Sunday, May 01, 2011

Great Last Minute Video Reviews, Explanations and Discussions of Terms (and look closely for the Romney signs!)

NEW ADVICE: DON'T (DON'T) LABEL INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS (e.g. "A" "B" etc.) Skip a line and write a new paragraph for B, but don't label it. Reason? You can't get A points in a section labeled B! Pass it on!


In no particular order. See my notes if you can only watch or listen to a few. Bring several number 2 pencils and a watch to keep track of time.

Federalism Video:

Interest Groups:


Government and Media: A MUST SEE!

Campaigns and Elections:

Red States vs. Blue States

The Concept of Suffrage:

The Big Tent Concept (Political Parties in the U.S.) A MUST SEE!

The Power of the Presidency IMPORTANT!!

Selective Incorporation:

A Breakdown of Congress:

The Courts (another must see):


Taking the test (MUST. MUST. SEE. SEE):

Stop Blogging...Go Study, Prepare, and Review!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Opinion: Are you ready for the 2012 campaign? Who will the nominees be?

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2011; 5:10 PM

As Republicans dither, debating who is and who isn't in the 2012 race for the White House, President Obama and his team are moving swiftly to dive into the business of winning reelection.

No office space has yet been rented. No committee has been formed. No official announcement date has been locked down. But by sometime next month, the president's team is likely to be a functioning, legal entity with a plan.

That should send a message to potential Republican candidates, who have spent the winter trying to convince themselves that they can wait and wait and perhaps wait some more before they get moving. Obama's team believes otherwise. They know what time and effort are required to build a robust organization capable of winning a general election - and how important the work done this year will be.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opinion: What is your view of the protests, counter-protests, and non-traditional political participation going on in Wisconsin?

It's been said that state Democrats and labor unions are trying to reverse the results of the November 2010 elections.

Actually, it's the outcome of a handful of 2008 races that political liberals and conservatives are now working to undo.

Several sources confirmed that Wisconsin Democrats and labor leaders are plotting recall elections for several Republican senators as soon as lawmakers push through Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan to curb collective bargaining rights and require public employees to chip in part of their salary toward their health care and pension costs.

"Those are options people are looking at," said Marty Beil, director of the largest state employees union.

Even more emphatic was Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48, which represents county and city employees in the Milwaukee area.

"This is not a Plan B," Abelson said Friday night. "This is going forward irrespective of how the vote turns out. Oh, yeah, we are going to make a full-court press."

On the other hand, the Citizens for Responsible Government Network has announced that it is advising groups interested in ousting two Senate Democrats who joined their colleagues in fleeing Wisconsin to prevent a vote on Walker's proposed budget repair plan.

"There's a good deal of will to replace these guys," said Chris Kliesmet, head of the conservative political group. "These guys are on the lam."

The wheels already appear to be set in motion for a recall vote in one Milwaukee-area district.
Last week, Sen. Alberta Darling, a River Hills Republican, helped shepherd Walker's budget repair bill through the Joint Finance Committee, of which she is a co-chairman. The vote stalled in the state Senate when the 14 Democrats fled the state, preventing the upper house from being able to get a quorum to meet and vote on the bill that set off massive protests at the Capitol.

Darling defeated then-Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, a Milwaukee Democrat, by a narrow margin in 2008.

Wasserman said Friday that he has been contacted by a handful of Democrats and union officials asking if he would run against Darling if she faces a recall election.

Wasserman, an OB/GYN, made it clear that he is itching to take on the veteran lawmaker. He said Darling, who has run as a moderate Republican, is already toeing Walker's "hard-core conservative" party line.

"I am interested," said Wasserman, who seriously considered running for Milwaukee County executive after Walker was elected governor in November. "She'll have a fight on her hands."
Darling said last week in an interview that she is well aware of the recall talk.

But given the state's looming $3.6 billion budget deficit, she said she is committed to supporting the first-term Republican governor's austerity measures. One of the wealthier members of the Legislature, she said she has no plans to step up her fundraising activity.

