Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Changing Landscape

School starts this Friday. Introduction to Psychology and General Chemistry II. And I am starting to think that I am crazy for doing this. Perversely enough, however, I’m looking forward to the semester starting. I want to get into it and, ultimately, over with.

We are watching the temperatures with great interest. As I write this, it is very, very cold outdoors. It is maybe 12 degrees Farenheit outside right now. The forecast is for temperatures to drop even more over the next 36-48 hours, and another winter storm has been forecast for Wednesday, possibly into Thursday. Personally, I have had enough of winter; considering the amount of snowfall we’ve had up to now it’s almost where we should be by the end of the season. Speaking strictly for myself, I will be happy to see spring again.

This past Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the Presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy. At that time, I was not on the planet yet – I don’t even think my mother was pregnant with me at the time. That happened not too long after, as I was 17 months old when he was assassinated. Nevertheless, even with his personal life exposed as it was, he is one of my favorite Presidents. Others, strangely enough, are Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. As for so many of the others who have been in the Oval Office, none have impressed me enough to be put on that list.

After I watched his inaugural address for the umpteenth time, I remembered why he made my short list.

Now – on to other matters…

Over the past couple of weeks, like so many other people, I’ve been following the progress of Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Congresswoman recovering from being shot at point-blank range by a supposedly mentally ill gunman. Based on what I’ve read – quite a lot of material, in fact – I think it’s pretty clear that not only is the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, is indeed mentally ill, but that he’s also been influenced by some of the extremes in both politics and the news media.

I read an interesting piece in the blog PoliticusUSA that started me thinking. Basically, the author, a journalist by the name Sarah Jones wrote about the responsibility people like talk show guy Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin need to take with respect to the rhetoric they use to make their point and how it has affected people in general, and someone like Jared Loughner in particular. It is a compelling post, and it made me think. Others, certainly, have made the same argument, that where the political Right is responsible for the likes of actions such as the one that nearly killed Representative Giffords and 5 others as well as the 15 that were killed at the event she was hosting. But Jones’ post, and the point she makes, is quite compelling. Not only is this an attention-getter, but the assertion that American politics has become “uncivil” has also made a splash, at least as far as making people take a second look at how people like Beck and Palin behave in the public square.

I have always been a proponent of civil discourse. It is this discourse that makes the United States of America the wonderful nation it has become. And I enjoy seeing good political debate, reading differing points of view in the interpretation of what is said, and watching the process by which the mechanics of government function. There is nothing like watching sausage be made, in fact. But what is not good to see and hear are statements and comments that drive the level of delusion through the roof. This is what the likes of Palin and Beck – and I can name others who have the same perspective as them – are doing.

I’m sure that there are many – and I mean many – who would disagree with this portrayal of what has been happening. Personally, though, I don’t care. I hadn’t been able to put a finger on what was happening, but what I’ve felt has been expressed quite accurately by the so-called liberal media.

And I believe they got it right.

“Don’t pray for easy lives, my friends. Pray to be stronger men.”

-- John F. Kennedy


TOTWTYTR said...

I think that your post is based on two false premises. 1)That uncivil discourse comes exclusively from the right. 2) That Loughner had any political motive when he shot and killed those people.

It's interesting that all of the left leaning people talking about civil discourse talk about Beck and Palin. None of them talk about Frances Fox Piven, who has called for riots like those in Greece. Or Keith Olberman, recently departed from MSNBC. Nor Rahm Emmanual who was known for wishing his political opponents dead. Or even the President himself, who talks about "punching back twice as hard" and punishing his enemies. We won't even talk about the SEIU picketing their "enemies" homes and terrorizing their families. Nor their proclivity for assaulting people who disagree with them.

You are fooling yourself if you think that rhetoric from the right drove Loughner to kill people. Loughner, to the extent that he has any sort of political leanings, is a leftist.

Nor did he target Giffords specifically. If he had done that, he would have shot her and maybe anyone who got in her way, but he wouldn't have shot 18 other people at random, including a nine year old girl.

The bottom line is the Loughner was and is insane. That was the reason he committed what everyone calls a "senseless" act.

CBEMT said...

I'm going to disagree wit TOTW in that I think I believe he did in fact target Rep. Giffords, but not because of any right-wing rhetoric. It's been pretty well established by the few friends he had that he's been irrationally angry at Giffords since 2007, when she gave him an answer at t a town meeting that he apparently did not like.

2007. Before the Tea Party. That doesn't quite fit into what the media template for this incident, but oh well.

So I think he did target Giffords, and unfortunately his mental illness resulted in him wanting to "go out with a bang." I don't think he had any intention of leaving that store alive.

Walt Trachim said...

Jared Loughner is insane, TOT. I agree with you. But that does not mean he didn't have the presence of mind to try to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords. I totally disagree with you there.

Regerding the Right, remember that I was specifically talking about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Yes, there are other that fall into the same characterization as the two of them, but I was not referring to the Right as a whole. In my opinion, though, it is the two of them as well as some others that come to mind who have "poisoned the well" for the rest of the Right. I think, TOT, that you know my opinion about Sarah Palin in any case - I think she is a loose cannon who could cause a lot of trouble for her cause if she's left unchecked. And Glenn Beck isn't much better...

As for those in the Left who you cite, I am familiar with the instances you're referring to. For the record, I was a member of the SEIU for a short period of time - as a union presence, they suck. I have never had a lot of regard for Keith Olberman, and every time I think of Rahm Emmanuel (I have no idea how to spell it) I think of the Saturday Night Live skit where he incites "The Rock Obama", and while it's probably dangerous for me to think this way, I can't take someone like that seriously.

But the discussion is good - I will give you both that. :)

TOTWTYTR said...

My point, to the extent I had one, was that it's simplistic to think that either Beck or Palin have that much influence on anyone. I don't think they do and I especially don't see any evidence that they influenced Loughner in anyway.

Given that he's insane, it's hard to know his motives. We know that he doesn't like Giffords, but that still doesn't explain his seemingly random shooting of all of those other people. John, Hinckley was insane, yet he targeted Ronald Reagan and a couple of people who were specifically there to protect him.

Of course insane people by definition do insane things. They don't need outside influence.