It starts like an itch. Something happens in our lives that causes us to question what we know and our understanding of it. We open our eyes, our minds in order to seek the truth we can not see. The more we discover, the hungrier we are for a deeper reckoning. But the world isn’t perfect, humans less so, and there is a lot of pain, suffering and deception going on. We have the burning desire to do more to stop the pain. We read, a lot. We start protesting, questioning. Our families labels us as being too sensitive, too negative, our friends start to pull away, our families and spouses reject us and our way of thinking. We are labeled as hippies, anarchists, angry kids, conspiracy theorists and terrorists. We are beaten by the police and mocked for our caring by the media in the news. Yet we can’t help ourselves, we are the cursed liberals the world warns about, those town criers who have become obsessed with spreading the truth. It becomes a very solitary journey for many are not obligated to participate and you don’t get an invite to this way of life, you can’t train for it, you see wrong hurt and automatically step up as life calls upon you from somewhere within your soul and the rough ride stays with you until your last breath feeling that with all you gave it still wasn’t enough to stop the pain and wishing for one more moment to step and say; Hey, What The Fuck Are You Doing, Stop That! You can’t do that…
ASKING NOT WHAT OUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR US, BUT WHAT WE CAN DO FOR OUR COUNTRY!
We are not against Capitalism and profit, but against its potential for abuse.
We are not against any religion, but against its manipulative use as a political weapon.
We are not against democracy, but declarations of not being patriotic when we disagree.
We are not against the democratic process unless the corporate world uses it against us.
We are not against the American Dream, but tired of being excluded from it.
We are not against those who have obtained wealth, but against those who would keep us from joining them.
We are not against defending this most grand country of ours, but the use of our military for corporate interests and most assuredly, against private armies.
We are not against national defense, we’re against spending on weapons of destruction, when our children need education, our infrastructure is falling apart and the quality of life in America deteriorates.
We are not against our beautiful America, but against the lost of the American ideal and dream that other countries in existence much longer have yet to achieve.
We are not against a strong America, we don’t believe that it can exist without respect for all who are American.
We are not against anyone making profits, but against making profits at the expense of and the detriment to, the health and well-being of American families no matter the composition.
We are not weak. We are not traitors. We are not unpatriotic. We are not elitist.
We are Democrats by way of the political process by choice.
We are proudly Liberals because we were taught caring for each other is an American ideal.
We are fiercely Progressive not for those came before, but all of those in the future yet to come this way.
This is our America as well and we will fight just as fiercely because we love America too!
© 2014 – 2015, agentleman.
Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof And the Tragic History of White America’s Love-Hate Relationship With “Blackness”
There’s a thin line between love and hate.
By Andrew O’Hehir
There is a thread connecting the seemingly opposed stories of Rachel Dolezal and Dylann Storm Roof, I’m sorry to say: America’s unhealthy obsession with blackness. Dolezal loved black people so much that she reinvented herself over many years to become one of them, and Roof hated black people so much that he murdered nine of them in cold blood. It hardly needs saying that those things are not the same; when I say that I discern a relationship between them, or that they are manifestations of the same cultural obsession, I do not mean to suggest any moral equivalence. If Dolezal’s conception of “transracial” identity strikes many people as an ahistorical delusion, most of us would happily embrace that delusion if it could undo the horrifying historical reality of Charleston. Roof’s story is a sickening and violent tragedy, with no evident catharsis or message of redemption; Dolezal’s is more like a farce, meant to demonstrate the absurdity of our species and its social conventions.
But there’s a thin line between love and hate, in the words of an R&B classic that had black and white Americans slow-dancing in the summer of 1971. Dolezal’s apparent racial imposture and Roof’s alleged racist massacre are two facets of white America’s love-hate relationship with blackness, a category whites invented in the first place to represent all the things we are not.There may be good reason to question the mental health of both Roof and Dolezal, but if we frame them as isolated anomalies or freakish, inexplicable cases we are deliberately missing the point. They belong to a long history I discussed in a different context last week, a history that is far from over and whose repercussions will not stop resounding. It’s a history in which white people consistently return to a view of black people not as individuals or even as members of a distinctive but internally diverse social community, but as a symbolic and mysterious category, a locus of fear and desire.
The longing to subdue or destroy the Other and so secure the boundaries of one’s own identity, and the longing to destroy one’s own identity, in effect, and become the Other, are closely akin in psychological terms. I’m not saying that the dreadful crimes apparently committed by Dylann Roof, a young man barely out of adolescence, or Rachel Dolezal’s lifelong campaign of racial reinvention, can be boiled down to such generalizations. But those recurring cultural narratives are clearly relevant here, and the more we learn about these two people’s life stories, the stranger and more ambiguous they become.
According to her family’s highly convincing account, Dolezal was a blonde, blue-eyed girl who grew up in small-town Montana, one of the whitest areas of the country. Long after her fascination with African-American culture became a driving force in her life, she accused Howard University of discriminating against her because she was white. Dylann Roof, on the other hand, apparently lived in a tiny South Carolina town with a predominantly African-American population. According to reports in the New York Times and elsewhere, many of his 88 Facebook friends were black. (His page has since been taken down.) One could extrapolate that Roof grew up in much closer contact with African-American culture than Dolezal did; if one of these two white people was positioned to claim “cultural blackness” or a “transracial” identity, it wasn’t her.
