Can A Test Really Tell Who's A Psychopath?
There's a story on NPR under the above heading. It discusses the accuracy of Hare's checklist for deciding who is a psychopath. The test is now widely used in the criminal justice system to decide who can safely be released on parole. NPR opposes that, of course.
But on what grounds? Their principal ground seems to be the case of one man: A man with a long record of violent crime who scores highly on the Hare test. Rather than seeing that long record of violent crime as excellent validation of the test (proof that the test measures what it purports to measure) they say: "Aha! But that is the man of yesteryear. After many years in prison he has now reformed."
Yet what they report of his behaviour they evaluate very naively. They report that the man realized he would have to adopt different behaviour to get out of jail and worked systematically on doing that. And he has really charmed lots of people by the new and caring man that he is.
What a laugh! That's exactly what psychopaths do. They are great actors when they need to be and charming people is their stock in trade. If the NPR writers knew anything about psychopaths, they would be embarrassed to write what they did. They have actually disproved their own case.
Lone blogger calls a bureaucracy to account
Bob McCarty is a campaigning blogger. He takes on a cause and hammers it repeatedly. And there is a lot to hammer in the good ol' goldurned US of A these days.
His latest foray is to tackle some oppression emanating from the USDA. Like all bureaucracies, its first priority is to hurt people rather than help them and their latest caper is to fine a couple $90,000 for the heinous offence of selling more than $500 worth of rabbits in one year. After a lot of effort, the USDA seem to be caving. See here.
Stop the Bad Guys?
I rarely disagree with Prof. Boudreaux but I have to say that his clever little libertarian formulation below is grossly at variance with the facts. He seems to think that conservatives heart foreign wars. He is wrong. Traditionally, American conservatives have been isolationists and that strain of thought is still well represented by Pat Buchanan and his American Conservative. And Ron Paul is, after all, a Texas Republican.
It has long been Democrat administrations that have involved America in foreign wars, from Wilson, to Roosevelt, to Truman to Kennedy. And note that America's latest war abroad -- Libya -- is also the work of a Democrat President.
Conservatives will only respond to attack, which is why Roosevelt had to provoke and facilitate the attack on Pearl Harbour. And despite many previous Muslim provocations, it was only when America was genuinely attacked on 9/11/2001 that George Bush swung into action which resulted in taking down two of the three most hostile Muslim regimes. It is only a pity that he left the Iranian madmen to continue their crazy and very dangerous course
It’s not too much of a simplification to say that modern American conservatives believe the national government to be ignorant, bumbling, and corrupt when it meddles in the U.S. economy, but sagacious, sure-footed, and righteous when it meddles in foreign-government affairs.
Nor are the boundaries of acceptable simplification breached by saying that modern American “liberals” believe the national government to be sagacious, sure-footed, and righteous when it meddles in the U.S. economy, but ignorant, bumbling, and corrupt when it meddles in foreign-government affairs.
This striking contradiction in political viewpoints has not, of course, gone unnoticed.
I was prompted to ponder this contradiction not long ago after I read an op-ed in the Washington Post by the neoconservative William Kristol calling on Uncle Sam to attempt to influence the outcomes of the recent popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. My ponderings produced a hypothesis: Modern conservatives and “liberals” are obsessively fixated on bad guys (just different ones).
For both conservatives and “liberals” the world is full of problems caused by bad actors—greedy, heartless, power-hungry autocrats who deploy illegitimately acquired power to trample the rights and livelihoods of the masses. Ordinary men and women seek liberation from these tyrants, but—being ordinary and oppressed—the typical person cannot escape the overlords’ predation without help. Their liberation requires forceful intervention by well-meaning and courageous outsiders.
For “liberals” the oppressed masses consist of workers and the poor, and the oligarchs who do the oppressing are business people and private corporations. What encourages this oppression are free markets and their accompanying doctrine of nonintervention by government into the economy.
However, contrary to the “liberals,” nonintervention rests on at least three truths: First, the complexities of modern economies are so great, and hard to discern, that it is absurdly fanciful to suppose that government officials can intervene without causing more harm than good. Even the most well-meaning government is akin to a bull in a china shop: Out of its natural element, even government’s most careful actions will be so sweeping and awkward that the net result will be unintentionally destructive.
Second, even if economic intervention begins with the best of motives, it degenerates into a process of transferring wealth from the politically powerless to the politically powerful. The interventions continue to sport noble names (such as the “Great Society programs” and the “Fair Labor Standards Act”) and to be marketed as heroic efforts to defend the weak against the strong. But these, however, are nothing more than cynical and disingenuous political marketing efforts aimed at hiding from the general public the actual, unsavory consequences of these interventions.
Third, many situations that appear to well-meaning outsiders to be so undesirable that someone simply must intervene to correct them are understood by many of the people most closely affected by these situations to be superior to likely alternatives.
