October 4th, 2017

Mass-murdering man of mystery (Part I): why did Paddock target the country music concert?

First let me address the general topic of the conspiracy theories that have been flying around ever since the Las Vegas killings.

I think that in a way the talk is understandable. After all, nature abhors a vacuum, and at the moment Paddock’s motives are virtually unknown. So perhaps one of these conspiracy theories will even turn out to be true. At this point we have so little evidence of Paddock’s motives that we cannot rule such theories out, although I strongly suspect they will remain in the fantasy realm.

But lack of evidence, or even the existence of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, does not stop conspiracy buffs who look for it—and think they’ve found it—nearly everywhere. With Paddock, there probably will always be big holes in our knowledge. In fact, I have come to conceptualize Stephen Paddock as the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 of mass murderers. That’s the flight whose demise was recently, three years after the plane went down, declared by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report to have been “almost inconceivable” in its mystery.

Although so far Paddock’s motivation has been almost equally mysterious, it is not inconceivable. In fact, lots of people are guessing at the motive or motives (as I did yesterday and will continue to do today).

For example, a great many people have wondered why Paddock might have chosen the country music festival for his carnage. Generally, people seem to believe there must have been some ideological reason. And his actions definitely seem to have been long-planned, and therefore premeditated. But I believe that although Paddock planned his attack quite meticulously, the details of exactly which venue he would end up attacking were decided somewhat late in the game. I believe that the festival was a target of both opportunity and planning—planning for its general outlines, opportunity for the specific event.

In other words, I believe that Paddock’s basic motive was to kill a lot of people and then kill himself (something I wrote about yesterday). It almost didn’t matter to him who those people would be, as long as there were a lot of them. I believe he had decided that a good way to maximize his kill number would be to use high-powered and speedy firearms, have lots of ammunition handy, and to fire from a difficult-to-detect and protected perch up high into a very dense crowd.

Paddock frequently stayed in Vegas hotels. He was well-known there and the casinos liked his business; among other things (according to his brother) he was a very lavish tipper. Therefore he would have known a lot about the Mandalay and its rooms and the view from different rooms both in that hotel and others. He would also have known when and where open-air concerts were scheduled, and the best vantage points from which to kill people at the venues.

I believe Paddock decided a while ago—most likely a few months ago, when he reportedly bought some extra weapons and added them to some he already had—to become a mass murderer. But I believe it was only recently that he decided that his victims would be the people attending this particular concert. He booked the room accordingly, which would have been no problem given his relationship with the hotel. The festival concert had to have been advertised in advance, and it represented the perfect opportunity for him.

This became my theory quite soon after first hearing some of the details, and I’ve seen nothing so far to change my mind. Of course, my mind could change if some evidence against this theory were to be revealed, but so far it has not. In fact, a few moments ago I read something that backed the theory up (if the report is true, of course), at least to my way of thinking:

Police are investigating the possibility that Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock may have originally targeted another music festival in the city.

Paddock had apparently attempted to book rooms at the Ogden, a luxury condo tower that overlooked the Life is Beautiful open-air festival, which ran across 15 Las Vegas blocks from September 22-24.

He requested specific suites at the Ogden and another unidentified hotel, but moved on when he discovered they were booked, an inside source told CBS.

That raises the grim possibility that he’d intended to turn either location into sniper nests, like the one he built in the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday, prior to his horrific killing spree.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I believe that any festival, or any gathering, that was to take place under the high windows of any hotel with good sightlines would have suited Paddock’s needs.

As for why Paddock wanted to become a mass murderer in the first place, I believe that (unless an autopsy locates some organic cause such as a brain tumor in an area that deals with aggression and/or judgment) he was a psychopath like his father before him, and ultimately became an even more violent one. His father was a psychopath of the con man variety; he’s usually been described as a bank robber but that was just one of his many modi operandi (I may write more about the father in another post). Not all psychopaths are violent by any means, and I think Paddock was a relatively law-abiding one—until he wasn’t. As commenter “FunkyPhD” wrote:

I suspect that the more we learn about Paddock, the more we’ll find out that he was just a sociopathic, black-hearted nihilist, who wanted his suicide to be spectacular. He served no ideology, was checked by no transcendental beliefs, and had no children or parents [NOTE added: except that Paddock had an elderly mother and some brothers and their kids] or friends or family to shame. He was tired of life, which was easy for him, and–like Oswald–bitter that the world failed to exalt him for his genius, and was therefore determined to punish his fellow human creatures for their indifference. He wasn’t in pain, or in despair, or even lashing out for some unforgivable injury or slight. As Dostoyevski so brilliantly showed, when there is no meaning or purpose or duty or responsibility, destruction of the human community is not only permissible, it is also the ultimate act of freedom.

