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09 January 2011


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William R. Cumming



Yes, another cowardly response by our elected representatives. After all, they DO represent their constituents. And, yes, they're better than soldiers, but that's OK -- they're also better than "civis" or anybody else who bears any real responsibility for their actions.
Believe it's a little too late for the US to grow up, or even grow a pair. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.


Agreed. This is not a "tragedy" - this is a crime. Act accordingly.

One question - I have been reading various news accounts about the shooter and have not seen any reference to the "American Renaissance" group. Where did you come across that reference?



I agree with you a lot but not this time -- Although there is much to what you say about Boehner -- such incoherence is just par for the course from both parties, all the time.

BUT: you cannot so casually equate the death of a soldier in battle to the shooting in a democracy of an elected representative and anyone near her in a grocery parking lot. Both are equal human tragedies, for sure. But if the shooter and the (possible) accomplice turn out to be politically motivated as well as mad, then it does mean something that people like Palin and Kelly (Giffords election opponent) used crosshairs and gun imagery to express their efforts to politically vanquish Giffords. It means that the casual use of this imagery--by politicians and political movements that make much of their familiarity with weaponry; guns are real to them--is nothing short of incitement.

And that is a danger to our democracy and dangerous state of affairs in our public and political culture. And that is why the reaction to this story is so strong. You seem to miss that completely.

Nancy K

An estimated 30,000 Americans die yearly from gun shot wounds, 200,000 are injured. It is a good thing that guns don't kill people as the NRA explains, or there would probably be many more deaths.
What happened in Arizona is a national tragedy, just as the deaths of our soldiers is a tragedy, just as the deaths of all the innocent men, women and children are a tragedy. We are a violent nation.
Col Lang you were spit upon when you returned from Viet Nam, in this day and age those against the government's actions do not spit, they shoot.
I hope this tragedy will bring some civility to the national debate. Maybe the hate jocks on both sides, on TV, radio and internet will tone down their rhetoric. One can only hope.

Patrick Lang

Nancy K

For the record, I was on my way TO Vietnam not returning. Also, the spitting thing was not a big deal for me. I just mention it to correct the propaganda of the left. BTW I don't "buy" any of the gun propaganda. He would have stabbed her or built a bomb if he couldn't have gotten a gun. Are we going to ban pocket knives like the British? pl

Patrick Lang


In accord with my statement concerning. political comments. I will publish your remark in spite of your insulting and condescending tone concerning my lack of comprehension and sensitivity.

But, you are right, A dead person is a dead person to me no matter what their station in life. It is interesting to see that you really do believe that soldiers are lesser creatures and that the wounding of this woman is more important than their deaths. In fact, in a representative democracy any government person will be quickly replaced if they disappear from the earth. We don't have anointed officials here. pl


As to whether the shooter was in some sense political, Juan Cole has cogent comment today - at http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/white-terrorism.html

Bill H.

Flags fly at half staff over the capitol because a member of the legislative body that is housed therein has been killed. No disrespect to lives lost in battle is made by that move. It is a function of the building itself.


Col, for the first time since I have read your blog, I have to write: Are you serious?

You wrote: " Hysterical grief is inappropriate." We, in the US, do "hysterical griev[ing]the way Germans drink beer. The way the French drink wine. The way Japanese eat raw fish.

What has the coverage been but one huge attempt to 'soothe' the American public? And what emotional angle has not been played to see that 'we [some of us] need soothing? Wait till the funerals. Wait till the Congresswoman, hopefully, recovers.

This is what it has come. Ok, Ok, I know you must know this. You had to write the rhetorical statement. I had to do the same.

And Nancy K....you might recollect that people were doing some shooting too in the 60s, around the time the Col was back from his tour/s.

Patrick Lang

Bill H

You may have missed the fact that she has not died. pl

Patrick Lang


Yup. Rhetorical necessity. You got it.

In re violent attitudes towards soldiers back then, a friend of mine who had lost a leg in the war was told by a graduate student that he "deserved it." That's all right. He commanded an armored brigade as a BG in the first Gulf War. A woman graduate student said in one class I was in that I should not be allowed in the same class with "decent people since I was a murderer." I asked her if that was not a risky thing to say in my presence. That's OK I got the onlt A+ in that 700 series medieval history course. pl

Patrick Lang


This is not a bulletin board for Juan's thoughts. He is of the left as you are. Make cogent remarks of your own here or go elsewhere. pl


Giffords was targeted for assassination, but so far has survived somewhat miraculously. But a congressional staffer was killed, as was a federal judge. In all, it seems that six people were killed in the attack, and that is certainly cause for a measure of sorrow and reflection. While laden with symbolism, the lowering of flags is a cost free gesture. It will be instructive to see whether our political discourse and actions will become less coarsened in the aftermath of this tragedy, or whether we descend further into Wiemar-ish thuggishness.

Soldiers have indeed been honored by lowered flags in instances when many have died unexpectedly. We also maintain the standing holidays of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day to honor the service and sacrifice of those in uniform, regardless of whether or not there has recently been any shooting.

It is an explicit element of service that a soldier may himself called on to offer his life. The death of a soldier during wartime is not exceptional, though often a tragic sorrowful loss. Soldiers in combat theaters receive additional pay and insurance, in partial, inadequate recognition for the hazards they face. Elected members of legislative bodies, their staff, the judiciary, and nine year old civillian girls (among others) have never been asked to risk their lives as a condition of their service to the country. These deaths are a shocking departure from the norm and deserve recognition and reflection.

