an economic crisis or military confrontation, harkening back to the “New World Order” conspiracy theories of the 1990s. The dissolution of Communist countries in Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led some rightwing extremists to believe that a “New World Order” would bring about a world government that would usurp the sovereignty of the United States and its Constitution, thus infringing upon their liberty. The dynamics in 2009 are somewhat similar, as other countries, including China, India, and Russia, as well as some smaller, oil-producing states, are experiencing a rise in economic power and influence.

— (U//FOUO) Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theories characterizing the U.S. Government’s role as either complicit in a foreign invasion or acquiescing as part of a “One World Government” plan inspired extremist members of the militia movement to target government and military facilities in past years.

— (U//FOUO) Law enforcement in 1996 arrested three rightwing militia members in Battle Creek, Michigan with pipe bombs, automatic weapons, and military ordnance that they planned to use in attacks on nearby military and federal facilities and infrastructure targets.

— (U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.

(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

— (U) After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans—including Timothy McVeigh—joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.

— (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”

— (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.

(U//FOUO) Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.

— (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.

— (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone wolves carrying out acts of violence.

— (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

Outlook

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echo the 1990s, including heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions and returning military veterans, as well as several new trends, including an uncertain economy and a perceived rising influence of other countries, may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements. To the extent that these factors persist, rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength.

(U//FOUO) Unlike the earlier period, the advent of the Internet and other informationage technologies since the 1990s has given domestic extremists greater access to information related to bomb-making, weapons training, and tactics, as well as targeting of individuals, organizations, and facilities, potentially making extremist individuals and groups more dangerous and the consequences of their violence more severe. New technologies also permit domestic extremists to send and receive encrypted communications and to network with other extremists throughout the country and abroad, making it much more difficult for law enforcement to deter, prevent, or preempt a violent extremist attack.

(U//FOUO) A number of law enforcement actions and external factors were effective in limiting the militia movement during the 1990s and could be utilized in today’s climate.

— (U//FOUO) Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the militia movement declined in total membership and in the number of organized groups because many members distanced themselves from the movement as a result of the intense scrutiny militias received after the bombing.

— (U//FOUO) Militia membership continued to decline after the turn of the millennium as a result of law enforcement disruptions of multiple terrorist plots linked to violent rightwing extremists, new legislation banning paramilitary training, and militia frustration that the “revolution” never materialized.

— (U//FOUO) Although the U.S. economy experienced a significant recovery and many perceived a concomitant rise in U.S. standing in the world, white supremacist groups continued to experience slight growth.

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.

(U) Reporting Notice:

(U) DHS encourages recipients of this document to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to DHS and the FBI. The DHS National Operations Center (NOC) can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9685 or by e-mail at NOC.Fusion@dhs.gov. For information affecting the private sector and critical infrastructure, contact the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC), a sub-element of the NOC. The NICC can be reached by telephone at 202-282-9201 or by e-mail at NICC@dhs.gov. The FBI regional phone numbers can be found online at http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm. When available, each report submitted should include the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people and type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact.

(U) For comments or questions related to the content or dissemination of this document, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch at IA.PM@hq.dhs.gov, IA.PM@dhs.sgov.gov, or IA.PM@dhs.ic.gov.

(U) Tracked by: CRIM-040300-01-05, CRIM-040400-01-05, TERR-010000-01-05