A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Darrell Issa Gets Probation While Others are Incarcerated for Concealed Weapon and Car Theft Charges

Darrell Issa's attack on Pres. Obama
 Many politicians have committed indiscretions in earlier years: maybe they had an affair or hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Darrell Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.  Issa, the new Republican
chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform now wants to waste taxpayer money on a witch hunt against President Obama's administration.

Issa stole Jay Bergey's car, a yellow Dodge Charger. "Bergey confronted Issa in 1998. He got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically the car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike." On March 15, 1972, three months after Issa allegedly stole Jay Bergey's car and one month after he left the Army for the first time, Ohio police arrested Issa and his older brother, William, and charged them with stealing a red Maserati from a Cleveland showroom. The judge eventually dismissed the case. While the Maserati case was pending, Issa went to college, and was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Issa pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of possession of an unregistered gun. He paid a small fine and was sentenced to six months' probation.

Issa started his car-alarm empire by acquiring the Steal Stopper brand in what was essentially a hostile takeover. A man named Joey B Adkins owned the company, and Issa loaned him sixty thousand dollars. When Adkins was late on a payment, Issa went to court and foreclosed on the loan. Two days later, Issa called and said that he wanted Adkins to come visit him at his new office. He gave Adkins the address of Steal Stopper. "I just took your company," Adkins recalled him saying.  It's alledged that Issa set this building on fire.  Read more.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mr. Extremist! Tear down this wall

This is what hate and bigotry does:  Tea Party Tries to Segregate North Carolina Schools

America's Wall of shame is dominated by hate, violence, racism and bigotry, which culminated in the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona. This wall of hate holds America's destiny. If we cannot grow beyond the poisonous vitriol that spews from its confines, we will be unable to work together on our economic recovery to create meaningful jobs to stimulate and grow our nation to meet the needs of a new competitive America. Focus on this wall and see the negative energy consuming our nation's vital resources. Try to work around these obstacles by accepting other people for who they are regardless of their differences. Only by embracing diversity will America have any chance to regain its leadership role in the world and provide the opportunity for a good life to its citizens.  By Terri Knauss

This is what violence, hate, and bigotry looks like:

This is how it's spread:

In the wake of the Tucson shooting, Glen Beck, the TV and radio personality has had to defend his record against accusations that he has whipped up hatred within the public discourse.  For a media figure who has been variously lambasted as a liar, buffoon, clown, bigot and racist Beck is no stranger to the vitriol that currently passes in America as public debate. In fact, he’s built a multimillion dollar empire out of it.

The JFSJ accompanied the petition with a list of 10 of Beck’s most egregious comments in 2010 (see below).  They include Beck’s radio comment on the financier and philanthropist, George Soros, that “here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps”. The remark was made in reference to Soros as a 13-year-old teenager in Hungary, who survived the Holocaust because his father hid their Jewish identity through elaborate forged documents.  The comment was made as part of a three-part Beck “exposé” of Soros on Fox News last November called the “Puppet Master”. Beck’s portrayal of Soros was so mendacious and malicious that he was accused by the New Yorker of broadcasting tropes that corresponded “uncannily to those of classical antisemitism”. The Daily Beast noted that “nothing like it has ever been on American television before”.

Glenn Beck soundbites:

• Beck likens himself to Israeli Nazi hunters: “To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter.” 20 January 2010

• Social justice is a “perversion of the Gospel, not what Jesus was saying”. 11 March 2010

• “Charles Darwin is the father of the Holocaust.” 20 August 2010

• “We have been sold a lie … that the poor in America are suffering.” November 20 2010

• Beck mocks President Obama’s daughter Malia and questions her “level of education”. He later apologises. 28 May 2010

• Uncle Sam is a “child molester” who is “raping our wallets … and destroying our families”. 16 April 2010

• Beck said the prime goal of his coverage of the midterm elections was to “make George Soros cry” which was hard to do as Soros “saw people into gas chambers”. 2 November 2010

• “Women are psychos”. 20 January 2010

• Putting the “common good” first is the kind of thing that “leads to death camps”. 28 May 2010

• “God will wash this nation with blood if he has to.” 25 August 2010

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gabby Opened Her Eyes

To look through the eyes of a nine year old and to see us (U.S.), as children, as we believe our nation stands for.  I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Obama turned this into a celebration -- of the people who were killed, of the values they lived by, and of the way their example could bring out the better in all of us and in our country.