I concur; or at least that’s my working theory at present.

Stephen Paddock would have been about 14 years old when Charles Whitman famously climbed that tower at the U. of Texas, and he would have been ten when Oswald blew the top of JFK’s head off in Dallas from his sniper’s nest above. These are very formative years and the incidents probably made a deep impression on Paddock (as they did on all of us at the time). He probably realized that a sniper position could keep him relatively safe and protected for a fairly long time and maximize his opportunity to kill. Although Paddock doesn’t seem to have possessed any special marksman skills, his choice of a large and densely packed target, coupled with his protected position, would be his way to achieve success in what I imagine was his desire to be the single shooter who killed the largest number number of people in a mass murder in the US.

As for the question of why Paddock had so very many firearms and so very much ammunition in the room, I believe it was because he thought he might last there a long, long time and hoped to kill a lot more people than he did. Apparently it was only 9-11 minutes before a police officer came to the door and Paddock killed himself, which I believe was much faster than he had originally predicted. He also may have had so many weapons because he felt he needed backup in case some of the weapons jammed or heated up or otherwise malfunctioned.

There are ordinarily three goals in murders such as this. The first is the one we all notice: the desire to kill large numbers of people. Sometimes the motive and targets are specific (revenge, money, politics). Sometimes—as I believe is the case with Paddock—they are not.

But there are ordinarily two additional motives. The first is to commit suicide, because in these cases the perpetrator almost certainly knows it’s unlikely he’ll escape alive and he is prepared to shoot himself before the authorities get to him. He does not want to be taken alive. And the other is to hurt one’s family—the other survivors who have to deal with the reaction of press and public, and try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives.

[Part II will come soon, and will deal with the motives of Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower mass murderer.]

43 Responses to “Mass-murdering man of mystery (Part I): why did Paddock target the country music concert?”

  1. Sharon W Says:

    “….the more we’ll find out that he was just a sociopathic, black-hearted nihilist, who wanted his suicide to be spectacular.”-FunkyPhD. Can’t argue with the plausibility of this or your working hypotheis, Neo. But it is interesting that he would seek out anti-anxiety drugs during the preparation to carrying this out. That may suggest some actual internal struggle; mental or emotional. As a Christian I can’t disregard the spiritual component that in one way or another complicates trying to understand such horrible acts.

  2. ken Says:

    Oswald was a loser who failed at almost every endeavor. Paddock was a multimillionaire who was by all accounts living a comfortable life, so the revenge theory doesn’t hold water.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    That’s a plausible and at this point probable explanation for Paddock’s behavior.

    Four items;

    “I believe he had decided that a good way to maximize his kill number would be to use high-powered and speedy firearms, have lots of ammunition handy, and to fire from a difficult-to-detect and protected perch…”

    I’ve just learned of “Gun Shot Detectors”. “Real-time Gunshot Detection & Alert System” They are available in fixed and mobile systems and can reportedly instantly detect where a shot is coming from. Seems like a very fine idea.

    “Apparently it was only 9-11 minutes before a police officer came to the door and Paddock killed himself”

    I’ve read several times that it took the police 72 minutes to get to Paddock. That’s quite a disparity.

