Fault lines.

Many years ago, I did some reporting on mental illness, and interviewed the mother of a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was a real piece of work, and I recall thinking I’d have gone crazy with her as a mother, but I’m sure her burden in life was no small thing. She was insistent that her son had been made crazy by psychedelic drugs, mainly pot and LSD, which he’d taken in his early adulthood. He was a child of the ’60s, and that’s what children of the ’60s did.

I’m sure she knew that mental illness typically presents in early adulthood, and she probably knew that perhaps millions have experimented with the same drugs without tipping over into insanity. To her, it was the X factor that explained the inexplicable: How did this happen?

I’m willing to believe the drugs were a catalyst, paranoia and hallucinations being a well-known symptom of both schizophrenia and hallucinogenic drug use. A catalyst, but not the only catalyst. So is stress. So are the mystifying chemicals swirling around in our bodies. But who’s to say a brain with hallucinations and paranoia just coming to the boil might not be nudged another degree or two by a drug that induces both? People prone to depression should avoid alcohol, because alcohol is? Class? A depressant.

There’s been a lot of talk these past 48 hours about how much the martial rhetoric of the tea-party right may have contributed to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. You know — that wonderful conservative Democrat, cut down by a crazy leftist (in the Fox News narrative). There’s a lot of discussion about Sarah Palin’s crosshairs map I posted Saturday. For the record, I don’t think this Loughner kid saw that map and had it act like the queen of diamonds did on Raymond Shaw in “The Manchurian Candidate.” But I do think an unhealthy mind, looking around for weak spots to blast through like so much hot lava, can be affected by the zeitgeist, whatever it is at the moment.

A pretty vague statement, I realize.

A friend of mine likes to quote a line he first heard in an interview, that when people go crazy, they tend to go crazy in three main areas — sex, religion and aliens. They flock to others who believe they are watched at all times by a shadowy being in the sky, which is also pretty much the monotheism argument for good behavior. Does that make religion bad? Of course not. Does that mean Sarah Palin had a hand in Loughner’s action? Of course not. But I wouldn’t want to be her today, either.

One of the ten thousand things about that peabrain that has bugged me from the get-go is this: The way Palin dragged into the mainstream, and held up for celebration, a certain sort of political attitude I used to only hear on talk radio. Lock and load! …I’ll give up my guns when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. …Don’t retreat, reload! And so on. I am not a fan of Andrew Sullivan by a long shot, but I’m fascinated by this passage he found on Palin’s Facebook page:

To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targets! From the shot across the bow – the first second’s tip-off – your leaders will be in the enemy’s crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won’t win only playing defense, so get on offense! The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win.

Focus on the goal and fight for it. If the gate is closed, go over the fence. If the fence is too high, pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, parachute in. If the other side tries to push back, your attitude should be “go for it.” Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!

How many times would you have to read that before you realized she’s talking about a basketball tournament? She — or whoever handles her web stuff — headlines the piece, “Warning: Subject to New Politically Correct Language Police Censorship,” so it seems her ghost is having a bit of fun here, but it’s of a piece with other things this staunch Christian writes about politics — it’s a battle, requiring big guns, artillery, lots of ammo. Ha ha, those politically correct language police! She certainly has made “don’t retreat, reload!” a rallying cry of sorts, offering it in March (when the crosshairs map made its debut) and to buck up Laura Schlessinger in August. It’s mentioned in her first book, attributed to her father, although anyone who’s spent any amount of time reading bumper stickers knows it didn’t originate with him, either. That’s one reason so many of her supporters like her. Hey, my dad used to say that!

When you’ve made political disagreements — which are about ideas, after all — into something that requires big guns and heavy artillery and armies, when you’ve literally targeted a woman who gets shot in the head a few months later, can you really pull the shocked-shocked act when people notice the connection? Really? Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised by the shooting of Giffords (although I thought it would be the president someone would take a shot at). I’ve been expecting it for months, since those water-the-tree-of-liberty T-shirts started showing up at tea party rallies. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Palin’s people are calling the notorious crosshairs “surveyor’s symbols.” The fact they’re floating that preposterous bullshit, along with their hastening to take the graphic down, suggests that while they’ll still protest furiously, they still feel something warm on their hands, and it’s not maple syrup.

