After the tragedy in Tucson, can we be better?

The three best opinion pieces about the killings in Tucson that I’ve read thus far are:

I thought tonight’s speech by President Obama at the memorial service in Tucson was pretty darn good.

But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.

Yes, we can be better.

We can be better


  1. john george said:

    Can we be better? It seems we have in the past, but we need to be careful of being fixated upon the past. Past experiences are there as an example for us to learn from today so we can improve tomorrow. I just read a message today that had some wisdom, IMO. An auto has a large windshield and a small rearview mirror. The reason is we need to be able to see clearly where we are going, but once we have passed an object, it is behind us. It applies to life, also. We need to see clearly where we are going and not dwell on the past.

    I appreciate President Obama’s words, here. They are words of reason and clarity, which, IMO, are few and far between in our contemporary news media. I remember when President Kennedy was shot. We actually took time in my (public) high school algebra class to pray for his family and the nation. After that tragedy, the nation pulled together, even though there are still persistent conspiracy theories about the incident. I’m sure there will be all sorts of theories about this incident, also, and they travel faster today because of the internet. That doesn’t mean we have to believe them all. I believe we will someday learn from these experiences so we can do better tomorrow.

    January 12, 2011
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Nicely put, John.

    I was surprised to learn that Obama wrote that speech himself.  And I did see him struggling to control his emotions at one point. See this NY Times piece: Girl’s Death Hits Home for Obama

    After two years in which his public appearances have often focused on policy and where he has seemed professorial, the president seemed to speak more from the heart and to connect with his nationwide audience on a more emotional level than at any time since his election. White House aides said that Mr. Obama, like many Americans, thought that Christina’s death was a heartbreak beyond description. He wrote the bulk of his speech himself, and Mr. Obama was still making final touches aboard Air Force One on the way to Tucson.

    Reaction from conservatives to the speech has been pretty postive: Praise for Obama, From the Right and Left

    January 14, 2011
  3. David Ludescher said:

    I thought Obama gave a masterful presentation. But, I have to admit that the whole setting was surreal.

    I forced my son to watch the services with me. He commented that I was forcing him to watch a president give a speech eulogizing people that he didn’t know, at an event run by politicians, attended by thousands, and applauded by spectators.

    Still, this is the kind of a situation for which Obama was elected, and which he excels. I wish he would do more of this sort of thing on the political issues.

    January 14, 2011
  4. Stephanie Henriksen said:


    Didn’t your son at any point get interested in the speech? Obama was speaking as a father at some points, in regard to the 9-yr old. Did your son pick up on that? I don’t know his age. Maybe he couldn’t identify.

    January 14, 2011
  5. Stephanie Henriksen said:


    Didn’t your son at any point get interested in the speech? Obama was speaking as a father at some points, in regard to the 9-yr old. Did your son pick up on that? I don’t know his age. Maybe he couldn’t identify.

    January 14, 2011
  6. David Ludescher said:


    I think my son’s point was that the event had the feel of a political rally – politicians, audiences, and applause.

    January 15, 2011
  7. Stephanie Henriksen said:


    How old is your son, if I may ask.

    January 15, 2011
  8. Stephanie Henriksen said:


    How old is your son, if I may ask.

    January 15, 2011
  9. David Ludescher said:


    January 15, 2011
  10. john george said:

    David- Sounds like he is old enough to apply critical thinking.

    January 15, 2011
  11. Sara Palin needs to apologize for her statements .

    January 18, 2011
  12. Ray Cox said:

    David R, I’m not sure I saw anything in Sarah Palin’s comments that needs an aplogy. However, I surely saw something in the Pima County Sheriff’s comments that calls for an apology. And in fact, I really wonder what kind of public safety system Pima County is running with a man that jumps to all sorts of unfounded conclusions. In the legal world it is very important to always remember that one of America’s basic tenents is that you are innocent until proven guilty. How the Sheriff makes a connection between the mentally ill Arizona citizen that shot people and a random and far-reaching rant against a media source is beyond me. And such speech from an elected public safety offical is a dangerous situation.

    January 18, 2011
  13. The use of Blood Libel is a very offensive tone used by Sarah Palin she needs to apologize Thanks and look up Blood Libel means Thanks

    January 18, 2011
  14. Raymond Daniels said:

    The PC climate in America is compeletely out of control. I see nothing worng with her comment in context of her statement.

    January 18, 2011
  15. Jane Moline said:

    Ray: I think Sarah Palin’s tone is always strident and snide. I don’t really want or need an apology from her–I wish she would just go away. She adds nothing to the discuusion besides her snippy little egg-on the liberal haters speechifying.

    I think the Pima county sherriff is addressing what we should all be concerned about. Right wing nuts encouraging all the right winger to carry assault weapons to political rallies. The continued toxic environment set by hate radio and talking heads that tell us that the other political party is trying to take away America, take away our guns, take away our freedoms and take away our patriotic way of life.

    Where is the personal responsibility here? Since when do you get to say anything you want at anytime without taking responsibility for what you did?

    Gabbi Gifford is recorded on television during her reelection campaign after her campaign headquarters suffered damage from gun shot fire. She specifically cited Sarah Palin’s targeting map.

    Any decent person at that time would have done some self-searching and probably changed their map to at least be Xes instead of rifle scope cross hairs. But Sarah Palin is definetly not decent (nor is Rush Limbaugh.)

    Sarah Palin’s use of “blood libel” is insulting–except it is not because she is not smart enough to understand how insulting it is to take a method of persecuting Jews for centuries and claim that the media is using it on Sarah Palin. No intelligent person would use that reference that belittles and insults an entirely different group of people. I am sure she had no idea what an awful thing is that she said. This is not about being “PC.” This is about being an intelligent.informed and responsible citizen of the United States.

    Just as I am offended by people swearing where I overhear–such as a restaurant or on the city street–I am constantly offended by Sarah Palin, who delights in the idea of offending liberals and whose only goal is to rabble-rouse.