    Third; officials are claiming that Paddock checked into the Mandalay on the 28th and yet there’s physical evidence of him ordering room service for 2 on the 27th. Unless that receipt is proven to be a fake, it brings into question the veracity of the official information being provided to the public. Obviously, that type of thing is fuel for conspiracy theories…

    Finally there’s an eye witness report of a woman telling the crowd that “they’re all going to die” 45 minutes before the attack. If true, that’s chilling.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Sharon W:

    That report about the single prescription for the anti-anxiety drug Valium may or may not be true. But even if true, it could have been something he got for someone else, such as his girlfriend. Also, Valium is an anti-anxiety drug, but it’s used for a lot of other things. (Remember, also, that that was back in June, and we have no evidence it was in his system or that he ever took it). Valium also is used as a muscle relaxant for muscle pain such as back problems. Paddock’s brother said that Stephen Paddock has quite a few orthopedic problems and I believe that if he used Valium it was likely to have been for that.

    Another possible reason for the valium is to reduce shaking hands when shooting. It would be similar to this sort of thing (different drug; similar idea). The use of tranquilizers for shooting is discussed here. It’s not allowed in sports competitions, of course.

  5. Stubbs Says:

    Oswald was a communist. He was married to a Russian woman, he had lived in the Sovieit Union, and according to the Warren Report he hated the United States. Funny how you rarely hear these facts whenever the Kennedy assassination is mentioned.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    That receipt is not authenticated. It’s “An image posted on Facebook by a man who claims he served Stephen Paddock room service.” In other words, smells like garbage to me. There are sites that will put up anything just to get clicks.

    Also, that report that a woman said they all were going to die was just one single women. I’ve not seen anyone else reporting the same thing. I think it’s either bogus or was just some random lunatic in a strange coincidence.

    I have been on subways where people announce much the same thing to the assembled crowd, and nothing happened.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    That “72 minutes” timeline is the amount of time it took the SWAT team to get into the room. A police officer (or officers) got outside the room some time between 9 and 11 minutes after the shooting began, and he was shot in the leg and waited for backup. At that point, however, Paddock apparently killed himself and the shooting stopped. So the SWAT team was pretty sure he was dead or at least not killing or hurting anyone any more, and they were careful about entering the room (in addition to whatever amount of time it took them to get there).

    Thus, the disparity in timelines.

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    Well, I’ve certainly mentioned those facts several times, here, here, and in particular here.

  9. DNW Says:

    The guy was a flabby narcissist asshole. What else does one need to know?

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    I want to know a great deal more than that, actually.

    First of all, whether he indeed was a “flabby, narcissist asshole.”

    And secondly, if he was a flabby, narcissist asshole, why was he a mass murderer? After all, if all the flabby, narcissist assholes in the world were mass murderers, we’d probably all be dead by now.

  11. DNW Says:

    I am speaking of course of the intrinsic, egocentric, junior high school nihilism, of this malicious son-of-a-psychopath.

    This characterzation is not a matter of my shrugging his act off, nor assigning a superficial explanation to it; but going as (I see it to what I consider the bedrock of his personality and moral constitution.

    Hell, if it exists, would be filled with similarly morally petty and vicious self-servers.

    The banality of evil someone*, once said.

    *Yeah yeah I know who she was and I often disagree with her … but it’s an insightful saying … even if she meant something somewhat different from the spin I am giving it.

  12. DNW Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    October 4th, 2017 at 5:11 pm


    I want to know a great deal more than that, actually.

    First of all, whether he indeed was a “flabby, narcissist asshole.”

    And secondly, if he was a flabby, narcissist asshole, why was he a mass murderer? After all, if all the flabby, narcissist assholes in the world were mass murderers, we’d probably all be dead by now.”

    Well Neo, I agree that one wants to know more than just that; but as I see it, the characterization implies a great deal in context.

    Again, as I see it, the story of his adult life is encapsulated by the framing, as one of a petty, egotistic , self-indulgent viciousness … extending even to his selection of an Asian sex partner who he apparently treated with a certain sneering contempt when he could get away with it.

  13. miklos000rosza Says:

    I’m still in information-gathering mode. I have no hypotheses as of yet. I await further developments.

  14. DNW Says:

    There probably should be a psychological category for sub-criminal manipulative psychopath …

    These are people who want what they wants, and when they think they are not getting it, are willing to satisfy their spite for desire for revenge on the world (or the God they cannot reach) by crashing a plane full of innocents into a mountain, blowing up a school, or shooting up a crowd at a concert.

    I’m sure that as a family counselor, you have run into such men before …

  15. DNW Says:

    I’m not going to bother correcting the typos above. Still semi-hunt and peck (three fingers on each hand typing) after all these years.

