Monday, January 10, 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Talks Violent Attacks, Sarah Palin's "Cross Hairs"

As most people know a 40 year-old three term Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the brain and lies in critical condition in a Tucson, Arizona hospital. Others were killed by a shooter, considered too unstable to attend a local community college, who was armed with a 30-round Glock pistol, a gun with a ballistic-capacity even the Tucson police do not carry.

She was a moderate "Blue-Dog" Democrat, one of the few of her kind in the current Congress which had friends on both sides of the aisle. Violence was not new to her campaign. Her opponent, a far-right Tea Party candidate, had invited followers to a "rally" where they could fire automatic weapons, including an M-16 combat firearm.

Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin had targeted her with a "cross hairs" mark on her district, one of twenty on Sarah's target list.

This is a climate we live in in America. No matter what the shooter's mental state of mind, its clear politics played some role in his mania. If he had just wanted to shoot people, he could have picked many places in Arizona's second largest city to do so. Yet he went to a "Meet Your Congresswoman" event.

Conservatives pundits on Arizona's airwaves immediately went on the air today to dismiss the idea that their toxic rhetoric could have inspired any of this slaughter. A Fox news contributor (and former FBI agent) said on the "Geraldo Rivera" show Saturday that this had "nothing to do with politics".


Perhaps it would be best if all pundits took a deep breath the next time they vilify a person whose crime is not agreeing with them.

No politics involved in this shooting? One might ask ask why then did the shooter's first gunshot go into the head of a congresswoman?

(Below: Gabrielle Giffords interviewed in March of 2010.)


  1. Maybe he was in high school. But this recent "USA Today" article paints a somewhat different picture, Rob:

    "In recent months, he began posting anti-government writings on various websites. Some were about "mind control"; others questioned the government's authority.

    "Read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws," he wrote in white text on a black background in a YouTube video. "If the property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution then the revolutionary's from the revolution are in control of the land and laws. ..."

    He doesn't sound like a "peace, love, dope" super-leftist to me.

  2. Whether Jared Loughner identified with the 'left' or the 'right' seems rather irrelevant to is not 'normal' to take a high powered weapon to a public event and gun down people including a politician, a judge and a child..... whatever our ideological beliefs may be. There is nothing 'political' in it even though we may want to blame the Communists for the collapse of law and order in the US, I'm afraid it just won't is people like Sarah Palin and the Tea Baggers that are really to blame I think.

    If the 2nd amendment actually achieved a 'free state' with a people's militia to guarantee its continued freedom, then all well and good, but all it produces is lethally armed psychopaths who go on orgies of murderous destruction, while all the freedoms are being taken away.... in most cases without so much as a whimper of objection.

    Disarm the populace has to be done....there can be no progress without it in my opinion Doug!

  3. I think this is completely impossible in America, AA. Our political culture is too wedded to firearms. One may as well ban football in the UK. Laws that might be better tuned to prevent sales of firearms to people who are too demented to attend a college or a job site might be a small help.

    The best we can hope for is for the Far Right to stop denying their rhetoric will not make a negative effect on demented people, of which there is no lack of in this nation.

  4. OMG! yeah. good luck with that. let's just let the criminals run free and rape and pillage after law abiding citizens surrender their weapons in the name of unattainable utopian bliss. this is the dumbest thing that i have read all day and i get around quite a bit.

  5. 6/08 "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" Obama.

    there is your rhetoric...

  6. I take your points here Doug, I am sure you are right that a piecemeal reduction in access to WMD would be a step in the right direction, Arizona pays a price for its extremely "liberal" gun laws. But I am still baffled by a logic which seems to say that the freedom to own and bear arms must prevail in order to protect .....the freedom to own and bear arms, because there are not that many other freedoms left.

    America is a place where the notion of 'freedom' is always permissive, it is invariably freedom to do this, that or the other.

    It seems to me that it is much less often the notion of freedomfrom things like squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease (to quote William Beveridge)... all engines of crime, debilitating stressors and ultimately harbingers of misery.

    You are right Doug, I don't think we could ever ban football here, but we do have all-seater stadiums, health and safety regulations, a doctor and paramedics sitting at the side of the pitch, stewards, police and more or less effective conflict resolution strategies and that's only football....what has Arizona got?

    I think the answer lies in the difference between freedom 'to' and freedom 'from'....maybe young countries always think everyone is always young, but there comes a time when the realisation must hit that the current situation is not sustainable. I don't think it is here either or anywhere else but we do have to accept that we just can't go on like this for much longer, something has to give, surely?