Does any of that make sense? No, not really – or only in America, the land of deliberately missing the point. We can’t look for logic or coherence in America’s racial history. We can perhaps say that the fear of becoming black and the longing to become black are powerful and sometimes overlapping forces in white American psychology, but that behind both of those emotions lies the view of blackness as something alien, seductive and dangerous to the established order. We can say that the most conspicuous and brutal racial violence (although not the most damaging forms of economic violence) has often been committed by poor whites who arguably could or should have made common cause with African-Americans on many issues. We can say that many of the white bohemians and intellectuals who have sought to identify with black culture, like the “White Negro” theorized by Norman Mailer in 1957 (in an essay that also introduced the word “hipster” into general usage), have operated from a romantic conception that didn’t have much to do with actual African-American people or their community.
Do these cultural and historical conundrums help us make sense of the horror of Charleston, with its unmistakable echoes of crimes committed 30 or 50 or 100 years before Dylann Roof was born? I don’t think any of us can do that, so soon after the fact, although the extraordinary expression of forgiveness offered on Friday by so many relatives of those who died in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was a moment that cut through the media clutter of our divided society, and that few living Americans will forget. It might be said to offer white people an opportunity for humility and reflection, to consider what we did to make this possible and whether we might have prevented it. But why bother with that when smug pieties about faith and freedom will do?
Speaking of deliberately missing the point, Charleston presents a dangerous dilemma for the contemporary Republican Party, a whites-only organization in all but name whose hegemonic rule of the American South relies on the premise that race no longer matters and racism no longer exists. Leading Republicans, from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsey Graham to the constantly expanding fraternity of 2016 presidential candidates, cannot be perceived as condoning or glossing over a vicious hate crime committed by an apparent white supremacist. But they also cannot quite admit that white-supremacist ideology still exists and still plays a significant role in American culture, still less that it is deeply encoded into their voter base and their electoral strategy. Hence we see the shameful effort to reframe Charleston not as an attack on African-Americans, but an attack on Christians. (Can you even imagine how Fox News would cover a black man shooting up a white suburban megachurch? On second thought, please don’t try.)
Whether or not Rachel Dolezal and Dylann Roof have diagnosable mental illnesses (which is no more than supposition), they stand for a much deeper form of craziness. Viewed in larger cultural terms they are extreme examples of an underlying American disorder that has informed and defined so much of our history. As I’ve already made clear, I’m primarily talking about this disorder as it applies to white people, who have been in charge of the nation’s cultural and political narrative for virtually our entire history. One could potentially argue that the view of black people, and blackness, as a special and symbolic category, loaded with all kinds of meaning, is not exclusive to white folks, and can be perceived in various black nationalist and Afrocentric movements, from Marcus Garvey through the Nation of Islam and beyond. I’m not qualified to develop that case, and it’s only relevant here by way of observing that no one in America has been untouched by our bizarre racial history.
Race, as contemporary genetics has informed us, is an invented social category with no clear biological definition. It simply did not exist, in anything like the modern sense, in classical antiquity. There were several Roman emperors of African birth or ancestry who might variously be considered black or Arab or mixed-race people today, facts that did not seem to interest anyone at the time. If anything, the Romans viewed the “white” tribes of northern Europe as more savage and less civilized than the peoples they encountered in Africa.
That might seem like dim and distant history, but my point is that our tormented understanding of race in America has always involved a contradictory double consciousness. On one level we believe that race does not matter, or at least should not, and quite possibly is not real. On the other hand, the social meaning of these invented categories is unmistakable, and their effect on the lived experience of American history is so profound that there is no way to separate the story of our country from the story of race in our country. Not that we haven’t tried: A great deal of American historical scholarship, including almost all of it written before about 1960, emerged from the discipline of Deliberately Missing the Point. In our own time, conservative backlash against the so-called liberal bias of academia – an increasingly sophisticated enterprise, embraced and funded by the Koch brothers, that should not be underestimated – has even produced a mini-renaissance in Missing the Point Studies.
If we fast-forward a millennium and a half from the Romans – who relied on a slave caste but did not care about its skin color — to the rise of the great European empires and the African slave trade, we begin to see the emerging categories of “black” and “white,” always defined in opposition to each other. Many historians point to the slave codes of the late 17th century, which emerged in the aftermath of Bacon’s Rebellion, a multiracial uprising against the rulers of colonial Virginia, as a crucial turning point. It became clearly defined, from that moment forward, that even the most destitute and landless white person belonged to a different existential category (however impossible it was to define) than the most comfortable of enslaved Africans. Certainly by the time we get to Thomas Jefferson, brilliant rhetorician of human liberty and late-night visitor to the slave quarters, white America’s racial psychosis was well-entrenched.
Rachel Dolezal’s story may strike many people as ludicrous, or as distinctively contemporary, but she offers something more like a new twist in a long history of racial “passing,” racial boundary-crossing and racial ambiguity. Johnny Otis, a highly influential R&B bandleader, talent scout, record producer and radio host who helped discover Big Mama Thornton, Jackie Wilson and Etta James, lived virtually his entire life as a member of the African-American community and was widely assumed to be black. Unlike Dolezal, he never tried to obfuscate or conceal his origins: His birth name was Ioannis Veliotes, and his parents were Greek immigrants who ran a grocery store in a black neighborhood.
