Court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix indicated that evidence seized from Mr. Loughner’s home showed that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Found in Mr. Loughner’s home, F.B.I. special agent Tony M. Tayler Jr. said in an affidavit supporting the charges, was an envelope with the handwritten words, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” and “Giffords.”
So my day was pretty much ruined yesterday by the news coming out of Arizona. Maybe you think it’s nuts that the attempted assassination of that state’s only democratic Congresswoman upsets a comfortable, well-fed editor in a different, more stable country. Fair enough. Then again, why shouldn’t I be upset?
First off, while I despise its international military adventures I like the United States. I like going there. I like its cities. I like the TV and music and (being a nerd) the comic books. I like many of its people — I’m related to some of them and unconfirmed rumour has it I’ve pleasantly wasted more than a few evenings playing god damned World Of Warcraft with likable, funny, chummy Americans. I even like some of the NHL squads quite a bit — regular dog blog readers know my team is the Columbus Blue Jackets (I even have the jersey). And there’s a U.S. newspaper or five that I skim online every day.
I feel like this bad, bad, political murder happened not to “some other country’ but to my friends and neighbours.
Second, while it appears the alleged killer is a deranged individual, a (somewhat) liberal politician was shot in the head (some symbolism there, no?). That right there distinguishes this from other massacres like Columbine. There will be a lot of punditry forthcoming to minimize this fact, and I want to make it clear that I am preemptively pissed off at it. And the politics at the wrong end of this apparent madman’s gun? Pro-health care. In a place filled with lunatic opposition to both. And if this offends people I’m sorry, but if you’re against the principle of health care for everyone regardless of income, you’re against humanity. Yes, there can (and should!) be arguments over policy details, because hashing things out allows the best ideas to emerge — but good, decent people do NOT argue over the universal accessibility of health care.
Thirdly, there will be a lot of blubbering about how this tragedy was caused by “divisive politics. No. This was not “divisive politics”. The blood is specifically on the hands of the radical conservative politics of the Republican party, and specifically on people like Sarah Palin. Palin, along with the capering, self-serving, Grima Wormtonguesque millionaire known as Glenn Beck, have employed violent, emotionally manipulative language and coyly stoked the fires of armed insurrection since the Democrats nominated a popular, charismatic black man as their 2008 presidential candidate. And health care pushed them over the edge. What the fuck kind of disturbed people oppose health care?
Let’s not kid ourselves here: the type of people who identify with the Tea Party are the types who, historically, would’ve been against women and blacks voting. They don’t want gay people marrying, they don’t want evolution taught in schools (because it’s “just a theory”), they don’t want their children to have access to birth control. Because of fear, they embrace ignorance, selfishiness and the language of violence.
The Tea Party is to blame for the degraded discourse that led to this murder, and the movement needs to be universally excoriated and renounced.
Finally, let’s not forget that a smart, competent woman was the target, here. And one of the dead was a young girl interested in civics who’d been inspired by a female politician. In addition to a political act, this massacre was inherently misogynistic. But then again, with its opposition to female reproductive rights, social programs like child care, health care and welfare and the taxes that fund them, the Tea Party — which again, set the tone that encourages disturbed people to pick up guns and shoot lady politicians and children — is a misogynistic movement. Pretty darn weird for a movement whose de facto leader is female — but the psychology of bigotry, hatred and fear has always been murky and contradictory.
UPDATE: as of 3:00, Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is definitely alive, and her doctor is optimistic. Useful links; MSNBC feed here, Salon liveblog here. Also, as of 4:00 I’m stepping away to hug the cat. Talk to you all later.
There are reports she’s still alive. Let’s hope so. Unfortunately, others are definitely not. Welcome to the world of breaking news on the Internet. In the meantime, here’s the New York Post’s interview with Gifford’s father after the shooting.
I’m going to sit back and watch and read rather than typing for awhile. A good news aggregator on this story is the Huffington Post — you can go there for breaking details. And I guess there’s that old-time television thing…
From conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan, who is the kind of conservative non-conservatives could have great conversations with:
When a congresswoman is shot in the head in the very act of democracy, we should all pause. This is fundamentally not a partisan issue and should not be. Acts of violence against political figures destroy democracy itself, for both parties. We don’t know who killed congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and we should be very cautious in drawing any conclusions yet about why. But we can know that, whoever killed her and for whatever reason, political rhetoric involving words like “target” and “gun-sights” is inherently irresponsible.
“Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world because we effect change at the ballot box and not because of these, you know, outbursts of violence in certain cases, and the yelling and you know, it’s just, we know change is important, it’s part of our process, and it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.” –Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
If this shooter — apparently a young male — turns out to be a Tea Party member, then this conservative movement — which has been goddamn seen ignorantly fomenting violence by everyone who’s not fucking stupid or blind — needs to disband in shame.
Seattle’s The Stranger just published the final installment of a great series on the human and economic costs of the drug war that started with an investigation into mysteriously tainted cocaine and ended with a call for the legalization of everything. The feature is a monster but if you’re at all, at all interested in this topic it’s a must read. A long excerpt:
Tobacco use was responsible for 435,000 deaths in the United States in 2000, according to a 2004 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association. The same year, all illegal drug use was responsible — directly and indirectly — for 17,000 deaths. When I started working on this series, I thought, like most moderate liberals: Yes, legalize pot, that’s obvious. But heroin and cocaine and meth and the rest — aren’t those drugs kind of dangerous?
The more hours I spent in the library, in research laboratories, in alleyways, and on couches interviewing addicts, dealers, policymakers, law enforcement officials, lawyers, doctors, and academics, the more I came to agree with Stamper — as well as former Mexican president Vicente Fox, former UK drug czar Bob Ainsworth, Spain’s former (and, to date, longest-serving) prime minister Felipe Gonzalez, and members of Mexico’s Social Democratic Party, who have been attacked by anonymous gunmen and Molotov cocktails after campaigning for legalization.
The mystery of why a cattle-deworming drug called levamisole is being cut into the world’s cocaine supply is just a footnote in the drug war’s century-long history of corruption, violence, addiction, and doom.
We will always have drug users, drug abusers, and drug producers — just like we’ll always have casual drinkers, alcoholics, and distilleries. We cannot change that. What we can change is the level of violence and cruelty associated with the drug trade by elevating it to the legal market, where business disputes are settled with the rule of law instead of with machine guns and chain saws.
The only way out is to legalize — and regulate — everything. Pot, heroin, cocaine, meth:everything.
The piece is 6,000 words and every word is worth reading — it’s a masterpiece of alt-weekly journalism. You can find it here. Click. Go. Read. It’s worth a 1/2 hour of your time.
Teabaggers would probably find this Charles Ferguson-directed documentary instructive. Of course, the likelihood of them watching it is virtually nil.
But if they did deign to pull their heads out of their asses for the 108 minutes it would take to watch this film, they would learn how the seeds for the financial meltdown that occured in the U.S. in the fall of 2008 were planted decades earlier during the Reagan era when Milton Friedman and his Monetarist hordes persuaded Republicans to dismantle banking and investment regulations that had been in place since the 1930s when the Democratic administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted desperately needed financial reforms to help the country escape the Great Depression.
Under Reagan, the U.S. began the treacherous slide back to the unregulated market conditions of the 1920s where individuals, wealthy and otherwise, and institutions were permitted, and even encouraged, to engage in unsound economic practices that led inevitably to crises like the dotcom bubble and the subsequent mortage debacle that cost not just Americans, but people worldwide, over $20 trillion.
Inside Job runs at the RPL Theatre tonight at 7 p.m. Here’s the trailer.