In the end, it may well be that Loughner was answering only to the voices in his head. What a wonderful world it would be if that was the only place we ever hear Palin’s again, too.

Folks, I have to be out of range for most of today, which means I may not be able to participate much, or approve comments that get hung in moderation. All I ask is that we keep it civil (which you almost always do), and that some of you (and you know who you are) try to keep it on the rails. Can we do that? I know we can.

Posted at 1:10 am in Current events |

62 responses to “Fault lines.”

  1. Crazycatlady said on January 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Well put,Nancy. There has been too many riding the Crazy Train lately.

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  2. Mike said on January 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

    As tragic as these senseless killings were; and they were tragic; we seemed to have forgotten all about the recent attempted deliveries of letter bombs . Perhaps only related in the craziness of it; but, it appears the average American can only concentrate on one misfortune at a time, an will quickly forget all others.

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  3. jerry said on January 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

    I must say I find this horrifying – both the shooting itself and the vitriolic political comment that may have contributed. I’d like to think that those people with different views from me are sincere even if misguided (from my point of view). One thing I am sure of is that abuse is no way to change anyone’s mind – however satisfying it is to deliver.

    I know that there is a strong feeling amongst many Americans that there is an absolute right to carry guns but, as a Brit, I find it incredible that people should be walking round carrying automatic and semi-automatic weapons – particularly if they have mental health problems.

    My sympathy goes out to everyone involved.

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  4. Suzanne said on January 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Interesting, isn’t it, that we’ve heard many times that if everyone could carry a weapon, these mass shootings would be less likely to happen because someone with a firearm could simply aim, fire, and take out the shooter. Except in this case, in spite of the fact that there were people in the crowd with guns (saw one interviewed on tv), nobody did.

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  5. Julie Robinson said on January 10, 2011 at 8:37 am

    On NBC news last night a correspondent reported that at least two members of Congress said they will now carry their handguns with them to constituent meetings. Like that’s going to help? Even if there was enough time to pull their own weapon and respond, engaging in a shoot-out amongst constituents would only increase the tragedy. As Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, the problem with eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth is that you end up blind and toothless.

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  6. ROgirl said on January 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

    In interviews yesterday, the Sheriff spoke about the problem with laws in Arizona that make guns so readily available to nutjobs like Loughner who could be affected by antigovernment rhetoric.

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  7. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

    It’s a little surprising to hear marijuana use being a tell for the shooter’s political persuasion. Last time I sat down to an excruciating round of bong 98, it was with a group of Reagan libertarians, one of whom oddly expressed a desire to become a junkie. He did.
    There’s an even greater dissonance when Republicans cling to the image of the “lefty” smoking marijuana, when they ignore the lessons of Altamont and employ Americas’ largest confederation of drug mules- the bikers, for security and testicular prostheses.

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  8. Peter said on January 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Neil Steinberg has a rather cogent column this morning about the tragedy and reaction to it.

    There were certainly a lot of interesting comments posted over the weekend – made me sorry that I’m only a weekday reader of this site.

    That said, there are a lot of people I feel bad for, in addition to all of the victims:

    – I really feel bad for the neighbor who brought the nine year old to the event because the little girl wanted to learn more about government.

    – I feel bad for the shooter’s parents. In a lot of these cases, you hear about the evil parents, and then you find out that they’re just normal people with a burden that kept getting bigger and that now will never end. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

    – And to my friends who find the whole socialist communist pinko leftist Obamacare offensive to everything they hold dear about this great country – NOW do you understand why we need health care? There’s going to be a zillion columns and comments about guns and our violent violent society, and comparing us to third world countries instead of western Europe. But is it easy access to guns? On the obvious level, hell yes, but there are countries in Europe where it’s relatively easy to get guns. The one thing those countries have in common is their comprehensive mental health care: they no longer warehouse nor dump into the community people with severe mental issues. We wouldn’t do that either, if we had COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE.


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  9. Julie Robinson said on January 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Preach it, Peter!

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  10. Jolene said on January 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    WaPo’s tick-tock of Saturday’s events is excellent. Many now-familiar details, but some new ones too and, more important, a really skillful job of weaving together a picture of the political context in Arizona, details of the lives of the people affected, and the story of the event itself, drawing on many reports from witnesses. Told w/ a certain tenderness that brought tears to my eyes at a couple points.

