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We have something to fear from fear-mongering itself


I don't want to exaggerate the importance of the death threats being made against congressmen who voted for health-care reform. Nuts are nuts. But there is a danger to the sort of rhetoric the GOP has used over the past few months. When Rep. Devin Nunes begs his colleagues to say "no to socialism, no to totalitarianism and no to this bill"; when Glenn Beck says the bill "is the end of America as you know it"; when Sarah Palin says the bill has "death panels" -- that stuff matters.

I remember listening to the debate the night the House passed the Senate bill and the reconciliation fixes. There are a lot of critiques I could imagine folks on the right making of the legislation. "Regulations to define a minimum insurance benefit will impede innovation in low-deductible plans." "Congress doesn't have the will to stick to the cost savings, and until they prove able to do so, we can't pass a new health-care entitlement." "The health-care system is broken, and adding a new benefit doesn't make sense outside the context of radical reform, as it will just create a new set of stakeholders who will resist the necessary changes."

But totalitarianism? Death panels? The end of America as we know it? These critiques aren't just wrong in their description of a cautious, compromised reform that uses private insurers and spends only 4 percent of what we spend on health care in an average year. They're shocking in terms of what the speakers believe their colleagues and representatives are willing to do to the American people. Nunes, for instance, has served with Democrats for decades. He might believe them too willing to tax society's most-productive members to fund social benefits. But does he really believe them friends of totalitarianism?

And the stuff on talk radio, of course, was worse. So take the universe of people who really respect right-wing politicians and listen to right-wing media. Most of them will hear this stuff and turn against the bill. Some will hear this stuff and really be afraid of the bill. And then a small group will hear this stuff and believe it and wonder whether they need to do something more significant to stop this bill from becoming law. And then a couple will actually follow through. And one will cut the gas lines leading to house of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother after seeing a tea partyer post the address online.

Few of us are on a mountain with this stuff, of course. Many condemned me for saying that Joe Lieberman was willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands to settle an old grudge with liberals when he threatened to blow up the bill if the Medicare buy-in wasn't removed. I'll stand by the math of the comment, and the analysis of Lieberman's motivations, but I certainly wish I had phrased it somewhat more delicately. The word "cause" was ill-advised.

Still, that wasn't the tone of this blog over the past couple of months, nor of most outlets. Some politicians and media figures, however, have been in the business of ratcheting up opposition by making people afraid. But you can't count on people to simply cower when they're afraid, or write letters to the editor. Sometimes, they fight. It's a dangerous emotion, and high as the stakes are, public figures need to be a lot more careful manipulating it.

Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 24, 2010; 5:50 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The risk of health-care reform
Next: Reconciliation


This post demonstrates the wisdom of the founders when they enshrined free political speech in the Constitution of the United States.

Ezra et al finds free speech "inconvenient".

Tough Noogie

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | March 24, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Smashing windows and cutting gas lines to houses isn't free speech. At best it's vandalism, and at worst, it's domestic terrorism. Right now things are pretty minor and under control. Lets hope there's no escalation into anything serious.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 24, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Right wing radio and TV commentators, who are not elected officials, have tried to out do each other in incendiary blasts to gain audience share. And now their followers, having come to believe rants, demand more and more incendiary rants from their politicians to gain their votes. At one moment, Beck crossed the line with his "Obama is a racist remarks" on Fox. But as the right wing becomes more frustrated in not achieving their goals as defines by the commentators they will demand, I fear, more outright racism. The attacks on John Lewis et al and Barney Frank are only a prelude. Outright racism directed at Obama is coming.

Posted by: golewso | March 24, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

@WrongfulDeath: The courts have upheld some limits on free speech. It's not okay to shout "fire" in a crowded theater, make specific threats of violence, etc.

However, it's a gray area with respect to free speech to encourage unspecific acts of violence instead of specific ones.

And it's an even blurrier shade of gray to use speech to instill fear in the audience, that *might* lead to some listeners resorting to violent acts.

It's a continuous gradient of grayness. In general, American values say to err on the side of protecting free speech, which I support.

But isn't it a much harder case to make when the speech deliberately uses untruths and exaggerations to encourage violent reactions?

Posted by: billkarwin | March 24, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

@WrongfulDeath: I do not see Ezra in anyway advocating for restrictions in Free Speech. He IS advocating that all of us, across the political spectrum say what we mean and mean what we say, as opposed to exaggerating and fear-mongering in the name of our "side".

Posted by: spaz06 | March 24, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I actually think it's worse than you say. Yes, the rhetoric has been overheated since (and arguably) before Obama's election, but this is really just an extension of the rhetoric we've been seeing since the mid-eighties. Liberals are "baby killers," they're "morally bankrupt," "elitists," "freedom hating," "anti-American," "depraved" etc. etc. etc.

It's not a far leap from "baby killing, depraved, unpatriotic liberals" to "THOSE EVIL PEOPLE WHO ARE DESTROYING THE COUNTRY AND MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS BEFORE THEY DESTROY OUR WAY OF LIFE." This stuff is dangerous. Am I the only person who remembers how the disc jockeys in Rwanda egged on the death squads? That started with some intemperate speech and then spun out of control.

Sure, most of the protesters are just mad, misguided people. But when I see the absolute crazed hatred and fury in the faces of these protesters... I'm just very afraid that something terrible is going to happen. Do we need to see a congressman assassinated or a building blow up for us to take this seriously?

Posted by: lcrider1 | March 24, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@ wrongfuldeath and billkarwin

I think you are both accurate; however you miss the point.

It's true that the constitution provides that we have the right of free speech, but that right is not unlimited. It has often been curtailed in circumstances which create a danger to others ( the fire example) and when the speech defames others (see libel and slander laws). This article, however, does not advocate abridging free speech, it advocates that our elected officials use their free speech rights in a responsible way. I think that proposition is commendable. We as voters can encourage the use of responsible free speech by our elected officials by voting for those who are responsible, and voting against those who are irresponsible with their speech. However, this check on irresponsible public officials will not wok unless the media serves as a responsible intermediary, seperating truthful allegations from false ones. Our founding fathers thought that the press would serve this function, checking the government in an important way. However, the media is currently doing more harm then good in many cases, by perpetuating untruthful allegations, and even spreading propeganda in other instances (fox news and talk radio). But who is really to blame? I think we must blame oursleves, because without our support, these media institutions would fail. Propganda only works when people believe it.

Posted by: jgberg | March 24, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, violence is the price for jackass politics.

Posted by: markypolo | March 24, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. Just wrote a post on it.

Posted by: LindaB1 | March 24, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

People tend to get more violent the more hopeless they feel; remember the liberal vitriol toward Bush? The scariest thing about this law is that, if it fails, which will have huge ramifications on the entire nation, we have no one to hold accountable. Who will take responsibility for this? Obama will be gone, as will many of the framers of the bill. Maybe Ezra will agree to quit and go into something innocuous, like street vendor, if his many predictions turn out to be wrong.

Posted by: wolf6 | March 24, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

So basically forceful rhetoric may be a useful tool to strengthen your movement and effect your will upon the world, but we should all remember to retrain ourselves lest things go too far and our leaders and their clans need fear that *their* lives might be derailed from *their* dreamtrack.


Posted by: Senescent | March 24, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of fear-mongering, there are some who have already pre-judged the outcome of pending health care reform litigation, branding as political any outcome of the Court not to their liking. There are those who continue to argue that allowing a minority to speak thwarts good governance. And there are even some in Congress who argue that the Constitution should be amended so that speech can be regulated by Congress.

Absent the Courts and free speech for all, what options are available to dissenters? Is there an unstated expectation of blind obedience?

Posted by: rmgregory | March 24, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Spot on jgberg.

Posted by: jsrice | March 24, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

You Socialists haven't seen anything yet!

Posted by: jhayne5 | March 24, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there also a difference, here?

The thing about slightly higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy is that, well, it's not horrific suffering as far as suffering goes.

Whereas being uninsured really can lead to horrific suffering. You're sick and no one will help you because you can't pay them to.

I get where it would feel like it wasn't a fair fight from the conservative point of view if your solution would alleviate massive suffering and theirs would not. I get that.

But I'm sorry, that doesn't give you license to make up stuff about death panels so that you're both talking about your opponent's preferred policy alternatives having horrific suffering as a consequence.

And the media shouldn't allow that kind of "balance." One prediction of suffering is real, and one prediction of suffering is completely made up.

And frankly, if you genuinely believe the first, it suggests we should pass a law. And if you genuinely believe the second, it means we should take up arms against our government.

Posted by: theorajones1 | March 24, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Buttwipe, it's called Freedom of Speech. If you don't like it...tough.

Posted by: Dodgers1 | March 24, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

"Outright racism directed at Obama is coming."

The whole "tea party" thing, which I refuse to capitalize, is about outright racism directed at Obama.

Posted by: thehersch | March 24, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra et al finds free speech "inconvenient"

no-one here finds free speech inconvenient.
but free speech that irresponsibly and consciously encourages violence against others is dangerous.

.what sarah palin said yesterday, makes me think that she and her ilk, are trying to plant the seeds for extreme violence, which was hard for me to believe, until yesterday.
she, michele bachman, rush limbaugh and glenn beck keep exacerbating and egging on the more deranged members of the tea party....encouraging the kinds of language, signs, violent thoughts....that will lead to a tragedy.
it is a wonder that something terrible hasnt happened yet.
they will all but have their fingerprints on the weapon.

i believe that they want the country to come apart at the seams, and violence would be acceptable to they have a flag yet, to plant? that is why they keep inciting and humoring their supporters on about violence, about bringing guns to rallies....about misrepresenting facts so outlandishly, that unintelligent people lose the ability to know the truth.

they are sick and dangerous. i thought that last night, when i read about her crosshairs comment. that made me think her motives are the worst that one could think.
i hope these people are being carefully watched.
they are dangerous to the health and wellbeing of our country, of ideas and freedom..
they feed off of fear and anger like a group of demons.

Posted by: jkaren | March 24, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

An elected official, Steve King (R-IA) said this on Sunday, per ThinkProgress:

"Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out. Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!"

Rhetoric, maybe. Heated, absolutely. "Let's take them out" could easily be over-interpreted by a gun nut, IMO.

This violent language has got to stop.

Posted by: RalfW | March 24, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

What is your point?

Posted by: jhayne5 | March 24, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

And for clarification, Mr. free speech is inconvenient, I mean this crap has got to stop being tolerated by decent, average citizens. I'm not IN ANY WAY advocating changing laws.

I'm advocating changing social mores. That starts by 1) standing up and saying "that's offensive" "that's a lie" "you don't speak for me" when this sort of incendiary garbage comes out of their mouths, and 2) voting people like Steve King out of office.

Posted by: RalfW | March 24, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

You commentators saying "It's free speech, bub!" can't possibly be serious, can you? First, as has been pointed out above, Ezra's not calling for any regulations or infringements on speech. What he is saying is that inflammatory speech that is trumpeted by some leaders and reinforced by certain actors in the media can lead to real world consequences.

We're talking about a healthcare bill here, not the rise of the Reich. Constantly amping up the vitriol can and does convince people out there to commit violent acts. More broadly, it convinces larger swaths of people that the other side of an argument don't just disagree about marginal tax rates but hate our country and are trying to destroy it. Even if this doesn't lead to direct violence, it poisons our ability to work together on solving our nation's problems so that one party can temporarily win the political game.

Posted by: MosBen | March 24, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry teabaggers. The Democratic base is FIRED up now and we're heading to the polls too in November. You saw our work in 2006 and 2008 that made this bill possible and we're going to protect him. We're going to use this bill for 20+ years to wack Republicans with (plus plenty of clips of their hysterical rants) - get ready.

Posted by: legalla | March 24, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

and the bar wasnt just lowered with the tea party people.

the most horrific comment came out at the end of the "democratic" presidential campaign.
there are equal opportunity offenders here.

free speech works like freedom in any situation.
you need to see that it is sacred, and because you can say anything under the sun, doesnt mean that it is the right thing to do.
free speech, like everything else, shouldnt be abused to the point where it threatens, or can potentially threaten the safety or wellbeing of another person.

Posted by: jkaren | March 24, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The thing is that those of you defending this "free speech" of hatred and violence don't see that you are just flailing in impotent frustration in a way that does nothing to advance your own cause. I would guess that 95%+ of Americans would not support actual violence, even if they hate this bill. You are just further marginalizing yourselves from the mainstream. You don't win support by threatening people.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | March 24, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

--"I'll stand by the math of the comment"--

That's a lie, Klein, a lie about a lie you helped promulgate. The figures you lied about have been debunked all over the blogosphere, and you haven't been man enough to debate any of the debunkers. You're a fraud, Klein, and a disgrace.

