48 Hours After Arizona

It was a quirk of the calendar:  Congressman Jim Himes was scheduled to meet constituents today, in Westport’s Town Hall.

He kept his appointment — just 48 hours after the horrific shooting in Arizona that left 6 people dead, and one of his colleagues critically wounded.

Congressman Jim Himes

Himes acknowledged the tragedy — and the possibility that some in the overflow crowd were apprehensive.

But, he said, “We can’t function in an environment of fear.”  Then he attended to the business at hand:  answering questions, addressing concerns, serving the public.

That was exactly the right response.

After 9/11, we heard frequently:   “If we don’t do [this, that or the other thing], the terrorists win.”

It’s unclear so far whether Saturday’s gunman had a political agenda, was mentally ill, or both.  Whatever the answer, he created terror in our political system.

If congressmen retreat from one of their main jobs — meeting the public, hearing their thoughts, responding with their own insights — then not only will terror have won.

But our system of government — our American way of life — will have changed forever, too.

53 responses to “48 Hours After Arizona

  1. ‎”Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be ‘armed and dangerous’ without being ostracized.” – Paul Krugman.
    And let’s not forget the Tea Party rallying cry, ” if we don’t do it with ballots,
    we’ll do it with bullets.”

    • Gary,
      Since you are making this a political issue…just so you know…
      It was President Obama that said, ‘If They Bring a Knife to the Fight, We Bring a Gun’.”

      It was the Daily Kos that had a headline story titled “My CongressWOMAN Voted Against Nancy Pelosi! And is Now Dead to Me!’, specifically talking about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she went against Nancy Pelosi on the health care vote.
      Link here: http://www.elliscountyobserver.com/?p=18470

      And have you read the Huff ‘n Puff lately? Have you listened to Keith Doberman or Ed Schultz?
      And here’s a link to a few more inconvenient truths:
      Oh and I’ve never seen a sign as you described above, care to share your source?

      It appears Jared Loughner is a nut job, plain and simple.
      Although his ‘friends’ or those who know him, described him as a ‘left-wing nut’ and he himself declared his favorite books were Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto.
      Hardly the favorites of any Tea Partier I would venture to guess.
      Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20028022-503544.html

      Now lets all pray for Mrs. Giffords full recovery and quit using this for political gain because a lunatic went on a rampage.

  2. Gee, such a reasoned and unbiased response. No sense letting a crisis go to waste right Gary? Why give a thought to the victims?

  3. The Dude Abides

    The punk in Arizona killed a federal judge. The wrath of God could not be worse than the response of the judiciary to such action.

    • You might want to take a look. Sarat is not my favorite political theorist, but this is a provocative book.

      Law, Violence, and the Possibility of Justice
      Edited by Austin Sarat

      • The Dude Abides

        Thanks. Will do. I was there first hand to see the repercussions of Judge Wood’s murder in ’79 by Woody Harrelson’s father in Texas. Federal judges are people that you do not mess with and I would not want to be a defendant in any gun related case in the near or distant future.

  4. I certainly don’t think that it’s unclear that the shooter was mentally ill. Several accounts given by people who knew him at community college leave little doubt that he was insane.

    • Princeton '82

      So what is a insane kid doing with guns???

      • Agreed.
        Reports say police were called to the college campus 5 times and he was eventually banned from school.
        Unfortunately, due to privacy rights those incidents may not have been part of his background check, but obviously should have been.

  5. I am grateful to Congressman Himes for visiting Westport today as he had planned. While it would be convenient and comforting to put the gunman into an ideological box, so that we could properly condemn him and his ilk, I suspect he is just a madman. As I watched my nine year old play in the snow this afternoon my heart was breaking for the Green family, preparing to bury theirs. I was hoping for 2011 to be a better year than 2010. Not such a good start.