  7. You mean like Japan or Spain or somewhere like that? It is a uniquely American belief that societies where weapons are not allowed are in some way obviously don't 'get around' to the right places....some people are actually quite nice you know, even some strangers :-)

  8. so how is that whole no guns allowed in great britain thing working out for you? crime go down? muslim radicals running rampant in the street...wouldn't you like to be able to carry a gun if you actually wanted to? when a bomb goes off again and you see someone running away, wouldn't you like to have the means to detain them until authorities arrive? if someone breaks into your house and threatens your wife and/or kids, wouldn't you like to have the OPTION to put a bullet in their head and let god sort it out? i will keep my guns...thank you very much. good luck with disarmed utopia-world. let me know how it works out. nevermind. i will see it on the news.

  9. I work in the inner city in a mixed Muslim, Sikh, African Caribbean, Eastern European etc area where community relations are very very good.
    There are more than 40 ethnic groups on my patch with around 60% of them Muslim, no bother whatsoever.

    Nobody breaks into my house where I now live although it has happened in the past twice in other places which was irritating, but nothing more than that.... but not for about 20 years now anyway......There is no need for me to be paranoid.....its all working out just fine thanks.

    Don't believe everything they tell you, it might make you nervous? :-)

  10. yeah. i know. i hate the media too much to really listen. but when it's all you hear....

  11. i guess i am cautiously paranoid. i will take that over complacency any day.

  12. Not too keen on either of those options about observant? That'll do me :-)

  13. works for me. maybe my problem is that i observe way too much. if that can be considered a fault. one can tend to get overloaded trying to keep up with the entire planet.

  14. after this past election, do not kid yourself for a moment into believing that the liberal media will not seize on this tragedy and use it to paint every conservative and "tea bagger" as right wing dangerous nutbags.

    it is just the kind of story that they need to further brain wash the dumb masses amongst us. just watch. sit back and watch the drama unfold. it will be political theater at it's pathetic best. it could not have scripted better.

    let the political carnage begin.

  15. US politics does seem to have hit a new low. But for me, this is yet another incident of some piece of crap wanting to be famous, wanting great status in society without actually earning it. Ten a penny nothings like him are commonplace in Western societies. They are an inevitable consequence of irresponsible media, and I think that the clearly irresponsible politics are a fraction of the greater problem with the television version of Dysfunctional USA. However, as a small part of media reportage, a quicker fix is possible, and hopefully Palin and the other more savage public representatives can now wake up and smell the coffee.
    I really do hope that the congress woman makes a full recovery, that the scumbag who shot her suffers and fries, and that the six bereaved families receive massive support at such a time of great injustice.

  16. We don't have Muslim radicals running rampant in the UK. Your media has been telling fibs again.
    What we do have are schools that don't get shot up by school children every six weeks.
    We don't have police officers shooting innocent people by mistake.
    We don't have idiots with guns who have less IQ points than they have bullits freely roaming around like they had a moral right because of some self-indulgent anachranistic nonsense about bearing arms that is TWO HUNDRED YEARS out of date.
    I don't need to shoot a burgular to protect myself and others. I have an axe. And they are handy for whacking shins. I don't need to risk killing to protect myself. And I don't need every moron in our street armed to the teeth to feel safe.

    Take the guns out of the USA and you'd need a lot less psychiatrists.

  17. Not my media, man. It's yours.

    This vain, self-indulgent, deluded and often cowardly person will go now after having made my point. When you pay proper attention to the happenings within your own country, maybe we can chat again. Peace.

  18. An interesting observation Oakie given that the American Psychiatric Association are in the final stages of putting together their new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) which is the fifth edition of the mad doctors cook book (one of 2 actually) wherein what is to be deemed 'abnormal' and what is also seen as 'deviant' is decided by various working parties (focus groups) with a generous input from Big Pharma of course.

    I don't know what new gems DSM V will have in store the last thing my spies reported from these secret meetings is that Aspergers might be removed, de-pathologised so to speak, but those of us with an interest in such matters await with baited breath.

    Watch out for new anti-establishment delusional disorder and vamped up politically deviant personality disorders (False Flag Psychosis maybe?)... and very probably something new and a very special pill for the kiddies.

    We'll have to wait until next year though, so there is something to look forward to, because it will have an effect on the future practice of psychiatry worldwide.

    Less guns less psychiatrists sounds good to me, but all the signs are that we may be getting more of both?