    January 18, 2011
  16. Raymond Daniels said:

    Let’s not get carried away here. There are just as many left wing nuts out there. The loon who did the shooting is an example. He was not a right wing nut. He hated Bush and didn’t listen to talk radio.

    How is Palin any different from Madow or Oberman?

    I really enjoy how liberals like to blame the other guy insteading of blaming the person that committed the crime…

    January 18, 2011
  17. Jane Moline said:

    Raymond: Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow definitly advocate for the liberal view point. The big difference between them and Sarah Palin is both their intelligence and the level with which they will research and explain the topic.

    Sarah Palin speaks in weird sound-bytes that are as inane as they are intended to inflame. She displays, vividly her ignorance. Her inability to understand that it is actually her words that are the problem IS the problem.

    I continue to hear about how left-wingers are as bad as right wingers–but it is not liberals who bring guns to political rallies or claim that the other party is taking America away from us or going to take our guns or did put a Manchurian candidate in for president.

    It is, however, right-wing hate radio hosts who claim that Tucson was “what the Democrats wanted.” These sickos should be turned off and ignored. They continue to spread lies and repeat the lies as often as possible to obfuscate reasoned dialogue.

    January 18, 2011
  18. Ray Cox said:

    Jane, you do entertain us with your thoughts. When you say in #12 that Olberman and Maddow are more intelligent than Sarah Palin you fall right into liberal comments your liberal teachers must have taught you. The left thoroughly enjoys to belittle anyone from the right side of the aisle….remember how ‘dumb’ Dan Quayle was? Remember how Pres. Reagan was poked fun of—he must be sleeping through meetings, ate too many jelly beans. I even saw a lefty making fun of Sen. McCain during the 2010 election for having “huge chicklet teeth” (I give the guy credit for apologizing once someone pointed out to him that McCain had his teeth broken out of his mouth while in a POW camp) Just because someone presents ideas or comments that you don’t agree with does not mean they are stupid or of lesser intelligence.

    Then in #10 you ask “where is the personal responsibility…”. That is exactly what most conservatives have been asking for years. Where is the personal responsibility in buying cable TV and cell phones, but not buying health care insurance for your family and expecting the government to provide it for you? Where is the personal responsibility in sending your children off to school without adequate sleep or breakfast, then expecting the school system to teach them? We all have an obligation to address the issues in our personal realm. Some make good decisons and some make what I consider poor decisions. But I don’t think others should be asked to provide ongoing support to those that are simply making poor personal choices in thier life. Life is full of choices to make and many of them involve personal responsibility.

    Finally, I’m not sure how you know the political stripe of anyone that ‘bring guns to political rallies’. There have been people that have brought weapons to political events for decades. Are you thinking the man that shot Pres. Reagan was a right wing nut? The man that shot at Pres. Ford a right wing nut? The lady that stabbed at Pres Ford a right wing nut? The man that killed Pres. Kennedy a right wing nut? In each of these cases the perpatrator was reported to be either apolitical and most likely mentally ill, or someone with Communist affiliations. Maybe you could explain where you get your information that right wing nuts are bringing assault guns to poltiical rallies.

    January 18, 2011
  19. norman butler said:

    I hate to be a Debbie Downer on this delicate subject..but when we look at different countries and their cultures…does anyone think that maybe perhaps…and I do sincerely apologize for my lack of sophistication on this subject… but could it be anything to do with…and mark my words when I stress that I do not mean upset or even annoy in any way shape form those who think differently…but…don’t you hate this word ‘but’ …it seems so confrontational…might it have anything to do with the availability of…again, I apologize…guns?

    January 18, 2011
  20. john george said:

    Jane- This comment of yours in post 12, “…but it is not liberals who bring guns to political rallies…” is interesting, especially in light of the SDS and Symbionese Liberation Army. Do you remember those groups? How about the Black Panthers? Were these “right wing-nut” groups?

    You raise another interesting question in your post 10, “…Since when do you get to say anything you want at anytime without taking responsibility for what you did?” I would posite that this is a regular occurance on LGN. A good place to look is in the “Rejoice!…” thread.

    January 18, 2011
  21. john george said:

    Norm- What a killjoy! ‘But”, your mention of guns tapped into some memory of the history of mass production. Here are a couple excerpts-

    The American system of manufacturing was a set of manufacturing methods that evolved in the 19th century. It involved semi-skilled labor using machine tools and jigs to make standardized, identical, interchangeable parts, manufactured to a tolerance, which could be assembled with a minimum of time and skill, requiring little to no fitting. The system is also known as armory practice because of the history of its development by the United States Department of War in the Springfield and Harpers Ferry armories[1] (and their inside and outside gun-making contractors).

    Some further reading brings this little tidbit-

    In the late 18th century, French General Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval suggested that muskets could be manufactured faster and more economically if they were made from interchangeable parts.

    Then there is this tidbit-

    Mass production using interchangeable parts was first achieved in 1803 by Marc Isambard Brunel in cooperation with Henry Maudslay, and Simon Goodrich, under the management of (with contributions by) Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham, the Inspector General of Naval Works at Portsmouth Block Mills at Portsmouth Dockyard, for the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War.

    What were they manufacturing? GUNS! Yup, they should have shot the filthy blighters the first time they brought it up!

    January 18, 2011
  22. Raymond Daniels said:

    Well said Mr Cox!!!

    January 18, 2011
  23. Paul Zorn said:


    On the matter of the intelligence of Palin vs. Olbermann vs. Maddow …

    I don’t think we know enough about any of these people to compare their native intelligence, even if such a thing could usefully be compared. It is possible, on the other hand, to compare some readily knowable facts about their educational histories. (Granted, intelligence and education are not the same thing, but I’ve bet my career on the premise that education can help a person use his or her intelligence more effectively.)

    According to Wikipedia, both Sarah Palin and Keith Olbermann have bachelor’s degrees in communications, hers from the University of Idaho (via several less well-known institutions) and his from Cornell University. Palin completed her degree in 1987, at age 23, and Olbermann in 1979, at age 20. Without further information (e.g., GPA, comparative rigor of their programs, etc.) it would be hard to argue that either has much educational advantage over the other.