  6. John, like it or not, it is a political issue. While Loughner may indeed
    be an apolitical maniac, it’s naive to think that the much of the contentious political climate in the Country ( especially in Arizona, where I lived in the 1990s ) isn’t fueled by the Right ‘s pathological belief that the Left
    is intent on stealing constitutional rights and giving money away. I have spent several hours today listening to Consevative talk show hosts ( who certainly must bear much responsibility for the fever generated), and their explanations are much like your’s above. Either you’ve been listening to them, or they’ve been listening to you. And please don’t ask me to use Michelle Malkin as a reliable source. She makes Sarah look like a Saint.
    Lastly, you deserve an answer to your quest for a source of the “ballots/ bullets” quote. And I can’t give you one. I heard it several times in a YouTube
    video taken at a Tea Party Rally during the campaign, and didn’t make note of where and when.

    • After the Fort Hood incident, we were advised by those on the left to not rush to judgement. Now the left is singing another tune. Hypocrisy and political opportunism. They lack the decency and intellectual honesty to await the telling of the whole story.

    • Gary, You very obviously ignored that Obama said, ‘…if they bring a knife, we will bring a gun’. You also completely ignored the very left leaning Daily Kos having a front page article titled,
      “My CongressWOMAN Voted Against Nancy Pelosi! And is Now Dead to Me!’,
      specifically talking about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who went against Nancy Pelosi on the health care vote.
      And if you weren’t so scared of the truth, you would look at the Michelle Malkin link above detailing many of the left’s unhinged statements advocating harm and actual acts of violence.

      So tell me, who is speaking hate and violence?

      Or how Jared Loughner has been described as a ‘left-wing’ nut whose favorite books are Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. Not exactly ‘right-wing’ required reading.

      Once again Mr. Singer you ignore these glaring facts while blaming others, yet have no proof to back up your accusations. What say you? (and this time address the issues).

  7. The Dude Abides

    Glad to have you back, Mr.Raho. While I detest the rhetoric of hate that seems to flow from both sides of the aisle, it must be admitted that it is inflammatory to many. In this case, a terribly troubled youth in Tuscon. Certainly Anonymous is correct in waiting for the jury to confene on the actual facts but it is time to reevaluate this negativisim in political rhetoric. No one likes it but continues to be the tactic of political voice. I am deeply saddened by the deaths and injury to Congresswoman Giffords. My only comfort is that a 79 year old woman basically “took down” a 22 year old madman from reloading his weapon. There is hope.

    • Thanks Dude,
      Ï was merely pointing out plenty of rhetoric and acts of violence comes from the left yet so many seem to ignore this fact and are quick to point to the right while giving them a pass.
      Present company excluded of course, i.e. The Dude.

  8. John, who decribed Loughner as a “left wing nut”? And yes, I did ignore the Obama remark. I also didn’t include Ms. Palin’s dangerous martial metaphors—”lock and load”—or her talk about “targeting” opponents. I just thought it interesting that all the Conservatives were in defensive mode today, and wondered why.

    • Conservatives were defending themselves from knee jerk, but predictable, reactions from the left.
      Describing campaigns using war or attack plans is normal terminology on both sides. The democrats used bulls-eyes instead of cross-hairs on Republicans they were targeting in vulnerable districts in past campaigns as well.

      Why did you ignore the Obama remark about bringing a gun to the fight? Why not call him out on his rhetoric and other Democrats as well. How about former Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida? That guy was way over the top did you send him a letter condemning and asking him and others like him to take it down a notch?

      I’m just saying, don’t use this opportunity to take cheap shots at Sarah Palin, the Tea Party or other groups you oppose when your side is as bad if not worse.

      This is America Mr. Singer we can disagree and yell back and forth. It is very unfortunate this psychotic individual did what he did, but as of now we have no facts that he ever listened to Rush Limbaugh or anyone else. He could have just as easily been listening to Air America (are the still on?) or MSNBC or even a regular reader of the New York Times, if so, are you saying we should shut them down?

    • Gary,
      Here is the link of a newspaper article quoting a friend of Jared Loughner describing him as a “”left-wing pot-head”

      • There are reports (WSJ) that loughner had been stalking Giffords since 2007. We have in America long and horrible tradition of undertaking acts of violence against politicians. 4 presidents have been assassinated, two more have been shot. Not an enviable track record.

