Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gun control debate restarts following shooting

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for an investigation into how the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and as many as 19 others in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday obtained a handgun despite a "history of mental instability."

The shooting has launched a fresh debate on gun control laws.

"How did he go through the process and end up with this gun and with this ammunition?" said the Senate majority whip on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think that's a legitimate question."

A suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, is in custody. Media reports indicate that the handgun used in the shooting was obtained legally.

However, freshman Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who appeared later on the program, suggested no amount of laws restricting gun ownership could prevent a person "bent on performing evil acts to kill another person."

Laws are already on the books that prevent mentally ill people from obtaining guns, he said.

"I don't think we're going to legislate our way out of the risk," the Tea-Party backed senator said. "To the contrary, there is abundant research suggesting that in cities where more people own guns, the crime rate, especially the murder rate, goes down."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) pointed out that the gun used in the shooting was the same used by many police officers.

"It's not that the gun was evil, it's that it was in the hands of an evil person," he said. "I don't know that we can focus in on that."

Liberals blame Palin (PLEASE PEOPLE IGNORE THIS WOMAN! Just a media fixsation)

Amid the partisan recriminations after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), one accusation from Democrats and liberals stood out: it’s Sarah Palin’s fault.

Liberals referred time and again to Palin’s political action committee web page – since taken down – that had once posted a target list of Democrats who voted in favor of health care, one that literally put crosshairs over Giffords’ district.

“If Sarah Palin … does not repudiate her own part, however tangential, in amplifying violence and violent imagery in American politics, she must be dismissed from politics, she must be repudiated by the members of her party,” MSNBC’s liberal commentator Keith Olbermann said Saturday on a special edition of his program, who went on to target comments by Fox News’ Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.

“If they fail to do so, each one of them must be judged to have silently defended this tactic that today proves so awfully foretelling, and they in turn must be dismissed by the responsible members of their own party,” Olbermann said.

Palin posted a statement on Facebook around 3 p.m., calling for “peace and justice.” She did not make any direct reference to the raging debate, which was playing out on her own Facebook page, drawing more than 4,000 comments.

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

A spokeswoman for Palin, Rebecca Mansour, reacted to criticism of the former Alaska governor on Twitter with a brief message: “Politicizing this is repulsive.”

Yet throughout the day, Palin was at the heart of the liberal outcry about the shooting – as bloggers also referred to Palin’s line about how conservatives should not merely retrench, but instead should “reload.”

The Palin criticism started shortly after the shooting, when liberal blogger and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas fired off a series of tweets citing the Palin website that targeted Giffords’ health reform vote.

“Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin,” Kos tweeted of the website soon after word of the shooting broke.

“How dare people ‘politicize’ a political assassination!” Moulitsas said in another tweet, which came just as most news outlets were pulling back initial reports that Giffords had died, correcting them to say instead that she was badly wounded and in surgery.

Kos’s words were met with pushback from conservative Andrew Breitbart, who tweeted, “For the love of God, @markos. Stop it. Don’t go there, trust me. Trust me. Trust me. You will not like the blow-back, I assure you.”

Those commenting on Palin’s Facebook page were equal parts supportive and casting blame.

“What happened to Fire and Reload? Are your maps updated yet Mrs. Palin?” asked one commenter.

Another said, “You just had to know it wouldn’t take those left-wing loons long to blame it on Sarah. May the Lord be with you Gabrielle. I will pray for you.”

Liberal political consultant and blogger John Aravosis criticized Republican political consultant Patrick Ruffini for praising Sen. John McCain’s statement on the shooting.

“Well, McCain’s running mate did put a rifle target on the woman, so not surprising McCain is forced to make nice,” Aravosis wrote on Twitter.

Other Democrats and liberals expanded their criticism to inflammatory rhetoric of the tea party movement, while Republicans and conservatives accused the left of rushing to judgment and politicizing the shooting.

