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Right-wing madness gets scary

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Symptoms

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele issued a call to Republicans to put Nancy Pelosi on the "firing line," and showed an image of Pelosi consumed by flames.

Sarah Palin told her followers to "reload" and "aim for" Democrats, directing them to her Web site where they found a U.S. map decorated with rifle scope cross-hairs over various Democratic congressional districts.

When a spectator at the House debate had to be removed for yelling anti-reform slogans, GOP Congress members, in an unprecedented move, stood and cheered the screamer. Afterward, a host of Republican members went outside the House chamber to urge on the Tea Party demonstrators outside, some of whom were carrying signs declaring, "Warning! If [new Sen. Scott] Brown can't do it, a Browning can."

During the health care reform vote, Tea Partiers outside Congress shouted "Nigger!" at Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, and followed by yelling "Faggot!" at Rep. Barney Frank. (Editor's note: For more on these incidents, check out this week's The N Word column.)

At the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother, mistakenly named on a right-wing blog as the representative's home address, someone cut a gas line to a propane tank.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) received a recorded message threatening to kill her children because she voted for HCR.

Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), one of the few lawmakers to change her vote from "no" to "yes," received threatening calls, including one man who told a staffer "you better hope I don't run into you in a dark alley with a knife, a club or a gun."

A package containing white powder was sent to the Queens office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

An influential Orange County, Calif., preacher, Rev. Wiley Drake, told his supporters that they should pray for the deaths of all 219 Democrats who voted for HCR.

Militia leader Mike Vanderboegh wrote on his blog, "if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary." He also urged gun owners to "point their muzzles at the hearts of tyrants."

A new Harris poll shows that a majority of Republicans believe President Obama "is a socialist" (67 percent); "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns" (61 percent); is a Muslim (57 percent); and "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government" (51 percent). Forty-five percent believe he is the "domestic enemy that the U.S. Constitution speaks of." Incredibly, 24 percent of Republicans believe Obama "may be the Anti-Christ."

The Disease

Fox News lunatic Glenn Beck has spread deeply paranoid, doom-and-gloom "death of America" fantasies for months, telling viewers that the country is being taken over by communists and fascists, that the passage of HCR is "the same as 9/11," and "the end of America as you know it," and that President Obama wants "to control every aspect of your life." That's when Beck wasn't busy telling viewers that "if you can be deemed someone who maybe shouldn't have a baby, they can have their people come in," and "the fundamental transformation of America is complete."

Fox News dimwit Sean Hannity (motto: "He dares ask the questions other reporters are too smart to ask"), has repeatedly told viewers that President Obama "has set out to destroy every single thing that was good about the America you and I grew up in."

Right-wing radio king Rush Limbaugh told listeners that HCR means "Human beings will die earlier than normal," reform is "aimed at robbing you of your humanity," and "all of us will be slaves." And those barely scratch the surface of Limbaugh's outrageous fantasies.

Clear Channel radio host Jim Quinn told listeners that Pelosi and Obama want "the power to control your body and your life." He also said that if HCR passed, "You are going to see insurrection, you're going to see an uprising. It's going to be a bloodbath."

A Cure

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the Federal Communications Commission, introduced in 1949, which required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission's view) honest, equitable and balanced. This doctrine was in place in America until 1987, when it was overturned during the Reagan administration. Many Democrats in Congress have said they favor re-instating the Fairness Doctrine.

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