Politics

Frame On

What the political class doesn't get about Jared Lee Loughner.

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There's still no evidence of a direct link between any mainstream political discourse and the shooting in Tucson over the weekend. But the media's reaction to the shooting tells us an awful lot about the state of political punditry.  

It's not just the cheap point scoring and the rush to politicize the shootings, either—though that's certainly a big part of it. Indeed, that's partially just a symptom of a larger failing: the determination of so much of the political class to fit Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged killer, and his heinous act into some handy and easily identifiable political framework, despite knowing better.

Andrew Sullivan captured the conflicted, dual impulse rather well when he wrote early on, that "this is so awful that political grandstanding seems both inappropriate right now, and yet also very appropriate. An attempted political assassination is a political act and deserves a political response."

But the political responses inevitably turn into recitations of all-too-familiar talking points. Loughner was influenced by anti-government extremists, according to the extremist-trackers at the Southern Poverty Law Center. His "beliefs are the liberal of liberals," declared a Republican member of Congress. He's backed by a touchy-feely Democratic party, said Rush Limbaugh. Conservative-scolding columnist E.J. Dionne ominously noted that "since President Obama's election, it is incontestable that significant parts of the American far right have adopted a language of revolutionary violence in the name of overthrowing 'tyranny.'" The folks at No Labels decided that the shooting was an "opportunity" to talk about, well, what No Labels exists to talk about. Time's Mark Halperin, one of the nation's chief purveyors of glib Beltway groupthink, congratulated  "the media and the politicians" for having "behaved pretty well so far" and argued that conservatives should take the opportunity to "turn the other cheek." At least he didn't call it a game-changer.

The job of political pundits and advocacy groups is to talk about their issues, always and forever, rain or shine, good news or bad. Plenty of pundits do this reflexively, at home or at work, at cocktail parties or baseball games. Being perpetually on message is a skill. It's also hard to turn off.

But the usual responses don't provide much insight or comfort when confronted with an event like this, which revolves around an individual whose politics, to the extent they exist at all, certainly cannot be captured by any familiar political framework, and are probably confused enough that they will remain mostly inscrutable forever.

That presents a challenge for punditry, which is dominated almost exclusively by individuals who are versed in a certain set of facts and who think in a certain way, using accepted shorthand and well-established categories to describe pretty much everything that goes on in their world. And although most pundits and analysts understand this at a certain level, it's hard to truly grasp how removed from pundit-land many individuals and their lives are, how vast the gulf is between the political world and their world.

One form of that distance was captured well in "Decision Makers," a memorable piece on undecided voters by journalist Christ Hayes. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Hayes spoke to a number of late-breaking undecided voters, and found them not only unaware of the specifics of many issues, but unfamiliar with "the very concept of the political issue." More broadly, wrote Hayes, such voters frequently displayed "a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the 'political.' The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances."

Obviously there are huge differences between someone like Loughner, who seems to have been mentally unstable, and a typical undecided voter. But what Hayes captures so well in the piece is not just how mystifying standard political thinking is to some voters, but how foreign the lack of proficiency with political thinking and political jargon can seem to those in the political class.

In a loose way, it's possible to observe a similar disconnect here. Loughner's milieu—a middle-class suburban upbringing marked by failed attempts at community college, UFO message boards, online game playing, and handgun proficiency, among other things—is (understandably) alien to most of the political class. And as we're increasingly seeing, Loughner was an outcast, a loner, and a confusing—sometimes frightening—character even within those worlds.

Washington's usual narratives and talking points aren't well-suited to dealing with someone so unfamiliar, and so removed from the Beltway's daily back-and-forth—especially when that person also appears to be mentally unbalanced. But many in the political class cling to the comfort of those easy narratives anyway. After all, as the last few days have proven, that's all they've got.

Peter Suderman is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. Peter, you nailed it. (You also crisply articulated what I was toiling to express here a couple of days ago: https://reason.com/blog/2011/01…..nt_2080958 )

  2. We shouldn’t forget another reason for the pundits reaction and crazy statements: Ratings!

    1. This is true.

    2. According to people who knew him, Loughner never even watched TV or listened to talk radio.

      1. You don’t need them when you have the voices in your head to keep you entertained.

  3. Wow – a novel take on all this, one, I think, that captures a lot of the ambiguity and uncertainty and “square-peg-in-round-hole-ness” that’s swept away or overlooked in the cookie cutter “analysis” of these events.

    Well done, Peter!

  4. “[T]he determination of so much of the political class to fit Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged killer, and his heinous act into some handy and easily identifiable political framework, despite knowing better.”

    Actually, this pigeon-holing is nothing more than yet another iteration of Marxian theory of group logic: That people act in groups (for Marx, class; for leftists, take your pick: race, class, gender, etc) and follow the group logic (i.e. collectivism). It is pure and unadulterated bullshit, but just like the ol’ labor theory of value and Malthusianism, it is a theory that refuses to die a quiet death.

