Right-wing violence, right-wing spin: what REALLY happened in St. Louis

(What? Michelle Malkin wrong again? Say it isn’t so! – promoted by ThillyWabbit)

After the disagreements that erupted this weekend in the Pols’ post about anti-healthcare reform protests, in particular the disruption of a town hall meeting in St. Louis, I stopped particpating in fact-starved insult exchanges and started Googling.

There are some very serious problems with claims that union members at this event “beat up” a right-wing protester with no provocation. According to many sources, an SEIU member and pastor, Rev. Elston McCowan, was attacked first by right-wing protesters, and others intervened to protect him. And then there’s the matter of this right-winger’s “injuries.” Here’s a photo the SEIU is distributing to help clear up what was tough to see in the blurry YouTube video:

At the beginning of the video in question, you can see a man on the ground wearing a purple shirt. This is Rev. McCowan, NOT protester Kenneth Gladney as some have claimed. In the four photos shown above you can see McCowan getting up and holding his shoulder. You can also see Gladney up and walking around – the same man shown later in the weekend in a wheelchair, described as “too injured to speak.” No kidding?

Media Matters for America picks up the story here:

Inventing tales of a union “beating”


Mary Katharine Ham wrote up an especially excited write-up at The Weekly Standard about the vicious union thugs and how Gladney was severely beaten. The only mistake Ham made was including a YouTube clip of the incident; a clip that pretty much undercuts the entire tale of run-away union violence.

Go watch the YouTube video. (Or, the “shocking video,” as Power Line hypes it.) The first thing you notice when the camera starts rolling is a union member already sprawled out on the ground with somebody standing over him. No explanation of how he got there (pushed, shoved, punched?) and Ham couldn’t care less. Then yes, Gladney is pulled to the ground by somebody wearing a union shirt. (At the :06 mark.) But instead of Gladney being beaten and punched, as his attorney describes, and instead of union “thugs” standing over him and threatening him, Gladney bounces right back on his feet in approximately two seconds and the scuffle ends.

That was the savage “beating” the conservative blogosphere can’t stop talking about?

The only real mystery from the incident is why Tea Party member Gladney, who’s seen up-close after the brief encounter walking around and talking to people and who appears to be injury-free, then decided to go to the hospital to treat injuries to his “knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.” All that from a two-second fall to the pavement?

Also unclear is why he contacted a newspaper reporter, or why his attorney wrote up lavish accounts and sent them to conservative bloggers, or why Gladney and his attorney appeared on Fox News.

Strictly my opinion: when I was in middle school, there was this kid who loved to get in fights with smaller kids. But the thing is, whenever he got caught beating up a smaller kid, he would launch into this pathetic tearful defense, insisting that the other kid had “started it” and the he was just “defending himself.” The fact that he purposefully went over to the younger kids’ playground to “defend himself” every day, and that every other kid present saw him acting belligerently toward the smaller kid, helped the principal to figure out the truth over time. He was eventually expelled.

What we have here really isn’t any different. You have a group of kids intent on crashing another groups’ party, shouting down discussion, starting fistfights outside, and then blaming the ones who hosted the party for their own violent actions.

And then here, on this blog, you have those who, directly or deceptively, support the actions of these violent fringe elements because it fits their agenda. They don’t want to actually be held responsible for the violence, or the crazy lies being told about health care reform, but they are happy to enable it. Use it for their purposes. And defend it, even if that means subsidizing a lie and casting aspersions to excuse violence.

Which, if you ask me, is only a couple of steps above throwing the punches yourself.

63 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Libertad says:


    9news has a great link to a show on healthcare…obviously the Obama effort to slide HillarycareII through is making waves and generating questions from the public at large.

    DENVER – Colorado’s members of Congress are seeing a volume of phone calls and e-mails concerning health care reform that they haven’t seen for a while. That’s the message from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) who answered viewer questions on the topic on Sunday’s YOUR SHOW.

    Central to the debate is the so-called public option, a non-profit to be administered by the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, to set rates and policies and thus, compete with the private insurance companies in a newly formed “Health Insurance Exchange.” DeGette says the benefits of such a policy are significant while Coffman fears it will lead to an entirely government-run system. …

    H.R. 3200 would also require large employers to offer health care options to their workers or to pay an 8 percent surcharge to the government. DeGette believes companies will want to keep offering coverage because their rates will drop [that’s not what benefit managers are saying].

    Coffman however said the plan will be paid for in part by efficiencies to come from the Medicare system. He said if those were that evident, they should have been implemented already and that his fear is those on Medicare will be negatively impacted by the transfer of funds. He also said rationing would be a possibility if the plan passed.

    “The (public option) will have an inherent competitive advantage over the private sector,” he said. “I don’t think the ultimate goal is to have competition with the private sector. I think the ultimate goal is to have a single-payer health care system run by government that will in my view drive this nation further into debt by creating an entitlement.”

