Scary Reactions to Passage of the Health Care Bill

March 24, 2010

Some members of the U.S. Congress who voted in favor of health care reform have been offered extra security after threats on them and their children. During the last days of the health care debate some Tea Party protesters used racial slurs and even spat on African American members of Congress. Capitol Hill police and the FBI are investigating.

CBS News reported that Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich), a strong anti-abortionist who voted in favor of health care reform, has even received open threats.

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The first public comment made against Rep. Stupak was during the debate Sunday evening. Texan Rep. Randy Neugebauer shouted, "Baby killer" (or as he later claimed, "It's a baby killer") from the Floor of the House of Representatives. The bad behavior in the House may have opened the flood gates of angry, uncivil behavior including vandalism and threats.

The Kansas City Star reports:
Authorities in Wichita and some other cities across the country are investigating vandalism against Democratic offices, apparently in response to health care reform.

And on Monday, a former Alabama militia leader took credit for instigating the actions.

Mike Vanderboegh of Pinson, Ala., former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia, put out a call on Friday for modern “Sons of Liberty” to break the windows of Democratic Party offices nationwide in opposition to health care reform. Since then, vandals have struck several offices, including the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita.

“There’s glass everywhere,” said Lyndsay Stauble, executive director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party. “A brick took out the whole floor-to-ceiling window and put a gouge in my desk.”

Stauble said the brick, hurled through the window between Friday night and Saturday morning, had “some anti-Obama rhetoric” written on it.
Rep. Louis Slaughter (D-NY) released a statement suggesting that some Republican leaders made some comments that could be encouraging the hatred and violence:
“There were two events in my district during the last week that were alarming to me and I have reported them to the proper authorities. There was a brick thrown through my Niagara Falls district office and a voice mail referencing snipers that was left on the answering machine of my campaign office. The U.S. Capitol Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police departments are all aware of these incidents and are still investigating.

It’s more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames with coded rhetoric. Michael Steele, the head of the national Republican party, said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be put on “the firing line.” Sarah Palin said “don’t retreat - reload.” And House Minority Leader John Boehner said that a Democratic Member of Congress who supported health care reform would be a “dead man.”

This comes on the heels of an obscene display over the weekend, when one protestor outside the Capitol spit on one Member of Congress, another used an obscenity against one of our members and shouters in the gallery who interrupted the floor debate were applauded by Republican congressmen. These displays have coarsened the debate, inflamed tensions and contributed to an increase in incivility.”

Former Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin told Twitter followers, "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'"

On her Facebook page Palin wrote, "We're paying particular attention to those House members who voted in favor of Obamacare and represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election."...

"We'll aim for these races and many others."

She posted a map with gun crosshairs over the districts.

CBS News reported:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today that more than 10 members of Congress have received threats in the wake of the health reform vote, and the FBI and police are investigating, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer Jill Jackson reports. The chief of the Capitol Police, the Sergeant at Arms and a representative from the FBI met with members this afternoon to encourage them to report all threats.

While the Capitol Police is in charge of security for members of Congress, the FBI is the lead agency in investigating threats against members and their families.

"All threats and incidents directed against Members of Congress are taken seriously and are being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies to identify and bring to justice those responsible," FBI Public Information Officer Katherine Schweit said in a statement. "Anyone with information about those who may be responsible or are connected to these incidents should contact their local FBI office or police department."

...Stupak said last week his life had become a "living hell" because of the onslaught of threatening messages he has received. Numerous other congressmen who backed the bill also report receiving threatening messages and seeing violent actions from citizens.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) had the front door of her Tucson office shattered (left) early Monday morning. The office manager said that their office received "many phone calls with 'nasty and rude and hateful comments' from opponents of the health care bill but no death threats."

The FBI is also investigating a severed gas line at the home of Virginia Rep. Tom Periello's brother's home.

A Tea Party member, Mike Troxel, posted what he believed was Rep. Perriello's (D-VA) address on his blog. From USA Today:
Earlier this week, a conservative activist in Virginia posted what he believed to be the home address of the congressman. But it turned out to be Perriello's brother address. Politico wrote about the mix up here.

Perriello voted for the health care bill that President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

"While it is too early to say anything definitive regarding political motivations behind this act," Perriello's statement says, "it's never too early for political leaders to condemn threats of violence, particularly as threats to other members of Congress and their children escalate."
Fox News reported other members of Congress are weighing in on the escalating threats and violence:
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, blamed Republicans for the threats, calling on them to condemn the actions and speak directly to their supporters.