  16. parker Says:

    It has been reported that at least a few of his rifles were fitted with “bump stocks”. I had forgotten about these, should have thought of them right away. These retro stocks have a spring that uses recoil to fire another shot if the finger is kept on the trigger. It allows for rapid fire but nowhere near the rate of full auto. People use them for the ‘fun’ of putting more rounds down field, but accuracy is lost. Perfect for a dense crowd if you intend to kill/wounds lots of people.

    I suppose if paddock was a psychopath that might be motive enough to explain his evil actions. If so, he kept his rage bottled up for 64 years. I want more information to make ‘sense’ of this massacre.

    I am heartened by the stories of Americans who acted clear eyes aand full hearts to help others in the midst of so much slaughter and confusion. Not so surprising at a C&W concert.

  17. Lizzy Says:

    Scott Adams and an FBI profiler on Fox had similar assessments: someone that age does not typically become religiously radicalized, so that barring any major psychological issues (TBD), he did this for political motivations. While younger mass killers want the fame/notoriety, the older mass killers, such as James Hodgekinson, do not; they’re interested in effecting change.

    This assessment seems more reasonable than a lot of the conspiracy theories going around. Will be interesting to see if it stands as more details about this come out.


  18. Tatterdemalian Says:

    There’s a rumor going around that Paddock wasn’t meticulously planning a terrorist attack, but rather meticulously planning an arms deal of questionable legality, only for his client to turn out to be an ISIS terrorist that changed the plan, killed Paddock, and opened fire on the concert with the weapons Paddock was selling, escaping before the SWAT team arrived at the room.

    You would think a second person would have left some clues, but then again, if the FBI was currently devoting everything they had to catching the real gunman, they might be keeping silent on these details.

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    That doesn’t make sense to me for one simple reason: political killers want you to be aware of their politics, and/or their political reasons are obvious. This is not the case here—no note, no political presence or viewpoints ever expressed at all by the shooter. What’s more, as I wrote in the post, there is evidence that he originally targeted a completely different concert with a completely different group of performers, in which the demographics of the crowd (and their politics, perhaps) would be expected to be quite different, too.

  20. Oldflyer Says:

    The authorities are putting out so little verified information that it is hard to separate fact from fiction.

    It is out there that the Sheriff speculated that he had been “radicalized”. Does he have a basis for that, or is it pure speculation?

    It is out there that the Rx for Valium on 6/21 was the second one he had filled. Valium can supposedly trigger aggression; particularly if taken in excessive doses, or mixed with alcohol.

    So far, to my knowledge, only one gun dealer who sold him a firearm has been located; and it was a shotgun. Irrelevant to the event. Surely, if there were dealers who sold him the multiple, high end weapons they have been identified. Nevada does allow person to person transfer without background checks. I don’t know if any paperwork has to be filed on those deals. Nevada passed a law in 2016 requiring background checks for these transfers but the (GOP) AG chose not to enforce it for various reasons.

    One blogger, Bill Katz, whose judgement I trust completely, is still troubled by the girl friend story. Maybe, in time, more will be known.

    I do believe that the authorities should be putting out more information. Emotions are running high; and speculation is rampant. The only reason to hold back, it seems to me, would be if they believe there are others involved and don’t want to tip their hand. That is not speculation that there is, just a possible explanation. (Apparently the FBI has left it to the Sheriff to lead, and they are keeping an uncharacteristically low profile)

  21. neo-neocon Says:


    Psychopaths are not necessarily rageful their whole lives, so saying “he must have kept his rage bottled up for 64 years” doesn’t really follow. He may have become rageful only in recent years, or certainly more rageful. Maybe life just wasn’t as fun as it used to be, or someone didn’t show him enough respect.

  22. neo-neocon Says:


    I looked for a transcript that included that “radicalized” remark, and all I could find was a very short clip in which it seemed that the guy was answering a question about it, and he answered that it was possible that Paddock had become radicalized without the police being aware of it.

    in other words, anything’s possible, but there’s not a scintilla of evidence of it except for the ISIS claim. But conspiracy theorists will take a statement like that and make a big deal of it when it is essentially meaningless.