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  11. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

    The key difference between the parties is in full display here. If, during the previous administration, a Republican congresswoman had been gunned down by an anti-immigration schizophrenic, it would have been the Reichstag fire for yet another imperial adventure, the establishment of a black-ops knickerpolizei, another sector of government remanded to Halliburton, and 24/7 of “Why do liberals hate America?”
    As it is now, we only have to listen to the Republicans play the victim card, and Wolf Blitzer and Howie Kurtz lick them like a dog at a hot spot.

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  12. del said on January 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

    “Many years ago, I did some reporting on mental illness, and interviewed the mother of a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was a real piece of work, and I recall thinking I’d have gone crazy with her as a mother”

    While standing in a line at a Probate court a woman asked me for legal advice about her 19 year old son who’d just been released from a hospital (schizophrenia) and had moved to another state to be with his dad. I talked to her a couple of times by telephone and after doing so all I could think about was that she was SO overbearing the best thing in the world was for the kid to get away from her — she’d drive anyone nuts. Turns out our instincts were right about this Nancy. I then noticed an NYT Mag article about mental illess that explained:

    The course of a metastasizing cancer is unlikely to be changed by how we talk about it. With schizophrenia, however, symptoms are inevitably entangled in a person’s complex interactions with those around him or her. In fact, researchers have long documented how certain emotional reactions from family members correlate with higher relapse rates for people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Collectively referred to as “high expressed emotion,” these reactions include criticism, hostility and emotional overinvolvement (like overprotectiveness or constant intrusiveness in the patient’s life). In one study, 67 percent of white American families with a schizophrenic family member were rated as “high EE.” (Among British families, 48 percent were high EE; among Mexican families the figure was 41 percent and for Indian families 23 percent.)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/magazine/10psyche-t.html?pagewanted=5&sq=families schizophrenia&st=cse&scp=1

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  13. Mark P said on January 10, 2011 at 10:08 am

    We have to be careful about how we think about things like these. We always want to find someone to hate, someone we can hold responsible. If it turns out that the shooter was just a mental case, we feel cheated; we want the event to be evil, not meaningless. But still, I think we can say with some certainty that people are more likely to become violent when everyone is talking about becoming violent.

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  14. Kirk said on January 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Cooz @7:

    AP’s lead on the Giffords story this morning: “Authorities yesterday charged a 22-year-old man described as a pot-smoking loner … ‘

    Might as well describe him as a “breakfast-eating loner,” a “car-driving loner” or an “air-breathing loner.”

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  15. Jolene said on January 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

    So far, I haven’t heard anything about whether Loughner had any kind of contact w/ a mental health professional. Not to say that such contact would have prevented this, but I wonder if the parents tried to do anything after he was asked to leave school.

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  16. Jolene said on January 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

    On the question of guns, Gail Collins has a good column about the idea that, really, we could honor the Second Amendment quite enough w/o having semi-automatic weapons.

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  17. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Kirk: I think it’s part of a broad Calvinist tendency to link morality and disease states. There are greater causal links between alcoholism and type 2 diabetes, diabetes and schizophrenia, and diabetes and Alzheimers, than marijuana use and anything but late onset interest in The Beverly Hillbillies.
    Cocaine does alter brain chemistry in a subgroup of humans, and in a significant way. Structural changes, even.

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  18. jcburns said on January 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Hi from Atlanta, where I’d like to offer a diversion to the scary prospects of wackjob assassins. We’re having a snow-and-ice day (you may have heard), which means that if you have your brand new BMW out on the roads and you start to slip, FLOOR IT until your car, uh, catches fire and burns up. On live television. Does the concept of schadenfreude work when it’s freezing outside? (on edit: well, this is footage of the car burning, but they also had footage on the actual TV of the guy sliding backwards and flooring it.)

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  19. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

    jcburns: Paul Crowley will probably be the first guy to get a Peabody for a “hazardous road conditions” segment.

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  20. nancy said on January 10, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I was rooting for the fire truck to lock up and slide into the burning car. Hello to my inner Beavis and Butthead.