    Rachel Maddow appears to be in a very different educational league. She graduated from Stanford in 1994, at age 21, received a Rhodes scholarship, and completed a D. Phil. in politics from Oxford University in 2001. Such accomplishments don’t, of course, guarantee anything about a person’s moral virtue or rightness of opinion, but the Rhodes may be the world’s most prestigious scholarship — only 32 are awarded per year to US citizens. (Northfield, by the way, has been remarkably productive of Rhodes scholars, with 18 from Carleton and 9 from St Olaf over the years, including two from ST Olaf in 2008.) Other well-known Rhodes alumni include Newark mayor Cory Booker and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

    So I think it’s safe to say that, whatever one thinks of her political opinions,
    and “liberal teachers” completely aside, Ms Maddow’s academic achievements are far superior to those of Ms Palin — or of Mr Olbermann.

    January 18, 2011
  24. Jane Moline said:

    Ray: I was suggesting that Sarah Palin is not too bright because she has repeatedly proven it so. She can make a speach and rabble rouse, but it took her 6 years to get a journalism degree and she can’t name a single newspaper that she claims she reads on a regular basis. There is definitely a gap in her ability. You, of course, have brought up the questions raised in the past about others intelligence. I didn’t. Unfortunately there are quite a few Republicans who have had their intelligence questioned because of their actions and words. I can’t really explain why. You can take the position that liberals are just picking on the Republicans-but where there is smoke?

    And Ray, it was at the Tea Party rallies where there were derogotory anti-Obama signs, many racsist, and where the attendees were often photographed with assult rifles in holsters on their leg–I surmised these anti-Obama, pro-Tea party people are leaning a bit to the right. I know this is an awful big assumption for someone to make, but I did it.

    As far as personal responsiblity, I was specifically referring to Sarah Palin and her words. John George, I take responsiblity for what I say. I sign my name and I respond to discussion.

    I will say it again. Sarah Palin intends to fire up her crowd and when the firing becomes too real she says “What me? I couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong.!”

    January 18, 2011
  25. Paul Zorn said:


    January 18, 2011
  26. Paul Zorn said:

    I meant: Yes, Norm.

    John, I don’t get your point.

    January 18, 2011
  27. john george said:

    Paul- I was just picking up on Norm’s sense of humor. I think it is ironic that the first application of interchangeable parts to manufacture a product was for the production of weapons. Henry Ford did not invent mass production. He just elevated it to a profitable business form. I think Norm has a point, in that weapons are still obtainable by the mentally and criminally deranged.

    January 18, 2011
  28. john george said:

    Ok, Jane, how is your rhetoric not inflamitory? Just because a person signs their name to a post does not justify the way in which they express their views, mine included.

    January 18, 2011
  29. john george said:

    There is an interesting article out now about the explosive device found in Spokane, WA, along the route for the MLK parade. This stuff is so ’60’s. Remember Sarah Jane Olson? I had thought (hoped) we would have outgrown this kind of stuff by now. We evidently haven’t.

    January 18, 2011
  30. kiffi summa said:

    Statistics will show that since the 1970’s, the American populace when polled, has said by over two thirds majority, and usually up in the 70 percentile, that they oppose the use of handguns… assault weapons were not even the ‘norm’ back then…

    And yet, the NRA is such a powerful lobby that it has often been said that is the ‘death knell’ for any president, to oppose the NRA.

    Is that reasonable? an organizational lobby perverts the will of the people and ‘terrorizes’ the president’s office?

    January 19, 2011
  31. Until you have lived in a place like Chicago where no one is allowed to have a gun, except the criminals, and they do, and the rest of us all have stories about being robbed at gun point, having our cars stolen while driving them, or the elderly being beat up or killed on their way home from the bank after just having cashed their social security checks, you should realize that the reason crime is low around here is because the criminals don’t know who has guns and who doesn’t, so they are not as likely to pick those forms of crime where the playing field is even.

    I do think it should be harder to buy a gun, but then the criminals have their own underground businesses and one of them is selling stolen guns so pretty much anyone who really wants a gun can get one or more.

    January 19, 2011
  32. Raymond Daniels said:

    So you are saying that because you think Oberman and Madow are smarter than Palin it makes their rhetoric ok? I love the hypocrisy from the left.

    January 19, 2011
  33. Raymond Daniels said:

    Sorry, off topic, but how is NRA and Hhand guns different from Obamacare? 70% people opposed it, but the democrats and the president passed it anyways. My point is, stop trying to pin things only on republicans. Democrats are just as bad.

    January 19, 2011
  34. I think most people oppose the ‘use of handguns’ but not necessarily the ownership of handguns…depending on where you live…and what decade you are talking about.

    January 19, 2011
  35. There are many different types of intelligence…some people are very good at strategy, some can talk a great game, some can work out math problems that humans have worked to solve for decades, some can take over Las Vegas, and some can create meals to enslave kings but may not be able to read one word.

    I’d rather have a President who is well liked, respected and honored, who loves the people he serves and all the people of the earth rather than one who has three doctorates if he or she is living in a world far removed from the people he or she serves.

    January 19, 2011
  36. Patrick Enders said:

    Thanks for that link, Phil.

    Nate Silver did a brief review of trends in public opinion on gun control issues over the last 40 years, here:

    The trend, in both public opinion and in party platforms, has been a general movement away from most any gun control measures.

    Given the present political situation, I see little hope of any regulations, other than perhaps tighter controls on extended-clip ammunition, even being considered – let alone enacted.

    January 19, 2011
  37. john george said:

    Bright- I believe your opinion is very accurate. Unfortunately, a hand gun’s use is to kill or wound someone. I think this is where most people are repulsed by them, and those who advocate their accessability. I think they would have to be eliminated completely from the world for criminals not to have them, and that is not likely.

    January 19, 2011
  38. Steph Henriksen said:


    You mention the health care debates. Need to doublecheck your claim that 70% opposed the healthcare bill. The debates on repeal of the healthcare blll are going on right now on C-SPAN up to the vote at 5:30.