With the motive and politics of alleged shooter Jared Loughner still murky, conservatives argued that he appeared more mentally unstable than driven by any ideology. Some pointed to an account, from one woman who said she went to high school with him, that he was “left wing, quite liberal.”

But the liberal blogosphere didn’t back down, saying the Palin-led tea party movement had normalized a brand of violent rhetoric that stirs up voters.

That view seemed to win a powerful endorsement from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who called Arizona “the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” said Dupnik, a Democrat.

“Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”

The New York Post quoted Giffords’ weeping father, who said, when asked if the congresswoman had enemies: “Yeah…the whole Tea Party.”

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman weighed in shortly after the shooting, saying Republicans needed to be held accountable for their tone.

“You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead,” Krugman wrote on the Times website. “But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”

Krugman later disabled the comments section on his blog post. “They would need a lot of moderating, because the crazies are coming out in force, and it’s all too likely to turn into a flame war.”

Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan offered a more measured response: “I have no expertise in this at all, but my impression of his writings and web presence does indeed suggest to me that some mental illness is probably a key part of this.”

“But this does not exonerate violent or excessive rhetoric from the far right or far left: it’s precisely the disturbed who can seize on those kinds of statements and act on them,” Sullivan continued. “The danger of violent rhetoric, especially involving gun violence, is its interaction with the disturbed. That was [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi’s message last year.”

Gary Hart, the former Democratic presidential candidate, posted a column on the Huffington Post that pointed the blame at politicians and the media who use and tolerate “inflammatory” rhetoric.

“Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric,” he wrote. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

“So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric or, in the case of some commentators, treat it with delight, reward it, and consider it cute, so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.”

On his program, Olbermann apologized for his own use of violent imagery, referring to a 2008 comment about then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. At the height of the Democratic primary battle, Olbermann said she would need to be persuaded to drop out of the race by “somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.”

“I apologize for and repudiate any act or anything in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence,” Olbermann said Saturday.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), appearing on CNN, said Giffords had been the target of death threats during the year-long debate on health care.

“I hope that people who are thinking of making intemperate and violent statements will think twice,” Nadler said.

2011 Capitol News Company

Democrats Plan Attack on Republican Repeal Effort

Democratic leaders in Washington plan to spend the next week doing what they all but refused to do in the 2010 midterm elections: mount a vigorous defense of President Obama’s health care legislation.

The “all fronts” plan is a response to the decision by the new House speaker, John A. Boehner, to schedule a vote next Wednesday on a complete repeal of the health care law that Mr. Obama signed last March.

Senior Democratic officials said their effort would be managed by a rapid response operation modeled after the ones Mr. Obama used in his presidential campaign. That team will monitor Republican claims, send out fact-checks and deploy a team of surrogates to get their views on television.

Paid television advertisements will be run “as warrants,” said one senior Democrat, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the program. Organizing for America, the president’s chief political apparatus, will host phone banks and schedule events featuring people who would lose their benefits if the health care law were repealed.

“We will make clear to the American people that as their first order of business, Republicans have decided not to focus on jobs and deficit reduction, but on relitigating partisan battles — that, if successful, would eliminate help for our job-creating small business and explode the deficit,” said Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

This week, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, vowed to pass what the Republicans have dubbed “Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Act.”

“The American people are expecting quick action from the Republican majority,” Mr. Cantor told reporters Tuesday. He played down predictions that the act would be stopped by the Democratic majority in the Senate, saying, “the important thing right now is to make sure we send a repeal bill across the floor.”

The president and his allies on Capitol Hill were criticized by liberals for failing to defend the health care legislation during the campaign. Democratic candidates rarely mounted a fiery defense of the law on the campaign trail. And some even ran ads against the legislation, fearful that Republicans had succeeded in turning the public against it.

But Democrats have concluded that the current situation is different. On the campaign trail, they say, Democratic candidates had to speculate about what Republicans might do if elected. Now, the repeal vote puts a big target on Mr. Boehner’s back, they said.

