Friday, January 14, 2011

President Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's while in office

Ronald Reagan was showing signs of Alzheimer’s while still in office, according to his son Ron Reagan.

In his memoir “My Father at 100,” Reagan writes:

“Today we are aware that the psychological and neurological changes associated with Alzheimer’s can be in evidence years, even decades, before identifiable symptoms arise.
The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s while in office more of less answers itself.”

Ron Reagan recounts having concerns as far back as 1984.

"Watching the first of his two debates with 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, I began to experience the nausea of a bad dream coming true. At 73, Ronald Reagan would be the oldest president ever reelected...[M]y father now seemed to be giving them legitimate reason for concern.
My heart sank as he floundered his way through his responses, fumbling with notes, uncharacteristically lost for words. He looked tired and bewildered."

Two years later the president expressed his own concern about his failing memory:

“My father might himself have suspected that all was not as it should be. As far back as August 1986 he had been alarmed to discover, while flying over the familiar canyons north of Los Angeles, that he could no longer summon their names.”

Ron Reagan writes that there is “no evidence that my father (or anyone else) was aware of his medical condition while he was in office.”

“Had the diagnosis been made in, say, 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have.”

In 1994, President Reagan revealed to the nation that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But earlier, in 1989, doctors operating on Reagan expressed their belief he was suffering from the degenerative disease.

Ron Reagan writes that in July 1989, his father was thrown off a horse while visiting friends in Mexico. He received medical attention at a hospital in San Diego.
When surgeons opened the president’s skull to relieve pressure they “detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease.” But no formal diagnosis was given.

Ron Reagan says the doctors gossiped about the likelihood his father was suffering from Alzheimer's.

“I have since learned from a doctor who happened to be interning at the hospital when my father was brought in that surgeons involved in his care, in what my informant characterized as ‘shameful’ behavior, violated my father’s right to medical privacy by subsequently gossiping about his condition.”

President Reagan was taken to the Mayo Clinic the following year, where it was confirmed he was suffering from the disease. He died at the age of 93 in 2004.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Changing The Tone, Or Changing Our Understanding? MEDIA MATTERS updater

Before the full scope of the tragedy at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) event in Tucson this weekend had been realized, the media were buzzing about what was to be done. The debate quickly landed on issues of tone and violent language and maps with crosshairs and who's to blame and who isn't.

Loud and angry confrontations broke out over whether the tone of our national discourse motivated a lone gunman. Such things are difficult to determine with any sort of accuracy. Regardless, the occasion of a brutal attack on a politician and her constituents is as good a reason as any to reexamine how we discuss politics in America.

It's easy to get wrapped up in your own cynicism, to hear the impassioned calls to curtail the talk radio bomb-throwing and Fox News scare-mongering that for years have provided the background noise to our national discourse, and be utterly and justifiably unsurprised when the volume is instead turned up.
Or you can feel frustrated for harboring the hope that if any good could possibly be leached from a horrific act of violence it would perhaps be that the pundits and partisans might tone it down a bit, and then seeing that hope dashed by the immediate resumption of scathing vitriol.

I can confess to experiencing both of these contradictory emotions in the past week. But after watching President Obama's speech at the memorial service in Tucson and seeing the right-wing reaction to it, it has become clear that calls for changing the tone of our political discourse invariably fail because they place the responsibility on the same hyperpartisan actors who are paid quite well to debase it.

And let's not fool ourselves with the forced symmetry of "both sides do it," which is all too often employed in the media's overriding quest for "balance" at the expense of accuracy. On Monday, the New Yorker's George Packer observed:

In fact, there is no balance -- none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats.

Only one side's activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods.
Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can't stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Consider, briefly, Rush Limbaugh, who can make a legitimate claim to being the most influential pundit in America. In response to the pleas for civility that arose in the aftermath of the shooting, Limbaugh went on a deliberate crusade to make AM radio as ugly as possible.
He said the alleged shooter has the support of the Democratic Party, intimated that the health care reform bill was intended to foment violence of the sort we saw in Arizona, brashly declared "we don't need to heal," and attacked the president for delivering hopeful news about Rep. Giffords' recovery.

