You should read the entire op-ed, but I want to highlight this, because we could say this about so many Senate votes, couldn't we?
I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.
Amen. This was not a tough vote. It was a slam-dunk. It was easy. How hard can it be to do something an overwhelming majority of people in this country want?
From where I sit, when you have victims of gun violence before you (one of them a former sitting member of Congress, who owned guns herself), including the parents of those innocent children massacred in Newtown, CT, imploring you and your fellow Congressional Critters to pass comprehensive gun control legislation, and your response to that testimony is that the guvmint will pry your gun from your "cold, dead hands", you have no right to hold hearings on the issue because, according to the Rude Pundit, you are mentally ill. You are basically telling these suffering families to go "Cheney" themselves, because dammit, you're going to do what needs to be done to ensure that irresponsible morons can keep their guns.
If you wanted to make a case for mental illness as a primary cause of gun violence, you could pretty much get all the evidence you wanted from yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on possible solutions to the mass shooting epidemic in the U.S. There were so many episodes of batsh*t paranoia and outright delusion from the anti-gun law speakers that diagnosed schizophrenics bowed their heads in honor. Honestly, if at some point the NRA's Wayne LaPierre had started scrawling a manifesto in his own sh*t on the walls of the hearing room, the Rude Pundit would have thought, "Well, that was not unexpected."
Let's just lay out the argument quickly. On one side, you have people who want to close a loophole in background checks on gun buyers and who want to ban some semiautomatic weapons and all high-volume magazines, all while making sure that law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants can purchase most every other kind of rifle and handgun, under the idea that some safeguards and minor limitations are not unreasonable. On the other side, you have "I dare you p*ssies to try to pry my right to buy a dozen AR-15s from my cold, dead hands, motherf*uckers."
So you can see how we might be at loggerheads here.
They seemed to turn up the crazy when reports of Hadiya Pendleton's murder and a mass shooting that occurred during former Rep. Gabby Giffords' testimony flowed in.
Honestly, how much more has to happen before the NRA releases that stranglehold they have on our Congress Critters regarding comprehensive gun control legislation? The Second Amendment (which the NRA vociferously makes the basis of their defense) never included the right to pop a cap in someone's ass just because they were Cuban immigrants who got the wrong directions on their GPS and made a wrong turn into your driveway.
In remarks kicking off today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made a defiant call for Congress to "be bold" and "act" on gun violence.
"Too many children are dying," she said. "We must do something."
Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, read slowly but forcefully from prepared remarks, and acknowledged that "speaking is difficult."
"But I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem," she said. "It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."
Meanwhile, while the Senate listened to testimony, there was another mass shooting at a Phoenix, Arizona office complex. One person was killed.
Gabby Giffords' former congressional aide Ron Barber, who was shot in the face and thigh by Jared Loughner, has retained the seat he won by special election when Giffords stepped down. Barber was declared the winner
Saturday after the Arizona Republic determined that there was not enough provisional/absentee ballots for his challenger, Martha McSally, to overcome his narrow lead:
Democrat Ron Barber has won a full term representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, squeaking out a win over Republican Martha McSally and giving Democrats a sweep of the state’s three competitive races for U.S. House seats.
In a special election in June, voters decisively picked Barber to fill out the remainder of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s term, but in the Nov. 6 election, the winner wasn’t clear before Saturday. Barber and McSally had each held leads since election night, with a difference of only a few dozen votes at times, before Barber steadily began pulling ahead.[..]Barber’s victory means Democrats have the majority of the state’s congressional delegation, holding five of the state’s nine House seats, while Republicans’ only congressional victories in Arizona were in districts safe for GOP candidates.
The Republicans had a 5-3 advantage in the House delegation going into the Nov. 6 election, which filled a new ninth seat.
Democrat Krysten Sinema won the new Phoenix-area 9th District over former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, and Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick regained her old congressional seat by beating Republican Jonathan Paton in the 1st District.
And so it began with a series of bangs and ends with a whimper. Jared Lee Loughner, having been pronounced fit to stand trial, pled guilty to 19 charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with his rampage in Tuscon. The final plea agreement, via Huffington Post:
Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress, murder and attempted murder of federal employees, and causing death and injury at a federally provided activity. As part of the agreement, the federal government dropped 30 other counts.
