The One Percent that Ought to Concern Us

By: FireTag
July 7, 2012

“There is but one Lord of the Ring, and he does not share power!” — Gandalf to Saruman.

Hawkgrrrl recently summarized Jonathan Haidt’s thesis, expressed in The Righteous Mind, of how people develop pronounced liberal or conservative tendencies as a combination of both genetics and experience (see here). I also wrote about Haidt’s ideas about how liberals and conservatives define fairness differently. So, perhaps there is too much “Haidt” going around for some people’s taste, but I want to focus in this post on some ignored implications of Haidt’s findings that have been troubling me since I read Andrew’s post about “Typical Mormonism Fallacy” before Haidt started giving interviews.


Andrew noted that in the 19th Century there was still a vital debate about whether people could or could not actually form images in their minds. It turned out that there was great variability in human abilities to visually imagine things. Those people who could form such mental pictures presumed everyone else could; those who could not presumed no one else could either. So both sides found the other’s arguments unconvincing, if not self-evidently absurd, and those with intermediate abilities could see points to both sides, if not understand the intensity of the argument. So Andrew went on to postulate that part of the problem in developing an inclusive sense of Mormonism is that we all think a typical Mormon thinks like we do. When we discover that we do not think alike, the inclusiveness fractures.

Now, at first, applying this typical mind fallacy to Haidt’s work might seem to be a trivial restatement. Liberals think conservatives should morally reason like liberals; conservatives think liberals should morally reason like conservatives. Got it.

But it’s not quite that symmetric, because one of the moral foundations that is dialed up to higher volumes in the liberal mind than in the conservative mind is empathy itself — the ability to self-identify with other minds. So, where another mind is like his/hers, the liberal’s perception matches reality very well. However, if the other mind is not like his/hers, a liberal must overcome that additional empathic boost to recognize its difference, whereas a conservative starts from a defense-first, they’re-not-like-me bias.

Haidt thus concludes that liberals are less able than others to accurately predict how their political opposites think.

Haidt helped conduct research that asked respondents to fill out questionnaires about political narratives—first responding based on their own beliefs, but then responding as if trying to mimic the beliefs of their political opponents. “The results,” he writes in the May issue of Reason, “were clear and consistent.” Moderates and conservatives were the most able to think like their liberal political opponents. “Liberals,” he reports, “were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’”

Instead, Haidt suggests that the evolutionary drive to develop liberal minds and conservative minds has a lot to do with the two types being necessary to balance each other, with which I have long agreed fully. Relative inaccuracy of the liberal view of others can still be secondary to the overall evolutionary value of the liberal view’s presence. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a week ago, Haidt opined:

“We shouldn’t be here at all. When I think about life on earth, there should not be a species like us. And if there was, we should be out in the jungle killing each other in small groups. That’s what you should expect. The fact that we’re here [in politics] arguing viciously and nastily with each other, and no guns, that itself is a miracle. And I think we can make [our politics] a little better. That’s my favorite theme.”

According to Haidt — the interviewer (Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.) notes — our constellation of moral instincts arose because it helped us to cooperate. It helped us, in unprecedented speed and fashion, to dominate our planet. Yet the same moral reaction also means we exist in a state of perpetual, nasty political disagreement, talking past each other, calling each other names…That is, our moral instincts are tribal, adaptive, intuitive and shaped by evolution to strengthen “us” against “them.”

In other words, liberals protect us from too much internal competition and “friendly-fire” casualties; conservatives, with their higher sensitivity to threats and even disgust with impurity, protect us against the “other” of predators, enemies, and parasites. Like Jew and Greek, or male and female, left and right created He them.


To some extent, a genetic mechanism maintained over deep time implies that the conservative vs. liberal dichotomy ought to be common across cultures. The genetic mechanism seems to involve a relatively small number of hormones and neurotransmitters, as reported here, chief among them glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine. Nevertheless, the “experience” part of the process, as Hawkgrrrl discussed in more detail in her post I linked at the beginning of this post, definitely can result in cultural divergence as well as individual divergence. The entire mainstream American political debate occurs at points well to the “right” of even the Tories of Great Britain, for example.

In the Mediterranean, one can see the same liberal versus conservative genetic paradigm played out in the context of “civility” versus “virility”. (Keep that in mind as you watch the military situation in the region evolve over the coming weeks!)

“A severe divide in terms of political culture cuts across much of the Middle East. It may be summed up as one between civility and virility: the desire to establish a commonwealth based on law, justice, and respect against the determination to prevail over and humiliate others. The Syrian regime’s information tools are laced with the imagery of virility: even the Syrian president has referred to other regional leaders as “half-men.” This imagery is not inconsequential. An authority that displays virility is expected to commit brutal actions, and it ought to be feared and placated by its subject population. The Ba’ath regimes in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al-Assad’s Syria both sought to perfect the Stalinist model of a republic of fear by injecting it with indigenous paternalism. As disparate as the Arab Spring uprisings were, one common element was their challenge to fear-induced submission. The Syrian regime understands well that its only path to ensuring its survival is through the restoration of its rule by fear and the demonstration of its virility.

“Short of responding with an equal demonstration of kinetic force, Turkey has lost this contest in virility. The cautious, almost legalistic, language used by NATO in its response proves to the regime’s audiences its impotence. To many observers outside of Syria, this incident may be excused as marginal or spun as a part of the case against the regime. But for the Syrian population fearing the regime’s wrath, it comes as a just another reminder of its impunity.” — Hassan Mneimneh, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Indeed, it was this type of cultural divergence that Haidt credits with opening his mind to the notion that his own liberalism was missing something critical. In his WSJ interview, he spoke of finding an Indian society that was “patriarchal, sexist, and illiberal” but worked and produced “lovely people”. In Brazil he learned from street children that:

“…the most dangerous person in the world is mom’s boyfriend. When women have a succession of men coming through, their daughters will get raped,” he says. “The right is right to be sounding the alarm about the decline of marriage, and the left is wrong to say, ‘Oh, any kind of family is OK.’ It’s not OK.”

So most of us in the West are being good little tribalists, arguing in relative safety within the confines of our evolutionary roles. We are outraged with each other, of course, and the outrage is emotionally real because morality is built into and upon our emotions. But even the threat-sensitive conservatives are seldom shocked, because we think, through long practice, that we understand the boundary and rules of the arena.

But, then, as Monty Python once put it, “Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!”


If genetics and experience can cause humans to diverge away from our Western political norms into behaviors we’d not willingly accept, does the potential inaccuracy of our empathetic beliefs then become much more important to consider in evaluating what may be at large within our own society?

I got a very early look (elementary school age) at how extreme the amorality of minds might be that reside in plain sight among us. Fortunately, I did so from about the safest place possible — the back seat of a car driven by an FBI agent friend of my parents as he acted as an informal tour guide for the “mobster mansions” of Long Island on the only family vacation trip we ever took away from relatives or church camps.

