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Many interacting factors caused the Giffords assassination attempt. No single factor suffices to explain it. However, the acts and omissions of the U.S. Congress and the nation's two major political parties are among the most significant of these interacting causes. They include the following:



  • Congressional refusal to pass campaign finance reform legislation to prevent elections from being dominated by special interests, like the National Rifle Association, and U.S. politics from being dominated by vitriolic diatribes between politicians and pundits aimed at raising special interest campaign funds and inflaming and dividing the electorate in order to win elections;
  • Congress's legislative agenda which puts the interests of special interest campaign funders, like the National Rifle Association, ahead of the safety and welfare of their constituents, such as by allowing ordinary citizens to carry assault weapons;
  • The rigging of elections by the Democratic and Republican parties via the gerrymandering of Congressional election districts to create artificial party majorities that deny voters a real choice of candidates and lead to the re-election of major party incumbents backed by special interest campaign financiers;
  • Democratic and Republican-inspired state election laws that prevent third parties and their candidates from contesting their monopoly of elections that they have attained through gerrymandering and campaign finance laws;
  • Congressional refusal to raise adequate tax revenues to fund essential services, Congressional expenditures on costly and counter-productive foreign wars, and Congressional deregulation and bailout of insolvent banks and financial institutions. These irresponsible actions have caused huge federal, state and local budget deficits, and resulted in cutbacks in essential services for mental health services and substance abuse assistance to troubled individuals like the gunman who shot Giffords and 20 other people using an assault weapon.

       The Giffords assassination attempt is significant primarily because Congressional dereliction of duty to protect the public, and the rigging of elections by the two major parties whose representatives dominate Congress, has resulted in an assassination attempt on the life of a member of Congress. Previously, the members of Congress themselves have been to avoid the dire consequences of Congressional failure to protect the American people from life-threatening risks.
       Even though poll after poll has demonstrated that the American people hold both major parties and the large majority of their Congressional representatives in utter contempt, these politicians have been able to escape from the consequences of the turmoil in which they have placed the country. Unfortunately, the much respected and beloved Representative Giffords became a target for the hatred that has been engendered in the country towards a government that has done far too much for special interests and far too little for mainstream Americans.
       Even in the face of this despicable attack, there was virtually no hue and cry within Congress to accept Congressional responsibility for failing to pass laws that remove corrupting and inflammatory influences from U.S. electoral processes, re-empower voters to exercise their sovereignty in U.S. electoral processes, and provide assistance to despondent and troubled individuals before they engage in violent rampages using weapons that can kill dozens of people within seconds.
       I have little confidence that Congress or the two major parties are capable or motivated to reform themselves or modify their lock-hold over the electorate and U.S. electoral and legislative processes. As I have written before, the only way I know of to prevent Congress from completely destroying the country is to empower voters at the grassroots to take over electoral and legislative processes using the collective action power of the Internet and web technologies like the Interactive Voter Choice System (IVCS).
       When this system is fully developed and deployed on the Re-Inventing Democracy website, it will enable U.S. voters to protect themselves from the political and financial predators who now stalk the land. It will empower them to get control of political parties and all electoral processes related to legislative agenda setting and candidate nomination, so they can decide who will run for office, who gets elected, and what policies will be enacted into law.
        A quick overview of IVCS is available on Facebook.
        I have written about IVCS in the following:
        2012: The Game Changing Implications of the Interactive Voter Choice System (IVCS), Re-Inventing Democracy, November 19, 2010.        
        How Voters Can Unrig the 2012 Elections with Transpartisan Voting Blocs and Electoral Coalitions, Re-Inventing Democracy, November 11, 2010.
        The "Missing Mandate" in the 2010 Election Results: Let This Be the Last Time, Re-Inventing Democracy, November 4, 2010.
        Third Party Rising?, Re-Inventing Democracy, October 15, 2010.
        2012: How U.S. Voters Can Wrest Control of Congress from Special Interests, Re-Inventing Democracy, September 12, 2010.

Originally posted to Nancy Bordier on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 01:55 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Clem Yeobright

    I've seen some opportunistic stuff from all sides of the political debate claiming the Giffords assassination attempt justifies their existing political preferences, but this really takes the cake. Bravo.

  •  WTF (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, BlackSheep1, Clem Yeobright

    is this diary.  I have some crappy diaries here, but this one takes the cake.

    •  What's "crappy" about it? (0+ / 0-)

      I'd like to know your thoughts.