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  21. del said on January 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Beavis voice: “Fire, huh huh, fire!”

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  22. Sue said on January 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Anyone watching Downton Abbey on PBS? It seems to have a lot of Upstairs/Downstairs in its ancestry but it’s pretty yummy all by itself.
    Julian Fellowes(sp?) wrote it, I think.
    Plus, Maggie Smith has a part, which is all you need to know, really.

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  23. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

    And it’s right by the gas station. Talk about wooosh.

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  24. del said on January 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Beavis —


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  25. 4dbirds said on January 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Along with all the people who lives were shattered I too feel sympathy for the parents of the shooter. Good thing the republican leadership is holding up the vote on heathcare repeal. Wouldn’t look good for any of those recuperating in the hospital to symbolically lose their healthcare. Asswipes.

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  26. Sue said on January 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    4dbirds, let’s not forget that the state government in AZ now has pretty much defacto death panels:
    I repeat what I said yesterday, if this young man had no access to mental health coverage (irrespective of whether or not he would have used it), this is as much a health reform issue as a gun control one.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on January 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I can only add a chorus of amens to what is being written here today, particularly the easy availability of powerful firearms to people who shouldn’t even be allowed near scissors.

    The area where I lived as a teen was about 50-50 rural/developed, so most of my friends had guns. It was a rite of passage for a youngish boy (I don’t recall many girls with guns) to get a .22-caliber rifle at junior high age and then a larger rifle suitable for deer, etc. at high school age. I’m not a wuss about guns. I also understand the enormous power and clout of the NRA and have long accepted we always will be a nation with a shitload of firearms.

    That said, I simply cannot understand why there is not more public revulsion at the extremes to which the NRA goes. How the fuck does outlawing Teflon-coated “cop killer” bullets infringe on the Second Amendment? Why would laws prohibiting the sale of guns to the mentally unbalanced be a threat? Or waiting a few days or weeks to take deliver on your newest penis extender?

    I guess the NRA argues the ol’ “slippery slope” angle. If you outlaw Teflon-coated bullets, whose to say hollow points won’t be next?

    There is a large and growing rift between law enforcement agencies, which I recall in years past were largely supportive of the organization, and the NRA. But given all the anti-government fervor these days, perhaps that is to be expected since the cops are the enforcement arm of our laws.

    I do feel safe in making one prediction in the wake of the Tucson massacre. Nothing is going to change. Nothing. There will be no new laws about guns…no new regulations…nada. When I was a senior in high school, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were shot within a few months of each other. And what happened? Nothing. If the assassinations of those two giants produced no action, what chance does the wounding of a Congresswoman have?

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  28. harrison said on January 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I’m wondering how many of the pundits who are from the right, conservative, or Republican will denounce the shooter.

    I’d hold my breath until that happens. But then I’d turn as blue as a Na’vi or Smurf. Then I’d die. It’s not worth it.

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  29. coozledad said on January 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    From the comments at Roy’s. Do we really need any further clarification about which individuals are attracted to white supremacy, and which major national political party courts them?
    Something else to worry about:

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  30. Sue said on January 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I used to work with someone who was unstable, very probably schizophrenic (at her worst, pointing out blood on the walls, etc.). I know I wasn’t the only one who knew where all the exits were and which doors locked from which side, and there was the usual black humor, talk of office pools regarding final weapon of choice (generally agreed upon that it would be a machete).
    Firing her would have been difficult. She was probably safe under ADA and even without being completely functional she knew not just her rights but the probability that she would be protected by perfectly respectable laws set up to make it hard to shove her off and warehouse her somewhere. When she retired she started having money problems and it became obvious that she wasn’t taking her meds – they are expensive. She moved to Milwaukee and I’m guessing she’ll be homeless within a year or so, but she made a pretty clean break. No one knows where she is, and frankly after all the years of upheaval, no one wants to know.
    So when I hear some of the idiots on tv, either commentators or people being interviewed, going down the “why didn’t anyone see this? why wasn’t anything done?” road, I want to say: “Everyone saw this, and there wasn’t anything they could do about it. The system understandably protects the rights of people like this, and the people themselves make it impossible to help them.”
    I feel for this kid’s family. They’ve been living in Hell for the last few years and they just had another layer of it descend on them.

