Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Politics of Violence: Open Thread (Tea Partier Attacks Man, Daughter with SUV Update#2)

NY Congressman Anthony Weiner announced moments ago that a package containing white powder and a threatening letter was received today at his Queens, NY office.  

We have all been watching the cork leave the shaken bottle of political madness over the past few months and particularly the last few days.  We can only hope that all of this finds a way to defuse through less dramatic means than it did fifteen years ago.

[UPDATE 2] From

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Nashville man says he and his 10-year-old daughter were victims of road rage Thursday afternoon, all because of a political bumper sticker on his car.

Mark Duren told News 2 the incident happened around 4:30p.m., while he was driving on Blair Boulevard, not far from Belmont University.

He said Harry Weisiger gave him the bird and rammed into his vehicle, after noticing an Obama-Biden sticker on his car bumper.

Duren had just picked up his 10-year-old daughter from school and had her in the car with him.

“He pointed at the back of my car,” Duren said, “the bumper, flipped me off, one finger salute.”

But it didn’t end there.

Duren told News 2 that Weisiger honked his horn at him for awhile, as Duren stopped at a stop sign.

Once he started driving again, down Blair Boulevard, towards his home, he said, “I looked in the rear view mirror again, and this same SUV was speeding, flying up behind me, bumped me.”

Duren said he applied his brake and the SUV smashed into the back of his car.

He then put his car in park to take care of the accident, but Weisiger started pushing the car using his SUV.

Duren said, “He pushed my car up towards the sidewalk, almost onto the sidewalk.”

Police say Harry Weisiger is charged with felony reckless endangerment in the incident.

The next few days will no doubt bring with them much discussion of this topic.  What remains to be seen is whether it will make any difference.

Richard Cohen at the Southern Poverty Law Center has this today on the life of Rep John Lewis, which brackets the context for the violence bubbling past he surface today.  I repost it in total, because I don’t think the SPLC would mind spreading their messages.

Earlier this month, my colleagues and I at the Southern Poverty Law Center were privileged to stand with U.S. Rep. John Lewis at the Civil Rights Memorial as he led a bipartisan congressional delegation in laying a wreath in honor of those who lost their lives in our country’s epic battle for equality.

The ceremony was held on the eve of the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” that Sunday back in March of 1965 when Lewis and other civil rights advocates were beaten and tear-gassed by baton-wielding state troopers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on a march in support of voting rights.

The pictures of the bloodied marchers pricked the conscience of the nation. Thousands of people of all races and faiths flocked to Selma and joined Lewis, Dr. King, and the people of the Black Belt of Alabama as they resumed the march for justice.  As Dr. King explained, “If the worst in American life lurked in [Selma’s] dark street[s], the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it.”

On March 25 – 45 years ago today – the marchers reached the state capitol in Montgomery. Their courage, their example, inspired the introduction and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation that transformed our nation.

This past Sunday, Lewis was involved in another march. Along with other members of Congress, he walked up to Capitol Hill to cast a vote for health-care reform, another important piece of legislation with the potential to transform our nation.

But once again, Lewis was confronted with the ugly stain of racism. Angry “tea party” protesters shouted racial slurs at him and Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana.  Another black congressman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, was spit on. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman, was the target of anti-gay epithets.

Lewis said that the protesters at the Capitol reminded him of the angry mobs that confronted him during the ugly days of civil rights movement in the 1960s.

The question now is whether America will respond as it did 45 years ago when it saw the pictures of the racism at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Will people of good faith – of all races and faiths – stand with Rep. Lewis and reject the politics of hate?   Or will the angry mob, fueled by racism and demagoguery, continue to swell?

Will “the best of American instincts,” to use Dr. King’s words from 45 years ago, once again arise “passionately from across the nation to overcome” the hate and fear that threatens to engulf us?

My mother was 8 months pregnant on Bloody Sunday, my step-father was 45 years old and marching in Selma.  I was born while the scars from that day were literally still fresh.  Thirty five years after the marchers reached Montgomery my daughter was born, and today she turns ten.

What progress have we made?

UPDATE: Little Green Footballs (yes, LGF) reports that Eric Cantor’s office was not the target of a gunshot, in contradiction to Mr. Cantor’s claim.  

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.


  1. Shaun Appleby

    Republicans are going to wake up to the situation, and the risks they have accepted.  Today, not so much:

    But this didn’t come from nowhere and it can’t be pawned off on a few cranks. Everything that’s happened over the last five days has grown from a pattern of incitement going back almost a year — wildly hyperbolic statements, coded appeals to menacing behavior, flippant jokes about bringing firearms to political events and all the rest. Now Eric Cantor (R-VA) is going on the attack, claiming that who’s really to blame here is the Democrats for making a big deal about these acts of violence against them.

