Tag Archives: Gabrielle Giffords

Hero of the Week: January 11, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly, and Americans for Responsible Solutions

11 Jan
Heroes of the Week

Heroes of the Week

This week someone who knows something about gun violence weighed in on the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D – AZ) was shot two years ago in an attack that left six dead. America grieved and raged for a couple of weeks and then got distracted as the NRA staved off any real action in Congress. Since that time, gun violence has only grown worse, with two of the worst attacks in American history (both at schools) occurred amidst a dozen other mass shootings.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, went to Sandy Hook to offer their condolences. She also spent time behind closed doors with survivors to share her advice and experience in dealing with the fallout from such a horrifying experience. The couple also put their money where their passion is, launching a new organization to fight for stronger, smarter control of guns in America. The mission of the organization clearly targets elected officials and their timidity in the face of gun lobby money.

Americans for Responsible Solutions will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them.

Giffords also wrote a passionate op-ed for USA Today which spells out the problem clearly.

Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.

We can’t be naive about what it will take to achieve the most common-sense solutions. We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources.

Thank you, Rep. Giffords for expending your political capital on this important issue. Let us hope that your passion, commitment, and personal experience can help keep the dialogue moving forward and begin a real diminishment of the pointless tragedy that is gun violence in our country.


God, Guns, and Gays…

17 Dec

palin-gun-100309National tragedies provide us with many kinds of opportunities. As the country joins the people of Newtown, CT in mourning, we also celebrate the quiet heroism of the teachers and staff who helped keep the carnage from being any worse. Some paid for their bravery with their lives; others survived to help with the healing.

Sadly, too many of the usual suspects are clamoring to appropriate the suffering for their own nefarious purposes. Displaying his ususal KKKristian charity, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer blamed our constitutionally decreed religion-neutral society. Saying — without a hint of irony — that God is a gentleman who “will not go where he is not wanted,” Fischer claims that public school prayer and religious instruction would have resulted in the almighty stopping this tragedy in its tracks. Nor is he alone. Failed Presidential candidate, false compassionate conservative, and rightwing radio blowhard Mike Huckabee jumped on the same bandwagon.

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Perhaps more to the point, why would we expect a narrowminded, violent Old Testament version of god to protect anyone? To wit, the loathsome legion from Westboro Baptist. Always willing to blame the LGBT community for, well, everything, they plan to picket around Sandy Hook Elementary, labelling the senseless slaughter of 26 innocent women and children as the “glory of God’s work in executing his judgment.” Nice choice of words, as always.

As those on the right rattle their sabers for God, the gun lobby tells everyone that now is not the time for politics, wanting to let the memory of this tragedy fade before we try to engage in a rational discussion about what kinds of weapons belong in the hands of everyday citizens. Over the past 15 years America has suffered far too many of these kinds of incidents — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, now Sandy Hook — and each time there’s a brief flare of “somebody ought to do something” followed by silence and inaction. Let us not forget about Gabrielle Giffords and the shootings in Arizona–Sarah Palin and her hungry gun culture ilk certainly have blood on their hands.

When a mentally ill man can grab legally purchased guns from his mother’s home and fire multiple rounds into the bodies of six- and seven-year-old children, there is something seriously wrong. USA Today published a powerful editorial that pointed out three things we need to look at quickly and carefully.

  • How do we enforce the laws that already exist to minimize the risks and damage?
  • What commonsense restrictions on automatic weapons and military style ammunition do we need to put in place?
  • How can we strengthen the safety net for the mentallly ill to provide them the support they need to minimize the risk of this kind of break?

We cannot let these deaths, adding to the tragic and rapidly mounting toll, be in vain. We must have hard conversations and take decisive action.

UPDATE: As the details roll in and the country continues to mourn the devastating and horrifically violent deaths, the call for sensible revision of gun laws is heating up in the nation’s capital. President Obama wisely noted

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

The NRA and other guns and ammo groups, meanwhile, remain silent, at best offering tepid sympathy for the families.