I don’t remember the details of the “tour” so much as its tone. It was like being on a Hollywood bus with the guide pointing out the homes of various stars, directors, producers, and up-and-coming talents. But instead of mentioning pictures, roles, and awards, the agent was talking about missing persons, murders, and connections. (By the way, the mansions were just as large and impressive as one sees in the “Godfather” movies; I just don’t remember the trees being so large 50 years ago.)

I have no idea whether the agent was just expressing his frustration to a former co-worker (i.e., my mother) that he couldn’t do anything under the law against these threats, or whether he actually was trying to get a message across to the “next generation”: “These people exist. They are real. No matter how much they may appear to share our common moralities, they play by the rules of our civilization only when it is convenient to their purposes, and their purposes always consider us outside their tribe and family”.

Kent Kiehl, who grew up down the street from serial killer Ted Bundy, made his career the study of psychopathic personalities in order to improve their treatment. He notes that true psychopaths make up about one per cent of the American population, although they make up a much larger fraction of the prison population. He is clearly an empathetic liberal, since a conservative would not be reassured by the notion that we share the country with a mere 3.4 million psychopaths (not counting lesser, but related, forms such as narcissistic personality disorder), nor that we share a world with “virile” leaders like Assad who are perfectly within the moral understanding of their own cultures’ evolution, but psychopathic by our norms.

Demonizing a psychopath is, of course, redundant. Yet, the psychopathy is not always apparent when early recognition is most important, and doubts about integrity can be easily explained away for the incurious. Surely there must be some legitimate explanation other than conquest for Julius Caesar to lead his legion across the understood boundary of Rome! What was true couldn’t — psychologically — be accepted as true.

Even Al Capone had something of a “Robin Hood” reputation among many common people when he gained control over the Chicago mob, and politicians on his payroll were eager to provide him cover until a particularly brutal mass murder exposed him to the public for what he’d always been. Despite intense law enforcement pressure at local, state, and Federal levels, political corruption within Chicago has never been successfully eradicated.

Kiehl’s observations of psychopaths are therefore illuminating in regard to the psychopath’s ability to hide and  their profound impact when they can successfully blend in:

“Well, most psychopaths have a glibness and a superficial charm to them. It does sometimes happen that, if we don’t get a chance to read a case file before we do an interview, we might walk away thinking, “Wow, what a nice guy! I can’t believe he’s in here,” because, basically he hasn’t told you the truth about anything that has happened in his entire life.

“Then when we actually do get a chance to look at the file, it’s like you are reading about a completely different person. When you see the person again, they’ll often say: “I didn’t want to talk about the old me; I thought I’d tell you about the new me.”

In other words, to use the title of an old M. Scott Peck book, they are seemingly “People of the Lie.” They lie incessantly. They lie incoherently. When a lie is discovered, they easily slip into a lie that contradicts the lie they just told. In the extreme, they can not conceive that someone would not find it more comfortable simply to believe the lie, and when that misconception is shattered, the resort to rage can be extraordinarily disproportionate.

Kiehl further says that:

“There are probably many psychopaths out there who are not necessarily violent, but are leading very disruptive lives in the sense that they are getting involved in shady business deals, moving from job to job, or relationship to relationship, always using resources everywhere they go but never contributing. Such people inevitably leave a path of confusion, and often destruction behind them…”

“…Psychopaths normally get into so much trouble, are so impulsive and fail to consider how their behavior impacts others, that it is unlikely they would become highly successful. Nevertheless, I don’t think it is impossible for an individual with psychopathy to have a “successful” career.”

I’m not sure whether I’d agree with the last part. It seems that, whether we regard them as “successful” or not by our norms, their success is best understood in terms of their own norms. And if gathering power, living with material riches, satisfying appetites, molding history, and consuming their “prey” was their goal, at least a few of them did well enough to trigger a couple of World Wars and a number of genocides in the 20th Century. The 21st Century is still very young.

That makes it all the more important that we keep as many “degrees of separation” as possible between access to power and that one percent of people we’ve agreed to recognize are outside the safe boundaries of political debate on the American liberal-conservative evolutionary spectrum. Only Daniel gets a do-over if he steps into a lion’s den to give the lion the benefit of the doubt.

Which brings us back to Al Capone. Capone had a top subordinate, Frank Nitti, who was trusted enough by Capone to take control of the gang after Capone went to prison. Nitti, in fact, played a major role in shifting the mob’s revenue from liquor-smuggling to prostitution and then union racketeering, especially in extorting money from major Hollywood studios to avoid “labor-trouble” from unions the mob secretly controlled.

Nitti had a “mascot”, an academic who had approached Nitti in order to study gang methods of acquiring and using power “from the inside” as the subject of his PhD. That academic was Saul Alinsky, but he never bothered to complete his PhD. He instead adapted the gangs’ approach to “community organizing”, creating several of the institutions that are significant to today’s American political left, and acquiring some very powerful believers in his methods (published in the book Rules for Radicals, which he jokingly dedicated to Satan, the “first radical”, who was successful in winning his own Kingdom). However, he left little to suggest he particularly shared the moral ideals that motivate liberalism according to Haidt. In fact, the records he left about his own moral compass can quite easily be argued to accord with the amorality of his mob friends.

John Fund noted:

“Clues can be found in a Playboy magazine interview he gave in 1972, just before his death. In the closest thing to a memoir Alinsky left…Alinsky told Playboy. “Nitti took me under his wing. I called him the Professor and I became his student. Nitti’s boys took me everywhere.”

…The Playboy interviewer asked, “Didn’t you have any compunction about consorting with — if not actually assisting — murderers?” Alinsky replied: “None at all, since there was nothing I could do to stop them from murdering. . . . I was a nonparticipating observer in their professional activities, although I joined their social life of food, drink, and women. Boy, I sure participated in that side of things — it was heaven.”

Unlike the mob members he hung out with, Alinsky never coveted great wealth. “He was essentially a thrill-seeker who admitted he was easily bored and always had to stir things up,” says Lee Stranahan, who was a blogger for the Huffington Post until last year, when his research into Alinsky-inspired groups soured him on the Left. “His followers are even more ideological and relentless than he was.”

Alinsky’s tactics of intimidation are a case in point. His most oft-quoted rule is “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. . . . One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”

If we liberals and conservatives within the “evolutionary safe zone” of political debate fall into the trap of thinking that “all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other”, we will always be behind the power curve in recognizing and responding to the one per cent of the people who see morality differently than any of the rest of us. The trap will close, faster than we can imagine it happening, and the issues we debate will be overcome by events.

“Going down into captivity” doesn’t necessarily mean being conquered. It can mean having future choices increasingly constrained by past mistakes. Mormons, of all people, ought to be cognizant of the metaphor of the Gadiantons as it applies when people in a society are set against one another by a call for raw power disguised as a call for fairness, as either liberals or conservatives naturally define fairness.