    1. I had wondered why homosexual groups claim that ‘gayness’ in unalterable and bisexuality does not exist–it forces one to be a member of the gay tribe.

      Likewise, if you have African blood, you can’t act white ’cause you are part of the tribe.

      I suspect that’s why People of the Tribe live like Republicans but vote like ultra-liberal socialist Democrats.

      One wouldn’t want to join a club that would have them as a member.

      1. There are several bisexual men out there. There’s just an unfortunate tendency for a lot of gay men to claim bisexuality because of a lack of self-acceptance. This has led a lot of other gay men to (falsely) claim bisexuality isn’t real. I agree with you though about tribal mentality.

  5. Loughner is a Rorschach test for the political class.

    1. Hey, you’re the one showing all the dirty pictures!

      1. (raises hand)

        The Unicorn power T-shirt is probably one of my favorites.

      2. Hell yeah. “Fun Bot” is one of my faves. (The “Psychoanalyst” one is great, too).

    2. Rorschach or Horshack?

  6. Loughner is irrelevant. They could not care less who he is, or what he believes.

    His sole value to them is the chance he offers to put themselves on public display. Thus, for the SPLC, he is an extremist (who vindicates its beliefs and mission). For the conservative, he is “the liberal of liberals” (who vindicates conservative beliefs and mission). For leftists, he is the Tea Party threat (which vindicates their beliefs and mission).

    He is whoever they need him to be to make themselves out his victims. Why should they who Loughner is?

    1. I thought he was Ronald McDonald sans makeup.

  7. I wonder how far the political class can drift away from the experiences of middle America before something gives…

    1. You might be interested in Angelo Codevilla’s, “America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution,” essay from a few months ago that touches on your question. It was bandied about here for awhile. http://spectator.org/archives/…..ss-and-the

      It scared the crap out of me when I read it, and I wonder what will happen when the Tea Party ends up getting co-opted, just like every other reform movement?

      1. Thanks for the link!

    2. Ask Marie Antoinette…

  8. I’m amazed at how many supposedly learned writers in DC took Rush’s tweak of the Democrats as a serious charge. Y’all need to get out more.

    1. Particularly a conservative newspaper writer.Seems like a lot of writers were looking for a “the right does it too” angle on the political aftermath of the Tuscon killings.No, not this time anyways.

      1. “The right does it too” is one of Suderman’s mainstays.

        1. I expect it from Mr McCardle, hell it’s a Reason mainstay. I didn’t expect it from Carney

          1. I don’t mind someone saying “the right does it to,” because the right DOES do it. What bugs me is the left acting as if ONLY the right does it. I mean, I can’t tell whether they behave that way merely to score political points or if they really, really don’t see any similarity between their own extreme rhetoric and that of their opponents. I don’t want to believe that people can be that blinkered and un-self-aware, but I’m afraid they might be.

  9. “But the political responses inevitably turn into recitations of all-too-familiar talking points. Loughner was influenced by anti-government extremists, according to the extremist-trackers at the Southern Poverty Law Center. His “beliefs are the liberal of liberals,” declared a Republican member of Congress. He’s backed by a touchy-feely Democratic party, said Rush Limbaugh”

    Let’s not gloss over the fact that this blather party was started by those on the left with no basis in fact for doing so.

    People on the right are naturally going to push back when they are the target of this stuff.

    Also I think the liberal media hypocrisy on this shooting compared to the Fort Hood shooting and the Discover Channel headquarters enviro-nut hostage taker can’t be emphasised enough.

    There was ample evidence of the Fort Hood shooter being an islamic radical and not only were the media not the least bit interested in exploring that, they actively bent over backwards to deny it was so.

    And the Discovery channel hostage taker was obviously an evironmentalist wacko and a fan of Al Gores enviro chicken-little routine. Again the media wasn’t the least bit interested in exploring any possible influences there.

    But they were chomping at the bit to try to pin the Ariz shooting on the right because of their own predetermined agenda and they played it that way from the get go.

    1. IIRC didn’t the left briefly attempt to spin the Amy Bishop massacre because academics were killed in Alabama.That she was a hard left Harvard PhD from Boston, and a serial killer to boot, kinda spoiled the narrative.

      1. Never waste a good crisis.

        1. Mission accomplished, Jared Lee.

      2. The Duke lacrosse fiasco comes to mind once again…

  10. OK we need to go back and put this into context. Here’s the sequence:

    1. Sarah Palin’s sniper crosshairs graphic was criticized as soon as it was posted months and months ago. There had been all kinds of worry with people showing up to Tea Party rallies with assault rifles and signs advocating assassination (saying it was time to water the tree of liberty with the blood of politicians who supported the health care bill). So the graphic, as soon as it went up was criticized around the internet and among pundits.