Still, Darling did acknowledge that everyone has been caught by surprise by the protests.
"This has much more intensity" than previous ones, said Darling, who has served as a lawmaker for more than 20 years. "Clearly, in terms of numbers, this is the biggest demonstration against a piece of legislation in the Capitol that I have ever seen."

In all, Democratic insiders and labor leaders have identified six Senate Republicans who may be the subject of recall elections. But the focus, so far, seems to be on Darling and Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, both of whom are from districts that are fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Kapanke and Hopper left the Capitol early Friday afternoon and could not be reached for comment

Kliesmet, the CRG leader, said his group would be willing to help any lawmakers targeted for recalls because they support Walker's proposal. But the group has not yet been asked.
His group is focusing its efforts on recalling two Democrats - Sen. Jim Holperin of Eagle River and Bob Wirch of Kenosha. Holperin survived a recall effort in 1990.

For Democrats and labor officials, the clock is ticking.

Insiders say they want to make sure the recall elections are held before Republicans, who control the Assembly and Senate, redraw the boundaries for legislative districts in light of the 2010 census numbers, which are being released this month. In addition, Democrats are desperate to stop Walker from pushing through his agenda, something they could do only if they flip three Senate districts currently held by Republicans.

Walker told the Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about his proposals possibly leading to the ouster of some Republicans.

"In the end, doing the right thing is not only the right thing to do," the governor said in a Friday interview. "I think people respect doing the right thing."

State law prohibits anyone from recalling elected officials until they have held office for at least a year. That means, despite all the talk among Madison protesters, Walker cannot be the subject of a recall election for nearly another year. The same holds true for all the members of the state Assembly and half of the state senators.

One prominent Democrat told No Quarter that national labor leaders are deeply involved in planning the recall elections against Senate Republicans - even though national and local labor officials disputed this.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the presidents of dozens of national unions had pledged more than $25 million to counter efforts to scale back bargaining rights in Wisconsin and other states. In addition, Politicosaid last week that the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America arm - the part of President Barack Obama's presidential campaign - is helping out with the Wisconsin protests.

That has Walker supporters suggesting that the rallies and recall efforts are actually intended to serve as early organizational efforts for Obama's re-election bid next year in a crucial swing state.

"I wish I was that smart," said state AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt.

Recall elections are never gimmes, despite how upset voters may be about an issue.
The last Wisconsin lawmaker to be recalled from office was then-Sen. Gary George, who was ousted in 2003 just days before he was hit with federal corruption charges. He eventually served time behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy for accepting about $270,000 in kickbacks of legal fees paid by an inner-city social service agency. Before that, then-Sen. George Petak, a Racine Republican, was bumped from office after switching his vote and supporting a regional tax to pay for the construction of Miller Park.

In a recall election, organizers have 60 days to collect signatures from enough voters to equal at least 25% of the vote cast in the 2010 governor's race in that district. If more than two candidates compete in the recall, a primary election is held about six weeks after the recall petition is certified. The top two contenders face off in a general election a month later if no one gets more than half of the vote.

"The whole process takes about 4½ months from beginning to end," said Kliesmet, whose group has assisted several communities in recall votes since 2002. "Getting signatures is easy. Winning elections is difficult."

Not surprisingly, leaders on both sides of the recall talk have begun disparaging each other's efforts.

Abelson, the Milwaukee labor leader, said CRG is made up of little more than Kliesmet and two of his friends. The group assisted voters who tried unsuccessfully to recall former Gov.Jim Doyle and ex-Sen. Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa.

"I know they've got stationery, and they like to send things out," Abelson said. "But that rings ridiculous in the most absurd way."

But the leaders of the citizens group said voters assisted by CRG successfully recalled eight local officials last year, while Dems failed to take down Walker when he was still leading county government.

"I'll put my track record up against his any day," Kliesmet said.

Better still, the two sides will get to go head to head in the coming months if they get what they wish.