Or, as a Klingon once told James T. Kirk, “Only a fool fights in a burning house.”

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62 Responses to The One Percent that Ought to Concern Us

  1. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    I loved the article! But I’m confused by your cautionary conclusion. What exactly is the threat you foresee from the 1% to the Mormon church, it’s members or the bloggernacle? Being fleeced by MLM marketing scheme or an investment scam? A psychopathic blog, Bishop, SP, 70, 12 or President of the church? What can be done to screen them out…the LDS equivalent of Homeland Security and TSA? I noticed GC has metal detectors and swivel seats in the audience for armed security and the brethren travel with body guards are we not yet paranoid enough? Shall we do pre-baptism background checks? Shall we tell the live audience to stay home and watch it on TV? Shall we do the same with our meetings?

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  2. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    GC seats 27,000 so you have around 270 in each session and one or two at each ward block!

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  3. EmberRising on July 7, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    I was reading a post on about distorted empathy that reminds me of what you said at the beginning of your post. The author writes the following:

    “When you over-empathise, you think you’re putting yourself in their shoes, but you’re actually putting yourself in your own shoes, imagining what you would do and feel in the same situation and what you imagine your intentions might be, and then you’re running with the assumption and projecting it onto them. It’s like half empathy or ‘emp’ – you forgot to include the reality of who they are.

    You, for instance, may believe that you would only be driven to crime because you were desperate and/or you were going through a terrible time, and that you’d be wanting a better opportunity to come along / to be rescued by someone who cared about you, but someone else may commit crimes for entirely different reasons and actually have no desire to stop.”

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  4. EmberRising on July 7, 2012 at 6:34 AM


    I am sure FireTag will comment on this more, but the way I am reading this isn’t about protecting the Mormon church from this so much as it is a call to Mormons to see what is really happening in our political system and act in ways that uphold the structural integrity, checks and balances, that were designed to keep the 1% from gaining power and creating havoc that may be nearly impossible to remedy. That’s certainly happening in America and I would argue that in other places in the world, it has happened or is trying to happen.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 7, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    I am not sure what conclusion he is trying to draw, but I found this very interesting. Thank you.

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  6. An Imperfect Saint on July 7, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    This is an interesting post, and I am particularly interested in the assertion that psychopaths create their own definition of success, and work towards that, whether it is a definition that society as a whole would accept.

    My father was never formally diagnosed as a psychopath because he stopped seeing counselors or psychiatrist when they asked him to undergo a variety of test so that they could best figure out a diagnosis and treatment plan. Several counselors who had been part of family or couples counseling said that they thought that he was a psychopath, but that unless a court ordered the testing, there wasn’t really anything that they could do if he wasn’t willing to voluntarily be tested.

    I do think that most psychopaths eventually are the cause of their own demise. Many of them end up in prison, often they end up doing well in jobs that don’t require them to answer to direct supervisors, so I think a lot of the “successful” psychopaths are small business owners, and who are likely to build their companies, even if they become very large, around a culture that over-emphasizes that person as sole reason forthe success of the company. If they are able to find socially acceptable ways to meet their need for absolute control and adulation.

    When you say, “No matter how much they may appear to share our common moralities, they play by the rules of our civilization only when it is convenient to their purposes,” I think you hit the nail on the head. When society’s rules and laws are something my father thinks he can control, then he is more than willing to push as hard as possible for those rules and laws to be enforced. At least in my experience, they do NOT push for those laws or rules to apply to themselves, only to those they are attempting to control or lash out at. Just like a gun or physical beating that might be used by a mobster, sociopaths use a large variety of “weapons.” They may use gossip, agressive legal action, emotional, mental or physcial abuse, and they feel no remorse for the actions or their consequences for other people.

    I often think that one of the biggest weaknesses and strengths of the church is the basic assumption that, people who join the church, and outwardly seem to be living the gospel, must be good people. I do think it is a challenge to seperate out sociopaths from the rest of the population of the church, especially because we want to believe that people are good, and give them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think that we have to become suspicious of everyone, but it is important to know that there are psychopaths, that members of the church can be psychopaths, and that we do need to be cautious when someone’s behavior seems to be ruthless or uncaring of the impact tht they have on other people.

    I remember when my parents divorced, that large numbers of people told my mother, and sometimes me and my siblings as we became adults, that they always knew something was wrong with my father. One time I had a conversation with a bishop who had shared that general opinion of my father. I asked him why he didn’t do something if he knew that something was wrong, even if he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was that is wrong. He didn’t make excuses, but he did say that it was very hard to do something when there wasn’t an actual diagnosis that would have given him some direction about what the problem was, or what to do about it.

    I think some of this comes down to the problem with having a lay ministry which does not get any significant amount of psychological training. I don’t think doing away with lay clergy is the answer, but I do think that more training, classes and support from qualified psychologists and psychiatrist who can help the lay clergy to know what to do when there are specific problems that they don’t understand, or have no experience with. I certainly have a number of instances where I truly wish that my bishop or stake president had known more about the psychological issues I struggled with. Their inexperience or lack of knowledge made difficult situations even worse, because those leaders misunderstood the long-term impact of abuse, and how childhood abuse impacts adults and their behavior.

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  7. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    A fascinating series on psychology is the Bomb in the Brain Series by Stefan Melyneux. He also did one on psychopaths that showed how abuse when they were children played a large role in their psychopathic behaviors. I don’t know much about psychology but I agree with the thoughts that environment is more important and puts the importance on the individual parents to do a good job parenting with no yelling and spanking, etc.

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  8. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    When society’s rules and laws are something my father thinks he can control, then he is more than willing to push as hard as possible for those rules and laws to be enforced. At least in my experience, they do NOT push for those laws or rules to apply to themselves, only to those they are attempting to control or lash out at.

    Didn’t this happen with Obamacare? Yes. Doesn’t this happen with police officers? Yes. It is seen with many things that deals with the state it seems.

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  9. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Well psychopaths and sociopaths are the extremes of Antisocial Personality Disorder that includes such symptoms as chronic antisocial behavior and impulsiveness. I doubt true psychopaths could make it through the campaign vetting required to be elected President of the US.

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  10. An Imperfect Saint on July 7, 2012 at 9:20 AM


    I wasn’t talking about politics at all, and I think that both parties have a lot of policies that the other side attacks because they don’t like them. It could be argued that Republican legislatures and governors who sued the federal government were overreacting, just as easily as it could be said that the Democrats pushed health care reform before the mid-term elections for purely political reasons. None of those political processes, which have the checks and balances to allow both sides of an argument to have a recourse if they feel a law or policy is incorrect, are weapons pointed at an individual, meant to destroy that individual.