    2. Shortly after the graphic was posted, someone shot at Giffords’ office.

    3. Giffords herself expressed concern about the graphic not long ago, considering the political atmosphere and the fringe of gun enthusiasts/conspiracy nuts etc that inhabit the segment targeted by materials like that graphic.

    4. Someone shoots Giffords.

    It’s is not a wild out-of-left-field theory here. Concern about something like this happening had been running high ever since the health care “town hall” rallies, and the huge increase in death threats and hate mail politicians were getting. That’s why Palin’s own people scrambled to scrub her websites of the references to the sniper graph and “reloading”. They are not reacting to some random crazy theory that popped out of the blogosphere. They are reacting because they heard complaints, ignored the complaints, left the graphic up, had Palin continue to use gun metaphors when talking about taking down Democrats, and drew the same obvious conclusion as the rest of us when the shots were fired. Otherwise they would not have taken down the materials and wouldn’t be frantically backpedaling.

    But the issue is not Sarah Palin; her political career ended the moment those shots were fired. The issue is will they continue to use this tone in future elections. If this shooting — even if the guy had no idea who Palin even is — brings this to our attention, then maybe that will be one good thing that came from it.

    Politicians know well that there are crazy people in their audience. I’m not saying you have to conform your message to play specifically to the crazies, I’m saying you don’t send the crazies a graph with sniper crosshairs on the polticians you are telling them are going to run concentration camps for grandma.

    I don’t feel like that’s an unreasonable thing to ask.

    1. That’s just plain stupid. Can you offer any evidence of any incident that actually resulted from the target map?

      1. Nope. He can’t.

        1. Good job with the boilerplate, Jason.

      2. The argument seems to be something like this:

        (1) We didn’t like a lot of what Palin said and did, and predicted that her rhetoric would lead to violence.

        (2) Her rhetoric has not lead to any violence.

        (3) See! We were right! You right-wingers should all shut up and do as you’re told!

    2. Dear David Wong:

      After you posted your retarded “argument” (which relies heavily on the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy), your fellow Palin-haters started twittering about their desire to murder Palin.

      Therefore, we must conclude from your “logic” that your Palin-bashing is to blame for people making death threats against Palin. You and cracked.com must therefore (again according to your “logic) be sued into oblivion and you must be sentenced to twenty years hard labor in prison in punishment for the hateful murderous vitriol you and your lackeys have been spewing, as it has been the source of a climate of hate which is clearly influencing people to make death threats against Palin and may ultimately be to blame for an assassination attempt against her.

      Or maybe you’d like to rethink your retarded censorious totalitarian pablum, Wongbasket?

      1. “”Therefore, we must conclude from your “logic” that your Palin-bashing is to blame for people making death threats against Palin.””

        The Souther Poverty Law Center might agree.

        1. Nah. They hate Palin even more than Wong does. Evil is only evil when the right does it.

          1. I’m necessary.

    3. Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    4. “I’m saying you don’t send the crazies a graph with sniper crosshairs on the polticians you are telling them are going to run concentration camps for grandma.”

      Palin’s were superimosed on a MAP – not images of politicans, you nimrod.

      And by the way, the Dems had done the very same thing back in 2004.

      http://american-conservativeva…..e-map.html

    5. “It’s is not a wild out-of-left-field theory here.”
      No, it’s not even close to being that valid.
      It’s a totally ignorant attempt at finding connections where none exist.

    6. You really have to think that Tea Partiers are like monkeys to believe this logic.

      Like people are going to be subliminally prompted to shoot Giffords just because someone puts a picture of crosshairs over a MAP. Not even a picture of her face.

      I can see the notion that a general atmosphere of violent rhetoric may prompt some to feel that they need to take up arms, or join a milita. But that’s a general thing.

      Drawing a striaght line between a cross-hairs on a map, to a madmen feeling compelled to shoot SPECIFICALLY at the congresswoman who represents the district on the map, is a bit ludicrous. People aren’t trained dogs, ok?

      1. Some of us are.

    7. I don’t feel like that’s an unreasonable thing to ask.

      It is reasonable to ask given those specific four facts. But we have more than those facts to go on, and nothing else points to “coarsened” (or, rather, perpetually coarse) political rhetoric as a cause. So if you want to assess a probability that some guy with no other warning signs was driven by political debate to kill or attempt to kill a politicians from both parties, a nine-year-old girl, several elderly people, several veterans, etc., you’re welcome to do so. But it’s a very small probability, and pushing in that direction to the exclusion of other explanations is purely partisan.

      And the only reason people are engaging in this hyper-indulgent speculation is to argue for constraints on the 1st, 2nd and/or 5th Amendments. So not only are they making up the cause, but they’re using that basis to heavily restrict rights in pursuit of a marginal (at best, but more likely illusory) increase in security.