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  31. Dorothy said on January 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Sue my daughter sent an email tip about “Downton Abbey” at 8:00 last night, in time for us to catch it and watch it at 9 PM. I’m so glad she did! It was terrific. Looking forward to the subsequent episodes. Also, we found out too late that BBC America re-ran “Luther” yesterday – or at least I assume they re-ran all six episodes. I started recording it in November and somehow missed the very first ep. So I was really peeved to find the last three episodes scheduled around mid-day yesterday. We missed Ep 1 AGAIN!! Grrrr! It too is wonderful – Idris Elba is all I have to say about THAT show.

    jc – three women from my department are stranded in Atlanta; their destination was a conference in New Orleans. They NEVER get to travel for work (two of them are administrative assistants like me) so this was supposed to be a treat for them, to get away and learn something, too. We get occasional updates about their experiences at a Marriott somewhere near the airport. All the surrounding restaurants are closed; only one of them kept her luggage so she can change clothes. Of course there were no rental cars to grab last night – now that I hear about the ice I’m sure they’re glad not to be tempted to travel via car if they had one.

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  32. Sue said on January 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Dorothy, the only thing that jarred me on last night’s Downton Abbey episode was the beginning, showing all the industrious servants flitting about. I know it was meant to show all the work that went into keeping a Great House great, but it had an annoying “West Wing” feel to it.

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  33. moe99 said on January 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm


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  34. jcburns said on January 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Traveling by car here is NOT a good idea. However, if they get complete Marriott cabin fever, the airport does have a MARTA (rail) station, and all the trains, at last check, were running just fine.

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  35. Diane W said on January 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Well, I stop just short of holding the parents accountable, but please, if your adult child is living with you and you know he is disturbed, shouldn’t you at least make sure he doesn’t have certain items…like automatic weapons…in your home? Wake up parents and get involved. It ain’t pretty but your actions might save someone’s life.

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  36. Dorothy said on January 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for the tip JC – I’ll make sure the girls know!

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  37. Julie Robinson said on January 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Well, I’ve got a kid who has pretty much flunked himself out of college despite several massive parental interventions, so I too can relate to the agony his parents must feel.

    We recorded Downton Abbey so I haven’t watched it yet, but when I saw it was from the Gosford Park people I was pretty sure I’d like it. BTW, the original producers of Upstairs, Downstairs are supposedly working on a sequel, this time focusing more on Downstairs. Can. Not. Wait.

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  38. Hattie said on January 10, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    If he were a Muslim, no one would be saying he was insane. They would be saying he was a terrorist.

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  39. brian stouder said on January 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    hear hear, Hattie!

    I was able to glance at the first page of Jolene’s tick-tock link, and was immediately taken aback by the shooter’s determination to get the correct change from the cabbie who drove him to the supermarket.

    One would think that before stepping off to eternal damnation, a person could tip the guy who conducted him across the Styx

    (and apparently, one would be wrong)

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  40. Sue said on January 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Let me preface this by saying that overall the coverage on Fox this weekend wasn’t too bad. They stayed pretty calm until it started to become apparent that the shooter wasn’t going to make any statements confirming that Glenn Beck was the mastermind of the plot or anything. Plus, they stayed on the air with this after everyone else was back to prison shows and stuff.
    Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, time to mention that one of the blondes on Fox last night mentioned the ‘divine intervention’ that led Representative Giffords just five days ago to hire the intern who ‘saved her life’.
    Does she mean the intern who has repeatedly said it was the emergency services people who saved her life?
    The intern who is both hispanic and gay?
    Is God being funny here?
    Also, couldn’t He have thrown some of that intervention Christina Green’s way? Or John Roll or Gabe Zimmerman or those three senior citizens?

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  41. Jeff Borden said on January 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    At the risk of lowering the political rhetoric another notch, may I just say how happy I am that Tom DeLay has been sentenced to three years in prison.

    It is rare enough that one of our grubby-handed politicians is convicted. It is even rarer when they are handed an actual prison term. No doubt there will be years of appeals, but the Hammer is heading to the slammer, sooner or later.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Whatever other offenses against calm & comity may or may not have been committed here or elsewhere, on the internet or cable news, there can be no discredit in a small wicked smile over seeing a grubby-handed politician duly convicted in a court of law and properly sentenced.