    I don’t think that a political party can be sociopathic. I N my previous comment, I was referring to one tool that sociopaths, who are relatively integrated socially, bringing aggressive legal actions against *individuals* that they want to control or attack. They don’t sue someone because they really believe they are going to get a legal remedy to an injustice, they sue someone to try to bankrupt or humiliate the person they are going after. I can’t think of any supreme court battles, or laws passed, that has the psychopathic intent behind it.

    I think part of what is wrong with our political process is that both sides like using explosive language to describe legislative actions, when the words they use have nothing to do with the specific definitions of those words within the specialties where they have diagnostic value.

    I wince everytime someone says that a political policy is cancerous. Really? Cancer? The most ridiculous example lately was a high school debate between three candidates for class president in which one of the candidates accused another candidate of being a cancer, that if allowed to be class president would spread through out the entire country until communism was going to take over. What was this terrible policy that was going to ruin the country? A non-binding suggestion from the student council that each senior should find an organization that they believe in, and volunteer 20-40 hours during their senior year. Apparently high schoolers volunteering will steal the jobs away from people who really need the jobs, and the volunteering cancer will destroy the US economy. *chuckle

    Okay, done with rant about politics using scary words instead of really explaining the intricacies of policies.

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  11. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 11:04 AM


    Thanks all of you. I’m the one behind the power curve this morning in trying to catch up with your discussion.

    The existence of an evolutionary mechanism that involves neurotransmitters and hormones in INDIVIDUAL brains maximizing the survival potential of the larger cultural unit is Haidt’s whole point. What I’m exploring here is the implications of the undeniable fact that genetics and experience do take some people beyond the safe zone of behavior — including POLITICAL behavior. And it is the guard-dog conservatives, not the empathic liberals, who will detect those people first. (Granted: the guard dogs themselves will be better at seeing threats from the left than the right, but they will still be relatively better at seeing either threat than empaths will be at seeing genuine threats disguising themselves as empathetic and compassionate.) So, I am definitely suggesting the threat of the 1% extends to national and global political arenas; evolutionary mechanisms don’t change as fast as people can go from the technology of swords to the technology of nuclear mechanisms. There’s no obvious limiting principle between the scale of a local gang and the conquest of an empire.

    An Imperfect Saint:

    Although this post is mostly about the larger political scale, I am of course sensitive to the fact that “people of the lie” impact most intensely those closest to them and most subject to their manipulation and wrath. I’ve been the target of someone like that to the point of requiring legal protection, and still only got relief when the sociopath lost interest in me because he’d found juicier prey to torment. People often do not believe in the fire until they have been burned, especially “good” people.


    You are a good person. :D

    You have probably heard of Saul Alinsky. You may have heard of “Rules for Radicals”. Of course, most Mormons wouldn’t have read a Playboy interview, it being a pre-internet publication and all. :D However, for some unknown reason, this is a pre-internet publication of which a lot of copies still exist in, umm, pristine condition. Despite this, did any of the supposedly vigilant national press really want to vet the connections between the mob, radicalism, academia, business, and politics as it has existed in Chicago and Springfield since the Capone days? Do you recall any reports about Saulinsky or “Rules for Radicals” that were NOT proceeded by “crazy conservatives say”? If you don’t, do you have reason for confidence in the thoroughness of the vetting about any national leader? People not playing by our rules will have every motivation to keep us from looking at each other’s evidence so we fight each other rather than detecting their presence.

    Every politically successful psychopath seems to make good use of his nation’s inability to realize what is happening. How recently were we saying that Assad would be a true reformer rather than a butcher like his father? Or that the last TWO Korean dictators would be unlike their predecessors? Or that Chavez would be a man of the people? I can remember when people were saying that about Castro in Cuba, or that the Khmer Rouge were agrarian reformers whose benevolence would shine forth once the US left Asia. And, of course, the German people were too civilized to see Hitler coming.

    Evolution provides imperfect solutions. It invents a mechanism that keeps a person like me from being miscarried in the womb, which I think is a very good thing, obviously. But 15 years later, a common virus comes along, and I’m stuck with a life-time of dealing with juvenile diabetes. The liberal-conservative divide provides safety in normal settings, but it can be a vulnerability that abnormal, amoral personalities can exploit.

    And yes, that can occur in wards, priesthood quorums, and neighborhoods as well.

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  12. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Ember Rising:

    #3 is an excellent summary of why good people have such difficulty in identifying what is being done to them on either personal or political levels by people masking abnormal amoral behavior (let alone active hostility) as compassion.

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  13. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    …it is the guard-dog conservatives, not the empathic liberals, who will detect those people first. Not without a lot of false positives. Sure statistically there is a threat but when do false positives become paranoia or McCarthyism?

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  14. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM


    When they do.

    There will be false positives from the right, and false negatives from the left. Which is why Haidt-like studies of relative accuracy of liberals and conservatives in predicting the other’s beliefs is so important; it lets us estimate the likelihood of false positives and negatives on both sides of the spectrum.

    You are aware that despite the “false positives” of the McCarthy era that dragged innocent people in, post-cold-war opening of the Soviet and East German intelligence files did, in fact, reveal extensive penetration of their agents into the American government for intelligence purposes. So the concern was not without foundation, even if that concern was itself hijacked for the gain of personal power by someone on the right. (Extremists exist both on our right and left.)

    The danger of a false positive or negative, and thus the importance of accuracy, AND OF GETTING MORE DATA TO IMPROVE ACCURACY, increases with political scale. The neighbor-from-hell will largely be my burden to bear, as will be any paranoia on my part. The dictator-from-hell whom you do not detect in advance will be everyone’s problem. Ask the Syrians and the Turks.

    I’m sure there’s a Book of Mormon scripture about how hard it is to escape a bad king once he gains power, even if we aren’t yet in D&C 1 territory.

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  15. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    …do you have reason for confidence in the thoroughness of the vetting about any national leader? The vetting for POTUS candidates is naturally adversarial which means your guard-dog conservatives will be opposing liberal candidates by turning over every stone they can to paint them in a bad light. So there is probably a greater risk of electing a conservative psychopath than a liberal one.

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  16. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    @An Imperfect Saint,

    My comment still holds. It is typical for government agents to hold themselves above the law why pressuring others to hold to the law. Watch Penn Jillette talking about Obama’s elitism and drugs. Regardless of which side, both sides have this elitism, call it what you will, elitism or psychopathy, the result seems to be the same to me. =Awful people as my masters.

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  17. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 1:13 PM


    I see little difference between the left and the right with the presidents. Obama isn’t much different than what Bush II was. Romney doesn’t seem much different either. In fact, it seems that a republican might be better in office because then, at least, some people, besides the libertarians, will be calling the government out on how we shouldn’t be at war with the whole world (or even a part of it for that matter).

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  18. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 2:32 PM


    Huh? Yeah, the guard dogs will bark, but will good liberals listen when they do? The guard dogs barked in regard to a great many people we now all agree are sociopaths, but you can go back over and over the list of examples I gave in number 11 and find examples of major media outlets like the NYT saying, in effect, “Pay no attention; it’s just the dogs barking.”