Staunch gun supporter Sen. Joe Manchin (D – WV), a lifetime member of the NRA, is also pushing for change.

I just came with my family from deer hunting. I’ve never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don’t get more than one shot anyway at a deer. It’s common sense. It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.

Incoming Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D – ND) and Joe Donnelly (D – IN), also supporters of gun rights, are vowing to help change laws to protect the innocent when they are sworn in in January. They’ll join longstanding advocates of gun control like Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D – CA). Let’s hope they can build the momentum to transform tragedy into action.

Sarah Palin’s Street Gang:Gabrielle Giffords Revisited

15 Nov

Welcome Back Rep. Giffords

I am absolutely elated to see that Rep. Giffords is recuperating and visible.  I’m amazed and grateful that she is alive and able to move her life forward–talk about resiliency.  While I am grateful that we still have Gabrielle Giffords, I am profoundly disturbed that we have yet to address the culture of violence promoted by Sarah Palin and her ilk that helped to create the environment in which Giffords and others were shot down at a grocery store.

I’m also glad Rep. Giffords had access to adequate healthcare, something many Americans do not have access to because it is linked to employment.  Yes, I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the US Supreme Court has decided to weigh in on the issue of Health Care Reform during the middle of an election year.  The Fecal Five have been quite transparent in wanting to oust President Obama–gee, no racism there!

Back to the culture of violence which has not changed since the shooting in Arizona.  What has changed? Have Palin, Brewer, or Angle “taken personal responsibility” as they are so fond of saying? Do we remain a Gun Crazy Nation?

Jessica Valenti’s articleThe Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords highlights the “Man-up” culture in US politics: In a country that sees violent masculinity as the ideal, it’s no wonder this rhetoric resonates, does a remarkable job of looking at Tea Party women that have promoted a culture of violence.  Sheriff Dupnikacknowledged this disgrace in his press conference.

Valenti looks at several key culprits, including Sharron Angle, who suggested that if Congress “keeps going the way it is”, people would turn toward “second amendment remedies”. (The second amendment of the US constitution outlines the right of Americans to bear arms.) And in an interview with a local Nevada paper, Angle said: “The nation is arming … If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

I love how Valenti articulates how these right wing women buy into a masculine model of violence for political expediency: “Stephen Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, says that masculine and violent language is often used in elections and campaigns – especially by men on the right – because of a fear of being perceived as feminine. In a sexist society, what could be worse than being called a girl? So it doesn’t seem unlikely that conservative female politicians feel the need to peddle their ideas in gendered and violent language in order to fit in with the masculinised right.”  Republican Christine O’Donnell said that her opponent was “unmanly”; Angle told Harry Reid to “man up”; and Palin praised Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as having “the cojones that our president does not have” to enforce immigration laws–all embarrassing examples of the promotion of violence.  Did these women not believe there words would have consequences?  I hope you will take the time to read the article in full.

Bachmann’s “Final Solution”

1 May

Frau Bachmann's "Final Solution"

A few days ago, Michele (Proud I’ve never read a book) Bachmann gave a speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA).  In that speech, Bachmann said:

The right to keep and bear arms has to be protected because the Second Amendment is the final guarantor of all our constitutional rights.

I would like to know what Frau Bachmann means by “final guarantor”? Does she have any idea of the implications of that language? Is she encouraging Tea Baggers to start shooting those of us that disagree with the racist, illiterate, and violent Tea Party movement?  Is anyone else thinking about Gabrielle Giffords right now and the lessons we could be learning from that tragedy? Bachmann went on to say:

I trust that you’re locked and loaded, and I’m really sorry that I can’t be with you in Pittsburgh to soak up all the energy from you.

Really? This is the type of language coming from a Presidential candidate.  One can only imagine the nightmare for the world should Bachmann hold the position of President; she makes Qaddafi look sane and even jovial. Minnesota, what on earth were you thinking?  When do we finally evolve from the primitive philosophy of “might is right”?  Click here to read the full article.