As Dolezal ought to know, and probably does know, the NAACP was led from 1931 to 1955 by Walter Francis White, a man with light skin, blue eyes and fair hair who could easily have passed as white, and occasionally did so in the segregated South. White married a white woman and was occasionally accused either of wanting to be white or actually being white. White himself calculated that 27 of his 32 great-grandparents had been white – but his parents had both been born in slavery, a fact that puts an end to any debate about his racial status in American society. White devoted his career to fighting against precisely the kind of racial violence that Dylann Roof apparently inflicted on Charleston and the nation, and against America’s long-standing propensity to paper over such crimes, look the other way and deliberately miss the point.
So did Rachel Dolezal, and she should be honored for those convictions. But she could have been a passionate warrior for racial justice, and even an executive of the NAACP, as a white person. The fact that she evidently slid into deception and delusion in pursuit of racial justice, injuring her own cause and bringing anguish to her family, is heartbreaking evidence of the enduring power of white America’s disorder. Not as heartbreaking as the fact that Dylann Roof apparently had black friends and still did what he did, or the fact that the community he tore apart has offered him forgiveness. There are no words for that kind of heartbreak. There is, perhaps, a path forward. It begins with white people moving past the aura of shame and fear and longing, the desire for annihilation or self-annihilation, through which we so often see black people and our own history. It begins with no longer choosing to deliberately miss the point.
© 2015, agentleman.
- 67Dylann Roof Is Not Alone: Racism Persists Across Generations If anyone thought that having a black president was going to make a difference in attitudes, think again. By Chauncey DeVega On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof allegedly massacred nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in…
- 62Hey, Smug White People: You (Yes, You) Are a Racist, Too Don't imagine that being a racist is something that only happens to other people. By Kali Holloway / AlterNet March 2, 2015 Print 30 COMMENTS If there’s anything our fraught national dialogue on race has taught us, it's that…
- 37Lynching as Racial Terrorism By THE EDITORIAL BOARD A crowd at a lynching in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, in 1925. Credit Bettmann/Corbis It is important to remember that the hangings, burnings and dismemberments of black American men, women and children that were relatively common in this country between the Civil…
- 32“Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black” – Tim Wise Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white…
The GOP: A Party in Turmoil
By Eugene Robinson
From left, GOP presidential hopefuls Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and John Kasich take the stage for their debate in Cleveland last week. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
The Republican Party is in total chaos. Democrats aren’t there yet but may be approaching the neighborhood. It’s time to acknowledge that our political system simply isn’t doing its job.
Once again, following Thursday’s debate and its messy aftermath, the GOP establishment confidently predicts that the Donald Trump phenomenon is over, done with, finished, kaput. Why, he picked a fight with popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly! He bluffed his way through the debate with rhetoric and showmanship rather than policy positions! His campaign organization is in turmoil! He wouldn’t even pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee!
By any traditional measure, Trump is not a viable candidate. Yet he continues to dominate news coverage of the campaign, and thus far there is no indication that his transgressions have caused the plunge in his poll numbers that party pooh-bahs so eagerly anticipate.
As Buffalo Springfield once sang, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” (Ask your parents, kids.)
By one early measure—an online poll for NBC News conducted by the SurveyMonkey firm—Trump maintained his big lead following the debate, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson vaulting into second and third place; businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who dominated the undercard debate, reportedly leapt into the middle of the pack. The numbers in the SurveyMonkey poll are less important than the trend lines: So-called “protest candidates” are capturing voters’ imagination in a way that establishment candidates are not.
Trump, Fiorina and Carson have never held elective office; the basis of their appeal is that they are not professional politicians. Cruz has spent his time in Washington ostentatiously declining to play politics as usual, recently going so far as to call his own majority leader a liar.
At this point, it is fair to say that a significant portion of the party has lost faith in the GOP establishment. It’s also fair to say that this has little or nothing to do with where candidates stand on the issues.
Trump made his initial mark in this campaign with demagoguery about illegal immigration. But with the exception of Jeb Bush, the other GOP contenders have basically the same position: Seal off the border with Mexico, if necessary by erecting a physical barrier.
Carson has compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery. No other Republican in the race uses such over-the-top language, but they all pledge to repeal Obamacare. Cruz vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear agreement. All the Republican candidates feel the same way. Fiorina wants to shrink bloated government. Everybody else does, too.
The irony is that the Republican field includes several candidates who, in theory, could be formidable in the general election. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio are both from Florida, a state the GOP basically must win to have any chance in the Electoral College. Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker theoretically might be able to pry one or more of the Midwestern industrial states out of Democratic hands.
But the process of quelling the Trump-led insurgency is already boxing the whole field into absolutist positions that will be difficult for the eventual nominee to soften. The longer chaos reigns, I believe, the less room the GOP candidate will have to maneuver.
All of this should make Hillary Clinton very happy. But the Democratic Party and its likely nominee have problems of their own.
To be sure, I’d much rather be playing Clinton’s hand than anybody else’s in either party. In the RealClearPolitics polling averages, she leads her closest opponent for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by 35 points—and beats every one of her potential GOP opponents in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.
One problem, however, is that her favorability has been going down, according to polls. Another is that while Sanders has made few discernible inroads with key parts of the Democratic Party coalition—especially African-Americans and Latinos—he is within striking distance of Clinton in the first two caucus and primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders is drawing big, passionate crowds, and I believe one reason is that he, too, is kind of an anti-politician—a man who unabashedly labels himself a socialist and refuses to tailor his views to please a given audience.
Significant numbers of voters seem to be demanding authenticity, passion and rough edges from a nominating process designed to produce none of the above. To state the obvious, this could be a wild and unpredictable ride.
