News & Notes January 24, 2012

I live in the 126th House District where Dante Santoni Jr. recently announced he won’t run for re-election.  I’ve been involved in discussions with some folks considering runs but no one is yet ready to announce.  As soon as I do have news I will Tweet it.

Today begins the official period for gathering signatures on nominating petitions.  It is the first opportunity for candidates to canvass and listen to voters and their concerns.

I watched the long Supreme Court session yesterday where appeals of reapportionment were heard.  Spending five hours listening to lawyers should be grounds for cruel and unusual punishment.

President Obama makes his State of the Union address tonight at 9 PM.  It is the unofficial kickoff of his campaign.  Parkside, PA teacher Sara Ferguson will be in the First Lady’s box this evening.

The President spoke with Sue and Jay Paterno yesterday offering his condolences on the loss of Joseph Vincent Paterno Sunday.  Writing the article about Joe was one of the most difficult I’ve ever done.  This man touched everyone who ever attended Penn State, whether we met him or not.  Because he insisted the university be as great as its football team we all benefited from his high standards.  There will be a memorial service at the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday.

The Republican presidential field is down to Romney and Gingrich (for all practical purposes).  Either one will be dead meat coming out of their convention.  They have so much baggage they’ll need additional planes to carry it around the campaign trail.  Both believe corporations have more rights than real people.  They have supported the erosion of our rights while expanding those of business entities.  Think Progress released this video of Mitt yesterday:

Bill Bispels of Kutztown announced his candidacy for the 187th House District.  There is at least one other Democrat circulating petitions for this seat.

Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer has tripped badly coming out of the gate.  He released a policy over the weekend insisting that all city employees refrain from speaking to the press.  He is saying that all press contacts go through his Communications Director.  One problem is that City Council hasn’t authorized such a position and, after this, likely won’t.  It is still possible for city employees to communicate with me via personal cell phones, iPads or computers (their own) while at lunch or after regular hours.

I just listened to Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Allentown Diocese) lament the fate of children suffering at the hands of adults.  It’s a shame he doesn’t feel the same way about children abused by Catholic priests.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona announced her resignation from Congress so she can focus on her rehabilitation.  This is a wise decision as she needs to concentrate on her own recovery and her constituents deserve full time representation.

News & Notes January 19, 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be moved to a rehabilitation facility in Houston this week.  Her husband is an astronaut and trains in Houston so this makes sense.

Dick Cheney is deciding whether or not to continue with his mechanical heart or go on a transplant list.  How horrible would it be to die suddenly then have your heart go into Darth Cheney?  Its enough to make one change their mind about being an organ donor!  I know the man never really had a real heart and I certainly wouldn’t want him getting mine.

Republicans in Congress, covered by government health care, will vote this week to deny you your health care coverage.  This is folly because polls show jobs remain the foremost concern of voters.  As the GOP imitates Nero jobs continue to burn.

Alabama’s new Governor Robert Bentley said if you’re not christian you are not his brother or sister.  I sure am glad I’m not related to him!

A Reading woman became infamous this week after falling into a fountain at Berkshire Mall while texting.  Has anyone not watched the video on YouTube?  Aside from being cluelessly unable to walk and text at the same time she has found no humor in her misfortune.

Jean Claude Duvalier returned from exile to his native Haiti inexplicably this week.  He was promptly arrested.  A tyrant who plundered his country after his father died “Baby Doc” terrorized the poor people of his homeland before being overthrown and fleeing in exile to France.  The problem with living in exile is that you can never go home again without risking prosecution.  Is this man this stupid?  Yes.

Sargent Shriver died yesterday at age 95.  Founder of the Peace Corps under his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s Administration he was one of the last of that generation of Kennedys.  We need more dedicated families like the Kennedys in America.

Senators Kent Conrad and Joe Lieberman both announced they won’t run for re-election in 2012.  Both are owned by Corporate America and won’t be missed.  Lieberman dug his political grave for supporting the war in Iraq and John McCain.

Gabby’s TBI

There was jubilation last night when President Obama announced that Rep. Giffords had opened her eyes.  While this is a good sign we must not delude ourselves into thinking she will recover or be alright.  Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head.  She suffered a very serious traumatic brain injury and her recovery, assumes she recovers, will be long and hard.  Her days serving her constituents in Congress are over.  We should all be realisitc about this and not adorn rose colored glasses thinking some magical recovery is around the corner.

Recovery from TBI is long and hard.  I know because I went through it.  My TBI happened on November 21, 1984 and I am still not fully recovered, I never will be.  My injury paled in comparison to the one suffered by the Congresswoman and I have terrible memories of the struggle to recover enough to do what I do now.  Even now I have bad days.  When you don’t see new content on the blog sometimes it because I am having a bad day.  Gabby Giffords faces some terribly long days ahead assuming she can recover at all.

Watching the reports from UMC in Tucson and listening to expert commentary takes me back to 1984 and the road I embarked upon.  Not being able to remember the simplest things for even scant seconds, speech and hearing losses, personality change, major depression, cognitive functions which were extremely poor and the impulsive drives from my brain which I had to learn to control.  Those are only the major issues I dealt with.  To this day I have trouble listening to shows such as WHYY had on this morning because it brings back all those memories.  Marty Moss-Coane had guests speak about TBI and how every patient reacts and recovers differently.  The brain is very complex and not even the best doctors and surgeons can say if the Congresswoman can ever recover.

It is very early in the process for her.  It took me well over twenty years before I could really function well enough to get back into the real world.  I didn’t have a bullet go through my brain.  The neurological tests being administered thus far are only on the most elemental level.  Until she can say who she is, what she does, where she lives, works, etc. we won’t know if basic functions remain.  If not (she may be unable even to speak) she’ll have to learn everything completely as if she were a child.