“Unequal income distribution” is perhaps the foremost such situation. While most “liberals” are obsessed with the “distribution” of income and believe that people of modest means must be especially disturbed by the fact that some other people earn more than they earn, in fact the typical American of modest means is far less bothered by “unequal” income “distribution” than are members of the “liberal” academy and punditry. This latter fact only further confirms to the “liberal” mind that ordinary Americans need third-party intervention to save them from their own naiveté; ordinary Americans just don’t know what glories they are denying themselves by acquiescing in the prevailing economic power structure.
Modern “liberals” dismiss these three objections to economic intervention as being fanciful excuses used by the economically powerful—and, even worse, also by the economically naive free-market faithful—to provide (flimsy) intellectual cover for predations by capitalist bad guys. The realistic assessments by modern “liberals” indicate to them that economic intervention is necessary and righteous.
A nearly identical debate plays out on the foreign-policy front, but with the sides switched.
For modern American conservatives the oppressed masses consist of foreign peoples yearning for American-style freedom and political franchise. But these unfortunate foreigners are oppressed by oligarchs who happen to control their governments. “Liberals” (and liberals) who adhere to a doctrine of U.S. government nonintervention in foreign affairs raise the same three objections that conservatives (and liberals) raise against government intervention in the economy.
First, the complexities of foreign governments’ relationships with their citizens are so great and hard to discern that it is absurdly fanciful to suppose that Uncle Sam can intervene without causing more harm than good. Even the most well-meaning intervention is akin to a bull in a china shop: Out of its natural element, even Uncle Sam’s most careful actions will be so sweeping and awkward that the net result will be unintentionally destructive.
Second, even if foreign intervention begins with the best of motives, it degenerates into a process of transferring wealth from the politically powerless to the politically powerful. The interventions continue to enjoy noble names (such as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”) and to be marketed as heroic efforts to defend the weak against the strong. But these, however, are nothing more than cynical and disingenuous political marketing efforts aimed at hiding from the general public the actual, unsavory consequences of these interventions in which corporations such as Halliburton and Blackwater rake in huge, undeserved profits at the expense of the American taxpayer and the foreign populations ostensibly being helped.
Third, many situations that appear to well-meaning outsiders to be so undesirable that someone simply must intervene are understood by many of the people most closely affected by these situations to be superior to likely alternatives. As oppressive as Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime genuinely was, it’s not at all clear that merely disposing of this particular bad guy has liberated Iraqis from oppression. Saddam’s rule was very much a result—and certainly not the principal cause—of Iraq’s anti-liberal culture and dysfunctional social institutions, not to mention earlier U.S. intervention.
Foreign countries’ political, economic, and social institutions are too complex and too deeply rooted in unique histories to be adequately grasped by American politicians and military leaders. Therefore American intervention—which is inevitably ham-fisted—adds to this mix only confusion and turmoil.
The two kinds of intervention situations aren’t analogous in all details; differences exist. But these differences are small when compared to the similarities. “Liberals’” confidence that domestic markets can be improved by battalions of bureaucrats charged with keeping bad guys in line is surprisingly similar to conservatives’ confidence that the welfare of foreigners can be improved by battalions of U.S. military troops charged with keeping bad guys in line.
Drug war futility: "Like the war on booze of yesteryear, today’s decades long war on drugs is claiming more lives and liberty casualties than the banned substances themselves could ever accomplish unchecked. The harder authorities crack down on traffic in recreational drugs, the more demand for them is created. Banning substances merely gives rise to more of them, including new substances yet to be banned."
Egypt to reopen Gaza border crossing: "Egypt will permanently open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend, the government announced yesterday, suggesting that military leaders are being swayed by growing sentiment here in favor of distancing the country from Israel. Opening the Rafah crossing, the only official entry point outside Israel into the Palestinian territory, would ease the blockade imposed after the militant group Hamas took control of the strip in 2007."
Edwards likely to face criminal charges: "The Justice Department plans to move ahead with criminal charges against former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, contending that he misused campaign funds to cover up an affair with his mistress, a person close to Edwards said yesterday. 'DOJ has made its decision to move forward with charges,’ the person told The New York Times in an e-mail. 'This phase of the case is moving rapidly toward conclusion,’ the person added, but did not clarify whether that meant an indictment or a plea bargain."
AZ: Judge rules Loughner unfit for trial: "A federal judge ruled Jared Lee Loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that gravely wounded an Arizona congresswoman after two medical experts agreed he suffered from schizophrenia and for several years has been troubled by delusions and hallucinations. ... The ruling came after U.S. marshals removed Loughner from the courtroom Wednesday when he suddenly started screaming."
Sunstein and Obama, deregulators? "The Bush and Obama administrations have tried fiscal stimulus to speed up economic recovery. It didn’t work. The Federal Reserve tried increasing the money supply, which they called 'quantitative easing' because it sounds much more pleasant than 'printing money.' That didn’t work. Then they tried it again. That didn’t work, either. What to do? We at CEI have been pushing a deregulatory stimulus for years. Now that all other possibilities are exhausted, the administration appears to be taking small steps in that direction."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)