© 2015, agentleman.
- 44Donald Trump Is the Clown in Charge: Sorry, GOP, You Created Him, Now He’s the Face of Your Party Donald Trump is loud, dumb, confident and independently funded. He is the monster born of Fox News and the GOP. By Sean Illing On Wednesday I wrote about the…
- 318 Nightmare Scenarios That Would Come to Pass If GOP Presidential Speeches Became Reality From shredding social safety nets to imposing evangelical Christianity, the America described in Republican speeches is a terrifying place. By Steven Rosenfeld Some people say the American Dream and what made America great is…
- 31Scott Walker Loses His Mind: What’s Behind His Delusional ISIS-Unions Comparison Comparing battles with unions to fighting terrorists, the cocky Wisconsin governor unites right and left in horror. By Joan Walsh There are two entirely different ways to be horrified by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker comparing his battle…
The 13 Home-Run Lines from Bernie Sanders’ Portland Speech
13. “If a bank is too big to fail, I think it’s too big to exist.”
12. “We must end the embarrassment of this country being the only country on earth that does not guarantee workers paid medical and family leave.”
11. “We see kids getting criminal records for having marijuana, but the CEOs of these large institutions get away with theft.”
10. On the Koch brothers: “When you have one family spending more than either political party, that is not democracy, that is oligarchy, and that has got to end.”
9. On Republicans: “What they mean by family values is that our gay brothers and sisters should not be able to marry and enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. I disagree.”
8. “Men, stand with the women and demand pay equity. There is no defensible reason why women are making 78 cents on the dollar. That has got to change.”
7. On attendance: “Portland, you have done it better than anyone else.”
6. “A minimum wage of $7 an hour is a starvation wage. I applaud those cities—Seattle, Los Angeles and others—that have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And that is exactly what we will do at the federal level.”
5. On the very rich: “They control vast sums of money. But we have something they do not have. We have a united people.”
4. “Every public college and university in America will be tuition-free.”
3. “The cost of war is real, and it is terrible. I believe that war should be the last resort, not the first resort.”
2. On his Supreme Court nominees: “They will have to tell the American people that their first order of business will be to overturn Citizens United.”
1. “This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: Yes, we have the guts to take you on.”
© 2015, agentleman.
10 Careers With the Most Psychopaths
In some fields, being a psychopath is actually a great way to get ahead.
By Kali Holloway /
Are you a psychopath? Happens to the best of us. James Fallon, a neuroscientist studying Alzheimer’s effects on the brain, accidentally discovered that he was a psychopath and then he wrote a book about the experience. Fallon, like most people with psychopathic brains, wasn’t a violent person or a serial killer. But after discovering his brain pathology, he began interviewing friends, relatives and loved ones to see if there had been signs of psychopathy in his behavior all along. It turned out there were plenty. The diagnosis befuddled Fallon, but made total sense to pretty much everyone else in his life.
Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses.
Kevin Dutton, an Oxford psychologist and the author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, believes that psychopathy can actually be advantageous in some careers. Using (not the most scientific) survey, he compiled a list of careers in which psychopaths are overrepresented. Mostly, they’re fields where the hallmarks of psychopathy allow people not just to get by but to thrive and succeed. (It’s been suggested more than once, for example, that corporate psychopaths caused the most recent financial crisis.)
In keeping with Dutton’s findings, here’s a list of the top 10 careers with the most psychopaths working in them. There are some surprises—the biggest of which is that politician isn’t number one.
1. CEO.The corporate lexicon is full of bloodthirsty metaphors. Business is cutthroat; those who succeed are sharks; and they make a killing. What better place for a psychopath to really shine? Lots of CEOs are perfectly lovely, I’m sure, but study after study suggests that 4 percent of them—four times as many people as in the general population—qualify as psychopaths.
The characteristics that define psychopathy, “being [a] risk seeker, impulsive and fearless,” also help entrepreneurs lead and succeed. But as Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry points out, the other markers of psychopathy—lacking “empathy, remorse” and personal accountability—can result in CEOs whose reckless behavior leaves corporate carnage in their wake. Among those tagged as psychopaths are Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom (now serving 25 years on charges including conspiracy and securities fraud), as well as Jeff Skilling (sentenced to just over 24 years for counts including insider trading) and Andrew Fastow (who served six years for “fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy”), both of Enron.
But “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap takes the prize. While head of Scott Paper, Dunlap laid off 11,000 employees (he is described as having fired people with “apparent glee”), earning Wall Street’s adoration and sending stock shares up 225 percent. He also reportedly threatened his wife with a knife while saying he’d always wanted to taste human flesh, skipped out on both his parents’ funerals, and wrote a bestseller titled Mean Business. Dunlap finally lost his footing after his questionable financial tactics as CEO of Sunbeam got a bit too murky. He is currently “serving time” at his palatial Florida estate.
2. Lawyer.Almost every joke about lawyers relies on the stereotype that they are, essentially, psychopaths: liars and cheats, bereft of morals, obsessed with profiteering at any cost. This, even though your average public defender is hardly getting rich off billable hours, and I know an awful lot of great people with JDs (she wrote, veering dangerously close to, “Some of my best friends are lawyers” territory). Still, Dutton’s research found lawyers landed second only to CEOs in the number of psychopaths in their ranks, and it certainly makes sense that some lawyers (say, litigators) would benefit from the ability to turn on the charm and lie without conscience.