Boehner snubs President Obama again!  Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) turned down an offer by President Barack Obama to travel on Air Force One to Arizona for a memorial service on behalf of the victims of Saturday’s shooting, a decision that has upset some Democrats.  It's disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President’s and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members,” said a Democratic leadership aide

Tucson Memorial

Obama: "How Can We Honor the Fallen?" (Full Text of President's Remarks at Memorial for Victims of Shooting)

Editor's note: Below are President Obama's remarks honoring the victims of Saturday's mass shooting, delivered at a Memorial ceremony at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In the speech, Obama also gave the news that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time today.

As Prepared for Delivery—

To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

As Scripture tells us:  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday – they too represented what is best in America.  Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris – “Dot” to her friends – were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away. 

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together – about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.” When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion – but his true passion was people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved – talking with people and seeing how he could help. Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.  Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday. I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I can tell you this – she knows we’re here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.

And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive. We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning. 
Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.  So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.

But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose someone in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?
So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.

That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.  So deserving of our love.

And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Moment of Silence

 A wide range of emotions:  Joe Scarborough says: “If my Republican Party really thinks Sarah Palin is the best Republican candidate in 2012, or believes a talk-show host should be calling the president a racist”—he pauses here—“that’s not my party.”  

The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right - By William Rivers Pitt (This is a must read.)
Loughner's parents cry

Celebrities are showing anger against Palin:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do We Know How To Stop The Next One?

The Shooting of a Congressman by Partisan Pages

I hate to say this, but the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords was no surprise to me...sad and shameful but not surprising. There is no doubt that we have been building up to this moment for 2 years now. All of the imagery of Crosshairs, Revolution and Civil War...all the ranting about socialism, Marxism and government takeovers...they have brought us to this moment in our history.

I listened for the past two years to people like Sarah Palin, who dismissed the criticism of using violent imagery and ugly rhetoric, but I wonder what she is thinking today? There must have been some reflection since Palin removed her map with the crosshairs on Giffords district after the shooting....but I wonder what exactly she was thinking? Did she remove it because she didn't want to be accused of contributing to yesterday's shooting or is it because she realized it is inappropriate and people may take it literally? I am sure the queen of manipulation didn't want any heat coming her way and already has her first comments written down on how she will defend her map and rhetoric in a way that will sound almost reasonable...and that is the problem in a nutshell.

We have had almost 2 years of absolute insanity coming from the right....even the "moderates" in the Republican Party joined the bandwagon and decided that "talk" of a Revolution was in order to get this" country back". And we, the sane ones, just let them go on and on without serious consequences or confrontation because most people (on the right and left) didn't believe that this would escalate into anything serious. Well now it has...

We know nothing of this man who shot Mrs. Giffords...he could be a crazy Teabagger or a Lefty fanatic that finally snapped but that is irrelevant at this point. The political climate in this country has heated up to unacceptable levels, the venomous talk from politicans, radio and TV hosts have fed into people's fears and fueled the insane behavior we have seen at rallies and on street corners throughout the country ...this horrible incident must be the beginning of a new dialog. To end this madness, we need to get to the root of the problem, we need to understand where this all originated from...