    If we spent too much time wondering who he will be dancing with in prison, that would be over the line. Let’s not. If he comes out as chastened as Bob Ney did, we’re all better off for his incarceration, the inmate himself included.

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  43. Kirk said on January 10, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Fox News, in fact, was way ahead of CNN on several aspects of the breaking news coverage of the shooting Saturday afternoon (including identification of the gunman). When they don’t have time to spin their nonsense into their coverage, they do a decent job.

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  44. Connie said on January 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Jeff tmmo, a small wicked grin? Mine was a little bigger and included a whoop.

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  45. moe99 said on January 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Tom Delay sentenced to 3 years:


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  46. LAMary said on January 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Mugshot of the shooter:


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  47. Jolene said on January 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Did you all hear about the attorney who has been appointed to defend Jared Loughner? Her name is Judy Clarke. In the past, she has defended Eric Rudolph (the Atlanta Olympics bomber), Susan Smith (the South Carolina woman who drove her children into a river), Ted Kaczynski, and Zacharias Moussaoui. What a career!

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  48. LAMary said on January 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Giffords’ brother in law from the international space station:


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  49. Joe Kobiela said on January 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Harrison @ 28,
    Im right conservitive and republican, and I think this is horrendes,good enough for you? Would you feel the same way if someone would have took a shot at Busch? or any Republican? or Beck or Hannity? Seems the last 2 Presidental assination attemps were against Republicans. Reagan & Ford, Were those allright by you? So far I have only heard theory as why this nut case did what he did, and you all IMMEDIATELY assume it was the rights fault. Does anyone hear think this scumbag is not guilty? Why is there even going to be a trial? Exacute him now. I also ran a 4:05 Marathon at Disney yesterday.
    Pilot Joe

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  50. Holly said on January 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    My sister in law was a paranoid schizphrenic. It is a terrible thing to deal with. When she was taking her meds she was calm. When she decided she was not going to, she would see blood coming out of my walls, she would rock back and forth on my steps having a belly laugh because someone was telling her a joke. She had a voice telling her to kill someone or herself. Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It has nothing to do with an overbearing parent. It can be inherited. My Mother and Father in law did everything for her to try and help her. It is terrible that whenever someone goes on a killing spree and it turns out the killer was mentally ill the parents are blamed. My sister in law died at 47. She was robbed of a life. She did not chose to be mentally ill. It is something that just happened to her in her early 20s. People treated her badly because she was ill. Even though she had all this happen to her she still was a very sweet person. When she went off her meds is when everything would go down hill. To this day, my kids still talk about how much they miss their Aunt.

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  51. John G. Wallace said on January 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I have tried to stick with the “if you don’t have anything nice to say,” policy on this incident. Peter was right, no one thinks of the parents. Let’s just say I’m dealing with a family horror, nowhere on this scale, and everyone judges the parents. I may not be a perfect role model, I’ve had career and personal issues, but I always thought I was a good parent. Both of my sisters are troubled people, hiding behind a beautiful facade. My parents are sucessful by most of society’s standards, they always did their best. where did the chain break, it’s no longer relevant.
    On a lighter note I have a friend who has worked for the C.I.A., among other places. He was a CIA police officer, not an agent or operative. They deal with security at facilities, and also have a rapid response team for more serious problems. they run the security checkpoints and patrol the parking areas.
    They also get the ‘walk ins” not the repeat problem ones, just the disturbed type certain they are being monitored, and yes, some with foil headgear. In most cases they log the incident, and then leave the interview area. After a while they come back and tell the visitor that they can’t discuss what happened but it was an error and won’t happen after now. For most of the kooks the drive to Langley and being led away from that lobby and “taken seriously,” is enough to soothe them.

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  52. Jolene said on January 10, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I have two friends who have siblings that developed schizophrenia, and, as Holly says, it was an enduring tragedy for the whole family. I don’t know enough about the illness to know why, but going off one’s meds is so common as to be almost a feature of the illness. In Loughner’s case, though, it appears that he was never brought to the attention of the mental health system.

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  53. moe99 said on January 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm


    Did you view the youtube I posted at #33 above? Please do so.