Total Recall: Power of the People

7 Mar


As the sun is out shining here in Portland, Oregon, I am comforted by the news in Arizona and Wisconsin. If you follow this blog, you have endured my rants against Jan Brewer, the Governor of Arizona.  Yes, there is actually hope in Arizona now. While the gun loving Brewer went on vacation in Alaska, (I think she and Palin are sharing a brain) the people of Arizona started to collect the necessary signatures to recall Brewer. 423,000 signatures are needed by the end of May to force a full recall–hard for me not to smile. Click here to see the full article.

But wait, there is more good news. As the Koch Brothers are paying for people to be bussed in to support Scott Walker, there is growing support to recall this piece of work as well. Is anyone else simply amazed at the amount of money tossed about all over the country by the Koch Brothers for their GOP agenda? Click here to see the Koch money trying to protect Scott Walker. Regardless of the money and efforts of the Koch Brothers, momentum is building to recall Governor Walker.  Speak Truth to Power!

Republican Denny Rehberg Hits New Low…

9 Feb

Denny Rehber (R-MT) hit a new all time low for acceptable behavior for human beings yesterday.  Just one month after federal Judge John Roll was murdered while waiting to speak with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who is still trying to recuperate, Rehber is still using the language of violence and threats  of assassination, Palin must be so proud of him.  Here is Rehber’s threat against a federal judge:

Environmental obstructionists found a federal judge in Missoula that was willing to ignore the scientific evidence as well as the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers here in Montana. And he ruled last August that the grey wolf had to remain on the Endangered Species List.

When I first heard his decision, like many of you I wanted to take action immediately. I asked: how can we put some of these judicial activists on the Endangered Species List? I am still working on that!

This is acceptable behavior from an elected official? Really?  Again, I thought a civil servant’s job was to protect the citizens of America, not to threaten assassination. Click here for the video and then click here for the full article if you can stomach it. Have you know decency Rep. Rehberg?

Born Assassin


Sociopathic, Sinister, Sarah…

15 Jan

I truly had no full comprehension of the full depths of Sarah Palin’s narcissism and sociopathy.  This latest stunt of hers of playing the victim, with unsubstantiated reports of death threats, is just over the top and unconscionable. What is more disgusting is that the media are advertising this without asking questions to see if they are reporting accurate information: U.S. News & World Report picked up the story today—again, without once questioning the information itself or its source. With six people dead, and Representative Giffords fighting for her life, it is not only galling to have Palin shift the spot light to her as the victim, it is really quite sick!  Rather than reflect on her words in the media and her behavior, she is twisting reality beyond all recognition to suit her own agenda and feed her insatiable ego.

The Most Dishonorable Sarah Palin

Hero of the Week Award, January 14

14 Jan

Well, you better be careful of the LGBT community.  We might just one day save your life.  This week’s Hero is Daniel Hernandez. Hernandez, the Intern that helped to save Gabrielle Giffords’ life, was clearly acting on behalf of the “Gay Agenda:”  Be kind, make the world better for all, help your fellow human being!  Bravo to Hernandez.  He certainly holds great promise in creating equality for all, by serving as such a role model of a human being.  Note to public: I don’t see him threatening to shoot people who disagree with him.

Daniel Hernandez, Hero

The Power of “I Don’t Know” In a Culture of Impatience

11 Jan

During the immediate aftermath of the Tucson tragedy on Saturday an interesting news phenomenon occurred. Depending on the source one used, the number of shooting victims and their condition varied significantly. More dramatically, Rep. Giffords’ very survival seemed to depend on the source consulted. The “facts” as reported were jumbled and often contradictory. (For a great overview of the coverage, complete with screen shots, I encourage you to read this great blog post.)

It makes perfect sense that solid, verified information was in short supply for a few hours following the shooting. The scene was very chaotic, people of national note were involved, and the injuries were such that complex medical care was needed before some outcomes were known. What struck me on that day, however, and has resonated even more deeply on reflection, was the urgent need to say “I have the answer!” even when the answer wasn’t available. In the rush to be the accurate source, all variety of media outlets from NPR to FoxNews pushed out misinformation. To their credit, these outlets unleashed a flurry of apologies and retractions the following day. That leaves us with a sad question: Why the urge to misreport rather wait for the answers?

