6.28 pm. Andrew Sprung:
It appears to me that this unfortunate insane individual is of no party or clique.
6.23 pm. I retitled this post once it emerged that Giffords might survive. But others have been killed, including a child and a federal judge, John Roll. And there's a context there as well:
In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout. When Roll ruled the case could go forward, Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats. In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online. "They said, 'We should kill him. He should be dead,' " Gonzales said.
5.47 pm. A reader writes:
I'm a licensed psychologist with 20 years experience. I've watched the Jared Loughner Youtube videos. They show evidence of delusions of persecution. Loughner's less than coherent language also suggests a formal thought disorder. While Loughner can't be diagnosed without a full exam conducted in person, there are significant indications in the videos that he suffers from a psychotic disorder.
I would not rule out drugs as a factor, but he is within the age range that psychotic patients often suffer their first psychotic break. If I had to guess, I'd go with paranoid schizophrenia. If that's the case, his politics are irrelevant. He may not even be fit to stand trial unless and until his psychotic thinking is brought under control with medication.
I have no expertise in this at all, but my impression of his writings and web presence does indeed suggest to me that some mental illness is probably a key part of this. But this does not exonerate violent or excessive rhetoric from the far right or far left: it's precisely the disturbed who can seize on those kinds of statements and act on them. The danger of violent rhetoric, especially involving gun violence, is its interaction with the disturbed. That was Pelosi's message last year.
5.44 pm. The last image Loughner attached to his alleged MySpace page on Christmas Eve (under the headline "My countdown: No one read this! Jizz stain"):
5.41 pm. The ironies mount: here, via OTB, is Giffords reciting the First Amendment only two days ago:
5.35 pm. From the in-tray:
Your knee-jerk reaction to attach that madman to the tea party is disgusting. You are vile Sullivan, absolutely vile! May God damn you with a bullet of your own.
After today, it's harder to ignore threats of violence from the far right, isn't it? That a reader responded to this live-blog by hoping that I be shot is a sign of where we've come. Especially since the writer is also simply wrong. My first take was "Not exactly a Tea Party purist." But the currency stuff is weirdly out there.
5.22 pm. A former friend of Loughner's has a Twitter feed. Money quote:
I haven't seen him since '07. Then, he was left wing.
As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.
he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag.
5.06 pm. A photo of the alleged killer.
4.52 pm. We're live-blogging and piecing shreds of information together as best we can. That means that information is provisional and any attempt to understand a mind like Loughner's is close to impossible at this propinquity and with this amount of information. So far, the content reveals a character not far from this reader's diagnosis:
This guy is a sui generis nut...no evidence that I can see of Tea Party influence. His concerns are to create his own reality. The terms: create your own currency, create your own language/definitions. Escape controlling consciousness of the dominant brainwashing powers by sleepwalking. Create your own laws. Raskalnikov not Sharron Angle. Reject Constitution, reject God, create your own religion.
The obsession with gold and silver and currency gives me pause. But it would be hard to find a classic Tea Partier with The Communist Manifesto on his best books list - to say the least. It seems to me so far that he appears a disturbed and dangerous individual able to absorb shards of political conspiracy theories and turn them into evil.
4.49 pm. The alleged murderer's Myspace page here. Money quote:
Every US Government Official Agency is illegally accepting payment not in Gold or Silver.
4.43 pm. More Loughner quotes:
"The majority of the citizens of 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. .... In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can't trust the current goverment because o fthe ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.
No! I won't play debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God"
And so one moves back to the notion of far right rhetoric lying behind this. "I won't play debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!" is like a parody of a Ron Paul supporter.
4.40 pm. Loughner quote from his YouTube page (which seems just plain nuts to me rather than Tea Partyish):
I'm able to control every belief and religion by being the mind-controller!
The exclamation point clinches it.
4.37 pm Live local news feed here.
4.34 pm. Nancy Pelosi's statement about violent rhetoric last year resonates very strongly.
