Tag Archives: Jared Loughner

Sarah Palin-Quayle gives the sociopathic response that we expected

The cover of the current issue of The Stranger of Seattle, via Salon.com.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lies in a hospital bed in Tucson with a bullet having sliced through her brain. The extent of her future recovery is unknown.

But who is the victim in this?

Sarah Palin-Quayle!

In a propagandistic defensive statement, Palin-Quayle actually claims that for anyone to point out that she had listed Giffords on her mapped hit list of 20 Democratic members of Congress is to “manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

Really?

Tell you what: When Sarah Palin-Quayle takes a bullet to the brain, then I’ll buy that argument.

Palin-Quayle in her defensive statement also rehashes a supposed quote from Ronald Reagan repeating the myth that everytime someone commits a criminal act, it occurs in a vacuum:

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

Yes, Jared Lee Loughner is responsible for his actions. No doubt. But he acted within a social context. In gun-loving Arizona, it was way too easy for him to purchase a gun and ammo. We can thank the Repugnican Tea Party, the party of the gun nuts that controls Arizona, for that.

In a written statement before he tried to assassinate her, Loughner referred to Giffords as a “bitch.” He apparently is misogynist. Listen to right-wing talk radio and you’ll discover that misogynistic comments made by stupid, chauvinistic white male commentators (such as Rush Limbaugh’s “femi-Nazi”) abound.

Minimally, Loughner apparently grew up in an environment in which firearms are worshipped and in which women, especially Democratic or left-leaning women, are “bitches.”

So I have to disagree with Ronald Reagan and with Sarah Palin-Quayle (who is no Ronald Reagan): Yes, society can be guilty, too. And it often, if not usually, is.

Palin-Quayle in her bullshit defense mentions “maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle” (emphasis mine). Oh, really? Someone please inform me of a single Democratic or left-leaning candidate for political office who used the equivalent assassination rhetoric and imagery that Sarah Palin-Quayle did. One. Name one.

Again, when someone one the right or in the center asserts that the left is just as guilty, we need to insist that these lying wingnuts show us actual examples.

Sarah Palin-Quayle should have taken responsibility for her poor judgment for having used the imagery and rhetoric of the assassination of public officials. And she should have apologized.

Instead, not only does she insist that she did nothing wrong — indeed, she falsely claims that everybody does it! — but she claims that she is the victim here.

No, she isn’t. Gabrielle Giffords and several other victims of gun violence in a state dominated by a party that worships firearms are the victims here.

We already knew that Sarah Palin-Quayle is utterly unqualified to hold public office. This should be the final nail in her political coffin.

P.S. These are probably the best editorial cartoons I’ve seen on the topic:

1-12-2011

1-10-2011

Cartoonist Mike Stanfill deserves a much larger audience than he apparently has.

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Politics permeate EVERYTHING

It may be a uniquely American inability or unwillingness — or both — to realize how everything is connected.

So many are screaming that politics have had nothing whatsoever to do with Saturday’s shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others, including a girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and who had shown an interest in a life in politics.*

I read at least one (right-wing, if memory serves) commentator claim that accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s act was “random.” (Which, if true, of course lets the right wing entirely off the hook.)

“Random”?

Maybe the Lotto is random, maybe atoms bounce around more or less at random, but human beings don’t act entirely randomly. They might be mentally disordered, as Loughner certainly seems to be, but do they act “randomly”? No. Inanimate objects can act randomly, but human beings do not. Human beings act within and respond to social contexts, even if their mental processes are disordered.

I never have claimed that Loughner was directly “inspired” by Sarah Palin-Quayle’s rhetoric of assassination, but, as I have noted, if he didn’t see or read Palin-Quayle’s assassination rhetoric, perhaps he saw Giffords’ Repugnican Tea Party opponent’s advertisement for a June fundraiser that read, “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly.”**

Perhaps Jesse Kelly saw Palin-Quayle’s March 2010 assassination rhetoric and followed her lead for his June 2010 fundraiser — Palin-Quayle is, after all, the Borg queen of the Repugnican Tea Party — and perhaps Loughner saw Kelly’s Palin-Quayle-inspired assassination rhetoric if he didn’t actually see Palin-Quayle’s.

If so, we still can draw a line back to Palin-Quayle.