    8. Jason or David (since you go by multiple names)

      You really don’t get it.

      The dreams the left had about Cheney’s death or better yet – when they made a movie about Bush being assassined had as much to do with this as Palin did.

      Palin is the left’s bogey woman (for whatever reason). The Tea Party is the politcal classes worst nightmare. Of course the media is going to try to blame them for everything.

      I work with Gifford’s husband and no-one is blaming anyone but the crazy one that did the shooting.

    9. Can you say “confirmation bias”? Of course you can…

    10. But the issue is not Sarah Palin; her political career ended the moment those shots were fired.

      lol
      RELOAD!

    11. I’m just going to repost what I said yesterday:

      What blows me away over all of this if that we’re talking about this topic at all.

      “Should we say it like this? We don’t want to set some crazy person off on a killing spree.”

      In saner times (See? You can’t avoid it), those who would even suggest that we mentally neuter ourselves because of what *might* happen on account of that somehow, somewhere, this information *might* migrate into a nutjob’s head and he *might* do something bad as a result, would have been shunned from the community and be made to wear a funny hat or carry something heavy around his/her neck as a warning to others to avoid this authoritarian weirdo.

      Is everyone on the left taking tit-fuckingly-stupid pills?

    12. Wow.

      Context is now a moving target. Law too.

      Take that to court or debate and see how you do with it.

      *Face palm*

    13. Her career ended when she did the reality show.

    14. “I’m not saying you have to conform your message to play specifically to the crazies, I’m saying you don’t send the crazies a graph with sniper crosshairs on the polticians you are telling them are going to run concentration camps for grandma.”

      So you are saying that people should change their message ‘to play specifically to the crazies’. Or at least, you’re saying people have to think about the effect their speech their message is going to have on the most unstable in society before they speak. Since we don’t know what effect it will have – Manson heard instructions to kill in a song about a fairground ride – this is an unreasonable thing to ask. Besides which, it’s ridiculous to hold anyone responsible for the deaths of shooting victims but the guy who held the gun and pulled the trigger. Demanding that someone who had no say in that decision to take responsibility is absurd.
      On a side note, I very much doubt that Sarah Palin’s political career is over. People who supported her before won’t be swayed by the argument that this event has anything to do with her, and everyone else thought she was breathtakingly stupid anyway.

      1. Should be ‘Demanding that someone who had no say in that decision should take a part of the responsibility is absurd.’

    15. You know, when I heard about the shooting, my first thought (because it was Arizona) was that someone flipped out over immigration.

      It’s not the knee jerk speculation that is blameworthy, although it’s a valid criticism of the media (moreso than miscellaneous people and pundits) that such speculation was deliberately suppressed in the Ft. Hood shooting, where the suspect’s motivations seemed much more straightforward, and in the Discovery Channel, where the suspect had an identifiable political agenda mixed in with his mental illness. And it’s not the first time that they’ve jumped to conclusions about “right-wing” violence without any evidence other than the fact that a white male seemed to be involved — it happened with the car bombing as well. Jumping to conclusions is apparently only bad when it involves everyone but your political enemies.

      But again, that’s somewhat understandable behavior coming from a combination of shock and prejudice. What’s despicable is that, even after the speculation was shown to be baseless, after evidence came in strongly suggesting that Loughner was not a right-winger or influenced by any sort of right-wing rhetoric, they didn’t apologize, or walk things back, or just drop it and avoid the subject in shame. They just kept hammering the same points without any concern for truth or logic, and then attacked right-wingers for being defensive about baseless accusations that they incited a mass murder. To be honest, if Democratic pundits are going to employ the Big Lie strategy, then an accusation of blood libel isn’t too far off the mark.

    16. Sarah Palin’s sniper crosshairs graphic was criticized as soon as it was posted months and months ago.

      Sarah Palin’s sniper crosshairs graphic was criticized as soon as it was posted months and months ago for the same reason every other single thing she’s done has been criticized. Because she has been in the Democrats’ crosshairs for two and a half years.

    17. Yes, it is unreasonable. We can’t live our lives in constant self-censorship and fear just to accomodate the whackos. Consider not just the harm this would do to liberty, but also the sheer impossibility of it: crazy people are, well, crazy. It’s quite impossible for us to know what can set them off. Your specific example of the “crosshairs” map, for instance, is not linked to a single violent act that I’m aware of. Doesn’t that kind of fuck your theory over?

    18. I recall a lot of lefties telling us that if we “give up any of our rights” to defend the country from terrorist attacks, then the terrorists have won. Wouldn’t the same principle apply to random loonies?

      1. No! That only applies when Republicans are in power. Now that Democrats are in power, dissent is treason and the random lunatics win unless you give up enough rights to allow us to imprison people for anything they might do or might think of doing or might be thinking of doing maybe.

  11. It should be noted that the shellacking in November was the event that teed up the massive rush to judgment. The desire to get back at the victors can’t be understated in this whole mess.