    No one who is even remotely honest can pretend that anything about this is bipartisan in character. The Right and yes the national Republican party has been stirring this pot for months. We all see this. Cantor’s behavior is shameful beyond imagining. It’s time for a truth moment for the national Republican party.

    Josh Marshall – The Undying Shame TPM 25 Mar 10

    Stonewalling isn’t good enough.  Where is the responsible leadership for Republicans?  None is in evidence today.

  2. DTOzone

    leaked the white powder story to me personally about 90 minutes ago, just before NBC broke the news.

  3. OK. At the risk of being targeted as a redcoat here, isn’t part of the problem that political violence has been mandated by your constitution?

    Is not the right to bear arms a de facto acceptance that the rule of Law and Order can be abrogated, by the citizen/militia? The State might try to monopolise violence (the key characteristic of most modern states) but in the US armed struggle against it is required, almost sanctified, by what (to my ignorant eyes) is one of the few flaws in the otherwise wonderful constitution?

    I know that I will be accused of kicking off a ‘gun control’ debate with this suggestion – but clearly guns are only part of the equation: anthrax, home made explosive, small planes, or propane gas tanks will do the same work.

    Following the NRA line that it’s not the gun that kills, but the person, isn’t the recent history of American political violence (something graphically and tragically etched in the minds of anyone my age) in some way connected, via the Civil War, to this suspicion that democratic federal Government is actually no legitimate, and taking on representatives in Washington with Brownings has a horribly long pedigree?

    Just some thoughts beyond the mad manifestations of the moment.  

  4. HappyinVT

    President Obama spent plenty of time in Iowa as a candidate. On Thursday, he had a little homecoming of sorts, making a surprise visit to the Prairie Lights bookstore, a business he had referred to during a campaign-style rally just an hour earlier.


    POTUS stepped up to the cash register with two books in his hands: “Journey to the River Sea” by Eva Ibbotson and “The Secret of Zoom” by Lynne Jonell for his daughters.

    [gifts for daughters? – check]


    Obama also bought a book for Gibbs, who was holding a large Star Wars pop-up book for his six-year-old son, Ethan.

    “It’s a little expensive, sir,” Gibbs said to his boss as he handed it over.

    POTUS showed the book to pool as the cashier rang it up for $37.44.

    “I can handle it,” Obama said as Gibbs suggested he pay. “It’s for keeping his dad away for too many hours a day.”

    [gift for staff member’s child as gratitude? – check]


    “Nothing for Mrs. Obama?” Bloomberg’s Ed Chen asked.

    Obama paused to think for a second. “Thanks for getting me in trouble,” he replied.

    [gift for wife? – OOPS!]


  5. Shaun Appleby

    It never ceases to amaze:

    From WPLG  in Miami: “Corey Poitier, who is running for U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek’s seat, delivered a passionate speech against the health care reform bill Monday night to Broward County Republicans. During the speech, Poitier addressed the President by saying ‘Listen up, Buckwheat…’

    Lesley Clark – GOP candidate for Florida congressional seat calls Obama “Buckwheat” WPLG via McClatchy 24 Mar 10

    Buckwheat?  Who are these people?  This guy is running for the House.

  6. rfahey22

    and 30 years from now, another generation will look upon all of this bullshit with as much curiosity and disgust as people today look at 1960s videos of police officers attacking civil rights protesters with dogs.  Things probably haven’t changed as much as we’d like.  

  7. Shaun Appleby

    Ya’ just gotta’ laugh:

    HAVANA (AP) – It perhaps was not the endorsement President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress were looking for.

    Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform “a miracle” and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

    “We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama’s) government,” Castro wrote in an essay published in state media, adding that it would strengthen the president’s hand against lobbyists and “mercenaries.”

    Paul Haven – Cuban leader applauds US health-care reform bill AP via Yahoo 25 Mar 10

    One big onion!

  8. Shaun Appleby

    The security, social, practical, emotional and late-night comical implications of this are endless:

    The shocking new Al Qaeda tactic involves radical doctors inserting the explosives in women’s breasts during plastic surgery – making them “virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines.”


    MI5 has also discovered that extremists are inserting the explosives into the buttocks of some male bombers.

    “Women suicide bombers recruited by Al Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery,” terrorist expert Joseph Farah claims.