When did this begin? When did the rhetoric fly out of control? It’s clear that the election of the first African American President and the fears of Muslim terrorism is what started this craziness. All of this anti-Muslim, "taking the country back" talk and 2nd amendment remedies, was pushed and encouraged by the Republican Party....for votes. If the Tea Party, who embraces their guns and constitution, had been dismissed as a fringe group by the Republicans from the start, as a group that needed to be ignored, this ugly rhetoric about the Muslims, the President and the country may have taken a much different direction. But that would have risked the loss of votes and we know they couldn't allow that to happen.

To address the argument that this ugly rhetoric comes from " both sides of the aisle" and that both parties are to blame, I ask you this...Can you name one group that the Democrats embraced who called for the take over of government, that brought guns to their rallies, that wanted to use bullets instead of ballots if the election didn't go their way, carried racist signs that demeaned the President of the United States or questioned his birth place and religious beliefs. Can you name one rally or fundraiser where a Democratic candidiate spoke to a fringe group, where they were the keynote speaker or rode a bus with them across the country to get more votes? You can't, because there are none. So, the argument that both sides need to toned down the rhetoric is a dishonest argument that just tries to deflect the blame and responsible.

This kind of ugly rhetoric is fuel for people like Mr. Loughner...they hear talk like this and see it as justification to use violence as an answer to our country's problems. People can dismiss Mr. Loughner as crazy or ill, but the unstable people of the world obsess about these things, they act on what they hear, they listen to every word until they snap. And it has been the Right who have been throwing fuel on that fire...

So, here we are, a Democratic Congresswoman was targeted to be killed and now we are talking about the rhetoric, the way we should have 2 years ago. I hope that this is the beginning of a civil debate, a debate that it pushes back the ugliness and hatred that we have seen build over the last two years and now we begin a new type of politics that dismisses and shuns such talk. Call me an optimist but I always have been....I have always believed that this country could move forward, past the negativity and hate, it’s just sad that it may have taken an the death of a 9 year old girl, the murder of 5 others and the shooting of a Congresswoman in the head, to get us there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We Are All Americans

Six people killed in tragic shooting.

-John Roll, 63, a federal district court judge.
-Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' director of community outreach
-Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
-Christina Greene, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary
-Dorthy Murray, 76
-Phyllis Scheck, 79

Born on September 11, 2001, Christine Greene was excited about the political process, was on the student government, and went to the Giffords event today to learn more about the political process, family members say.

  Fox News abruptly cuts away from Tucson vigil after mourner mentions Sarah Palin. 

After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and number of others were wounded or killed in a shooting in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said that the state has "become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Keith Olberman's Special Comment:   Violence and threats have no place in democracy 

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. We need to put the guns down. Just as importantly we need to put the gun metaphors away and permanently.  Left, right, middle - politicians and citizens - sane and insane. This morning in Arizona, this age in which this country would accept "targeting" of political opponents and putting bullseyes over their faces and of the dangerous blurring between political rallies and gun shows, ended.  This morning in Arizona, this time of the ever-escalating, borderline-ecstatic invocation of violence in fact or in fantasy in our political discourse, closed. It is essential tonight not to demand revenge, but to demand justice; to insist not upon payback against those politicians and commentators who have so irresponsibly brought us to this time of domestic terrorism, but to work to change the minds of them and their supporters - or if those minds tonight are too closed, or if those minds tonight are too unmoved, or if those minds tonight are too triumphant, to make sure by peaceful means that those politicians and commentators and supporters have no further place in our system of government.

If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 Representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics - she must be repudiated by the members of her own party, and if they fail to do so, each one of them must be judged to have silently defended this tactic that today proved so awfully foretelling, and they must in turn be dismissed by the responsible members of their own party. 

If Jesse Kelly, whose campaign against Congresswoman Giffords included an event in which he encouraged his supporters to join him firing machine guns, does not repudiate this, and does not admit that even if it was solely indirectly, or solely coincidentally, it contributed to the black cloud of violence that has envellopped our politics, he must be repudiated by Arizona's Republican Party.  If Congressman Allen West, who during his successful campaign told his supporters that they should make his opponent afraid to come out of his home, does not repudiate those remarks and all other suggestions of violence and forced fear, he should be repudiated by his constituents and the Republican Congressional Caucus. If Sharron Angle, who spoke of "Second Amendment solutions," does not repudiate that remark and urge her supporters to think anew of the terrible reality of what her words implied, she must be repudiated by her supporters in Nevada. 

