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Thoughts on Alexandria, one week later

Some lunatic shot up a baseball field in Virginia last Wednesday. Nobody killed -- well, okay, the shooter's dead -- nothing much to see here. Let's all move along and pay attention to the important stuff, like Russia and Russia and Russia. But not so fast....

In dry police report terms, it's fairly straightforward. A male subject opened fire on a group of men on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. The subject was armed with an SKS-style 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic 9mm sidearm. The subject fired approximately 60+ rounds, including 50 from the rifle. (The SKS has a 10-round magazine, and according to witnesses the subject paused to reload it several times.) Four people were wounded, including Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, and two Capitol Police officers, who were acting as security personnel for Mr. Scalise. No words were exchanged between the subject and the victims, who had assembled for a baseball practice in preparation for an upcoming Republican vs. Democrat charity baseball game. Approximately 9-10 minutes after the first shot, the Capitol Police officers present rushed the subject and returned fire. The subject died in the exchange. He has been identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. The entire incident spanned approximately 14 minutes.

James "Tom" Hodgkinson was not a nice man. He had a history of alcohol abuse. He had a history of domestic violence. He was no stranger to the Belleville, Illinois police.

But James "Tom" Hodgkinson had other dimensions. He was a rock-ribbed, dyed-in-the-wool, hard-left Democrat, a Bernie supporter and campaign volunteer. He was active in social media, especially on Facebook, and he was a member of a long list of organizations such as "Terminate the Republican Party," "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans," and many others. (Reportedly, Facebook scrubbed all his posts on the day of the shooting.) Hodgkinson's brother said about him, “I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” before adding that his brother cared about politics and "led a normal life."

This man who "led a normal life" abandoned his wife, his business, and his home in Illinois, packed up his firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and traveled to Alexandria, Virginia, where he spent weeks planning his attack. Living out of a van, he showered at the local YMCA and used its facilities for much of his daily activity, most of which involved surfing the internet on one of his laptop computers. (Ironically, several bullets that Hodgkinson fired in the attack last Wednesday overshot the ball field and went through the windows of the YMCA, where bullet fragments were later found in the swimming pool.) In March, he told his Facebook followers, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co." Just two days before his attack at the ball field, Hodgkinson posted, “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.” At the time of the shooting, Hodgkinson was carrying a list of names, including Mo Brooks of Alabama, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Trent Franks of Arizona, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee and Morgan Griffith of Virginia. These names share two commonalities: all the men are conservative Republican congressmen, and all are members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Much of the information described here was available within 48 hours of the shooting. Unfortunately, the mainstream media had already essentially abandoned the story by that time, and they did so ever more quickly with every new discovery about James "Tom" Hodgkinson. With a few exceptions -- including an execrable editorial from the New York Times that actually resurrected the ridiculous theory that Jared Lee Loughner was inspired to shoot Gabby Giffords in 2011 by an internet graphic posted by supporters of Sarah Palin -- the story of James "Tom" Hodgkinson has become "old news," and unworthy of any more attention.

I disagree.

I think the acts of James "Tom" Hodgkinson signify the opening of an ugly new chapter in our political discourse. (I use 'discourse' for the lack of a better word.) Plainly stated, James "Tom" Hodgkinson set out to murder a group of people he'd never met. He acted not out of personal animus or slight or injury, but out of hatred fueled by nothing other than political ideology. His intended victims -- those on the ball field and those on the list in his pocket -- were all conservative Republicans.

Hodgkinson himself was, by any reasonable estimation (much to the dismay of the mainstream media), very much a Democrat. More to the point, despite official protestations that Hodgkinson's motives "may never be known," it defies common sense to ignore his obvious motivations.

James "Tom" Hodgkinson was a Democrat bent on assassinating as many Republicans as he could manage. It was Divine Intervention or just crappy marksmanship that delivered Hodgkinson's dismal score last Wednesday. But let's not slap a lot of useless lipstick on this pig. It was an attempt at mass political assassination of Republicans by a Democrat.

The other evening, I was doing some research regarding a posting on another site, and I ran across something I hadn't considered before. In the history of this country, four presidents have been assassinated in office. All four were shot by leftists. Three of the victims -- Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley -- were Republicans. The fourth, John Kennedy -- considered a liberal Democrat then, but who could not run for office as a Democrat today -- was shot by a Castro acolyte and former resident of the Soviet Union.

We are fortunate indeed that, unlike Lee Harvey Oswald, James "Tom" Hodgkinson never went through Marine boot camp and never attained the designation of "marksman," which is required of every leatherneck. We are not so blessed in realizing that our politics have become so polarized and consumed by hate that members of one party cannot feel safe as long as members of the other party fail to maintain a civility of action, which necessarily extends to conversation and public statements -- discourse.