Sentiments such as these are ineffably crass and are antithetical to calls for "more civility" -- but what else should we expect from Rush Limbaugh? As if to reaffirm that his existence is dedicated to poisoning public dialogue, he even revisited this week one of his low watermarks from years past, defending his attacks on Michael J. Fox's struggle with Parkinson's Disease.

So no, we can not expect right-wing pundits to police their own rhetoric. But if the punditry won't change on its own, what's to be done? The hope lies instead in drawing contrasts and hopefully, by doing so, changing how people come to view political dialogue.

A good example can be found in the right's longstanding efforts to impugn President Obama's patriotism. The idea of "American exceptionalism" has been used as a cudgel against the president since before his election, and it's had some effect -- a poll from late 2009 found that 26 percent of Americans (including 48 percent of Republicans) did not believe that Obama "loves America."

The issue of Obama's patriotic bona fides has promised to be the major talking point of the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Before this week, it was commonplace for conservative pundits and politicians to blithely assert Obama's anti-American leanings and not face any scrutiny for the allegation.

But the shock of Saturday's shootings left America looking to the president for guidance, and his speech urged the country to find solace in the greatness of American strength and decency. That message made the churlish attacks on Obama's patriotism look even pettier and more divorced from reality than they already are. The desperate, false attacks on Obama's speech from his determinedly partisan detractors were aggressively debunked by the mainstream press and even denounced by right-wing bloggers. It was one of those rare moments in politics in which reality scored a crushing defeat over caricature.

That's where the power to affect positive change in the discourse lies. This week America saw the overheated rhetoric of the right for what it is: misleading, incendiary, and false. But the conservative media aren't going to pack up their chalkboards and golden microphones anytime soon, so it's up to the mainstream press to continue being as aggressive in challenging those distortions as the right is in promulgating them.

Of course, it's entirely likely that this moment of clarity will remain just that -- a moment. And it's certainly not encouraging that the media have, to date, been as (if not more) likely to adopt false right-wing narratives as debunk them. But that's no reason to give up hope, and it's certainly no reason to stop telling the truth.

PALIN Made Such A Fool Of Herself

INSIDE THE PALIN BUBBLE: Here's Why The 2012 Republican Front-Runner Just Made Such A Fool Of Herself

Could the contrast have been more stark?

President Obama was, to borrow John Podhoretz's phrase, "pitch perfect" in his speech at the Memorial "service" in Tucson, Arizona. He focused on those whose lives were cut short, those whose lives were shattered, what we might learn from this searing atrocity and why it's important that we do so. The President rose to the moment with dignity and grace.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, chose to respond to the atrocity by proclaiming that she was the victim of a "blood libel," attacked by evil meanies on the television set, when there was no evidence that her actions had anything to do with the actions of the loon who committed the atrocity. Factually true enough, I would say. But who cares? And why bother even mentioning it? It couldn't be less important. It couldn't be more self-absorbed.

All presidents and all presidential candidates (announced and unannounced) live in what Richard Ben Cramer called "the bubble." It's an hermetically sealed environment which allows very few "outsiders" in and goes to great lengths to keep the number of "insiders" to a minimum. This is why such great emphasis is placed on the people around the President (who they are, what they think, what their skill sets are, etc) by the political community as a whole (including political journalists and opinion makers). The insiders "protect" the president from the hundreds and thousands of bothersome people who are clamoring to give him their ideas. The insiders control what the president reads, what he sees, who he sees. They make sure that very few people get inside the bubble for very good reason(s) and for reasons that are sometimes not so pure.

It is what it is. Once you're the president, you go with what you've got: your emotional intelligence, your political intelligence, your ability to think outside the box that the bubble people construct around you. When something terrible happens, the bubble is momentarily shattered and voters get a true glimpse of what the president is all about. Last night's glimpse of President Obama was reassuring.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, made a fool of herself. She didn't rise to the moment, she missed it completely. She used it as an occasion for self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement. She dominated the news cycle until the president spoke. She was, I suspect to her everlasting regret, "part of the story."