Daniel Bice can be contacted by phone at (414) 224-2135 or by e-mail at

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Happy Super Birthday Mr. President! What do you think are the three most significant parts of the Reagan Administration (positive, negative, or both)

The Super Bowl and Politics: According to Chris Matthews, this is America's Super Bowl because it's two teams named after the real working men and women of America: the steelworkers of Pittsburgh and the meat Packers of Green Bay. Politics is everywhere...AND did you know that Packer Charlie "Peprah is the grandson of the former military president of Ghana, general Ignatius Kutu Acheampong. Ruling in a coup d’etat in 1972, Acheampong remained in power until 1977 and was executed in 1979 after a revolution..."

Ronald Reagan in perspective:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What are you looking for in the State of the Union?

What to Look for Tonight

First Read: "Many of the themes that President Obama is expected to discuss tonight in his State of the Union address -- the future and competitiveness, job creation, deficit reduction, investments in infrastructure, civility in politics -- aren't new. In fact, they were parts of the State of the Union speech he delivered a year ago. (One example: 'What the American people hope -- what they deserve -- is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences...') But while tonight's words might not change much, the political environment certainly has. For starters, Republicans now control the House (so it will be John Boehner, not Nancy Pelosi, standing behind Obama tonight), and they've gained additional seats in the Senate, which makes it all but impossible for Democrats to enjoy the same legislative successes they had in '09 and '10.

"The Note: "The White House has also indicated that the president will continue to defend the health care reform law, which Republicans have been seeking to dismantle. The speech will clearly focus on domestic policy, but expect a mention of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as well as other looming international and national security issues."See more...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monday is MLK Day. How will you celebrate the impressive political life of this American who helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

On Martin Luther King Day, remembering the first draft of 'I Have a Dream'

By Clarence B. Jones
Sunday, January 16, 2011;

It was the late spring of 1963, and my friend Martin was exhausted. The campaign to integrate the public facilities in Birmingham had been successful but also tremendously taxing. In its aftermath, he wanted nothing more than to take Coretta and the children away for a vacation and forget - forget the looming book deadline, the office politics of his ever-growing Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the constant need to raise funds.

But a date for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom had been nailed down - Aug. 28 - and Martin realized he couldn't plan such a massive undertaking with the usual endless interruptions. No, if this march were going to come together in time, he would have to escape all the distractions. (This was a man, after all, whose best writing was done inside a jail cell.) He needed to get away to a place where very few people could reach him.

That would be my house in Riverdale, N.Y.

For the previous three years, I had been an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., his personal lawyer and one of his speechwriters. Stanley Levison, another adviser who had done even more work with Martin on his speeches than I had, was also a New Yorker. Because of some dark ops on the part of the FBI, Martin could not deal directly with Stanley, yet he very much valued his advice, so it made sense for Martin to stay at my home and have me act as a go-between as we planned the March on Washington - and the speech Martin would deliver.

The logistical preparations for the march were so burdensome that the speech was not a priority for us. Early in the summer, Martin asked some trusted colleagues at the SCLC for their thoughts on his address, and during his weeks in New York, we had discussions about it. But it wasn't until mid-August that Martin had Stanley and I work up a draft. And though I had that material with me when I arrived at the Willard Hotel in Washington for a meeting on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 27, Martin still didn't know what he was going to say.

We met in the lobby rather than in a suite, under the assumption that the lobby would be harder to wiretap. Tables, chairs and plants acted as a cordon of privacy. It was with this odd start, hiding in plain sight, that 12 hours before the March on Washington began, Martin gathered with a small group of advisers to hammer out the themes of his speech.

He had reacted well to the material Stanley and I had prepared, but he also knew that many of the march's supporters and organizers - labor unions, religious groups, community organizations and academic leaders - needed to be heard as well. So that evening he had a cross-section of advisers present to fill any blind spots. Cleveland Robinson, Walter Fauntroy, Bernard Lee, Ralph Abernathy, Lawrence Reddick and I joined him, along with Wyatt Walker and Bayard Rustin, who were in and out of our deliberations.

As we ate sandwiches, our suggestions tumbled out. Everyone, it seemed, had a different take. Cleve, Lawrence and I saw the speech as an opportunity to stake an ideological and political marker in the debate over civil rights and segregation. Others were more inclined for Martin to deliver a sort of church sermon, steeped in parables and Bible quotes. Some, however, worried that biblical language would obfuscate the real message - reform of the legal system. And still others wanted Martin to direct his remarks to the students, black and white, who would be marching that day.