    Be very wary when people start telling you “nothing to see here”. Truth-tellers say they’re not liars, but then, so do liars.

    Just like historical issues about the church, sometimes you’ve got to check out the data for yourself, either to reaffirm your faith or correct it. (But we’ve discussed that principle on a lot of OTHER threads.)


    Evaluate people, not parties. There are honorable people, hopefully a majority of them, on both sides of the political divide. But there is a big difference between what a Gadianton can do in damage compared to even a Pahoran. (I don’t think Captain Moroni is near-by at present, although I’m beginning to suspect Glenn Beck might be a Samuel the Lamanite. :D )

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  19. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Okay FireTag you’ve laid out some interesting conservative liberal dynamics and made the case for a threat by the 1%, but what is your proposal for a balanced solution because McCarthyism II is also a threat?

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  20. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Yes, I evaluate the people and I don’t see much of a difference. The Obama administration even left many of the same bureaucrats in office during his presidency. Like I said, I see very little difference in policies and rhetoric.

    My number one criteria in evaluating presidential candidates is if they are willing to go to war on foreign soil. If they are then I won’t vote for them. No such candidate exists. They are all Gadiantons now.

    We saw one true Jeffersonian in this last primary cycle and he was derided for his views on having a Christlike attitude with foreign policy. No, this whole nation has lost its way, it is only a matter of time before we are overrun.

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  21. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Correction to my last comment. We are already overrun. It is now up to us to figure out how to gain our country back. I believe it will take a few generations educating our children outside of government schools bringing back a knowledge of our fathers about natural law. Raising our children in peaceful and loving homes. This is the only way to gain it back. You can say bringing back a Christlike attitude among the people.

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  22. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Howard and Jon:

    In comments 19-21, you are both thinking in terms of long term solutions, when we are talking now openly of momentous events of global strategic impact that can be happening on the scale of weeks, months, or at most several years. Think of the tumult in America between 1859 and 1865, or the tumult in Europe between 1939 and 1945, and then compare the forecasts experts of both left and right were making in 2007 and how the world may actually look, according to the SAME experts, in 2013. (Go back in the archives of this blog, for that matter, and review what we were thinking about life less than two years ago.)

    We have important decisions to make personally and nationally in the next few months. We will not have time to reform the system for the long run until we have steered successfully through the short run, and we have already lost the ability to be the sole deciders of what happens.

    Prayer and insight are always in order, but long meditation sessions may not be. We’re into a come-as-you-are period of history in the West, I think. In that sense, we are rediscovering the loss of control over life as it has been lived by most people in most places in most times, even today. So our acuity regarding those decisions we CAN make now is critical, because people we can not control are making decisions of global consequence for us.

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  23. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    This is starting to sound like a palm reading. Every Presidential election is important. If you are implying that either 2012 Presidential candidate is a psychopath, I think you’ve lost it. If not, please plainly and clearly state what you point is without the homework assignments.

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  24. Jon on July 7, 2012 at 7:06 PM


    I think that is my point. Are grandparents and parents already lost this battle. Now we have to regroup and come back stronger. There is nothing I can do short term besides teach my kids the true meaning of liberty and freedom and those around me (including myself). I can opt out of things, maybe even do a little civil disobedience. But politics are pretty much lost. I choose opting out as much as possible. If I need to leave I will do it. But where? It’s not that bad yet, I don’t think. I hope.

    I follow Ferfal’s blog on Argentina. Now that is one messed up place. We mirror many of the things that they are doing/have done. Just not to the same degree. People think that if a collapse happened here (something that we’re in right now) then people would wake up. I don’t think so. We see from Argentina the opposite happened, the smart ones have left already. So that is one of the reasons I opine that it is better to learn the principles of freedom and liberty and spread them. That is the most important thing that we can do right now.

    You tell people that we live in a police state, people don’t believe you. If with the local police becoming more and more controlled by the federal government and starting to wear clothes that look militaristic with military gear and vehicles and drones, etc.

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  25. Howard on July 7, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    A similar drive for accuracy referred to in #14 is going on in law enforcement and it is moving us in the direction of a police state. This has been and will be misused by both parties. Unless you see Romney as some kind of political Prophet capable of taking the US to a theocracy, the short term Presidential candidate choice will do little to stop this momentum.

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  26. An Imperfect Saint on July 7, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I typed a long post about the methodology of the study and articles used in the OP and some of the later comments. It got eaten, and that is probably just as well. My thoughts on the conclusions of a study I find to be flawed, and the even more flawed conclusions by writers or academics who have shown a bias towards one party or the other, probably would only be annoying and start a partisan “link off.”

    I will just say that I think it is best to let each individual make their own choices. Each of us needs to think beyond the simple “solutions” that come in covenient sound bites or partisan “articles.”

    Neither people with conservative or liberal leanings are immune from psychopathic tendencies, and blindness to psychopaths and their danger. Since I am not a member of any political party, and never have been, I don’t see anything in the research or links that address MY ability to see psychopaths, or make good decisions or having insidght into who might be a psychopath. With a larger and larger group of individuals, at least in my state, choosing to identify with neither party, I was interested to see that none of the links referenced people who have opted out of the mainstream political identities.

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  27. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    An Imperfect Saint:

    I agree with your observation that each person must make their own choices. Political science (and related psychological) studies tend to go along the liberal-conservative axis of what is a multi-dimensional political universe because we have trouble gathering and interpreting enough data to see more than a single dimension. Political realignments that replace a party in a two-party system in our country are rare enough that the Whigs were the last “lost party”. I certainly know of governors, representatives, and senators who have been elected as independents or third party candidates, but on the national level such candidates have to caucus with one party or the other to exert power.

    Independents in polling are now as numerous as Dems or Repubs, but even the Tea Party has chosen to infiltrate one party in the primary process rather than attempt to compete separately against both at once. That may change in the future, but it won’t be the immediate future. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be elected president for 2013-2016. The only way supporters of third party candidates will influence that is by throwing away their vote as a symbolic gesture.

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  28. Bob on July 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    #27: FireTag,
    “….. by throwing away their vote as a symbolic gesture”.
    Aha_ but what a gesture!!

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  29. FireTag on July 7, 2012 at 10:27 PM


    Because I do believe what I just said to A.I.S. about every person needing to make their own choices, I have tried to stop short of drawing conclusions for what other people should do while trying to signal the urgency that they SHOULD decide. (Isn’t there some sort of Mormon folk tale about us all getting here to mortality by trying to avoid deciding in the War in Heaven? :D

    Nevertheless, because you have insisted that I state clearly (at least for a physicist) my own personal conclusions, I will try to do so now.

