Friday, January 14, 2011

The Tragedy in Tucson

Last Saturday morning, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords met with her constituents outside of a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. A young man in his twenties pointed a Glock at point blank range and shot her in the head before spraying the crowd with bullets. In that single instance, his actions changed schedules, the news stories, the upcoming intense debates in Congress about repealing Obama's Health Care Reform, and brought instant national fame to a few people.

Unlike other shootings we've come to witness over the past couple decades, the shooter Jared Lee Loughner did not take his own life. When the shooter takes his own life after committing the ghastly evil deed, he robs the public of answers to many questions. The answer to all the "Why?" questions usually don't get answered, and only the piecing together of the shooter's lifestory do we get a possible idea why. Frankly, though, I get tired of hearing the "Why?" question to murder-suicides, because the answer seems quite obvious to me. The shooter is nearly always a man at the end of his rope. Its an act of desperation. The shooter already likely had many suicidal thoughts, but it probably occurred to them that no one might miss them when they die. They'll be forgotten. The only guarantee that they will be noticed, that they will finally be visible to others, is by taking a few people along with him. The suicidal shooter wants other people to feel the pain of loss to match the pain that he is suffering from. It is the ultimate in selfishness. They take other people's lives and they are too cowardice to face the consequences of their actions.

On the other hand, there is probably something far more sinister about someone who goes on a shooting spree and does not take his own life after taking other people's lives. He wants to live to see the fall out on his actions, to see people talk about him, to see how others change their schedules (like the President of the United States!) and all the articles, editorials, essays, and blogposts about what he brought forth. The official mug shot was alarming, as he looks EXACTLY the way you imagine a complete psychotic to look like (a menacing sneer, bald head, and a face that is not symetrical). This photo is in stark contrast to one of him standing in front of a big sign. He looked like a typical fresh-faced all-American boy next door type in that photo. What happened in the time between when the two photos were taken?

Early explanations include his smoking of marijuana and listening to heavy metal music. Now there's a deadly combination if I say so myself! I never got into heavy metal as a young teen when nearly all the boys I knew my age were big into it (back in the early 80s in Nebraska. Pop music was considered "girl music"). I saw the effect such music had on one boy in my church congregation (since the late 1990s, he has supposedly been institutionalized). It was too angry, too dark, and really scary (I'm talking mostly about Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne; I actually liked Van Halen and Def Leppard and saw nothing evil in their music).

I'll write more about the shooter in another post, as it will deal with the issue of mental illness. For now, though, let's just say that the official mug shot and what has come out so far about the shooter reveals a psychotic. Its hard not to see the sinister evil in that photograph. I don't post photos of people who do this kind of thing because they deserve no such recognition on my blog.

According to some articles that I read, the shooter had met the Congresswoman in 2007. He had asked her a question that she was unable to answer (I forget the exact question, but it was philosophical, which is stupid to expect a deep answer to a question that has little bearing to her job as representing the citizens of her district in Congress). He walked away from that meeting thinking that she was a moron and supposedly planned to kill her one day.

I have not heard of this Congresswoman until Saturday's tragic events. With 435 members of the House of Representatives, its hard to get to know them all (even when I interned in the U. S. Capitol). Based on articles I've read, she sounds like an extremely likable, personable lady, just the kind of person we need in Congress. The fact that she was meeting with her constituents on a Saturday morning at a place like a supermarket is surprising. That shows that she is willing to go where the people are, not just speaking in country clubs or community centers.One person who was really excited to meet Congresswoman Giffords was 9 year old Christina Green, who was born on the worst day in American history (at least during our lifetime): September 11th, 2001. She was one of 50 babies born that day who was featured in a special book, which President Obama mentioned in his memorial speech. The book supposedly advised her to splash in puddles (a favourite activity of practically every child). She was recently elected to her class' student council. I was stunned to read that because I had no idea that they had student council in elementary school. Dang, they are starting children young on this stuff.