We live in an age of impatience. Everybody wants a quick, definitive answer. Google and Bing will get you some kind of answer as soon as you ask. Cable news gives you a 24/7 stream of facts, figures, opinions, and hypotheses, all jumbled together in a constant flow. (And, if you don’t hear what you’re looking for, just read the chyron for another whole river of data.) As our attention spans shrink, our demand for instant knowledge grows. Sadly, most media feel that in order to compete in this environment they must rush to at least seem to have the answer.

(Side note: This makes me think of the great Nanci Griffith song “Time of Inconvenience”; I can’t find an online version, but the lyrics are available here.)

Wouldn’t it be better not to need to apologize and retract? There should be no shame in saying, “This is what we know, and this is what we don’t know yet.” That kind of honesty, resetting expectations to what is reasonable, would demonstrate journalistic integrity, courage, and leadership. In the case of the Tucson shootings, in fact, a clear message that things were so chaotic that facts were scarce would have more accurately reflected the situation. Instead, we were handed nuggets of misinformation and contradiction.

This recent example is not an isolated case. Another example was last November’s gubernatorial race in Oregon. The polls were tight, and I said for days before the election that it might be a week before we knew the results. (This was exactly what happened when Jeff Merkley narrowly defeated Gordon Smith for Oregon’s senate seat two years before). I overestimated the time it took, but it was more than a day after the polls closed before Chris Dudley conceded to John Kitzhaber. During that time, I saw many posts on blogs and newspaper comment sites wondering “why can’t we know now?” (The Roseburg Beacon was so impatient, in fact, that it did a Dewey Beats Truman.) Surely it is better to have a fully counted, honest set of election results rather than a fast, incomplete result. Somehow, though, not knowing for less than two days was seen as a crisis.

Honestly, and sadly, I get it. I’m a trained researcher; I know how much time it can take to get to a solid answer to any question. But as a librarian I’ve learned that my ability to find the most high-quality answer has to compete with my patrons’ willingness to accept “good enough” answers that they can get quickly elsewhere. So I get carried way in the rush of good-enough data too. I catch myself muttering  “Come on, come on!” to my browser if any search takes more than the customary split-second to wash me in its waves of data. That doesn’t need to be true.

I’m not a fan of New Years’ Resolutions, but I think perhaps I’ve found one now. I’m going to try to step aside from the rush to the quick answer and the instant gratification. I’m going to be more comfortable saying “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out” when that’s the most honest answer. Whenever possible, I’ll find ways (gentle, I hope) to encourage others to do the same. Let’s look for facts and information, not just quick assurances and speedy self-confirming tidbits. Unless you’re reacting to a log truck speeding your way in the wrong lane, knowing what to do instantly isn’t really necessary. Let’s be willing to wait for – and look for – the right answers, not just the instant ones. This weekend was a good reminder that our impatience can not only fail to pay off, it can leave us simply wrong.

Rand Paul: Crazier than we thought?

11 Jan

I’m sure most of you remember when Bill Frist (R – TN) offered to give a diagnosis over the phone for Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman in a vegetative state whose family was battling over whether to end her life. (Many of you also remember that President Bush ignored the constitution and intervened on an individual’s behalf during this hotly-debated instance of the right-to-die debate.)  Now we have Rand (I want to repeal the 14th Amendment) Paul offering to diagnose Jared Lee Loughner.  Yes, Paul, an ophthalmologist and not a psychiatrist, feels comfortable giving a psychiatric diagnosis.  I should mention here that when I was five, I used to play doctor, so for all of you that need medical attention, please do stop by.

Paul believes that Loughner is a paranoid schizophrenic, maybe they can spot one another in a crowd.  As a blogger I feel confident in diagnosing Rand Paul as a paranoid schizophrenic.  See the full article here.

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