Assaulting a House member is probably good for about five years in the slammer and good for society. Instead, because of misguided magnanimity on Rep. Cleaver's part, his assailant was allowed to go scot-free.

That lack of common sense is now reverberating across the country. It has emboldened the pathetic punks who are resorting to vandalism and anonymous threats.

Let's be blunt. They are morons. The democratic process is beyond their comprehension. Issues like healthcare reform are far too complicated for their pea-brains. So when they dimly perceive that they haven't gotten their way, they lash out, storm troopers for cynical politicians who will do anything to regain power, including knowingly whipping up a frenzy.

Frankly, the protestations against the violence that we're hearing from these manipulators are nowhere near enough. The leaders on the right wing have known full well the kind of monsters their distortions would unleash. They deserve scorn, not success.

They hide behind the protections of the First Amendment, so there is no legal action we can take against the leadership for their poisonous but free expression, or that we should. However, their perps need to be caught and fully prosecuted to make sure someone doesn't get hurt.

We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated. Somebody on the lunatic fringe has dredged up Barry Goldwater's old saw: “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” Let us not forget that Goldwater was a longtime member of the Senate, which is about the most UNextreme body in world history. Unless, of course, you mean extremely boring and ridiculous.

Besides, today's extremists are not defending liberty, they're trying to vandalize it. They need to be stopped. Period. Their sneak attacks reveal them as cowardly. But they're dangerous. Just like the politicians who exploit their ignorance for their own gain. They can be stopped by voting them out of office. They should be tossed onto the hot open spit of history.

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