The only surprise was that it took this long

The Washington Post reports:

A gunman, who was identified by law enforcement as James T. Hodgkinson, unleashed a barrage of gunfire at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice. President Trump later announced that the gunman had died.

The gunman was James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., a Bernie Sanders supporter and Donald Trump hater based on his Facebook pages (which Facebook took down early Wednesday afternoon).

The gunman who opened fire this morning on Republican congressmen and staffers recently declared in a Facebook post that, “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

The accused shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, posted a link to a Change.org petition in late-March that included the notation that, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

Hodgkinson’s Facebook page includes numerous photos of Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Hodgkinson appears to have strongly supported during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. In posts last August, Hodgkinson wrote, “I want Bernie to Win the White House” and “Bernie is a Progressive, while Hillary is Republican Lite.” …

According to Hodgkinson’s Facebook page, he is a member of numerous left-leaning online groups, including The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans; Rachel Maddow For President 2020; Sanders For President 2020; Terminate The Republican Party; and Donald Trump is not my President.

The object of Hodgkinson’s worship issued this statement:

Sanders gave the correct response. So did Democrats at the scene, according to the Washington Examiner:

There’s only one response appropriate in the face of tragedy, and the Democrat roster practicing at a different diamond across town displayed it: They prayed.

Wearing sweaty workout clothes, Democrats asked God to protect Republicans. Unable to help their colleagues in the moment, they were driven to their knees, turning a concrete dugout into an impromptu sanctuary.

It was beautiful and it was good. And most of all, it was American.

Our nation’s pastime, baseball is a manifestation of democracy. At least in the National League, every player must be able to throw, field, and bat. Because of that democratic ethos, there’s no division on the field, only unity around the love of this American game.

Throughout our history, baseball has broken down society’s barriers. That happened again this morning. Though partisanship has reached a fever pitch in this country, it hasn’t gotten so bad that liberals won’t pray for conservatives. As a nation, we should put aside what divides us, follow their example, and unite in prayer.

Other liberals had a different response; go to Chicks on the Right for a depressing selection that includes (language alert before you read):

Capitol police were there because Scalise was there; apparently House leadership gets security. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D–California) said there was no security for the Democratic team because there was no leadership there. But apparently Hodgkinson didn’t target Democrats, only Republicans. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Kentucky) said there would have been a “bloodbath” were it not for the Capitol police, who ultimately killed Hodgkinson.

Readers will recall that yesterday I posted an obligatory response to “the next mass shooting.” It was prompted by the one-year anniversary of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting; I didn’t expect it would be pertinent less than two hours after it was posted. So read that to counter the predictable bad-guns responses. I will bet lunch that no readers’ guns went off by themselves in the past 24 hours.

I have been predicting something like this for more than five years. The only surprising thing here is that it took until now for this to happen.

John Moody blames culture:

What did you expect?

“Julius Caesar,” dressed and looking on purpose like Donald Trump, is knifed to death nightly in a New York theater presentation lauded by CNN as “a masterpiece.”

Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee, says “Republican leaders and President Trump don’t give a sh*t about the people they were trying to hurt.”

That noted political philosopher, Madonna, thinks a lot about blowing up the White House. …

There is a kind of head-shaking inevitability about the attack on Rep. Steve Scalise, his protective detail and his aides. Democrats are fully justified in being disappointed, even enraged, that Trump was elected instead of Sanders or Hillary Clinton. But far too many seem to feel that because Trump is an unconventional president, there are no bounds to what can be said, threatened, broadcast or published about him.

Are there any late-night comedians who haven’t joined the competition to say the most shocking things about the president? Stephen Colbert, willing to do anything to breathe ratings life into his deeply unfunny show, concocted, that’s right, concocted a term to suggest Trump performs oral sex on Vladimir Putin. The result: uproarious laughter and higher ratings.

The once-venerable New York Times, whose anti-rich people, pro-transgender, government as nanny state agenda has been on view for years, has abandoned any attempt at objective reporting on the current administration. Surprisingly, some people still read the Times, and cannot help but be influenced by its out-there stridency.  

Bellwether won’t even bother to call for restraint, now that the violent passions on display have crossed the line to shooting violence. Restraint seems too noble a goal to hope for. Instead, how about three days of silent, personal reflection among all the anti-Trumpers who have worked themselves into a collective hissy-fit that knows no trip-wire? Seventy-two hours of keeping your minds open and your mouths shut. Too much to ask?

No one expects liberals to fall in line behind Trump, who has made it easy to hate him with his undisciplined, sometimes uncouth speeches and tweets. He has magnified the natural, understandable conflicts that arise in politics.

It is possible to despise the president and his policies without violence? It is impossible to justify what happened Wednesday morning. But, just watch. Some will try.

Everything Moody lists (and all those tweets previously presented) protected by the First Amendment, as they should be. But the First Amendment does not absolve someone of the consequences of their free expression (see Griffin, Kathy, Former Career), nor does it require anyone to support, in Moody’s list, Griffin’s beheaded Trump, or Julius Caesar Trump’s nightly assassination.

Unlike the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D–Arizona), where there was no discernible political motive (and the shooter was a registered Democrat), there clearly was a political motive here. The Post also reports:

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), who represented the district where alleged shooter James T. Hodgkinson resided, said that Hodgkinson had contacted his office 14 times through email or telephone.