  19. What would you call somebody who wants to shoot their way to good health, well besides 'simple' that is of course?

  20. Don't patronise me, Tapey-boy!

    I know what goes on in my own country and I can tell the difference between propaganda and truth.

    You are arrogant and you are armed. That is one of the biggest problems with your country.
    You are a problem with the naive delusion that you are somehow a solution.


  21. Notice: Personal attacks directed at others will not be tolerated on this site, Tapeworms. You're not welcome on this site.

  22. Yes, it does look that way. The ecomic pressure really won't help things at all.

  23. Most welcome as this is very through in all that has taken place - you do it well Doug.

  24. People can't just go shooting each other because they don't agree with each others policies. Shouldn't we be trying to talk it through and protest with our vote. Or even use our right to demonstrate.

    Thanks, Doug

  25. As the gentle person from the state of Georgia who suddenly decided to bust into my site from out of nowhere has testified, the proliferating of firearms in America is so ingrained--especially in the South and other "Red State" areas, that debating the matter with someone who has grown up likely looking at a gun as their most sacred right is a waste of time. And when you point out the problem that loose gun laws can have, you are either branded a coward or a communist. I really don't think I'll say much about the gun situation in the USA again for quite awhile.

  26. Exactly Cassandra. I do not think the founders of this Republic thought it a right to shoot political opponents when they are unarmed in a public square. I remained unconvinced that this attack didn't have a political motive, although I should say it doesn't reflect any mainstream politcal group.

    But i do say using targets and crosshairs in political ads should be self-regulated, and the whole tone of our country's civil discourse taken down a notch.

    Thank you Cassandra.

  27. The gun situation in America, always brings a lot of hot air with it, doesn't it Doug.

    I have three Americans lodging with me for a while and that is one of the reasons they won't return to America to live because of the gun culture...

  28. Sorry about the heatedness of one or two of us, Doug. It is just so infuriating that, yet again, innocent people lay dead and wounded partially because the USA has such a profound pro-weapons culture. As a Brit I feel that weapons are for the battlefield, not the sidewalk,
    And it interesting, the "coward" side of things. I get the impression that a lot of men seem to become a lot less cowardly when they are the only person holding a gun.

    People aren't still called "Commies" in the US are they? That's pretty hilarious to be honest.

  29. Oh ,yes it does.

    I doubt I would ever leave America, but if there is one thing I could change about this country it would be this Wild West mentality about firearms. But as I told Aaran, I don't see that as possible.

  30. I hope the woman who was shot makes a full recovery. Sadly this shooting has left a few innocent families grieving.

  31. Hollywood and the media do tend to reinforce, even glamourise the gun and gun-culture. That can't help.

  32. Oh, yes it does Cassandra. Rather like a Zepplin's worth of hot air.

    If I could see a change to the "Wild West" mentality of guns in America, I'd welcome it. If someone can find a better and safer place than the USA to live, then I shall not judge them in any negative way. A couple years free of this toxic political state over here would do me some good I'm sure.

  33. It is ironic that a country like the US with such a fine written constitution, and such a fine exponant of free speech, sould see so many "discussions" ended with bullits being fired. It really is still the wild Wild West in some parts.

  34. Here, here! There were quite a few people injured as well as the six deaths.

  35. You don't need to apologize Oakie. I feared as much very time a gun issue rears up in the national spotlight.

    There are plenty of venues for name-callers of the Far Right who blame the media whenever someone in it even suggests some shooter might have been influenced by something they read or saw.

    The Assault Weapons Ban of the 90's was overturned a few years ago. At that point I gave up on serious gun control in America.

    I have been reading what the rest of the democratic world is saying about us. It's amazing how far other nations have come in reducing gun violence. We are well behind.

    The Health Care issue has brought back the "commie" word again. But just being called a socialist is enough to "poison the well" of any opponent.

  36. It is certainly a most contentious issue! The US seems so "civilised" in so many ways, yet it's is right up there for serious crime with South Africa and Russia. It's a shame that something substantial can't seem to be done to change things.

    I'm off now! Goodnight, Doug!

  37. Yes, a lot of contradictions to unravel about this. It is a shame.

    Good night Oakie.

  38. That's the worst of it, Cassandra. If such a crime doesn't give people some pause over the psychological red flags of a demented person, what would? How many 9 year old girls must die before a serious background check at a gun store can be performed?

    This shooter was not even allowed to return to the college he attended--yet he just went out and bought a gun at a store with a 30 magazine capacity!

    Not all gun crimes could be stopped here. But this could have been prevented. But the National Rifle Association is too powerful to go up against for a sitting politician.