Posted by: msoja | March 24, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"You are just further marginalizing yourselves from the mainstream. You don't win support by threatening people."


Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

we are blessed with a president who practices self-restraint and civility and right action, more than any other person in public life that i can think of.
by comparison to every other person in political life, and every single person that he ran against, as well, he is amazing. this conversation, again, makes me feel that we are so blessed to have a man of such principle and quiet wisdom as president. especially at this time.
so many times, i think....he is like a lotus, of the mud...but never in the mud.
he is unique and inspiring in his spiritual gifts.
i am so thankful for president obama.
we are blessed to have president obama.

Posted by: jkaren | March 24, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

The real violence is taking people's freedom from them behind the opaque might of the government. The initiation of force is in the legislation you've been bobbing your head for all these months, Klein.

Posted by: msoja | March 24, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

A call out to all real Americans, Let's get these B*astards!

Get 'em now and get 'em hard!

Posted by: jhayne5 | March 24, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"The real violence is taking people's freedom from them behind the opaque might of the government. The initiation of force is in the legislation you've been bobbing your head for all these months, Klein."

Msoja, your tired and redundant anarchist twaddle calls to mind Shakespeare's line about "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing."

The Democrats ran on a platform that included health care reform. The people gave them large majorities and the Presidency. They fulfilled their campaign promise and passed the legislation.

That's Democracy. That's the Constitution. You are an enemy of both. So please take your hatred of the US Constitution and move to Somalia or Yemen, where things are run more to your liking.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Dems have to BUY and BRIBE to get a bill that most working Americans do not want, are compelled to do it without any Republicans, are content to past it without anyone knowing the pork that fills the bill ("you have to pass it so see what's in it" I believe were Pelosi's words) and THAT is nothing to get upset about? This is wholesale thievery and now it is an attempt to "make the worse appear the better" as Sophists have done for millenia. If this were a date, Pelosi and Reid would be in jail for believing NO means YES. Shame on the whole lot of them and shame on you for thinking this is not worthy of scorn. November can't come soon enough.

Posted by: Lynne5 | March 24, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

jhayne5 = gutless coward.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 24, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Klein, You don't know who made threats if any threats were made at all, do you you? Of course not. So you're are convicting with NO knowledge or evidence, shame on you. As a matter of fact these kind of tactics are out of the play book of Chicago thug Politics, the thugs that are in the White House now. .

What's is dangerous is the media losing all objectivity and becoming Pimps for Democrats. Thank goodness that the Supreme Court made the proper ruling in restoring free speech for Everyone all the time and not just the media pimps and their Corporations.

Posted by: jblast2000 | March 24, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

It is open mic night for trolls again, who's next?

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

For anyone using the term "tea-bagger" - it is as insulting a term as the n-word and the f-word. Using it shows your contempt for the those who exercise their right to protest and condones the main stream media's representation of opposition.

Posted by: Lynne5 | March 24, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I was born in 1961. I remember when Reagan was elected and how angering it was for those of us who did not share his views. I was in college. He sure pissed me off. But I went to class and hung out with friends.

I don't remember in an adult way the feelings around the Vietnam War and Nixon but people were pissed then too. More importantly the country seemed to many to be on the brink of chaos. So people were also very afraid. And people died as a result. People were assassinated.

Folks on both sides of the political spectrum have been mad for a very long time (perhaps for the duration of our nation). That's normal for our country. But it hasn't always been this hot and full of fear. The fear is most important. Once our anger is stoked by fear it easily turns to violent words and violent actions.

I'm a psychotherapist and I have a client who is genuinely afraid the Govt. is taking over. He's a nice guy. I like him a lot. But he's terribly wrong. He hears lots of voices in the media that reinforce this belief. Lots of tea party folks are like him I think. They're genuinely afraid. Some are white supremacists who have found a movement on which to latch. Others are just people who are freaked out. The economy has tanked. The world is very different then it was when they were kids.

The culprits are really the people who are purposefully jigging up the fear for ratings and political gain. I hope the Secret Service are on their toes now. When folks are really afraid they're liable to do just about anything.

Posted by: simmonslcsw | March 24, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Boehner has spoken out against acts of flirting with fascism, but McConnell and Steele haven't up till now, far as I can tell.

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | March 24, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

So Klein, what does that picture of a passionate women that doesn't want her healthcare taken over by government and is protesting the Outrageous and irresponsible spending of these congress that is killing the economy and put us into financial bondage for the unforeseeable future. IT'S THE RIGHT OF EVERY AMERICAN.
Klein, you're a worthless Demagogue.

BTW, Democrat Wuses, you're not scared of ACORN are you? They are on YOUR side. Just be thankful that Bill Ayers is a Leftist and not in the Tea Party. He would have blown your A##es to China. Yes, the leftists like their violent protestor, they make them tenured professors.


Posted by: jblast2000 | March 24, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

So those of us here can't even find common ground on the need to tone down hate speech that includes threats of violence. My how crazy the rightwing has become. These comments here are proof of how dangerous things have become. And yes, there have been actual murders of abortion doctors, planes flying into us gvmt offices by lunatic texans, and many other acts in recent months.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 24, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse


The use of "tea-bagger" comes straight out of the Tea Party's own charming placards, an example of which ("Tea Bag The Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You!!") can be seen in a photograph here:

You folks came up up with the name, the slogans, the hilarious little tea bags hanging off of the brims of your hats, so don't be too surprised that the media used the ill-considered terminology arising within your own "movement."

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

'The Paranoid Style in American Politics' -- read it, absorb it.

Hofstadter doesn't reach that far back, but the Declaration of Independence itself is 'paranoid style' in part. This is the language in which American politics is conducted.

The "free" in "free speech" doesn't mean "free from responsibility". That's generally lost on immature Randroids (but I repeat myself).

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 24, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

How convenient for the author to forget or not know our history. The most out of control protesters in this country were made by liberals, and let’s not forget the riots. I mean a few nuts who were not even members of the Tea Party do not speak for the movement. They were denounced by the real members. The race card has been played so many times that it has lost all creditability. Just because the author of this article and many of the blogers do not have the foresight to see what this administration’s policies are doing to our individual freedoms and the destruction of the US Constitution does not mean you are on the winning side of the issues. Once again, let me remind you to know our country’s history. Ignorance is no excuse for not having the facts or truth. I guarantee you; conditions are going to get a lot worse in this country. Obama’s redistribution of wealth is putting our economy closer to bankruptcy every day. Why don’t you try researching what you write about? Let me give you an example, you probably think that the Feds taking over all student loans is a good deal. Well think again, because they will borrow at 2.6% and charge the students 6.4%. The profits will go into the Health Care Reform Act just passed. The loans and grants are for the minorities. It’s Obama’s idea of Social Justice. The Progressives have only won the first battle, and moderate Democrats and Independents are pulling away every day.

Posted by: takebackamerica1 | March 24, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Google "Republican headquarters vandalized," and you'll see that Republican entities are the target of extremist violence all the time. And of course we just lived through eight years of extremist opposition rhetoric that was hailed as noble dissent. Ezra isn't acting out of some high principle; this is just another tool to try to stifle political disagreement as long as his side is in power.

Posted by: tomtildrum | March 24, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

So the new catch phrase of our day and age ought to be:

"The only thing we have to hate, is hate itself!"

Sounds about right.

Posted by: NoniMausa | March 24, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Pot, kettle.

Once Klein opened his yap against Lieberman the way he did, he lost any standing to complain about anybody else. He's a hypocrite to complain when somebody does exactly what he did.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | March 24, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: aqnihundana | March 24, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

anyone on the far right or the far left that does any of this stuff needs to be locked up. The idiot that cut the gas line needs to spend some serious time behind bars to make an example out of this kind of behavior.

That said the far left has its share of wackos too. Remember Ezra that pro choice crazies were calling Stupak's unlisted number in the middle of the night threatening his family too before he changed his vote.

All the partisanship, fear mongering etc has to stop on both sides.

Obama's not a socialist, he wants to help people and insurers do not want to kill you.

Pretty soon, very soon America's going to tune this crap out.

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Posted by: aqnihundana | March 24, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: visionbrkr | March 24, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo must be in great financial difficulty since it can't even keep the blogs free of postings by Chinese knockoff website spammers...

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Sadly this will continue and get worse until we have a re-occurrence of what happened in the 60's civil rights movement. We will have a tragedy which will shock the entire nation into recognition that we as a nation cannot tolerate the racism and bigotry and lack of tolerance exhibited by such members of our society they will have to be shamed into submission. These people do not represent what is just and good in our society they represent the remnants of ignorance and hate the last vestiges of small minds. It is an embarrassment that the world gets to see the worst we have to offer. And even more sadly we have a leadership on certain levels willing to exploit this for their own ends. We are witness to the ends of civility in America.

Posted by: marnold4 | March 24, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

So Klein are you suggesting that Americans should give up their right of free speech against those in the government?
Fear Mongering? The government has the power to print money, take your money, put you in prison. The Constitution and the Bill of rights protects Americans FROM government and LIMIT it's Power. And People have the right to protest when they think that those working FOR THEM stomp on those rights.

Rep. Dingell: It's Taken a Long Time to 'Control the People'

Democrat Hastings, "We make up the rules as we go along" .

Klein, using Biden speech, Americans wouldn't have to passionately protest if YOU did your F---king Job!

Posted by: mikeglossy | March 24, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"These people do not represent what is just and good in our society they represent the remnants of ignorance and hate the last vestiges of small minds."


It is a tribute to the monumental scale of the ignorance now in play that all of this hostile invective is provoked by the passage of a bill that preserves an entirely private system of health care delivery and insurance, and which expands access to affordable health care to tens of millions of people who have been shut out by income and/or pre-existing conditions, and which lowers the federal budget deficit.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 24, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

etdean1 ~ hmm. We had several feet of snow in this area until just recently. This guy waits for the first nice day in months and goes out to set up his grill and finds the gas line "cut".


So, he leaps to the conclusion some right wing fanatic cut his line.

Hey, there are scrapes in the street out front of my house. Maybe giant bulldozers tried to drag my car away or something.

Or, look at that broken limb on that tree ~ undoubtedly a gigantic maneating eagle swooped down and snapped it.

Or, ................

I think that particular story is TOTAL BS. The cops who took the report may well have smirked in his presence.

The brother who is the Congresscritter should lay off the sauce!

Posted by: muawiyah | March 24, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, the entire Republican establishment was inciting its base for two reasons: improve their polls for November and to raise money for their campaigns. Every time they sent out a vitriolic message they always urged their followers to send money so they can "stop this slow march to socialism". The problem with this is that if the march to socialism is slow then they would be hitting up these folks for a long time while scaring the daylights out of them.

Posted by: ATLGuy | March 24, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

jblast2000, this Ezra Klein is definitely in love with fascist solutions ~ to everything!

I've been trying to figure out where he came up with the idea that oppression and authoritarianism are good policies for governments to follow.

At his mother's knee perhaps?

Maybe we should ask him. Maybe he can tell us, like Obama's ol'buddy David Axelrod could (if he sould) that his mommy was a commie who worked for a guy who worked directly for Joseph Stalin ~ one of history's biggest mass murderers.

BTW, always good to keep an eye on those guys with links to Stalin, particularly when they live in the US.

Posted by: muawiyah | March 24, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

The DNC is the KKK

Liberal democrats burn down churches and murder children. Liberal democrats KILL babys.

lynch republicans

there terrior network is active in all 50 states.

and there complaining about violence? LOL

Posted by: workingclassslave | March 24, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Even the rhetoric here is a little over the top. And I agree the rhetoric really needs to be taken down a notch or three on the Republican side. Yes, give the base some red meat, but don't shove it down their throats.

That being said, there's a lot of discussion about who is bad and who is worse than whom, but not much regarding the most basic implied issue: who do we shut up, and how?

BTW, there are much stronger things that can be said than Ezra's milquetoast examples that don't sound like thinly veiled threats of physical violence. I understand that we don't like the way the Democrats are taking the country, but seriously. Take a chill pill. Especially our elected representatives.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 24, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is absolutely right. Given a certain set of assumptions, it is perfectly reasonable for people to do violence to political leaders. If you believe that the government has been hijacked by a totalitarian regime and is being used to create a communist society, you very well may choose to sever the gas line of the family of one of the totalitarian hijackers.