One suspects that the principal reason for Mrs. Palin's disastrous performance is that the people who seal her bubble are inexperienced and insular; ignorant of what national politics requires and rather too proud of that ignorance. They gave her very bad advice. That she took it reflects badly on her. It says what George Will and many others have been saying privately and publicly since she was tapped by Senator John McCain to be his running mate: she doesn't have what it takes.

This is not to say that Mrs. Palin is no longer a force in GOP politics or a player in the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination campaign. She has a strong base. In many ways, she remains the candidate of the Republican base, a formidable starting point for anyone who seeks to be the GOP standard-bearer.

But what was made clear in the last 48 hours is that Mrs. Palin will not be elected President of the United States in 2012. Out of nowhere, an atrocity focused attention on two people. The incumbent passed the test. The pretender failed, miserably

GOP Courts Latinos Stung by Immigration Rhetoric

The Republican Party, it seems, has a Latino problem.

Latinos are the fastest-growing population in America - they are estimated to make up 30 percent of the U.S. population by the middle of this century. So for the GOP to remain competitive, the party will need to win over more Latinos, who broke for Democrats by a nearly 2-1 margin in the 2010 elections.

Yet the issue of immigration had made that task enormously difficult. Many in the Republican base vehemently oppose "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, and last year many GOP primaries doubled as contests over which candidate can be most forceful in their opposition to illegal immigration.

A GOP-led effort in Arizona culminated in the controversial immigration legislation known as SB 1070, and Republicans in other states are now seeking to pass similar legislation in their states. The DREAM Act, which would have opened the door to a path to citizenship to many young people who were brought to America as children, was blocked by Senate Republicans at the end of last year. GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill last week to end the practice of birthright citizenship.

The rhetoric coming out of the GOP has alienated many Latinos and, in turn, left Republican leaders fretting about the long-term prospects of their party. In an effort to bridge the divide between Latinos and Republicans, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and others in the party are holding a conference in Florida this week called the Hispanic Leadership Network.

"This is not about politics, this is about the conservative cause," he said in kicking off the conference, as CNN reports. "And if you look over the horizon over the next 10 to 20 years...without the active involvement of Hispanics, we will not be the governing philosophy of our country."

Bush, who speaks Spanish and is married to a woman born in Mexico, is one of the Republicans to have found favor with Latino voters. Another is his brother George W. Bush, who won more than 40 percent of the Latino vote in the 2004 presidential election and tried, unsuccessfully, to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. (His party has shifted to the right on immigration since then.) It's also important to note the success of Latino Republicans, who won two governorships, a Senate seat and seven House seats in the midterm elections.

Yet many Republicans have an uneasy relationship with Latino voters - as evidenced by the fact that just one of the GOP's likely 2012 presidential candidates accepted an invitation to speak at the conference. That would be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who, somewhat surprisingly, avoided the proverbial elephant in the room until the end of his speech on Friday. When he did address immigration, he merely echoed the GOP talking point on the issue: the border must be secured before a conversation about immigration reform can begin.

"We need to start the discussion with the notion that the rule of law is a cornerstone tenant of our nation," Pawlenty said.
Republicans like Pawlenty argue that Latinos are naturally conservative and shouldn't get hung up on the issue of immigration.

"When we go to voters in the Latino community, guess what? They want to know about jobs," he told Politico, adding: "Yes, they're concerned about the immigration issue. But to say that's all they care about is not accurate."

Alfonso Aguilar, another conference participant and the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, put it this way to NPR: ""Latinos are inherently conservative: They're socially conservative; they are entrepreneurial; they're pro-business. Immigration ... is that one issue that prevents us from winning the support of Latino voters."

Those Latinos looking for signs that the GOP was moving in what they consider the right direction were heartened by the fact that King, the Iowa Republican pushing the birthright citizenship bill, was kept from the chair of the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee in the new Congress. They saw it as a small sign that Republicans are pulling back from some of their most alienating positions on immigration.

But that won't be enough to deal with the larger problem, one that saw Latinos support the Democratic nominee for president in 2006 by a 67 percent - 31 percent margin. Many Republicans worry their party is pushing away Latinos in much the same way they formerly turned off African-Americans, many of whom became alienated from the party over its rhetoric during the civil rights movement.