    Rhodri Phillips – Radicals’ Deadly ‘Booby Trap’ The Sun 25 Mar 10

    Talk about striking at the heart of American culture…  Sheesh.  Security screens are going to get tricky now.  “Excuse me, ma’am…”

  9. sricki

    I feel like I have a lot to say about this topic — and about RW reactions of late in general — but I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts.

    Since this is an open thread…

    First, happy birthday to John, whenever it is — I don’t really use facebook, so I’ll just trust the reports of other moose. Also, happy birthday to Blasky’s daughter — 10 (double digits!!!!) is a big one for a kid. At least it seemed a big one to me.

    Second, on rightwing extremism. Frankly, it’s no wonder some people are reacting this way. I’m not excusing it — far from it — however, I can see where it’s coming from. I’ve been spending more time with my father in the past month or so because money is tight, and we’re trying (finally) to get my grandmother’s house ready to sell. We’ve been painting and cleaning and working over there, and he always brings his radio — and, sadly, is addicted to conservative talk radio and has been for as long as I can remember. Though he’s not a big fan of Beck, he’ll listen to him on occasion — mostly listens to Rush. But this, of course, means I have heard a good bit of far right wingnut speak lately — the kind that makes most Faux “News” programming look pretty tame and reasonable (‘cept Beck himself and maybe Hannity). While hysterical GOP pols are certainly a huge part of the problem, it’s AM radio, imo, that’s the scariest of all. Listening to Beck a few weeks back while painting, I could not help thinking… that if I believed the stuff he was saying was true — if I didn’t know better — I would be absolutely terrified. Like, no wonder these morons around the country are stockpiling their guns — I would be too, honestly, if I believed that crap. And I have not seen/heard anything comparable from liberals during the Bush administration, for example. Yeah, all kinds of scary things were going on and being pointed out — but at no point did I think, “I’d better get ready for the revolution.” But were I a member of the far Right ignorati, I suspect I’d be threatening census takers and keeping a secret stash of guns and ammo as well.

    There’s no “excuse” for willful ignorance — for getting all of your information from one (woefully flawed) source — but once one falls into that pattern, it isn’t hard to see how certain other behaviors follow.

    And somewhat related but not really relevant, since this is an open thread… from the Onion:

    Growing Number Of Americans Distrust Census

    Despite the fact that the 2010 Census form is the shortest in recent history, some anti-government activists are refusing to answer any question besides the number of people in their household.

    What information are they trying to keep private?

       * Anything that evokes a little bit of mystery, and rekindles that old spark between us and the Census Bureau

       * How often on-again, off-again boyfriend was shacking up

       * That they can’t remember new offspring’s name

       * How many times they ordered some Time-Life item off television only to claim it never arrived, demand a new set, and then return that one for a full refund

       * That they are Osama bin Laden

       * That they prefer to sleep in a Vaseline-lined thermal pouch

       * Whether they rent or own their heavily armed secessionist compound

       * Their DNA sequence, which, according to multiple credible websites, the Census collects from saliva on the return-envelope adhesive and then adds to a secret government database

  10. WaPo followed a Tea Party protester in Iowa to his perch outside Obama’s speech yesterday.  Usual paranoid raving aside, the comment that stood out most to me was:

    In the hours before he left for Iowa City, Millam watched reports on Fox News Channel about vandalism at Democratic offices and visited a Web site of the conservative “tea party” movement, where he was inspired by a Thomas Jefferson quote about how bloodshed might be necessary to protect a country from tyranny.

    “I’m not ready for outright violence yet. We have to be civil for as long as we can,” Millam said.

    He was inspired by the escalating rhetoric of others.  He is not ready for outright violence.


    We have to be civil.

    “For as long as we can.”

    This man will be raising a rifle soon.

  11. Shaun Appleby

    Another crumb of the incomprehensible:

    Connie Soto, a 48-year-old interior designer from Lake Elsinore, Calif., said “we’re peaceful people” and suggested that if, in fact, slurs were yelled at members of Congress, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were plants to make our movement look bad” – a popular argument among tea partiers.

    She wouldn’t let a POLITICO reporter take a photograph of her with her handmade sign reading “Obamacrats: exterminate the vermin,” because she asserted it would be used to portray her as violent, but she also said there was no need for the movement to temper its rhetoric.

    Kenneth P Vogel – Tea partiers push back after bad week Politico 27 Mar 10

    Exterminate the vermin?  I doubt very much that she realises what political movement that echoes, God help her ignorance.  Or to say it historically:

    “Violence fait aux âmes, c’est à dire, propagande.”

    Propaganda is violence committed against the soul.

Comments are closed.