Insanity Nation

First, toldja so: Newsmax declares “Shooter Linked to Left Wing Politics.” Yes, by Newsmax. Apparently it was reported the young man accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others owns copies of The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf, which of course (in the minds of righties, who cannot figure out why Hitler was a right-wing psychopath, not a left-wing one) proves he’s a leftie.

Anyway, the more I hear about the shooter, the more it appears he was deeply disturbed, possibly psychotic. I am not qualified to diagnose these things, of course, but this is in the Arizona Star:

The suspected shooter has made death threats before and been contacted by law-enforcement officers, but the threats weren’t against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Dupnik said. The suspect is unstable, Dupnik said, but the sheriff would not say he is “insane.”

A former classmate of Loughner at Pima Community College said he was “obviously very disturbed.”

“He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts,” said Lynda Sorenson, who took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus.

Sorenson doesn’t recall if he ever made any threats or uttered political statements but he was very disruptive, she said. He was asked to leave the pre-algebra class several times and eventually was barred from class, said Sorenson, a Tucson resident.

Now, it stuck me that if some student had shown up in the algebra class bleeding from some injury, the school would have hustled the student off to a hospital, not barred the kid from class. It turns out the school, a local community college, suspended Jared Lee Loughner and told his parents he would need to get a psych evaluation before they could let him return. I don’t believe Loughner’s parents have made any public statements.

Loughner faces a death penalty for murdering a federal judge, so we’re about to go through another round of arguing over the insanity defense.

If Loughner is as psychotic as he appears, the next question is one Michelle Goldberg asks — were his delusions and violent actions influenced by violent rhetoric?

Goldberg adds that “Loughner, while clearly in the grip of delusion rather than any coherent ideology, nonetheless shared many far-right obsessions.”

His videos, which mostly feature white text on a black background accompanied by trippy electronic music, are full of unintelligible messages about conscious dreaming and English grammar. But they also make it clear that Loughner has internalized some of the conspiracy theories common in the Tea Party. He is obsessed with currency manipulation and out-of-control government power. Toward the end of a YouTube video titled “My Final Thoughts,” he writes, “The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution. You don’t have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.” Among his MySpace photos is an American history book with a gun on top.

See also Adele Stan at Alternet.

Matt Bai, who can occasionally make a point when he’s not too pre-occupied with being bipartisan, wrote,

In fact, much of the message among Republicans last year, as they sought to exploit the Tea Party phenomenon, centered — like the Tea Party moniker itself — on this imagery of armed revolution. Popular spokespeople like Ms. Palin routinely drop words like “tyranny” and “socialism” when describing the president and his allies, as if blind to the idea that Americans legitimately faced with either enemy would almost certainly take up arms.

It’s not that such leaders are necessarily trying to incite violence or hysteria; in fact, they’re not. It’s more that they are so caught up in a culture of hyperbole, so amused with their own verbal flourishes and the ensuing applause, that — like the bloggers and TV hosts to which they cater — they seem to lose their hold on the power of words.

He’s right about the “culture of hyperbole, so amused with their own verbal flourishes and the ensuing applause.” For example, a quote that’s being tweeted around on the Right today is “If Jared Lee Loughner had any political heroes they would have to be Dennis Kucinich & Al Gore.”

I went clicking around to find the source, or at least everyone who seems to have thought this quote actually says something profound, and all I found was the quote. No reason, no explanation. It’s like little boys on a playground egging each other on to do something gross or stupid, for their own amusement. The actual acts, the actual words, have no meaning.

So for the next few days we may talk a little about toning down the rhetoric, but the people who most need to take the words to heart — won’t.

And Palin and her people clearly don’t know when to shut up:

In a radio interview Saturday night, one of Ms. Palin’s top aides, Rebecca Mansour, said of the map of lawmakers: “We never, ever, ever intended it to be gun sights.” Ms Mansour said attemps to tie Ms. Palin to the violence were “obscene” and “appalling.”

“I don’t understand how anyone can be held responsible for someone who is completely mentally unstable like this,” Ms. Mansour said. “Where I come from the person who is actually shooting is culpable. We had nothing whatsoever to do with this.”

She added: “People who knew him said that he is left wing and very liberal. But that is not to say that I am blaming the left for him either.”

You see? They can’t stop. They’re like crack addicts. I have no doubt that Moosewoman will add the remarks about her “target” image to her endless whine list of personal grievances.