  12. I don’t feel like that’s an unreasonable thing to ask.

    If you’re not lying (which you are), commit yourself. You’re a danger to all of us.

  13. individuals who are versed in a certain set of facts and who think in a certain way, using accepted shorthand and well-established categories to describe pretty much everything that goes on in their world.

    Wait a minute, Peter. Are you describing political pundits or libertarian commentators?

  14. I’m saying you don’t send the crazies a graph with sniper crosshairs on the polticians you are telling them are going to run concentration camps for grandma.

    I’m saying you’re retarded. Fuck off.

  15. The problem with the “punditocracy” is they are obsessed with politics, and their tiny little Kremlinologist minds cannot cope with the notion that the overwhelming majority of Americans couldn’t give a shit less what they think about anything.

    1. ^this^

      I have tried to explain this point to my father numerous times actually… His instant reaction was, of course, that it was all Palin’s fault. Cause A. He hates Sarah Palin, and B. He watches cable news like 2-3 hours a day, and almost only MSNBC.

      When I tried to explain that a guy like Loughner was probably not only – not – a fan of Palin, his “political” views were probably so ridiculously far outside of the mainstream that Palin barely even made his radar.

      Shockingly, more honest journalistic sources have already backed off on the main stupid… But still, I’m kinda doubting MSNBC has backed off yet.

      Anyway… P Brooks’ point is the one people need to understand. Palin matters to 65 year old white ladies from Missouri… Not to 22 year old nut jobs who are (I’m going out on a limb here) illuminati/Bilderberger/NWO/wtf anything?? conspiracy lunatics.

      1. Just saw a headline on MSN’s feed titled, Is Arizona the Epicenter of Divisiveness? They don’t know how to let go. They are still in the denial stage in their grieving over the fact it was not a Tea Party loon.

        1. It wasn’t a Tea Partier but it was Arizona. Not exactly the jackpot, but a nice takeaway nonetheless. Not that facts and logic are important to propagandists.

  16. What blows me away about the punditocracy is that now that we know that Loughner wasn’t influenced by the political climate at all -I mean his friends said he was just crazy and didn’t even listen or watch radio or TV political stuff- they STILL won’t give up the ghost.

    It’s over. The Tea Parties, the crosshairs map (which he probably didn’t even LAY EYES ON), Palin, Beck, whatever bugaboo the left (or right for that matter) wants to attach as the reason for Loughners episode is just PLAIN WRONG.

    Of course the NYT writes that idiotic editorial today stating the Obama was right to CRITICIZE PALIN for exciting the debate to “vitriolic levels”.

    What the fuck is wrong with these people?

    1. Whoooo!

  17. “Just because Sarah Palin didn’t cause this tragedy doesn’t mean this tragedy wasn’t caused by Sarsah Palin!!!!!”

  18. “…the alleged killer, and his heinous act into some handy and easily identifiable political framework, despite knowing better.”

    I worked in a lock down psychiatric hospital for a couple of years, doing medical records kinda stuff, and I used to ask this one psychiatrist about some of the more interesting cases. Why does this guy think he’s Nero? Why does that guy play with fire?

    He finally said to me one day–You’re always looking for a rational explanation, but if the crazy things some of these people do ever start making sense to you? Just let me know and I’ll put you in a room right next to them!

    People who think a shooting like this is the logical end result of something Sarah Palin or anybody else said or did? Should probably seek help–’cause if doing crazy stuff like that in reaction to what Sarah Palin says seems rational to you?

    I know a bunch of psychiatrists who used to treat people like that–and I could probably dig up a number for anybody that needs it.

    1. It doesn’t matter. In politics, reality is whatever you say it is. The winner is the guy who gets most of the people to agree with his interpretation of reality. He could say that the moon is made of cheese, or that Jews are the cause of all the world’s strife. Lying is an accepted part of the game, and there will always be people who are more than willing to help you lie.

    2. -You’re always looking for a rational explanation, but if the crazy things some of these people do ever start making sense to you? Just let me know and I’ll put you in a room right next to them!

      Amen. Great comment Ken.

      Interesting coincidence that comes to mind… when my little bro was first committed after his own schizoid break… it was like a week before I could visit him in the lockdown ward. I went to see the head nurse… and when he showed up I was like…”holy what!?” it was my best friend from when I was in junior high. He’d been working in mental health for like 10 years after we’d fallen out of touch… I never knew. It was really cool having him be the guy in charge of the nuthouse, knowing he knew my brother personally. And he gave me the same lowdown the doc gave you = dont even try to make rationales for ‘why’ your bro is all fucked up. He gave me a tour of the hardcore wing, and introduced me to some of the long-term hard-cases… it made me realize that the thing that makes crazy people crazy isn’t some formula…it’s just some biological short circuit which produces any number of symptomatic permutations, and rational people have a hard time dealing with any of them without an ‘explanation’ that makes sense on sane terms.