Martin got frustrated trying to keep everything straight, so he asked me to take notes. I quickly realized that putting together these various concepts into a single address would be difficult. Martin would have to take one approach - his own - with the other ideas somehow supporting his larger vision. I kept on taking notes, wondering how someone would turn all this into a cohesive speech. As it turned out, that would be my task.

Eventually, Martin looked to me and said, "Clarence, why don't you excuse yourself and go upstairs. You can summarize the points made here and return with an outline."

I sat in my room, flipping through the scrawled pages of the yellow legal pad, struggling to boil down everyone's perspectives. The idea of urging the crowd to take specific actions, as opposed to a general kind of complaining, seemed one area of agreement. (The march's organizing manual even had a headline that spelled it out: "What We Demand.")

A conversation that I'd had during the Birmingham campaign with then-New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller inspired an opening analogy: African Americans marching to Washington to redeem a promissory note or a check for justice. From there, a proposed draft took shape.

And the words "I have a dream" were nowhere in it.

About an hour later, I took my writing back to the lobby and began presenting it to the group. Immediately the others interrupted:

"What about - "

"Why didn't you - "

"I thought we agreed - "

They were all over me. And given the fact that several were Baptist preachers, there was no small amount of grandstanding. I began defending myself, but Martin intervened. "Okay, brothers," he said, "thank you so much everybody for your suggestions and input. . . . I am now going upstairs to my room to counsel with my Lord."

He walked quietly toward the elevators, leaving the rest of us to look at each other. "Tomorrow, then," someone said, and we dispersed.


Tomorrow, as history would record, turned out to be an enormous success. The weather and the massive crowd were in sync - both calm and warm for the March on Washington. Even the D.C. Metropolitan Police, which had been bracing for a race riot, had nothing to complain about.

I remember when it was all over but the final act. As I stood some 50 feet behind the lectern, march Chairman A. Philip Randolph introduced Martin, to wild applause, as "the moral leader of our nation." And I still didn't know how Martin had pulled the speech together after our meeting.

After Martin greeted the people assembled, he began his speech, and I was shocked when these words quickly rolled out:

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check.

Martin was essentially reciting the opening suggestions I'd handed in the night before. This was strange, given the way he usually worked over the material Stanley and I provided. When he finished the promissory note analogy, he paused. And in that breach, something unexpected, historic and largely unheralded happened. Martin's favorite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who had performed earlier in the day, called to him from nearby: "Tell 'em about the dream, Martin, tell 'em about the dream!"

Martin clutched the speaker's lectern and seemed to reset. I watched him push the text of his prepared remarks to one side. I knew this performance had just been given over to the spirit of the moment. I leaned over and said to the person next to me, "These people out there today don't know it yet, but they're about ready to go to church."

What could possibly motivate a man standing before a crowd of hundreds of thousands, with television cameras beaming his every move and a cluster of microphones tracing his every word, to abandon the prepared text of his speech and begin riffing on a theme that he had used previously without generating much enthusiasm from listeners?

Before our eyes, he transformed himself into the superb, third-generation Baptist preacher that he was, and he spoke those words that in retrospect feel destined to ring out that day:

I have a dream . . .

In front of all those people, cameras, and microphones, Martin winged it. But then, no one I've ever met could improvise better.

The speech went on to depart drastically from the draft I'd delivered, and I'll be the first to tell you that America is the better for it. As I look back on my version, I realize that nearly any confident public speaker could have held the crowd's attention with it. But a different man could not have delivered "I Have a Dream."

Some believe, though the facts are otherwise, that Martin was such a superlative writer that he never needed others to draft material for him. I understand that belief; fate made Martin a martyr and a unique American myth - and myths stand alone. But admitting that even this unequaled writer had people helping him hardly takes anything away. People like Stanley, Mahalia and I helped him maximize his brilliance. If not, why would Mahalia interrupt a planned address? She wasn't unhappy with the material he was reading - she just wanted him to preach.