Dutton also interviewed a successful psychopathic lawyer who, chillingly, said, “Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere. But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.”
3. Media (television/radio). This one seems like kind of a no-brainer. Is it any surprise that the sort of person who might imagine herself so important that everyone should be exposed to her, is a person who might have some narcissistic tendencies? Obviously, not everyone in film, television or radio scores high on the Hare meter, but if you think of some of the most glaring psychopathic personalities in both media, it all sort of makes sense.
4. Salesperson.Remember the “Always Be Closing” scene from Glengarry Glenross when Alec Baldwin shows up and basically tells a roomful of salesmen their lives are meaningless because he makes more money than they do? (Choice quote: “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you, go home and play with your kids!”) Psychopaths in the sales industry probably consider that guy a role model. In his book, Working With Monsters: How to Identify and Protect Yourself from the Workplace Psychopath, John Clarke highlights how having a psycho on the sales team can be a real asset. “The psychopath is very likely to be a good salesperson, if they are intelligent as well as glib and superficial,” Clarke writes. “In fact, a study done in 2001 by Marc Hamer found that superior sales performance was associated with higher levels of narcissism (egocentric and grandiose), sociopathy and cognitive empathy.”
The problem with psychopathic salespeople, though, is that you’re bound to run into issues with their “me, me, me” attitude. As Clarke points out, “[i]n the long term [psychopaths] let clients down. In addition, the psychopath who is a salesperson is likely to exploit the system in some way to benefit themselves. For example, they may steal products or sell them at ‘discount rates’ to their friends.”
5. Surgeon.Interestingly, while doctor and nurse made the list of careers with the fewest psychopaths, surgeons were among the most psychopathic. As surgeon Wen Shen stated in a 2014 Pacific Standard piece, “the trouble with surgeons [is]…[m]any are abrasive, abusive, and wildly self-centered—so much so that observers have speculated that they suffer from psychiatric disorders.” Shen speculates this attitudinal tendency might be traced back to the horrible, pre-anesthesia days of surgery, when the field necessarily attracted a breed of person who could operate “to a soundtrack of screams” while keeping a cool hand. That may be changing—there’s a push for a kinder, gentler surgeon afoot—but doctors in other fields and other healthcare professional still seem to hold surgeons in unique regard.
One podiatrist on a message board I visited wrote that one of his college professors informed the class that “every surgeon is really a serial killer that has found a socially acceptable way to express their desire.” And psychoanalyst Carl Sword recounted a conversation with an anonymous neurosurgeon who makes the callousness of psychopathy sound like just what the, uh, surgeon ordered, sayin, “I have no compassion for those whom I operate on…. In the theater I am reborn: as a cold, heartless machine, totally at one with scalpel, drill and saw. When you’re cutting loose and cheating death high above the snowline of the brain, feelings aren’t fit for purpose. Emotion is entropy, and seriously bad for business. I’ve hunted it down to extinction over the years.”
6. Journalist. A musician friend once said to me that you have to be a complete narcissist, totally delusional, or both to get up on a stage and essentially expect a room (to say nothing of a stadium or an arena) full of people to listen to you. To consider your own emoting so worthy of being heard that you essentially, and completely willingly, make a spectacle of yourself. It’s an abstract way of looking at things but there’s a grain of truth to it. (The fact that you might be charming and engaging enough for that audience to want to watch you is itself another psychopathic trait.) Which is why this one isn’t exactly a spoiler, especially after number three. (And no, the irony is not lost on me as write these words.)
Freelance writer Jeff Cash wrote that, “a hint of psychopathy is actually a prerequisite for public purpose journalism.” As Cash put it, “Psychopathy can creep in all too easily in the world of journalism, as any reporter who’s had an after-hours fight with some obnoxious public relations officer can attest to. (That’s pretty much all of them, by the way). Seeing your name in a national newspaper on a daily basis is enough to turn even the most humble being into a fountain of narcissism. And if you think that’s bad, just imagine how much appearing on national television would contribute to one’s superiority complex.” So yeah. Maybe there’s something to this.
7. Police officer. In an era where police abuse and brutality is a topic of national discourse like never before, much has already been written about the psychological profiles of police officers. It’s an enormous conversation, and anything I write here would likely be repetitive. But I was fascinated to learn about Diane Wetendorf’s Police Domestic Violence: Handbook for Victims, which finds that “women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40 percent of police officer families.” Compare that with the already troubling national average of 25 percent for American women in general. What’s more, “police families are two to four times more likely than the general population to experience domestic violence,” according to the Advocates for Human Rights. The implications of these numbers are even more disturbing when you consider that victims of domestic violence perpetrated by cops are probably less likely to report their abuse to the police and more likely to have difficulty getting proper protection when they do.
8. Clergy. The Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal has cost the church a staggering $3 billion in payouts to victims. The Church’s efforts to hide abuse, often moving sexual predators from parish to parish, is now well known, and is a stain on the church’s reputation that will likely never be erased. But psychopathy knows no denominational boundaries, and there are plenty of non-Catholic religious leaders who seem to be, at the least, narcissists, and at the worst, diabolical psychos.
Joe Navarro, formerly of the FBI, created a list for Psychology Today of the myriad reasons psychopaths might be attracted to the clergy. Religious organizations provide easy access to victims, a source for financial rewards and easy legitimacy based on having an ordained position. Also—as if the other reasons aren’t creepy enough—in the case of organizations where confessions of “wrongdoing” are required, churches provide opportunities for excellent blackmail material to use on potential victims. (Bravo, Scientology!) Among some of the most popular preachers and televangelists who have exhibited megalomaniacal/psychopathic behavior are Bill Gothard, Creflo Dollar, Geronimo Aguilar and mutiple megachurch leaders.
