Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Wingnut Mania Over Tucson

Before I say anything else, I should note that, up until now, I had not found an instance of Democrats and/or liberals in general using violent rhetoric against their opponents. Well, I recently came across the following from here…

Former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Penn.) on Monday joined a chorus of voices calling for more civilized political discussion in the aftermath of the weekend's devastating shootings in Arizona. Unlike many of those appeals, however, Kanjorski's appears somewhat tainted by a past that shows him to be part of the problem that he is now seeking to rectify.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Kanjorski uses his own experience of working through the infamous attack on the House by Puerto Rican nationalists in 1954 to argue that "all Americans" need to take it upon themselves to defuse tensions…
All well and good, until you discover the following…

"That [Republican candidate Rick Scott] down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."
As noted here, Rick Scott is most definitely one of our lower life forms. However, that does not justify Kanjorski’s violent language, and if he has done apologized as of yet, he should do so at the earliest possible moment.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s bring ourselves up to date on the latest developments in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting.

As noted here, a certain U.S. House Speaker thought it was more important to attend an RNC fundraiser than to participate in anything approximating a show of support for the victims. However, as Matt Taibbi noted in his profile of John Boehner here, The Orange One attends a minimum of one fundraiser per day, so it looks as if he was merely trying to keep up with his quota (removing my tongue from my cheek).

Also, when stories like the Arizona massacre take place (which, fortunately, isn’t a frequent occasion, though such stories are still too common), I’m always curious about the international perspective on such matters. With that in mind, I recently found this Op-Ed from The Globe and Mail (up north)…

Tonight, with eloquence and poetry, Barack Obama summoned Americans to unity, and to respect for public service. But he missed an opportunity to tackle the cancer of handgun worship and violence in America – a contagion that afflicts the American body politic and a public health emergency that strikes down tens of thousands of innocent and troubled Americans every year.

After the ritual denunciations, brazen mass shootings in the U.S. typically prompt two responses in the political mainstream. Many demand more, not less, access to guns. Others suggest minor changes to America's gun laws, and no change to America's gun culture. Mr. Obama could have joined that third, small group of advocates, currently lacking political power, calling for real change.

Instead, for the moment, he has stuck his head in the sand.

Handguns and assault rifles are a blight that make the U.S. one of the world's most murderous societies, on a par with South Africa and Colombia. Consider that:

– Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young African-American men.
– According to the Brady Campaign, in 2009 there were at least 260 incidents in which at least three people were shot.
– In 2007, suicide by gun claimed 17,352 people – more than those murdered by guns – and states with high rates of gun ownership have been found to have twice the gun suicide rate compared to states with low gun ownership.

This is a North America-wide affliction. A large proportion of illegal handguns in Canada come from the U.S., as do the weapons fuelling Mexico's brutal drug trade-related violence.

A skewed veneration of Second Amendment rights mean reasonable attempts at gun control go nowhere. Federally-mandated background checks are still not applied at gun shows. Many assault rifles, banned in 1994, are now back on the market, legally.

The Tucson shootings show deficiencies in areas such as mental health and political discourse. And given that the event was a memorial service, Mr. Obama's main role was as mourner and unifier-in-chief.

But because the target in the killing spree was a U.S. Congresswoman, tonight's event was also political. Otherwise, a mass shooting that kills six is – and this itself ought to be an outrage – below the usual threshold to summon an American president.

The celebrated master of context and nuance had a simple political task. Mr. Obama could have, at least, uttered two simple lines: “Our worship of weapons designed only to kill humans must end. In the coming weeks, I will offer a detailed response to this epidemic.” A call to rein in America's gun obsession was, sadly, left unsaid.
Also, to show you how absolutely desperate the wingnutosphere is to escape any hint of blame whatsoever for even remotely giving a provocation to alleged shooter Jared Loughner, someone named Matt Towery of actually tried to blame liberals here for the violence because, well, one of their “patron saints” is guilty of violent rhetoric also (utterly beyond belief – or, as a certain deceased rock star might put it “strange days indeed”)…

Last month, the media focused on another anniversary of the night John Lennon was shot in 1980 by a deranged and psychotic "fan," Mark David Chapman. He was obsessed with many things, including the book "Catcher in the Rye" -- and John Lennon.

The brilliant political analyst Charles Krauthammer, who at one time was a young practicing psychiatrist, has made it clear that from all of the confused emails and YouTube postings, plus the observations by acquaintances of the Tucson gunman, Jared Loughner, this was, as with Chapman, the act of a severely mentally ill person. It appears that Loughner had a "nonpartisan" obsession with Rep. Giffords, much as Mark David Chapman was obsessed with Lennon.

Now, many of the same columnists, commentators and politicians who have moved quickly to conclude that the "heated rhetoric" of politics is likely a partial or root cause of tragedies like the one in Arizona would never have even considered that the yesteryear rhetoric of John Lennon and Yoko Ono might have triggered leftist violence or social unrest.

There would never have been a case of "the liberal media vs. John Lennon" over his hot criticism of a war and the violent protests it helped spawn. It seems "heightened rhetoric" has no correlation to random violence when the shoe fits the left. But when it can be pinned on the right, there is a direct causal link.
OWWWW!!! THE STOO-PID!!! IT BURNS US!!!!!!! And assuming Charles Krauthammer is “brilliant” at anything is enough to make me gag.

(Oh, and by the way, Towery even recalls the Kent State shootings in May 1970 in which, according to these accounts, no warning was ever issued by the Ohio National Guardsmen before they opened fire, killing four students.)

Oh yes, Towery, please tell me the song written by John Lennon in which he called for political assassination – “I Don’t Want To Be A Ruthless Oppressing Politician”? “(Bury The Pigs In) Steel And Glass”? “#9th Victim”? “Imagine (Nixon Dead)”? And I guess, as far as Towery is concerned, “Give Peace A Chance” and “Happy Xmas/War Is Over” don’t count.

And allow me to emphasize once and for all that I am not trying to associate Loughner with any ideology; indeed, aside from the fact that he was targeting Congresswoman Giffords for reasons that we may never completely know, a review of his reading material indicates that he was all over the ideological map (as much as you can go by that).

With all that said, I now have to offer a bit of an apology for what comes next; I honestly had planned not to try and link the Tucson horror to any particular person or political development, but Rand Paul “went there” here, and so I believe I must respond (you would think an elected government official would know better - you would think so anyway).

I believe that the person in this photo, as a result of all this, has now been harmed almost to the point where her reputation, such as it is, cannot be repaired (with this latest fumbling attempt at motivating her followers standing as perhaps her most transparently hollow act).

For every time now that Sarah Palin invokes imagery of violence in anything she ever says, that language will automatically be associated with the “bullseye” map she concocted during the prior election targeting 20 Democratic U.S. House members, including Congresswoman Giffords (she, along with Nick Rahall, were the only ones re-elected, which she joyously noted in a “tweet” in which she referred to the map markings as “bullseyes” and not “surveyor’s symbols”...background, as if we need it, is here).

The Republican Party really didn’t have a clue as to how to put a dent into her popularity and derail her presidential bid. But now, Jared Loughner has done that for them.

So if the horrific shootings in Tucson end up giving anyone a political advantage, it really would be the Republicans, wouldn’t it?

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