There is no straight line cause and effect link between the Tucson murders and the not too subtle Republican references to shooting people to achieve their political agenda ( second amendment solutions, gun sights on a map). Though I say that with a nod to the Right’s contribution to our paranoid and violent culture. There have been some conservatives, who also likely have some mental issues along with their political bent who – in their own words and that of family been inspired by conservative pundits,
In March, Senator Patty Murray received a death threat after voting to reform our nation’s health care system. The potential assassin said she had a target on her back and it would only take one bullet to accomplish his objective. Charles Wilson was arrested and convicted for repeatedly threatening to kill Murray. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Wilson’s cousin submitted a memo to the court arguing for leniency.
The cousin wrote:
“What happened later with Charlie is something I think I can understand. He became basically housebound due to illness and his small world became even smaller. His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck…I found Glenn Beck about the same time that Charlie did and I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck’s persuasive personality…While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out against a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy.”
Finally, in a jailhouse interview this summer, California gunman Byron Williams said he was inspired by Beck — whom he called his “schoolteacher on TV” — to try to assassinate the staff of a liberal philanthropic foundation in San Francisco.
As tragic and potentially tragic as these wing-nuts have been, freedom of speech is just that. If conservatives want to abuse that freedom to incite the unhinged that is part of the price we pay for freedom. It is a mistake to focus exclusively on the obvious cases of conservatives calling for violence. Republicans have caused far more death and carnage talking about mushroom clouds, that health care reform is a Marxist plot, treating every American as a potential terrorist, raising the retirement age of Social Security while hiding behind the flag and imagining what some guys who wore wooden dentures would do. Is was only right that we go to Afghanistan is pursuit of those who planned the terror attacks of 9-11-2001. In the name of conservative expertise on all things pertaining to national security, our Republican administration outsourced the capture of Osama Bin laden to Pakistan and he escaped. Who says Republicans are against foreign aid.We’ve been counting bodies ever since. That job botched, conservatives in their infinite wisdom, shifted resources – $700 million dollars – to ramp up for the invasion of Iraq. They used some violent rhetoric than, but mostly they talked about patriotism and ties to Al Qaeda and WMD that didn’t exist. No urgent need to head to the bunker or buy flak vests if conservatives talk about killing judges if they do not get the court decisions they want, but there is a straight line between the four thousand plus American dead, over twenty thousand wounded and tens of thousands of dead, including Iraqi children. When Republicans talk about free market solutions ( Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Fox News) to solve our health care problems ( the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a free market solution) that is the sound of death. While repeal doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, such a repeal by Republicans would sentence 45,000 people to death. Just in terms of pure numbers the deaths caused even tangentially by conservative zealots talking trash pale in comparison. When is it time to keep the kids inside. When conservatives start claiming that cutting taxes to the bone will create a heaven on earth,
Instead, to raise cash, the legislature has pursued a series of wild sell-offs and budget cuts. It privatized the capitol building and leased it back from its new owner, an arrangement that brought in substantial revenue but over time will cost Arizona far more. The legislature has sold off numerous other state properties at bargain prices, and has put up future lottery revenues as collateral on a $450 million loan. Meanwhile, Arizona removed more than 300,000 adults from state health coverage and terminated one health-care program for 47,000 poor children. Funding was slashed at the agency that deals with reports of child abuse and neglect, and also at Children’s Rehabilitative Services, so that parents of children with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, and a number of other conditions are now required to pay 100 percent of treatment costs.?
All totaled, the cuts amounted to roughly $1 billion, which came on top of a similar amount that had been slashed the previous year. These cuts, in combination with the sale of state assets (which raised more than $700 million) and the securitization of the lottery, plugged a massive hole in next year’s budget. But the deficit for 2011 is already projected to be at least $1 billion and possibly double that, on a total budget of only $9 billion. The situation will only worsen from there, as federal stimulus money dries up and the state runs out of short-term sources of cash. “Could we cut our way out of it mathematically?” Dennis Hoffman, an economist who has forecast revenue for Arizona governors since 1983, mused when I asked him about the crisis. “Anything is possible on paper, but for practical purposes it can’t be done, unless you want to start releasing prisoners, shutting down universities, and eliminating extracurricular activities in the schools. We’ve already had a $2 billion haircut over the past two years. Try another $2 billion and see what the state looks like.”
How many lives will be in shambles, how much suffering will the poorest the oldest, the most vulnerable endure because Republicans think cutting taxes is always the same thing as patriotism. More than have been cut down by loons with a grudge. What kills more Americans than Glenn Beck’s or Bill Reilly’s rants? The Republican cultivation of ignorance, eliminationism, uber nationalism as patriotism and thinly veiled contempt for that document they claim to revere – the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson warned us, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, …it expects what never was and never will be.”