Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wingnuts Gone Wild!

Boy, when the going gets weird...I have just a few items to mention in passing as the conversation on health "care" continues to devolve. First, check out this video that shows a woman (named Pamela Pilger) at a Las Vegas town hall meeting screeching "Heil Hitler" at a Jewish man who was commenting on what he considers the superior national health care system in Israel.

Apparently moments before that particular outburst, Pamela Pilger was interviewed by a local TV station, in which she comes tries to pretend to be a "compassionate" conservative. Her arguments seem pretty simplistic, but just check the contrast in demeanor (h/t The Gawker).

As noted elsewhere, there is a bit of an irony alert: Ms. Pilger is apparently wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt. Go figure. Although I'm no fan of Israel, I do feel bad for the way that the Israeli guy in the first video was treated. It simply should not have happened. Unfortunately wingnuts seem to know few if any boundaries when it comes to simple decency.

Now from the absurd to the unnerving: TPM has been doing some excellent work in tracking the backstory of those goons who've shown up to town hall meetings (whether hosted by congresscritters or the Prez) packing heat. Turns out the ones in Phoenix are tied to a 1990s militia group:

It was only a matter of time.

While "Chris" was the guy who carried around the assault rifle at the Obama event in Phoenix yesterday, it appears to have been another guy, Ernest Hancock, who organized the whole thing. And Hancock, who was also on the scene with a holstered handgun, turns out to have had very close ties to a 90s-era Arizona militia group called the 'Viper Militia' most of whose members were eventually sent to federal prison on various weapons and explosives charges tied to plans to bomb federal buildings.

Sound familiar.

In other words, the Viper Militia folks were sort of Tim McVeigh also-rans from back in the glory days. Hancock, though not indicted himself, was their main public advocate. He was clearly close to these folks while they were plotting. And now he's the guy coming up with the idea to send a bunch of guys with guns to greet President Obama. Feel better now?

More about the troubled history of our wingnuts:
The right -- the modern American right -- has a very troubled history with political violence. The ideological pattern is clear going back at least thirty years and arguably far longer. A simple review of the 1990s, particularly 1993, 1994, culminating in many respects in the tragic 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building in April 1995 tells the tale. Mix in the militias, the thankfully inept attempt on President Clinton's life a few months before Oklahoma City (see Francisco Duran) and it's all really not a pretty picture.

One moment stands out clearly in my mind. Back in the early days of the Bush administration, Mickey Kaus had a typically contrarian post in which he suggested that with the rising tide of animosity on the left toward President Bush it was only a matter of time before we saw the outcropping of political violence on the left, to parallel what we'd seen from the right with the Clinton-hatred of the mid-1990s. (Perhaps someone can dig up the post? Late Update: Found.) It was a typically Kausian post, not only for its strained contrarianism but more for its complete failure of predictive value. And the failure of anything in parallel to arise was even more telling because antipathy toward President Bush really did become entrenched, inflamed and profound. Far more than I would have imagined at the outset.

I'll try to have more to say about this latter post later when time permits.

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