Name Dropping Gets You Nowhere

CannonIn my final post about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Rightwing Extremism” assessment, I made reference to something that was quoted in the report, and I want to make a few clarifications.

At the bottom of page five, the assessment reads,

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.

  • 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.

In short, the government wants you to think that the threat of recent gun control legislation will push many “rightwing extremists” over the edge creating a heightened level of extremist paranoia, weapon stockpiling, and hostility toward the goverment. They go a step further in their attempt to instill fear by referencing the confrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

Many people remember the events that occurred at Waco but few people I have spoken too remember much about Ruby Ridge. Those who do remember it, usually can’t remember why they do, but they know something bad happened there.

Let’s take a look at the history of events which occurred at Ruby Ridge in August of 1992 and try to ascertain why our government would still be referencing the events there, 17 years after it happened.

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Twenty-Seven Potential Acts Of Violence

Blue GrosbeakWhen we think about the implications of Homeland Security, it’s important to remember that Americans are not the enemy.

As I wrap up my three-part series about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “assessment” on Rightwing Extremism (PDF), I want to point out several more references included in the report, and touch on some thoughts about the release of this report.

Let’s refresh our memory.

The title of the assessment is “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”. The targets of the assessment are radical and extremist groups as well as “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”, and the government believes some of our fine men and women of the military could be extremists, or even potential terrorists. All of these items are mentioned before the end of page 3. It’s a nine page report.

Page three wraps up by blaming the current economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama as the catalysts for creating more extremist thoughts in our country.

Page four makes it clear that most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical since the election and have stopped short of violent action. The assessment warns us (vaguely) that there were two incidents before the election, but law enforcement interceded. Isn’t it funny they can point to specifics like the shooting in Pittsburgh on April 4th and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but when it comes to supporting their “imposition of fear”, they can’t state any specifics?

Apparently, the government feels that the “perceived government infringement on civil liberties” leads to domestic rightwing terrorists lashing out. Of course they have to cite an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors, yet, if you remember correctly in the paragraph above this one, they also stated that there has been no violent action.

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Save The Economy, Save The World

Last week, while the federal government continued tossing life jackets to other members of the financial community, Citigroup hit an iceberg. Everyone heard the unique crunching sound that is made when a ship smashes into ice. Then again, maybe it wasn’t ice crunching as much as the cash in our wallets shrinking in value as the feds printed more money to handle the ongoing crisis.

On Tuesday afternoon shares of Citigroup closed at $8.36 on the New York Stock Exchange. By Friday afternoon those same shares were worth just $3.77. Shareholders lost more than 55% in 72 hours. Like investors at other banks and investment firms before them, the investors at Citigroup were shocked to learn that Citigroup had also sunk a lot of money into very risky investments.

Citigroup is in trouble, big trouble. As Congress debated the Great Bailout of 2008, many pundits were asking, “How big must a company be to be ‘too big to fail'”? Apparently, we know the answer to that question. ‘Too big to fail’ is now defined as bigger than Citigroup. We’re just not sure how much bigger.

As late as Sunday afternoon, the White House said they were unaware of any rescue talks, but hours later we learned a deal had been in the works for days. It appears the feds will be investing quite a bit of pocket change in Citigroup to go along with all of the other investments they have made over the course of the past few weeks. But just wait until you hear what the feds have planned to help keep Citigroup from sinking.

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The Reality Of Broken Promises

When it comes to politics, I never expect the candidates to uphold all of the promises they make while on the campaign trail. Call me a realist, but I know it’s impossible for someone who has no idea what the job will entail to make promises on how they will do that job before they actually get it.

Presidential candidates have no idea what it really means to be President of the United States until they win the election and are brought up to speed on what’s really going on in the world. There is no other job in the world that can help them prepare for their first national security briefing. They have no idea what it takes to be, or what needs to be done as, president. If they knew what it took they would never want the job in the first place.

Over the course of the past two years we heard three words. They became the focus of Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency.

Hope, change, and inspiration.

For two years Barack Obama promised to fill our lives with hope. He was going to bring new hope and vision to the Oval Office. For two years he promised to bring change to Washington, D.C., he said there would be no more business as usual. He spent two years inspiring people to believe he was the man that would change everything. He inspired enough people to be elected the 44th President of the United States.

Now, reality sets in.

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