  9. I tuned in [TV] a little late, but was impressed with Jim’s thoughtful responses and friendly demeanor. He was an excellent communicator, polite, plus he showed a nice dash of humor and occasional self deprecation. Very well done.

  10. John, let’s call a truce and both vow to try to be civil and as reasonably objective as possible. This is always difficult when both sides are convinced their position is the correct one. Your remark , “This is America, Mr. Singer”,
    regardless of your intent, struck a chord. I am a proud Liberal Democrat, but
    I’m also a combat veteran , and bow to no man in my love for this Country, and
    my wish to see it at peace and to see its people ( all its people ) happy and proud again.

    • Gary, I was only pointing out after you quoted Paul Krugman blaming the right and inferred the Tea Party was responsible for this tragedy that the left is full of angry rhetoric and violence.

      In 2006 they even made a movie about the assassination of then President Bush.

      I was only responding to your inferences with facts and links.

      Sure I’ll call a truce with you and I am always civil, however, I will respond respectfully to correct unfair and false accusations.

      All the best to you, John

  11. Amen.

  12. John, I really have no need for the final word, but your response begs a comment. You, perhaps inadvertently, did what so many of the conservative
    talk show hosts do – – take a false assumption and present it as fact. After
    “pointing out ( to me) that the left is full of angry rhetoric and violence” you go on to write, ” In 2006 they even made a movie about the assassination of President Bush.” There is no doubt the “they” means the Democratic Left. This is patently untrue. The movie was made in England, by and with the British. It was denounced by all in this Country, Left and Right alike. Hillary Clinton said, “I think it’s despicable. I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.” You knew all this. It’s from your own reference. Now let’s start fresh. It’s 72 degrees and sunny here in Florida, and I hope ( aside from shoveling) you’re enjoying the snow and the beauty of your New England winter. I miss Westport, but not in January.

    • “It was denounced by all in this Country,…” It seems that your statement is not accurate.

      Of the critics who liked Death of a President, Rex Reed of The New York Observer identified the film as “Clever, thoughtful, and totally believable. This is a film without a political agenda that everyone should see.”[18] In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell said, “The film’s deeper intentions … elevate it into the company of such landmark works of historical argument as Peter Watkins’s The War Game, Costa-Gavras’s Z and, closer to home, Michel Brault’s Les Ordres. Every thinking person should see Death of a President.”[19] In Film Journal International, Frank Lovece mused that the film’s condemnation “by politicians and pundits from James Pinkerton to Hillary Clinton is understandable and completely predictable: They can’t not comment, so when they do, they have to play to their audiences. None of them seriously believes that this work of fiction will really make someone take a potshot at the president, and anyway, the attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life came out of a crazy guy’s fascination with Jodie Foster, so you may as well decry movies starring blonde former child actresses.”[20] Jim Emerson, editor of RogerEbert.com exclaimed, “Death of a President is electrifying drama, and compellingly realistic. The actors chosen for interview segments (including the mom from Freaks & Geeks as a presidential speechwriter) are unerringly authentic as real people, speaking spontaneously before a documentary lens — even when it’s clear they’ve rehearsed in their heads what they’re going to say, and may even have told these same stories any number of times before.”[21]

  13. And a happy, beautiful New England day to you, Anonymous, whoever you are.
    And to all, a good night!

    • Gary,
      It’s interesting in your 12.43 and 2.51 comments you still do not address john’s comments of liberal attacks on bush, bullseyes instead of crosshairs in democratic ads, olbermanns comments about one person coming out of the room ( Hillary or someone else), Schultz saying “we should rip cheney’s heart out and play political football with it” — all ignored!

      Why don’t you address the facts/the comments?

      • Thanks Andy. But the truth is, he can’t handle the truth!

        And thank you too Anonymous, you saved me some time from doing just that. The funny thing is Gary is the one that started this thread implying the right-wing and Tea Partiers were to blame; I only gave examples of how incendiary the left is, to which he still fails to acknowledge. Yet he offers no proof of his claims when confronted of his source. Then when he knows he’s been beat, he smugly tells us to enjoy our blizzard while he’s getting melanoma in the tropics.