  23. neo-neocon Says:


    Any drug can trigger just about anything; read the list of side effects. There is no evidence the shooter had Valium in his system at the time of the shooting, although I’m sure they will do toxicology tests on him to see what’s what. But this was clearly not a sudden, impulsive crime performed because he was under the influence of a particular drug at a particular moment.

    As far as the girlfriend goes, what we know of her story so far makes sense and is not necessarily suspicious. Paddock had a lot of money, and he often gave her money to go visit friends and relatives in Asia. That’s according to the shooter’s brother. Apparently, about a week or so before the shooting, Paddock sent her off on one of these trips, which makes perfect sense in my book if he wanted her out of the way so he could perform this crime. The wiring of the 100K dollars would probably be a gift to her or her relatives, although facts could certainly emerge that something shadier was going on there.

  24. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Tonight ABC showed something like this clip, the average LIVs are going to be convinced that they’re automatics. DefendAR-15 Bump Fire Stock

    IMO, arguing that they’re not automatics is a losing proposition. The issue is preventing the preconditions for tyranny; “Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.” — James Madison

  25. Lizzy Says:

    Has it been confirmed that he left no note, or have they not yet commented on it? Pure speculation here, but given that his father was a fugitive from the FBI for years, he may have been a lot more careful about leaving traces of his activities and views than most. That seems to be the case with the less than full picture of his activities (so far) in recent years (gaps in employment, gambling and large sums of untraceable cash, foreign travel, etc.).

    The point that the FBI profiler on Fox made was that they want to effect change, such as Hodgkinson’s goal of changing Congress by killing a lot of Republicans. It’s not about making a name for themselves. I can’t remember if Hodgkinson left a note; he did leave behind social media rants and had a list of targets in his pocket.

  26. parker Says:

    Whoa! Have never encountered a nut job in my home turf. If any of you have, once identified, it only takes a second to put 3 in the chest. Carry a Colt 380 government model with 7 in the mag and one in the breach. BTW, stay cocked and locked. Not a fan of Browning, just figure it out

  27. neo-neocon Says:


    That’s my point. Hodgkinson left a lot of information about his politics. Plus, the politics of the act itself was obvious: he killed Republican members of Congress. It was not a random group of concertgoers. It was not a crowd in the street. It was not basically random, but this act of Paddock’s was. You can imagine that Paddock imagined something about the politics of a country music crowd, but there’s nothing about that crowd that spells politics or any sort of political message at all.

    Now, if you think that discouraging crowds from gathering and having fun is a political message, I suppose that could be the goal. But that’s very far-fetched and not really political in the usual sense. To strike fear into people was also probably his goal, but that’s not especially political either, not in the usual sense. But he did seem to have the aim of killing as many people as possible, which I think was his goal—but not really a political one.

  28. parker Says:

    Neo and others,

    I am just salt of the earth, propably an ignorant person in your mind. I can not fathom the sickness of paddock; same is true for the pali wire their children detonate a suicide bomb in a pizza palor in Haifa.

    We are defeated unless we wage total war, no quarter, no harbor, total war “innocents who cares” total war. Absolute surrendeder. Yeah, I am a racist, mysogonistic, homo-islamo phobe. Of course, I am just normal.

  29. om Says:

    Dial it back to 10.

  30. DNW Says:


    Want some insight into the mentality of the Paddock boys?

    Check out this video while ignoring the pseudo science commentary.

    If you can find it without the body language analysis all the better.

    Listen to this son-of-a-bitch brother talk. He thinks he’s defending the brother “he knew”. What he is doing is laying open his own mind, his own morals, his own attitudes toward what constitutes a good life, what’s right and wrong, and justifiable.

    His brother’s a gambler. ‘Sorry you cannot be one too. What’s your problem? That Steve, what a guy, marched to the beat of his own drummer. Quirky, but hey, he made me rich …’

    This brother while trying to explain how rationally defensible his mores are, merely exhibits what a viper he is and his homicidal brother was …

    Actual paraphrase:
    We’re … Steve was wealthy. He made us wealthy. You gotta understand not everybody works at Taco Bell …

  31. neo-neocon Says:


    I had already watched that video of the brother, before you recommended it. I’ve watched a lot of that guy talking.