    I know that several million abnormal, amoral people exist among us, even when we don’t count people who are such under our cultural norms though quite normal under their own cultural norms.

    I know they become most dangerous when they gather together for mutual gain in gangs, cartels, and ultimately political movements. Such movements can seize power over whole nations, as they do regularly in our world today and have for centuries past. They can certainly force, deceive, or seduce many “normal” people to support them.

    I know such movements and their leaders can “uncorrupt” over time, but that time can be over generations, and when it happens on the time scale of an individual leader, there is ALWAYS a story that can be told of how “it came to pass”. Otherwise, his/her partners will depose that leader and continue the movement, usually until it collapses or is destroyed from without. (As I have said before, you don’t accept that the Apostle Paul is a Christian instead of a Christian-hunting Saul of Tarsus without that story about the Road to Damascus and the scales on the eyes.)

    I have seen enough of Barak Obama to form a personal conclusion about HOW he behaves, if not WHY he behaves that way. That conclusion is reinforced in my mind by his having just too many long personal connections to persons and organizations — too few degrees of separation — with histories of political intimidation, corruption, violence, and even murder. That he now stands with more political power than any of those associates alarms me rather than reassures me.

    So, I believe Obama is a man of extraordinary personal ambition and unknown personal demons who acts rigidly according to the following priorities:

    1)Expand the personal power of Barak Obama;

    2)Expand the domestic power of and control of the Federal government as the primary means of achieving priority 1 — that’s how he was raised to believe by every significant mentor and role model he names;

    3)Divide the spoils of that expanded power among the cronies of the Chicago political machine that was his route to power (and which he is now nationalizing) in order to maintain their loyalty in priorities 1 & 2;

    4)”Kick the can down the road” beyond the next election on any problem that might interfere with priorities 1, 2 ,or 3;

    5)Whimsically use his power for whatever strikes his fancy as good, whether it is ending the nuclear arms race, having us eat more vegetables, or sticking it to the Brits for long-gone colonial control of Africa.

    Indeed, long term economic policy decisions seem largely captive to priority 2 and 3 concerns since he passed the initial stimulus package and presumed it would automatically work.

    Foreign policy of ANY kind rarely got above a priority 4 issue unless Jewish doners or peace activists or R2P proponents threatened to bolt his coalition. As a result, he’s always been far behind the power curve as the world economy and then the Arab spring began a vicious circle of spiraling out of control. I’m afraid, now that things may threaten his priorities 1 & 2, he’s going to catch up with all the ruthless vengence of the winner in the infighting of a political machine once led by Al Capone. The leaks coming FROM the administration of a man personally sitting in the Oval Office deciding what people get targeted by a drone strike in Africa or Asia sound a lot more like Capone than like an idealist.

    I find that a low bar for Romney to beat, and can’t figure how he’d be worse. Indeed, I have hope that maybe times like this are why God put this crazy Restoration of ours back on the planet when He did.

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  30. An Imperfect Saint on July 7, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    As someone without a political dog in the fight, I honestly don’t see any difference in your points #1-5, when comparing Obama or Bush Junior. I can see it looking back at all of the presidents during my lifetime.

    I do not see an emergency that will destroy the world, just political partisanship using scare tactics. I see it from both campaigns: the desire for people to act from a place of fear, instead of a place of thoughtful consideration.

    I think fear and panic are a terrible thing to use as a campaign tactic. Fear and panic are what psychopaths feed on, it is what keeps them going, it gives them a sense of power and control. If you look at that trait, not only are the campaigns guilty of psychopathic behavior, but a few commenters here might want to look at themselves.

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  31. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    An Imperfect Saint:

    Psychopaths DO feed on fear and panic because it places them in control. They also feed on confusing their victims, with alternating affection and denial of affection, alternating threats and pleas to be reasonable, because that ALSO gives them control. They threaten terrible consequences if they are removed from their positions of power, and promise great achievements if placed in positions of power. They separate victims from alternative sources of information — again the commonality being control. I’m sure you’ve seen all of these things from the personal experiences you’ve described. You are quite capable of judging such things for yourself in the political arena, even if your life is right now engaged in more personal healing.

    Worlds are hard to end. A nation’s prosperity, peace, and freedom, however, are not, and they can be the work of a generation or more to recover once lost.

    And Bush Jr. is not running, nor will he ever run again. That particular bogeyman can never be a realistic source of fear again, can it?

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  32. Bob on July 8, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Sorry FireTag, I must go against you on this (#29).
    Obama is not Rosemary’s Baby, nor Frank Lucas, (Denzel Washington in American Gangster). He’s just another guy. Look to the oil guys or the money guys for your bogeymen, not the Chicago political machine.

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  33. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    by throwing away their vote as a symbolic gesture.

    That’s why I’m voting for Obama this next go around. I think we shouldn’t vote for the loser, then we would be throwing our vote away, only vote for the winner we think is going to win! ;) Awesome.

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  34. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 1:41 AM


    One other psychological point we need to look at is the studies where they show any Joe blow can obtain a position of power and start using it in quite vicious and violent ways, like the one where they put some people in the role of the jailers and others as prisoners. The jailers started treating the prisoners quite awful and they had to stop the experiment. (I read that in “Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression”).

    It really doesn’t matter who get the ring of power, it will be abused (sounds like D&C, right?) and most of the problems that we have are because of the system rather than the individuals. The system causes the individuals to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. Ironically, the solution is the individual swearing off the use of violence in their lives, or coming to Christ if you will.

    The incentive of the bureaucrat is to follow orders and the rules, not to think and act differently. Not to treat humanely. Have you been to an airport lately?

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  35. Howard on July 8, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    My neighbor’s guard dog barks almost every night! How do we pick the positive out of the many false positives? too few degrees of separation — with histories of political intimidation, corruption, violence, and even murder. Are you new to politics? This is nothing new, it was said about Johnson, Nixon, HWB, Clinton and GWB that I know of and probably about a lot of other Presidents and candidates as well!

    As to your 1-5 points AIS said it very well. There is little difference here between Obama and GWB, Obama just continued what GWB was doing.

    I’m a republican and of those mentioned in this comment I would pick GWB as worst of the bunch and Nixon in second place. You can wine about Omamacare but it was upheld by a conservative Supreme Court!

    I agree with AIS I do not see an emergency that will destroy the world, just political partisanship using scare tactics. I will add both sides do it!

    Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!

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  36. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM


    Bankers are very much a part of the political machine, and are playing a huge role in the policies guiding who gets bailed out from the financial collapse. The illusion is that regulators and the regulated are actually in opposition to each other. High finance is a necessary part of large institutional government; trillions of dollars flow around the planet on weekly bases.