9. Chef. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gordon Ramsay (not exactly the picture of sanity) said, “Chefs are nutters. They’re all self-obsessed, delicate, dainty, insecure little souls and absolute psychopaths. Every last one of them.” And boy, would he ever know. I’m not sure about every attribute he lists, but I’ve met a lot of chefs in my day and like most creative people, they’ve all had inventive, innovative minds, often accompanied by drinking problems. (Just the messenger here, folks.) Plus, they work in a profession that requires them to work crazy hours, often for long stretches, in conditions that would drive most of us mad. (Have you ever seen a busy restaurant kitchen at a peak hour? Absolute madness.)
Anthony Bourdain (again, a seemingly awesome guy, but not someone I would cite as a pillar of sanity) chalked it up to a sort of dogged, single-minded drive and perfectionism, combined with having to deal with assholes. “Some chefs borrow money, they do everything they can, they kill themselves, it’s the culmination of a career working 100 hours a week or more. They finally open a place and within eight minutes of opening, some asshole has posted on Yelp, ‘Worst meal ever.’ You can understand why they go insane, and do everything they can to ameliorate that.”
10. Civil servants .It can often feel like being a sadist is a prerequisite for working at the DMV. Harold Schechter’s The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murderersnotes that “[i]t has become part of popular lore that certain kinds of government workers are particularly prone to mass murder; a perception reflected in the phrase ‘going postal.’”
There’s certainly power in certain civil service roles, which psychopaths single-mindedly crave, and the ability to make other people’s lives hell. While your garden variety civil servant likely isn’t a psychopath, as Schechter notes, several notable serial killers have worked in the area. Notorious British murderer Dennis Nilson worked as a civil servant (not to mention briefly serving as a cop for a period), and ascended the ranks to leadership in just a few years. For more than two decades, Thomas Lee Dillon was an employee of the water department in Canton, Ohio. David Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam, worked as letter sorter at the post office. And Dennis Rader, the self-dubbed BTK killer, was a census field operations supervisor in his home state of Kansas in the late 1980s. He later was hired as a dogcatcher. According to Wikipedia, “neighbors recalled him as being sometimes overzealous and extremely strict; one neighbor complained that he euthanized her dog for no reason.”
© 2015, agentleman.
Almost Every Major Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Challenging or Defeating Clinton and Republicans. Here’s Why
American politics is never static. Similar to the value system of certain presidential candidates, it’s in a never-ending state of constant evolution. For this reason, “Dewey Defeats Truman,” “We still seek no wider war,” and “They hate our freedoms” are time capsules of American history seen though the lenses of hindsight and reflection.
We now have our first African-American president in his second term, we have an embassy in Cuba, and gay marriage is a right. American politics, and the world, can change in the blink of an eye.
Ironically, there are certain liberal voters in America today more interested in sharing memes on social media (mocking their political rivals), than in actually rallying around a politician who is a genuine and authentic embodiment of their acknowledged value system. To these people, Bernie Sanders can’t possibly win, even though he championed gay rights when others needed to “evolve,” and even though he voted against Iraq, when others deemed their vote a “mistake.”
Luckily, there are a great many other voters willing to imagine a future without Wall Street greed and rampant income inequality. Fortunately, “Bernie Sanders Can Become President” has replaced “I like him but he can’t win.”
Democrats who are proud of their progressive values are filling arenas to hear Sanders speak in a direct manner (while others dodge questions) on contentious issues like Keystone XL and the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. While the FBI is currently investigating the email security of one candidate, Bernie Sanders is narrowing Clinton’s lead nationally and defeating Republicans in other polls. Like Brent Budowsky writes in The Hill:
The fact that Sanders beats Walker by six to seven points, depending on whether all voters or likely voters are counted — a near-landslide margin in a general election — makes it clear that the Sanders surge is more than a surge against Donald Trump, but move that makes him competitive with all Republican candidates.
Polls once extolling Hillary Clinton’s enormous lead over Sanders are now dwindling for the same reason Sanders beats Republicans in various other polls: Americans have had enough of dynasties, scandals, wars, and Wall Street corruption. I will be voting for Bernie Sanders because I too have had enough of endless wars, and Bernie says “I’ll be damned” if more Americans are sent back to fight in the Middle East. I’ll also be voting for Sanders because like the polls illustrating his lightning fast surge, more and more Americans have had enough with a two-party system that doesn’t give people a choice. I want my Democratic nominee to vote against counterinsurgency wars and vehemently oppose environmental disasters in the making like Keystone XL, not evolve towards the most politically expedient position available at the time.
As for data indicating Bernie Sanders can win the Democratic nomination, the Huffington Post explains how quickly he’s narrowed the lead in New Hampshire in an article titled Bernie Sanders Is Narrowing The Gap With Hillary Clinton In The Granite State:
Bernie Sanders is closing in on Hillary Clinton, according to new polling from New Hampshire.
In a WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll released Tuesday, the Vermont senator is in a statistical tie with the Democratic presidential frontrunner, trailing her by six percentage points, which is just within the poll’s margin of error…
Sanders and Clinton are virtually tied in terms of net electability, polling at 30 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
With Sanders already surging in Iowa, and now virtually tied with Clinton in New Hampshire, it’s important to remember that Vermont’s Senator is doing something most observers once thought to be an impossibility. He has a great chance of winning the first two contests on the road to the Democratic nomination, while his challenger deals with subpoenas from Congress and other scandals. Every classified email uncovered by the FBI dooms one candidate, while paving the way for Sanders.