Clifford Kiracofe

Just from the bits and pieces so far it seems to me a premeditated political assassination/murder situation. Sort of McVeigh-ish: white and right-wing extremist profile. A terrorist act of violence with a political motive of some kind.

The alleged shooter is said to have gotten off some 15 rounds. Reportedly used a Glock, so one with an extra capacity magazine. Presumably the serial numbers are in tact and the weapon can be traced. He would have needed at least some practice on somebody's ranch or a range or whatever.

We have had political violence to include murder from the right and from the left in the past. Nothing new. We have had young students commit murder in schools. Local, state, and federal law enforcement will deal with the matter in a professional manner.


It's interesting to note the various contrasts in reaction among various elites (politicians and the media especially) during the first 24 hours of this shooting and the first 24 hours of the Ft. Hood murders.


Politicians should carry on their work to show they're not intimidated by stuff like this. "Business as Usual" as the notices used to say in the shops during the Blitz.

I should imagine Boehner is calling the week-long moratorium because he wants to work out what the hell the electorate think of all this and what the hell his party is going to do next.

I prophesy, as a no-good limey, that Sarah Palin will be stuck on the far end of a very long shelf and ordered not to get off, ever, that some anodyne non-NRA corporate East Coast politician like whateverhisnameis will be chalked in as next presidential contender, and what-the-hell-are-we-going-to-do=about-the-tea-party will be an unresolved dilemma.

OK, colonel, you can ban me now, but I'll still come back to read your really interesting and sane blog.


My hope is that the current political leadership does not further restrict access to elected officials. This is not the first time someone has shot at members of congress.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Capitol_shooting_incident_(1954)


Are we going to ban pocket knives like the British? pl"

I certainly hope not. I do remember going to the Gilchrist County (Florida, population about 6,000 at the time) Courthouse during my undergraduate years (late 80s) and having to pass through the metal detectors. These were installed after some courtroom somewhere in the US had been shot up by a suspect at his trial. As I recall they had a cabinet full of slots for people going in to put their pocket/belt knives in, no questions asked. Going into the courthouse in Ann Arbor I'm forbidden to take a cell phone with a camera much less carry a pocket knife.

It was a perfect waste of money to have metal detectors and 2 guys to staff it then and is still a waste of money if they still have it in place.


Colonel,I agree with your assessment of the reaction as 'hysterical' - because it is the recurrent type of reaction; by now - after the killing of several presidents and other leaders the nation ought to be out of the hysterical mode. This nation is violent and armed so why the hysterics???



Apparently Members of the Congress would differ with your - "We don't have anointed officials here. pl" It seems that our 'governmental' 'elected' Congress 'thunks' that they are 'special' [anointed]. While the [air] traveling American is subject to bodily molestation by the DHS/TSA monster, the Congress doesn't want to be subject to the same laws [rules] that applies to you and I and the rest of the SSL blog's readership. We are 'required' by Napolitano/Pistole bunch to have to tolerate their molestations of U.S., while John Boehner and Congressional [elected] company are not. What is wrong with that picture?

House Dem calls for 'beefed up' security, special treatment for members by TSA


"This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty," Boehner said."


If Boehner means that, then why is the Congress going to suspend business for a week?

I looked at Boehner's statement to seek an explanation for this contradiction and read this: “Last night, the Majority Leader announced that the normal business of the House in the coming week has been postponed so that we can take necessary action regarding yesterday's events. The Majority Leader will announce a revised schedule."

"Necessary action"? What the hell is he talking about? Is the shooting of a single member of Congress all it takes to halt the business of half the Congress for a week? It sounds crazy to me, a totally hysterical over-reaction.

What's absurd about this is that there is literally nothing that the House can do, one way or the other, that will change what has occurred, or correct it in the short term. The only positive thing I could imagine the legislators doing is debating and passing a "sense of the House" resolution that extreme tea-party type rhetoric must be condemned, as a first step to counteracting the climate of violence such rhetoric fosters.

But I'm not holding my breath for this. Instead, I think that Boehner and Cantor are motivated by a panic-driven desire not to push tea party agenda votes on things like repealing "Obamacare" so close to this killing spree. Ya know, it might "send the wrong message."


Agree One Hundred percent with you Col. Lang.

I was especially disgusted with John Boehners attempt to draw attention to himself;

"“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,”"

I have no doubt that Boehner will follow this with a proposal to further isolate legislators from the general public. This will most likely include a "Gaby Giffords Law" that criminalises not only attacks on legislators, but also criminalises anything more than the most mild criticism of their actions.

John Minnerath

A great fear of mine and I'm sure many others.


In my previous comment I certainly intended no insult to you, and I do not see how my comments could be construed that way. I did not say, and do not believe “that soldiers are lesser creatures” or that the death of a soldier is any way unimportant. It is an insult for you to attribute such views to me.

But to return to the point. To me it is a big deal—in a democracy—for elected representatives to be targets of politically motivated violence. It is inconsistent with the whole point of a democracy. And politicians (the Palins, the Buchanans etc.) who glibly use violence as a metaphor (“got them in our cross hairs” “lock n load”) should be soundly called out. They are inciting violence against the representatives of the people and the fact that they boast of their familiarity with weapons and the right to bear arms just underscores the point.

Your view: “In fact, in a representative democracy any government person will be quickly replaced if they disappear from the earth” – feels very wrong to me.

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