    Your response, interestingly, doesn’t reject the notion of REALLY BAD GUYS being present in the system; it simply accepts the notion that the angels are on one side (big government) and the devils on the other side (d**m Capitalists!). Read the Alinsky quote in the OP again. Consider the notion that “green energy capitalists” and “fossil energy capitalists” are both capitalists fighting over political benefits to make their particular capitalism less risky. The fossil energy guys can actually deliver a lot more jobs and energy over the coming generation than the green guys can, and I say that as one who spent much of my professional life TRYING to help government advanced energy and environmental programs succeed.

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  37. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM


    Glad you’re not looking for Ether’s cave just yet. :D I presume, therefore, that you’ll watch ALL the polls carefully and remain open to see who’ll actually be ahead come the last days of the campaign.

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  38. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Jon #34

    I actually had a whole section organized for the OP on how power destroys empathy in leaders large and small, but had to cut it for length. I’m thinking I’ll put it up as a separate post in a couple of weeks.

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  39. Bob on July 8, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    #36: FiireTag,
    I believe in “REALLY BAD GUYS”. I just don’t see Obama as one of them.

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  40. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 11:10 AM


    I’m quite old enough to have been aware of Kennedy’s campaign. I’d rate Nixon as much worse than Bush, but then, I was a Democrat at the time and proud when the people of the US told Tricky Dick where he could stick his presidency. I was even a local campaign volunteer for Hubert Humphrey and a member of the Young Democrats on campus.

    By contrast, we did elect Bush twice, with a larger margin the second time than the first. People tend to forget that there was a Bush presidency BEFORE the financial collapse, and it was, until then, a foreign policy election in which McCain was LEADING Obama in the polls.

    I find the Bush-did-it-too argument curious (as if I should be less alarmed by the thought that BOTH parties are equally corrupt; it rationally should tempt me instead to try to beat Jon in finding Ether’s cave. :D ) Magnitude and duration matter as well as direction.

    Job creation? Obama likes to quote how many jobs have been created in the last 28 months (last month it was “27 months” and next month it will be “29 months”. Watch and see. The reason for this odd talking point formulation is that 28 MONTHS AGO WAS THE HIGH WATER MARK for job creation under Obama. Even counting it, jobs are only being created at a rate comparable to population growth, so more and more people are being shoved to the sidelines, unable to fulfill their personal potential. Youth unemployment, for example, is 24%; African American unemployment is, if my memory about last week’s report is correct, 14.4%.

    Debt is increasing more rapidly than we can comprehend. The relevant budget documents submitted by the Administration show that the Administration NEVER intends to get the debt problem under control; we’ve been reduced to arguing over when economic collapse comes if we continue on the present course: during the 2020′s or the 2030′s.

    War and peace? We are still watching things blow up in Iraq and Afghanistan, are militarily engaged by air in the Horn of Africa, cleaning up an additional war in Libya that has spread to Mali, trying to support weapons upgrades for a rebellion in Syria without leaving our own fingerprints on it, and are now overtly engaged in a “covert” economic and cyber war against Iran and reinforcing our military units in the Gulf lest that covert war fail and explode into a general hot one. (Even the dems are discussing the likelihood that negotiations fail and war comes AFTER the elections.)

    What I certainly know is that, however we wish to apportion blame among Bush and Obama, ROMNEY WASN’T RESPONSIBLE because Romney wasn’t in Washington at the time of the “crime.”

    The frequency of your neighbor’s dog barking may tell you more about the safety of your neighborhood than you’d like to admit. Annoying and fatiguing as it might be, it really is better to be roused enough to hear the glass breaking in the kitchen door window.

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  41. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 11:20 AM


    So what, then, is your boundary for deciding between the “really bad guys” and the “NOT really bad guys”?

    I hope it’s not all Party X good and all Party Y bad.

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  42. Howard on July 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I offer no defense for Obama I’m simply pointing out that you have not made your case for Obama being one of the 1%!

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  43. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    You can wine about Omamacare but it was upheld by a conservative Supreme Court!

    This just shows the lack of the rule of law in this country. The vote was a slim 5-4 vote. The justice that “switched” sides had to make up an argument that was nonsensical to many annalists. We live in a country of chaos but call it law. There is no law if they can even try Mother Theresa (federal prosecutors would play a game figuring out how many charges they could charge her with).

    It seems many people reject the idea of natural law, a foundational principle of true law that the country was original founded out (read the declaration of independence), without natural law we would not have had a “right” to secede from Britain.

    I agree with Stefan’s sentiments when it comes to that ruling of the supreme court. Or the puppet court, whatever you want to call it.

    Fact 1: There Is No Law in the US Anymore
    Fact 2: Obamacare Is an Admission That All Previous Government Healthcare Programs Have Failed
    Fact 3: Cost of Already Doubled from Initial Estimates
    Fact 4: 70%+ of Healthcare Issues Results from Individual Choice
    Fact 5: The Inability to Discriminate on Pre-Existing Conditions is an Essential Driver of Healthcare Costs
    Fact 6: The Fines for Noncompliance Are Destined to Rise Enormously

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  44. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM


    Have you ever read “Tragedy and Hope?” The ultimate conspiracy book. I haven’t, don’t know if I ever will. But I question how much control we actually have in electing our leaders.

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  45. Howard on July 8, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    This thread is pretty extreme. There Is No Law in the US Anymore I hope this is offered as hyperbole.

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  46. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM


    I said:

    “I have seen enough of Barak Obama to form a personal conclusion about HOW he behaves, if not WHY he behaves that way.”

    In order to make a case for being one of the 1%, I would have to have reached a conclusion about WHY.

    I also said:

    “Such movements … can certainly force, deceive, or seduce many “normal” people to support them.”

    Thus, my “case” has never been framed by a dependency on knowing in which of those two categories Barak Obama lies. I can, like a good physicist, bound the issue. It is sufficiently alarming for him to have depended on so many people for his rise to power that we have commonly agreed — both left and right — lie beyond acceptable political boundaries.

    Acceptable standards for being given control of economies and armies HAVE to be a good deal higher than the standards for staying out of jail or a psych ward.

    Political officials from Chicago and Springfield HAVE been going to jail for corruption-related charges at the rate of one roughly EVERY 45 DAYS FOR THE LAST 42 YEARS. That factoid starts a full generation AFTER Capone, and so probably understates the degree to which the rot has been institutionalized.

    How does any politician rise to the top of that environment without complicity with/from the amoral 1% that see the rest of us as prey?

    Do we really think that an “out-of-touch” Romney — if that is even an accurate portrayal — is likely to see the rest of us as prey? Or is he more likely someone who can imagine himself answering before God if he betrays the covenant he would swear before the American people?

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  47. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM


    My reading list is pretty full, and Howard and Bob are probably pretty certain by now my paranoia tanked are sufficiently filled anyway.

    Oh, for the days when I could actually afford the time to read all the neat physics articles!

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  48. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    @Howard, #45,

    It is a reflection, in context, that natural is not adhered to. Without natural law there is no law, there is only chaos. That is what I was trying to portray.