Beliefs matter, which is why everyone in the business of helping to inform people about what's going on in this world should carry themselves with a certain degree of dignity and cautiousness.

Posted by: andrewday | March 25, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

So maybe you should have said 'allow'. But either word, you weren't calling to visit any kind of violence on Sen. Lieberman.
This crowd was stewing even before
Sarah Palin and her ginned up,
Obama's-a-Muslim campaign rallies;before the election of an African American to the White House;before HCR. Way before. They are the scared, ignorant, angry, bitter people who float up like worms after a rain storm, whenever there is big change. Change they CAN'T believe in...or understand? They were there when Lincoln was shot, they were there when the Kennedy's were shot. They're always there.
Take good care, those members of Congress who are brave enough to vote for the people and do the people's work.

Posted by: dcunning1 | March 25, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Even the First Amendment has limits.
When are some arrests going to be made?
Threats, vandalism, murder attempt (gas line?)and threats against members of Congress? Surely there are some laws violated in there somewhere, and with modern technology, should be pretty easy to track down those faxes, phone calls, etc. FBI? Secret Service?

Posted by: dcunning1 | March 25, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

"The Hill" is reporting tonight that the Republicans basically folded their hand on Vote-a-rama. Instead of flooding the reconciliation bill with dozens or even hundreds of amendments, the Republicans have decided to stick to a much shorter list of substantive amendments, the Democrats have easily held the line, and the mood between the parties is described as "rarely tense" and marked with levity, with the Democrats enjoying lobster rolls in honor of Ted Kennedy's memory.

The shift in Republican strategy and tone should allow for a final vote well ahead of the expected schedule, perhaps as early as the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Perhaps the decision by the Republicans to roll over on reconciliation (and thereby get away from DC for their customary long weekend) will cause the GOP's rabid dogs who have been threatening Democratic legislators to turn some of their bite back on their masters, who are not staging any serious challenge to the supposed "jamming through" of the sidecar.

In any event, Vote-a-rama and the supposed drama of the Parliamentarian's rulings have been a big yawner.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, hate speech aficionados, hate speech is not protected. If the speech possesses intent, immediacy, and likelihood to result in illegality, it can be prescribed by law. I would go further than Ezra and say that some of the Republican speeches on the floor of the House promoted lawlessness and in my view the violence against other Congressmen was a result.

Posted by: Reesh | March 25, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

etdean1 posted:
Smashing windows and cutting gas lines to houses isn't free speech. At best it's vandalism, and at worst, it's domestic terrorism. Right now things are pretty minor and under control. Lets hope there's no escalation into anything serious.


Yes, let's hope things don't get worse. However, couldn't the argument be made that they already have. Wasn't the federal employee, Vernon Hunter, who died in the IRS plane crash, a victim of a "patriot" gone crazy with his own and other anti-government ideas? Is Vernon Hunter only the first victim to the hateful vitriolic spewing from the right?

Posted by: Reesh | March 25, 2010 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama is building concentration camps for white people, we will not pay his insurance fees, we are willing to spill our blood as long as we spill there blood and we will take back our country!!!!! Republican headquarters in Arkansas and other cities were targeted a couple of years ago and workers were killed!!!! The democrats are the ones full of hate and violance.

Posted by: ToddPollard | March 25, 2010 4:55 AM | Report abuse

Barely restricted gun ownership, incendiary partisan rabble rousing, widespread subscription to magical thinking, deep-seated racism, extremes of inequality, self-preening national mythology ...

For all its remnant excellence, the USA is an ugly mess that can only get uglier.

The real worry though is not so much the extremes (they'll always exist under some rock somewhere) but their credence and dignification by mainstream US institutions.

Posted by: AlanDownunder | March 25, 2010 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it funny how when liberals are the ruling party, any protest or any displays of dissent are portrayed as sedition. People protesting the giving away of their money in various forms in liberal schemes is let's see.... racist, dangerous, carried on by nuts. Not your kind of protest is it? War protests, the IMF riots, minority riots (remember Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict) that result in absolute chaos, bedlam and violence such that the riot police have to be there are your kind of protest right? Actually the police gave up in Los Angeles because the violence escalated to the point where they would have to start shooting and they didn't want to do that. I have never seen liberals denounce those. No no no, those are legitimate expressions of people's anger even though they burn down the place right? Liberals are all about free speech until you say something they don't like. And this strategy of attacking Tea Party Activists is truly heinous, liberals. Do you get your message from the Democratic party Klein--do they have strategy sessions that you attend to know what to write?

Posted by: RedStater3 | March 25, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Any company advertising with the media companies responsible for fueling this violence are equally complicit. They are the oxygen that makes these fires burn.

Posted by: jack824 | March 25, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse


That's why I am no longer a Republican. Well said.


Violence and intimidation used to belong to the Democratic party. And indeed idiots and thugs are always evident in either party and in different numbers from time to time. But right NOW it is the GOP that harbors most of the lunatics and would-be fascists. And if you can't tell the difference between a peaceful protest and one that encourages violence and racism, then you can't tell the difference between a Democracy and a fascist state.

To all Republicans

This is a Democracy. Obama promised, and was elected by 66% of the vote to do exactly what he has now done on HCR. Either GET OVER IT or find enough votes to REPEAL it. Stop with the hitler-like fuming at the mouth, bricks through windows, bullets through abortion doctors and museum guards, planes through IRS windows, racial epitaphs at black Democrats, and coded Palin-ese talk that hints it is OK to "reload and aim" at Democrats; these are all sufficient reasons why any level-headed American should vote against these GOP clowns, regardless of policy differences.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

SO where were you Mr Klein when the liberals were shouting Nazi and baby killer at the Republicans? Where were you when the SEIU thugs beat a man and a slapped a woman out of a wheel chair in St Louis? Where were you when the New Black Panthers were carrying on voter intimidation on Philly? Where were you when members of ACORN decided that giving free tax advise to someone wanting to pimp young El Salvadorian girls was discovered? Where were you when it broke that Mr Lewis waded into the crowd and caused his own problems?

Face facts, both political parties have hacks that work for them and would rather be sensationalist rather than reporting real news.

Posted by: zendrell | March 25, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

msoja, I couldn't even finish reading the posts. The "real" violence, as compared to actual, physical violence which is the subject of our conversation, is in the bill? How is metaphorical violence more "real" than actual, physical violence? You may need a nap or something...

Posted by: MosBen | March 25, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Rush Limbuagh is practically calling for Obama's murder. The other day he said he must be stopped before our country is destroyed. These talk show instigators are all reformed drunks, druggies, pervs who are on the wagon and have the personality type of the saved to save us. They are possesed of the devil

Posted by: commentname | March 25, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Some of us are legitimately afraid - afraid of the corruption and threats used to get this partisan policy approved by 2 votes (and hundreds of millions spent with hardly a thought), afraid of overreaching Govt and unprecedented govt control, afraid of explosive govt gobbling up even more of our gdp, and very afraid that this "reform" didn't address any real issues, afraid that we expanded coverage with addressing costs and deficits are going to explode, afraid that docts have lost freedom to treat patients they will they see fit (most of us don't believe Obama's fear-mongering that docts purposely cut off limbs), afraid that docts will leave their practices as they said they would, afraid because we know for certain that the only path this policy leads to is rationing - who gets what will decided by some govt bureaucrat.

I find all these fears legitimate. You may not - I'll never understand why - but there's no hate-mongering in my motives. I am afraid that this "reform" is a huge mistake. This mess is owned by the Democrats. It is a mess.

Posted by: annie321 | March 25, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Poor babies. They get a few threats and they whining and crying to the police. How about all threats leveled against Republicans when they were in charge. Let's pull up some old voice mails and listen to those. How about most recently with all the threats Jim Bunning received when he was fillibustering the Democrats "jobs" bill? Where's the media attention to that? If can't stand the heat find another job. The Democrats just rammed throug a massive government takeover of the U.S. healthcare system that the majority of the people in this country opposed. What did they think was going to happen? Afterwards everyone who opposed it would just smile and take it? It's pretty hypocritial for Democrats to complain about right wing radio and TV getting people worked up against the liberal agenda when they were the ones who invented Mediscare. Suck it up.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 25, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I can't think of a single conservative in the political arena, in news or in commentary that condone acts of violence or threats of violence, not a single one.

A can't think of a single video that was posted throughout this entire year of protest by the tea partiers that show any violence on their part.

I can point to many videos where the tea partiers were physically attacked and beaten - usually by SEIU thugs. I remember one where a finger was bitten off. I can think of tires slashed in Wisconsin by Obama campaign staff. I can think of McCain offices with bricks thrown through the windows throughout the campaign.

I can think of the press defending a stage play, with Bush still in office, recounting his assassination.

And yet, I can not recount a single article by Ezra condemning these true acts of physical violence. Did I miss something?

By the way, just what will you call the panel, seated by the HHS chair that will define what treatments will be allowed, how many will be allowed and what their costs will be? NICE perhaps?? When they deny second or third diagnostic tests that result in the death of a paitent, these panels would be call . . . . . what exactly??

Posted by: wkeller1 | March 25, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

What I fear is disastrous policy. And ObamaCare shows every sign of a very bad initiative.

Posted by: junomoneta88 | March 25, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey liberal spinsters, where is Josef Goebbels when you need him the most ??

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Posted by: humbucker | March 25, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I did finally find a photo the coffin near Russ Carnahan's home. The participants around the coffin do looks a little crazed praying for the children they feel will be aborted with our tax dollars with this new bill. I suppose any wimp would feel threatened. Here's the link, see what you think:

Posted by: wkeller1 | March 25, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Dear Ezra,

Suggestion #1. President Obama should form a blue-ribbon panel to consider what to do about people willing to fight for their political convictions? Bill Ayers would be an excellent chairperson. Bring in heavyweight Obama advisors like Ron Bloom, who has stated in the past his shared Maoist belief that power comes from the barrel of a gun.

Suggestion #2. One of the 135 newly-formed health care bureacracies should distribute extra-soft kleenex to Americans offended by nasty rhetoric.

Suggestion #3. Keep your thesaraus close at hand. In coming months when 'Cautious Compromise' legislation drops our Moody ratings, cautions investors from betting on the American economy and compromises our businesses' ability to hire new workers you may need your word book. I prefer the adjective phrase, 'prologue to socialized medicine that will come after we finish controlling people in 2014' legislation.

Posted by: jchu591 | March 25, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra! Do you really belive that those people who believe in liberty and who are disgusted by the process in DC will just roll over as the King and his cohorts trample over them? Nothing to date warrants the alleged violence recently reported. But certainly any person who is level headed will have to consider the consequences in the future if the federal government persists in tyranny over "some" of the people in this country. And those people are not kooks. They are the other 30-40% of every poll ever cited. They are the everyday person including cops, military and every other. Let me correct myself. Its tyranny over all Americans.

Dangerous is the right word. But it's the Democrats who have engaged in dangerous behavior.

It would appear you dont take trampling the will of the governed seriously. That kind of makes you and ignortant fool.

Thank God it's sill America and we will persist in our non violent revolution with votes, ideas, and truth.

Death to entitlements that destroy people and communities. Long live American Freedom and American Liberty.

Posted by: PunkArcade | March 25, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Since Ezra is a liberal, he's not worried about the negitive consequences they find a way to EXEMPT themselves. According the Alcee Hastings (who took bribes as a Judge)they make up the rules as they go along. Or John Dingell who says it will still take time to construct the legislation to "CONTROL PEOPLE". He doesn't seem to be a bit worried about it.
66% of Americans want the GOP to continue the fight and they are entitled to do it.

Posted by: kalamere | March 25, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"I can't think of a single conservative in the political arena, in news or in commentary that condone acts of violence or threats of violence, not a single one."

Sarah Palin recently said things like "reload" to "aim" for Democrats.

Bill O'Reilly has advocated bombing the NYtimes, and Anne Coulter has said similar things.

There are many other examples people with better memories than me might cite.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Watch video of newly elected Scott Brown commenting on recent plane attack on IRS building. His comments are dismissive of the attack, which to violent-prone people sound supportive.

Brown said he felt for the families, but quickly shrugged off the attack and transitioned to say that “people are frustrated” and “no one likes paying taxes.”

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

And Ezra Klien and the rest of the Lib Media just FAN THE FLAMES!!
If Libs were doing this it would be noted as FREE SPEECH!!

