Two Seemingly Unrelated News Items ...
Obama boosts anti-abortion efforts
... Obama’s first 84 days in office have been like an extended recruiting drive for the anti-abortion movement, reinvigorating a constituency he sought to neutralize during the campaign. Activists report a noticeable spike in activity as Obama moves to defend and expand a woman’s right to choose an abortion – causing anti-abortion voters to mobilize in ways never needed during the Bush administration. So far this year:(emphasis added)
— The Susan B. Anthony List says its supporters sent more anti-abortion-related letters, e-mails and faxes to Obama and lawmakers in the first quarter alone than during each of the last two years.
— The American Life League reported a 30 percent uptick in donations over last year.
— Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr., an anti-abortion Democrat who campaigned vigorously for Obama, has received more mail on abortion than on any other issue in 2009, spokesman Larry Smar said.
— Activists have sent more than 100,000 postcards urging Casey to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act, which would guarantee the right to abortion in federal law. Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in July 2007 that “the first thing I’d do as president” is sign the act. “It’s been our biggest organized mailing,” Smar said.
— More than 261,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation for Obama to speak at the Catholic university’s May 17 commencement. The petition says Obama has carried out “some of the most anti-life actions of any American president," including expanding taxpayer-funded research on embryonic stem cells.
— And Americans United for Life plans to expand its plans to expand its staff in Washington and, after the post-election crash, recently upgraded its computer system to handle the bump in online activism.
To be sure, anti-abortion voters were never going to support Obama wholeheartedly, but because he worked hard during the campaign not to play up his differences with them, any signs that they are mobilized could cause him trouble down the road.
But anti-abortion activists say their e-mail lists, grassroots organization and online traffic show something is happening.
“A lot of activists are waking up,” said Joy Yearout, political director the Susan B. Anthony List...
Federal agency warns of radicals on right
The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.(emphasis added)
A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
"It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration," the warning says.
The report says extremist groups have used President Obama as a recruiting tool...