"Republicans think that they have an image problem but they really actually have a policy problem," University of Southern California professor Manuel Pastor told Bloomberg. "It's hard to convince someone to vote for you when you are threatening to deport their grandmother."

New Zodiac sign dates: Don't switch horoscopes yet

So, you've spent your whole life happily smug in your star sign. You're a fish! Swimming in two directions! You're intuitive, imaginative, unworldly!
And then today's Web is aflame with the news: You are not a Pisces. You are an Aquarius. Your star sign has been wrong your whole life. All along, you've been a freaking water carrier. This is not cool.

According to Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, cool or not, it's written in the stars. Star signs were created some 2,000 years ago by tracking where the sun was in the sky each month.

However, the moon's gravitational pull has slowly moved the Earth in its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars' alignment, reports the Minnesota Star Tribune. Now, during what we think as the month of Pisces, the sun is actually in the sign of Aries.

The new dates would therefore be:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11
Pisces: March 11-April 18
Aries: April 18-May 13
Taurus: May 13-June 21
Gemini: June 21-July 20
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23-Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20

Is this the dawning of a new age of Aquarius? Well, Kunkle is an astronomer who is not too keen on the practice of astrology.
When asked by telephone if the new star locations now require us all to switch our loyalty to a new sign, he demurred. "I can tell you what the science is, but I'm not going to tell you what your personality is based on the location of things."

Commentators have also responded to the initial article, saying the new location of the earth does not matter. One wrote, "Oh for heaven's sake (oops), how can people with Ph.D.s be so ignorant? Of course astrologers know about precession -- they've known since about 200 BC. Horoscopes always take it into account... Sheesh."

The commentator is correct that this is not new information. Live Science reported on the role of "precession" on astrology in 2007. Precession is the phenomenon of the moon causing the earth to "wobble" on its axis.

Other astrologists say the ancient system was merely a practice used as a helpful hint for diviners. Blogger Jamie on Darkstar Astrology writes, "It is the planets moving across the backdrop of the stars which influence our lives, not the planets moving through imagined 30 degree divisions on a piece of paper."

So all those hapless men and women who rushed out in college to get a scorpion tattooed on their back don't need to now rush to sign up for laser removal.
If you're going to believe that all the people born on your birthday are imbued with certain traits similar to your own in some mystical, ancient manner, you might as well believe it does not matter where the stars are in the sky to begin with. On the flip side, if you've never liked your sign, here's your chance to switch.

Update: Well, strike that, you don't get to switch your sign. At least reader StarJack says so: "The stars are markers that drift, but our main points of reference are not directly the stars.
They are the equinoxes (both spring and vernal) and the solstices which altogether make the four cardinal points of the zodiac which in turn determine the signs.
The stars help us locate those points which define the SIGNS of the Zodiac which remain constant in relation to the equinox point. The CONSTELLATIONS do move about and we take that into consideration when locating planets."

Update take 2: To address a couple issues readers have brought up: the purported "new" sign of Ophiuchus is not a new sign. According to the original constellation chart, Ophiuchus made the list.
People born between Nov. 29-Dec. 17 now fall under the Ophiuchus sign, also known as the Serpent Holder sign (according to Time, you'd therefore be an interpreter of dreams and vivid premonitions and envied by your peers and favored by your father and authority figures).

However, the Babylonians discarded the 13th sign, to make for an even 12 signs two millennia ago. Which brings us to our next point: in case you don't know the O.G. star chart, here's what constellation your sign fell under 2,000 years ago:

Aries: March 21 - April 19
Taurus: April 20 - May 20
Gemini: May 21 - June 20
Cancer: June 21 - July 22
Leo: July 23 - August 22
Virgo: August 23 - September 22
Libra: September 23 - October 22
Scorpio: October 23 - November 21
Sagittarius: November 22 - December 21
Capricorn: December 22 - January 19
Aquarius: January 20 - February 18
Pisces: February 19 - March 20

And if all this talk has put you in need of a horoscope reading, here's the Washington Post daily astrology fix.