      •  We should becoming together (0+ / 0-)

        and these points you bring up have nothing to do with healing at the moment.  Also, instead of telling us what is wrong, perhaps telling us the steps to take in order to remedy the situation.  Thus, we avoid future catastrophes like this past Saturday's  That is all I mean.

        •  Damn keyboard, it should (0+ / 0-)

          read, "We should be coming together."

        •  That is what I have been trying to do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          El barragas

          I think healing will come when we focus on the underlying causes of the tragedy.

          If, as I suggest, voters could get control of elections and elect a Congress that protects the American people rather than special interests, that could attenuate dislike of government, and result in the passage of effective gun control laws, and financial solvency for state and local governments so they can provide timely and effective assistance for troubled individuals.

          •  Perhpas I read your diary (0+ / 0-)

            in a wrong way; as a diatribe instead of a way to fix things.  In that case, I take my comment back and offer my sincere apologies.  I really want many of the things you say to change. The thing I really do want to have is a media that informs the citizenry, performs public announcements, and is not ideological.

            •  I really appreciate your thoughts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              El barragas

              I love DailyKos and all the folks here even though I tend to come at things from a different angle and often times get reamed out before I can take a breath after posting a diary!

              So I appreciate very much your reconsideration of your initial reaction. I am very much in agreement with you about having a media that informs the citizenry and is not ideological.

              Speaking for myself, I am sometimes so incensed by what I read that I am almost speechless. But in our own way, I think that those of us who post here and comment on blog posts are creating a new genre of citizen-based journalism that really does inform the electorate in more comprehensive and objective ways than traditional media. I often get a much broader view of things from reading blog posts and comments like yours than from the mass media.

              •  Yes, you are right. (0+ / 0-)

                There are more ways to get viewpoints here on Dkos.  I have had a few snags with other bloggers, but after asking for further clarification, I have always found that we all agree on at least something.  

                I used to be an avid television watcher.  However, a few months back they moved many channels to HD and thus I could not watch them in basic cable.  I then cut my TV intake by more than half.  Instead reading and video game playing have been my staple in the evenings.  I have found that I am more at ease since not watching cable news.  I never realized how so full of shit they are; with few exceptions.  I do miss watching KO and RM, but Dkos always brings them to me the following day.

                Your handle looks familiar.  Have we perhaps clashed or blogged before?

                •  Agreed on TV! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  El barragas

                  I stopped watching most TV shows back in 1999, and now just watch one or two in the evening, mostly Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman.

                  Now I enjoy seeing TV clips embedded in blogs, which is a great way to zero in on stuff that particularly interests me and exclude the boring stuff.

                  I hope the day comes very soon when we will be able to use our desktop and mobile devices to select whatever TV shows we want at whatever hour we want.

                  Re our blogging and/or clashing, I look forward to doing either or both with you in the future!

                  Best regards.  

    •  I've seen a lot of crappy comment here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nancy Bordier

      But this one takes the cake!

  •  Crass opportunist n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B
  •  Not opportunistic, I think, so much as deflecting (0+ / 0-)

    the blame from the person who bought those magazines, those bullets, that pistol ...

    who planned the shooting of a Congressmember ...

    who shot a Federal judge to death ...

    who shot a 9-year-old child to death ...

    who killed a husband shielding his wife ...

    who killed a staffer aiding his boss ...

    who emptied the gun and reloaded, and would have reloaded again but for the interference of the public.

    We're hearing calls to stop "random acts".
    We're hearing calls to "tone down the rhetoric."
    We're hearing calls to "control the handguns."

    What aren't we hearing calls to do?

    Since 1966 and Charles Whitmire in the library tower at the University of Texas, there's been a series of these shootings. Before and besides the shootings we've had other events that have marked us as a nation, as a people ... and our reactions have not always been salutary (the USA PATRIOT ACTS come to mind).

    I feel that we're deflecting the blame onto the political imagery, we're trying to find meaning in things we think we can control ...

    We couldn't control Jared Loughner.
    We couldn't control Charles Whitman.
    We couldn't control Timothy McVeigh.
    We couldn't control George Hennard.
    We couldn't control Seung-Hui Cho.
    We couldn't control Nidal Malik Hasan.
    We couldn't control James Oliver Huberty.

    We couldn't control Jack Ruby.
    We couldn't control Sirhan Sirhan.
    We couldn't stop Lee Harvey Oswald.
    We couldn't control Squeaky Fromme.
    We couldn't control John Hinckley Junior.
    We couldn't control James Earl Ray.