That he did. You only have to hear the recording of even a handful of the words from his speech and, for the rest of your life, when you read it you will hear his signature cadence. Can you hear it now?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

The crowd was rapt. Tears of joy fell everywhere. And when Martin ended with a cried refrain from a spiritual that predated the Emancipation Proclamation, the sense of history - past and future - struck me full force:

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


More than 40 years later, I was invited to visit Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute as a candidate for an academic post. I met with the director, who knew I had just started work on a book about Martin and wanted to convince me that I should write it there. To demonstrate the wealth of the institute's research materials, he had me choose a date from the years I had worked with Martin.

I offered Aug. 28, 1963.

One of the staffers soon brought in a cardboard box with papers related to that day. Among them was a copy of the program that had been handed out at the march. At the time, no one could possibly understand the emotional impact this had on me. It was the standard program except for one corner, where it bore a handwritten note to Martin - from me.

"Dear Martin - just learned that Dr. W.E.B. Dubois died last night in Ghana. Someone should make note of this fact."

I was looking at a copy of my own program, something I'd urgently written on and passed through the crowd to Martin up on the dais. Tears welled in my eyes as I imagined its long journey from my hand to the institute's files. I felt Martin, my friend, reaching out and saying to me, "Keep our dream alive."

That is what this country does every January on Martin Luther King Day. I am hopeful that sometime soon, it will be what we do every day of the year.

Adapted from "Behind the Dream" by Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly. Copyright 2011 by the authors and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited.

Clarence B. Jones, a scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, is a co-author, with Stuart Connelly, of the new book "Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation," from which this essay is adapted.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Which of the following decisions have had the most significant impact in the U.S.? Why? (Can you give your top 3?)

1. Gitlow v. New York
2. Powell v. Alabama
3. Mapp v. Ohio
4. Gideon v. Wainwright
5. Near v. Minnesota
6. Griswold v. Connecticut
7. Roe v. Wade
8. Brandenburg v. Ohio
9. Schenck v. United States
10. Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell
11. Miller v. California
12. Texas v. Johnson
13. Miranda v. Arizona
14. Tinker v. Des Moines
15. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
16. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PN v. Casey
17. Bowers v. Hardwick
18. Lemon v. Kurtzman
19. Weeks v. United States
20. Furman v. Georgia

This shouldn't happen in our country.

By PAULINE ARRILLAGA, Associated Press Pauline Arrillaga, Associated Press – 11 mins ago
TUCSON, Ariz. – The "shady individual" showed up at a public gathering for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords asking to see the lawmaker, according to event volunteer Alex Villec. Told he would have to wait his turn, the man left but returned minutes later and gunfire erupted.

The man, wearing a black cap and baggy pants and shirt, rushed by a table separating him and Giffords, raised an arm, and then came shots, Villec, 19, told The Associated Press.

Firing a semiautomatic weapon, the gunman targeted Giffords as she met with constituents around 10 a.m. Saturday outside a busy Tucson supermarket. Authorities said Arizona's chief federal judge and five others were killed and 13 people were wounded, including the Democrat lawmaker.

He also fired at her district director and shot indiscriminately at staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, said Mark Kimble, a communications staffer for Giffords.
"He was not more than three or four feet from the congresswoman and the district director," Kimble said, describing the scene as "just complete chaos, people screaming, crying."

Click image to see scenes from the shooting in Arizona
AFP/Getty Images/John Moore

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

"He was definitely on a mission," said Villec, a former Giffords intern.

Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly.

His motivation was not immediately known, but Dupnik described him as mentally unstable and possibly acting with an accomplice. His office said a man possibly associated with the suspect who was near the scene was being sought. The man, who was photographed by a security camera, was described as white with dark hair and 40-45 years old.

The assassination attempt left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head.

It also left Americans questioning whether divisive politics had pushed the suspect over the edge.

A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack "a tragedy for our entire country."
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Sunday that FBI Director Robert Mueller was traveling to Arizona to help coordinate the investigation.

Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law. Anger over her position became violent at times, with her Tucson office vandalized after the House passed the overhaul last March and someone showing up at a recent gathering with a weapon.

Authorities said the dead included U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. Judge Roll had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after attending Mass.
The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it occurring in Arizona.

Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin's decision to list Giffords' seat as one of the top "targets" in the midterm elections.

"For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.
In the hours after the shooting, Palin issued a statement in which she expressed her "sincere condolences" to the family of Giffords and the other victims.

During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.

"I don't see the connection," between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday's shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly's spokesman. "I don't know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don't see the connection.

"Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners — this was just a deranged individual."

Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

The shooting cast a pall over the Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the attack as a horrific. Capitol police asked members of Congress to be more vigilant about security in the wake of the shooting. Obama dispatched his FBI chief to Arizona.

Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors. "With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound," said Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, University Medical Center spokeswoman Darcy Slaten said the congresswoman was in critical condition and sedated after undergoing two hours of surgery.

She said nine other wounded were being treated at the hospital, four of them critical and five of them serious. Slaten said the three others were treated at other hospitals and released.

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said besides the aide Zimmerman, who was killed, two other Giffords staffers were shot but expected to survive. Zimmerman was a former social worker who served as Giffords' director of community outreach.

Greg Segalini, an uncle of Christina, the 9-year-old victim, told the Arizona Republic that a neighbor was going to the event and invited her along because she had just been elected to the student council and was interested in government.

Christina, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was involved in many activities, from ballet to baseball. She had just received her first Holy Communion at St. Odilia's Catholic Church in Tucson, Catholic Diocese of Tucson officials told The Arizona Daily Star.

In the evening, more than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil outside Giffords' headquarters, where authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be non-explosive.

The suspect Loughner was described by a former classmate as a pot-smoking loner, and the Army said he tried to enlist in December 2008 but was rejected for reasons not disclosed.

Federal law enforcement officials were poring over versions of a MySpace page that included a mysterious "Goodbye friends" message published hours before the shooting and exhorted his friends to "Please don't be mad at me."

In one of several YouTube videos, which featured text against a dark background, Loughner described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about the illiteracy rate among people living in Giffords' congressional district in Arizona.

"I know who's listening: Government Officials, and the People," Loughner wrote. "Nearly all the people, who don't know this accurate information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn't have happen (sic)."
In Loughner's middle-class neighborhood — about a five-minute drive from the scene — sheriff's deputies had much of the street blocked off. The neighborhood sits just off a bustling Tucson street and is lined with desert landscaping and palm trees.

Neighbors said Loughner lived with his parents and kept to himself. He was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

Loughner's MySpace profile indicates he attended and graduated from school in Tucson and had taken college classes. He did not say if he was employed.

High school classmate Grant Wiens, 22, said Loughner seemed to be "floating through life" and "doing his own thing."

"Sometimes religion was brought up or drugs. He smoked pot, I don't know how regularly. And he wasn't too keen on religion, from what I could tell," Wiens said.

Lynda Sorenson said she took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College's Northwest campus and told the Arizona Daily Star he was "obviously very disturbed."

"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," she said.

In October 2007, Loughner was cited in Pima County for possession of drug paraphernalia, which was dismissed after he completed a diversion program, according to online records.

Giffords was first elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election, and has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in 2012 and a gubernatorial prospect in 2014.

She is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007. Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the Senate Commerce Space and Science Subcommittee, said Kelly is training to be the next commander of the space shuttle mission slated for April. His brother is currently serving aboard the International Space Station, Nelson said.

Giffords is known in her southern Arizona district for her numerous public outreach meetings, which she acknowledged in an October interview with The Associated Press can sometimes be challenging.

"You know, the crazies on all sides, the people who come out, the planet earth people," she said following an appearance with Adm. Mike Mullen in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was peppered with bizarre questions from an audience member. "I'm glad this just doesn't happen to me."
Associated Press Writers Amanda Lee Myers and Terry Tang in Tucson, Jacques Billeaud, Bob Christie and Paul Davenport in Phoenix, and David Espo, Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan, Adam Goldman and Charles Babington in Washington contributed to this report.