If the Tea Party leaders who took out of context a Jefferson quote about blood and tyranny and the tree of liberty do not understand - do not understand tonight, now what that really means, and these leaders do not tell their followers to abhor violence and all threat of violence, then those Tea Party leaders must be repudiated by the Republican Party.  If Glenn Beck, who obsesses nearly as strangely as Mr. Loughner did about gold and debt and who wistfully joked about killing Michael Moore, and Bill O'Reilly, who blithely repeated "Tiller the Killer" until the phrase was burned into the minds of his viewers, do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death-fantasies and the dreams of bloodlust, for ever having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution, then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers, and by all politicians, and by sponsors, and by the networks that employ them.  And if those of us considered to be "on the left" do not re-dedicate ourselves to our vigilance to eliminate all our own suggestions of violence - how ever inadvertent they might have been then we too deserve the repudiation of the more sober and peaceful of our politicians and our viewers and our networks.

Here, once, in a clumsy metaphor, I made such an unintended statement about the candidacy of then-Senator Clinton. It sounded as if it was a call to physical violence. It was wrong, then. It is even more wrong tonight. I apologize for it again, and I urge politicians and commentators and citizens of every political conviction to use my comment as a means to recognize the insidiousness of violent imagery, that if it can go so easily slip into the comments of one as opposed to violence as me, how easily, how pervasively, how disastrously can it slip into the already-violent or deranged mind?

For tonight we stand at one of the clichéd crossroads of American history. Even if the alleged terrorist Jared Lee Loughner was merely shooting into a political crowd because he wanted to shoot into a political crowd, even if he somehow was unaware who was in the crowd, we have nevertheless for years been building up to a moment like this.  Assume the details are coincidence. The violence is not. The rhetoric has devolved and descended, past the ugly and past the threatening and past the fantastic and into the imminently murderous.

We will not return to the 1850s, when a pro-slavery Congressman nearly beat to death an anti-slavery Senator; when an anti-slavery madman cut to death with broadswords pro-slavery advocates.  We will not return to the 1960s, when with rationalizations of an insane desire for fame, or of hatred, or of political opposition, a President was assassinated and an ultra-Conservative would-be president was paralyzed, and a leader of peace was murdered on a balcony.

We will not.

Because tonight, what Mrs. Palin, and what Mr. Kelly, and what Congressman West, and what Ms. Angle, and what Mr. Beck, and what Mr. O'Reilly, and what you and I must understand, was that the man who fired today did not fire at a Democratic Congresswoman and her supporters.  He was not just a mad-man incited by a thousand daily temptations by slightly less-mad-men to do things they would not rationally condone.  He fired today into our liberty and our rights to live and to agree or disagree in safety and in freedom from fear that our support or opposition will cost us our lives or our health or our sense of safety. The bullseye might just as well have been on Mrs. Palin, or Mr. Kelly, or you, or me. The wrong, the horror, would have been - could still be just as real and just as unacceptable.

At a time of such urgency and impact, we as Americans - conservative or liberal - should pour our hearts and souls into politics. We should not - none of us, not Gabby Giffords and not any Conservative - ever have to pour our blood. And every politician and commentator who hints otherwise, or worse still stays silent now, should have no place in our political system, and should be denied that place, not by violence, but by being shunned and ignored.  It is a simple pledge, it is to the point, and it is essential that every American politician and commentator and activist and partisan take it and take it now, I say it first, and freely:  Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our Democracy, and I apologize for and repudiate any act or any thing in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence. Because for whatever else each of us may be, we all are Americans.