Bost said his staff conducted a search after law enforcement contacted him this morning about the suspect.

“Every issue that we were working on, he was not in support of,” Bost said, saying the communications were of a left-wing slant but delivered “never with any threats, only anger.”

“This one never crossed the line, but he was always angry,” said Bost, who said his office continues to cooperate with law enforcement.

And

James T. Hodgkinson, identified by police as the suspect in Wednesday morning’s shooting, wrote frequent letters to the editor of his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. The paper has now published a collection of those letters from 2012, in which Hodgkinson repeatedly raised concerns about the nation’s income inequality and was deeply critical of Republican policies and tax breaks for the wealthy.

“Let’s vote all Republicans out of Congress, and get this country back on track,” Hodgkinson wrote in July 2012. “If we don’t want another Great Depression, we should reelect the man who is working for the working man. President Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” policy did not work, and never will. A strong middle class is what a country needs to prosper.”

The next month, he wrote: “I have never said ‘life sucks,’ only the policies of the Republicans.”

Hodgkinson also called for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana to “stimulate the economy.”

Read the letters here.

The News–Democrat, which probably had the most number of hits on its website it will ever have yesterday, reported:

Hodgkinson has a varied arrest record in St. Clair County, for offenses such as failing to obtain electrical permits, damaging a motor vehicle, resisting a peace officer, eluding police, criminal damage to property, driving under the influence and assorted traffic offenses.

I’m not a psychiatrist, but neither his letters (every newspaper has serial letter writers) nor his non-violent arrest record suggests mental illness, which makes the claims of Hodgkinson’s being a wacko unconvincing. His apparently having spent considerable time in the Arlington area makes it appear as though this was premeditated, not merely someone who snapped in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One of Hodgkinson’s possible targets, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Alabama), had this to say, as reported by the Washington Examiner;

Brooks, R-Ala., was on deck to bat and gave a harrowing account of the gunfire. Asked later whether it had affected his views on gun control, Brooks said, “not with respect to the Second Amendment.”

“The Second Amendment right to bear arms is to ensure that we always have a republic. And as with any other constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights, there are adverse aspects to each of those rights that we enjoy as people. And what we just saw here is one of the bad side effects of someone not exercising those rights properly.”

Brooks said many amendment rights besides the Second Amendment can have “adverse aspects” as well.

“We’re not going to get rid of freedom of speech because some people say some really ugly things that hurt other people’s feelings,” Brooks said. “We’re not going to get rid of Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights because it allows some criminals to go free who should be behind bars. These rights are there to protect Americans, and while each of them has a negative aspect to them, they are fundamental to our being the greatest nation in world history.”

The News–Democrat quotes an eyewitness, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R–Illinois):

“The camaraderie exists. That’s a misperception. We have great camaraderie out here between Republicans and Democrats. I urge you to ask many of the Democrats I’ve served with, No. 1, if they know me, and No. 2, what we’ve worked on together. Because we’ve worked on a lot of things together in a very bipartisan way. We have to come together as Americans.

“We have to take this tragedy that we saw today that could have been much, much worse, and turn it into a positive, to let Americans know if you disagree with your political leaders, that’s OK. That’s why we have elections. But let’s not ratchet up the hateful speech.

“We see stories about policies are going to lead to the death of people. That’s political rhetoric that has run amok and has turned into hate and it may, may be the reason why we saw the senseless tragedy that we saw today. And if it is, this could be the first political rhetorical terrorist act that we’ve seen on our soil. And we can change that. Only we can change that.”

A Facebook Friend pointed out that “What most people don’t know is, in spite of deep policy debates you see on TV, these legislators are friends.” Which should make the cynical think that Washington is really more about the Incumbent Party and not about serving the people who voted for them. Overheated rhetoric, excessive (however you define that) political spending and, yes, politically inspired violence like yesterday are the natural result of government that does too much and has too much power over our lives. That is the fault of everyone in office, Republican, Democrat or party-less, and those working for politicians. The only way you’re going to change that is to take power away from government, and not just at the federal level, but at every level.

I’ve written this so often I should just copy and paste it, but it’s still true: Politics is a zero-sum game. One side wins; therefore the other side loses. If you believe abortion is murder, and you lose a vote to end abortion rights (or a Supreme Court decision doesn’t end abortion rights), you lost. If you believe taxation is theft, and a tax cut bill passes, all you will do is be less of a victim of theft. If you believe no one should have the right to own guns, every gun in the country is a loss for you. And few people, having lost on a vote, will admit maybe they were wrong, which makes a politics a sport of infinite length where no one ultimately wins. And there are many, many problems — arguably most — that government cannot solve, despite politicans’ trying to get you to believe otherwise.

Politics does not suck because of our system, however. Politics sucks because people suck, and it could be argued that people in politics suck more because they want to control the lives of those below them. Thoughts and prayers for the victims will not change the flawed nature of man.

In a democracy, political violence doesn’t accomplish any goal beyond, in the case of assassination, removing someone from office. If Democrats got their goal and Donald Trump left the White House today, his replacement would be Vice President Mike Pence, as has happened every time a president died while in office and when Richard Nixon resigned. If Scalise, who was in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, cannot continue in office, there is a process to replace him. Whatever Hodgkinson thought he was accomplishing by firing at (and mostly missing) Congressional Republicans, all he gained was attention to himself, which is useless to someone who’s dead.

 

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