Congressional Approval Rebounds Slightly

A new Gallup Poll finds approval of the job Congress is doing jumped to 20% — after falling to a record-low 13% last month.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“We cannot be unaware of the fact that — particularly with the internet — there’s this huge echo chamber out there. And everything any of us says falls on the unhinged and the hinged alike.”

— Bill Clinton, in a BBC interview, commenting on the Arizona shootings.

A New Kennedy

“On the 50th anniversary of one of President Kennedy’s most famous speeches, his great-nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy III, stood in the same spot in the Massachusetts House today and delivered his own address, decrying the vituperative political rhetoric that he said is tearing at the nation’s fabric,” the Boston Globe reports.

Said Senate President Therese Murray: “Pretty amazing. I think we have a new Kennedy. He hit it out of the park.”

“Afterward, Kennedy demurred about his own political future, saying he is happy with his current job. But his speech was clearly intended to help him join a national conversation in the wake of the recent shooting in Arizona that killed six and gravely wounded US Representative Gabrielle Giffords.”

Djou Slams Door on Political Life

Former Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI) “made a rather ungracious exit from his brief stint representing Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District,” the Honolulu Star Advertiserreports.

At his farewell news conference, Djou assailed his successor, Colleen Hanabusa (D), in advance for any disappointments Hawaii might suffer on issues such as federal funding of infrastructure projects

He added: “Currently, I have no plans to run for any political office ever again.”

Daniels Compares Illinois to “The Simpsons”

In an interview on WLS-AM, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) compared the state government of neighboring Illinois to the television show The Simpsons.

Said Daniels: “Oh you guys are nothing if not entertaining over there. It’s like living next door to The Simpsons, you know the dysfunctional family down the block? Watching you guys, I mean I shouldn’t make too light of it, I think this is really a bad situation.”

New Political Comedy on HBO

A new HBO comedy titled “VEEP” and starring Julia-Louis Dreyfus will start filming late next month, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The show is about a former senator “who finds being vice president of the United States is nothing like she expected and everything everyone ever warned her about.”

Heller Would Beat Ensign in Senate Primary

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Nevada finds Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) leading Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) in a U.S. Senate primary, 52% to 34%.

In early October, Ensign led Heller, 45% to 37%.

Aren’t Both Sides Guilty of Inflamed Rhetoric?

George Packer: “In fact, there is no balance — none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.”

No Talk Radio for Chafee

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) will not appear on talk radio and intends to ban state employees from spending their state work time talking on talk radio, theProvidence Journal reports.

A spokesman said the new policy emanates from a belief that talk radio is essentially “ratings-driven, for-profit programming,” and “we don’t think it is appropriate to use taxpayer resources” in the form of state employee work time to “support for-profit, ratings-driven programming.”

Insiders Think Talent Run Not Likely

Former Sen. Jim Talent’s (R-MO) once likely bid for U.S. Senate “is no longer a safe bet. In fact, Republican insiders are now hedging against it,” reports Dave Catanese.

“While close advisers initially signaled Talent would settle on a decision by the end of 2010, it’s apparent an announcement has been put off and Republicans in the Show-Me state are increasingly concluding he may not have the stomach for another grueling campaign.”

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Talent is traveling in Afghanistan with Mitt Romney leading to speculation he “might be more comfortable in an advisory role on a national campaign than as the principal in his own.”

Bloomberg Was In Bermuda?

Though New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t comment on his private schedule, the New York Times finds evidence that his private plane was in Bermuda when a major snowstorm hit New York City just after Christmas.

Huckabee Remains Strong in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa shows Mike Huckabee leading the Republican presidential race with 30%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18%, Sarah Palin at 15% and Newt Gingrich at 13%.

The big winner if Huckabee doesn’t run would be Palin — she’s the second choice of 26% of his voters followed by 16% for Romney.

Neighborhood Research poll released yesterday also found Huckabee leading in Iowa.

Manchin Would Not Have Run Ad

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the West Virginia Gazette that in the wake of the Arizona shootings he probably would not have aired his advertisement last year in which he shot a stack of cap-and-trade legislation.

Said Manchin: “I can’t say that we would, I really can’t. Because it’s a much more sensitive thing we’re dealing with right now.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I can’t be remorseful for something I think I didn’t do.”

— Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), quoted by the Austin American Statesman, indicating he’ll fight his three year prison sentence for conspiracy to launder campaign funds.

Palin’s Silence

First Read: “By the way, the silence from Sarah Palin — besides her offer of condolences on Saturday and her email to Glenn Beck — has been deafening… In many ways, this moment is a presidential test, and she’s chosen to ignore it so far.”

Greg Sargent: “This story has now raged well out of control for Palin, revealing the limitations of her current communications approach. For the first time, Palin’s foes sense a real opportunity to take her down a few pegs without any serious political risk to themselves.”

Along those lines, Ben Smith notes the fact that Tim Pawlenty “isn’t treading as delicately around her as he used to” is a sign the political damage to Palin is real.

Obama Would Crush Christie in New Jersey

Public Policy Polling: “Barack Obama would easily win New Jersey again if he had to stand for reelection today, even if Republicans put forth Chris Christie as their candidate. Obama leads Christie by a 17 point margin in a hypothetical contest, the same amount Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich trail by. Mitt Romney does the best of the leading Republican contenders in the state, trailing Obama by 15, and Sarah Palin has one of her worst performances in any state we’ve polled to date, lagging the President by a whooping 30 points.”

Limbaugh Says Democrats Want to “Profit” from Shootings

Rush Limbaugh claimed that Democrats are looking to politicize the shootings in Arizona, according to Roll Call.

The Democratic Party, he said, is “a party that seeks to profit out of murder” adding that the political left “openly wishes for such disaster in order to profit from it.”

Said Limbaugh: “The desperate hope that the losers in November of 2010 had was that they could revitalize their political fortunes because of this unfortunate shooting of a Congresswoman in Arizona. But the left is depraved, empty and without any political substance whatsoever.”

Inside the Race for RNC Chairman

Mike Murphy: “RNC elections are very hard to predict. They run under special rules of gravity based nearly as much on personal relationships as ideology. My handicapping — a partially informed guess at best — is as follows. Reince Priebus, the very able Wisconsin state chair is the clear front-runner. Michael Steele the incumbent is way behind and nearly certain to lose. Most of the voters are still not telling outsiders their choice. But the actual committee members are talking to each other and those of us who have been around politics a long time and know a lot of committee members are hearing a certain buzz from the murky situation.That said, I think the likely final dynamic of the race will be Priebus versus the winner of a not-Priebus contest among the other candidates: (Maria Cino, Ann Wagner, Michael Steele and Saul Anuzis).”

The Hotline‘s latest whip count for Friday’s vote has Priebus at 38 votes, Steele at 17, Anuzis at 14, Wagner at 14 and Cino at 12. There are still 73 undeclared vores.

Quote of the Day

“We are not leaving if you don’t want us to leave.”

— Vice President Biden, quoted by ABC News, in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai emphasizing the U.S. military commitment to his country.

Most Feel Rhetoric Unrelated to Shooting

A new CBS News poll finds 57% of Americans say the country’s heated political rhetoric is not to blame for the Tucson shooting rampage that left six dead and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).

However, Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated — 69% said rhetoric was not to blame; 19% said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue — 49% saw no connection; 42% said there was.

Berkley Postpones Decision on Senate Bid

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) has delayed announcing whether or not she will run for U.S. Senate for the seat currently held by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV).

Earlier, she had said she’d make a decision by Valentine’s Day but told Jon Ralstonlast night that her decision would come during “late spring, early summer.”

Pawlenty Wouldn’t Have Used Crosshairs

As he kicks off his book tour, Tim Pawlenty was barely willing to defend Sarah Palin to the New York Times over criticisms for her incendiary language that some claim provoked the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (R-AZ) over the weekend.

Said Pawlenty: “There’s no indication at present that those cross hairs, Fox News, any particular commentator or show or set of remarks or person was a motivating factor in his thoughts.”

However, when asked if he would have produced a similar map, Pawlenty said, “I wouldn’t have done it.”