    Republicans are trying to scare people as to consequences of “Obamacare.” Democrats are trying to reassure people of the benefits. Anyone listening who has little grounding in what the bill actually does will be confused and angry. A natural result will be name-calling or worse.

    The call-in programs on topics from gun control to healthcare take full advantage. In my opinion, Limbaugh is the master at whipping up his audiences, whatever the topic may be. Palin is an amateur, by comparison.

    January 19, 2011
  39. John, if someone had a hand gun available in Tucson, that person may have been able to stop the accused gunman in time to save some if not all shooting victims.

    January 19, 2011
  40. john george said:

    Bright- I agree. Unfortunately, we will never know. The potential has all kinds of possibilities, though.

    January 19, 2011
  41. john george said:

    Steph- One of the driving forces behind fear is lack of knowledge and understanding. When elected officials come right out and say they have not read the whole ream+ of document, but they are going ahead with it anyway, this is cause for concern, at least upon my part. When a simple question like, “Where will this take us, and what statistics do you have to support that projection?” cannot be answered directly, then I’m reticent to jump on the wagon.

    There are basically two visceral reactions to the legislation- 1) If government is involved, then it must be good, and 2) If government is involve, it must be bad. This returns us to our individual convictions. Without concise information to balance these reactions, (for instance, what does it really cost?) it becomes difficult to achieve understanding and agreement.

    January 19, 2011
  42. Phil Poyner said:

    Someone at the scene did have a gun. His name was Joe Zamudio, and he was in the drug store when the shooting started. He came out of the store with his safety off and his gun in his jacket pocket…and almost shot the guy that had gotten the shooter’s gun away from him. Fortunately, in that split second he had to decide whether to shoot or not, he made the right choice. Zamudio considers himself lucky. He was also smart enough to stow his weapon, so as to avoid being seen as a possible second gunman.

    I can fire off 32 rounds in about 15 seconds…maybe less. I can fire off well-aimed rounds at a rate of about 1 a second. Surveilance tapes indicate Loughner took about 15 seconds; after the first shot he was firing randomly. Unless someone is well trained in the use of weapons under stress, it strikes me as unlikely that anyone would have had enough wits about them to evaluate the situation, draw their weapon, aim at the shooter, and take him down in time to prevent anything. Real life isn’t TV. But hey…I’m not a cop. If one would happen to disagree with my assessment, I’d accept their professional opinion as more valid.

    January 19, 2011
  43. Raymond Daniels said:

    Steph….I stand corrected. Based on rasmussen, the high water mark for oppossition to Obamacare was 61% in Sept of last year. As of today 55% are in favor of repeal. And an even better polls was on election day when the democrats lost house. The ballot box speaks loudly as to where the people stand. As for the democrats on the floor, they just don’t get it. The American people don’t want this horrible bill that very few people even know what it entails.

    Back to guns. People should have a right to own a gun. People should not have the right to have a 18 round clip with hollow point bullets.

    January 19, 2011
  44. True, Phil…i would consider that if people were more realistic then until we have humans born with no anger mgmt problems, or missing social consciousness brain parts, or no ability to just become confused to the point of paranoia, etc,
    maybe people would train to defend themselves and others more.

    The issue is not really one of guns, anyone can reach up and grab a tree branch and take some people out pretty quickly, some don’t even need a tree branch if they are strong or fast. The issue is that humans, like plants and animals are born flawed. Some more than others. Bless our souls, though, we can’t do anything about that right now, so people grab for whatever seems to make a difference and thereby draw away from better more realistic solutions.

    January 19, 2011
  45. Phil Poyner said:

    I’m not sure what difference the type of bullet would make, unless we’re talking ammo that’s designed to penetrate body armor.

    January 20, 2011
  46. Patrick Enders said:

    Unfortunately, Rasmussen has been recently shown to be an inaccurate survey firm, which was been significantly and consistently biased towards overestimating Republican opinions and Republican votes in the last election cycle:

    Two more recent polls, from more reputable firms, estimate the number of people supporting repeal of last year’s Health Care Reform Act at either 45% or 50%:

    Now, Rasmussen’s “55%” number is not hugely different from those of NBC News/Wall Street Journal or of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, but the difference is consistent with Rasmussen’s past bias towards Republican positions.

    That bias is likely to have resulted in pushing a true 50-50 split, or even a 45% minority opinion, into a false position of apparent 55% majority.

    January 20, 2011
  47. I do not use polls to base my opinions on…I use life experience, what some trusted people tell me personally and never never do I believe any media outlet or tool,especially since the new media is often guilty of pushing agendas rather than reporting trends.

    January 20, 2011
  48. Ray Cox said:

    Bright makes good point about living in an area where violence is unfortunately too common. We speak from relative safety here in Northfield. Many people here might have differing views if it were not as safe a community as it is.

    Which brings me to what I think the real issue with guns is….people. As we have all heard time and time again, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. It is exceedingly difficult to control situations by going after the inanimate objects around us. Unfortunately, we take that approach too often. A prime example is metro areas that raze “drug houses” in an effort to eliminate the “drug problems”. Very little is accomplished by that action other than to take a property off the tax roles and to push drug use/sales into other neighborhoods.

    America has decent gun laws. From what Iknow about them the Tucson shooter should have been stopped from purchasing a handgun….or possibly any firearm. But failed implementation of the law was the problem and he was allowed to purchase the handgun and ammunition.

    In a similar fashion we actually have some decent laws about immigration to our country. But we have had problems with illegal immigration for many years because we don’t make the effort to enforce our laws.

    Laws are only as good as the effort that will be put into enforcing those laws.

    January 20, 2011
  49. sharon kaiser miller said:

    You state that

    “The issue is not really one of guns, anyone can reach up and grab a tree branch and take some people out pretty quickly, some don’t even need a tree branch if they are strong or fast.”

    There have been many mass killings in the United States. As far as I can recollect, they have all been with guns. There have been no mass public killings with tree branches or baseball bats.