Posted by: morphy | March 25, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

even if one believes in limited government, those who want to change government through violence or true threats consent to the government throwing them in jail. let's be clear on that.

there is a dichotomy, however, in the debate on "threats." on the one hand, bill ayers can bomb the pentagon and then become obama's friend and business associate, no problem to the left. or, people can camp out in bush's driveway and scream, "baby murderer" at him, and they are merely praised for utilizing their freedom of speech. many writers on the left were sympathetic to the guy who threw the shoe at bush, and we all know it would have given them a thrill up their legs if the shoe had hit its intended target.

on the other hand, if a few nuts leave a few anonymous telephone calls, the media is freaked out.

what explains this dichotomy?

it's easy--public relations, of which david axelrod and company are the most skilled practitioners around.

all of what you are hearing is part of a planned public relations attack on all opponents of health care (it may be that the opportunity presented by the phone calls arose spontaneously, but the attack is planned--as i said, axelrod and company are the best there is in spin). here's how it's done. one takes the attacks from the anonymous callers and associate them with the opposition to the president's health care law. now, one does not need to debate the merits. rather, opponents of the law are inherently evil, and that's that.

s/he who defines the debate, wins it. the republicans are falling for debating whether violence is proper, rather than the merits of the law. the president's diversion is therefore at least for today working, and the longer the republicans fall for it, the longer the diversion will work.

keevan d. morgan, esq., chicago

Posted by: keevandmorgan | March 25, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

We continue to confuse the idea of dissent with what is actually happening...sedition.

Posted by: olgaolivia1 | March 25, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

In the musical "1776", Jefferson refuses to remove a reference in the Declaration of Independence to King George as a tyrant. He replies, "the king is a tyrant whether we say so or not. We might as well say so." If you don't want to be called Socialist or tyrannical, don't practice Socialism or tyranny.

Forcing all citizens to purchase, whether they want or need it or not, health care insurance, is merely the first tyrannical step across the clearly drawn constitutional line. Proponents call this "regulating commerce," except that if we do not have insurance, we are not engaged in the commerce in question. If our government can force us to do that, there is NOTHING IT CANNOT DO TO US in the name of whatever it dictates to be the greater good.

The real Jefferson - normally credited as the founder of the Democrats, wrote, "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God," and Henry IV of France stated, "none but tyrants have need to fear." What are YOU afraid of, Ezra?

Posted by: INTJ | March 25, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I find it absolutely amazing that the tea party trolls coming here can't even agree that using violence to get your way politically is a bad thing. If anything proves Ezra's point about the effects of the insane rhetoric used to protest HCR, it's this comment thread.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 25, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The claim that SEIU members beatup a tea-bagger are unprovable.

The video in question (google is easy to find it) shows only the tail end of a minor scuffle. The video shows two people on the ground, one SEIU member and the tea-bagger.

Some people claim the tea-baggers attacked the SEIU member and other SEIU members came to his rescue, and some people claim the SEIU attacked the tea-bagger first.

Since there is no video of the beginning of the encounter, no one here can claim they know what happened unless they were there (and if you claimed you were there I wouldn't believe you without proof).

It appears to be a minor scuffle between protesters, that's all.

It's not like it was a plane attack against the IRS or a shot guard at the holocaust museum, or a bullet through the heart of an abortion doctor.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

yea, yea, klein.

Does this guy ever get tired of being wrong? Where was he when pelosi was spouting about "culture of corruption"... and all the other outrageous Big Lies that 'progressives' like to spout?

klein, dionne, meyerson, WaPo is pretty invested in light weight intellectuals... and heavily invested in heavy weight Ideologues.

Posted by: wilsan | March 25, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Great analysis coming from a guy whose contribution to national debate is to serve as a clearing house and attempted legitimizer of the talking points of a party that saw no problem with nominating a guy who went to Rev. Wright's church and calls Bernadine Dorn and Bill Ayers friends. Show me a powerful Republican that defends the actions of these extreme nut cases, let alone sits on corporate boards with them.

Posted by: reheiler | March 25, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

It's generally my experience that the right wingers screaming about socialism and tyrants and rebellion aren't very well informed and, in addition, were simply not raised with a good value system or taught how to deal with their feelings. Consequently, they've ended up falling under the sway of whatever crazy demagogues they can find. We see this in that right winger from Ohio who freaked out into a rage screaming at a sufferer of Parkinson's disease and starting throwing dollar bills at him.

Right wingers use the rhetoric of violence and threats of violence because it works on their constituencies. Republicans feel powerless and defeated. They've been told over and over again how they are the only real Americans and how they are the only people who should be in control of the government. The Republican party is, unfortunately, just taking advantage of these emotionally immature, easily led, spiritually vulnerable people and exploiting their fears and potential for rage.

And when they realize that they're humiliating themselves and their families, they might settle into a more civilized mode of behavior. And then in 20 years, they'll tell us how they supported health care reform all along.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

We must not forget the pardon by President Bush of a terrorist, Orlando Bosch, who conspired in the bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing all passengers and crew.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Obama never defended the actions or words of Wright or Ayers.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, the fear-mongering is dangerous to the Dems come November. Also, I don't recall Ezra being indignant about Leftist fear-mongering over Global Warming (we're all gonna die!!), predictions of millions of deaths in Iraq, and an endless array of other subjects. No, I guess fear-mongering is only an outrage when the other side does it. If Ezra's tribe does it, it's OK because they're morally superior to the rest of us and the ends justify the means.

Posted by: JohnR22 | March 25, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

As Media Matters for America has noted, Gordon Liddy served four and a half years in prison in connection with his conviction for his role in the Watergate break-in and the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Liddy has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in "if necessary"; plotting to murder journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a "gangland figure" to murder Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap "leftist guerillas" at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis. (The murder, firebombing, and kidnapping plots were never carried out; the break-ins were.) During the 1990s, Liddy reportedly instructed his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents and also reportedly said he had named his shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain's campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy's radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled "John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07" includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an "old friend." During the segment, McCain praised Liddy's "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great," said he was "proud" of Liddy, and said that "it's always a pleasure for me to come on your program."

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Klein is dismissive of the anger of those who oppose the bill. Just a mob of ill-informed fury being whipped up by far-right demagogues. Maybe the many who opposed the bill--and polling has consistently indicated that it is a majority of Americans--are thoughtful and concerned, especially since no supporter has satisfactorily explained how Medicare will survive after the huge cuts down the road. Those of us approaching Medicare age are rightfully concerned the program will not be there, or so gutted, that it will be ineffectual. Try finding a quality doctor who will accept it. Maybe not death panels, but it does raise the fear that this is an attack on the aging for the benefit of those younger.

Posted by: BethesdaDog | March 25, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The fact is that people start to get scared and desperate when they believe the other side is "winning". As long as they perceive there's a balance of power, things stay pretty much under control. So...when Bush had control of congress and pushed the envelope too far, the Left became utterly unhinged (or have you Leftists out there forgotten this already?). The shoe is now on the other foot; Obama had a supermajority and has passed the most radical Left leglislation since the early 60s. And...the Right is scared and utterly enraged. This is the way things work, so everybody better deal with it. Anyway, under both Bush & Obama, one party govt SUCKS; shared govt is much better. Here's praying the Reps take the House back in November.

Posted by: JohnR22 | March 25, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

" If anything proves Ezra's point about the effects of the insane rhetoric used to protest HCR, it's this comment thread."

see the words.
these are not arguments against health care reform.

evil is relentless, and stops at nothing.
how does one discern its presence?
it means intentional harm.
it uses words that reflect an absence of light and goodness.
it tries relentlessly to hurt and castigate.
it shows up wherever there is harmony and joy.
trying desperately, to find a way to bore a hole into the heart of what is good and beautiful and peaceful.

continue to call it out.
stay strong in your own convictions.
there is protection in the light and in truth.
that is the only sanctuary.
try not to leave that place,
not even for a moment.

Posted by: jkaren | March 25, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Actually, JohnR22, I don't actually remeber people faxing nooses to Republican congressmen, slashing their brothers' propane lines, threatening armed rebellion, or showing up to town hall meetings with guns.

What I do see is that a lot of Republicans can't get over the fact that they lost election after election what I do see is the Republican leadership lashing out in an ignorant, blind rage along with the Republican spokespeople on the radio. Not because they believe it, but because they see an opportunity for political gain, and they fact that they hate their fellow Americans and aren't particularly morally grounded human beings. Seeing Boehner melt down on the Senate floor and seeing Grassley screech about death panels really made it clear that the Republican party leadership has intellectual/moral shortcomings that are really not reflective of the value system with which I was told, by my parents and my teachers, that America was all about (though I suspect they were wrong about that and just trying to ensure I didn't turn into one of "those" people we see now lashing out in a violent rage).

What I also think is interesting is where Republican priorities are: the president supported an illegal war and the use of torture back when Bush was president, and these violent people cheered or sat by and did nothing. But extend health care, and they freak out in a rage. That indicates to me that either their moral priorities are highly out of whack or that their objections are actually not related to health care at all.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree, why should we believe scientists because they say the Earth is round?

In related news, Sen Inofe (R) wants to imprison climate scientists....

P.S. @kevin, I applaud your earlier comments on this thread. I am still mystified why someone like you would vote for a party clearly taken over by the fringe. Their ideas are dangerous and have resulted in this recession and a mountain of debt that makes it almost impossible to fight our way out of it. At best your votes are based on your "inclination" that something sounds right about supply-side economics (or similar issue), yet quantitative results and recent history prove otherwise. Come all the way out of the dark please.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The hatemongers of television and radio are winding people up and creating a dangerous atmosphere. Anyone remember Rwanda? That civil war was caused by hate radio. Never doubt the power of words to instigate fear and hatred.

Posted by: hotpoet66 | March 25, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

*Klein is dismissive of the anger of those who oppose the bill*

For the record, it's not just Klein. I'm dismissive of it, as well. I've really yet to hear any coherent arguments against the bill, and the opponents of the bill really never got upset about the Bush presidency, so the truth is that I can't take them at all seriously. They just have no intellectual or moral credibility on this matter, and they're simply allowing themselves to be lead by the crazed, ignorant power-mad demagogues that make up the leadership of the Republican party. That's all. Nothing else. If certain political and radio personalities weren't telling them to get upset, they'd be silent.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

So maybe 4 incidences of idiotic violence have been reported. The most laughable one is the Congressman's brother who had the line to his grill cut. Of course replacing that $12 part will be tough in this economy.

But I'm shocked that the Dems can't take a little name calling and some ranting phone calls. Do they even remember the endless ranting, insults and threats they hurled from Election Day 2000 through the current day regarding the Bush administration?

As the saying goes, if the heat is too hot in the kitchen, GET OUT!

Posted by: ted22 | March 25, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Wait, when you say "dangerous", are you "fear mongering" about the "fear mongering"?

Free speech is free speech. Attempted murder and assault are crimes.

To claim that opposition voices are responsible for the acts of individuals -- wait -- why am I even arguing with you? In your world "society" is responsible for everything and "individuals" are not. No wonder you believe that opposition voices should be silenced. You don't believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions. I believe the opposite. We will never see eye to eye.

Posted by: philmon | March 25, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

*Do they even remember the endless ranting, insults and threats they hurled from Election Day 2000 through the current day regarding the Bush administration?*

No, I do remember the Brooks Brothers Riot of right wing conservative campaign staffers threatening Florida vote counters with violence. The truth is that these outbursts have always been fostered and supported by the very top of the Republican party. Part of it is emotionally instability: Boehner in an emotional meltdown on the very of tears screaming on the house floor Sunday night was a defining moment, and the only way they know how to react is to threaten people with violence, just as the Republican called people traitors and terrorists for questioning Bush's judgment on the Iraq war. These are not good, moral, or stable people. When you sign up with a party that supports the use of torture, what do you expect? It's a culture steeped in the philosophy and culture of violence. It's a culture in which parents either lash out in violence or toss out and cut off their gay children. When abuse, violence, and torture is all you know and what has been preached to you day in and day out in the radio and in your town hall meetings and by your politicians, what can you expect?

These are people who gave themselves over to unconditional support of Bush and ended up humiliated for their moral errors. Because their is no defense for their past, they need to attack, attack, attack to distract from the errors of what they did.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

@dcunning1: "They are the scared, ignorant, angry, bitter people who float up like worms after a rain storm, whenever there is big change. Change they CAN'T believe in...or understand? They were there when Lincoln was shot, they were there when the Kennedy's were shot. They're always there."

Wow. Those sound like dangerous, terrible people. The world would probably be better off without them. If the government can't or won't act to subdue these horrible people, perhaps you should take matters into your own hands. Now, I'm not condoning violence, but . . .