Wearing khakis, Loughner sat quietly throughout the hearing and smiled at one point when a psychologist testifying about his competence remarked that he had bonded with one of the federal prison guards.
After the hearing, Loughner’s parents cried and embraced. The victims mostly just watched without expression.
“He’s a different person in his appearance and his affect than the first time I laid eyes on him,” said Judge Larry A. Burns, who then accepted the plea agreement and added that he found it to be in the best interest of everyone involved.
The outcome was welcomed by some victims, including Giffords herself, as a way to move on.
“The pain and loss caused by the events of Jan. 8, 2011, are incalculable,” Giffords said in a joint statement with her husband, Mark Kelly. “Avoiding a trial will allow us — and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community — to continue with our recovery.”
Ron Barber, a former Giffords staffer who was wounded in the attack and later won election to her seat after she stepped down, said he hoped the plea will help the victims and their families “move forward and continue our healing process.”
“I truly believe that justice was done today,” he said after the hearing. “It is important to me that this individual never again is in a position in which he can cause harm to anyone else.”
Susan Hileman, who accompanied slain 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green to the gathering outside a supermarket and was wounded in the attack, said nothing would return her life to what it was before the shooting.
“This is so sad —a 23-year-old who’s going to spend the rest of his life in a box. I feel empty. What I want, I can’t have,” she said, adding that she was relieved the case ended. Still, “it’s like a Band-Aid that keeps getting ripped off.”
Experts had concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia, and officials at a federal prison have forcibly medicated him with psychotropic drugs for more than a year.
My brain understands that he was mentally ill. But emotionally, I'm frustrated by the fact that he was able to snap, get his hands on guns, and shoot people up, just like James Holmes did, who had a freaking arsenal at his disposal despite his obvious slipping grip on reality.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona whose unlikely recovery from a shooting last year stirred her colleagues and the nation, said Sunday that she would resign from Congress to focus on improving her health.[..]
Ms. Giffords’s decision to step down throws the race for her seat representing Arizona’s Eighth District into chaos. She barely fought off her Republican challenger in 2010, but was expected to be a shoo-in for re-election had she decided to run this year. The remainder of her term will be filled by the winner of a special election on a date to be determined by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Under Arizona law, a governor has 72 hours from the day the vacancy is declared to name the dates for special elections; the primary must take place 80 to 90 days from date of the vacancy followed by a general election 50 to 60 days after that.
Giffords' recovery thus far is nothing short of miraculous, considering that she was shot point blank in the head. She had been widely considered a shoo-in for re-election if she had opted to campaign again, but the exertions of a campaign and fundraising are not the kinds of things she needs to focus on. Arizona Democrats-- perhaps looking at John McCain and John Kyl in the Senate and Jan Brewer in the Governor's office--are naturally worried about losing this strong Democrat in the House and Gifford's husband, Cmdr Mark Kelly (ret.), was approached to run for his wife's former seat, but it looks like Kelly is not interested.
Giffords will reportedly attend the State of the Union speech on Tuesday before officially vacating her seat.
Bono dedicates one of injured Rep. Giffords' favorite songs to her, then says to the crowd: "Imagine a man looking down on us from 200 miles up. Looking down at our beautiful crowded planet... What would he say to us...? What is on your mind, Commander Kelly?"
Commander Kelly then appears on the video screen, speaking from the international Space Station. He holds up a serious of words that read "7 Billion - One Nation - Imagi Nation - It's a Beautiful Day."
Doctors had planned this surgery for a while. The bullet left a hole in Giffords' skull, and doctors removed another section to relieve pressure. But they couldn't reuse the section because it was fragmented and contaminated. Instead, the surgeons implanted a synthetic piece that was custom fit to cover the hole. With that in place, Giffords can now cast aside her protective helmet.[..]
Dr. DONG KIM (Director, Mischer Neuroscience Institute, TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital): It's only been about four months, and really for a patient to come this far as she has in that period of time after the kind of injury she had is almost miraculous. I mean, she has made tremendous progress.
As President Obama was giving his speech in Tucson last night, I was headed to a TV studio, where I had a debate with the NRO's Cliff May about the speech as well as the state of political discourse in our nation. I had checked my twitter feed 20 seconds before I went on air live to get a feel of the atmosphere out there and immediately I saw both right and left voices for the most part praised it. I then conveyed that to Al-Jazeera English's audience.