    Also, you mentioned in 20.1.1 that if someone else had a gun they may have been able to stop the accused gunman. I would venture to state that there should have been one LESS gun there.

    January 20, 2011
  50. sharon kaiser miller said:

    We can argue until the cows come home about whether or not “Guns don’t kill. People do.” Guess what? People without guns don’t shoot and kill people. The gun laws in our society are not decent. There is no reason that ANYBODY should have access to a semi-automatic weapons. I will say it again…THERE IS NO REASON FOR ANYONE IN OUR SOCIETY TO HAVE A SEMI-AUTOMATIC HANDGUN. That defies logic. Nothing good is going to come out of having one.

    January 20, 2011
  51. john george said:

    Sharon- Depending on how you interpret the statistics, in 2009, 16,626 people were killed in auto accidents. 12,791 were homicide victims. Since autos killed 27% more people than guns, would you advocate removing autos from our roadways? I agree that semi-automatic weapons are of questionable value, unless you are trained to fire one and are faced with a criminal pointing one at you. The idea that any criminal can be talked out of their intentions has been pretty much disproven by Great Britain’s change from disarmed Bobbies to armed Bobbies. I think there is a deterent effect upon crime in states that have concealed carry laws, again, depending on how you interpret the statistics. I always hesitate to give up a constitutionally gauranteed right just over emotional responses to issues. Once it is gone, it is really hard to get back.

    January 20, 2011
  52. sharon kaiser miller said:

    John, it is ridiculous to compare auto accidents to violent gun deaths. This doesn’t warrant debate.

    I’m not too concerned about my constitutional right to carry a gun. This amendment was created before we had a military and relied upon common citizens/militia to defend our nation. I respectfully disagree with you and others on the God-given right to bear arms.

    I feel less safe knowing that I could be in a crowd with others toting guns. A person is statistically more likely to harm themselves or innocent others carrying a gun than they are likely to harm an intruder with their weapon.

    January 21, 2011
  53. john george said:

    Sharon- I’m sure you are not concerned about your right to carry a gun, nor am I about mine since it is something I have no aspirations to do. Others do aspire to this, and it is a constitutional right, not a God given right. Because of that, I don’t feel I have a right to trample on theirs. Besides, I really don’t want to stir them up.

    January 21, 2011
  54. Griff Wigley said:

    Sharon, please refrain from labeling the arguments of others as ‘ridiculous.’ It’s insulting and violates our civility rules here. Just argue your point.

    January 21, 2011
  55. john george said:

    Sharon- I forgot to finish my thought before I hit submit. Since most homicides are performed by criminals with unregistered guns, it seems illogical to make posessing a handgun illegal. Criminals are criminals because they are breaking the laws. As long as handguns are manufactured in any country, they will be available to the criminally disposed. When alcohol was outlawed in the prohibition days, it did not deter the illicit manufacturing by people acting outside the law. The same process will happen with guns if their posession is outlawed. Laws give law enforcement people the authority to enforce them, but they are not necessarily effective in changing people’s behavior.

    January 21, 2011
  56. Jane Moline said:

    John, unfortunately your argument is specious. In all other developed countries, they have stricter gun laws and significant differences in lower gun crimes and accidents causing harm or death. The laws work to reduce gun use. There are lies about gun statistics promoted by the gun lobby, but there is no disputing the facts. Stricter gun laws lead to significant differences in deaths from guns. The USA laws are barbaric when it comes to guns.

    January 21, 2011
  57. john george said:

    Jane- Here is a link to an interesting Wikipedia contribution-,_damned_lies,_and_statistics.

    We’ve been down this road before, and both sides are still entrenched pretty deeply. The reason being the finality of the application of guns and the emotions associated with those results. Somewhere, there must be an objective rather than a subjective way to discuss both sides of the issue. As long as we claim that one side’s position has no merit, then division will continue.

    January 21, 2011
  58. Jane Moline said:

    John: I agree with what you are saying about entrenched positions and even that statistics are abused for political purposes. Isn’t that what we are talking about on this thread? Can’t we discuss our differences in a civil manner? Sarah Palin is UNCIVIL. Just look and listen to her speaches.

    So I get back to the idea that she will not even recognize that she might be a teensy bit out-of-line with remarks like “reload” and “target” and her generally snide “talking points” approach to speachifying.

    And I am sick of the gun-lobby military-industrial really really ridiculous “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Those killing people are using GUNS. You can play with the statistics all you want. We love our guns more than we love each other. This is a problem.

    I am happy to argue a conservative versus liberal issue. I am sick of having to argue with the brainless-but-sounds-good garbage continually churned out by the right. For example, over and over the Republican congress persons got up and made speaches about JOB-KILLING Obamacare. They loved those words, even thought the health care bill does not kill jobs, even expands health care industry jobs, and repeal will add 230 billion to the deficit.

    Or JOB-KILLING taxes, another favorite sound-byte of the Republicans. Even though there is no correlation between taxes and job-killing. (We lost 8 million jobs from when Bush enacted the cuts and when Obama took office. I guess they are JOB-KILLING tax cuts!)

    Now, they have changed their speaches to something other than “KILLING” in honor of gun-shot (oops, I should have said alledged person-shot) victim Gabby Gifford. Regardless, their little repeating of the key words, even though not supported by facts, continues.

    So how do you discuss how we are going to pay for the wars and reduce the deficit when all one side can say is “Obama care is socialized medicine” or the “government is taking over our health care or on and on.” None of this leads to reasoned dialogue.

    The Republicans are excellent at getting out their talking points and then hammering on them over and over while the Democrats stand aroung like deer in the headlights. (I belong to no organized political party–I am a democrat.)

    Just because they repeat does not make it so. But it certainly interferes with any intelligent discussion.