Seriously. They must be stopped. Before our country is destroyed.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

How right you are Ezra! Now let's hear from a great education reformer, his comments would shed light on this situation, Bill, Bill, where are you Bill Ayers?

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | March 25, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"When Rep. Devin Nunes begs his colleagues to say "no to socialism, no to totalitarianism and no to this bill"; when Glenn Beck says the bill "is the end of America as you know it"; when Sarah Palin says the bill has "death panels" -- that stuff matters."

When a president with a strong socialist background and influences says he's going to "Fundamentally Transform" America -- how does that not mean "the end of America as you know it?" When people espouse socialist principles and try to make them law, how is that not socialism? (Should we ask Al Sharpton, who recently said that America voted for socialism when it voted for Obama?) "Socialism" isn't a playground insult, it is a word and it has a meaning.

And in what country has socialism not lead to totalitarianism? In what country that has adopted socialist policies has liberty -- especially in matters of health care, not been severely curbed by law? Rationing is rationing. Any government entity that decides who gets what treatment when has control over life and death -- "death panels" is as apt a description as any. Obamacare proponents just don't like the ugly fact it points out, so they want it stricken from our language.

We can't make strong arguments to the contrary without being accused of stirring up violence? Seriously????

Posted by: philmon | March 25, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

NEWSFLASH for Ezra and his comrades at MSNBC! If you guys don't like free speech, move to Canada!!!!!!!!

Posted by: KM63 | March 25, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@Reesh: "Wasn't the federal employee, Vernon Hunter, who died in the IRS plane crash, a victim of a "patriot" gone crazy with his own and other anti-government ideas? "

You mean the guy who left a long rant before flying his airplane into the IRS building, one in which he attacked the IRS, the Catholic Church, the super-rich, Arthur Andersen, Patrick Moynihan, George W. Bush, the FAA, Capitalism (and ends with what can only be a sympathetic reference to communism)? The right wing is full of anti-capitalist, super-rich hating, Geroge-W.-Bush-dissing communists? Really?

Or, do we just assume that any time anybody does something crazy, he just must wear the same political labels of other people we don't agree with, as that helps damn them via guilt-by-association?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

No Ezra, this breathtakingly under qualified/over ego'd president is what's dangerous.

The rest of us are practicing something called free speech.

Posted by: IUT1 | March 25, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

No one can predict what may happen. I know I am fed up to HERE with government: I am tired of hearing about government, I am tired of thinking about government, I am tired of having government shoved into my face.

I am tired of sanctimonious, supercilious lawyers and journalists who make their livings pandering to, and prattling on and on about, "the government".

I am sick and tired of activist Judges making it possible for people who are not citizens of the United States of America to enjoy and benefit from the privileges of U.S. citizenship. I am sick and tired of government corruption.

I have voted. I have tried my best to be an upstanding, productive, peaceful, peace-loving citizen. I have done all that I can do in a peaceful way to protest and battle against the daily outrages and corruptions committed by the ever-growing octopus-tentacled government. Nothing I have done has made any difference. I have been ridiculed and fined and warned to be quiet.

People with political views that are diametrically opposed to everything I have been taught and everything I believe are now in control of the government and are making the government preeminent over all else in my daily life. I have no trust in their government. I have no faith in their government. I despise them and their government.

EXAMPLE: Before I can bake a pie and sell it on the street, I must hire an attorney to help me conform to Government Pie Baking Regulations. My first employee must be a government-lawyer.

I am sick and tired of the government. I want the government to leave me alone. I want the government to protect the borders, provide a clean water supply, plenty of electric power, and keep the roads and bridges passable and safe. Otherwise, I want to hear very little of anything from or about The Government. No more Government Intrusion!

What can I do to make my vision of government a reality? What must I do to rid myself of these wretched government officers who are disrupting my life & eating out my substance?

Whatever it takes to eliminate the irritating corruption of this Constant Government Intrusion & Turmoil is what is necessary and vice versa. Enough is enough.

p.s. here is a site some here may have already seen. Lovely pictures of sweet, peaceful, west coast Leftists showing their displeasure with government:

Posted by: ironmule | March 25, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

@hotpoet66: "The hatemongers of television and radio are winding people up and creating a dangerous atmosphere. Anyone remember Rwanda? That civil war was caused by hate radio. Never doubt the power of words to instigate fear and hatred."

Well, before America turns into Rwanda, we had better do something. We need to take action. Before our country is utterly destroyed by these right wing kooks. And if the government and the police aren't going to stop these conservative fascists, who will? That's all I'm saying.

Civility. By any means necessary.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Remember folks, any dissent from the leftist agenda is "hate speech." Any criticism of Obama is "racism." And a big government take-over of private sector activity is not "socialism" it's just "spreading the wealth around." In the future, please do not criticize Obama or the democrats as they are always right, and you, the American people are ignorant, misguided or just plain wrong.

Posted by: jedsil | March 25, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It's OK when the Left does it, I guess:

Posted by: grunk | March 25, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "I am still mystified why someone like you would vote for a party clearly taken over by the fringe."

I don't know of a political party, right now, that I don't think is largely dominated by the fringe. While some people may be willing to dismiss the fringe that largely agrees with them as being just a little too far out there, but they are substantively on the correct side, so we have to cut them some slack . . . I don't see a significant difference.

While this becomes an argument of moral equivalence, that's how I see both sides. Even in these comments, I'm struck by the large number of hostile posts that, while they may not directly call for violence against "right wing hate mongers", certainly describe with some vehemence the sorts of people violence might ought be done to. All in the name of opposing hate speech! But I'm pretty sure the people writing such missives do so without a hint of irony. They don't see any parallels, or moral equivalence, and I'm not going to make them.

But I digress. I vote for the Republicans because they are, on the whole, more conservative than the Democrats and I am philosophically a conservative.

"Their ideas are dangerous and have resulted in this recession and a mountain of debt that makes it almost impossible to fight our way out of it."

I disagree with this, but will not debate it. I understand that is your point of view.

"At best your votes are based on your 'inclination' that something sounds right about supply-side economics (or similar issue), yet quantitative results and recent history prove otherwise."

Again, I disagree, but indepth argument should be reserved for another time. Let's just say, every time "supply side" is supposedly tried (like socialism), there are compromises and other factors involved, so it's sort of like saying that exercise has been tried, but hasn't improved your health. Well, perhaps that's because you also started smoking, and eating pure Crisco (well-salted) at every meal.

"Come all the way out of the dark please."

Oh, I did that already. I stopped being liberal 20 years ago. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Maybe this is restricted to the internet, but honestly I think this represents a major problem for the Republican party. Restricting ourselves to the world of blog comments, for every Kevin Willis and visionbrkr that will engage in a substantive discussion of policy, there are 10 crazies that just scream nonsense. Those crazies exist on the left too, no doubt about that, but they seem to be much fewer in number. I'm not sure what kind of debate can exist when one side is (hopefully temporarily) overpowered by its wingnuts.

And to the people mindlessly chanting "free speech," no one's saying that these GOP leaders shouldn't have the right to use strong language. The criticism is that the language they're using is dangerous and stupid. Get it through your heads that criticizing someone's speech isn't an attack on free speech itself. It's an exercise of free speech in its own right.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 25, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Maybe people are reacting because the idiots who are supposed to represent the people have decided to oppress them instead?

Posted by: seraphina2 | March 25, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

OH, THERE YOU GO AGAIN, EZRA....making all those ancient comments about Lieberman, but failing to understand the depth of his thinking on significant issues...right or wrong....but then, I don't expect muckrakers who spew out everyone else's thoughts...rather than his a "hate" column...I guess yours falls into that bailiwick, along with Beck and Company...include Gibbs, the President's "Press" Secretary? I assume you would......he is hardly a Press Secretary based on those who have occupied that position in days of yore......he is a mouthpiece, isn't he?......but we can classify him, can't are a little more....not a lot more...but I little more...difficult to enjoy writing...and attempt to use it to your advantage...never a straight out "this is what I think," like Beck, etal.......rather like the sophomore journalism major who uses every other person and/organization to support HIS views...vis a vis, the CBO......I happen to disagree with their numbers....when your employer wants me to write a guest editorial, have them ask me......I will refuse, of course, as I am rather proud of the company I keep. Keep writin', kid.

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 25, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Right before the election Mr. Obama promised that he would "fundamentally transform the United States of America." So, when you call for revolution don't be surprised when get one.

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: EJHill | March 25, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

Most Leftists won't have a clue where that quote came from, but they may want to do a little research. It is not the GOP leadership that is whipping up the masses against these socialists, it is our founding fathers writings and admonitions. This is evolving into a civil war and the laws that have traditionally bound this nation together mean nothing at the moment. Our glorious leader has proven that if no one else has.

Posted by: Chief1942 | March 25, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The GOP and Tea Party need to be held to the same standards as the schoolyard bully or the criminal who almost kills a family by cutting the propane cable or threatens the family left alone with children when the husband is at work. Future actions already planned are massive amounts of guns taken to DC on April 19th. Time for Homeland Security, the FBI and the Southern Law Center to focus on this serious threat to US security. No way to yell "freedom of speech" after yelling "fire" in the crowded theater.

Posted by: LillithMc | March 25, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@etdean1: "Maybe this is restricted to the internet, but honestly I think this represents a major problem for the Republican party."

No, it's not restricted to the internet, alas. Though people are often more thoughtful about what they say to people's faces.

"Restricting ourselves to the world of blog comments, for every Kevin Willis and visionbrkr that will engage in a substantive discussion of policy, there are 10 crazies that just scream nonsense."

I guess there's a reason National Review Online doesn't allow comments on their articles, a form of social interaction almost every major online publication offers.

I think, generally, you tend to find less right-wing crazies on right wing sites like Red State or commenting on conservative blogs (not none, just less), and more left-wing crazies commenting on conservative sites (thought not red state, because they saw the problem as being so bad on other sites, they have a policy against left-wing crazies). That is, I think the crazies, on both sides, tend to be attracted to sites where they can be oppositional, rather than sympathetic. They *want* to argue and fight. If they yell that "Bush is a war criminal" or "Obama is a socialist", they don't want responses like, "Well, I tend to agree, but let's not be so hyperbolic". They want a fight.

Debate may be difficult, but what do you do when your side is dominated by wingnuts? Abandon your principles? Say, "well, I guess I'm wrong about these political principles, because these folks who are in the same club I'm in are acting like lunatics"?

I think it's an issue, but, historically, I don't think it's a dominant one in terms of gaining political power or moving forward on an agenda.

The Republican's problem in that regard would be having a coherent positive agenda (with tax cuts!) and running on a coherent platform.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse


While your political enemies will only hear the malapropisms and ill-considered comments, and tend to focus on the real and imagined rantings of the fringe of a your party, the base, independents, and swing voters will tend to take in the whole picture, and if your party is offering a coherent agenda and running on digestible specifics (and the party you're running against seems weak on key issues, like the economy or national security), the fringe isn't as big a problem. There has been a political fringe, often quite vociferous, since the beginning of government.

Even the Republican's recent hyperbole in the congress pales in comparison to what some members of that august body have said back in the early days of our government.

And, as I recall, opposition newspapers characterized Thomas Jefferson as both a British sympathizer (the equivalent to being called a terrorist), an atheist, and suggested that buildings would burn, blood would run in the streets, and all women would have to become prostitutes if Jefferson was elected. So we may have something to fear from fear-mongering, but it was been with us a long time, and has a long and storied tradition in American politics.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, what's REALLY dangerous is the MSM in articles such as yours that promotes the so called fear mongering. This is much MORE SERIOUS especially when it is so obvious to whom and for what you are inferring. Truly, this is the more serious danger to our country.

Posted by: stepup | March 25, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"I don't know of a political party, right now, that I don't think is largely dominated by the fringe."


Consider these facts. Despite huge pressure from the left, the Obama administration has never appointed a special prosector to look into illegalities about torture and detention policies in the Bush years. The Democratic Congress has not held hearings on that subject, or on the deliberations and possible misrepresentations that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Obama has stayed on the Bush timetable for winding down the war in Iraq. He has dramatically escalated the war in Afghanistan and increased the covert fighting in Pakistan. He has retained Bush's Defense Secretary.

He has retained Bush's Fed Chairman, and the TARP strategy under Obama was consistent with the policy under Bush.

The health care law just passed is nearly identical to the plan pushed by Bob Dole and the Republicans in 1993. Yet now Orrin Hatch, who was an advocate of the mandate, tells Fox News that he has since "studied the issue" and determined it is "totalitarianism."

