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'I could be shot...' Carlos R. Davalos | Mon, Jan 10 2011 12:00 PM

Anyone who knows Rep. Bob Filner (D-51) knows the congressman from Chula Vista keeps a frenetic pace that can exhaust staffers even half his age. The 68-year old keeps busy, often times going from one public event to another from the break of day until well past sundown.
 
Meeting the public and shaking hands is the foundation of democracy and representative government, he said Sunday morning. As much of the country discovered the day before, these days it’s also a way of putting yourself in harm’s way.
 
While federal and Arizona law enforcement officials try to pinpoint why 22 year old Jared Lee Loughner attempted to kill Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Filner spoke briefly about the perils of politics in the era of the Tea Party, extreme right wing conservatives and the vitriol that permeates some of today’s media.
 
“We’re in a risky business,” Filner said of being a politician. “These days you don’t just have political opponents, you have enemies.” He should know.
 
It was just slightly more than two months ago that Filner was stalked and cornered by a pack of angry people at San Diego’s Golden Hall on election night. A contingent of mostly white and mostly male voters had wanted retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Nick Popaditch, not the incumbent congressman, to represent the 51st District. When it became apparent that Filner was going to win yet another term in the House of Representatives, they took after him like, well, a lynch mob. (see related video by clicking here).
 
 “I could be shot in the next few days,” Filner recalls thinking at the time. The threat of violence was so real that Filner’s convinced had San Diego police officers not intervened he would not have left the hall unharmed.
 
In some ways, today’s political climate mirrors that of another tumultuous period in U.S. history, the civil rights movement. Politically active at the time, Filner said he’s seen his share of mobs. As a young man in college, Filner was physically attacked and arrested for his role in fighting for desegregation.
 
But where the civil rights movement was characterized by a community trying to bring about social change, today’s social movement appears to be rooted in anger and hate.
 
For a lot of people, there’s a pervading sense of alienation. There’s a feeling that they are losing their ability to make it in America.
 
“People want their country back,” Filner surmises. But instead of fostering the notion that in a pluralistic society everybody has something to contribute, extremists present and nurture the idea that the only way to get ahead is by eliminating your enemy. Case in point, during last year’s election cycle former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin identified 20 congressional races that were important to the Republican Party. The districts were placed in gun sights. It’s also been noted that Palin, who has a large following because of her conservative politics and television show, once urged Republican’s not to retreat during the 2010 elections, but to “reload.”
 
Where reasonable people might view Palin and the like’s exhortations as political  hyperbole and empty-headed sloganeering, those who precariously straddle the line between sanity and  delusional suggestibility may take it as a literal call to arms.
 
In the days that followed Filner’s re-election a number of blog and internet posts blasted Filner and suggested that a revolutionary purging of government was long overdone.  Some of the writers and detractors even took care to note that Filner is Jewish, giving the rhetoric a tone that called to mind the age of  the master race and the Holocaust.
 
Filner says he remains concerned about his, his staff’s and his congressional colleagues’ safety. Given that the congressman isn’t provided with a security detail when he interacts with the public, he says that in the future he may work with local police to take whatever precautions they might suggest. But he doesn’t see himself using a bodyguard. He will, however, be looking over his shoulder more often.

That's a sad commentary on the state of politics today. And us.

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D. Walden Says:

Tue, Jan 11 2011 09:03 PM

This is by far the most asinine news piece I have ever seen you author ----to have your name associated with such foolish reporting is beyond mindboggling.

In less than 5 seconds time, anyone with the IQ above room temperature can conduct research to show that being a Congressional Member is No More Risky Business, as Mr. Filner suggests, than being just an ordinary guy or gal, going about their daily lives. A simple review of the facts below clearly supports this claim. The example you depict below at Golden Hall is totally and completely wrong--- PERIOD. Your journalism goes further in error to suggest the movement of today is "anger and hate". The dissatisfaction of the vast majority of the American People is not about or towards an individual, but the congressional body as a whole, because their too stupid (sorry, don't have another word for it) to Save This Nation. To Control Spending, To secure the Border, to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to Promote Economic Development, or to Promote higher standards in Education ---so that our young people may have hope and opportunities. They just can't.

No person in their right mind; Republican, Democrat, Independent, Liberal, Tea Party, Salvation Army---No one!!! Is, Has, Will endorse, promote, suggest, encourage or hint to do any bodily harm to any elected official. That's just not what we do in the United States of America. We may bitch, moan and groan about the issues of the day or about the ludicrous decisions of certain elected officials, but eventually, they are voted out of office and a renewed hope of restoring that which has gone awry is instilled.

