Monday, January 10, 2011

Thoughts on the Giffords' Assassination Attempt

Whenever a significant newsworthy event occurs, I find myself flipping between MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox News.  It is always interesting to hear who is reporting what and from where.  This story had quite a bit of misinformation early on, as is expected from any chaotic event.  I am generally not looking for facts at this point because I think about half of what is being reported is wrong or purely speculative. One thing I did learn is that the anchoring capabilities of the mid-day news channel personalities leave a lot to be desired.  Most of them are well trained at reading from a tele-prompter, but when asked to, or feel the need to summarize information, they are severely lacking.  Generally, after 5 minutes, or less, I turn everything off.  The real facts will take several hours once all the news organizations stop quoting each other as sources.

Now that we know a lot of the facts, the impact of the events can be better analyzed.  First are the tragic deaths of 6 people including a well respected federal judge and a 9-year old with a strong curiosity in government.  There are still a handful of others in the hospital along with Representative Giffords herself, who appears to have survived a wound that should be fatal nearly all the time.  From this rise stories of heroism at the scene and what appears to be an incredible 38-minute time period from when the shooting occurred to the time when Giffords was in surgery.  In a bit of irony, our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased our knowledge of traumatic head wounds by leaps and bounds.  I believe the doctor that lead the surgery had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  His training and expertise, I'm sure, were paramount in her survival.  To the credit of the UofA Trauma Center, credit has been given to every person who in someway was involved in the transport and triage of Giffords and the other victims.

One interesting comment from the initial news conference at the hospital on Saturday was something like, "Nobody died that shouldn't have died."  In other words, even though the 9-year old died at the hospital, it was basically a case of nothing could have been done.  Sadly.

As for the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, there is still very little information.  As a side note, why do assassins have to have three names?  I think in every assassination or attempt in the last 50 years in the U.S., the shooter was referred to by three names.  The only exception being Sirhan Sirhan, but he had the same name twice, so... go figure.  Anyway, little is still known about him other than he was very troubled.  One article referred to him as an "ardent atheist," but nothing much to back that up with.  It was described that he had a shrine in the backyard complete with candles and miniature skulls.  Atheists and shrines don't normally go together.  If he was indeed an atheist, he was definitely a little 'a' atheist.  There was some speculation that he was anti-Semitic since Giffords in Jewish and one of his favorite books was Mein Kampf.  Some say he was definitely a strong left-wing nutter, but he list a book by Ayn Rand.  That, along with Hitler, is hardly leftist writings.  There is little evidence thus far to suspect that he was a right-wing nutter as well.  Maybe more will be revealed as more of his personal data is analyzed.

What this tragedy has done, is focused a lot of attention on the violent rhetoric used in the political discussions over the last several years.  Right or wrong as to whether that had a direct impact on these events is somewhat irrelevant at this point.  An important and long overdue dialog has been surfaced and several folks are now being called out for it.  The most famous example is the Sarah Palin "target" map of congressional districts marked with gun sights and the infamous tweet of "Don't retreat.  Reload."  In some bizarre twist, the Palin camp is now claiming those symbols are really "surveyor" symbols and apparently the map has been removed from the Palin website.  Also in the spotlight is Sharon Angle's "Second Amendment Solution" comment in the Nevada Senate race against Harry Reid.  A Democratic Representative of Pennsylvania is looking to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to say or use symbols that can be construed as inciting violence against a member of Congress.  This is fairly similar to some of the laws that make similar things illegal to be said (or used) with respect to the Office of the President.  This gives the Secret Service a good "probably cause" opportunity to pursue these matters to ensure there is no threat to POTUS.

It has also been noted that this may very well be the first assassination attempt of a female U.S. politician.

In two very bizarre and twisted angles to this whole thing, the Westboro Baptists and Fred Phelps are planning to protest at the funerals of the victims of this tragedy.  Phelps has essentially called the shooter a "gift from God."  These Westboro folks are sick fuckers.  The second weird twist is a fellow by the name of Mike Adams, the founder of, is finding a way to blame the pharmaceutical industry for the attacks.  Adams is all about the woo.  Among is crazy rants are claims that chemotherapy is what killed people like Tony Snow, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, and more recently, Elizabeth Edwards.  Some people will stoop very low indeed for a little publicity and to further perpetuate their dangerous lies.

I'm sure I will have more thoughts on this as more facts are revealed.

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