"They must ask their supporters to ratchet down their extreme rhetoric and cease this threatening behavior," he said in a written statement. "People have a right to assemble and speak their minds. But, inciting or enflaming violence against elected officials and their families is over the line and inappropriate."

Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., linked the threats to terrorism.

"If we don't disown that and go get out people to move beyond that, if we participate in it, either from the balcony or on the floor of the House, you are aiding and abetting this kind of terrorism really," he told MSNBC host Chris Matthews.

House Republican Leader John Boehner, in an interview with Fox News, acknowledged that people are "angry" about the health care bill but said "violence and threats are unacceptable."

"It is not the American way. Yes, I know there is anger, but let's take that anger and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and let's do it the right way," he said.

Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, warned senators to "remain vigilant" in a memo obtained by Fox News. But he had no information on actual threats to senators.
Mark Potok from the Southern Law Poverty Center spoke about the surge of threats and violence against Democratic lawmakers:
"I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism," said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
Potok compared the online posting of a public official's address to tactics used by hate groups.
"This is what neo Nazi leaders in America do today," Potok said. "They post personal information about their enemies and sit back and wait for somebody else to act."
The Tea Party activists are under attack for their behavior. Some carried racist placards at rallies on Capitol Hill. Others placards depicted President Obama in a coffin, nooses and Nazi symbols. One slogan was, "If Brown can't do it our Browning will." Brown is Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown who was elected to Senator Edward Kennedy's seat, and a "Browning" is an assault rifle.

The Huffington Post reported:
On Wednesday, a Latino Facebook group called "Cuéntame" posted a video documenting the Tea Party hate-spewing, and asked viewers to sign an online petition to the leaders of the Republican party asking them to apologize for egging on abusive protesters.

The video, produced by Brave New Foundation, shows Republican lawmakers waving signs from a balcony and applauding the crowd of Tea Party protesters as they shout racial and homophobic slurs.


Anonymous said...

This is shocking! What has happened to this country?

Anonymous said...

That is really sad. All I think, America is the land of the "civil society" and I am wondering now if that is still true.

Anonymous said...

The radical right extremists egged on by Dick Army, Ralph Reed, Sarah Palin and some Republican officials is dangerous. They have a militant radio station: They are publicizing the home addresses of Democratic members and staging protests outside their homes. Those making threats must be arrested now.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:18

Unless they make a death threat I don't think they can be arrested because everyone has freedom of speech. This is the lead news on every major television new channel, and is all over the web. The Republican Party members seem to be afraid to condemn their bad behavior. The Tea Party movement was born and promoted by Dick Army's Freedom Works and other conservative groups. They encourage attacks on the President and Democrats. The more radical they get, the less credibility they will have. I would be embarrassed to be affiliated with them in any way whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

These people are terrorists, plain and simple.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Abraham Lincoln would be so ashamed of his party.

Anonymous said...

Obama says it's good for the country so it must be, right?! We are the United States, not The State. There is good legislation in the bill like insurance reform, however it is too much too soon. Each State should control it's decision making NOT the Federal Government. If you think health care reform will devastate the economy wait until immigration reform! Another ultralibdem fiasco in the works.

Anonymous said...

There is never an excuse for this kind of behavior. It is domestic terrorism. There are Republican leaders involved. Shame on all of these people. Hate radio freaks calling for arms and revolution. right, Saipan blogger that Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed. Our country looks like animals to the world.

Saipan Realty said...

If societies have something to fear, it is the least educated in their own society.

President Obama's wisdom and understanding of America's complex issues inspires hope for the future.

Ron Hodges

Anonymous said...

If i didn't check the links i would think this was a joke. It is hard to believe this is happening.

MrCoffee said...

Hey, did you hear about the group of guys in Boston that got angry about their taxes and resorted to destroying property by throwing it in the harbor? They were upset that their government wasn't listening to them.

I know these stories may be shocking and violence in a civil society is unacceptable, but let's recall that we did not peacefully arrive at the font of freedom we now enjoy.

Wendy said...

Hello Mr. Coffee:

I usually agree with you, but I am not sure I get your point. Yes, I have heard of the Boston Tea Party. The circumstances of that event do not parallel these acts of domestic violence and threats against public officials.

(Love your name)

Anonymous said...

please, the health care bill will bankrupt the country. OBama has done nothing to make our lives better. He bailed out wall st and the banks, after they stole and screwed the economy. He set a record for hiring cabinet members and "czars' who are criminals or communists. he is clueless and the American people are beginning to show frustration with his inability to keep promises.

We complain about our AG but look at Holder, the pro-terrorist!