Update III:
A big part of the whole debate comes from a divide in the astrological world: tropical vs. sidereal zodiac.
From Eric Francis of Planet Wave writes: "Kunkle is describing what is called the sidereal zodiac: the backdrop of the stars. It's not the zodiac used by most Western astrologers; it's the one used by Vedic astrologers, the kind in India, and a few in our part of the world. Here in the West, we use a zodiac that follows the seasons.
It's called the tropical zodiac. It's based on the position of the Sun's rays and the tropics -- that's why it's called tropical."

Obama's Next Impossible Speech

Fresh off a memorial speech praised by right and left alike, President Obama now pivots to the State of the Union and a return to partisan politics.
The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz reports that Obama plans to repeat the themes from his Tucson speech in two weeks for the State of the Union.

While that address is still a work in progress, the president will again talk about the broader question of civility, which Obama rhetorically tied to the victims of the Arizona rampage in challenging a polarized country to do better.

Clinton issues stark warning to Arab leaders

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks Thursday during a Civil Society breakfast in Doha, Qatar.
Clinton is warning Arab leaders that the foundations of progress in the Middle East are "sinking into the sand" and that the region faces disaster without real reforms.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday delivered a stark warning to Arab leaders that they will face growing unrest, extremism and even rebellion unless they quickly address depleting oil and water reserves and enact real economic and political reform.

Wrapping up a four-nation tour of U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf with unusually blunt remarks to a regional development conference in the Qatari capital of Doha, Clinton said economic and political space must be opened up for the Arab world's exploding youth population, women and minorities.

Without that, respect for human rights, improved business climates and an end to pervasive corruption, she said young people and others will increasingly turn to radicalism and violence that will bleed outside the region, threatening not only Middle Eastern stability and security but the rest of the world.

"In too many places, in too many ways, the region's foundations are sinking into the sand," she told officials at the Forum for the Future conference. "The new and dynamic Middle East ... needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere."

Clinton made her comments after visiting the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and Qatar. During her trip, civil unrest continued unabated in Tunisia and Algeria, Egypt remained tense after disputed elections and a political crisis hit Lebanon, underscoring what Clinton said where deep concerns about trends in the Middle East.

"While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others, people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order," she said. She appealed for leaders to heed calls to rein in rampant graft and offer all of their people a better way of life.

"Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries' problems for a little while, but not forever," Clinton said. "If leaders don't offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum."

"Extremist elements, terrorist groups and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there appealing for allegiance and competing for influence," she said. "This is a critical moment and this is a test of leadership for all of us."

Improving the climate for business and outside investment is one approach, she said. Critical to that is fighting corruption, she said, reeling off a list of complaints about payoffs she had heard from businesspeople around the broader Middle East and North Africa.

"There needs to be a concerted, constant chorus from the business community to end the corruption," Clinton said, her voice quavering with frustration.

At each of Clinton's stops in the Gulf, she met members of civil society, including women's rights activists, opposition leaders and students, encouraging them to speak out for reforms they see as necessary. She urged governments to listen to their citizens and to provide them job opportunities.

She hailed planning, development and innovation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and congratulated vibrant civic groups in Oman that have helped improve the standard of living to among the highest in the Arab world.

But the limits of Clinton's message were clear in Yemen, a fragile, politically closed and impoverished nation that is a critical U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. She said civil society in Yemen is viewed with deep suspicion by the government.

"There is not the level of cooperation that there needs to be to improve the lives of the Yemeni people and put Yemen on a firmer foundation going forward," she said.

Developments in Yemen appeared to underscore that concern.

A day after Clinton met Yemeni opposition leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, authorities in Yemen announced Wednesday that citizens must get prior approval before entering a foreign embassy. Yemen's official news agency Saba said the conditions were security precautions and part of efforts to fight terrorism and to preserve the embassies' security.

Giffords major leap in recovery USA TODAY

Doctors: Giffords' moving of legs is major leap in recovery

Doctors say the Ariz. congresswoman is making a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head in an assasination attempt that killed six and left 13 others wounded last Saturday in Tucson.