The Obama agenda has been consistently centrist, but the Republican leadership inevitably describes it as extremist, and the result can be seen in the comments of countless trolls here, who are convinced that they are the victims of a tyrannical socialist plot. This rhetorical overkill is unhealthy, and it will not help the Republicans win over mainstream voters.

By the way, Hatch says: “The more I studied since then, the more I've looked at it, the more I've come to the conclusion it would be unconstitutional to force people to buy something they don't want to buy.”

Hatch and others that hold this view must also now conclude that George Washington was a totalitarian tyrant, since the Second Militia Act of 1792 required American citizens to purchase all sorts of military equipment.

The Congress that passed that act (as well as the President who signed it into law) was filled with the very founders who had written and signed the US Constitution. So I guess that Orrin Hatch knows more about their intent than they themselves did?

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant..."They are burning the Reichstag" ploy...Ezra get a grip on up a little...

Posted by: warlord3 | March 25, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You smoke crack Ezra.

Let’s see some proof about these "threats". Last time someone threw a brick through a Democrat window it was a Democrat trying to pretend they're victims. All the real violence and threats have been coming from leftist union thugs who are actually beating people up, and we have evidence and video of it, not Sheila Jackson Lee lying about someone calling her a name on their little walk that was videoed by about a thousand video cameras!

This bill is not about healthcare. It is about the difference between liberal, limited government, and unlimited tyranny. No one is using hyperbole. You simply choose to ignore that Congress has now assumed the power (completely illegally) to force our citicens into contracts with private companies, and to force us to buy products. They are hireing 17,000 new Gestapo to enforce it. Look it up, it’s in the bill.

The only radical is you. The danger comes from SEIU, and totalitarian leftists like you who think this is just a health bill. If you wanted the stuff you tout it could have passed in a bi-partisan way. The reason it didn’t is because it is an abomination, and you are a domestic enemy of the Constitution, and everyone who has ever taken an oath to defend it. That is either out of stupidity, or because you are indeed a leftist totalitarian.

Posted by: speaktopower | March 25, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I am so tired of the attacks from the left wing press about violence, remarks, etc. When Bush was being villified for years where was Ezra Klein. Did he defend him from many people comparing him to Hitler? How about last week when Pro health care activists were threatening Bart Stupak, I didn't hear anything from Klein, MSNBC or NY Times. You are such a hypocrite.

Can't wait until November to throw the bums out.

Posted by: sr1730 | March 25, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

EJHill: "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere." --Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787

I am reading a great deal of criticism of Republican and tea-party incivility, and suggestions that "Time for Homeland Security, the FBI and the Southern Law Center to focus on this serious threat to US security." But what's the ultimate outcome here? Imprison people who say hostile things? Shut them up, somehow? Sue them?

It's one thing to complain about fear-mongering, (or, as some here are doing, fear-monger about fear-mongering), quite another to do anything about it. Do you try and rephrase the arguments or objections (as Ezra did) in less belligerent language? Or do you make vague assertions that "the FBI" should be brought in, or that something needs to be done to stop to hate-mongers?

Thomas Jefferson seemed to think rebellion against government is better done wrong than not done at all. Of course, he was philosophically supportive of the French revolution, and look how that turned out.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@speaktopower: "You smoke crack Ezra."

Not that Ezra is going to wade through all these comments, but I wouldn't find that a convincing argument, if I were him.

"The reason it didn’t is because it is an abomination, and you are a domestic enemy of the Constitution, and everyone who has ever taken an oath to defend it. That is either out of stupidity, or because you are indeed a leftist totalitarian."

The only thing we have to fear is Ezra Klein!

Really? Are you serious? Or are you just a troll?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It's a small point, but Devin Nunes was only elected to Congress in 2002, so he's not been serving with his current colleagues for much more than 7 years. Those seven years have been witness to much of this hyperactive demagoguery, with none of the oft-overrated-but-existent mitigating collegiality that once controlled Congress, making his indulgence somewhat less surprising.

Posted by: | March 25, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

LillithMc writes "No way to yell 'freedom of speech' after yelling 'fire' in the crowded theater."

People like you love to use this much-mangled quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes without regard to its accuracy or circumstance. First, Holmes used it to justify bringing charges of espionage against anti-war protesters, something I'm not sure you would agree with. Secondly, the actual quote is "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." Note the word FALSELY. If the theater IS on fire then one has the DUTY to yell fire. There are many who view this bill as an erosion on individual liberty and self reliance and puts us farther down the road of the soft tyranny of the paternalistic nanny state.

As historian Victor Davis Hanson points out, "Like it or not, between 2001 and 2008, the 'progressive' community redefined what is acceptable and not acceptable in political and public discourse about their elected officials. Slurs like 'Nazi' and 'fascist' and 'I hate' were no longer the old street-theater derangement of the 1960s, but were elevated to high-society novels, films, political journalism, and vein-bulging outbursts of our elites."

You and Mr. Klein are only reaping what you have sown.

Posted by: EJHill | March 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: "Consider these facts. Despite huge pressure from the left, the Obama administration has never appointed a special prosector to look into illegalities about torture and detention policies in the Bush years. The Democratic Congress has not held hearings on that subject, or on the deliberations and possible misrepresentations that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Fair enough. And it was smart to stay out of that potential cluster-bomb. Like impeaching Bill Clinton, such things tend to come off as pandering to the base, and as completely politically motivated.

"Obama has stayed on the Bush timetable for winding down the war in Iraq. He has dramatically escalated the war in Afghanistan and increased the covert fighting in Pakistan. He has retained Bush's Defense Secretary."

In all fairness, I'm not talking about Obama. Outside of John Edwards, I don't think any of the Democrat candidates for the party were fringe candidates. I wasn't trying to imply that, but "dominated by the fringe" I meant everybody, or Obama in particular. Obama has been a very moderate president, and I don't think he gets credit for that.

"He has retained Bush's Fed Chairman, and the TARP strategy under Obama was consistent with the policy under Bush."

Well, just because the TARP strategy originated under Bush doesn't mean it wasn't atrocious. The responsible thing to do would have been to scrap it. Maintaining TARP isn't fringe, but, again, I wasn't trying to say Obama was a fringe candidate! Far from it. You see the Southpark with Obama and McCain? I think that's how it went down. Obama is just slightly to the left of McCain. Just a little bit.

"The health care law just passed is nearly identical to the plan pushed by Bob Dole and the Republicans in 1993."

I think I've noted that in comments before. Also, note I did not vote in the Dole/Clinton contest because I couldn't get motivated.

"The Obama agenda has been consistently centrist, but the Republican leadership inevitably describes it as extremist"

Yes, politics. Unfortunate. But would the reverse be happening if this was the Bush agenda and the Democratic leadership were characterizing, say, Social Security Reform? Actually, I think it did.

"This rhetorical overkill is unhealthy, and it will not help the Republicans win over mainstream voters."

It will not help the Republicans win over centrist to center-left voters, at least. But some swing voters must either respond to, or not care about, the over-the-top rhetoric, or they wouldn't end up voting the way they do.

Do I like it? No. But all I can myself is not participate in the hyperbole.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Lomillialor wrote:
>The claim that SEIU members beatup a tea-bagger are unprovable. The video in question (google is easy to find it) shows only the tail end of a minor scuffle.

Elston McCowan, 47, of St. Louis, and Perry Molens, 50, of De Soto, SEIU organizers, have been indicted and are facing court trials for assaulting Kenneth Gladney in St. Louis in the case you refer to. I would suggest you leave the provability to the jury. They are also on video recordings calling Mr. Gladney the 'N' word. Happily, there are no current reports of anguished and affronted Congressional Black Caucus members. One more correction: Mr. Gladney attended the protest as an entrepreneur to sell souvenirs. Apolitical prior to the event, Mr. Gladney was moved by the SEIU to take political positions contrary to those which their persuasions intended.

Ezra, if I refer to SEIU organizers as brown shirts, will you be Ok?

Posted by: jchu592 | March 25, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

What nonsense, this is an orchestrated move by the administration and it's allies in the media to change the subject and at the same time slime the GOP. Black Panthers with clubs outside voting stations are deemed harmless but fake stories about congressmen being spit on etc. are promoted as being serious. Obamacare is extremely unpopular with the American public, pointing out of the room at phony threat stories won't change that fact.

Posted by: patgig1 | March 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"But would the reverse be happening if this was the Bush agenda and the Democratic leadership were characterizing, say, Social Security Reform? Actually, I think it did."


I am sure that it was described as an effort to destroy Social Security and as an effort that would undermine the well-being of seniors.

But the narrow point I am making is that I don't think (correct me if you have examples to the contrary) that party leadership used words like "totalitarianism" or "socialist" to describe the Republican agenda. This kind of terminology goes beyond the edges of the American conservative-liberal debate, and implies an effort to change the fundamental nature of the American government. In turn, this sets off a "dog whistle" effect to people past the fringes, which is ugly and potentially dangerous.

I don't mind hyperbole in American politics, but I think there are reasonable and rational limits to the message that is being sent. A deft politician like Ronald Reagan started out in the 60's decrying Medicare as "socialized" medicine, but by the time he became President he knew how to intone the simple word "liberal" and make it sound like an object of ridicule. Less is more.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Democrats wrote the book on fear-mongering? Who is the Post kidding???

Posted by: Frishoo | March 25, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Who is this priss? Nobody wants anyone harmed, but do you recall any such concern when Pres. Bush was called every vile thing in the book and the Anti-War kooks took to the streets with their vandalism, Mr. Klein had no concern then, it was the patriotic thing to do. Liberals are such lairs--you know in the recent months when something bad did happen, it turned out to be a Democrat, who was trying to cast blame on the Tea Party.
These people are trying to bankrupt this nation--liberals have destroyed Massachusetts and California, the country is next>

Posted by: Sherri04 | March 25, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: " I don't think (correct me if you have examples to the contrary) that party leadership used words like 'totalitarianism' or 'socialist' to describe the Republican agenda"

Well, I have heard "from the needy to the greedy" and "those crooks haven't worked an honest day in their life" (describing Republicans) and "war monger", and many other things, but not all from the top leadership ("fascist","modern day robber barons"), so I don't want to confuse them. Perhaps the leadership of the Republicans has gone off the deep end (I wouldn't disagree with that). If it's really off the hook, they will be punished at the ballot box.

"A deft politician like Ronald Reagan started out in the 60's decrying Medicare as 'socialized' medicine, but by the time he became President he knew how to intone the simple word 'liberal' and make it sound like an object of ridicule. Less is more."

You'll get no disagreement from me. I would argue that many of the Republicans inside the beltway, if not 99% of them, are less philosophical conservatives (as Reagan was) than political warriors, trash-talking their opponents without making the substantive argument for their views. Even if you don't make a deep argument ("drill, baby, drill!"), it can be exciting and compelling without veering off into vitriol. Obama may be many things, and may even be philosophically a socialist, but that's not how he is governing. So it's not a meaningful critique. Healthcare Reform may represent over-regulation, additional government bureaucracy, and the CBO score might be wrong--but it's not totalitarianism.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Yea Kevin, that is exactly what I said....? I’m not afraid of the totalitarian left, I’m afraid of Ezra Klein! Your reading comprehension is sooo good you must be a constitutional scholar who is edited by Barak Obama, editor of the Harvard Law Review, or so we are told...

Ezra did not vote for an unconstitutional law, but he supports those who did. I am way past believing that leftists are actually this stupid, or that you don’t understand arguments about liberal, limited government. It is now crystal clear that you simply don’t care.

I am afraid we are going to find out who believes in what and how much fairly soon.

Posted by: speaktopower | March 25, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Cantor Says Campaign Office Was Shot At, Accuses Dems of Exploiting Threats

Posted by: grunk | March 25, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The world has gone insane!

I can't fathom how this world has come to the place where they people who are called dangerous are those how call someone a killer for killing unborn babies versus the ones who are actually do the killing!

Really? Wake up people! It's murder! What side of the skin you are on doesn't change the fact that its a person.

God have mercy on us, please!

Posted by: IveHadEnough | March 25, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, in 6 months, given that we won't be living in a tyrannical dictatorship come September, you will all have egg on your faces. All this violent rhetoric and emotional freakouts for nothing except for humiliating your wives and children while you act like such jackasses. Couldn't get off your lazy butts to get upset about the use of torture, stupid wars, or Republican corruption. But oooohhh... advocate modest health care reform and you freak out like a bunch of deranged animals.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Even Cokie Roberts (not exactly a flaming liberal) wrote in her column this week that Beck is like a terrorist and is a tratior to American values. Perhaps the backlash against this hate speech and fearmongering has begun.