    To view the half-hour health care program with Reps. DeGette and Coffman, click here: http://www.9News.com/yourshow.

    • Libertad says:

      In health care, the “tell” is Congress’ absolute refusal to even consider being part of the health care system they are foisting on everyone else

      PLEASE keep that in mind  ——

      No one should consider a health care plan unless Congress is part of it.  Is that too much to ask?  

      • SSG_Dan says:

        …because “Green Zone” Coffman has been on government-provided  and managed Health care for the last umpteen years.

        He especially never bitched about the quality of the Government-Run Health Care System (28th Combat Support Hospital) he got while he was eating donuts and drinking coffee in the Green Zone in Baghdad, nor did he complain about the Government-run heath care plan his family was under (TriCare Prime) while he was deployed.

        Now that he’s in Congress, they all suck. Why is that, Libertad?

      • “No one should consider a health care plan unless Congress is part of it.  Is that too much to ask?”

        Can someone point to the actual language in the bill that excludes Congress from the “health care system”.  And what exactly does this exclusion entail?  They don’t want insurance at all?

      • Road Runner says:

        Our health care system, in whatever form it takes, is directed at satisfying the needs of roughly 300,000,000 people, on a revenue structure limited by the surplus resources those 300,000,000 million are willing and able to cough up. That a group of people who have achieved disproportionate individual success in our society would rather keep benefits that they have been able to procure, justly or unjustly, rather than submit to a system that is simply economically unable to rise to the same standard, is proof only that human beings are to some extent self-interested animals.

        Rather than blowing such smoke, the discussion should focus on identifying the various pros and cons of various possible systems, and cobbling together a system which maximizes the pros while minimizing the cons. The fact that individuals with access to better health care than it would be possible to supply to all 300,000,000 Americans prefer to maintain their inequitable privileges is utterly irrelevant. And any idiot should be able to understand that.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      You hooting and screeching Conservatives dismiss everything on the air that doesn’t have a Fox logo in the lower-right corner.

      So this is clearly an attempt to obfuscate the true impact of the health care debate, and has to be completely ignored.

      BTW, you’ve added your own pointless snark while attempting to use Bold HTML type to make your point. Rep DeGette or Adam Schrager never said “that’s not what benefit mangers are saying” so take that weak-ass shit out.  

      • Libertad says:

        Effects on Private Coverage and the Uninsured

        1) 48 percent of privately insured Americans would transition out of private insurance. Of the estimated 172.5 million people with private health insurance, there would be a decline of 83.4 million people with private coverage. [Libertad making an early exit to improve the short-term family finances as I know even those making under $65k will get hit in some way]

        2) 56 percent of Americans with employer-based coverage would lose their current insurance. Of the estimated 158.1 million Americans with employer-based coverage, 88.1 million people would be shifted out of their current employer-based plan.

        3) 80 percent of Americans in a health insurance exchange would end up in the public plan. Of the estimated 129.6 million people who would obtain coverage through an exchange, 103.4 million people would be covered by the public plan.

        4) 34 percent of the uninsured in America would still lack coverage. Of the estimated 49.1 million people without health insurance, the legislation would only reduce the uninsured by 32.6 million people, leaving 16.5 million people without coverage.

        Effects on Physicians and Hospitals

        1) Physicians would see their payment levels decline by $31.7 billion as a consequence of the new public plan. While physician net income may increase under the bill primarily due to other Medicare changes, a public plan with Medicare-based payments would lower reimbursements. Today, Medicare physician payments are, on average, 81 percent of private payments. [private plans would absorb the cost shift, inflicting damage on ordinary Americans paying for healthcare today]

        2) Hospitals could see their net annual income fall by $61.9 billion, which roughly eliminates hospital total margins. This significant loss in hospital income is also overwhelmingly attributable to the public plan using Medicare-based payments. Today, Medicare hospital payments are, on average, 68 percent of private payments.

  2. rocco says:

    Think about how we’ve degenerated.

    That green zone coffman could even say “the private sector will be at a disadvatage” without being ridiculed says it all.


  3. Laughing Boy says:

    We’ll see what happens when the DA sorts it out.

    Those SEIU shirts are going to look great in the joint.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      What’s disgusting?

      Is your side’s cowardly reverse claims of violence disgusting?

      Is your made-up outrage and insistence that your version of events is true because it suits you politically disgusting?

      Is your token condemnation of the idiot lies these protesters believe about the health care bill, while enabling them to the point of absurdity – is that disgusting?

      If you answered yes to any of these we finally agree about something, LB. And whether we agree or not, I know I am genuinely disgusted.

