Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dem Leader Clyburn Ties AZ Shooting To Sharron Angle Statement

Citing no evidence that the Arizona shooter had ever heard of Sharron Angle of Nevada or her remarks about Second Amendment remedies, a top Dem leader has nevertheless tied the shootings to Angle's statement.

Rep. James Clyburn, third in the House Dem leadership, made his allegation on Fox News Sunday today. He began with a general statment, then made a specific accusation.

JAMES CLYBURN: I think that what is happened here is that the vitriol has gotten so elevated until people feel emboldened by this. And people who are a little less than stable, and people aren't thinking for themselves are so easily influenced, they go out and do things that all of us pay a great price for.

Brett Baier, subbing for Chris Wallace, then read to Clyburn a statement from Tea Party leader Judson Phillips predicting that the left would blame the shootings on the Tea Party movem

Gun Sales Skyrocket After AZ Shooting

Gun sales are booming after the recent tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., and it's leading to an increased interest in shooting sports.

Joe Reddick with Heartland Outdoors of Edmond says, "Yesterday we did at least three times the number of gun sales we normally do; handguns mostly, assault rifles, AR15's, things like that, tactical style shotguns were flying out of here yesterday."

The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other victims has sparked debate over the current gun laws, and now, Reddick says, "I think it's just cause people are scared the government's just going to try to take away their rights."

Others say they are simply concerned for their safety.

Lakin Best recently took up the sport of shooting and says, "It's really just for self-defense, for protection, I don't want to be afraid of the gun."

Despite the increase in sales, dealers caution interested buyers to not jump the gun.

Those who aren't familiar with weapons need to first get educated about gun safety and the law.

Obama Arizona Speech: 'I Want America To Be As Good As She Imagined It'

TUCSON, Ariz. — Summoning the soul of a nation, President Barack Obama on Wednesday implored Americans to honor those slain and injured in the Arizona shootings by becoming better people, telling a polarized citizenry that it is time to talk with each other "in a way that heals, not in a way wounds." Following a hospital bedside visit with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the assassination, he said: "She knows we're here, and she knows we love her."

In a memorably dramatic moment, the president said that Giffords, who on Saturday was shot point-blank in the head, had opened her eyes for the first time shortly after his hospital visit. First lady Michelle Obama held hands with Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, as the news brought soaring cheers throughout the arena.

Speaking at a memorial at the University of Arizona, Obama bluntly conceded that there is no way to know what triggered the shooting rampage that left six people dead, 13 others wounded and the nation shaken. He tried instead to leave indelible memories of the people who were gunned down and to rally the country to use the moment as a reflection on the nation's behavior and compassion.

"I believe we can be better," Obama said to a capacity crowd in the university's basketball arena – and to countless others watching around the country. "Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us."

In crafting his comments, Obama clearly sought a turning point in the raw debate that has defined national politics. After offering personal accounts of every person who died, he challenged anyone listening to think of how to honor their memories, and he was not shy about offering direction. He admonished against any instinct to point blame or to drift into political pettiness or to latch onto simple explanations that may have no merit.

Speaking of Christina Taylor Green, the nine-year-old who was killed on Saturday, Obama said:

That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

He also deviated from his prepared remarks, saying emphatically, "I want America to be as good as she imagined it."

David Frum Blames Ariz. Shooting on Reefer Madness

The former Bush speechwriter who coined the term “axis of evil” claims a link between Jared Loughner, schizophrenia and pot smoking. Forget guns, “The Tucson shooting should remind us why we regulate marijuana.”

Much of our culture’s historic intolerance of marijuana grew out of racism and the quack science used to justify it. Frum acknowledges in his blog post that the “connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is both controversial and complicated.” But, he writes, “The raw association is strong.” That’s like saying “I can’t prove anything conclusively, but I’ve got a gut feeling.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 42.6 percent of Americans have consumed marijuana by the time they graduate from high school. If Frum is correct, we’re going to have a lot more dangerous schizophrenics to deal with. Perhaps we should get on top of the situation by drastically increasing funding for mental health services and amending the Constitution to ban guns.

Whether pot makes you crazy, lazy or fat, you can’t shoot someone without a gun.

U.S. struggles with AZ shooting response

At the time of this publication, the motive for the attempted murder of Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizonian Democratic congresswomen, is still unclear. There has been wide speculation about the motivation of the suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. He appears to be a paranoid individual with strong anti-government feelings. His YouTube videos are rambling and incoherent (and would probably be pretty amusing if they weren't so morbid at this point) warnings against government controlling citizen's grammar and encouraging people to create their own currency. Law enforcement even found evidence from his home indicates that he planned to assassinate Mrs. Gifford.

What should our response be to such an event? This is certainly a jarring moment for the U.S. Usually, assassinations of government officials take place on the other side of the border.

There have been several suggestions on how to handle this situation. Peter King (R – New York) has taken a somewhat hysterical approach by proposing a bill that would ban firearms within 1,000 feet of elected officials. This misunderstands the situation: anyone with the serious intent to kill a senator with a gun would not care about gun legislation.

Rather than the specific weapon (as political leaders have been getting themselves shot, stabbed, hanged or stoned since Hammurabi), is there a legitimate cause for this seemingly random act of aggression by an apparent lunatic?

Much of the blame is being placed on the vitriolic state of American political discourse. Deservedly so. As a society, we spend an incredible amount of money on the power of words. We are inundated daily with advertising, corporate communications, media campaigns and political messages that are all trying to make us feel a certain way. Increasingly, that feeling is isolation and fear. Millions of dollars are being spent on political attack ads that are intentionally divisive. Political and media leaders have profited from demonizing opponents and souring the political landscape. How can we expect to subject people (especially the delusional) to such phenomena and not expect the medium's tone to affect them? Every elected official has someone managing what they say: our leaders understand the portent of words, but they choose to disregard the ultimate impacts in favor of short-term political gain.