Affirming that "miracles" do happen, neurosurgeon Michael Lemole said Thursday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is yawning, rubbing her eyes and showing clear signs that she's awakening and "starting to become aware of her surroundings."
Five days after emergency surgery for a gunshot wound to the brain, doctors have begun physical therapy, dangling Giffords' legs off the bed and asking her to lift them.

"She's able to move her legs on command," said Lemole, of University Medical Center in Tucson. "That's huge. She's moving both her legs."

Although her condition is still critical, doctors say her progress bodes well for her long-term recovery, though they say it's too early to tell how she'll progress.

During Saturday's shooting, a bullet plowed through the left side of her brain, home to nerves controlling language and vision. That region also governs the movement on the right side of Giffords' body, which is why her doctors say her leg movements are such a good sign.

"She may not have permanent paralysis," said Keith Black, head of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Giffords startled her husband, her doctors and a roomful of friends from the House and Senate on Wednesday by opening her left eye, moments after another visitor, President Obama, stepped out into the hallway.

During a memorial service that evening, the president described the moment, saying, "Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. She knows we're here."

In a briefing Thursday, Lemole said he was at her bedside at the time. He said the presence of visitors who were talking to her and holding her hand prompted her to try to "raise her head and look around."

Later on, he said, she tried to open her eyes to watch the TV in her room. When her friends addressed her, they asked her "very specific things, and she used her hands to communicate with them," Lemole said.

Although he describes himself as a "cautious neurosurgeon," Lemole acknowledges that "a lot of medicine is out of our control" and that "miracles happen every day."

Doctors won't be able to assess Giffords' ability to speak until doctors remove the ventilator tube that snakes through her vocal cords into her lungs, making speech impossible.

"The breathing tube is the next major milestone," said Peter Rhee, chief of the Tucson hospital's trauma service.

He said she's still on the ventilator to reduce the risk of pneumonia, but he's hoping to remove the tube in the next few days, because Giffords is breathing on her own. Keeping her on the ventilator too long could increase the risk of infection or blood clots, so doctors prefer to remove the tube as quickly as possible, says neurosurgeon Alex Valadka, of the Seton Brain & Spine Institute in Austin.

All things considered, Black says, "the fact that she's beginning to wake up, open her eyes and follow some commands suggests that she's out of the critical period" and that her brain swelling has passed its peak

A Clamor for Gun Limits, but Few Expect Real Changes (NO REAL CHANGE WILL HAPPEN - AMERICANS LIKE KILLING TOO MUCH!)

TUCSON — The National Rifle Association has gone uncommonly dark since the weekend shootings here. A posting on its Web site expresses sympathies for the victims of the violence, and N.R.A. officials said they would have nothing to say until the funerals and memorial services were over.

In Washington, bills were being drafted to step up background checks, create no-gun zones around members of Congress and ban the big-volume magazines that allowed the Tucson gunman to shoot so many bullets so fast. Gun control advocates say they believe the shock of the attack has altered the political atmosphere, in no small part because one of the victims is a member of Congress.

“I really do believe that this time it could be different,” said Paul Helmke, executive director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Yet gun rights advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Thursday that there was little chance the attack would produce significant new legislation or a change in a national culture that has long been accepting of guns. If anything, they said, lawmakers are less receptive than ever to new gun restrictions.

If the politically sophisticated N.R.A. has struck a quiet pose, the Crossroads of the West gun show will go on as planned this weekend at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 13 miles from the shooting site; another gun show is scheduled for the next weekend. “We had no hesitation about going ahead with the show so soon after the incident,” said Lois Chedsey, secretary to the Arizona Arms Association, a show sponsor. “Gun sales have been up since last Saturday”

An even bigger event in Las Vegas, the Shot Show — which bills itself as the country’s largest exhibition of guns and ammunition — is proceeding next week with a four-day run that fills two floors of convention space.

As an institution, Congress seems to celebrate gun ownership as much as many communities in Arizona, which may explain why efforts to enact gun control legislation have foundered. Many members of Congress own firearms, which they carry while riding around in farm trucks in their district or concealed behind a jacket in the streets, among constituents.