We don’t know yet how all of the dots connect, and it’s possible that we never really will, but just as it’s too early to directly blame anyone, it’s too early to absolve anyone whose assassination rhetoric might have inspired Loughner.

A Washington Post columnist makes an interesting argument that the cause of Giffords’ shooting is not politics, but is too-lax gun control.

While I agree that too-lax gun control certainly was a factor in Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, apparently in the widespread fervor to be “bipartisan” and to avoid pissing off the right wing (who do, after all, like to pack heat), the columnist seems to ignore or to at least miss the fact that the members of the National Rifle Association and other assorted gun nuts support the Repugnican Tea Party, not the Democratic Party or the progressive or liberal cause.

The Repugnican Tea Party itself encourages gun violence under the guise of “Second Amendment rights.” (Indeed, in the atmosphere of Repugnican Tea Party rhetoric in which Loughner acted [the available evidence suggests that Loughner has not been living in a cave, by the way], Second Amendment rights have morphed into “Second Amendment remedies.”)

To assert, as the Washington Post columnist essentially asserts, that too-lax gun control is disconnected from politics (or even to assert that it is a “bipartisan” problem) is insane (if we define “insane” as “detached from reality”).

Way too many Americans right now are demonstrating not only their inability and/or their stubborn refusal to connect the fucking dots, but they’re also displaying their penchant for false equivalencies, which demonstrates their moral turpitude or their utter inability to reason (or both). Under the soothing umbrella of false equivalencies, everyone is guilty or no one is guilty — therefore, there is no need to actually do the work of sorting through the facts.

False-equivalency-loving pundits still are referring to assassination rhetoric as “war” or “military” rhetoric (or the like), when, in fact, rhetoric about shooting or otherwise killing a specific individual (usually, but not always, a political figure) is nothing else but assassination rhetoric.

I have not seen a single Democratic or other left-leaning candidate for political office employ assassination rhetoric. Repugnican Tea Party candidates, however, have. (Right off the top of my head, I can name three of them: Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. [And Repugnican Tea Party princess Michele Bachmann has advised her followers to be “armed and dangerous.”])

And false-equivalency-loving pundits still are stupidly comparing such remarks as President Barack Obama’s remark that if the opposition brings a knife to the political fight, then you bring a gun, to Palin-Quayle’s listing of 20 Democratic lawmakers whose congressional districts she indicated on a map with gun-sight crosshairs while simultaneously advising her followers not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!”

These are not equivalent. Obama never suggested or even hinted that certain, specific individuals actually be shot. Sarah Palin-Quayle did.

I fear for the American empire, because its denizens are either too morally bankrupt or intellectually disabled (or both) to be able to connect the dots, and because they compare apples to blood oranges. 

An empire can survive with a certain percentage of its inhabitants being immoral and/or incredibly stupid, but the United States of America apparently has reached a critical mass of immorality and stupidity that imminently threatens its survival.

*Newser reports:

Pundits aside, most Americans don’t actually think the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was caused by inflammatory political rhetoric, CBS News reports.

Of 673 people polled on the issue, 57 percent said political discourse had nothing to do with the shooting, while 32 percent said it did. In a reflection of the opinion war being waged between liberal and conservative political figures, fewer Republicans (19 percent) felt the shooting was related to rhetoric than did Democrats (42 percent).

Well, again, it remains to be seen, if it ever is seen at all, to what degree inflammatory political rhetoric played a role in Saturday’s massacre, doesn’t it?

And it’s hardly a shock that apparently only one in five Repugnicans believes that there’s any problem whatsoever with the assassination rhetoric of the likes of Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. And it’s a testament to the cancers of “bipartisanship” and centrism that so few self-identified Democrats are willing or are able to make the apparent connection between assassination rhetoric and an actual assassination attempt.

**I just checked out Kelly’s website, and the only thing on the home page of his website is this statement:

In the wake of this stunning tragedy, my prayers are with Rep. Giffords, her husband Mark and the rest of her family. May God’s strength comfort her as we pray together for her recovery. We mourn for those who lost their lives in this horrible act.

Senseless acts of violence such as this have absolutely no place in American politics.

Kelly used the shooting of “a fully automatic M15” with him as part of his campaign, but now (like Sarah Palin-Quayle does) he denounces violence!