    What we can't control, we fear.

    LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 04:48:49 PM PST

    •  Thanks for taking the time (0+ / 0-)

      to make your thoughts crystal clear!

      I think we, the people, can control these individuals if we can elect Congressional representatives who consider it their primary responsibility to protect the general welfare of the American people and pass the laws we want them to pass to protect us.

      That is the major point of my diary and also what I propose we do to get control of our political system.

      You, BlackSheep1, at least took the time to explain why you did not like my diary.

      I thank you for the effort you made to exchange views.

      •  it's not your diary I don't like, Nancy Bordier (0+ / 0-)

        it's the deliberate refusal to look at the few known facts in a clear light, and then stop speculating on the motive, stop speculating on the influences, quit calling out everything from the tone of political discourse to the US Congress, and wait for more facts to arise.

        I'm quite sure that the man who shot those people Saturday in Tucson, since he lived, will give us an opportunity, sooner or later, to hear why he did what he did in his own words.

        Until then ... how can we really say who is at fault, and to what extent, for this tragedy, other than this man who bought a gun, bought magazines and bullets, walked into a crowd in a public place, and opened fire?

        Why must we rush to spread the blame?

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 07:54:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Known facts (0+ / 0-)

          You may not wish to say who is at fault until you have additional evidence.

          That is your prerogative.

          It is also your prerogative to disagree with my analysis.

          However, I stand behind it and though I recognize a multiplicity of probable causes, I am of the opinion that the U.S. Congress bears responsibility for failure to pass gun control laws that prevent mass killing, and ensure that state and local governments have the financial resources to make sure that easily accessible professional counseling services can be brought to bear to help clearly troubled individuals.

          That said, I find regrettable is that instead of civilized discourse, several of the folks who responded to my diary resorted to name calling and pejorative epithets ("opportunistic","crass opportunism") as a substitute for constructive discourse.  

          •  but you have been courteous; thanks! I'll (0+ / 0-)

            say that I think we ought to consider whether there are things we don't know yet that may change our picture of this shooter. Does that not strike you as possible?

            Many of those mentioned in the long list of previous mass shootings chose to end their own lives, or were killed to stop them shooting more people down. We can never know what was going through their minds.

            It's possible we will find out what was going through this shooter's mind at the time. We may hear him explain why he chose that day, that place, that target.

            We might not.

            But I can't help thinking we're theorizing ahead of our data here ...

            It also seems to me that perhaps, possibly, maybe, we're doing a little flailing as sheer spinal reflex, a reaction to the utter horror of Saturday's events.

            I remember how I felt when I heard about the shuttle accidents.

            I remember how angry I was after 11Sep01.

            That level of sheer fury at one's own helplessness is remarkable for the way it locks you into an endless loop...

            LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 08:50:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Levels of causality (0+ / 0-)

              I totally agree that more data may emerge to reconfigure our analyses and conclusions.

              However, my predilection is to look at institutional factors and give them at least as much weight as behavioral factors.

              I have been looking closely at Congress for the past decade or so and I conclude that many of our present ills can be laid directly at the feet of Congress -- the way Congressional representatives are elected, how they fund their campaigns, and the takeover of Washington, D.C. by lobbyists and special interests in ways that result in legislation that endangers the well-being of mainstream Americans.

              I acknowledge that it is difficult to think simultaneously about the multiple factors that were coalescing to drive the alleged shooter into his rampage and what Congress has been doing and not doing to poison the well of American political discourse.

              But we are capable of analyzing these complex variables and the way they interact, AND formulating working hypotheses about what can be done to address and counter-act these causes at the various levels where they originate.

              My view is that if the American people can get control of electoral processes, as the Interactive Voter Choice System will allow them to do, that will constitute the most consequential and effective step for dealing with the vitriol and violence that is paralyzing our political system.

              •  yes, for the ills of our nation. (0+ / 0-)

                Yet, maybe, perhaps, possibly, it's a bit too soon to ascribe this man's actions onto the list of failings of the national government and the lack of true democracy in this country.

                I'm perfectly hopeful that I'll be proven wrong on this.

                I'm just afraid that this instance is going to turn out to be ... another out-of-control individual behaving murderously.

                Not, actually, you know, more than that.  Not different than that. Not a black eye for the Congress, not a failure of the Arizona DPS, not an opportunity for the NRA to overwhelm innocence.

                An individual. Behaving murderously. Unless and until we can be sure that's NOT all this is, we should acknowledge this is what happened. An individual -- for reasons we can't understand, yet -- made the choices that killed six persons and wounded fourteen more last Saturday in Tucson.

                LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 10:05:57 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Time will tell. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Actually, I tend to believe that deviance of this kind and magnitude is just as likely to be due to external causes as to internal factors intrinsic to a single individual.

                  With the exception of the missing chromosome, my view of such deviance is that it is preventable, and that many of the causes are likely to be found in emotional and physical abuse inflicted on an individual in early years, subsequently compounded by self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse.

                  Even in these cases, external assistance by licensed professionals provided by governmentally-funded programs is warranted.

                  The amount of gun-related violence in the U.S. is far greater than in other post-industrialized societies and even yet-to-be industrialized societies. These cross-national comparisons suggest that there are patterns of influence in the U.S. that lend themselves to levels of violent behaviors, and especially political assassinations, that are not found elsewhere.

                  Unless one wants to believe that there is just something wrong with certain individuals in this country, then I think we have to look at cultural and institutional factors and see where we can craft government policies that can prevent the kind of carnage that occurred in Tucson and that regularly occurs in America.    

                  •  In addition (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Nancy Bordier

                    If we look at the violent incidents over the past 20 years or so and certainly since the election of 2008, it seems that most of the violence has been directed at people who represent points of view condemned by right-wing talk radio, Fox, or, most recently, the tea party. If the violent incidents we've been seeing were a function of individual deviance, the targets should be randomly distributed across the political spectrum, but they are  all center, or left of center targets. This means that there are things in the social background that are directing individual violence in a particular direction.

                    That doesn't mean that certain individuals aren't predisposed toward violence because of individual level causes. That certainly may be true. But their tendencies toward violence are being directed outward into the public sphere and in some directions and not others.

                    Now, we don't know enough to specify all the social factors that impinged on Loughgran's life. But we know that his family was having economic problems, that he was having economic problems and also problems in finding his path in life. We know that mental health services were not readily available for him, but guns were. We also know, that he was politically aware and read books from across the political spectrum, but we don't know his political orientation quite yet.

                    We know that he is a "gold bug" which means that he's alienate from the current monetary system in the United States. Most gold bugs are not progressives or even centrists. They're very individualistic and are generally right of center. This squares with what we've been hearing about Loughgran's being a loner.

                    Did he listen to rightist talk radio, or watch Glenn Beck, or follow Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh? We don't know. Did he associate with others who cultivated violent outlooks? We don't know.

                    But we do do know that he fixated on Gabrielle Giffords and decided to kill her. Why did he select a Democratic Congresswomen to shoot? Why didn't he decide to shoot at John McCain or Jon Kyle instead? Why not travel to Nevada and try to shoot Sharron Angle? Why not try to shoot Beck or Limbaugh? Until we can explain why he chose a centrist rather than a rightist or leftist target we can't properly understand the mix of the individual and the social in the causation.

                    But make no mistake, no event of this kind is due solely to individual factors, there's always a social element in the causal predisposition to the event. This isn't to say that the individual committing these crimes isn't responsible. He is. But we also have to recognize the environmental elements that have played a part in creating this event, and we also have to ask whether we could have done anything about those that might have created a different outcome.

                    In this post, Nancy, has pointed to a number of factors that might have been important in bringing Loughgran to the Safeway parking lot for the shooting. I think it's a pretty good but not complete list. I also think that individual level factors were important as well, and that we are likely to learn more about those in the coming days.

                    •  Institutional Context (0+ / 0-)

                      Individual behavior is shaped by many factors at many different levels. These include the family and community and the institutions surrounding both. These include schools, cultural organizations, economic structures and governmental institutions, which both respond to family, community and religious and cultural factors and influence them.

                      Hitler came to power by capitalizing on family, community, cultural and economic factors, but once in power shaped them in significant ways. Such external influences on individual behavior are referred to as political socialization in the academic world.

                      Loughner was undoubtedly influenced by all these factors. My focus in the diary above was on the governmental institutional dimension and the acts and omissions of the U.S. Congress that I believe played a role in the massacre. Laws can and must be passed at local, state and federal level to prevent future attacks by assault rifles that kill and wound dozens of people instantaneously.

                      The only way such laws will be passed, IMNSHO, is through web technologies like the Interactive Voter Choice System described above that empower voters to make an end run around electoral and legislative processes that have been corrupted by the campaign contributions and legislative lobbying of special interests like the NRA.

  •  This diary is Naderlicious n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

    by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 05:59:13 PM PST

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