The pretext for their anger is the government mandate that Americans buy health insurance or face fines. But the not-so-subtle subtext is far more disturbing. All the vitriol directed at President Obama by the far right - from making up coo-coo tales about his nationality and religion to questioning his patriotism and politics - is now taking on a mob mentality.
And it's scary.
Today, several members of Congress who voted for the health care bill, worried about their safety, increased security around their offices.
One of the people leading the charge against those who voted for health care is the woman who walked off her job as Governor of Alaska. Sarah Palin, campaigning on her Facebook page yesterday, unveiled her list of 20 Democrats she wanted to "target" for defeat in November, and she used a rifle scope on all of them. Maybe she thought that was cute. I shivered.
She wrote that she wanted to "print pink slips for members of Congress as fast as they've been printing money." That's a good turn of phrase. But then she pulled her Annie Get Your Gun routine: As she described the 20 Dems being in districts that she and John McCain carried in 2008, she called upon "conservatives and lovers of America" to please "don't retreat, instead RELOAD!"
Not cute, in any way. The intentional fomenting of violence and revving up the bitter and angry will not lead to anything but something horrible. I find it hard to comprehend that Palin or anyone else wants violence. But words are important, and the impact of public figures' words is powerful.
We'll be seeing more examples of anger-that-turns-violent. As I was writing this, an item crossed the email transom about the brother of a Congressman in Virginia, whose gas line was cut. The FBI's investigating, and they've discovered that the gas line was to the man's barbecue, not his house. Thankfully.
The Congressman had voted for the health care overhaul bill, and a conservative activist's blog had mistakenly distributed the address of the Congressman's brother as the elected official's house. Someone - and I guess it's a shock they could read - then cut the gas line.
It's getting so tense that today, Congressman John Boehner, who is one of the fiercest Republicans on the hill and the leader of the opposition to health care reform, called on his peeps to cool it. "I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill," he wrote. "But? violence and threats are unacceptable. That's not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change."
We'll have the latest on the health care bill fallout, tonight at 11.
Also at 11, we're following developments in Newburgh up in Orange County, where police today found the body of a little boy. They believe it's 4-year-old Marc Bookal, who disappeared in December. His mother's boyfriend, who was watching the boy, says he just disappeared and likely walked out the front door. He was initially charged with child endangerment.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.