As for how Sanders does against GOP challengers, Quinnipiac’s recent swing state poll explains that he actually performs better than Hillary Clinton in battleground states:
In several matchups in Iowa and Colorado, another Democratic contender, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker.
Clinton gets markedly negative favorability ratings in each state, 35-56 percent in Colorado, 33-56 percent in Iowa and 41-50 percent in Virginia.
“Hillary Clinton’s numbers have dropped among voters in the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. She has lost ground in the horserace and on key questions about her honesty and leadership,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Again, it’s important to note that Bernie Sanders now performs as well, or better in swing states, and this reality took place just several months after announcing his presidential run. He also beats Republicans in direct matchups and it’s still early.
We’re 459 days from Election Day.
So much for the phrase, “He can’t win.”
Also, if Quinnipiac and the University of New Hampshire weren’t enough, there’s a recent Gallup poll explaining that all Sanders needed was a little name recognition:
PRINCETON, N.J. — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ favorable rating among Americans has doubled since Gallup’s initial reading in March, rising to 24% from 12% as he has become better known. Hillary Clinton’s rating has slipped to 43% from 48% in April. At the same time, Clinton’s unfavorable rating increased to 46%, tilting her image negative and producing her worst net favorable score since December 2007.
Sanders is still an unknown to a majority of Americans, with just 44% able to rate him compared with Clinton’s 89%
Already, with only a limited amount of media coverage, Bernie Sanders has captivated the hopes of millions of Americans.
This too, will happen with African-American, Latino, and other voters the more that Sanders’s policies and value system becomes better known and more recognizable. Killer Mike has officially endorsed Bernie Sanders, and his endorsement means far more than certain polls (cited gleefully by naysayers) based primarily upon name recognition. Combine this with the fact CNN recently stated “Bernie Sanders would beat Donald Trump,” and a Sanders presidency is no longer a pipe dream; it’s a reality that could take place based on knowing more about Bernie Sanders.
Finally, perhaps the most noble and courageous act by a politician in the last 30 years was Hillary Clinton’s attempt at health care reform in the early ’90s. I have and always will admire Clinton’s work, at that time and in that moment of U.S. history, on health care and her courage in battling a ruthless Newt Gingrich and other Republicans on that issue. However, the former First Lady’s political evolution during the past couple of decades has made her a completely different politician today. While almost every Clinton supporters cites a Real Clear Politics poll indicating an enormous lead within the Democratic Party, they also ignore one glaring opinion piece located within Real Clear Politics.
In a Real Clear Politics article by Debra Saunders titled Why Voters Don’t Trust Hillary Clinton, the primary reason polls are shifting towards Bernie Sanders is addressed:
Voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia think Hillary Clinton is not honest or trustworthy…
Clinton’s conduct is catching up with her…
An inspector general has asked the Department of Justice to investigate. It seems a sampling of 40 emails Clinton sent as secretary of state found that four contained classified information that should have been labeled “secret.” The only question is: What took so long?
Therefore, within the same website cited to declare Clinton’s insurmountable lead and inevitability, there’s also a piercing article questioning Clinton’s honesty.
Honesty and a genuine value system are the primary reasons Bernie Sanders is gaining in the polls and the primary reason people of all backgrounds will choose him over Clinton or any GOP nominee in 2016. These traits are the reasons polls are ever-changing, since there’s no poll that asks, “What’s in the heart of your future president?” Since adherence to principle is a novelty in this day and age, Bernie Sanders reminds voters of an ideal. It’s this ideal that will enable Sanders to surge past Clinton and towards the Democratic nomination. It will also help him win the White House, since Bush and other Republicans must still answer tough questions about Iraq, Wall Street, and income inequality.
© 2015, agentleman.
US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 ‘collusion‘
Following repeated denials that its members were complicit in Bush administration-era torture, leading group of psychologists faces a reckoning torture human subjects
The American Psychological Association asked a former US attorney to investigate ‘collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate’ torture.
The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.
For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.
Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA’s denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.
Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.
Several officials are likely to be sacked. Already out, a past APA president confirmed to the Guardian, is Stephen Behnke, the APA’s ethics chief and a leading figure in recasting its ethics guidelines in a manner conducive to interrogations that, from the start, relied heavily on psychologists to design and implement techniques like waterboarding.
But the reckoning with psychologists’ institutional complicity in torture may not stop there.
The US paid torture doctors millions. Why is it last in the world in punishing them?
Evidence in the Hoffman report, sources believe, may merit referral to the FBI over potential criminal wrongdoing by the APA involvement in torture. The findings could reopen something human rights groups have urged for years: the potential for prosecutions of people involved in torture. The definition of “collusion” adopted by Hoffman is said to be similar to language used in the federal racketeering statute known as Rico.
If so, however, it would not be American military or intelligence interrogators themselves under investigation, nor the senior officials who devised torture policy in the Bush administration, but the psychologists who enabled them.
Additionally, sources believe there will be grounds to initiate ethics charges against responsible individuals both within the APA and in the states in which they operate, which would be the first step toward the loss of a professional license.
