Friday, September 14, 2012

How U.S. leaders from JFK to Roosevelt and George W Bush share character traits with psychopaths

If you Google the term "subclinical psychopathy", my academic journal article on that topic -- which is also the topic below -- heads the list. So it would appear that I am in an unusually good position to comment on the research below.

And I think I should note at once a major elision in it. They in fact have no findings about psychopathy as such. They appear to have looked for a whole host of psychopathic traits in U.S. Presidents and found little that stood out. All they found was a tendency towards dominance (surely unsurprising in a President!) and an unusual degree of fearlessness.

But these are not central characteristics of psychopaths. The central attributes of psychopaths are a lack of moral anchors (Clinton?) and an untroubled ability to tell bald-faced lies (Obama?). I say more on those two characters here.

So the article below is the product of what statisticians call "data dredging". If you look at enough correlations, you are reasonably certain to find one that is significant by chance alone.

So it is not at all clear that the characteristics the researchers highlight below are at all villainous. Psychopathy is undoubtedly villainous but is fearless dominance villainous? I can't see it. It is probably a desideratum for leaders generally. So the whole story below rather falls in a heap when you look closely at it.

I cannot help being amused, however, by the inclusion of GWB, the total omission of Obama and the failure to highlight Bill Clinton. That will presumably enable Leftists to gloat that GWB was a defective while Obama and Clintion are paragons. That is what psychologists call an "artifact" -- a conclusion produced by the research method rather than something that is really in the data.

And I think I should in conclusion note that GWB was anything but a psychopath. He was a deeply sentimental man, which is just about the opposite of psychopathy. He made a point of not highlighting the sentimental side of himself during his presidency but the way he would make unpublicized visits to families of the war-dead just to sit and pray with them reveals a very emotional and sincere man indeed. He was a Christian gentleman rather than a conservative as such but he was above all a decent human being -- despite the foam-flecked "Bush=Hitler" rage from the Left -- -- JR

A character trait in psychopaths has been identified by scientists as a common thread in successful US presidents. Fearless dominance, which is linked to less social and physical apprehensiveness, boosts leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management and congressional relations, according to new research.

Theodore Roosevelt, regarded as one of the most influential US leaders even though he was in office more than a hundred years ago, ranked highest for this type of personality followed by John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Then came Rutherford Hayes, Zachary Taylor, Bill Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson and George W Bush.

Fearless and dominant people are often a paradoxical mix of charm and nastiness. Cool and calm under pressure, they not easily rattled.

They lack the same kind of anticipatory anxiety that most people have so are not put off from taking dangerous actions.

They are usually intelligent and wealthy, relishing directing other people’s activities and basking in their admiration.

Psychologist Professor Scott Lilienfeld, of Emory University, Atlanta, said: 'Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double edged sword. 'Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis.'

They are sexually adventurous and often takes risks.

It’s not that they can’t feel fear or anxiety, but it takes a much more extreme situation to elicit those emotions.

They live for the thrill, the excitement and the adrenaline rush and are attracted to jobs such as a fireman or policeman.

If you were assembling a Special Forces team, you would want to screen for people high in fearless dominance.

The analysis, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ["Fearless dominance and the U.S. presidency: Implications of psychopathic personality traits for successful and unsuccessful political leadership."], drew upon personality assessments of 42 presidents up to George W Bush and compiled by Steven Rubenzer and Thomas Faschingbauer for their book ‘Personality, Character and Leadership in the White House.’

More than a hundred experts including biographers, journalists and scholars who are established authorities on one or more US presidents evaluated their target presidents using standardised psychological measures of personality, intelligence and behaviour.

For rankings on various aspects of job performance, the analysis relied primarily on data from two large surveys of presidential historians.

The rich historical data on presidents, combined with detailed expert rankings, provided a window into an emerging theory some aspects of psychopathy may actually be positive adaptations in certain social situations.

Prof Lilienfeld said: 'The way many people think about mental illness is too cut-and-dried. 'Certainly, full-blown psychopathy is maladaptive and undesirable. 'But what makes the psychopathic personality so interesting is that it is not defined by a single trait, but a constellation of traits.'