How politically, morally and ethically convenient!

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Giffords victim of permissive environment

When Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona spoke to the “liberal” MSNBC in March 2010 about her concerns over rhetoric about her assassination, the MSNBC co-hosts couldn’t minimize her concerns quickly enough and asserted (without any examples or proof) that the left wing is just as guilty of wrongdoing as is the right wing as they sang their praises to the god of bipartisanship and centrism. I wonder how the smug co-hosts feel now. 

There are a lot of factors that came together and resulted in Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson taking a bullet to the brain on Saturday; not only are there too many factors for me to list here, but there are too many factors for us to even be able to identify. Plenty of people, of course, would love to lay the blame solely and squarely at the feet of Giffords’ would-be assassin, but that not only is factually inaccurate, but to do so only guarantees even more assassination attempts.

Undoubtedly, Jared Lee Loughner, Giffords’ accused attempted assassin, is a troubled young man. Friends have described Loughner as “confrontational, nonlinear and obsessed with how words create reality.” For all of his obsession with words, grammar and (il)literacy, however, his own skills with the English language are lacking, as his online screeds demonstrate. He also has been obsessed with the concept and practice of currency, strongly believing that U.S. currency should exist only in gold and silver — which is, to my recollection, a right-wing and libertarian obsession, but we’ll leave it at that.

This Associated Press article details Loughner’s gradual mental unraveling, but tells of no significant efforts to actually help the obviously mentally ill young man. This is not a surprise, given his environment of the red state of Arizona, where all that matter are profits, not people, and where, therefore, social services are virtually nil.

(I know: I spent the first three decades of my life in that God-forsaken state, which appropriately has been dubbed “Tombstone” or the [new] Wild West, or at least, as the sheriff of the county where Giffords was shot put it, “the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” [And it is that, which is one of the reasons that I haven’t set foot in that state since I left it 12 years ago, even though the majority of my relatives still live there.])

Loughner also grew up in a nation dominated by baby boomers, who as a group (and as parents, teachers, employers, et. al.) never have made responsibly raising our nation’s young people a priority. It always has been, and it always will be, as long as they still live to be able to be thorns in our asses, all about the boomers, and therefore, way too many of our young people, like Loughner, end up on their own, falling through the cracks and finding themselves at the ends of their ropes.

And then there are the media.

If you watch just one video clip regarding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ ordeal, you should watch her interview on MSNBC in March 2010, when several Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Giffords, had just had their offices vandalized and had received threats after they voted to pass the health-care reform bill.

In the clip, MSNBC’s God-awful Chuck Todd, whom I despise because he acts as though he knows everything when, in fact, he’s a fucking retard, casually blows off Giffords’ stated concern about the fact that Repugnican Tea Party queen Sarah Palin-Quayle recently had put Giffords on her hit list of 20 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who should be taken out because they live in conservative-leaning congressional districts but voted for the health-care reform bill.

Giffords specifically states in her interview that Palin-Quayle’s use of a graphic on the Internet including “the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district” concerns her, adding, perhaps presciently, “When people do that, they’ve got to realize there [are] consequences to that action.”

Todd immediately shoots Giffords down (pun intended), cannot minimize her just-stated concern quickly enough, fucktardedly countering her, “In fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years.”

Except that this wasn’t “war rhetoric” — this was assassination rhetoric. Big fucking difference, Chucky.

Never before was it ever acceptable for a former vice presidential candidate to advise her followers not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!” and to indicate, on the Internet, her political targets’ congressional districts on a map of the United States with graphics of gun-sight crosshairs.

Never before was it ever acceptable for a candidate for the U.S. Senate to talk about “Second-Amendment remedies” to deal with her and her supporters’ political foes.

Again, this isn’t the rhetoric of battle or war — this is the rhetoric of assassination.

Chuck Todd’s co-host, a bubble-headed woman whose name I don’t know, in an incredibly stupid attempt to be a centrist on crack, stupidly suggests to Giffords that perhaps Democrats are just using these attacks on Democratic lawmakers for political gain!

Wow. So I suppose that the attacks by wingnuts on the Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their votes on a piece of legislation should not have been reported at all — you know, to avoid politicizing the issue! Must! Be! Fair! And! Balanced!