Those to blame know it. Minutes after Giffords was shot, a map of several Democratic congressmen with crosshairs on their states was taken off Sarah Palin's website. An aide claimed that the crosshairs were "surveyor's symbols" never meant to encourage guns or violence, a statement that contradicts Palin's own words. The entire structure of Palin's PR is based around isolation and otherization. She offers such sage-like, nonviolent advice like, "Don't retreat, instead- RELOAD!"

Even more egregiously, Giffords' Tea Party opponent held an event titled "Get on Target for Victory in November" that was described as, "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly." We should seriously question why a movement is trying to assert that assault rifles have a legitimate place in an election in a free democratic society. They don't.

Former President Bill Clinton had these words to offer: "This is an occasion for us to reaffirm that our political differences shouldn't degenerate into demonization, in the sense that if you don't agree with me you're not a good American." Let us, on both sides of the political spectrum, take this thought to heart. Liberal superiority and dismissiveness can be just as unhelpful to actual discourse as outright aggression, even if it is less dramatic. Hug someone you disagree with.

AZ shooting sparks debate about political rhetoric

The nation continues to recover from the shocking shootings in Tucson, Ariz. that left six people dead and 14 injured, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Doctors at the University of Arizona Medical Center’s trauma unit think a bullet passed right through the left side of Gifford’s brain but are confident she will survive, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Giffords is now breathing on her own and might open her eyes soon, doctors said.

Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old suspect sure to go down in the annals of infamous assassins such as John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, has been charged by federal authorities with counts of murder, attempted murder and attempting to assassinate a member of Congress.

The shooting has also sparked a controversial debate about the tone of political rhetoric in the country.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik singled out the rhetoric of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

“[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior, in my opinion, is without consequence and I think he’s irresponsible,” he said in an ABC News interview.

Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin responded to criticism from the left with a video posted on her Facebook page Wednesday.

“If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision,” she said. “If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

A poll conducted by CBS News on Jan. 9 and 10 indicated 57 percent of respondents felt a harsh political tone did not have anything to do with the Arizona shootings, while 32 percent felt it did.

President Barack Obama will speak at a memorial service in Tucson tonight. He will address civility in the nation’s political discourse, White House officials said.

AZ shooting changes plans for Boehner's first days as speaker

WASHINGTON (AP) Wednesday was supposed to be House Speaker John Boehner's first test of leadership, as Republicans had planned to hold a vote on repealing the controversial health care law, a campaign promise for many tea party freshmen.

Instead, the West Chester Republican faced a different test - reassuring lawmakers who were worried about their safety and leading them in prayer and tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of the shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., over the weekend.

The health care vote has been postponed, putting off what is expected to be a passionate and highly partisan floor debate. A resolution honoring the dead and wounded in the weekend's shootings was considered instead.

With a breaking voice and a handkerchief on hand, Boehner spoke of the "unspeakable act of violence" that took six lives, including that of Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman, whom Boehner called "one of our own."

"At the time of the attack, he was engaged in the most simple and direct of democratic rituals - listening to the people, listening to his neighbors," Boehner said, his eyes welling with tears as he thanked staff members for what they do to "make this institution work."

With all eyes on him, Boehner sought to both soothe and affirm lawmakers and viewers shaken by the violence.

"We feel a litany of unwanted emotions that no resolution could possibly capture," he said. "We know that we gather here without distinction of party. The needs of this institution have always risen above partisanship."
'The lifeblood of our democracy'

Boehner's remarks led off a day of tributes to Giffords and the other victims.

"Today I stand here to say - not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American - that violence has no place in our society, and I wish and pray for peace and justice for all of those who have been involved in this tragedy," said Rep. Mike Turner, a Centerville Republican who represents part of Warren County.

Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Miami Township Republican, called on everyone to pray for Giffords and the families of all those affected by the shootings.

"I don't think any words can sum up what we need to do here," Schmidt said. "Let us hope that all of those who have been touched by this tragedy can heal."

Recalling his first speech as speaker, Boehner called on his fellow lawmakers to continue carrying out the duties that they pledged exactly one week ago.

"Today it is not ceremony, but tragedy that stirs us to renew our commitment to fulfill our oaths of office," Boehner said. ''Let us not let this inhuman act frighten us into doing otherwise. The free exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of our democracy."
'Taking all the right steps'

Earlier on Wednesday, Boehner met with GOP lawmakers and Capitol Police behind closed doors in a basement office of the Capitol to discuss security precautions.

"We're hearing what we need to do," Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said while leaving the meeting. "I think Speaker Boehner is taking all the right steps."

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., agreed. "The briefing was good," he said. "Speaker Boehner has done an outstanding job of setting the proper tone and making sure that the members are informed."

Even Democrats have praised Boehner's response.

"He has said the right things and set the right tone," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told the New York Times. "I think he has acted swiftly, effectively and responsibly."

Leading by example, Boehner's office told The Enquirer that despite security concerns in the wake of the shooting, the speaker would continue to fly commercial between Ohio and Washington, something he promised in November.

"Boehner did fly commercial this past weekend and will continue to do so," spokesman Cory Fritz said in an e-mail.

Past House speakers - the officeholder is second in line for the presidency after the vice president - have used government jets.

Boehner passed up a chance to fly to Wednesday’s service on Air Force One with President Barack Obama and other government officials so that he could attend a Washington, D.C., reception for Maria Cino, who is seeking to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, Politico reported Wednesday.

Aides for Boehner told Politico he would complete his remarks before Obama’s speech at the Giffords memorial.