    Did you know that John Hinckley was trying to impress Jodie Foster when he shot Reagan? His parents were wealthy Republicans and donated to George HW Bush’s campaign. In fact, another Hinckley son was supposed to have dinner the night of the assassination attempt with Neil Bush.

    For you to try to make the assassination attempts against two sitting presidents somehow equivalent to the present day horrors means you don’t get it. They are all wrong. One does not excuse the other.

    We are a nation of laws, I hope. Not a nation of lynchers. Loghner will get his day in court, and hopefully a fair trial. Your comments about killing him now are intemperate.

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  54. CTJohn said on January 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Pilot Joe, as someone who ran the 2009 Marine Corp marathon at a much slower pace than you, congratulations on your speedy time.

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  55. Joe Kobiela said on January 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I wasn’t comparing the two, just pointing out its not just one party that has death threats & assasination attempts made against them. This was a horrible thing done to someone that did not deserve it. I was also trying to point out that some are trying to blame this on the rightwing conservitives before this scumbag has even spoken. As far as a trial, yea this is the usa and he has a right to a trial,but for God sakes what is there to try?
    Pilot Joe

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  56. Deggjr said on January 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    See, I never thought those were rifle sights on $P’s blog. I thought they were personal pan pizzas, cut into quarters. Who in the world would think those were rifle sights?

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve been shoved and screamed at by a few schizophrenics, and shot at and punched by a few measurably sane people. In general, you’re less likely to experience violence from a schizophrenic or bipolar or borderline personality than you are from a non-diagnosable (aka “sane”) person who has gotten themselves stuck in a hostility loop they need to break by punching someone.

    It’s the rare murderer that strikes me as sane, but I’m not a clinician. If you decide killing someone will solve a problem or resolve a situation, part of me says that’s a mental illness right there, of some sort. Regardless of whatever the DSM-V ends up saying in the next edition. But a chemical imbalance/organic brain that’s sick sort of situation — you’re no more in danger of physical violence from that person than you are from that irritable receptionist in the front office (and the voices inside my head tell me she’d really like to punch you hard in the gut, just once).

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  58. basset said on January 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    >>shouldn’t you at least make sure he doesn’t have certain items…like automatic weapons…in your home?

    Semi-automatic. Big difference. Still shouldn’t have had them, though, you’re right about that.

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  59. Dexter said on January 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    The Weather Channel reported that I-70 from Indianapolis to Columbus will be the worst road in the country to travel on tomorrow. So far Lake Michigan has been a huge divert-er of snow…we haven’t been blasted yet here in NW Ohio.
    A caller from Tupelo, Mississippi reported ten inches of snow in his yard and the county uses one road grader for a snow plow, and he said all he can do is wait for the stuff to melt. Everyone stay warm and safe. A hell of a winter.
    My grandson who is leaving for the US Army in April already has orders to report to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri…that fort was blasted with a tornado a few days ago.
    Pilot Joe…great time for your marathon. Today the General Tso’s chicken and the lo mein were excellent at the Auburn Oriental Express.

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  60. moe99 said on January 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    John Hinckley was found not guilty by reaason of insanity. There is that possibility, especially given that the public defender assigned to him defended the unabomber and other violent individuals.

    I am still not convinced by your argument. There’s a sort of “well the other side did it too” that totally beside the point.

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  61. del said on January 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Holly — agreed. The article I referenced did not state that families cause schizophrenia, just that certain family dynamics correspond to higher “relapse rates.” Taking the meds is a key issue.

    The takeaway from the NYT Mag piece, to me, was that a downside to the American mental health model is that it emphasizes the patient’s illness, and that causes society to isolate the individual. That approach helps to make them America’s lepers. As JTMMO and you point out, they ought not be so stigmatized. Other cultures emphasize a wholistic approach of inclusion – or something to that effect – and that may work better.

    Pilot Joe, congrats.

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  62. Holly said on January 11, 2011 at 12:40 am

    All I ask is that when you see or hear about someone that is mentally ill, don’t just assume that they are not worth anything. They are. They are a human being with a problem. Just say Hi. It will make their day. I can tell you from experience, It will make their day. It made Marianne happy when someone was nice to her.

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