“We’re not talking about benefits which you may get down the road,” Mr. Sevugan said. “We are talking about taking away benefits you enjoy right now — tangible benefits with value. This puts us on offense.”

The initial volleys of the effort came even before Mr. Boehner was sworn in on Wednesday. In a mass e-mail to the president’s supporters, Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, urged people to speak out.

“Organizing for America is pulling together a team of organizers and volunteers to defend reform — and we need you on this team,” Mr. Stewart wrote. “Together, we’ll show how our progress is already improving lives across the country — and take on those who are pushing for repeal.”

And three cabinet secretaries— Kathleen Sebelius, of health and human services; Hilda L. Solis, of labor; and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner — sent a letter to members of Congress on Wednesday, saying that a repeal would “set the nation back on a path to higher costs and skyrocketing premiums, less competition and fewer consumer protections.”

Mr. Obama’s own role in the effort is unclear. During his briefing with reporters on Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that Republicans know the repeal will not succeed in the Senate and called it “a bit of huff and puff” that was mostly symbolic. But he also said that a repeal would take the country back to “a health care system where insurance companies are in charge and call the shots.” Asked whether Mr. Obama would be making a major speech to that effect, however, Mr. Gibbs said no.

“Obviously the president is focused very much on the economy and on the job situation right now,” Mr. Gibb said. “He’s remarkably proud of the accomplishment of health care. I don’t think that the American people want to go back to a health care system where those safety nets are in doubt, and that’s what the law is.”

Recent polling suggests that most Americans remain divided over the health care law and what — if anything — should be done about it now.

In a national poll conducted last month for the Kaiser Family Foundation, a fifth of the public said the new health reform law should be left as it is; another fifth said the law should be expanded. A quarter of those surveyed said lawmakers should repeal parts of the health reform law, and another quarter said the entire law should be repealed.

About half of the adults surveyed by ABC News and The Washington Post last month said they opposed the changes to the health care system that were enacted by Congress and the administration. Of these people, three in 10 said the health care reform law should be repealed altogether and another three in 10 said part of the law should be repealed. About four in 10 said the best approach was to “wait and see before deciding.”

In her final remarks as speaker before literally handing over the gavel to Mr. Boehner, Nancy Pelosi of California used the spotlight to highlight the benefits of the health care legislation. Her pointed message: these are the things Republicans want to take away.

And, she said, the legislation was designed by Democrats to reduce federal health care spending. “Taken together,” she said, “it will save taxpayers $1.3 trillion.”

Republicans have spent the better part of a year hammering against those arguments, with very little response. Now, Democrats promise at least a week of fighting back.

THIS IS WHY THE N R A should be proud! OR IS PROUD!

How can a gun-crazed society lead the world?

According to a 2007 survey, the United States leads the world in gun ownership: 90 guns per 100 people. We are a country with five percent of the world's people and between 35 and 50 percent of its civilian-owned guns. That's something like 270 million weapons.

Repeated studies have shown that the United States is far and away the leader among the world's developed countries in gun violence and gun deaths. There is no other developed country that is even close. Over 30,000 Americans die every year from gun violence. Most of these are suicides but in excess of 12,000 a year are homicides. Another 200,000 Americans are estimated to be injured each year due to guns.

In 2009, Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote a compelling column noting that since 9/11 over 120,000 people have died in the United States as a result of gun violence. By now, the number is in excess of 140,000.

For those in the world who are mystified by this, the legal explanation associated with it by gun rights defenders is that the right to own guns is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

This statement has taken on quasi-theological importance for many in the United States even though it is clearly being misinterpreted by those who believe it provides every individual the right to own such guns -- including advanced, highly-destructive automatic weapons. The misinterpretation begins with the deliberate ignoring of the first half of the sentence associating the right with the need for a "well-regulated militia." This is a clear qualifier associated with the so-called right to bear arms and had it not been important to the sentence, one can only conclude it would not have been included in the famously sparely written document. If militias don't exist, one can therefore conclude this "right" should be reconsidered if not eliminated.

