This Time Last Year…


I had a job! Yes, and also Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was shot in the head. She lived. A bunch of other people didn’t.

I find it absolutely amazing to think of the progress she’s made in the last year. She’s still going through rehab, but thanks to excellent doctors and excellent rehabilitation people, she’s up and moving, alive and talking. Those are all wonderful things. They also have nothing to do with “miracles”; It’s science that saved her, not religion.

The only suspect in the case, Jared Lee Loughner, is still going through the legal process, and baring any stumbling blocks, my guess is that he’ll go on trial later this year. My inclination, and this is just a layman’s view from what I’ve seen and heard about the man in the last year, is that he’s almost certainly the gunman, and almost certainly insane. If he is both those things, I hope he’s able to get psychiatric treatment. But this being Arizona, I know we’re quite keen to murder him the name of revenge, so I expect that’s probably what will happen instead.

Some Thoughts on the Tea Party and Responsibility


This is not a sane man.

As I’ve said before, it’s quite clear that the responsibility for the shootings in Tucson this weekend lays at the feet of the shooter, though if he is indeed paranoid schizophrenic, I’d argue even he doesn’t bear any real responsibility and should just spend the rest of his life in a mental institution. But there are those who are ready to blame the Tea Party/Sarah Palin/Liberals/Fox News/Obama/[insert favorite political cause here]. Now I’m not prepared to blame any of them, even the Tea Party people, but I do think they bear some responsibility for contributing to the problem.

How? By nurturing a climate of hate, fear and distrust. By fanning the flames of violence. By using violent images in their campaigns. By, as one of my uncles put it, fertilizing the field and then acting shocked – SHOCKED! – that their garden grew some weeds. Doing things like claiming the government isn’t legitimate, that the President isn’t legitimate, that health care reform will lead to “death panels”, putting cross-hairs on political opponents and opposing even the most basic, reasonable forms of gun control, the right wing in general and the Tea Party in particular does bear some responsibility for making it much, much easier for something like this to happen.

Here’s how Slate.com put it:

First you rile up psychotics with inflammatory language about tyranny, betrayal, and taking back the country. Then you make easy for them to get guns. But if you really want trouble, you should also make it hard for them to get treatment for mental illness. I don’t know if Loughner had health insurance, but he falls into a pool of people who often go uninsured—not young enough to be covered by parents (until the health-care bill’s coverage of twentysomethings kicked in a few months ago), not old enough for Medicare, not poor enough for Medicaid. If such a person happens to have a history of mental illness, he will be effectively uninsurable. To get treatment, he actually has to commit a crime. If Republicans succeed in repealing the Obama health care bill, that’s how it will remain.

I think that there’s some legitimacy to this position. I think that the right wing in general, and again, the Tea Party in particular, really, really need to stop spewing the kind of violent language they spew in order to make their points. If they can’t get elected without resorting to violent arguments, then perhaps their positions aren’t anything that’s worth supporting at all.

Arizona Congress Woman Shot


The cross-hairs were a lovely touch, Sarah...

As you may have heard, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), has been shot in the head along with eleven other people outside a store in Tucson. At this point all the news I have been able to get my hands on shows that she is still alive. Updates to follow as I get them.

UPDATE – 1:52pm (MST)

Still nothing new about her condition, beyond the fact that she’s still alive and in surgery. We shall see. Meantime, let me make one thing clear: I blame the shooter for this. It wasn’t the GOP, the extreme right-wing or the Tea Party that shot her and eleven other people. It was one jerk-ass with a gun.

That said, I’ll happily blame the all the above for creating a situation where this sort of violence, sadly, comes as absolutely no surprise what so ever. After all, in the immortal words of Sarah Palin, “Don’t retreat! Instead, reload!”

1:54pm (MST)

CNN is reporting six dead so far. Suspect in custody.

2:00pm (MST)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Giffords should die, wouldn’t she be the first MoC assassinated since Leo Ryan?