    January 21, 2011
  59. john george said:

    Jane- All your observations are well taken. I’m just going to respond to the gun issue, as that is the focus of the thread. The question I still come back to is, will legislation change the behavior of the people involved? If we don’t have enough regard for one another to not hurtle a two ton vehicle down the road at 80 mph following another one so closely that there is no margin of error for evasive action in case of an emergency, then how are we going to legislate that respect and regard into existence? It just doesn’t seem to have happened in my lifetime. In fact, it seems that disregard for the law has increased in my lifetime, but that may just be my perspective.

    January 21, 2011
  60. Jane Moline said:

    John George: We will never be able to legislate respect, or even empathy or compassion for each other. That still doesn’t preclude us from legislating resonable controls over handguns. There is no use for almost every handgun except for killing people. We should be able to see our way clear to regulating handguns.

    I am astonished that the reasons given for NOT regulating handguns include:
    1) cars are dangerous (like, so? what has that got to do with a gun whose only purpose is to kill?)
    2) Bad guys already have guns (and drug dealers have drugs, and pimps have prostitutes.)
    3) Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. (So it isn’t a gun-shot wound–its a people-shot wound? The gun is what is being used for more deaths and suicides here in the USA.)
    4) A good guy with a gun will stop the bad guys. (The cops can’t even stop the bad guys. In the 15 seconds it took for this one guy to shoot 31 bullets, no hero was able to assess the situation and accurately shoot this guy down. Because it doesn’t work that way. If all the good guys had had guns, they might have drawn them and then shot each other since they may never have known who the bad guy was–since the bad guys LOOK LIKE US.)

    So… we at least should agree that we will never legislate love, respect, kindness or compassion–but those are the attributes we value in each other and want to work towards. At least we can agree on that?

    January 21, 2011
  61. john george said:

    Jane. Yep- fully agree. In thinking about this issue some more, I’m not convinced that leaving hand gun limitaions for states to decide is the right way to go. This is one issue I would be in favor of having a uniform national law to regulate. Right now, it seems there is just enough variation between the states to cause a little confusion. I don’t think this would eliminate events like the one in Arizona, but I think it would be a step in the right direction to trace where these weapons come from. Perhaps it would make it easier to eliminate high risk people from obtaining handguns in the first place and help apprehend those violating the law.

    January 22, 2011
  62. Jane Moline said:

    This thread is really not about handgun control–a worthy discussion–but about if we can actually have civil dialogue on the issues we DON’T agree on.

    As long as we let talking heads feed us the sound-byte lines and continue to spread what are viral lies about the opposing positions, we cannot have reasonable discussion.

    This morning on C-Span a caller was ranting about how global warming was a hoax and not real. The guests did not challenge the caller’s failure to recognize the science involved but went on to say that Obama would have to use regulations since congress will refuse to consider any kind of climate change legislation. This is just nuts.

    We have to stop the lies but I don’t know how you do that. My father-in-law is one who continually forwards internet spam on extreme right wing ideas and positions.

    As I have said before, I do not see the liberals spreading this crap. They just are not as organized and tend to be more skeptical of anyone’s claims. And it is not the liberals who were bringing guns to political events. It has always been conservatives.

    Until conservatives take some responsiblity for their “rabble rousing” I don’t see how this is going to ever get better.

    Wait until you see the responses to this post. The right-wingers will claim that I can’t tell if someone at a Sarah Palin or tea-party rally packin’ a pistol is a conservative, and there will be plenty of claims that the left is as bad as the right–but how many liberal emails did any of you get this last year advocating for extreme positions?

    How many death panel and government take over health insuarance and they are going to take my guns and they are going to tax and spend (compared to George Bush who was just spend and spend and spend) and JOB KILLING taxes?

    I heard a MN legislator on MPR telling the host that one of his constituents owned a business earning him $400,000 a year, and if the democrats raised taxes on those making more than $250,000 he was going to fire all his workers and close his business.

    That would be idiocy–tax increases were discussed at less than 5%–so even at 5% that business owner would only have to pay $7,500 more in taxes (400,000 income with $150,000 over the 250,000 mark at 5% equals $7,500.) So this business owner is claiming that he would close the business and stop earning $400,000 if his expenses went up $7,500. (By the way, I hope they raise taxes and he closes his business because I will be happy to replace him and earn more than $300,000 every year.)

    Doesn’t anyone else see how ridiculous this argument is? But this is the mantra of the right–repeat these lies enough times and make them as terrible sounding as possible so that the masses will take up the call and spread their emails.

    January 23, 2011
  63. Phil Poyner said:

    Jane, I’m probably just as much of a liberal as you are, at least on most issues. I even agree with you on many of the points you just brought up. But seriously, how can you read what you just wrote and call the tone of it “civil”? Is it really civil to use terms like “rabble rousing”, “ridiculous”, “idiocy”, “ranting”, and “mantra of the right”?

    I just don’t see how we can expect the right to be civil if we can’t do it ourselves. I guess I’ll now await the flaming I’m certain to get from some of my fellow liberals, followed by my ritual expulsion from the “club”. And righties, don’t go all feeling smug about this…you guys ARE just as bad! It’s not like a leftie made up the term RINO.

    January 23, 2011
  64. First let me say that Sarah Palin is as much of a good woman and good person and good mother as I have ever seen, if I can believe her reality show at all. She is fearless and does everything, looks into everything and is really an amazing role model for everyone in this country. She does it all in a moral and responsible way.
    She searches for positive solutions and won’t be drawn down by the press or hype or naysayers. I give her a lot of credit and if she can find good honorable people who are knowledgable in their fields to surround herself with, then she will be a good President and it’s about dang time we have a woman in that post. Even England heads us in that area of endeavor.

    I also would like to see people participate more who have real solutions based in well thought out plans to offer and instruct us rather than this constant criticism that chases away those of us with ideas, but who have pleasant dispositions not given to pushing and shoving.

    The problem with people in the cities where most of the US population now live,
    are removed from survival techniques that we are designed to do, we are removed from what our food looks like when it was alive, we are removed from how to care for our own hygiene, and leave it up to doctors and dentists, we are removed from what a family is all about, with divorce rates and people not seeing their families, and we are removed from our own sense of tribe and of purpose. Let people get in touch with their base and then work from there to make a better life for everyone everywhere.