  39. As it should be Doug....when I wrote about this I knew there would much to come back to and yet the manner in which you write is from a standpoint that brings about much thoughts and then the others - within what I write I just wrote it within the manner that I see it.

    I did link from my notes to this write of yours as it's a very good one and hope that is all fine with you. I am not writing that much unless there is something that I find relevant. As you have and always have done.

  40. That is most likely to my way of thinking, AA.

  41. Thanks for this answer AA!

    Interesting stuff!

  42. I read your interesting and thoughtful blog with interest Doug. I have commented so often in other places on the subject of the pathetically limited amount of gun control in the past and decided not to this time, especially given the thrust of the argument being made by some.

    I used to want to live in the US when younger, now I can think of nowhere I'd want to be living less than there. The political polarisation and shocking proliferation of firearms is anathema to me.

  43. Yes, it seems at least one person always comes out of nowhere to start hurling insults. The idea of even limited gun control cause some people to get in a lather.

    Yes, America was a better country when I was younger as well. But we have a lot of sensible people here--they just don't grab the headlines or get to jaw and jaw on cable television.

    I think the polarization has a lot to do with the bad economy. I hope you'll consider visiting over here someday Jim. There really are a lot of good places and people to see.

    And, compared to any part of Canada, it's usually warmer ;-)

  44. I thought the "surveyor's mark" comment was more than unusually lame.

  45. I have to say, that where I live there is a mix of Muslim, Polish, African, Caribbean and Sikh people. We all get along fine. I think they want the same thing as us, to bring up their families in peace. I'm glad we don't carry guns. What's more, I don't think we need them. There has to be another way of working out our differences other than shooting. If only our leaders could find another of dealing with disputes other than going to war I'd be happy. I am intelligent enough to know this won't happen, but it doesn't stop me hoping.

    We sometimes have multicultural gatherings in the summer, this is a great way of finding we are very similar in many things. Certainly we are made well aware that not every Muslim supports radical Mosques, far from it!.

  46. Well said Cassandra.

    I work in a place with a very diverse ethnic mix and at lunch there's a christian (I think), two Muslims, a Sikh and a fellow from Sri Lanka who's religion I know not and me. We have wide ranging discussions and the banter is always good fun. We are pretty much all preoccupied with the same stuff, taxes, poor pay, education for our kids and grand kids, relationships etc.

    When will we ALL learn that we are all the same with rare exception.

  47. Thank you, jazzmanic.

    I think we only learn if our mind is open to accepting that some differences aren't important, maybe that makes us more interesting to each other. As you have found, people are mainly concerned with looking after their family and wanting the best for them.

    Mmmm, it would be nice if we could all live side by side and be friends where possible

  48. I'm glad we have such cosmopolitan places, Cassandra. I'm no sociologist, but I think the more people feel connected to one another and aren't treated as second-class citizens by the police or some civic entity, the more likely it is that serious violence is rare and the peaceful mixing you speak of is more routine.

    Solving disputes without war is a tall order, but consider how many people could have predicted the fall of so many tyrannical symbols: The Berlin Wall and the fall of the entire Warsaw Pact Bloc starting in 1989, the heinous apartheid system in South Africa in the1990's, and the end of so many ugly rulers and juntas in places like the Philippines and Argentina.

    All without massive bloodshed!

    Peace may never become universal, but everytime peace takes an important stride somewhere on the globe it has to encourage hope for millions somewhere else.

    The more we know of our neighbors the less we can stereotype, and the less leaders can fool us into thinking we should be afraid of people as a bloc.

    Well said, Cassandra. Thanks.

  49. When indeed Jim. I think it starts with not letting hotheads lead too manypeople astray with old prejudices and fears--not letting the exceptional hothead be the rule for any group.

    It's only when we let others define our neighbors and co-workers for us that we run into trouble.

  50. Check and check, Goodstuff. Really a disappointing showing for her...what a surprise.

    I wonder if she gets this is about the victims in Arizona and not about her? If she did I didn't catch it.

  51. I may live up in the North, but we have an identical racial mix, and there are largely no problems. Every racial group has its bad apples, but I agree, most people just want to get along in life.

    I also agree that we don't need guns. But it's a Catch 22 for US citizens. Many here WOULD need guns if everybody else in the UK had them.

    It is interesting that women are much less inclined to carry a gun in the US than men are.