A welcoming first step in restoring or the rebuilding of a great nation just very well could be a return to credible, honorable journalism.

Sen. David Colbreth Broderick (D-Calif.) was killed on Sept. 16, 1859, in a duel.
* Sen. Edward Dickinson Baker (R-Ore.) was killed on Oct. 21, 1861, in a Civil war battle.
* Rep. Johnathan Cilley (D-Maine) was killed on Feb. 24, 1838, in a duel.
* Rep. Cornelius Springer Hamilton (R-Ohio) was killed on Dec. 22, 1867, by an insane son.
* Rep. James Hinds (R-Ark.) was assassinated on Oct. 22, 1868.
* Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was assassinated on June 6, 1968.
* Sen. Huey Long (D-La.) was assassinated and died on Sept. 10, 1935.
* Rep. Spencer Darwin Pettis (D-Mo.) was killed on Aug. 28, 1931, in a duel.
* Rep. John McPherson Pinckney (D-Texas) was assaulted and killed on April 24, 1905.
* Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.) died from gunshot wounds received while visiting an American religious commune in Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978.


Fedupwithpoorleaders Says:

Mon, Jan 10 2011 11:00 PM

I am not a republican nor am I a democrat. I am a member of the best man/woman for the job party. I happen to believe that Congressman Filner does a good job for the district. I have found him and his staff members to be professional, concerned and willing to take action on any issues brought to their attention. What happen to him on election night is unfortunate and should not have occurred.
As a former Marine, I am disappointed that Mr. Popaditch was not more responsible and able to to control his supporters.

While I do not condone the actions of the shooter in Arizona and don't believe that his actions can be justified under any circumstance, I can see how a misinformed,misguided, somewhat delusional, and mentally fragile citizen can conclude that this is the only option.

What I hope our elected officials realize is citizens are fed up with politians who fail exercise proper management and leadership at all levels of government. The perceived corruption in our school districts, City Government, pension systems, water districts etc, is out of control.
Our elected officials are failing to represent us, opting instead to serve the special interest and their own personal interest.

Offical at all levels of goverment seem to have forgotten that they have a responsibility to be honest with us, provide us with quality services, do what is in the best interest of all citizens.

Stop playing politics, it is time for good leadership and management.


Bryan Felber Says:

Mon, Jan 10 2011 09:46 PM

I am amazed to see and hear the agendas some have to demonize their opponents and use the victims of the Tucson shooting for their own self-serving purposes. These people, including many in the mainstream media, Congressman Filner, and our editor have jumped on this self-serving bandwagon and are making it the fault of talk radio, white males, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or any other person or cause they want to demonize. These shootings were none of that.

Let's be abundantly clear, the shootings were the result of a wack job that had an obsession with Congresswoman Giffords. He had no obvious political agenda. He certainly was no right wing conservative as a reader of Mein Kampf and Marx. This was not about conservative vs. liberal. This was all about civil vs. barbaric. To make this anything else is purely for self-serving purposes.

The lack of objectivity of those who want to use the Tucson tragedy and its victims to demonize the right is staggering. They speak of an uncivil and incendiary dialogue by the right. Well what about the language also used by the left? Examples include Dick Durbin equating our troops with Nazis or Pol Pot, candidate Obama saying he was going to send someone to one of his critics to "tear him up," etc. There are countless examples of people on both sides speaking in hyperbole, yet the left wants to say it's only the right that does this. They also want to ascribe violence to the right but fail to count their own, such as William Ayers, Ted Kaczynski,, the violent protesters that haunt various meetings of global leaders such as the G8, the Earth Liberation Front, etc. We will never be rid of the radical fringe on either side.

Both sides are guilty, but violence on either side is never to be condoned. However, we cannot limit our freedom to debate and contend for our beliefs for fear of inciting some off-balance person. We have always been a country of spirited debate and opposition to our ideological opponents. We cannot cease our spirited debate and just talk about warm and fuzzy things for fear of inciting someone on one side or the other. We must advocate for civil, even if spirited, debate, and protection of life and property in that debate.

Using a tragic event and its victims for self-serving purposes is unconscionable and those like our editor, Bob Filner, and others should be ashamed of themselves. Such behavior should be vigorously opposed by those from both sides of the spectrum.


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