        It’s just so much easier for Gary to ignore these glaring inconsistency in his world so he may go about his business believing whatever he wants and nothing will shake his skewered belief system.

        Enjoy your weather Gary and when you have the next hurricane, I’ll be sure to send my best 😉

  14. Concerned Student

    As a high school student I have learned for years about the ideals our country has been built upon and what this nation stands for. Now I may be young but I am not naive. Although I never thought our country to be a picture perfect society, I certainly had hope that someday in my lifetime I would see us move forward. Reading this discussion board made me upset. I’m so frustrated and even slightly embarrassed to see these comments, back and forth citing one example of political rhetoric in response to another. As a young American I would like to think that all adults in our nation would take this incident and see it as a moment for everyone to come together in support of one basic principle, peace. Sure the political climate may have been a factor but arguing over the motivation of the crime solves nothing, it only digs a deeper hole. Please, for the sake of my belief that we live in a great country, take time to reflect on what this situation truly reveals. Its about time to stop arguing.

    • Concerned Student, I admire your wish to one day see everyone getting along, however, you first have to admit what side started using this tragedy for political gain. First it was the sheriff of Tuscon and then the left mainstream media took it and ran with it.

      Are Conservatives expected to be smeared and do nothing to defend themselves while these opportunist take advantage? I certainly hope you don’t think so. If someone wrongly accuses me of something I will stand up for myself and I hope you would do the same. I hope everyone would do the same. So if you want this rhetoric to cease, than you should start with where it begins and let them know how you feel. Do a little research for yourself and see where it began. A good place to start is a website:
      Good luck with your hope of one day everyone playing nice, but don’t be upset with the one who is only defending himself.
      And I admire you for what you hope for.

    • Another Anonymous

      Hey kid, well said! You are obviously more mature than some of the adult posters on this blog. Stick to your ideals – you can only make this country better!

  15. The Dude Abides

    I think the exchange set forth herein indicates the polarization of our beliefs and the almost “team” approach we take to our political preference. From my reading, there seems to be no correlation between rhetoric and senseless acts of violence. The same holds true for violence in video games or movies. Certainly the tragedy in Tuscon once again proposes the issue of gun control which seems to be unsolvable but also raises, as noted by “Concerned Student” above, the question of civility of political discourse not only by the candidates but by our media. Judging from the interaction here, that seems a tall order to reach any compromise.

    • While the current tone of the political discourse is troubling, it is by no means atypical. You can read the slurs hurled at people like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, to get a flavor of just how heated the rhetoric was in the past.

  16. The Dude Abides

    Indeed, our country was built on dissent and debate. I think the question of relative civility may be at issue but also the 24/7 media outlets that constantly place such arguments and polarizing positions in our pallet. I am afraid that the Tuscon tragedy will just become a Virginia Tech or Kennedy assassination in a short two years: Much speculation and verbiage but little change. And another three-name assassin in the history books.

  17. John and Anon – My closing comment about enjoying the New England winter
    was a sincere wish, Not, as you suggest, a smug remark. Coming, as it did, after
    a contenious debate, I do understand why it was reasoned to be negative, but it was not so intended.

  18. To the tolerant, quiet and civil toned writers here – be thankful that you don’t live or work with anyone who needs to “…disagree and yell back and forth” when responding to another’s opinion. I wouldn’t doubt that the most frequent commentator here is just as verbally abusive in his professional and personal life. It would be prudent to exercise caution when challenging the views of one so angry, because no matter how thoughtful and positive your comments, his responses will be patronizing, critical and pious. He is the perennial classroom bully in the room.

    • Sanctimony.

    • Qui, me Dr. Joyce Brothers wanna-be.

      You know what the say about assuming?!