A Meditation on the Attempted Assassination of Arizona Representative Gabrielle

Giffords and the Necessity of Speaking Truth in Violent Times

9 January 2011

A Sermon, James Ishmael Ford, First Unitarian Church

Providence, Rhode Island


The Sunday after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, my husband’s family attended their Presbyterian church.  They went with heavy hearts, expecting the pastor to help make sense of the tragedy.  The minister rose to preach.  The congregation held its breath.  But he said nothing of the events in Memphis.  He preached as if nothing had happened. My husband’s family left church that day disappointed; eventually, they left that church altogether.

This Sunday, many Americans will go to church.  A sizeable number of those people may be hoping to hear something that helps them make sense of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the others who had gathered at her sidewalk townhall in Tucson.  Some pastors may note the event in prayer and some may say something during announcements or add a sentence to their sermons.  But others might say nothing, sticking instead to prepared texts and liturgies.  Many will eschew speaking of politics.  That would be a mistake.

If we don’t speak for the soul, our silence will surely aid evil.

Saturday morning at ten o’clock Arizona time in a Safeway supermarket parking lot in Tucson, an apparently deranged young man, Jared Lee Loughner came up to Representative Gabrielle Giffords and put a bullet through her head. He then continued shooting into the crowd. Federal Judge John Roll, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush was killed on the spot, as was Gabe Zimmerman, the Representative’s local director of community outreach.  Christina Taylor Green, a nine-year old girl died a few hours later during surgery desperately attempting to save her life. Including Congresswoman Giffords, the judge, the child and four others who have died it seems at least nineteen people were shot. A number of the survivors are in critical condition. Details are still confused.

However, already blame is being assigned. One conservative writer wanted to make sure people knew Loughner listed the Communist Manifestoamong his favorite books. Ignoring, of course, that the same list included Mein Kampf. People on the left point to the poisoned political atmosphere, much of it associated with the right wing Tea Party movement. So, far, the slender evidence currently available points to someone mentally unbalanced, following his own inner demons. The best that can be discerned at this moment is some sort of vague grudge against government.

On the other hand our political atmosphere is indeed poisoned. Sarah Palin’s distasteful website targeting vulnerable democratic congressional seats by putting up cross hair target graphics, as well as her rhetorical flourish on a tweet calling upon her supporter’s to “not retreat, instead reload” is an egregious example. The worst example, however, from the recent election is probably Nevada’s Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle’s calling for “second amendment remedies” to political issues. Even Representative Gifford’s opponent in the last election held a fundraiser at a shooting range, where he fired an M16 while calling upon supporters to help remove her from office. This political atmosphere is oxygen for the crazed and violent.

However, while the rhetoric of violence has mostly been associated with the American right, it should not be missed how politicians right and left have stood with the representative and her family at this horrific time, as best I can tell without hesitation. Republican House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged his horror at the shooting, saying “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.” Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the shooting a “terrible act” and a “national tragedy.” I heard a Republican congressman whose office was near Giffords,’ being interviewed, and while speaking of her and her staff, breaking into sobs.

Representative Giffords was, forgive me, is a Blue Dog, a moderate, in some areas liberal, in others conservative. She took a much stronger stand on immigration than I feel necessary, although she did oppose that abomination SB 1070. In another crunch I am deeply grateful for her vote for health care reform. The night of that vote the glass doors of her Tucson office were shattered by a vandal or vandals, a small fact not to be forgotten. Our political atmosphere is poisoned.

She was, is, also well liked in the House, and while it is to be assumed politicians of right and left from the Governor of Arizona to the President of the United States would speak of her as a personal friend, it well may be true. Gabby, as she is known to friends and constituents is a genuinely likeable person, hard working, and difficult to categorize. Not the obvious target even in these terrible times.

But these are terrible times.

So, what it means is far from clear. What to bring here to this Meeting House isn’t at all obvious. I know a vague disgust mixed with anxiety for the Representative, for our republic, for all of us. Perhaps you share this, or your own mix, possibly including anger, maybe fear.

National Journal editor Matthew Cooper notices this is the first American woman politician to be shot. “It’s a reminder that female politicians,” Cooper observes, “Are no more protected than female cops or firefighters, soldiers or corrections officers. And yet the first time we hear about a mother killed in the line of duty or a female POW, it curdles the stomach, not because of paternalism but because it marks a new barrier of decency that’s been broken.” He adds, how now, “We live in a country that’s more like Indira Gandhi’s India or Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan than we had thought.”

