Bullets, Blood and Poisoned Politics

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: victim

This is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic representative from Arizona whom last week began her third term in the House.   She  narrowly won reelection in November.   She was considered an up-and-comer in Democratic politics who might be a future challenger for Republican Senator Jon Kyl or Governor Jan Brewer in 2014.

Christina Greene: victim

This is Carolyn Taylor Greene.   She was nine-years-old and she attended a town hall meeting Rep. Giffords was holding at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. Carolyn was born on September 11, 2001 and was included in Faces of Hope, a photo album of 50 babies that were born on that otherwise grim day.

Carolyn was on the student government of her elementary school and was said to be “excited about the political process.”

Jared Loughner: murder suspect

This is Jared Loughner.  Jared is a 22-year-old resident of Tucson who said in You Tube video, “I can’t trust the current government” and in November he legally purchased a Glock from a Sportsman’s Warehouse.  In another video he says, “You could call me a terrorist.” 

A killer's weapon of choice

This is a 9mm Glock.  It is a semi-automatic pistol  This is the type of gun Loughner used to shoot Rep. Giffords in the head and kill six others including Carolyn Greene and John M. Roll,  the chief U.S. District judge in Arizona who happened to be visiting Giffords at the time.  Loughner shot Giffords at close range and then opened fire on the small crowd that had gathered at the supermarket. 

The Washington Post reported Loughner’s Glock 19 found with a fully loaded magazine that held about 30 bullets.  He had another magazine holding another 30 bullets and two more that held about 15 bullets. Loughner was also carrying a knife.

Catie Parker, a woman in Arizona said on her Twitter feed she attended high school and college with Loughner and was in a band with him.  Parker described his politics as “left-wing, quite liberal and obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”  She added that Loughner had met Giffords before and described Giffords as “stupid and unintelligent.”

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said they were seeking a second man as a “person of interest.”  He is not viewed as a suspect in the actual shooting.  Dupnik said in a news conference, “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital.  We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

President Obama denounced the shooting and urged prayers for Giffords and the other victims.  The president sent FBI Director Robert Mueller to Tucson to personally direct the federal end of the investigation since a member of Congress and a federal judge were involved in the shooting.

SarahPAC's hit list of Democrats in the crosshairs included Giffords

This is a map from Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC website that used an illustration of ten Democratic representatives in the crosshairs to be defeated for their support of health care reform.  Giffords was one of only two Democrats to keep their seats after the Republican victories in November. 

Palin urged her supporters to “take a stand” and as part of that stand to “Don’t Retreat, Instead—RELOAD.”

In an MSNBC interview Giffords spoke about her inclusion on the list and said, “Sarah Palin  has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” 

The image has been removed from the website. 

On Facebook after the shooting, Palin posted, “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.  On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims, and for peace and justice.”

I’m going to take a deep breath, exhale, and pray for the dead, the wounded, and the soul of this country which can be a very sick place at times.  There will be plenty of time to decide where blame should be placed besides Loughner himself.  However, if anywhere in his home or on his computer there is anything that has political implications that politician, party or potential presidential candidate will never be taken seriously again.

If reports of Loughner’s political leanings are true he would seem to be an unlikely supporter of Palin’s conservative beliefs.   It’s best at times like this not to presume too much.    The best thing about the Internet is its immediacy.   The worst thing about the Internet is how it enables people to speculate wildly without possessing all or even most of the facts. 

I’m kind of hoping Sarah Palin had nothing do to with what triggered Jared Laughner’s rampage.  I’m also kind of hoping she sleeps very poorly tonight wondering that same thing herself.