      Anyway, I appreciate your comment, because I think when people have firsthand experience with ‘crazy’, they understand that these types of rationalizations are all a giant pile of self-referential garbage that has nothing to do with the actual person or the illness.

  19. If you think the left flew to Pluto on this one, wait until you get a load of the following:

    “The Real Message of Jared Loughner”

    http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thes…..fords.php#

    Principal among them are his concern about “currency that’s not backed by gold and silver,” and beliefs that the federal government controls people through the use of grammar. As Potok notes, the former is a boilerplate notion of the radical right, closely linked to conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve being run by shadowy international bankers. The latter is a yet more abstruse conspiracy theory espoused by David Wynn Miller.

    Both ideas are cherished by the Patriot movement, a loose grouping of right-wing extremists that trace their roots to the militia activities of the 1990s. As has been well-documented, “Patriot” ideas have been extremely influential in the contemporary right-wing movement known as the Tea Party, and have often been championed by some of the Tea Party’s heroes, such as Ron and Rand Paul.

    The blogger took the game “seven degrees of separation” just one more ridiculous step further, to implicate Ron Paul (of all people!) with Loughner.

    Also, if you believe sound money is better than unbacked fiat money, you espouse a “boilerplate notion of the radical right”, according to SPLC’s Potok (whose mommy married a Klingon, by the sound of his last name)

    You can’t get loonier than that.

    1. (1) Being a Republican or libertarian makes you insane.
      (2) Insane people sometimes kill other people.
      (3) We should lock up insane people who might kill other people.
      (4) Therefore, all Republicans and libertarians should be locked up.

      The left is wiping its collective ass with the last shreds of its credibility.

      1. We get it, why don’t you?

        1. I get it, guys.

          1. Good lad, Adolf.

            1. I sorta condemn your rhetoric.

    2. You can’t get loonier than that.

      HA!! Just wait!

    3. Potok is a Czech surname. The closest English equivalent is Brooks.

      (Sorry, P Brooks)

  20. ’cause if doing crazy stuff like that in reaction to what Sarah Palin says seems rational to you?

    Exactly. The first question I ask myself when something like this happens is, “How could this person ever have imagined that would change or ‘fix’ anything?” I have a lot of stupid impulses, but I discard them because they won’t just won’t make anything better.

  21. Palin’s [crosshairs] were superimosed on a MAP – not images of politicans, you nimrod.

    Right, becuase Palin wants to nuke those districts from orbit!

    1. So, when are they going to arrest Palin for unlawful incitement to violence?

      Please, stop her before she kills again!

  22. Loughner’s milieu?a middle-class suburban upbringing marked by failed attempts at community college, UFO message boards, online game playing, and handgun proficiency, among other things?is (understandably) alien to most of the political class.

    Should I be embarassed to admit that this upbring does NOT seem alien to me?

    I’m a college grad, but … I feel like I know a LOT of people like Jared Loughner.

    1. That’s the thing about Bailey’s piece on “Typical Assassins” yesterday. It pretty much describes a WHOLE BUNCH of people I know, and myself about 15 years ago.

      MAYBE WE ARE ALL ASSASSINS AND WE DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

      I, for one, would love to wake up one day Bourne Identity-style and be able to kick all kinds of ass, have logisitics skills higher than Oracles highest Systems Admin, and be fluent in 40 languages. That would be AWESOME.

    2. shit they better institutionalize me now.

  23. Time’s Mark Halperin, one of the nation’s chief purveyors of glib Beltway groupthink, congratulated “the media and the politicians” for having “behaved pretty well so far” and argued that conservatives should take the opportunity to “turn the other cheek.”

    The very same Mark Halperin who thought a few months ago that Obama needed an OKC like tragedy to give him the opportunity to be presidential and have the people see him as presidential. Is this what you wanted, Mark? Made to order?

  24. Anyway, my favorite part of last night’s revival meeting was when the President revealed that he had made the blind see. I almost wept.

    1. Some of you understand.

  25. Crosshairs! On a map!

    Won’t somebody think of the cartographers?

    1. We will control access to maps. They will be removed from textbooks and libraries. Only the government will have access.

  26. I have to admit I was a victim of bias when I heard this story. As details initially came out, it all seemed to pidgeonhole into my pre-conceived notions.

    The initial details were pretty compelling to inserting Milita Man into the murder’s image:

    1. Disturbed white guy with three names did the shooting? I mean, isn’t that right out of central casting or something?

    2. He attacked a Democratic Congress woman in a politically antagonized district of Arizona.

    3. The first bizarre rantings of the loser to make it on-air were things about gold and silver currencies, conspiracies of grammar, etc. Now, even then the spoutings made no sense. But it struck me as the rantings of someone not very bright who had been exposed to frankly libertarian themes, and walked away with what he mentally could comprehend of it. Its like he read some bad righty trope like The Overton Window and walked away with what he intellectually could.