    I never said he was especially likeable or admirable. Like a lot of people, he’s happy he’s rich, and he’s somewhat of a snob. Big deal. Doesn’t have any connection with mass murder. Nor does it say he’s lying or covering up anything. In fact, he seems rather honest and open about his point of view. And—to paraphrase myself in another comment I’ve made—if being unlikeable, being glad you’re rich, and being something of a snob led to becoming a mass murderer, we’d all be dead by now.

  32. Tim Turner Says:

    I believe this analysis is reasonable, you’ll note the irony of murdering people at a “Life is Beautiful” concert. Like 9-11 was chosen to crash American airplanes into American cities, the choice of targets does indicate the motives. And if he switched concerts, then it was probably not ideologically motivated. It was simply a large group of people to hurt.

  33. Chang Yee Fong Says:

    Here is one possible explanation given by a Military Sci-Fi writer from his own personal experience.


    And he might be closer to the mark.


  34. DNW Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    October 5th, 2017 at 12:03 am


    I had already watched that video of the brother, before you recommended it. I’ve watched a lot of that guy talking.

    I never said he was especially likeable or admirable. Like a lot of people, he’s happy he’s rich, and he’s somewhat of a snob. Big deal. Doesn’t have any connection with mass murder. Nor does it say he’s lying or covering up anything. In fact, he seems rather honest and open about his point of view. And—to paraphrase myself in another comment I’ve made—if being unlikeable, being glad you’re rich, and being something of a snob led to becoming a mass murderer, we’d all be dead by now.”

    Apparently I did not make my point clearly.

    What the brother’s stance reveals, is not simple “snobbery” – these rather shabby persons having little reason for that – but a tendency to try and leverage even simple and straightforward questions into a lecturing drama.

    That is what I am talking about. He has to tell the masses that the masses simply cannot understand the remarkableness of this potato faced clan, because the world is simply incapable of appreciating their path-breaking qualities.

    His brother just murdered 58 people, and this character spends his time lecturing rather than just simply answering directly, or shutting up completely.

    For a morally normal person the answer to the question of the significance of your brother sending a 100k to the Philippines, is to remark that it was not necessarily that significant [if one believed that to be true] as the brother was quite wealthy.

    Or if you were morally defective yourself, you could roll your eyes, sputter your over ample lips, and wail in disdainful frustration that those Taco Bell laboring plebs of the world – like those gunned down no doubt – just had no idea of how things rolled at the top.

    He’s his brother’s brother … if you catch the drift of that particular tautology.

  35. blert Says:


    Comment stuck in moderation limbo.

    Why I’ll never know.

  36. Ymar Sakar Says:

    After all, if all the flabby, narcissist assholes in the world were mass murderers, we’d probably all be dead by now.

    Not “all” of us Neo…

  37. neo-neocon Says:


    Well, if you’re saying there’s probably something wrong—morally wrong—with the Paddock brothers, I’d certainly agree.

    Considering who their father was, I’d say Eric’s doing fairly well, morally. Obviously not the case with Stephen.

  38. DNW Says:

    An apology of sorts …

    I’ve just read through some comments I had skipped while tossing in my own two cents, and came across GB’s comment and his use of the phrase “the banality of evil”.

    By the time stamp, GB had referenced Arendt’s famous phrase pointing the sorry everyday context of the das man’s maleficent behavior, [in contrast to what we imagine to be more cosmically staged evil-doing] before I did; even if he was commenting from California.

    A literary allusion become a commonplace, uttered once, is to be expected. Repeated after the slot has already been filled, it becomes a hackneyed cliche.

    I should have read all the comments through, first.

  39. DNW Says:

    ” neo-neocon Says:
    October 5th, 2017 at 12:50 pm


    Well, if you’re saying there’s probably something wrong—morally wrong—with the Paddock brothers, I’d certainly agree.”

    Then we agree on that.

    And I would go further: These guys are morally warped from the ground up. They don’t even have an idea of what real virtue is. They are like feral animals inhabiting the skins of men, after having received some training as how to pass as one.