Apparently, though, Christina was mature for her age and she wanted run for elected office someday. Now, thanks to the killer, she will never have that chance. Instead, she becomes the poster child for what President Obama says we should aspire to: striving to have a government as good as she imagined it. Who can argue with those sentiments?

Oh, that's right. Of course! Sarah Palin and the Teabaggers! Sometimes, I wonder how Palin might have reacted if the little girl who was fatally shot was her own daughter Piper, instead of Christina. Would Palin see the power behind her words? Would it cause her to change her tone? The unanswerable question!

The above logo was lifted from SarahPAC's website (Palin's own Political Action Committee). As you can see, the crosshairs on the map of America are blatantly obvious for anyone with some degree of intelligence. Below, she lists the names of 20 Democrats who voted for the Health Care Reform Act. Her endorsed Teabagger candidates managed to defeat 18 of those Democrats. I read in several articles that one of the rallying cries was: "If the ballot box doesn't defeat them, the bullet box will!" I'm not sure if Palin actually said those words, or someone else, but that's a stunning comment. If I were the 20th person on that list, I would be hiring extra security and wearing a Kevlar vest and a helmet!

Palin tried to claim that the crosshairs was all a misunderstanding. They are really surveyor symbols on a map. Yeah, right. If you believe that, I have a Bridge to Nowhere to sell you in Alaska! Her website took that sign down after the news and blogs posted critiques about it. So, if it was really surveyor symbols, why did you take it down?

Above was a campaign notice for the Teabagger backed Republican opponent in last November's election. Read the language. There is no mistaking the intent: "Get on TARGET for Victory in November. Help REMOVE Gabrielle Giffords from office. SHOOT A FULLY AUTOMATIC M16 with Jesse Kelly" (the Republican candidate).

There's no doubt what their intent was. Sarah has often told people she supports (such as Dr. Laura after the infamous incident when she used the "N-word" multiple times to an African American caller who wanted advice about her interracial marriage in which her husband disrespected her by making racist jokes to his friends), "Don't retreat...reload!" She has no qualms about being seen with a gun, whether shooting moose and caribou in the Alaskan tundra or flying a helicopter to gun down wolves like they were targets in a carnival shooting gallery. Who buys and obsesses over guns? Hint: its not liberals! A telling sign? Sales of guns skyrocketed in America in the days, weeks, and months following Obama's election victory in November 2008. The president has received more death threats than the previous three presidents COMBINED! And even more disturbing, sales of the Glock brand used by the Tucson shooter have increased in the past week!!! Who in their right minds thinks after such a human tragedy, "I'm going to honour the victims by going out and buying the exact same style of gun that the killer used!"??? That's the nature of the conservative mind for you (don't go in there alone. Its SCARY!!!).

A big reason why I believe this tragedy in Tucson has effectively ended Sarah Palin's prospects for any elected office is because of the interview Congresswoman Giffords had given during the election season, calling Palin out for using crosshairs and saying that it was reckless and irresponsible. While Palin is not directly responsible for what happened last Saturday, I think the fact that she had used such symbology, spoke such inflammatory rhetoric, is photographed and videotaped showing a love of guns, and did not bother to take down the offending map after Congresswoman Giffords complained, plus her "play the victim card" one more time in an EPIC FAIL at damage control...all these elements sound the death knell on Palin's political viability.

In a just and ironic universe (an outcome that I'm actually praying to happen!), I think it would be incredibly awesome if Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords not only has a complete recovery with no brain damage, but also becomes the first female Vice President of the United States of America. If she does fully recover and her mind is intact, I'm betting right here, right now that Giffords will be a shoo-in for Vice President in 2016 (with Governor Martin O'Malley at the top of the ticket). Giffords is only 40 years old and her husband is an Astronaut. She has a compelling personal narrative and because she was a target of a psychotic shooter, public sympathy will naturally be on her side. Sarah Palin blew it big time. Betcha she's gonna be super jealous as Giffords public popularity increases in the weeks and months ahead. Seeing her reaction when Giffords makes history as the first female Vice President in U.S. history is going to be priceless. That would be awesome karmic justice, I think.

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