The minimizing-fest continues, however, as even Giffords herself talks about “extremes on both sides, frankly, not just on the Republican side” — apparently so as not to piss off even further those on the right, even though neither Giffords nor her two co-hosts list one act of violence or intimidation against an elected official by a Democrat or by anyone else on the left. 

And then Chuck Fucking Todd, not to be outdone by his centrist-on-crack co-host, ends the interview by practically jizzing in his pants as he reflects that Giffords’ congressional district is “probably one of the most perfectly balanced swing districts in the country.” Utopia!

And less than a year after the smug MSNBC talking heads incredibly stupidly and irresponsibly blew off Giffords’ concerns and bizarrely turned the discussion about the dangerous rhetoric of assassination into a bipartisan kumbaya moment, Giffords took a bullet to the brain.

Chuck Todd and his bubble-headed co-host pretty much threw Gabrielle Giffords, as a human sacrifice, to the god of centrism that they slavishly worship.

And MSNBC is supposedly a member of the “liberal” media.

But don’t blame them!

These things just happen!

In a vacuum!

Within no social context whatsofuckingever!

The irresponsibility in the media, the gross journalistic malpractice, continues even after Giffords took a bullet to the brain on Saturday.

The Daily Beast immediately concluded that we can’t blame Sarah Palin-Quayle for Giffords’ shooting! — even though Palin-Quayle had put out there the idea, the concept, of assassinating Giffords and 19 other Democratic lawmakers. The Daily Beast’s centrist-on-crack columnist Howard Kurtz concluded that “This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map [yes, indeed, less than 10 full months is a very long time here in the United States of Amnesia!]; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life,” and also noted:

Liberals were quick to denounce Palin at the time of the map posting. And after Giffords’ Tucson office was vandalized that same month, the Democratic congresswoman told MSNBC, “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is, the way she has it depicted it has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.”

Giffords had every right to ask Palin and others to tone it down. But is it now fair for the rest of us to tie Palin to the accused gunman, Jared Lee Loughner?

Let’s be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn’t act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence?

Yes, actually, I do. Or, minimally, I believe, her frame of mind was that it wouldn’t much have troubled her conscience if someone actually did take out someone she’d listed on her hit list. Nor do I believe that she’s really that sorry about what happened to Giffords. Palin-Quayle is a sociopath, and sociopaths by definition have no empathy for others; they care only about their own ego-filled agendas. Palin-Quayle for political purposes would offer her condolences, of course, but does she feel it? I don’t think so. I don’t think that that woman feels much of anything — except for her own lust for power.

To assert that Giffords’ attempted assassination was caused solely by “a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life,” as The Daily Beast’s Kurtz did, is beyond bullshit. It wholly ignores the social context in which Loughner grew up and in which he has lived, an environment itself in which human life is not valued, an environment in which our young people are seen only as opportunities for profit-making (as overcharged consumers and as wage slaves), as cogs in the wheels of capitalitism, and as cannon fodder. It blames Loughner, a victim of this environment, for all of the evils of this environment, while society, the system, as usual, gets off scot-fucking-free, and we can all go back to our mindless consumption now!

We spiritually dead Americans sure love our scapegoats!

The “argument” that we’re seeing now is that Palin-Quayle didn’t specifically publicly proclaim that “Someone should shoot Gabrielle Giffords in the head!” — and therefore, Palin-Quayle is blameless! (Even though she took down her hit list with the map with the gun-sight crosshairs on it after Giffords was shot in the head on Saturday!)

Fact is, when a former vice presidential candidate uses the rhetoric of assassination and links this rhetoric to an actual list of actual elected officials, this is not the “harmless,” commonly used, wholly acceptable “military” or “war” rhetoric used in politics that Howard Kurtz and Chuck Todd claim it is. Are the two of them fucking liars or are they actually that fucking stupid?

And when asswipes assert that Democrats and those of us on the left are just as guilty as are Repugnican Tea Partiers and those on the right of the use of assassination rhetoric and in actual acts of violence and intimidation, they need to fucking cite actual examples of Democratic or left-wing sins. It’s not fucking good enough to vaguely assert that “both sides are equally guilty” when, in fact, this is demonstrably fucking false.