    January 23, 2011
  65. Steph Henriksen said:


    Palin seems to be self-destructing, so I haven’t given her much thought lately. If you are that enamored of her, I guess I better start watching her reality show.

    January 23, 2011
  66. Jane Moline said:

    Phil: I understand your criticism. I just don’t know how else to describe what Sarah Palin does except to call it “rabble rousing.” If you review ANY of her speaches it is amazing how she even strings sentences together, sometimes without any proper grammatical structure–but with the point of reinforcing lies, exagerations or just anti-democrat sentiment. It is not constructive.

    I see this huge problem where the liberals are too nice and trying so hard to not be just like the right that they use mild terms and then say that we are “just as guilty” of the same rhetoric.”

    I just don’t see it. The right wing has entire networks with constant snarky attacks on the left and 2500 radio stations (compared with 250 liberal radio stations.)

    The sheer volume of the rhetoric on the right is amazing. Just watch or listen to Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh–and then they pay politicians millions of dollars to be commentators, including Sarah Palin. What they do is rant, and they purchase political favor.

    The Repubulicans send out “talking points” that are delivered to Glenn Beck and O’Reilly and Limbaugh (this is not a conspiricy theory–it is fact) so that they can all use the same terms, like “JOB KILLING TAXES” or “JOB KILLING OBAMA CARE.”

    They don’t make sure these terms have any connection with facts–they want to make sure that they have a catchy slogan that will rouse up anti-Democrat sentiment. Just review any congressional speach by Republicans–they all repeat repeat the same words–hence “mantra.”

    Again, I am asking if you just take a look at the emails that circulate. Every day thre are oodles of right-wing spam that spread all kinds of nonsense-and it is nonsense.

    And Phil, it would be idocy for a business man to close his businees over a tax increase that is marginal to his earnings. What should I have said? I am responding to an elected legislator, head of the tax committee, statement of why he is, instead of raising taxes, going to cut services to the poor–as that is exactly what our Minnesota legilature is going to do–they are going to cut education and social services and their reasoning is based on what some wealthy business man said.

    And I am identifying as wealthy any businessman earning $400,000 a year. (I think anybody doing over $150,000 a year is doing just great, too.)

    So now there is a call to tone down the rhetoric–but the right (or at least Sarah Palin, among others) will not even recognize that what they have been doing has been incongruent with reasoned discussion. (Republican John Boehner has conducted himself as real statesman since the Tucson shooting and it is commendable.)

    On Meet the Press today, Eric Cantor made a statement that President Obama is a US citizen and there really should be no more discussion of his right to be president. This is admirable, but it is coming more than two years into a right-wing campaign to claim that Obama is not even a legitimate president. A campaign waged by some that is idiotic, ridiculous, and rabble rousing. But we shouldn’t call it that since it isn’t nice.

    So what should be the response to continued, relentless propaganda from the right that is devoid of facts but big on emotion?

    How about this. The right denounces the birthers. They also denounce claims that Democrats intend to subvert civil rights–including all their false claims about what government regulation of health insurance means. That would be a start. We could then talk about them unplugging their propaganda machine and sticking to the facts.

    I am truly amazed at the number of people who admire Sarah Palin when she has repeatedly proved herself to be of little substance (what we might call shallow) and ignorant of basic knowledge that I would assume would be a prerequisite to qualifying for higher office and public service. It is idiocy that we think we should defend Sarah Palin from being called ignorant or even stupid but Sarah Palin can tell people to “lock and reload” and she can “target” (with cross hairs) congessional districts and then do a “moi?” (except I doubt she speaks or understands French so she would be more like Alfred E Neuman “What, me.?)

    As long as Sarah Palin (and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck) refuse to see the danger in their propagandizing, there will be no change on their part. As long as they have millions of followers that will also be the case for those millions–escept for the ones that are trying to be better people, who will then tune them out–but that will be a minority.

    It really does come back to peronsal responsibility. As long as Glenn Beck, who knows exactly what he is doing, as long as he refuses to recognize the danger in such vicious discussions–he will continue.

    I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of someone telling how they were offended and hurt by something someone did to them or said about them. In that instance of their recounting their story, have you ever had that pang of guilt, the feeling that you may have done the same awful thing to someone else–and perhaps you even did it fecklessly and without intention of hurting another–but the facts are close enough that you feel bad about what you had done. And you regret it and wish you could take it back or make it up to them.

    I think there are some that have no regrets–not because they have never done or said anything offensive–but because they lack that empathy and compassion.

    The right-wing rhetoric defenders are of this ilk. Sarah Palin cannot concieve that anyone would be upset by her “righteous” outrage at democrats.

    I think this is where she really blew her political chances, too. If she had just said she was sorry that anyone would ever interpret anything she said as intending any violent thought or action toward anyone else, she would have been both forgiven and embraced. Many politicians have learned to say “I’m sorry” even when they weren’t sorry because they had learned it plays well with the public. Not Sarah. She is sticking to her guns. (Perhaps admirable since she really isn’t sorry, but more to the point, she just doesn’t get it. She should be sorry.)

    January 23, 2011
  67. David Ludescher said:

    What my son noticed about Tucson, and what I have been ruminating about since is how badly America needs a king or queen. With the declining authority of the churches, and the growing desire for the media to entertain, we need at least one person whose fortunes are not tied to the Republicans or the Democrats, and who can legitimately speak for the nation – and not just his or her party.

    January 24, 2011
  68. kiffi summa said:

    Jane: with regards to the criticism of your direct speech: I thank anyone in this community who will speak out with the truth as they see it.
    They may not always be correct, but the cultural imperative is to ‘not make waves’.

    The longer this attitude of shaming continues, for speaking what you perceive to be the truth, the longer it takes for wrongful situations to be corrected.

    January 24, 2011
  69. Jane Moline said:

    David: I am all for the leader of the nation part but we fought the king/queen thingy and won. Ha.

    Unfortunately we have many who believe they speak for the nation and that is the problem.