Here's the relevant paragraphs:

We are not denying Beck or anyone else their First Amendment rights. He can say anything he wants. But advertisers don't have to support his brand of hate mongering, and audiences don't have to take Fox News seriously if one of its top names has become a "circus clown."

Actually, Beck is worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well -- a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend.

Posted by: FauxReal | March 25, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@FauxReal: "Even Cokie Roberts (not exactly a flaming liberal)"

You're serious? I mean, sure, she might be to the right of Uncle Joe, but she's pretty darn liberal.

"wrote in her column this week that Beck is like a terrorist and is a tratior to American values. Perhaps the backlash against this hate speech and fearmongering has begun"

Which, if Glen Beck was saying it about Cokie Roberts for something she had said about George W. Bush, would be considered fearmongering and hate speech.

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I find the use of fear-mongering hate-speech to condemn and combat fear-mongering hate-speech to be highly ironic. And very meta.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@constans; "Well, in 6 months, given that we won't be living in a tyrannical dictatorship come September, you will all have egg on your faces."

That would require an objective assessment of reality, which seems unlikely.

That being said, if they remain this worked up until November comes and manage to put Republicans into a majority in one or both of the houses (this is not a prediction that that will happen, BTW), I think they might cool down some. Not guaranteeing it, and I'm afraid the Republican leadership will be worse, but . . . it'll just serve you Democrats right for trying to provide health insurance to poor people. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Patrick_M: wrote "I don't think (correct me if you have examples to the contrary) that party leadership used words like 'totalitarianism' or 'socialist' to describe the Republican agenda"

I couldn't care less how politicians categorize each other. It's the disdain that that the Democrats have for the American people that bother me. When Obama describes his fellow Americans as "bitter" people "who cling to their guns or religion" or the late John Murtha describing his own constituents as racists that's the real problem. And you see it from the mainstream media folks like Ezra, that basically the American people are too stupid to understand that this is in their best interest. Or as Joe Kline of Time says of America: "Too Dumb to Thrive" (Time blog 1/25/10)

Posted by: EJHill | March 25, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh please the crocodile tears.

Obama, on a daily basis, has been fear mongering on health care for years now, including his campaign. Any disagreement with his policies and immediate chants from the left and media of "racist, racist, racist!!!". Pelosi is a chief fear monger. Now add the Democrats legislators whining over the last week about NON-EXISTANT race calling and threats. Gad, how more hypocritical and absolutely blind can you be!

Republicans out of wack my *ss. Compared to the constant whining and fear mongering of Democrats, and liberal hypocrites of the Washington Post, anything from the Republicans/Tea Party is a well-mannered civilized "tea".

Posted by: pnkearns | March 25, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse


Why are you condemning "fear-mongering" while promoting fear-mongering of violence against "those who voted for" Obamacare, while ignoring up the shooting up of congressman's office who voted "against Obamacare".

This is truly progressive fear-mongering. Where was your outrage when progressives were spitting on our returning soldiers, and when union thugs were baseball-batting those at tea parties?

Posted by: hardmanb | March 25, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I was going to write an intelligent comment, but realized that responding to this blind idiot would be a complete waste of bits and pixels. Oh darn, I just wasted some.

Posted by: dnha | March 25, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I guess we are talking about those evil left wing people who fired shots into Republican Eric Cantor's office today. The violence usually exhibited through the 20th and 21st centuries have been by the left. Amazing when unsubstantiated threats cause so much alarm when the left usually celebrates mayhem caused by people on their side, because a cause might be deemed good. Even Obamas first fundraising parties was held at Ayers house who was a member of the weather underground carrying out firebombing and said he wished they did more. ELF another great left organization that believes firebombing car dealerships, buildings in Vail etc.. justify the means.

Posted by: skicolorado | March 25, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse


Jack Murtha simply expressed the opinion that there were some people in his Pennsylvania district who were not ready to elect an African-American in 2008. If you don't believe that there were any people with racial bias living in Pennsylvania in 2008, you are entitled to that opinion, but expressing that simple fact about the cultural demographics within his district hardly means that Murtha had "disdain for the American people."

You might want to learn about how passionately Murtha fought for American service members and veterans for so many decades before you try to paint him that way.

Likewise, you ignore the context of Obama's inartfully expressed private comment. The thought that he was expressing was that the political interests of many middle Americans had been so poorly served in recent decades that now too often their agenda is confined to protecting against perceived threats to their first amendment rights like the right to bear arms and religious freedom. He was lamenting the fact that they no longer feel engaged in the broader political debate on matters of substantive domestic and foreign policy.

Obama apologized for the way the remarks were phrased, and most people understood what he meant and got over it a lot more quickly than you have.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"The violence usually exhibited through the 20th and 21st centuries have been by the left."

You may want to read about the history of the labor movement and the civil rights movement in America.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I watched an anti-war protest in DC where Bush was depicted hanging from a gallows, his image was burned, people held signs calling him a murderer, a war criminal, threatening his execution and the rape of his daughters...I would say the repubs have been pretty tame. I dont remember every reading an article by Ezra suggesting that things should be more civil and people should not be so angry. Violence against tyranny is an american tradition...and the duty of every this bill tyranny? pelosi say "we wont know whats in it until after it is passed"...we shall all see in time.

Posted by: PSOG | March 25, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The health care bill is wealth redistribution plain and simple. It does nothing to control costs. Howard Dean agreed with these points today on CNBC. He also argued that he thought the additional taxes on the wealthy and on business, were not enough to stifle investment or job growth.

The point is that if you take wealth from those who create it, and you increase taxes and make it more expensive to hire labor you soon find that wealth and job creation flows to an economy that is more friendly to wealth. Ironically, tax reciepts also tend to decline when tax rates go up....those are the facts.

Who can really be surprised people are VERY angry. Higher taxes, fewer jobs, bigger deficits, creating more dependence on a bankrupt (morally and fiscally)federal government. Ultimately people understand that the impending bankruptcy of the federal government will reduce our childrens' standard of living and increase inflation.

Nothing to get too worked up about I suppose.

Posted by: ELFopportunity | March 25, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

In other words, fear-mongering is good when Ezra Klein does it, and fear-mongering is bad when conservatives do it.

Klein is trying to evade the fact that the bill is coercive, that it forces the private sector and individual citizens. It is a violation of the rights of citizens to spend their money however they wish and pursue medical insurance however they wish. Yet, when citizens coerce the lawmakers back, Klein can't stand the heat.

Ask yourself: Why does Klein think he was "ill-advised" in using the word "cause" in his criticism of Lieberman? Was it because he thought it was untrue? (He does think it untrue--it is too ridiculous to be believed--but that is not why). He thinks it was ill-advised because it would presumably agitate people whom he indicates are irrational.

Well, the left is irrational, but the larger point is this: Klein thinks we should censor our own speech, even though true, so as not to inflame the passions of unpredictable untermenschen.

I can think of no more intellectually bankrupt AND dishonest position.

Posted by: G418 | March 25, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Since David Koch (primary funder of Tea Party activities) is true believer in the free market at all costs and apparently doesn't believe in our actual political system, the appropriate way to show public opinion would be to "vote with your wallet" as they say. The most obvious consumer line looks like Invista ( which makes things like Lycra fiber, Stainmaster carpeting, Cordura durable fabrics. So go buy/not-buy and vote the way our founders would have wanted it.

Posted by: lkslongboarder | March 25, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Fear of fear-mongering? Must be talking about the Dems in Congress.

Posted by: bremen89 | March 25, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Whereas the DNC's fear mongering is just delightful!

- The world is going to end because of Global Warming!

- Racists are going to kill Obama

- Bankers are wrecking the world!

- The GOP hates puppies and only by voting for a "progressive" will they be saved.

Both parties are guilty of it, and pointing out the hyperbole of one and ignoring your own simply makes Mr. Klein a hypocrite and a tool of the DNC. As a shorthand, I encourage you all to simply refer to him as a Tool.

Posted by: Matt_in_Chicago | March 25, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

There is a fundamental difference between how people on the right and people on the left view themselves and therefore their fellow citizens. I consider myself an average joe..happy to be one. I am not the hardest worker I know or the laziest. or the smartest or the dumbest. I am not the richest but support myself and my family without a single government social program. I am conservative because I figure my country is made up of people like me. Reasonably smart, reasonably hard-working people capable of taking care of themselves and their families. I dont want or need someone to hold my hand while I pee and I dont think most Americans do. Therefore I am conservative. Liberals believe that they have super intellects, that if there were a God, their intellects would rival his/hers. The also believe that most americans, left to their own devices, would lie around all day in their own escrement. They feel, because of their superiority, that they must force the government to take care of all the inferior among us who cannot care for themselves. To them it is a type of compassion without actually having to give their own money.

I dont believe I am superior to my fellow citizen so I cant be liberal...I am cursed with the belief that the American people, if allowed, can stop sucking from the government teet and survive on their own. Sorry, its just a defect in my personality I guess.

Posted by: PSOG | March 25, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"thehersch" So shouldn't the New Black Panther party, who were holding billy clubs in front of polls durring election day be tried and convicted? Oh, but they were Black. Shouldn't Prince Barry, yes, I believe he wants to be King, or maybe dictator, throw out the 4 people in his cabinate who have talked about how terrible Israel is and that we might "blow thier planes out of the air" if they go into Iraq airspace? Why is it I am called a rasist if I am against everything the President is trying to do for the country. I don't care that he is Black, why do you? He is a demigod who is trying to make this country part of the third world, THAT is what I hate, it does not matter that he is Black, half Black, White, Asian, or Purple. He is driving this country into the ground because all his life he has been brought up by radicals. He is a fear monger, he is the best fear monger as a matter of fact. Scum, and it is still my right, for now at least, that I can say this

Posted by: dj2645m | March 25, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

You Ezra, are an idiot. If you do not realize that this is the first step to socialized medicine, just look at your own words 2 months ago. The sky is not going to instantly fall, it is creeping slowly closerso we do not realize it until we are crushed. AMerica is changed, as Obama said "we are no different from any other country" That Ezra, is the problem. He is doing just what your liberal NEA is doing, dumming us down.

ALSO, did you see that Jessie Jackson Jr was filming the whole "walk" confrontation, yes, ask yourself why did San Fran Nan walk through the protesters? And why were thier staffers filming it? Don't you think if they had one smidgen of evidence that ANYONE had slandered Barney, you know, the Congressman who's boyfriend was arrested in Barneys house growing Pot? Or the other one who was running a Male escprt service out of Barneys condo, that he would be screeminig at the top of his lungs? Why don't you do your job and at least try to look like you are unbiased

Posted by: dj2645m | March 25, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

What bogus piety. Where were all you chumps when SEIU thugs are filmed beating up some guy? Bush assassination books and film? Lefty rage runs unchecked for years, but now its different. Keep peddling this Dem playbook strategy of calling the opposition names. Schoolyard games. Your side is going to get absolutely smoked in November.

Posted by: leftybs | March 25, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The other way to look at it would be that we should celebrate that fact that people are primarily using peacefull protests to make sure that their concerns are being heard. The craziness at the fringes and the organizers lack of honesty (in some cases) shouldn't distrat us from the central truth the peaceful protest is a good thing.

Criminal matters should be dealt with by the crimal justice system, not political actors. Otherwise we're really screwed.

Posted by: lkslongboarder | March 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

A bullet was fired at Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R) office today.

All of these actions are absurd. The growing of the federal government is what the outrage is about.

"You cannot help the poor, by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak, by weakening the strong. You cannot help men permanently, by doing for them what they could and should, do for themselves" - A. Lincoln

Posted by: RightorWrongHmmm | March 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"And one will cut the gas lines leading to house of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother after seeing a tea partyer post the address online."

Pot meet kettle. You're accusing others of ratcheting up the rhetoric, yet you just did it yourself. You have absolutely no idea who cut the gas line or why. The family had been away from the home (on vacation, I believe) and they don't know when the line was cut, how it was cut, or why. It could have absolutely nothing to do with the congressman.

Violence and threats against anyone are reprehensible and inexcusable. However, it's happening on BOTH sides of the aisle, and it is not being promoted, enhanced or committed by the Republican party. Both the GOP and Tea Party leaders all over the county have forcefully condemned what's going on, and I have yet to hear a Democrat do the same. Instead, they are using to garner political points, and that must also stop.

Posted by: anna_78750 | March 25, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree, I too am outraged by the growth of the federal government.

Unlike Republicans, however, I believe that ALL debt is wrong.