For now, Jared Lee Loughner isn’t talking. We don’t know if he was inspired by Sarah Palin-Quayle’s assassination rhetoric or not, but if he never saw her hit-list map with the gun-sight crosshairs and never received her accompanying Tweet to “RELOAD!”, perhaps he did see the advertisement for Gabrielle Giffords’ Repugnican Tea Party opponent’s fundraiser in June that read: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly.”

See, Kelly talked about “removing Gabrielle Giffords from office” and “shooting a fully automatic M15” in the same advertisement, but what a streeeeeeeeetch! it is to assert that one could interpret the ad as advocating gun violence against Gabrielle Giffords! No! This is perfectly acceptable political rhetoric! You see it all the time!

I have yet to see a single Democratic or other left-leaning political candidate use rhetoric like this, but we’re told by the kumbaya corporate media — “in fairness”! — that “both sides are equally guilty!”

One of the questions that Americans are asking themselves now is whether or not Giffords’ shooting will tone down, forever, the political rhetoric of violence.

It’s a stupid question because the answer to the question is obvious: The rhetoric of violence and even of assassination of one’s political opponents will die down for a little while, but here in the United States of Amnesia it won’t be long before that rhetoric is ratcheted up again, and we can, I believe, expect more assassination attempts.

We can expect this because nothing has changed. The corporately owned and controlled media are still singing the praises of centrism and bipartisanship, are still saying, without offering any actual evidence, that both sides, left and right, are equally guilty of violent rhetoric and acts of violence and intimidation, and, most of all and worst of all, we’re still asserting that when someone finally snaps in our environment of our own making in which human life is so fucking cheap and he kills someone, it was all his fault, he was just a bad apple — and our society is just fine!

The only thing that surprises me, frankly, is that in our toxic national environment — for which no one is reponsible except, of course, its victims — it took this long for an assassination attempt to happen.

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Giffords was on Palin’s hit list

In March 2010, Repugnican Tea Party queen Sarah Palin-Quayle put Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ name on her hit list and indicated Giffords’ legislative district in Arizona with a graphic of gun crosshairs. Today, Giffords was shot in the head in Tucson.

We don’t know yet whether or not Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old shooter of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, ever saw Repugnican Tea Party queen Sarah Palin-Quayle’s Facebook-page hit list — which, along with Palin-Quayle’s Tweeted advice to “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD! Pls see my Facebook page” (which contained her mapped hit list as shown above), I wrote about in March.*

Clearly, however, there are plenty of mentally unstable among us who take such advice as to “RELOAD!” and who take such symbols as gun crosshairs over an elected official’s legislative district quite seriously.

Rep. Giffords is No. 4 on Palin-Quayle’s hit list. Giffords made the hit list because she’s a Democrat in a conservative congressional district who voted for the same health-care reform bill that the Repugnican Tea Party now is trying to repeal.

Of course, members of the Repugnican Tea Party, such as Palin-Quayle and Repugnican Tea Party House Speaker John Boehner, are falling over each other now to express their condolences for the violence that the Repugnican Tea Party condones — and their claims that of course the Repugnican Tea Party does not condone violence!

Fact is, once the idea is put out there, repeatedly, that it’s OK to commit violence against elected officials with whom one disagrees, it kind of doesn’t matter who exactly suggests it (such as Nevadan Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s suggestion that “Second-Amendment remedies” might be necessary for those elected officials who just won’t do what we want them to do) or who exactly the suggested targets are; it just contributes toward making the idea of shooting elected officials whom you don’t like the new norm.

They will deny their obvious complicity in actual acts of violence, as the fucking hypocrites never admit their wrongdoings, but those of us few Americans who still value what is left of what we call our “democracy” have to hold the feet of the members of the Repugnican Tea Party to the fire for the violence that they promote. (Figuratively. [For now.])

*In that post, titled “Bricks and Stones Can Start a Civil War,” I concluded:

Today, bricks — tomorrow, bullets?

It would be interesting to see what would happen in the aftermath of a “tea-baggin’” fascist actually assassinating someone, and I have to wonder if the question isn’t whether that will happen but when it will happen.

Hey, sign me up for the next civil war! I’ll be happy to fight for the blue states! This next time, though, we need to finish the job!

You betcha!

I still feel that way, by the way. I prefer bloodlessness, but if it’s a bloody civil war that the wingnuts want, I still say: Let’s give it to them!

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