This post originally appeared at Think Progress.
In April, a Washington man named Charles Alan Wilson was arrested for threatening Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for her vote to pass health care reform. He left a series of threatening messages on her voicemail, saying “It only takes one piece of lead. Kill the (expletive) senator! … Now that you’ve passed your health-care bill, let the violence begin” and “I do believe that every one of you (expletive) socialist democratic progressive (expletive) need to be taken out.” Wilson was arrested after a federal agent called him pretending to be from a group backed by Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing organization responsible for funding some of the “grassroots” opposition to health care reform. Wilson told the agent, who he thought was a fellow opponent to health care reform, that “I will not blink” when it comes to shooting the Senator. “It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee,” he said.
Now, Media Matters reports on new disturbing details about the extent to which Wilson may have been influenced by Fox News personality Glenn Beck. According to court records, Wilson’s family blamed Beck for putting Wilson “under a spell.” Wilson’s cousin submittedthis letter to the court last month:
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 Charlie did. I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck’s persuasive personality. The same thing happened to me but I went in a different direction with what I was seeing. Rather than blame politicians for the current issues, I simply got prepared for what Glenn said was coming. I slowly filled our pantry as Glenn fed fear into me. I did not miss watching his show and could not understand why the rest of the world didn’t get it — Glenn became a pariah to me. But I was finally able to step away and realize the error of my ways. The media lost its grip on me. But it still held very tightly to Charlie.
While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices were terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out by a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy. I don’t believe that Charlie even had the ability to actually carry out his threats.
Indeed, Beck fiercely opposed health care reform, often in apocalyptic terms, saying that “This is the end of prosperity in America forever … the end of America as you know it,” andasking “if this passes, don’t we lose, really, the Democratic Party to the socialists?” This was coupled with some disturbingly violent rhetoric: Beck characterized Democrats as vampires, and then suggested “driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.” He also saidthat “[t]o the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter.”
Watch a compilation of videos found at Media Matters:
This isn’t the first time an unhinged person may have been motivated to conduct political violence because of what they saw on Beck’s show. In July an unemployed California man loaded up his car with guns and ammunition, and was pulled over and arrested on his way to shoot up the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, a frequent Beck target. He later told a reporter that “I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind. I said, well, nobody does this.” In April, a man was arrested for threatening Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and his mother told reporters that she blamed Fox News.
This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress.
Reuters has a story today about Tea Party-backed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s fundraising, noting that almost all of her support among GOP donors has dried up. The story notes that, failing that support, “the mainstays of O’Donnell’s campaign appear to be local activists associated with the Tea Party movement.” In particular, a group called the 9-12 Patriots and its leader, Russ Murphy, are generating significant support for O’Donnell’s campaign.
During her primary night victory speech, the 9-12 Patriots were the first group O’Donnell thanked, saying “I can‘t thank everyone by name because we would be here until midnight….but I specifically want to thank the 9/12 Patriots for laying the foundation and stirring things up in Delaware.” After her speech, she invited Murphy up to the podium to speak, gave him a hug, and told the crowd: “You’ve got to hear the story about how he started the 9-12 Patriots.” Watch it:
Murphy went on to talk about Karl Rove, but he did not share with the audience or the cameras his views on President Obama — that he believes Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and did not even win the popular vote in the 2008 presidential election. For his book “The Backlash,” author Will Bunch “traveled America looking for the heart of the so-called Tea Party movement” and interviewed members, and sat down with Murphy and two “lieutenants” in the 9-12 Patriots. They explained their opposition to Obama:
The trio led me through a long and mostly fact-free explanation of how Obama only won in 2008 because of the Electoral College, and they even tried to deny his 100,000-vote landslide win in Delaware, finally telling me it was only because of “the handout people” in Wilmington, with its large minority population. Murphy went further, telling me that Obama is “not American” and insisting he hasn’t presented “the documentation” to prove he’s eligible to be commander in chief. The second factor that empowered their movement was the blend of news and misinformation they receive from the popular Fox News Channel and especially from Glenn Beck, whose televised call for the creation of a 9-12 movement is what inspired Murphy to launch his band of “patriots.”
In September, the blog Political Chili outlined some of Murphy’s views that are even more disturbing. He was a “delegate” to the “Continental Congress” held in St. Charles, Illinois in November 2009. The “Articles of Freedom” the delegates produced there called for, among other things, abolition of the Department of Homeland Security, the establishment of 50 state militias, and they declared that President Obama “was not born on U.S. soil” and called for the U.S. Congress to investigate the “citizenship status of the President,” with impeachment as an eventual recourse.
As Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, the “Continental Congress” documents implied violence against the government, saying that “any infringement on the people’s liberty as laid out in the Constitution is ‘an act of WAR’ that ‘the People and their Militias have the Right and Duty to repel.’”
O’Donnells open embrace of Murphy has not yet been questioned by the national or local press in Delaware, but his involvement in the “Continental Congress” and his views on President Obama are disturbing and deserve further scrutiny.
Update The NAACP just released a report called Tea Party Nationalism, which outlines connections between some Tea Party members and racist or anti-government groups.
This post first appeared on Think Progress.
In recent weeks, there have been extremely disturbing revelations about how the nation’s biggest financial institutions handle foreclosures. After widespread reports about “robo-signers” — bank officials who would sign foreclosure forms without even reading them — several large financial institutions declared they were halting their foreclosure process. For example, a Bank of America official admitted in a bankruptcy case that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month and “typically” did not read them “because of the volume,” and last week, Bank of America announced it was stopping all foreclosures across the country until it could be sure the process was fair to homeowners.
Several lawmakers have joined the banks in calling for foreclosure moratoriums until banks can carry the process out in a fair and legal manner. And a bipartisan group of attorneys general is also demanding action — for example, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, is asking 30 lenders to stop foreclosures until they can prove it’s being done legally.
On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) called for a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures, saying “it’s absolutely imperative that we keep people in their homes.” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) disagreed strongly, however, saying he was “just perplexed” at Wasserman Schultz’s answer, and that “people have to take responsibility for themselves.”
CANTOR: I’m just perplexed to that answer, Bret… what we’re seeing if you do that, if you impose a moratorium on foreclosures what you are telling people and institutions that lend money is they do not have the protection to take the risk they need to, to extend credit for people will get a mortgage. You’ll shut down the housing industry if that is the case[...]
What we’re talking about, Debbie, you have 10 percent, if that, of the population who are now in a foreclosure situation or in a mortgage that they have been unable to meet the obligations… Now, come on, people have to take responsibility for themselves. We need to get the housing industry going again. We don’t need government intervening in every step of every aspect of this economy.
Congressional Republicans have largely been silent on a foreclosure moratorium, as the Wonk Room has noted. But now, apparently, they are ready to take a stand — in defense of the housing industry. Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine piled on later on Fox News Sunday as well. “I thought it was really troubling when Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz said we need to keep people in their homes,” Easton said. “What she should have said was ‘keep people in their homes they can’t afford.’”
But of course, people may be losing their homes when they should not, due to the banks’ reckless foreclosure process. Sorting out the potentially thousands of homeowners who may have been improperly foreclosed upon is going to be a monumental task, as is reorganizing the process to ensure that no more homeowners are improperly thrown out of their homes. This is about more than simply those homeowners: it’s about upholding the rule of law and due process. A moratorium and investigations are more than warranted, despite the seeming desire of Cantor and other Republicans to protect big financial institutions.