Further, of course, there have been many elements of the Constitution that have required amending because the views, values, and circumstances of the nation have evolved since the country's founding. Strangely, many of those who consider the Second Amendment sacrosanct would vigorously support those subsequent adjustments to the document.

Congresswoman Giffords, the targeted victim of this attack, was a supporter of "Second Amendment rights." This is a tragic irony, but it does not suggest this case should not reopen the discussion on this important issue. Consider the case of the shooter, a drug-using, clearly unhinged loser who responded to a requirement from his community college to seek a mental evaluation due to troubling behavior not by seeking help but by going out and buying a weapon … legally.

The attack also rightfully raises a question about the tenor of political discourse in the United States. This was not an attack by the venom-tongued and reckless political extremists and hate-mongers who have become so common in recent years. But it was certainly a consequence of the culture of disrespect and violence they have fomented. With some luck this attack my cause all parties to be more circumspect and embrace civility.

But in a global context we have to ask as dispassionately as we can: What do these events say about America's culture, and what are their impact on America's ability to lead? Many will reflexively note that other societies also have similar shortcomings. That is no doubt the case. But no society that holds itself up as an example to the world should, as the United States does, brazenly shrug off what are clearly deep national character flaws when it comes to our love of guns or our celebration of hate politics. Tragedies like that which unfolded in Arizona this weekend not only wound the victims, but also America's ability to lead and to advance our interests and values worldwide. Think, to take just one example, how the shadow of events like this and the patterns and history they reveal impact America's ability to advance its human rights agenda internationally -- as it will no doubt attempt to do during the upcoming visit of China's president next week.

The problem is that we are not talking about the aberrant behavior of a lone gunman here. Instead we should see that what we are discussing are grossly uncivilized aspects of American society, aspects of ourselves that we ought to change not because we fall below international norms, but because we fall so short of doing what is right, moral, or sensible.

Gun in AZ Attack Bought Legally

Law enforcement officials have confirmed the gun that was used in the attack at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' public event in Tucson, Arizona, Friday was bought legally.

The shooter, allegedly 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, reportedly fired on Giffords from about four feet away, sending her to the hospital with critical wounds, injuring 18 people in total and killing six, including a child and a federal judge.

The gun was purchased on November 30 at Sportman's Warehouse, in Tucson, and was bought along with at least one additional handgun.

Former boyfriend of missing dancer arrested on murder charges

Dancer Deborah Flores-Narvaez's body, dismembered and packed into at least two cement-filled tubs, was left by her killer in a downtown Las Vegas home.

Flores-Narvaez' 32-year-old former boyfriend was arrested on murder charges early Saturday morning, nearly a month after she disappeared on Dec. 12. Jason "Blu" Griffith, a dancer who performs in the Cirque du Soleil show "Love" featured at The Mirage, is being held without bail, jail records show.

Detectives discovered that Griffith had purchased cement and had rented a U-Haul not long after she visited him at his North Las Vegas home on the night of Dec. 12. Financial records -- U-Haul requires a credit card -- confirmed the rental.

The U-Haul's global positioning tracking device allowed detectives to reconstruct Griffith's movements, leading them to the downtown house where they found Flores-Narvaez's remains encased in cement.

Lt. Lew Roberts, head of the Las Vegas police homicide unit, declined comment on specific details of the case at a Saturday news conference, "in the interest of providing a good prosecution." He said it was a "complicated case" and would only confirm that the body was found downtown.

Roberts said detectives received a tip Friday that led them to take Griffith into custody on the Strip. He said he doesn't know the motive for the slaying.

The Clark County coroner's office will make a positive identification and release the cause of death. An autopsy is expected on Monday.

The investigation is continuing, and Roberts said there could be more arrests. He did not elaborate.

According to court records, Griffith is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Las Vegas Justice Court on the murder charge.

