Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Summary: The writings of Jared Lee Loughner, would-be assassin of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, provide no evidence of a cognitively consistent set of political beliefs or even a coherent ideological orientation. However, his writings do reveal signs of thought disorder, pointing to the possibility of an undiagnosed mental illness of a psychotic nature. There is no direct evidence that Loughner thoughts or actions were specifically influenced by incendiary political rhetoric such as Sarah Palin’s “target list” or Michele Bachmann’s provocative “armed and dangerous” remarks or her paranoid conspiracies — for example, AmeriCorps youth brainwashing, “one-world currency,” or the U.S. census. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 10, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that CIA bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, in a videotape released posthumously by the Pakistani Taliban, called on Muslim jihadists worldwide to avenge the death of former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in an August 2009 U.S. missile strike, by attacking U.S. targets. Immelman also featured new details about the sequence of events in the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide bombing that killed seven CIA personnel and contractors at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.