Monday, November 30, 2015

Oh Dear: American Deja Vu & Madness

Victim Ke'Arre Stewart, 29
Sadly, here we are again. What a way to close out the month.

Another weekend dominated by the dark shadow cast by more senseless gun violence from yet another incident of home-grown terrorism.

As you've likely heard or read by now, this latest mass shooting began around 11:30am last Friday when 57-year-old Robert Dear entered the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs with an assault-style rifle and started shooting.

As widely reported the three innocent victims include a married 44-year-old police officer and father of two named Garret Swasey, a 35-year-old wife and mother named Jennifer Markovsky and Ke'Arre Stewart, a 29-year-old Army veteran (pictured left) who served overseas with the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq - along with nine other people who were wounded.

Earlier this morning Joan Malin, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in New York City appeared on a segment of The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the impact of Friday's shooting on the organization's services, facilities and employees. 

During the interview she mentioned that Garret Swasey, the campus police officer who raced to the scene of the shooting to help other first responders, was actually a pro-life Christian who strongly opposed abortion; but yet he still went to the Planned Parenthood facility to try and help save lives - and ultimately gave his own.

That has stuck in my mind all day.

To me the scope of this latest horror is multiplied by a few disturbing things, first of which as I mentioned before is that this is just the latest in a string of incidents with troubling similarities.

John Russell Houser
It was only back in late July of this year when 59-year-old John Russell Houser walked into the Grand 16  movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana and purchased a ticket to a 7:10pm showing of the Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck. 

He then sat at the rear of the theater for about 20 minutes before opening fire with a .40-caliber handgun - killing two women and wounding nine other people before turning the gun on himself.

Houser turned out to have had an extensive and documented  history with extremist right-wing views on topics like gender, immigration, race and politics.

According to Wikipedia:

"The July 27th issue of The Hollywood Reporter reported that investigators believed Houser chose to commit his attack in a theater playing Trainwreck due to its feminist themes and characters, as well as its lead actor's Jewish background. Houser was said to have been a misogynist and praised the actions of Adolf Hitler on online message boards."

Shooter Robert Dear
Like Houser, shooter Robert Dear seems to have been a troubled loner with extremist right-wing leanings who was motivated by the toxic extremist rhetoric manufactured by Republican politicians in Washington who turned the vilification of Planned Parenthood into a national obsession.

Only the modern conservative mindset could explain how in the world a provider of health care services like Planned Parenthood could be cast as the manifestation of evil in the contrived theatrical spectacle put on by Republicans earlier this summer and early fall on Capitol Hill.

Exactly two months ago to the day on September 30th, I blogged about the absurd Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood held in Washington, D.C. at the height of a highly-politicized ideological frenzy generated by House Republicans.

To add to the absurdity, the manufactured political outrage vented by Republican Congressmen, Senators and 2016 presidential candidates was sparked not by truth or actual facts; it came as the result of a widely-discredited fake "sting" video that was intentionally and deceptively edited to misrepresent Planned Parenthood's involvement with fetal tissue research.

Despite evidence that the video was little more than anti-abortion propaganda and an extensive investigation by Missouri State Attorney General Chris Koster showed that there was absolutely no evidence found to suggest that employees of Planned Parenthood had mishandled fetal tissue samples, Republicans whipped themselves into a state of borderline hysteria over the fake videos created by the misogynist right-wing nut bag David Daleiden.

Republican House Oversight Comm Chair Jason Chaffetz
Remember the seething moral indignation from Republican House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (pictured left) as he grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards?

His constant interruptions, shameless grandstanding and bullying set a new low for Congressional hearings.

The Utah Congressman even tried to present a concocted chart as evidence that Planned Parenthood had decreased cancer prevention and screenings as they increased abortions until Cecile Richards reamed him by pointing out that the chart was made up by a right-wing anti-abortion group and had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood's spending records.

Remember presidential candidate Carly Fiorina standing on the stage of a live, nationally televised Republican debate during the week of September 14th and repeating an outright lie about David Daleiden's fake sting video? She told this whopper:

“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ ” 

Not true, Didn't happen.

In an act of defiant political lunacy, Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus sought to use the stripping of government funding for Planned Parenthood as a wedge issue designed to hold up the authorization of a budget deal.

Think about that for a moment.

Republican House Freedom Caucus members
Yearly budget spending intended to ensure that the government of the largest economy in the world would be funded so it can function was held up by Republicans based on a fake smear video put together by fringe anti-abortion activists.
The outrageous claims from the video were quoted repeatedly by Republicans eager to capitalize on the anger they sparked - stoking bogus claims that Planned Parenthood was dealing in "baby parts".

Now I'm not saying all this just to tee off on Republicans (well...), I think it's important to illustrate how these politicians with the help of conservative media saturated people like Robert Dear with toxic lies, distortions and half-truths about Planned Parenthood for weeks over the course of the summer.

Then tried to legitimize this bogus smear campaign designed to motivate the pro-life voter base by having no less than four separate Congressional committees "investigating" Planned Parenthood.

When police in Colorado Springs finally subdued Robert Dear after a lengthy standoff last Friday and began to interrogate him to try and understand why he'd murdered three people in cold blood and injured nine more, according to the NY Times, he reportedly told police, "no more baby parts."

Let's hope the anti-abortion wing are proud of their efforts to demonize a personal medical decision and pass laws making it harder for women to access critical health care services.

They (Republicans) were certainly successful in motivating the pro-life constituency of their target voter base; too bad they "motivated" Robert Dear to take the lives of a wife and mother, a church-going Christian campus police officer-husband-and father and an Iraq war veteran and father.

All in the name of the "pro-life" movement.

To quote director David Lean's 1957 masterpiece POW film The Bridge Over the River Kwai:


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