A fax bearing the image of a noose. Profane voice mails. Bricks thrown, a gas line cut. White powder sent to an office.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have started receiving threats over the recently passed health care initiative. Both sides of the aisle are condemning such actions with Democrats blaming Republicans for not commenting on these threats quickly enough and Republicans claiming the Dems are using these threats as a political tool to further their agenda and degrade the Republicans position.
"By ratcheting up the rhetoric, some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels," said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor. "Enough is enough. It has to stop."
At least 10 Democrats now have reported harassment, the majority of the threats involve obscene phone messages, although a few random acts of destruction of property have also occurred.
"It is unfortunate that a small but vocal group of people are using insults to convey their opinions and alarming that anyone would make threats against me or my family," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa.
On Thursday, two Republicans said they, too, had been menaced.
No arrests have been reported. A threat to assault a member of Congress in retaliation for the performance of official duties is punishable by up to a year in prison.
Starting this week the threats began arriving by mail, in email and on fax machines of lawmakers.
From the AP:
Pelosi was careful to avoid blaming Republicans directly for inciting the harassment, though she said that words "weigh a ton." Such threats of retaliation "have no place in a civil debate in our country," she said.
Boehner followed moments later. While many are angry over the health care measure, he said, "threats and violence should not be part of a political debate."
Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, released a recording of a voicemail where the caller repeatedly accuses Republicans of being racists.
Eric Cantor said he has received e-mail threats and that a bullet hit he window of his campaign office building in Richmond. Local police say the bullet was fired randomly at an upward angle.(Like this makes it something other than someone shooting a gun at a political office.)
Democratic campaign chairman Chris Van Hollen, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine had incited retribution against Republicans by telling The Huffington Post that the GOP would "own" responsibility for retaliatory slurs.
Here's a short list of some of the fun:
Rep. Anthony Weiner's received a package containing a mystery white powder. It was found to be non-toxic.
Ohio Rep. John Boccieri, said he had received threats.
Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla., was to commit suicide and that her family should rot in hell."
Louise Slaughter,said someone had left her a voicemail that used the word "snipers."
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. was told "I hope you bleed ... (get) cancer and die,"
A fax carried a picture of a gallows with "Bart (SS) Stupak" on it and a noose. It was captioned, "All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God."
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., received a letter with a shredded American flag. and said, "I will hound you. I will intimidate you and your family."
It is apparent the Democrats are going to use this as a tool to demonize Republicans. I'm sure it will be subtle, but it's hard to deny that it will seem to most people that the angry callers are conservative voters and therefore a reflection of Republicans as a whole. The person who called Bart Stupak is a prime example. He is clearly anti-abortion and a Christian. He is also a complete douchebag but that is another story.
This also underlines another issue. With states amending their constitutions to try and circumvent all or part of this new health care initiative and at least 14 filing a lawsuit against the federal government, 38 or three quarters of the states are clearly not happy about this bill at all. Add this to the fact that for the first time in a long time people are angry to the point of cursing lawmakers and using physical destruction to get their message across, it's clear that this is NOT what the American people want. Good luck in November Democrats you are going to need it.