  4. Canines says:

    It starts with a union guy pulling Kenneth Gladney, who says he was attacked, off another union guy. Then I see a black union guy walking away looking like he’s hurt. It seems like Gladney is up pretty quickly, and is moving around unhindered, afterward.

    I’ve watched that video about ten times now on full screen mode.

    I’ll reprint the Washington Monthly’s reaction:


    At least one prominent conservative blogger said Gladney was “brutally attacked” by SEIU members outside the event. After watching the video, there’s ample reason for skepticism. Gladney was, in fact, pulled to the ground during the fracas, but he seemed to bounce back up quickly, and is seen walking around soon after without any obvious injuries. His attorney has argued that Gladney was beaten during the fight, but there’s nothing in the clip to support that.

    I’m not claiming to know who started what. But for someone to claim they see, for instance, Gladney being “kicked” in the video is ludicrous.

    • BlueCat says:

      Libertad and LB don’t care.  Their interpretation of this single ambiguous video proves absolutely everything every rightie has said, is saying or ever will say. It proves that righties never behave violently and liberals always do and don’t even try to get them to take their blinders off long enough to follow a link to anything supporting an alternate view.   Blinders are an absolute requirement.  You take them off,  you’re out of the club and off the Big Fat Idiot’s Christmas card list.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        I’m guessing only one or two will end up being charged, and I’d bet a steak dinner it won’t be anyone opposed to the healthcare bill.

      • sxp151 says:

        LB considered it “uncivil” to characterize Republican racist Obama-haters who killed cops and doctors and women as in any way representative of the Republican party.

        Now we have a minor scuffle, nobody quite knows what happened, and suddenly universal health care is the new Auschwitz and Obama supporters the new brownshirts.

        I never had much respect for Republicans, but now I see I was too generous.

        Of course, as LB said with the birther movement, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, as long as it helps the Republican party politically.

          • rocco says:

            “End justifies the means”.


          • Laughing Boy says:

            I made no Nazi comparisons.  Murderers and racists are still not representative of the Republican party any more than they are representative of the Dems.  Which is – not at all.  Criminals are criminals.  

            I also said let’s wait and see what the D.A. says, but the unions were called in to intimidate, and they have a long history of violence.  That’s indisputable.

            Let’s give it a couple of weeks and see what happens.  I will tell you that the guy who was allegedly beaten looks like he was hamming it up quite a bit.  

            • Laughing Boy says:

              I liked this.

              Actually, the people who’ve been raising a ruckus at town halls are not there because they have nothing better to do: they’re acting out because they are intensely ideological, and they are eager to fight for their beliefs. Liberals insist that the anti-Obamacare protesters represent an extreme and intemperate minority, and they’re absolutely right. But the same was true of those who protested for abolition and women’s suffrage and temperance and civil rights for African Americans and for gays and lesbians. I don’t believe that Obamacare is a grave evil that should be bitterly opposed, like Jim Crow. Rather, I think it’s an ill-conceived mish-mash that will quickly fall apart, leaving the next president to pick up the pieces. If I did think Obamacare was evil, though, I’d angrily attend a dozen town halls, shaking my fists and playing the kazoo at every one. And if Obamacare eventually passes in some form, I’ll make you a guarantee: these ferocious protests will keep getting bigger and louder.

              To get a glimpse of America’s future, consider France. The French have the health-care system that Americans desperately want: it combines private providers and patient choice with a large and generous public insurance system, one that keeps out-of-pocket costs extremely low for working families. The French system is also dramatically cheaper than our own. But whenever there’s a move to tweak the system in some way-say, to gently nudge patients to get the approval of a general practitioner before seeing a specialist-the French go absolutely mad with rage. Doctors go on strike, massive street protests ensue, the riot police come out: it’s a crazy scene.

              • SSG_Dan says:

                found here: http://www.andersonfreepress.n

                “The truth is that the country still likes Democrats better than Republicans, by a substantial margin. According to Dionne’s Washington Post article, an ABC/NBC news poll (the same one that found Obama’s numbers slipping) found Democrats had a 5 point positive rating 42% positive 37% negative, while Republicans a 13 point negative rating 28% rated Republicans positive, with a 41% rating them negative.

                “Why are Republicans seen in such negative terms?  Because, Dionne says, the Republican Party is controlled by right wing extremists.   Here are a few illustrations.  There are a group of extremists “birthers” who, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, continue to claim that Obama was not born in the United States, thus is ineligible to be President.  Now let me make this point clear.  The birthers have every right to make any oddball claim they wish, the problem for the Republican Party is that its leadership has not disavowed them.  If they want Republicans to be seen as mainstream, Republicans leaders should stand up and call the birthers’ claim what it is … nonsense.”

                • Laughing Boy says:

                  How’s that?