The problems with TBI are legion and complicated.  Realizing what has happened to you causes major depression but that can be treated.  As the docs on this morning’s show stated this is actually a good sign because it means one understands what has happened to them.  Accepting it is an entirely different thing.  My life took a very dramatic turn that day in 1984.  Today my life is rewarding and productive but it has taken time, effort and the work of doctors.  Hopefully Gabby will see dramatic improvement but this is likely to be a very slow process.  Let us celebrate each positive sign but also realize these are but the first steps in a very long journey.

Equating Dueling and Political Terrorism

Sarah Palin finally descended from her lofty throne and released a statement four days after the shootings in Tuscon.  She compared the current level of political vitriol with the past equating it with dueling.  Let’s examine the similarities:

Duels always began with a challenge

Jared Loughren issued no such challenge

Dueling offered the challenger a choice of weapons

Loughren gave no such opportunity

Duels required both parties to be armed equally

The victims in Tuscon were unarmed

Loughren had a Glock 19, 31 bullets and two additional 15 bullet magazines

Duels had rules and etiquette

Loughren afforded no warnings, no chance for escape, no mercy

Duels generally left no one injured as the pistols were very inaccurate and each participant had but one bullet apiece

Loughren killed six, hit 18 and had 61 bullets to his victim’s none

Duels always afforded the challenger the opportunity to decline at the cost of his honor

Loughren allowed no one to decline and the cost to them was their lives.

Yes, I can see why Sarah Palin would equate one with the other in her warped mind.

I will exact a price to the Right Wing Hate Machine and its followers after this week:  until you accept full personal responsibility for your actions and behavior I will not allow any more condescending rhetoric from you about others accepting “personal responsibility.”  For anything.

Tucson Update

Thus far no one in the Right Wing Hate Machine has taken responsibility for their vitriol.  Sarah Palin’s staff is still claimin gthe gun sights on their graphic last year were surveyors marks.  This in spit of the fact Sarah Palin herself Tweeted after the election that 18 of their 20 “bullseyes” had been defeated.  So if they were bullseyes in November why are they surveyors marks now?  Because some lunatic took them literally and shot one of their targets.

Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.  Her staffer Gabriel Zimmerman is dead, two other staffers wounded and Jared Loughner has been charged with five federal counts.  State charges for the victims who weren’t federal employees are coming we can assume.

The shooter bought the Glock two months ago even though everyone who knew him knew he was unbalanced.  Pima Community College suspended him after five disturbances on campus and fellow students complained they thought he’d come to campus with a gun and begin shooting.  He had three extended magazines and emptied the first magazine of twenty bullets.  Had three heroes not tackled and held him to the ground many more people would have been shot.  Giffords’ intern Daniel Hernandez, a gay man, held her head to stanch the bleeding and may have saved her life.  It was his fifth day on the job.

Police found numerous envelopes and letters left by the shooter according to court affidavits, spelling out his intention to assassinate the Congresswoman.  There is no doubt as to his target.  Three of the dead were in their seventies along with the 9 year old girl.  Christine Green was brought to the event by a neighbor because she had just been elected to her school’s student council.

This was an unspeakable tragedy and to those who say this isn’t the time for finger pointing or laying blame I say yes, it is.  We must hold those accountable who stoke these fires, incite this violence and enrage the public against us.  There must be accountability and there is no better time than when that happens.  Otherwise we are simply burying our heads in the sand until it happens again and we ask why?

Those who say they believe in personal responsibility must accept it.

The Aftermath

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords apparently made it through the night which is good news.  The bad is that she has suffered a tragic traumatic brain injury.  She is one of the lucky ones.  Six people have died including Christine Green, born on September 11, 2001 and the grandchild of former Phillies manager Dallas Green.  It’s interesting how something as far away as Arizona can hit home.

While the rhetoric of violence on the right wing escalated last year and major candidates such as Sharron Angle were encouraging their followers to resort to “Second Amendment remedies” they are refusing to take personal responsibility now that someone has.   If you’re unwilling to accept personal responsibility for your actions I never again want to hear your pathetic demands that poor people accept personal responsibility for your racism.

A vigil has sprung up outside the University Medical Center in Tuscon for the victims.  Included inthis video by Politico is a picture of Judge John C. Noll who was slain while simply saying hello to his friend the Congresswoman near his home.

Today we begin dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy.  Police have released a picture of a second man whom they deem a “person of interest.”  It appears to be a still photo captured from a video surveillance camera.  The Sheriff reported last evening that the alleged gunman is refusing to answer questions after invoking his rights.  I suppose he’s just unbalanced and not crazy.  You couldn’t convince me he was insane when he did this if he knew enough to lawyer up.  According to an eyewitness who helped pin the shooter the gunman had two additional extended magazines which he intended to use.  CNN did this interview.  

Where do we go from here?  What is the future of this nation post Tuscon?  Do we continue to embrace violence as a solution or begin serious discussions about guns, unbalanced people and those who intentionally incite them to violence?  

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

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Arizona Congresswoman Shot at Meeting

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was one of 12 people shot at a Safeway supermarket in Tuscon today.  She was conducting a constituent meeting at the time of the shooting.  I certainly hope this isn’t more violence incited by Glenn Beck and Fox News.  If so all FCC licenses to News Corporation should be suspended.

Update:  CNN says the Congresswoman has died.  Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.

Sarah Palin also has blood on her hands.  On her Sarah PAC website she has gun crosshairs on numerous Democrats including… Gabrielle Giffords.  Did Sarah Palin incite this assassination?


Update II:  Cnn has retracted their report about Giffords’ death.  She is in surgery.  Four people are dead including a federal Judge.  The gunman has been identified as Jared Laughner, 22.  The Sheriffs Department said he fired a pistol with an extended magazine.  He is in custody.