2:14pm (MST)

Not the first time Giffords has been a victim of political violence. Check this interview with MSNBC where she talks about an attack on her office in Tucson.

2:17pm (MST)

CNN is now reporting Giffords is out of surgery, but in critical condition. Hopefully all will be well.

2:48pm (MST)

Obama is giving a statement right now. Among the dead are a federal judge and an eight-year-old girl.

3:06pm (MST)

From what I’m reading on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, it sounds unlikely that the alleged shooter was a Tea Party person. Sounds more likely he was just a nutjob. So there may not be any politics per se involved, which is a good thing. I still say that it’s sad that the right-wing created an environment where something like this doesn’t come as a surprise, but at least it’s good that the alleged shooter apparently had nothing to do with them.

3:52pm (MST)

From what I’ve been reading, it sounds like the alleged shooter in this case is several sandwiches short of a picnic. Check this video on his YouTube site:

This is clearly a deeply disturbed man, and according to one reader on Sully’s site, he might be really deeply disturbed.

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.

If he is indeed paranoid-schizophrenic, then he likely will be able to “get off” on an insanity plea, which means instead of the state of Arizona murdering him in our names, he’ll spend most, if not all, the rest of his life in psychiatric care, which I feel is reasonable. After all, one of the major problems with this particular illness is an inability to tell reality from fantasy, and if that’s the case, how can you hold someone responsible for their crimes?

I think that’s about it for the live updates on this subject. I’ll add more if I see anything interesting, but otherwise the story seems stable for now. Hopefully Ms Giffords will survive and go on to repent her district for a long time to come.

Pics From My Mom’s Visit


So my mother was in town during the Christmas holiday. I took a few pics of various places we went and things we saw! Have a look!

One of our first trips was to the capitol grounds here in Phoenix. Here’s the building itself.

First time I saw that building, I thought to myself that it looked rather Mormon. I didn’t know why I thought this, until I saw a picture of the temple in Salt Lake City which has a statue on top. The capitol’s a nice looking building, don’t you think?

We also went touring around this little memorial park on the capitol grounds which included the anchor from the USS Arizona.

That was pretty cool, but sadly there’s also a couple other things that don’t belong there. First, and least offensive, is a memorial to Arizona veterans of the Civil War. Confederate veterans.

This is eye-rollingly stupid. Why is this here? The CSA was an enemy nation for the entirety of its existence. They lost. That’s just part of why I have a problem with the Confederate battle flag flying over US government offices.

Far more offensive and annoying, however, is the presence of this:

Why, oh, why is this on government property? It’s so very inappropriate. Look, if you’re religious and you believe the Ten Commandments are a good thing, that’s fine. Keep them in your church/synagogue/mosque. Don’t try to shove it in the face of the rest of us and really don’t do so on government property. There’s no way that’s not a violation of the separation of church and state.

Moving on, and speaking of the Civil War, we come to a Civil War battle site. In Arizona. It’s news to me there were any Civil War battles in Arizona, but there were, including the Battle of Pikachu Picacho Pass. It wasn’t much of a battle, but it was the Westernmost battle of the war. Here’s three pics of the area.

The battle itself was over here in the dirt.

This is part of the peak near the battle site.

More of the mountains near the battle site.

We then went down to Tucson to see a museum/zoo down there. On the way we got completely lost and wound up on some Indian reservation. From the freeway we saw a rather cool looking mission and thought we’d go check it out. Turns out it’s the St Xavier mission.

Here’s the exterior of the mission.

Inside the mission we found some rather lovely interiors.

There was also a cute little nativity scene made up with American Indian figures.

We did finally find the museum/zoo, which included a couple nice, impressive views! They’re all I photographed there. Have a look-see!

So there you go. Not too many photos, but a nice set. I’m pleased with how they turned out, too, especially considering they were just pics from a cell phone! Anyhow, hope you liked ‘em!

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