    And that, that fundamentally shallow, manipulative, vulgarly materialistic and self-serving [and I would argue consciously nihilistic] moral stance, is what I see as setting the stage and providing a worldview to “justify” it, for brother Stephen’s acting out.

    “Considering who their father was, I’d say Eric’s doing fairly well, morally. Obviously not the case with Stephen.”

    Brother Eric, and here I disavow the interpretation of the self-styled body language expert, appears to me to be acting, to be deceptive, and to be psychologically incapable of responding to simple questions in a straightforward manner without attempting to reframe the matter so as to shovel some egotistical bullshit at the questioner.

    ‘You ask these stupid questions’ Erik basically says “because you are simply, and I apologize for being blunt, a lesser sort”.

    Now, though he makes a stab at framing this in quasi-libertarian terms, what he is really peddling is a pathetic “Ubermensch as Libertine” line.

    There is something seriously, and deeply morally wrong with Erik too.

    The more he talks, and poses, and lashes out, the more it shows. The one place I agree with the body language analyst, is that his expression of “grief” is a calculated demonstration to deflect social hostility.

    “See? I am almost human too!”

    He could have demonstrated that simply by empathetically responding to the questions asked, instead of using those questions as a pad for launching the family brand for all to admire.

  40. neo-neocon Says:


    I’ve written at length on the fact that I believe it likely that Stephen Paddock was a psychopath. Their father was apparently a notorious (and fairly successful) psychopath as well.

    So I’m not sure what your point is, except perhaps that brother Eric’s morality isn’t what it should be? No problem believing that’s the case; he certainly seemed rather odd in his discussions with the press. But mass murder is another thing entirely. I don’t see Eric as a criminal, although his father and Stephen certainly were—the former a lifelong career choice, the latter apparently a late-life career change.

  41. Ann Says:

    Worth a read — Ralph Peters on “the primal lure of the ecstasy of killing”:

    Fortunately, only a microscopic number succumb to the impulse to murder others as acts of self-affirmation, of self-actualization. For that, thank civilization, which is endlessly at war against our instincts. We’ve been “re-educated” to believe that killing is unnatural — but consider how little it takes to turn “civilized” human beings into a deadly mass that celebrates a foe’s extermination.

    The “Iliad,” a founding document of our civilization, is a lengthy celebration of the ecstasy of thrusting spears into the bellies or backs of one’s opponents. The most striking images in that gory epic luridly describe the act of killing — and the victor’s delight. And our other basic texts, from the “Nordic Sagas” to “Beowulf,” are anything but peace-loving.

    If we cannot admit to ourselves that, at a primal level, killing is an ecstatic joy for at least some humans, that taking the lives of others is the ultimate empowerment, we’ll never understand why a 64-year-old man sneaked an arsenal into a hotel and methodically slaughtered 59 human beings, leaving over 500 others injured. Killing other human beings is as close as we get to being gods.

  42. John West Says:

    How about people close to violence are more likely to be prescribed a minor tranquilizer like Valium than serious anti-psychotics by the neighborhood general practitioner or doc-in-the-box who rarely if ever sees such patients? Beware confirmation bias…

    The centerpiece of Paddock’s life was money and risk-taking to get it. For me, the comment above about weapons sales to an Isis buyer who turned it into something else is plausible. Or ordinance for a robbery gone wrong, maybe of the casino at the hotel. If you’re worried about guns jamming you bring along two or three, not twenty-three. The Clark County sheriff has already said he doubts Paddock acted alone.

  43. neo-neocon Says:

    John West:

    Yes, I saw that press conference by the sheriff—in its entirety. He offered no evidence for Paddock’s having a confederate expect the elaborateness of the planning and the weaponry. That seems to me to be a conclusion that is not at all warranted. Of course, if more evidence of a helper comes out, I would certainly change my mind. But right now none is being offered, and I see absolutely no reason why one person couldn’t do all of this.

    Paddock was a very intelligent and thorough guy. He was the kind of person who made money at video poker. That’s not very common.

    Wild speculation on various cinematic-type scenarios not only can happen but will happen. It’s what people do. I stick to the facts as given, plus my gut. And my gut offers the scenario I offered in this post as the most likely, based on the facts we know so far (and my sense about people).

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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