    So I was expecting the Left Bank to fill up with tears so to speak, which it did. They obviously had the same biases as I did, and fell for the same stereotypes I listed above.

    Where this impression started breaking down for me was hearing about that poor little girl. Only crazies, the stupid, or genuinely evil people hurt little girls. I mean, that’s one of the things that – even thinking about it – short-circuits my own sanity. If I went nuts tomorrow and went down to Safeway to take down that Dog Catcher I’ve been meaning to payback or whatever, and there was a little girl around, I’d still be careful! “Run kid!” I’d say at least.That’s not politics at all; in a metaphor for the computer dorks….its not a problem in the politics in his Windows vs. Mac but a deeper, broken one in the PRAM/BIOS somewhere. Can’t even boot up right you know what I mean?

    So, after hearing about the kid, I was re-evaluating that character as either total Costco Kirkland Evil by the pallet, or just disturbed somehow. But not the Left Bank! They had become wedded to their Palindrome and were not going to let go. Only now, after enough stuff has come out to show this guy probably needs to go back to the mothership is the Left Bank subsiding.

    That’s a disturbing thing with the Left. They will go on through this and pretend there own colossal error and grudging acceptance of this guy as just a nut and not their treasured Palindrome Prime never happened. They do not evaluate mistakes in terms of failures of their own judgement, but in failures to communicate, or someone else tricked them, or, or, or…

    One thing I think you can say with utter conviction though that is kind of fun play of words from the Lefty Warmer crowd is to tell Keith Olbermann et al that Jared Lee Laughner being a complete and utter Crazy is “Settled Science!”

    1. “The initial details were pretty compelling to inserting Milita Man into the murder’s image:…”

      There’s something about disaffected guys in their early twenties–that don’t feel like they have a shot at much of anything, especially a nice girlfriend? That’s the same the world over.

      In Palestine, they become easy to recruit as suicide bombers; in Afghanistan, they get recruited to join the Mujaheddin; in Compton, they tend to join gangs; when I was younger, they used to become nazi skinheads…

      There’s something that goes wrong with guys in their twenties when they don’t feel like they have a legitimate shot at a nice girl and success–and it seems to be universal. It all seems to go the same way.

      Some of them may break a little differently and become religious fanatics rather than skinheads, but wherever you go in the world, show me some guys in their early twenties who don’t feel like they have a legitimate shot at a girl and success? …and I’ll show you some of the same symptoms. That’s the stereotype I tend to see.

      In Mexico, they become narco-traffickers; in Eastern Europe, they join organized crime. It’s all the same thing.

      This guy was so disaffected and rejected because he apparently had some serious mental problems–and evolution’s just downright mean in terms of appealing to females when you have a mental problem.

      But I see the same stereotype too–guys in their early twenties having problems coping with rejection…

      Misogyny always seems to feature big with these guys too–like Jim Morrison said, “Women seem wicked when you’re alone.” It’s almost become like little kids killing pets = future serial murderer to me.

      But I think every society has to deal with these rejects–it’s why our parents try to make us stay in school. …so we don’t become one of those disaffected stereotypes. And it’s the same everywhere.

      ..and highly politicized rhetoric doesn’t have anything to do with it.

      1. Again… good post Ken.

        1. Yeah, I posted similar thoughts about women problems on another H&R thread yesterday. Two examples I listed then bear repeating:

          Muhammad Atta’s luggage was, ironically, lost by American Airlines on 9/11. Subsequent examination of its contents revealed his will. Atta’s attitude to women seethed from that will. Stuff like cleaning his balls extra-clean in funeral prep and what not. Contrast that with his stripper-patronizing on 9/10 and there is tremendous self-hatred and psychological shredding-noises going on there.

          2. Timmy McVeigh. Day before he left I believe New York state on his ‘mission,’ he asked this girl out at Kinko’s that he was infatuated with one last time. And for one last time what was I’m sure a creeped-out Kinko’s girl turned him down. Sounds anecdotal, but I remember when I heard that I also heard a ‘snap’ in my head visualizing little Timmy M’s mind.

          The girl-rejection angle with these creeps is the One it seems. I don’t think this guy would’ve fixated on his district House Rep. had it not been her specifically; an attractive woman with power.

          1. As it relates to men in their early twenties, this is also the period in which they are at highest risk (across the age spectrum) to experiencing symptoms of psychosis (hallucinations and/or delusions, paranoia, marked disorganization).

            1. Been there, more or less. I spent most of the 1980s (my twenties) bug-effin’ crazy. Well, suffering from extreme anxiety and depression, anyway. Cost me jobs, relationships, independence, and time that I can never get back.