It has been nearly a month since the 31-year-old dancer was reported missing, a day after she failed to show up for a Dec. 13 performance in the Luxor show "Fantasy." Three days later, police found her Chevrolet Prizm abandoned in the northeast area of the valley, its license plates removed. The disappearance of the woman has made national headlines in part because her family has made high-profile appeals for help in finding her.

Detectives focused on Griffith, a professional dancer himself, because she accused him of beating her in October. Flores-Narvaez also told police she was pregnant with Griffith's child at that time.

Griffith has told detectives that Flores-Narvaez visited him at his home on the night she went missing, but the conversation was brief and she seemed OK before leaving, police said.

Investigators have previously searched Griffith's North Las Vegas home and his car, and his attorney, Patrick McDonald, has said Griffith had cooperated with police, including volunteering for an interview with detectives.

A preliminary hearing in the domestic violence case is scheduled for April.

Flores-Narvaez grew up in Puerto Rico before moving to Maryland, where she studied international business and law. She served as an ambassador for the Washington Redskins in 2007, a non-performing position that sent her into the community.

She moved to Las Vegas to pursue dreams of dancing, and soon was hired at some of the Strip's poshest nightclubs: Jet at The Mirage and Haze at Aria, among others.

Flores-Narvaez' sister, Celeste Flores-Narvaez of Atlanta, who has been in Las Vegas in hopes of finding the dancer, did not return a message left Saturday.

Before her relationship with Griffith, court records indicate she was in at least one other troubled relationship with another professional dancer, Jamile McGee.

In April, Flores-Narvaez won a $250,000 civil judgment against McGee, whom she accused of beating her, according to court records. Court records do not indicate that she had received any money from the judgment.

McGee, who left Las Vegas more than a year ago, was never prosecuted by law enforcement, according to court records.

McGee's attorney has said there were never any medical or police reports to support Flores-Narvaez's allegations, and that she won the case only because his client ran out of money and could not continue fighting it.

LasVegas ReviewJournal

Image of 2nd Shooting Suspect Released

Arizona Authorities Seek Help in Identifying Man Seen at Shooting Rampage

(CBS/AP) TUCSON - Authorities have released an image of a second man possibly involved in the shooting rampage that left 19 people wounded, 6 fatally.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department early Sunday morning released an image of a man seen at the location, possibly associated with the suspect. He is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 40-50 years old, dark hair and was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark blue jacket

Authorities were investigating the possibility that the suspect who killed six people and wounded 13 more outside a Tucson grocery story, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, did not act alone.

Anyone who knows the identity of this individual is asked to contact 911, 88-CRIME or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (520) 791-6974.

Earlier at a press conference Saturday night,Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said a 22-year-old was in custody after the shooting rampage. He would not identify the suspect, but people familiar with the investigation said he was Jared Loughner.

Officials say he has claimed sole responsibility for the attack, but said authorities were "not convinced he acted alone," Dupnik said.

Dupnik said authorities had "some reason to believe he came to the event with another individual," and said investigators had pictures of the other "person of interest." Dupnik would say the person appeared to be around 50 years old.

Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents. Sheriff Dupnik said authorities believe she was the target and that there was no security at the event.

The shooting rampage claimed six lives, including a 9-year-old child and U.S. District Judge John Roll, officials said. Thirteen more were wounded at the scene, including Giffords. Five were listed in critical condition and five were in serious condition. All had come out of surgery by Saturday evening.

Swearing off the rhetoric of violence Joan Walsh SALON

Can right-wingers stop urging supporters to "reload" or pursue "Second Amendment remedies?"

We won't know for a while exactly why the gunman identified as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, shot 18 people, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and we may never know why. From the shards of maybe-evidence he left behind – to my knowledge it's unconfirmed whether any of the MySpace, YouTube or Facebook posts being cited were created by the suspect – people can find reason to call him a right-wing nut-job or a left-wing fanatic. He supposedly railed against the government like Tea Partiers do, he was a gold-fanatic like Glenn Beck, but he also listed the Communist Manifesto as a favorite book on his alleged MySpace page.