    I also think that the use of a gun as an argument winner must hinder intellectual development as one wouldn't need to learn to debate effectively. One could just point the gun and resolve a discussion that way.
    Having been accosted on the street on ocassions, I've managed to extracate myself from some tricky situations by using my wits. That would not have happend peacefully if guns had been involved.

  52. Absolutely I couldn't agree more, its the best divide and rule policy anyone ever thought up and - as is evident from some of the issues raised in the discussion - gun culture only creates paranoia and stifles the debate that could resolve it, it stultifies societies with fear and makes them passive, compliant and warlike.

    I think the 2nd amendment is a confidence trick and a false security blanket...we have to move on from the world of the 18th century Liberal Enlightenment....there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

  53. Exactly Oakie. I've just read that gun sales in the state of Arizona are on the rise right now. One can only conclude that some of these sales are from people who previously didn''t own firearms--recent emigrants from other states--who now feel less secure.

    Arizona is one of three states in the USA--including Alaska and the tiny state of Vermont in rural New England--where there are NO restrictions for adults to carry firearms in a concealed fashion on their person---unless they are convicted felons.

    And, yes, one has to be rather careful dealing with nutty or ignorant people who might find in everyday life. It's never certain in a gun-oriented society what some persons are capable of ballistic violence if you say something that clashes with their inflated and borderline-sociopath personalities.

  54. When guns become too easy to obtain, It does seem to favor the disgruntled and the angry over the rational. People who might not even want a gun might buy and carry one not as a protection for dealing with a tyrannical government, but simply to protect themselves from the lunatics amongst us. Our society has had its share of political assassinations and attempted political murders that have altered history--and never for the better!

    The Civil Rights Era in the American South adffords many examples of gun violence by white groups to keep blacks "in their place" as subservient non-voters.

    I agree a lot has changed since the days of single-shot pistols and muskets, AA.

  55. A rare bit of good news from that corner.

    Maybe at least this will signal less gun metaphors and trumped-up hyperbole from the Palin camp, Goodstuff.

  56. Indeed!

    I wonder if some of those immigrants have been going around getting shot by "good old 'Mericans, a huntin' terrorists".

    Generous gun laws must worry any minority.

    My dad spent some time in the famed "Deep South". He said that he was treated brilliantly (White and English)and that the people were very warm.
    Then he added "I would have hated to be black or gay though!" And he's hardly a liberal, either.

  57. I don't think that anyone could put it any better than that!

  58. Actually, according to the report I heard on NPR yesterday morning, most of these sales are actually for type of gun used in the shooting and especially for the extended magazine used in the shooting. The reasoning is that anytime an incident occurs the possibilty for stronger anti-gun legislation rises. Sure enough, there have already been such proposals made. So folks try to buy while they feel they still can. Still an odd response but I think it more likely than emigrants.

    Gun control is one of those things I'm fairly torn about. It is guaranteed in the Constitution..."shall not be infringed" is pretty clear language on the subject. At the same time I can appreciate that times have changed--both in what we want as a civil society and in the sheer deadliness of modern weapons. I choose not own a gun...simply not interested. Many people I know do own guns and treat them responsibly. I don't have a problem with controlling military-grade weapons but I also don't have a problem with my neighbor owning a handgun. That being said, I would be totally on-board with harsher sentencing for those that commit crimes with the use of firearms. I also don't think that folks need to be able to carry their guns into every public place either. I work for a college and the thought of even law-abiding folks carrying weapons on campus gives me the shivers.

    The trick is that most laws regarding firearems...and many laws in general...are designed to protect us from folks that aren't following laws in the first place. I'm not sure where the balance lies, but I appreciate the honest debate about it.

  59. I'm sure they do, Oakie.

    I imagine your father heard many of the ugly jokes that you can hear anywhere in in America--but most likely in states where some whites feel the federal government "did them wrong" by giving "special rights" to people who don't fit in their comfort zone.

  60. I think you speak for a lot of Americans, Shedrick, who recognize American culture is what it is on this matter. We who might not interested in guns have to deal with a body of people who feel the right to have one is paramount. That people run out to buy a gun or a assault weapon just on the off-chance it might be banned is ute testimony to the nature of this culture.

    I don't quite understand the notion that one needs anything more than a shotgun, say, to ward off wild animals or deter the odd robber. The idea that having more firepower than the police is a protection against government "tyranny" seems overdone in a nation that likely has more elected officials than any country on earth and has had the same Constitution for 230 years.

    I don't get it, but then I don't get ice hockey either.;-)

    Thanks for your input Shedrick. I admire how you articulate the need for balance and respect for the opinions of others on this sensitive issue.