Bill Totten's Weblog

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jared Got a Gun

by James Howard Kunstler

Comment on current events by the author of
The Long Emergency
(2005) (January 10 2010)

Did anyone else notice that Speaker of the House John Boehner did not shed a tear when issuing his statement about the massacre in Arizona that killed, among others, a nine-year-old girl and left Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords maimed? The new Speaker notoriously weeps when recounting his own youthful travails rising to fortune in business and power in government. He handled this incident like a news-caster at a Midwestern TV station reporting rush hour traffic.

I doubt that the young shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, will turn out to be affiliated with the Tea Party or any other established political faction. The evidence he left in a few YouTube videos evinces the thought disorder typical of post-adolescent onset schizophrenia, but with a remarkable twist. He was preoccupied with thoughts about currency, money, in particular how money is created. In the text-and-music video available here at YouTube (, Loughner writes:

Every human who's mentally capable is always able
to be
treasurer of their new currency ...
If you create one new currency then you're able
to create
a second new currency.
If you're able to create a second new currency then
you're able
to create a third new currency.
You create one new currency.
Thus you're able to create a third currency.

Does this begin to sound sickeningly like the policy of the Federal Reserve and the thinking of its chairman, Ben Bernanke? Is the monetary behavior of top US officials now so disordered that it is showing up as mental illness in young people?

You are wrong if you think I'm being facetious.

Loughner had a few other obsessions: control, sleepwalking, the "scam" of higher education, and terrorism.

For more than one generation it has been difficult for young American males to develop successfully into men. They even dress like babies at 25. Their vocational options these days tend toward corporate slavery of one kind or another. Flipping burgers for a despotic fast food chain. A job in a cubicle. At best, a job in a cubicle making a lot of money by swindling fellow Americans. If they manage to get through college, many face a lifetime of tuition loan debt slavery.

The rewards of entering the realm beyond college are paltry-to-miserable. Solitary cab rides to the mall. A burrito and a Big Gulp. Later, back home, an hour in the virtual company of the Kardashian sisters via the E-Network on your parents' cable TV. Where are the initiations into manhood? (Try the channelized dry-wash, courtesy of the Barrio Blue Moon boyz.) I'm convinced that the reason video games and movies aimed at young males in America are devoted almost solely to fantasies about super-heroes and supernatural power (especially the power to kill) is because adolescent boys feel so impotent, so powerless, so unlike real men. The adults in this culture do not furnish any meaningful alternative scripts. That's the market's job, I guess.

When confused and disturbed young men do act, they sometimes act out the scripts of violent retribution that the video game and movie business so lavishly supply to them. This is a culture, lately, with no room whatsoever for tenderness. Look for a moment of tenderness in the popular video game, Carmageddon. The Speaker of the House's moments of tender reminiscence are reserved for himself. This used to be known as a condition called feeling sorry for yourself. It was considered, if anything, un-manly.

I don't know if the ambient political mood of the USA is any more poisonous now than it was for about a decade starting in the 1960s, when all those assassinations changed history: John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, George Wallace, plus Lennon and the attempts on Ford and Reagan. The Baby Boomers produced more than their share of lost souls. Myth still shrouds the doings of Lee Harvey Oswald, since he was bumped off so quickly, but other shooters have been around for decades. Surely plenty of people from FBI agents to forensic psychiatrists have plumbed the depths of Sirhan Sirhan and Arthur Bremer over their many years of incarceration, and all they find are a couple of human black holes yielding nothing that illuminates their acts.

I doubt that the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the many others who attended her meet-and-greet will lead to anything like more civility in politics. The country faces grave problems and most of the political noise rises not from the agony of facing them, but from the desperate efforts to avoid or deflect them. The deliberations at the highest level in Washington sound these days like the tortured reasoning of Jared Lee Loughner - for instance the hiring of William Daley from JP Morgan to run a White House that is hostage to JP Morgan.

One thing the shooter surely accomplished: it will now cost elected officials hundreds of millions of dollars more every year to imagine they can protect themselves with new layers of security. Not just the assignment of federal marshals, but the deployment of all sorts of "high-tech" equipment and procedures, since we are now in the techno-rapture phase of the long emergency, which features massive amounts of magical thinking.

Will history notice that Jared Lee Loughner was struggling to puzzle through the mysteries of currency and of who controlled what in this world, even while he was being tossed out of a community college that he was extremely conscious of being scammed to pay for - a government-supported school that affected to prepare young people for a career spent in a corporate cubicle in order to fork over the weekly paycheck to pay back college loans.

From their website:

At Pima Community College you have access to an affordable, high-quality education. Our Costs and Payments section will familiarize you with tuition for credit and non-credit classes, as well as with payment methods.

Don't let a lack of funds keep you from reaching your goals! There are options available to help you cover tuition, including:

Federal Financial Aid - you should apply, don't assume you're not eligible!

Veteran's Benefits

Scholarships and Grants

Work Study Programs

The shootings of Congresswoman Giffords and all the others took place in front of a Safeway Supermarket in a strip mall in a city of strip malls and housing subdivisions - many of them failing financially. It must be unbelievably difficult for a young person to make sense of such an incoherent environment and such cruel swindling culture. A society that habitually and incessantly lies to itself is apt to choke to death on its internal contradictions. Jared Lee showed an unusual concern for language and literacy. His videos were all words, no pictures. I wonder if the word SAFEWAY flashed through his brain when he pulled the trigger.

Mr Kunstler's new novella, A Christmas Orphan, is available for purchase through Northshire Bookstore. His biography is at

Bill Totten


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