Military debt - needs to be decreased because it's not being paid for. Social security? Needs to go. Medicare? Goodbye.

Unfortunately for the Tea Party of Lies, Republicans (not Democrats) are more responsible for the growth in federal debt over the past 20 years. Reagan won the Cold War by cranking up the federal debt!

Why is it that under all Republican presidents, "deficits don't matter" -- but now that it's curiously convenient, they start to pay attention to something as basic as a balance sheet? If this was not explicitly partisan, Tea Partiers would have been doing this when Medicare Part D was passed... under reconciliation.

Cognitive dissonance much, Republicans?

Posted by: Unsympathetic | March 25, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I love it.

Let the Republicans and the Tea Party folks show their true colors, but I will say this...

If there is a death uptown, there will be a death downtown. For the religious nuts, that translates to "an eye for an eye". Do what you will, but there will be consequences for your actions, believe that.

You aren't the only one's with guns. Funny, These nut jobs seem to picket and stage rallys in areas over run with A CERTAIN TYPE OF PERSON.

I bet a dollar to a donut these nuts won't come into area with a heavy concentration of brown folks. They know who to play with and who to spit on and that is fact.
Watch yourselves - because we are watching you.

Posted by: eps0609 | March 25, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse


You seem to have selective memory. Republicans were not happy with GWB's debt or the way the last republican Congress spent money. GWB had an approval rating of about 20% when he left office...that means a lot of repulicans were unhappy.(Obama should pay close attention his poll numbers have slid sense he gave up on post-partisanship and went spend-crazy) You will also notice that there is no longer a Republican Congress. The republicans who could have voted for those people stayed home or voted democrat. There is plenty of evidence that the Republican citizens were unhappy with republican debt just as they are with democrat debt.

Posted by: PSOG | March 25, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Who were the people who e-mailed death threats this week to Rep Jean Schmidt (Ohio-R)? Who shot at Eric Cantor's office in Richmond Monday night? Is it possible there are nuts on both sides of the health care debate? No! That can't be. In the midst of all the hysterical hand-wringing about threats against the heroic Democrats, wonder why the media failed to report these incidents of violence against Republicans until this morning when forced to acknowledge them by Cantor's statement decrying violence against anyone. Well, of course, these few crazy acts by supposed leftists are aberrations and representative of absolutely nothing whereas the threats against Dems are typical and representative of all members of the right. As we all know, the right wing is angry, stupid, and crazy. The left is cerebral, compassionate, and serene.

Posted by: wokay | March 25, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Inflammatory speech: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots - T Jefferson.

Now THAT'S INFLAMMATORY...from a fear mongering, right wing nut job ditto head teabagging PATRIOT. What d'ya think Ezra?

Posted by: JohnLeeHooker1 | March 25, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

No one shot at Cantor's office. The Richmond please are disputing his account. It seems he needed to "catapult the propaganda" to distract a gullible Fox News from the avalanche of irrational violent rage on the part of the right wingers. Come on, Republicans, want to repeal the bill? Just try it.

*Republicans were not happy with GWB's debt or the way the last republican Congress spent money*

That's a lie. Republicans were hole-hog cheering the runaway spending, irresponsible tax scams, pointless wars and the use of torture. But, oh, a modest health care reform of the sort that Romney passed and they flip their lids like the irrational children they are. here's a message Republicans: you don't have a constitutional right to run the country. You only have a constitutional right to run for office and get votes, and sometimes, like this time, you lose. The Democrats, not you, are in charge. Trying to make up for 8 years of sheer cowardice when it came to standing silent about the abuses of government (or cheering them on) isn't fooling anyone.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Ezra, I don't remember you making this argument when Bush was president. In fact, dissent was the highest form of patriotism back then. The majority of Congress has crossed the will of the American people, and you will have no choice but to shut up and take your medicine.

Posted by: DavidKeene1 | March 25, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

At a time when virtually every cellphone has video and audio recording capability, how is it that NOT ONE of the alleged incidents of racial epithets, spitting, etc., has been documented? NOT ONE. Answer? Because these are fabrications and exaggerations from the bomb throwers in what is now laughingly referred to as the "mainstream media".

In fact, Carnahan's spokeswoman just moments ago acknowledged that NO coffin was ever left on the Representative's lawn - it appears to be another prevarication of some media dimwit. Nothing more than a bungled, transparent attempt to deny and marginalize the overwhelming voices of opposition to this fraud of a bill.

How curious, too, that, for days prior to this bill's passage, you had a better chance of winning the California lottery than being able to leave a message on Stupak's "I'm sorry, mailbox is full" voicemail, but suddenly, within hours of passage, four "violence threatening" recordings manage to slip through in their entirety.

If you buffoons on the left think that tactics such as this are somehow going to mitigate the opprobrium widely associated with this force-feeding of the American public, you are as delusional as those of your colleagues who believe that you are going to be able to avoid a political bloodbath in the mid-terms. The electorate is already understanding this Alinsky-esque tactic for the diversion that it is, created solely to deflect attention from the real matter that has angered them. And they will remember in November.

Posted by: Rocks66 | March 25, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse


Richmond police dept spokeswoman confirmed to CNN (shockingly not to Fox) that someone shot Cantor's window Monday night and they are investigating it, but you know, he is a Republican so he probably shot the window himself on Monday night anticipating that he would need to lie about it Thursday morning when the Dems started saying they were receiving threats. As someone posted on another site, he's a Repub so he's a lying sack of, well, you know. Obviously, a post by another cerebral, compassionate, serene lefty, like you.

Posted by: wokay | March 25, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The Richmond Police Department just released a statement on the shooting. The skinny, per a preliminary investigation: A gun was fired into air; a bullet struck window in down direction; it broke a windowpane but did not cause any additional damage.

"March 25, 2010

The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism at the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., Richmond, Virginia. A first floor window was struck by a bullet at approximately 1 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23. The building, which has several tenants including an office used by Congressman Eric Cantor, was unoccupied at the time.

A Richmond Police detective was assigned to the case. A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.

The Richmond Police Department is sharing information about the incident with appropriate law enforcement agencies.

At this time there are no suspects."

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

As a cerebral, compassionate, serene lefty, let me be first to say how sad I am to hear that there is a hole in the window of Eric Cantor's office, which was caused by a bullet fired up into the air, and then happening to hit that particular window on its way down, and not even penetrating the blinds.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare touches the very essence of our lives and the lives of our families, especially our children. When someone tries to change things as much as Obama has, when his "reform" is quite probably the first step toward an eventual single-payer system as s many other countries suffer under--with incredibly long waits to see doctors, with emergency rooms that shut down, with people refused to receive treatments for which they could but are njot allowed to pay for themselves--is anyone really all that surprised that some people don't take kindly to having their healthcared messed with?

Posted by: ToughChoices | March 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so very scary! Obama is trying to reform healthcare--that means he's trying to end freedom as we know it! Give me a break. These people might as well call themselves the KKKteapartiers, as much of their anger is based purely on the fact that we have a mixed-race man who is in the White House and they are doing their level best to discredit everything he does. As a progressive, I would much have preferred single-payer, or at least a public option, but these modest reforms are a good start. I just was reading my former hometown paper in Galesburg, Illinois and some conservative wacko was posting that he can hardly wait for anarchy and the revolution to begin so he can go grab his gun--these people are crazy and their tactic should be utterly condemned. Of course they have the Limbaughs, Hannitys and Becks to spur them on--utterly disgusting!

Posted by: jsquires | March 25, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

To the commenter who is ranting about "socialized medicine" above, he might listen to Ronald Reagan's AMA funded recording of 1961 in which the Old Gipper warned that Medicare was socialized medicine and was the beginning of the end for America. The Old Gipper, of course, was a Corporate shill for G.E. for years. Interestingly the AMA turned an about face and supported Obama's bills, but the scare tactics of the right-wing are just the same old talking points recycled.

Posted by: jsquires | March 25, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, having freedom of speech is really dangerous. Almost as dangerous as not having freedom of speech.

Posted by: jiji1 | March 25, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The media, not just the far right media, is complicit in legitimizing unacceptable behavior by chasing every volitile Town Hall at the expense of the sane ones that actually provided accurate information and excusing inexcusable behavior with "they are angry" Angry isn't an excuse for regressive, intimidating behavior or disgusting slurs or threats of violence. Two-year-olds learn that tantrums do not work or they become bullies that their own parent's can't tolerate. Moreover, a congressman who is so emotionally unstable that he has less self-control than is expected from a kindergarten student needs to resign.

Posted by: xclntcat | March 25, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Exactly right Ezra.

There is something wrong with knowingly taking the dialogue out of real terms and descriptions into dramatic exaggerations twinged with language of revolution and violence. First it doesn't contribute to the earnest technocratic dialogue and second it may lead to another act of domestic violence like the Oklahoma federal building attack or the recent small plane attack on the IRS.

It may serve Republicans to provoke anxiety and anger Democrats, but there may be a cost to society as well. The question is whether one believes that anything goes and its all the same or instead that intelligent and meaningful debate is the goal. If real debate is the goal, then there is some reason to tone down the rhetoric because the hostility it inspires is a distraction and the violence that might occur is not justified.

And then there's levity:

Posted by: marcseltzer | March 25, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse


Ouch! You got me. I came back late to find this police report. What a bummer! That proves I was wrong to think that there are violent nuts on the left, too. Actually, when you think about it, even the guy who shot at Cantor's window was probably a right winger. I mean he's in Richmond and he owns a gun. That alone proves he's a Republican. Probably got so mad about the HC bill that he went outside and fired his gun into the air and he very nearly caused a right wing Congressman the expense of replacing a perfectly fine set of Venetian blinds. The height of recklessness!
Well, it's comforting to know there are no violent left wing nuts because that means I am safe. No one will ever mistake me for a lefty. Unlike you, I am not cerebral or compassionate and I am never serene. So the right wing nuts know I am one of them.
But I am a little confused by that voicemail where the guy yells at that Republican Congresswoman from Cincy and calls her names for voting No and says he will take his nine millimeter and shoot some tea party people. Is that guy a left wing nut? No! Can't be! Probably some innocent explanation, a wrong number or something, don't you think? I don't know. Being on the right, I'm too stupid to rationalize that one.

Posted by: wokay | March 25, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

"If Libs were doing this it would be noted as FREE SPEECH!!"

If? They are the one doing it to themselves. What better way for a bunch of traitors and criminals frauds to take the spotlight off their criminal acts? They are trying to create their own "VICTIM STATUS" to divert attention from them tell the MAJORITY of Americans to go F themselves.

You really think AMERICANS are going to fire warning shots at this traitorous party of criminal frauds? When the boiling point has been reached it will be the democrats fault. Remember what the did to our Troops?


They continue to play games with the lives of Americans and take away our freedoms they know what they are going to get. This is exactly what these gutless democrats want. They want Americans to attack them so they can accuse us of being terrorists, crazy and Anti-AMERICAN. Nothing would tickle the backside of these Commie F***Ts THAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS KILLING AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Posted by: RobLACa | March 25, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

The free speech versus restricting free speech is not going to cut any ice if a government official is harmed. The US government is convicting Muslims for using violent rhetoric for providing "material support" to terrorism. The history of such laws is that they tend to target undesirables at first but will eventually be used against citizens. So those advocating violence need to hope no one is injured or killed because they may very well find themselves facing prosecution for giving material support to terrorism which can be simply defined as politically motivated violence.

Posted by: aj1111 | March 26, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

PSOG: "Republicans were not happy with GWB's debt or the way the last republican Congress spent money. GWB had an approval rating of about 20% when he left office...that means a lot of repulicans were unhappy."

Well, the Republicans in Congress and the the White House who were spending the money certainly approved of the amount of money they were spending. And GWB's approval rating amoung Republicans was well over 80% throughout his first term, so his decision to grow Federal spending at a rate not seen since the Johnson Administration does not appear to have alienated a lot of Republican voters.

Posted by: KennethAlmquist | March 26, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Here's a typical example of exploiting a poitical opportunity: Michgian Rep. Mark Schauer (Michigan 7th)gets a vaugue VM from a caller who identified himslf and left his phone number twice on the message. Here's the message, as pritned in the Lansing Journal: "I hope you die a slow death at a very young age with $5-an-hour health workers." I'm sure Schauer's staff were salivating at the opportunity that fell into their laps on that answering machine. Hoping someone dies isn't a "threat" now is it? How pathetic.

Saul Alinsky is alive and well in the very small minds of Ezra Klein, Mark Schauer et. al.

Posted by: EasyEddie | March 26, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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