                  • sxp151 says:

                    And the health care rioters do have precedent, but less in the womens’ rights movement than in the pro-segregation movement. Where else would you find a bunch of middle-aged white guys, screaming instead of debating, carrying guns and threatening violence, and pissed off about a black man not knowing his (and their) place in society?

                  • SSG_Dan says:

                    …the Point is that the Senior Leadership of the GOP has been mum on denouncing this large collection of Conservative NutBags out their screaming and hooting about a number of subjects.

                    (Read the whole article – its’ not just the Birthers>)

                    If the GOP was led by a bunch of thoughtful, responsible adults they would’ve been out there on Day one scolding the Birthers. Or the Anarchists at the Health Care Debate.

                    Instead, there silence is telling. They want angry, stupid mobs attacking Congressional representatives, shouting bumper-sticker nonsense and devolving the debate.

                    The best they can managed is crafted indifference, and repeating the same sound-bite stupid comments that just inspire the mindless mobs to act more mindlessly.

                    The worst they can manage is continue to organize more of these terrorist activities and try and disrupt the process, knowing full well all they have to offer with there plan is another tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

              • PERA hopeful says:

                Today We Are All French!

  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    After screaming for civil disobedience by the Terri Shiavo wing of the Republican Party for weeks and encouraging the most rude and disruptive behavior permissible, is it really any shock to see the Republicans pulling the reverse violence card at the first sign of trouble.

    Two words: Terri Shiavo

    Also from the folks you brought you the Wall Street meltdown (unregulated capitalism) and an unnecessary war.  Which folks would you believe given the “facts”.

  6. http://www.kansascity.com/news

    “”A few nights ago there was an assault on my liberty, and on yours, too.” Brown read. “This should never happen in this country.”

    Brown told the crowd that Gladney is accepting donations toward his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was laid off recently and has no health insurance.”

  7. Ray Springfield says:

    we had them outnumbered about 2 to 3 to 1.

    It went well.

    I only heard one man shoting “Nazi healthcare”…so offensive to Jews……

    He was drowned out.

    I had good conversations with Local 7 members, and with some reasonable people in the opposition.

    I thought the day went well

    • Libertad says:

      The SEIU maintains forced unionism in CT, unlike the State of Colorado where Rill Ritter, Jr. protected state employees by giving them the Right-to-Work!

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      but we are good because we only did what we did because they were going to do what they said they would do if we did what our masters wanted us to do.  Our masters will be so pleased that we got them to do what we do so now we can condemn them for doing it too.

      Only a Republican could defend such trash.

    • ajb says:

      In a post above, you quote at length an editorial that defends the bad behavior of those who oppose the proposed legislation.

      In this post, you apparently decry a call for supporters of the legislation to “drown out” the voices of those opposed to it (by telling their “real, personal stories about the need for access to quality, affordable care” – the horror!)

      So what is it? Is bad behavior a good thing or a bad thing? Or does/should it depend on what side you’re on?

    • PERA hopeful says:

      He can give his real, personal story about how he needed to pass the hat for medical care, since he lost his insurance when he got laid off….

      • SSG_Dan says:

        …but, here:

        “Astroturf refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.”


        And the verb:

        “A list of case studies of journalists who have been taken in by astroturfing, ie. who have uncritically reported on a front organization as if it were truly grassroots.”


        • I’m not really sure what you call a group that started out as Astroturf, but has picked up enough right-wing supporters and completely misinformed hangers-on to have the look and feel of real grassroots.  Sod?

        • sxp151 says:

          people being bussed in from out of the district, as well as paid activists pretending they’re not.

          Members of Congress routinely ask constituents to sign in when they attend town halls so they can contact them later and gauge where people are coming from. Dingell spokesman Adam Benson estimated that roughly 500 people showed up for the meeting, and half didn’t sign in at all. Of the 262 who did, 80 listed addresses inside Dingell’s district; 100 listed addresses outside the district; and 82 didn’t put down an address at all. Sign-in sheet breakdowns provided to the Huffington Post in two other congressional districts indicated a similar pattern of outside agitation.

          In short, the sign-in sheets lend credence to the accusation that the protests are the product of Washington-based “Astroturf” organizations, rather than evidence of a groundswell of popular resistance to health care reform.

          Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.) hosted a town hall that featured protestations  from Heather Blish who described herself as “just a mom from a few blocks away” who was “not affiliated with any political party.” It turned out she was the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Kewaunee County until last year and had also worked for John Gard, a Republican challenger who Kagan defeated last year.

        • Yokel says:

          But thanks for the definitions, anyway.  

  8. Go Blue says:

    Of course this all the Democrats fault! Even Rep. Scott having a 4 foot Swastika spray painted across his office is his own fault… he probably even did it himself!

    Isn’t it more likely that this act of vandalism was committed by one of Scott’s supporters?

    For fucks sake Cons, face reality!

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