      And I hate to break it to you, but I’m involved with a number of organizations in town along with many children’s activities and sports (I have 3 young ones) and if you met me, I don’t want to brag, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

      Just because I speak my mind on an opinion based forum doesn’t make me a bad guy just because you don’t agree with said opinions. Please give one example of me being a ‘bully’. I was busting on Gary a little when he told us to enjoy our blizzard. I knew he was kidding, and so was I.

      One could very easily call you a bully for implying I am angry, pious and treat people badly in situations you know nothing of, especially considering you don’t even know me. Pure speculation on your part. May I ask specifically what bristled your delicate sensibilities? A real example from above, not more armchair analysis and wild speculation, but cite a real example from this thread.

  19. Addison Fletcher

    The most frequent commentators on this particular article are Gary Singer and John Raho. I find neither bullies. The healthy exchange here is splattered by the self-rightous and narrow minded who sit in the peanut gallery and judge. This life is not a spectator sport.

  20. AF – You are entitled to your opinion, but please extend the same courtesy to we “in the peanut gallery”. Thank you.

  21. DN – Etiquette precludes the “peanut gallery” from criticizing the combatants, only the subject matter. Once in the fray, then some latitude is permitted… with belated apologies required. Jump in… we need new, strong voices.
    Shoot, fear, terrorists, American way of life, winter, hurricanes, Democrats… take your pick 🙂 Or be like everybody else and start your own subject.

  22. This is a guys’ game, and being the only female — one arbitrarily labeled by the most frequent contributor as a “Dr. Joyce Brothers wanna-be” — I think it’s time to find a more level playing field. Enjoy yourselves, fellas!

    • Doris,
      So it’s okay if you label and criticize someone first, but when that person retorts and ask for an example you say, it’s not fair and leave the discussion.

      For the record, I love a strong intelligent, opinionated woman. And those opinions do not have to reflect my own, but they should be able to defend and back up those opinions.

      It reminds me of the time when then president of Harvard, Larry Summers, suggested there may be different aptitude between men and women in advanced mathematics and engineering, since there was a dearth of women in those classes. Well, women ran out of their classes screaming at Larry for the mere suggestion and demanding he be fired before even considering the possible reasons why not many women were taking these classes.

      Moral of the story: Doris if you want to criticize and make judgments about someone, then be prepared to have that person call you out on it.

      I only asked you to give an example of what you were referring to and you wouldn’t, but instead said, ‘it’s a man’s game’ and left. If you had any convictions or believed what you wrote, than you would be able to cite specifics and make a coherent argument.

      • The Dude Abides

        Oh John, you should have called her Dr. Phil. Unisexual psychology. Come on Doris, let us hear you roar!

  23. Sexism.

  24. I have been crazy busy and haven’t had the time to comment, but do keep up with my favorite 06880’ers and love reading the debates that ensue! I’ve been involved in debates and have learned quite a bit. I hope the debates continue, as I read every word and research and learn from them. I think it’s great and have been treated with nothing but great respect from all. Even when challenged, or perhaps especially when challenged, I truly feel respected and I also feel listened to. I like when I’m picked apart and questioned, because it forces me to go deeper and it also shows that the readers are reading my words and not just skimming over.

    In any event, I’m happy to be an 06880’er and plan to continue to join in on some good debates. Even when I’m not rambling about, I’m still reading and watching for comments from my favorite regulars!

    Cheers 😉

  25. Here’s an update to the wild (and completely incorrect) media speculation and assertions made by some right here.

    Turns out a left wing person made a death threat to a Tea Party leader at an ABC Townhall to discuss the tragedy in Tucson. Could you just imagine the press had it been the other way around?

    Link here from MSNBC:

    And this was my whole premise – Actual events of anger, threats, destruction and acts of violence come from the left much more than the right. For those who disagree, I have links above supporting this with facts. Please don’t take my word, investigate and research it for yourself.

    And lastly, Doesn’t anyone find it hypocritical of the Lame Steam Media who always tell us not to jump to conclusions when an act or terrorism occurs (even when the guys name is Mohammad), yet with no facts within moments of the Tucson tragedy they (media) tried like hell to associate this psycho to the right-wing or Tea Party.