Sources familiar with Hoffman’s report said the APA, knowing that the findings will undermine years of its public positions, is negotiating with its dissenters and critics to deliver a public apology. Recommendations for structural reform are said to be likely ahead of the organization’s 123rd annual convention, scheduled to begin on 6 August in Toronto.
Manipulating the opposition: three doctors and torture tactics
CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation
A University of Michigan-pedigreed psychologist, Behnke has held his position within the APA since 2000, and, according to sources, used it to stifle dissent. Hoffman’s report found Behnke ghostwrote statements opposing member motions to rebuke torture; was involved in voter irregularity on motion passings; spiked ethics complaints; and took other actions to suppress complaints.
Nadine Kaslow, a former APA president, told the Guardian that Behnke’s last day at the APA was 8 July, after the APA received Hoffman’s report. She would not say if Behnke resigned or was fired. She indicated that further firings and resignations are likely in the coming weeks.
For now, the APA is grappling with a number of institutional changes to salvage its credibility.
“I am certainly apologizing on behalf of APA for what occurred – in terms of the fact that there was any collusion that occurred, and the fact that this may have paved the way for abusive interrogation,” Kaslow said on Friday.
Behnke was hardly the only psychologist involved in the establishment and application of torture.
According to two landmark Senate reports, one from the armed services committee in 2009 and the other from the intelligence committee in 2014, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were instrumental in persuading the CIA to adopt stress positions, temperature and dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding in interrogations. (Neither man is an APA member.)
Psychologists assigned to the CIA’s office of medical services assisted abusive interrogations, which the Guardian revealed in June appear to violate longstanding CIA rules against human experimentation.
Those tactics, save waterboarding, spread from the CIA to the military. Psychologists joined “behavioral science consultation teams” that advised interrogations at Guantánamo Bay.
“For the APA officials who played the lead role in these actions, their principal motive was to curry favor with the Defense Department for two main reasons: because of the very substantial benefits that DoD had conferred and continued to confer on psychology as a profession, and because APA wanted a favorable result from the critical policy DoD was in the midst of developing that would determine whether and how deeply psychologists could remain involved in intelligence activities,” Hoffman found.
Human rights-minded psychologists railed for years that the APA had created an environment that was conducive to medical professionals effectively participating in torture. Critically, in 2005, a prominent and highly controversial APA taskforce ruled that members could perform “consultative roles to interrogation- or information-gathering processes for national security-related purposes”.
Yet the organization withstood all public criticism, until New York Times reporter James Risen revealed, based in part on a hoard of emails from a deceased behavioral-science researcher named Scott Gerwehr, the behind-the-scenes ties between psychologists from the APA and their influential counterparts within the CIA and the Pentagon.
In 2002 – the critical year for the Bush administration’s embrace of torture – the APA amended its longstanding ethics rules to permit psychologists to follow a “governing legal authority” in the event of a conflict between an order and the APA ethics code.
Without the change, Risen wrote in his 2014 book Pay Any Price, it was likely that psychologists would have “taken the view that they were prevented by their own professional standards from involvement” in interrogations, making it “far more difficult for the Justice Department to craft opinions that provided the legal approvals needed for the CIA to go ahead with the interrogation tactics”.
In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to “provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor”, Risen wrote.
Ethics chief Behnke emailed: “I would like to emphasize that we will not advertise the meeting other than this letter to the individual invitees, that we will not publish or otherwise make public the names of attendees or the substance of our discussions, and that in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group.”
Risen went on to report that six of the 10 psychologists on the seminal 2005 APA taskforce “had connections with the defense or intelligence communities; one member was the chief psychologist for US Special Forces”. The subject of tremendous internal controversy, the APA ultimately rescinded the taskforce report in 2013.
Collusion to promote torture: a reckoning finally arrives
In October, the APA called Risen’s account “largely based on innuendo and one-sided reporting”. Yet the next month the association announced it had asked Hoffman to investigate potential “collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror”.
Throughout the controversy, the APA has preferred to treat criticism of its involvement in torture, either from journalists or from human rights-minded psychologists, with dismissal. Its internal investigations of the criticisms have typically ended up exonerating its members.
“A thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture,” the APA communications chief, Rhea Farberman, told the Guardian in January 2014, after the Guardian revealed that an APA inquiry declined to pursue charges against a psychologist involved in the Guantánamo Bay torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani.
The psychologist, former US army reserve major John Leso, took part in a brutal interrogation of Qahtani, the suspected intended 20th 9/11 hijacker, according to a leaked interrogation log and investigation by the Senate armed services committee.
Interrogators extensively deprived Qahtani of sleep, forced him to perform what the log called “dog tricks”, inundated him with loud music for extended periods, and forcibly hydrated him intravenously until he urinated on himself.
“The concern that APA’s decision to close the matter against Dr John Leso will set a precedent against disciplining members who participate in abusive interrogations is utterly unfounded,” the APA’s Farberman told the Guardian in January 2014.
© 2015, agentleman.
- 41Truthdiggers of the Week: Critics of the American Psychological Association Role in Torture Program By Alexander Reed Kelly Dr. Steven Reisner speaks at a 2007 rally in San Francisco to protest the participation of the American Psychological Association in military interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. Every week the Truthdig…
- 34Emails Show American Psychological Association Secretly Worked with Bush Admin to Enable Torture 'Psychologists are feeling betrayed by our association,' says a co-author of a report linking the APA to government torture. By Amy Goodman Two authors behind a report alleging that the American Psychological Association aided…