But while we wait to learn the motivation behind Saturday's shooting, which killed six, including federal Judge John Roll, nine-year old Christine Taylor Green and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' community outreach director, is it really controversial to suggest that the overheated anti-government rhetoric of the last two years, with its often violent imagery, ought to be toned down? Really?

Sadly, to my knowledge, no conservative leader has yet called for dialing back the rage on the right in the wake of the Giffords shooting. Sarah Palin sent condolences to Giffords' family, but said nothing about her unconscionable SarahPAC map putting 20 House members, including Giffords, in actual crosshairs for supporting healthcare reform, or her infamous Tweet telling conservatives "don't retreat, reload."
Giffords' 2010 Tea Party challenger, Jesse Kelly, hasn't apologized for inviting supporters to "shoot a fully automatic M16" to "get on target for victory" and "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office."
Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle hasn't yet recanted her statement about the need to pursue "Second Amendment remedies" if political change lags behind the Tea Party's dreams.

Although there's no evidence Tea Party rhetoric had anything to do with Giffords' shooting, it can be no surprise that her father, when asked if his daughter had enemies, told the New York Post tearfully, "Yeah, the whole Tea Party."

Continue reading
Maybe in the days to come conservatives will listen to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who denounced "the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about the government" at a Saturday night press conference. The 50-year law enforcement veteran, who courageously bucked his state's anti-immigrant racial profiling law last year, declared that "the bigotry that goes on in this country is outrageous, and unfortunately…Arizona has become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry." Dupnik noted that Giffords had a meeting disrupted in 2009 when "someone dropped a weapon out of their pants," that a door was shattered at her headquarters after she voted for healthcare reform last March, and also revealed that "a suspicious package" had been delivered to her Tuscon office and is still being investigated.

There's no evidence tying Loughner to any of the right-wing rhetoric used against Giffords, but it would be crazy not to notice that such rhetoric has already claimed victims, and will almost certainly continue to. I'll never apologize for suggesting that Bill O'Reilly's crusade against Dr. George Tiller – and his dozens of segments labeling him "Tiller the Babykiller" – might have created the context in which Tiller was murdered in May 2009. It shocked me watching cable news all day Saturday that almost no one talked about anti-tax nut Joe Stack flying his plane into an Austin IRS building as the Tea Party's anti-tax crusade took off, or Glenn Beck fan Byron Williams driving into San Francisco locked and loaded to shoot up the obscure left-wing Tides Foundation, which Beck had repeatedly railed against on Fox.

Rebecca Traister wrote a moving tribute to Giffords today, noting that the Blue Dog Democrat was to her right politically (and to mine as well) but that her vote for healthcare reform, in a conservative district, took real courage. That courage was on display Saturday, while Giffords was fighting for her life in a Tuscon hospital, as MSNBC repeatedly replayed an interview with Giffords last March, discussing the attacks on her office as well as Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" ad.
If you haven't seen it, you should. It is devastating. Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie go out of their way to defend Palin and the GOP from any attempt to link their rhetoric with the attacks on Giffords and other Democrats, "In fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric has been interchangeable for years," Todd insisted, and Giffords graciously acknowledged "extremes on both sides, frankly, not just on the Republican side."

But she delivered a poignant patriotic defense of American democracy, which is "a beacon to the world," she told Todd, "because we effect change at the ballot box, not because of these outbursts of violence." She had the courage to name Palin: "We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted 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."

We have no idea why Loughner allegedly tried to kill Giffords Saturday. But the fact that a well-liked, centrist, pro-gun rights Democrat like Giffords faced threats and attacks for her healthcare vote, or that she was targeted with violent imagery by the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president as well as her 2010 GOP opponent, ought to make conservatives pause.
More than pause, it ought to make them denounce those in their ranks who are using extremist, eliminationist rhetoric.
Let's hope it does in the days to come.
In the meantime, our prayers and good wishes are with Gabrielle Giffords and her family and all the other victims of Saturday's cruelty.