“I carry a gun because it is a personal preference and for my own personal safety,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, one of several lawmakers who carry a concealed weapon in their districts. (His is a Glock 23.) “It’s not for everybody. Not everyone should rush out because of what happened last week and start carrying, but I like it, and I do it.” Representative Gabrielle Giffords once said that she herself owned a Glock — the same firearm the man accused of shooting her is said to have used.

Democrats who favor more restrictive gun laws say they do not expect new legislation to be passed, especially now that Republicans control of the House and Democrats have lost seats in the Senate. “The Pledge to America is our plan,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the House speaker, John A. Boehner, “and our immediate focus is on addressing the top priorities of the American people, creating jobs, cutting spending and reforming the way Congress works.”

And Democrats are hardly uniform in supporting tough gun laws as a matter of policy; as a matter of politics, Democrats in Congress have increasingly shied away from the issue.

Gun control advocates said that they hoped the circumstances of this attack — including the facts that the suspect obtained his weapon legally and that one of the victims was a member of Congress — would help their cause.

Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said, “People have really had it, and this whole magazine clip issue, and the mental health issue, is something that people can get their heads around.”

But lawmakers seeking even modest limits on gun rights seem almost resigned to failure. Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said in a telephone interview that since he proposed a bill this week that would outlaw having a firearm within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress, his office had received “100 calls an hour from people who think I am trying to take away their Second Amendment rights.”

“This kind of legislation is very difficult,” Mr. King said, noting there had been “no enthusiasm,” even among Democrats, for the renewal of the assault weapon ban of 1994 in 2004. “The fact is Congress has not done any gun legislation in years,” he said, adding, “Once you get out of the Northeast, guns are a part of daily life.”

Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York, who was elected in 1996 largely on a gun control platform after her husband was killed and son injured by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, is careful with her language in describing her new bill, which would ban large-capacity ammunition magazines.

“This is not a gun control bill,” she said. “I like to use the word ‘gun safety bills.’ And this one just addresses the narrow issue of these clips.” Ms. McCarthy said she would try to appeal to members of the Senate and President Obama to push her legislation forward. “Listen, any kind of bill the N.R.A. is against is always a problem.”

Asked about prospects for new gun restrictions, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, asserted, “I maintain that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens makes communities safer, not less safe.”

The N.R.A. has kept such a low profile that its normally accessible executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, declined to comment. “At this time, anything other than prayers for the victims and their families would be inappropriate,” said Andrew Arulanandam, the director of public affairs. But gun advocates said the fact that the group was holding back reflected a calculation that the prospects of gun control legislation passing in Congress have not changed much.

But if the N.R.A. has kept a strategically low profile, other gun advocates have not. They said they were confident that as always happens, passions would subside and their argument — that Americans have a constitutional right to own guns — would carry the day.

Erich Pratt, the director of communications for Gun Owners of America, said his organization and others were girding for at least a skirmish in Congress. “But I think after the November election it’s going to be very tough for Carolyn McCarthy and even the Peter Kings,” he said “Why should the government be in the business of telling us how we can defend ourselves?”

Mr. Pratt added: “These politicians need to remember that these rights aren’t given to us by them. They come from God. They are God-given rights. They can’t be infringed or limited in any way. What are they going to do: limit it two or three rounds. Having lots of ammunition is critical, especially if the police are not around and you need to be able to defend yourself against mobs.”

Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the gun control lobby was trying to exploit the shootings. “The average gun owner,” he said, “is saying: ‘I didn’t fire any shots in Tucson. I just want to go hunting, or protect my family, and this is just going to create more paperwork and more headaches for me.’ ”

Last weekend’s attack is unlikely to change the habits of members of Congress who carry guns. In fact, some said that an armed civilian might have stopped the carnage in Tucson.

Representative Tom Graves, a Republican, “is a firm believer in Second Amendment rights, owns firearms and has a concealed weapon permit in Georgia,” said his spokesman, John Donnelly, “and he has no plans to change his normal routine other than to focus his prayers on the victims of the tragic attack in Tucson.”