[The debate I had with Cliff May was fun and although it wasn't the setting for a raucous discussion, I had to cut him off after he tried to equate the left with the vitriol and violence of the right that last few years. When I began making my points that the right has been way out of line and off the wall, May said that he had gotten so many death threats he needed bodyguards. This is Cliff May I'm talking about and I bet most readers don't even remember his disgraceful behavior during the Valerie Plame affair. He then started to get nervous when I began to list all the violence that had taken place since Obama was elected, including the Richard Poplawski shooting of three police officers, and he tried to cut me off.]
Back to the speech.
When the President talked about Gabby opening her eyes and young Christina Green's youthful outlook on public service, it was quite moving. It was a great speech -- his best since he became President -- and I hope it does some healing in Arizona and makes people start behaving differently. They know who they are, but I'm not confident that it will have the desired effect we'd wish. I think the constant cheering by the audience was a way to work out their grief and sadness and to deal with the tragedy; if ever a crowd needed something to cheer about, this was it.
John Boehner not showing up was very weird. He's Majority Leader now and should at least act like one. There were so many that made the trip and he stayed behind to go to an RNC function. Wow.
Fox News had on Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer and Chris Wallace after the speech to dissect it, and although they thought it was rather long and the cheering made them uneasy, they all thought the President did a wonderful job. Wallace was insistent that while the speech was good, it won't have any lasting effect because the Republicans take control next week, but Krauthammer told the FOX panel that they shouldn't minimize the positive and lasting effect the speech will have on the American people. Sometimes he can make some astute observations when he wants to.
On the flip side, Rachel Maddow gave a very good analysis of the speech as she went through it piece by piece. Later on MSNBC had on Tom Brokaw, who is now their grand poobah and he also enjoyed the speech and tried to attach a historical perspective to it -- and then blasted Sarah Palin for her bizarre whining video. David Frum came on later and basically said her popularity after that video is like an iceberg melting on all sides. She blew her chance at rising above any petty complaint she had and tarnished her sinking image immeasurably.
I admit, Sarah, I've had even more trouble taking you seriously ever since Matt Taibbi in "Griftopia" absolutely nailed your persona as that of a Piedmont Airways flight attendant, only without the polyester neck scarf. I keep picturing you leaning in and asking, "Would you like a beverage?" with that sort of professional "warmth."
But you're not that benign -- and clearly, you don't see your job as that of serving. You're narcissistic, and reckless. You'll say or do almost anything to get a wave of emotion (and validation) out of your followers. You feed on both the adoration -- and the attacks.
Now, I realize that someone sat you down after the unhappy intersection of your "bullseye" map and the shootings in Tucson and explained to you that you had to make a public statement. But of course you insisted that ultimately, it would still be about you.
Of course it would.
And that's how your "statement" turned out to be an extended exercise in self-defense. ("Blood" libel, Sarah? Really? You as Christian martyr?) You're whiny, and vindictive. Because you think small, Sarah. You are small.
The kind of people who love you? They're small, too. They love seeing themselves reflected in you. They love being victims, they love being urged to "reload". They're armchair revolutionaries who fantasize holding hated political figures at gunpoint.
I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for you, too. I'm a liberal, I can't help it.
Because that whole "us against the evil world" thing is so spiritually impoverished. It's grounded in hostile self-defense, and it's destructive. Where's the creative spark of the divine in saying no and tearing down? In division instead of inclusion? In just plain lying?
I hope the time has come for you to leave the national stage, Sarah. You're just not a nice person, and you bring out the worst in people. Hell, you're not even pretty, not really. Because when you're attacking people, and you get that mean look on your face, you look as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside.
You'd have to be on some pretty strong drugs to believe this rant from Rush Limbaugh:
What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He's sitting there in jail. He knows what's going on, he knows that...the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he's just a victim. He's the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America...this guy clearly understands he's getting all the attention and he understands he's got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he's not convicted of murder - but something lesser.
As Steve Benen points out, it'll be interesting to see if any Republican out there is finally willing to repudiate this nonsense.
My pal Benen better use scuba diving equipment if he plans to wait for Republicans to repudiate RushBo. How has that turned out before? Pretty soon Limbaugh will be saying that Pelosi bought the Glock and Reid picked up the ammo.