4.25 pm. His alleged YouTube introduction page is all about conspiracies and currencies. So some Tea Party doctrine permeated his troubled mind:
4.16 pm. Jared Lee Loughner. His alleged Youtube page is here. His favorite books:
I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.
Peter Pan, Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. Not exactly a Tea Party purist. But clearly disturbed.
4.07 pm. It seems her death has been retracted everywhere, and our 3.23 pm post is wrong. Pray for them all. From Amber's Twitter feed from the trauma surgeon:
"The congresswoman is not deceased ... I am very optimistic about recovery." "Following commands."
3.59 pm. That MSNBC interview below has really affected me. Giffords, whom I had not noticed before, seems remarkably calm, reasoned, sane and public-spirited. She did not try to exploit the angry right's attacks on her, but she did rightly note them. What we're seeing here is an almost perfect case of foresight: a public figure specifically stargeted rhetorically in ways that seemed to encourage violence, several incidents that prove the threat was real, at-the-time warnings of the dangers of this, and a stirring refusal of Giffords to be intimidated.
That she was at the Safeway today is a great testimony to her character and to core values of democratic accountability. She warned us. We carried on.
3.56 pm A gun had appeared at one of her Safeway appearances before. From a Gail Collins column:
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was not actually holding a town hall when her gun incident occurred. She was conducting a “Congress on Your Corner” at the Douglas Safeway a simple event where people line up to get help with things like Social Security or documentation. But the health care protests have spread way beyond actual meetings about health care, and a handful of irritated conservatives have been following Giffords around almost everywhere.
“When you represent a district the home of the O.K. Corral and Tombstone, the town too tough to die, nothing’s a surprise,” she told a reporter later, showing a commendable ability to respond to any crisis by throwing in a plug for local tourist attractions. Rudy Ruiz, the father of one of Giffords’s college interns, saw the gun hit the floor. “It was an older gentleman, 65 or so. Basically, he was one of the ones holding up a banner saying Don’t Tread on Me,’ ” said Ruiz. “He bent over, and it fell out of the holster is what it did. It bounced. That concerned me. I just thought what would happen if it had gone off? Could my daughter have gotten hurt?”
Giffords warned of this:
"They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, you gotta realize there's consequences to that action."
3.49 pm Various Palin sites are frantically removing various incendiary materials - which is both gratifying, but also, it seems to me, an acknowledgment of previous rhetorical excess. TakeBackThe20.com is in meltdown, images like these are being removed ASAP, and Palin's Facebook page simply cannot cope with the number of commenters blasting her.
3.41 pm A local Giffords campaign office had a brick thrown through the window last spring.
3.35 pm A campaign notice from Giffords' opponent last summer:
How many political candidates hold an automatic rifle in their open crotch in order to demonstrate their ideological bone fides? The conflation of conservatism with the willingness to use violence depressingly deepens.
3.31 pm A reader writes:
I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswomen, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.
While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”
And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”
I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.
3.28 pm Palin responds:
"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
3.25 pm. And so the politics of this just exploded:
Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, was rushing to the hospital when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies. "Yeah," he told The New York Post. "The whole tea party."
3.22 pm This does not seem promising:
Dr. Steven Rayle, a former emergency room doctor who now works in a hospice, said that he had witnessed the shootings. He said the congresswoman was standing behind a table outside the Safeway greeting passersby when the gunman approached her from behind, held a gun about a foot from her head and began firing.
. “He must have got off 20 rounds,” he said. Ms. Giffords slumped to the ground and staff members immediately rushed to her aid, Dr. Rayle said.
Dr. Rayle said he performed CPR on some of the victims. He said one of the victims was a young child and appeared to be in critical condition with a gunshot wound.
3.15 pm. Details are sketchy and confusing so far, but the Dish team will be live-blogging from now for a while to keep track of developments. Let's just say for one moment: 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. We cannot wish this side of the question away. We do not yet know the motives for this excrescence. But they matter.
(Photo at top: he Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill January 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. By Brendan Smialowski/Getty.)