A clinical psychopath encompasses myriad characteristics, such as fearless social dominance, self-centered impulsivity, superficial charm, guiltlessness, callousness, dishonesty and immunity to anxiety. Each of these traits lies along a continuum, and all individuals may exhibit one of more of these traits to some degree.

Prof Lilienfeld explained: 'You can think of it like height and weight. Everyone has some degree of both, and they are continuously distributed in the population.'

The results of the analysis raise the possibility that the boldness often associated with psychopathy may confer advantages over a variety of occupations involving power and prestige, from politics to business, law, athletics and the military.

The findings also add to the debate over the idea of the so-called 'successful psychopath,' an individual with psychopathic traits who rises to a position of power in the workplace.

Psychopathy is defined as a lack of empathy for others, or a conscience, and can be associated with extreme and manipulative behaviour. This is distinct from psychosis, a group of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.



Massive Government Cover-Up In Virginia?

by Lawrence A. Hunter

On September 6, 2012, Revolution PAC, which I chair, submitted Freedom-of-Information-Act (FOIA) requests to eight state and local agencies and offices of the Commonwealth of Virginia demanding release of all information and communications relating to the Brandon J. Raub case. Mr. Raub, a former, decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, was kidnapped on August 16 by a joint strike force of Virginia and Federal “law-enforcement” agents, after which they tried to “disappear” him into the Virginia psychiatric gulag without charging him with any wrongdoing.

What did Raub do to deserve this abuse and torment by the government? He posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the government, and it was a private Facebook page, to boot. It was only by the courageous efforts of his mother, a dedicated lawyer for liberty (John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute), and widespread protest about this abuse of government power by average people across the nation that Raub was saved from being stashed away and subjected to psychotropic drugs and brainwashing by government shrinks.

According to Whitehead, something is rotten in the Commonwealth of Virginia that goes way beyond just the Raub case:
“Every year in Virginia, more than 20,000 people are detained for civil commitment and whisked away just like Raub. Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans – especially military veterans – for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state.”

Is there a massive government cover-up involving the Raub case, and perhaps many others, going on in Virginia? It’s too early to tell but the early returns are not encouraging.

It took the Virginia State Police, through its Public Relations Director, exactly 36 minutes to respond to our 10-page FOIA request, which asked for much more than simply the “documents,” to which the pro forma response refers:
“The Virginia State Police has no documents responsive to your request, in accordance with Code of Virginia Section 2.2-3704. You may wish to contact the primary law enforcement agency involved in this incident: Chesterfield County Police Department. The Chesterfield County Police Department’s mailing address is P.O. Box 148, Chesterfield, VA, 23832.”

Clearly, this is not a serious, good faith response to a lengthy and detailed FOIA request that demands not only “documents” but also all electronically stored information and communications (ESI). The FOIA request reads, in part:
“Paper Preservation of ESI is Inadequate

“As hard copies do not preserve electronic searchability or metadata, they are not an adequate substitute for, or cumulative of, electronically stored versions. If information exists in both electronic and paper forms, agencies should preserve both forms.”

Unless the Virginia State Police are simply outright lying, they are playing word games designed to avoid having to come clean with what they knew, what they did and when they knew and did it. The PR Director clearly already had her orders and a prepared response in hand ready to go based on the old propaganda tactic of responding only to the questions they want to answer and ignoring the rest.

It strains credulity to accept at face value in this day and age that Virginia State Police were unaware and uninvolved in a joint Virginia-Federal strike force clearly planned and coordinated well before the fact and carried out with precision and cooperation among local police and several different federal “law-enforcement” agencies. At a minimum, one would expect the Virginia State Police to have audio records of police transmissions connected with the Raub case, which the FOIA request specifically included.

It took Governor Bob McDonnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff exactly 113 minutes to respond with this brush-off:
“Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor with your request outlined below. This Office has no records responsive to your request. To the extent you seek documents that may or may not be in the possession of other state agencies or local law enforcement, please contact those agencies directly with your request.”

Either the Governor’s Office is lying or the Governor has totally ignored the high-profile Raub incidents and has not even been briefed on the matter, accounts and records of which would fall within the purview of the FOIA request. Mendacity or dereliction, I don’t know which is worse.

