Giffords Stand-in Wins Full Term in AZ

From the AP

Democrat Ron Barber has won a full term representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, squeaking out a win over Republican Martha McSally and giving Democrats a sweep of the state’s three competitive races for U.S. House seats.

Voters decisively picked Barber to fill out the remainder of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords term in a special election in June, but last week’s election was for a full term and was so tight it took until Saturday before a winner was clear. Barber and McSally each held leads since election night, with a difference of only a few dozen votes at times, before Barber steadily began pulling ahead.

By late Friday, Barber had a 1,402-vote margin with more than 285,000 votes cast in the race. Only about 15,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted in Pima County, although not all are in the 2nd District. An Associated Press analysis determined Barber’s lead could not be overcome.

A triple Yippie!

Heroes in Hard Times

There is nothing I am more moved by than men and women who stand up against cruelty, hatred and discrimination.  These three scorpions are popular pets amongst way too many, carried on their shoulders and in their hearts.  Joe Arpaio would be one such person.  So those who stand against his bullying under color of the law deserve our special attention and should be in our pantheons of heroes way higher than the make-believe heroes we make such a fuss over.

 Salvador Reza, [is] an Air Force veteran with long experience in organizing Latino entrepreneurs and day laborers. When Sheriff Arpaio teamed up with local business owners to harass day laborers in 2007, Mr. Reza helped organize weekly protests outside M. D. Pruitt’s furniture store, a now-legendary series of confrontations that drew Minutemen vigilantes and white supremacists to one side of the street, and Mr. Reza and his supporters, accompanied by traditional dancers and musicians, to the other.

Mary Rose Wilcox, the only Democrat, woman and Latina on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, was an early critic of Sheriff Arpaio’s, speaking out against his “saturation patrols” of Latino neighborhoods in 2008, when few other elected officials dared to defy the sheriff. She paid a heavy price: she was indicted by a grand jury in 2009 on dozens of trumped-up corruption charges.

 Lydia Guzman is like a 911 operator for the community. Her advocacy organization, Respect-Respeto, monitors reports of civil-rights violations by the police and sheriff’s deputies and spreads the word so immigrants know their rights when they are detained.

Dennis Gilman is a relentless independent videographer — the chronicler of Arizona in the age of Sheriff Arpaio. When immigration tension erupts, or bad policing happens, you will often find Mr. Gilman and his camera — at white supremacist rallies, pro-immigrant marches, politicians’ and lawyers’ news conferences and the sheriff’s “crime suppression” sweeps.

And quite a  few others.  Thanks to Lawrence Downes and the New York Times for bringing us news about these folks. Let their courage and tenacity spread like fire to many others.

Arizona and the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Tom Zoellner, formerly of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Arizona Republic, lives in Tucson and was a good friend of Gabrielle Giffords.  His new book,  A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America, looks like it might be an interesting contribution to the question of why the shooting happened.  For plenty of people the answer is just bum-luck and insanity: Jared Loughner was insane, he shot her, end of story.  It could have happened to anyone — like the Scottish kindergarten kids shot down by a mad man a few years ago, or the Chinese children knifed by lunatics there.  Nothing about time, place, particular target, social fabric has anything to do with getting at an answer, and any attempts to do so are a typical left-wing excusing of the guilty to indict a city/state/nation.

For others, the answer to why Congresswoman Gifford was shot down, and six others killed, is not so pat.  Loughner did go after Giffords, not a milkman or a Sunday school teacher.  Arizona is chief player in extremely tough rhetoric about very emotional issues — from guns stuck in pockets while going to the movies (or most anywhere else) to immigrants  “flooding” the state and taking social services from those who are opposed to social services anyway.  Commonsense would indicate a close look to see if contributory conditions existed.

Zoellner would seem, from his title, to be in the latter camp. From Gregory Rodriguez’ review in San Francisco Chronicle Books, he’s made a good case.

To his credit, Zoellner doesn’t ascribe the incident solely to the twisted logic of a psychotic 22-year-old. Nor does he simply blame the violence on the incivility that pervades our political culture. Instead, he carefully and convincingly treads new ground and concludes that “events — especially violent ones — never happen in a vacuum; there are always contributing factors to any action, and human beings are far more influenced by the collective psychology of their immediate surroundings than they ever suspect.”

David Ulin at the LA Times, doesn’t think so:

…we have a key contradiction of “A Safeway in Arizona,” which veers between seeing the Giffords shooting as emblematic and isolated, as a metaphor for a larger social dysfunction and the act of a disturbed young man. Zoellner, it seems, believes it’s both, but he never quite articulates that convincingly. Again, it’s a matter of knowing where he stands — but even more, it has to do with his inability to find a through-line, to frame the shooting in the broader terms he seeks.

We’d have to read it ourselves to see which is more right, though, as many big issues today, the best evidence and argumentation is not likely to convince those whose reason is only used like an exo-skeleton to protect the soft meat of their beliefs.

It also seems that the question of what Loughner, or those around him who knew something was wrong, might have done.  Perhaps it’s fitting that in a state and a country with a swelling of neo-libertarian beliefs has been rising, nothing was done, because what might have been done was little known, and barely agreed with.  Better we all practice dodging bullets.