We are in times of great upheaval. So much has happened, so many social and economic changes over these past decades. When I was young my mother explained how there would never be a woman national news anchor because their voices couldn’t command authority. So sad that she thought such things. So, amazing that such a thought is alien to most of us today. And now a female politician has been shot.

A few colleagues exchanged notes on Facebook about this, and what we should say from our pulpits. One said, whatever people do, don’t go for “let’s all be nicer to each other.” Don’t call for a silencing of debate. And I agree. While I believe in common decency in how we relate to each other, in the power of civil discourse, and how dialing back some of this rhetoric is important, I agree with my friend the issues are too important to allow the crazies to shut us up.

My faith is grounded in a belief in the preciousness of the individual in all our passing glory and in how we take our being, each and every one of us out of some great and mysterious unity that we are all part of, a glorious radically interdependent web. No web no individual. No individual, no web.  We are one. And the expression of that knowing is love.

This means when I leave this Meeting House I am informed in profound ways about what is important. And inside this Meeting House and outside I must speak from that place of intimate experience. It is the possible healing of this world, of this country, of our individual hearts. This is the way of love, not a simpering, maudlin love, but a dynamic and challenging love. A love that calls us to know we are all in this together. I need to proclaim, to speak. I will speak for individuals. I will speak for families. I will speak for this lovely country. I will speak for our precious planet.

And I will not be shut up.

Economically, it means not allowing our trending to capitalist excess to own the day. If we had a socialist movement, I would be critical of it. But we don’t. Never have. Instead our shadow in this country is economic greed, and there is a constant pull to unfetter business, to disallow regulation, and to let business do the business of business no matter the social cost. I have no brief against business and economic activity. It is a human thing. It can be glorious. And, it has deep shadows, including the inclination for the rich to simply continue getting richer while the poor get poorer. The growing gap between the fabulously rich and the rest of us, and the increasing uncertainties needs to be noticed, needs to be challenged. And challenged from a pulpit informed by a deep knowing of our intimate connections, all of us. The average American is being taken for a ride, hearing the false witness of conservative and libertarian economists and other apologists for the rich, pretending we all might get there, too. For the sake of the many, for those who have never benefited from the business of business, as well as those who have succeed in this enterprise but remain of good heart for all, who show us how it can be done, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for the poor who have broken one law to cross our borders, to become a part of the dream of possibility, who provide the hardest labor upon which this country’s comforts are built, but who live in shadow and fear and become the scapegoat for those who would rather we not look into the dark hearts of those who are making most of the money, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for a fair and equitable access to healthcare for every one of us, I will not be silenced. Speaking for access to a good education for all, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for those who are given second class tickets to the feast of life because of their color, and who continue to struggle, having to be twice as good to get to the first rung of our society’s economic ladder, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for women who have finally, in this country, at least, and some others, achieved most of the rights we assume are human rights, but whose positions are still fragile, who need men to stand with them, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for lesbians and gays and bisexuals and the transgendered, people who have been for too long the easy scapegoat for imagined ills, whose love has been denied for vastly too long, and who now stand at the edge of genuine freedom and an authentic place within our culture, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for our precious planet, beautiful and fragile, ravaged by our human hands, and in need of healing, I will not be silenced.

Speaking for this wondrous country of possibility, acknowledging its long shadows, and its astonishing potentials, a republic of dreams, a home for the birds of paradise, celebrating it for its good and chastising it for its crimes, I will not be silenced.

And, neither should you.

Our faith calls us to look deep within our own hearts, to see who and what we are, and to sense who and what we might be, to take nothing for granted, to challenge all authority, very much including that which is proclaimed from this pulpit, but even more that which resides within each of your, of our hearts.

We must embrace the open way if we should ever hope to heal ourselves, our country, our world.  And we should not let those with guns with threats of guns silence us.

The price for that silence would be too great.

The need for us to stand up and speak is too important.

This is the way of love. This is the call of our faith.



Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

One Comment on “POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/12”

  1. possum Says:

    And Amen.
    Having lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East, I never thought I would feel as unsafe as I do in my own country.

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