What about the Attorney General’s Office? Only this, 28 hours and 58 minutes and four separate submissions later from the AG’s FOIA Administrator:
"I can confirm that your FOIA request was received and passed on to me, the FOIA Administrator, for handling. We have begun the process of determining whether or not this Office has documents responsive to your request and will provide you with a response within the statutory time frame. Thank you."

Which at least reveals that the AG is aware of the case and probably has seen the complete file on it. The question now is, will he respond in good faith and reveal the contents of this file or will he use the period “within the statutory time frame” to construct a Nixonian modified limited hang-out. Time will tell.

In the meantime, though, the most revealing of all responses thus far came from the Clerk of the Circuit Court that ended up releasing Mr. Raub on August 23:
“Pursuant to Code of Virginia Section 37.2-818 which requires the Court to keep confidential any recordings, records, reports and documents, this file was sealed by Judge W. Allan Sharrett and as such I have no authority to unseal the file.”

This section of the Virginia code ostensibly is intended to protect the privacy of people caught up in the civil-commitment web, and it provides for the person held under civil-commitment proceedings to obtain the file. Additionally, however, the statute also provides that anyone else may request access to the Court’s file, in which case the Court is required to unseal the file “if it finds that such disclosure is in the best interest of the person who is the subject of the hearing or of the public.”

Whitehead has stated publicly that Raub intends to sue the FBI, and presumably during the process of discovery, Mr. Raub will seek access to the sealed file. But, as I wrote in this space earlier, and especially in light of the apparently promiscuous use of civil commitment in Virginia, much more is at stake than simply Mr. Raub’s civil suit against the FBI, notwithstanding its extraordinary importance:
"These Orwellian actions and this criminal conspiracy between Virginia and federal officials are so outrageous and so contrary to the precepts of American and Virginian justice that the ramifications of these unlawful acts go far beyond the harm done to Mr. Raub; they undermine the constitutional foundations of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, all communications related to these incidents that occurred among Virginia agencies and personnel and with federal officials should be released to the public without delay."

Therefore, the Circuit Court’s response to Revolution PAC’s FOIA request is far from adequate. Either the Court must open the file to public scrutiny or explain why, in its opinion such disclosure is not in the best interest of the public.

So far, we have not received any response to our FOIA request from either the Chesterfield Police or the Commonwealth Attorney for Chesterfield County. Stay tuned.




Russian ships displayed at DNC tribute to vets: "On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message. But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships. While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above. These were the very Soviet-era combatants that Nathman and Cold Warriors like him had once squared off against. “The ships are definitely Russian,” said noted naval author Norman Polmar"

MA: ROTC returns to Harvard after 41-year absence: "For the first time since Richard Nixon was president, Army cadets are training at Harvard University. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, better known as the ROTC, has been absent from the venerable Boston institution since 1971, when it was banned amid protests of the Vietnam War. But this week the program returned, as 25 cadets in gray shirts and black shorts -- including 10 Harvard students -- did an hour of calisthenics at McCurdy Outdoor Track behind Harvard Stadium. The school renewed its ties with ROTC after the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' law, which effectively banned gays from the military, was repealed."

Judge tells Twitter to give up protester’s posts or face fine: "Twitter Inc. has to turn over information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts or face a fine, a judge ruled, giving the company three days to show it isn’t in contempt of court. ... Sciarrino ruled June 30 that Twitter must turn over Twitter’s posts from Sept. 15 to Dec. 30 and user information linked to the '@destructuremal' account of Harris, who was arrested on Oct. 1 with about 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, denying the company’s request to quash the subpoena."

'New York Post' Runs Boldest Anti-Obama Ad Yet: "Even casual readers of the New York Post will find it hard to miss the full-page ad immediately following the paper’s must-read gossip section, Page Six, that claims President Obama’s biological father is not Barack Hussein Obama Sr., but rather poet and labor activist Frank Marshall Davis. Or as the ad puts it, “Communist Party Propagandist Frank Marshall Davis.” The ad, headlined “Obama’s Big Lie Revealed,” is a promotion for a DVD titled Dreams from My Real Father, which is billed as “Amazon’s #1 documentary.”


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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)


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