              The only feelings I can recall are a) the world is big, ugly and scary, b) I’m all alone, c) There’s something fundamentally wrong and undesirable about me, and d) I want to get away but I’m trapped in this ugliness. No disordered thoughts, just extremely strong emotions and a lot of misery.

              Maybe it has something to do with separation anxiety – with separating from your family and the school environment and facing the world “alone.” It just seems like some guys in their 20s have the time of their lives while others suffer.

          2. Women are at fault. They should be giving more head and this wouldn’t have happened! IN fact, all the world’s problems with wacko yong men would simply disappear.

  27. Good article. This is the frame work in which from news should be written. I’m perpetually disgusted by the loud people.

  28. We’re craven, you know.

  29. What’s so difficult to understand about people wanting to expose the biggest government cover-up in the history of government cover-ups?

    1. What’s so difficult to understand about people wanting to expose the biggest government cover-up in the history of government cover-ups? Derp.

      Government can’t run a vehicle registration office, run a postal monopoly at a profit or prevent $60 billion of Medicare fraud, but can hide information on the existence of extraterrestrials from everyone on the planet.

      1. We’ll learn something incredibly important about the aliens–when they come–by seeing whether they just meet with some private citizen(s) or if they go meet government officials.

        It would be funny if a massive alien ship came down, showing a civilization immensely beyond us, and they blew off the government to meet with Tim Tebow.

        1. Well, it was Dan Marino and a quarter of a century ago when I did that but the principle is the same.

          1. It would be funny if a massive alien ship came down, showing a civilization immensely beyond us, and they blew off the government to meet with Tim Tebow.

            Conversely, it would suck if they wanted to meet up with Bono.

            1. That depends on how much of Bono is left when they’re done.

              1. Oh c’mon, there is so much asshole there that even the biggest alien probe could only tickle the edges.

            2. That would just prove that they were an inferior civilization.

  30. She ended her career when she did the reality show.

  31. community college,… CHECK
    UFO message boards,… CHECK (I was trolling)
    online game playing,… CHECK
    handgun proficiency,… CHECK
    other things… CHECK

    Oh crap! Add to that list that I’m a veteran and a libertarian and DHS is going to smash in my door and shoot my dog.

    1. Don’t be foolish. They’re not going to shoot your dog. They’ll take your dog in for enhanced interrogation.

      1. Unless you live in PG County, Maryland. In that case, they’ll leave a box of marijuana on your porch, rough up your mother, THEN shoot your dog. That’s so you won’t flush the evidence down the toilet. Or something…

      2. Don’t worry, I won’t give up a thing!

  32. How come the media hasn’t mentioned that both Giffords and Loughner are Jewish and that their families belong to the same synagogue!?

    1. I’ve read in numerous places that Loughner is a self-proclaimed athiest.

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  34. He looks like Uncle Fester.

  35. Mental illness means you are mentally ill. In common vernacular, that’s crazy. When folks are crazy, that means their mental faculties don’t work in accepted, recognizable patterns. Trying to circumscribe anyone’s speech to prevent these people from getting a ‘wrong idea’ or being goaded into violence is as insane as the people’s thinking that have mental problems. I know whereof I speak. I’m the primary care taker of a son who is paranoid, schizophrenic, bi-polar and shows symptoms of major depression. Welcome to our world, ya’ll.

  36. Well said. We sometimes joke about how, if something totally random happened – like an asteroid hitting the Earth – the left would blame it on Bush or the right would blame it on Obama. It was very strange to witness this phenomenon in reality after the Tucson incident. I think your essay brought that point hom very well.

    To put it another way, “If all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” That applies to ideology as well as hardware.

  37. Loughner’s milieu?a middle-class suburban upbringing marked by failed attempts at community college, UFO message boards, online game playing, and handgun proficiency, among other things?is (understandably) alien to most of the political class. And as we’re increasingly seeing, Loughner was an outcast, a loner, and a confusing?sometimes frightening?character even within those worlds.

    Alien to the political class, and I’m guessing the media as well, who still would like to believe, so they can consider most of us a viable target market, that most of America is made up of the studio audience of an episode of Dr. Phil. Simpering coupon-clippers with soccer-mom hair, proudly wearing our new twinsets from Wal-Mart, concerned that our houses don’t look like the ones in the infomercials and that the 100-Calorie Packs of Oreos aren’t making us thinner. And everyone else is a sick deviant.

    I mind how much the media has made of the pathetic little “Satanic shrine” out in the Loughner’s backyard, to the exclusion of all other possibilities, conveniently forgetting that there are probably ten other kids in the same neighborhood who own rock band T-shirts with the same kind of crap screened on them.

    The dropout gamer loner-gun-owners of the world are a lot more common–and less frightening–than the media coverage of the past week would lead us to believe.

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  39. In order to achieve their purpose, they can win at all costs, even if it is in the interest of the people.

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