    I think we have had political leaders in the past who did speak for the entire nation. It is, in fact, the current partisanship that has made it nearly impossible to think of anyone who could do so now.

    January 24, 2011
  70. Phil Poyner said:

    Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer a “benevolent dictator”? That way you could avoid the whole line-of-succession problem.

    January 24, 2011
  71. David Ludescher said:


    No. America needs someone apolitical who could go to places like Tucson to keep all of the politicians out. As much as I thought Obama did a masterful job in Tucson, he didn’t belong there, and neither did all of the other politicians who got up and gave speeches.

    Together, the Democrats and Republicans run America even in our most sacred and private moments.

    January 24, 2011
  72. David Ludescher said:


    I’m not so sure. I think partisanship is strong right now because that is what people want, in spite of what they may say. There are plenty of people speaking for the nation. But, they have very little political power, and less moral power.

    January 24, 2011
  73. Phil Poyner said:

    Ah, I think I understand now. You don’t necessarily want a monarchy to rule the American people, but rather one that represents the people as a whole…a unifying figurehead, so to speak. Someone “above the fray” of politics. Scandinavian royalty comes to mind.

    The problem, as I see it, is that it may not work. The reason I say that is because I’m not sure how much the presidents themselves (be they Obama, Bush, Clinton, whoever) are politicizing these events…I think it’s “us” that are doing it. Think of the President attending a wreath laying at Arlington. The event is solemn, subdued, quiet, and there is never a hint of partisanship regardless of who’s president. No, partisanship is most often (in my opinion) added to an occasion by the crowds, and by the pundits, and by the “lesser” politicians. So, what’s to keep the “usual suspects” from doing the same thing with a monarch? Who cares if the monarch insists he’s non-partisan….we all know he’s really on “our side” , right? I guess I feel we’d just pull him back down into the fray with the rest of us.

    Seems it might be a good idea in theory, but one we’d probably mess up in execution.

    January 24, 2011
  74. Jane Moline said:

    David: It surprises me (pleasantly) to say that I agree with you on the partisanship, includig the “less moral power.”

    Phil and David: maybe what we need is for the media to BUTT OUT. What was once reverred as the 4th estate has become a bunch of yapping dogs, rabble rousers, and entertainment called “news.”

    Maybe we need to reinstate The Fairness Doctrine in order to have a little more civil discourse. This would mean that Rush Limbaugh would have to give up his day job, but that is O K with me–he can still go do speaking engagements.

    January 24, 2011
  75. kiffi summa said:

    AZ State Senator Linda Gray quoted today as saying that if the rights of the unborn were more respected, shooting such as those in Tucson could be prevented.

    Sounds more like a threat than a comment…

    Guns and people; guns and angry people; guns and angry people with political agendas; guns and angry people with political/social agendas…. NOT a good mix.

    January 24, 2011
  76. Raymond Daniels said:

    Jane–The fairness doctine is censorship. If people wanted to hear the liberal talking head, their ratings would be up and they would have the same amount of show on the air. What happened to Air America? But I guess that is OK with the left to silence any dissent.

    You keep attacking Rush and the like, but what do you have to say about the congressman that equated the republicans to the Nazi’s? I guess it is ok because he is a democrat. I think I understand now. If you don’t agree with the left, you must be an uneducated, back woods, bafoon and you should just shut up, sit down, and be thankful we can pay our taxes. I get it now. The monarch you want is the liberal left.

    January 24, 2011
  77. David Ludescher said:


    Yeah. Something like the English or Scandinavian monarchs. Or, maybe something like the former presidents. You know, our own secular Pope(s) who could handle all of the ceremonial duties of being American.

    January 24, 2011
  78. Phil Poyner said:

    Jane, I’m not sure if the Fairness Doctrine would still be considered Constitutional in this day and age. In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission (1969), the Supreme Court found that although similar laws are unconstitutional when applied to the press, the Fairness Doctrine was constitutional and cited a Senate report stating that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the limited public airwaves at the time. That is no longer the case. There are hundreds of television channels and radio stations, many more than in the 60’s, and some even stream on the internet. Thanks to the internet I also have access to most major newspapers, regardless of editorial slant, something that wasn’t available in 1969. No one viewpoint could monopolize the media in the way it could have in 1969. Because of that I think today the Supreme Court would find the doctrine to be in violation of the First Amendment. But I’m no lawyer, so my view of this may be completely wrong.

    January 24, 2011
  79. Great Comment in #30 Steph Could not agree anymore maybe Palin can go fishing for the halibut Thanks

    January 25, 2011
  80. Paul Zorn said:


    This is not a comment on #37, just above, but on the Google ad that’s inserted itself between #37 and this reply box. The ad invites us to “Free Newt!” by subscribing to his FREE weekly email newsletter.

    I think I’ll pass on Newt’s FREE offer, but a couple of questions occur:

    1. Are these ads new, or have I just started to notice them? (Doesn’t bother me either way, just wondering.)

    2. The ads I’ve noticed are all from conservative entities, like and, of course, Newt’s blog. That’s perfectly fine with me, but I’m idly curious about how Google selects which ads to run where. Could Google be smart enough to detect whether a site like LGN hews conservative or liberal, and tailor its ads accordingly? If so, any guesses whether Google (i) thinks we’re conservative and hungry for red meat; or (ii) thinks we’re liberal and wants to offer a corrective?

    January 26, 2011
  81. Griff Wigley said:

    Paul, I just put up the Google ads last night and this morning. Thus far, the political ads appear to be a mix of left and right.

    But let’s not discuss them here. I’ll start a new blog post on it, or resurrect an old one.

    January 26, 2011
  82. Steph Henriksen said:


    Did this topic (Tragedy in Tucson) end here? In answer to Dave Roberts #37 above, I hope Palin is not catching halibut. I find them to be lovely and mysterious fish.

    A friend brought one back from Alaska and stored it in my freezer in my apartment above Quality Bakery in 1981. It was the subject of one of my first weekly columns when I was a typesetter at NNews. It was called “the last halibut.”

    March 9, 2011

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