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  49. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM


    Or is he more likely someone who can imagine himself answering before God if he betrays the covenant he would swear before the American people?

    From his actions and words he has shown a general disinterest in the constitution and any adherence to it. Look at what he said about going to war without congressional approval and his feelings on the unconstitutional federal reserve. Look at what he said about the bailouts to the banks. Look at what he said about the unconstitutional war on drugs. The list goes on. He doesn’t appear to have any desire to follow an oath to the constitution. He seems to desire power.

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  50. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 2:41 PM


    And yet, both Ron and Rand Paul will be working to elect Romney, if only to buy time for the country to move in the direction you believe it should go. If Ron Paul isn’t sufficient for you on purity of adherence to constitutional principles as you see them, given the specific policy areas you just cited, I don’t know how you can sufficiently isolate yourself from society to survive or protect and teach your family as you wish.

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  51. Howard on July 8, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    How does any politician rise to the top of that environment without complicity with/from the amoral 1% that see the rest of us as prey? Hardly psychopathic FireTag! Psychopathic is much more than amorality or association with amoral people. Association is not complicity, can you demonstrate complicity? Banks see us as prey charging fees for automated services they once provided without charge by hand. Your concept associations here are very loose and conflated! You seem to be selling guilt by association and by creating doubt.

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  52. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Well, Howard, how much association does one have to have to be guilty? This is back to the original point of the liberal-conservative divide. Conservatives see threats that liberals can not see.

    Can you provide a narrative by which Barak Obama GOT to be a moderate idealist from a radical upbringing by moving INTO and UP THROUGH a political machine where “nobody sees nobody who ain’t sent by somebody”? He’s never tried to provide one, even in his own autobiography, which we now know to be a “composite” of “truthiness” rather than a memoir of actual events in his life. Of all the places an idealist could have gone, of allies he could have chosen, that’s the vehicle he ACTUALLY found himself choosing?

    Bear in mind his early elections in Chicago and Illinois, which involved such things as having the DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT’S election paperwork declared invalid. They play rough in Chicago politics.

    I don’t think the burden of proof lies on the conservatives to demonstrate complicity at this point. I respectfully suggest the burden of proof has swung — if it ever needed to — to liberals to demonstrate any alternative explanation is actually correct. “Trust him” doesn’t cut it after 3.5 years.

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  53. Bob on July 8, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    @ FireTaq,
    “Political officials from Chicago and Springfield HAVE been going to jail for corruption-related charges at the rate of one roughly EVERY 45 DAYS FOR THE LAST 42 YEARS”.
    Seems like pretty good Cop work___what’s your beef? It should be happening in every State!!
    Obama is just a DECOY__you are being played! We all know Joe Biden is the brain in all of this. Get your eye on the right target!

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  54. Howard on July 8, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Sure, and Iraq had WMD.

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  55. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 6:54 PM


    I really don’t follow politics that closely. I heard that Rand is supporting Romney, but Rand is hawkish, he’s pro-war. I hadn’t heard Ron was for Romney. Regardless, my ideals are not gotten from Ron, he is probably one of the most moral/ethical politicians this country has seen in a very long time, but that doesn’t preclude that he is perfect.

    You haven’t addressed how exactly Romney will support the constitution when I have clearly shown he has no intention and perhaps no understanding of the constitution.

    Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that I want to isolate myself. Just the opposite, I would like to be surrounded by like minded liberty loving people. If it wasn’t for family here in AZ I would probably join the free state project in NH.

    Just out of curiosity, Firetag, what type of school did you go to as a child?

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  56. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 7:55 PM


    Public elementary. Public high school. A Michigan State sub-campus (MSU-Oakland) for undergrad which became Oakland University sometime about the time I entered; and I stayed there for Grad School.

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  57. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 8:11 PM


    Remember the old joke about VP’s being chosen to serve as a deterrent against attacks on the president. The funnier joke is that Biden was actually chosen to provide Obama with foreign policy gravitas — because he needed to offset McCain’s military credentials after the Iraq surge, and we thought the election would hinge on the Iraq war.


    Interesting comparison, because Iraq had had WMD during the Iraq-Iran war, and could have avoided the war with the West if he’d just come clean and demonstrated when and how he’d destroyed them. But he couldn’t admit that even to his own generals, because he feared that they would depose him or that the Iranians would resume the war.

    Syrian and Iranian regimes now find themselves in similar situations; they have to escalate the conflict with the west or be deposed by the more militant “friends” or the enemies they made on their way up to power.

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  58. Bob on July 8, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    #57: FireTag,
    No__sadly, Cheney was the funny joke to add
    “foreign policy gravitas” to Bush.
    Biden and Hillary have done their jobs. Cheney, Rice, Powell did not.

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  59. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Well, Bob, I will gladly concede that the country would be in better shape today if Hillary had won the 2008 democratic nomination, but the machine crushed her, too. Like I said, Chicago politicians play rough, and a little thing like support for women is secondary to who stands at the top of the power structure.

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  60. Jon on July 8, 2012 at 9:11 PM


    Just wondering, the way you write and the words you use made me think you might have had a finer education. You say you more of physics mind but still use language pretty well. Not often you find people that can do both well. Not often you find people using words like “apposite.” My wife is far smarter than I am and better educated yet when I was reading Charlotte Mason’s book and came across that word she didn’t know it, and then the next day you used it. Ironic. Maybe it is just your generation? How old are you? Can I ask?

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  61. FireTag on July 8, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Let’s just say in my day, public school WAS a finer education. I actually wanted to be a journalist, and had no intention of even taking high school physics until I was commanded in a dream as an adolescent to study science.

    I obeyed, and considered it one of the greater blessings of my life. The ability to write, too, gave me a lot of opportunities that most physicists do not get. Somebody had to explain to the politicians what the experts they hired were actually saying. (Although having to speak “bureaucratese” too long erodes anyone’s skills.)

    “Apposite”, however, was, I believe, a pure typo. :D

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  62. Jon on July 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM


    A fascinating podcast on obedience to authority:

    The interview with @ 3h30m is especially fascinating (well, the classic book “The Politics of Obedience” is really good too, a must read/listen to in my opinion). The interview is with Thomas Blass who wrote a book on Stanley Milgram and his obedience experiments. The psychology of obedience is quite fascinating and the psychology of realizing whether one is free or not is fascinating (covered in the “Politics of Obedience”).

    Another source for the psychology of obedience is the series The Bomb in the Brain (also available in mp3 format). Some homework if your going to do the post on the rest of us, the true source of the problem.

    John Taylor Gatto’s work on the school system is also quite fascinating. He goes over how the US school system was founded on the Prussian school system (you can ask Dr. Wiki about it) which was a system garnered to get obedience out of a population.

    Reading the book by Charlotte Mason is quite fascinating. She wasn’t against government schools but her indictments on them hold true today even though it is almost 100 years later after she had written the book. She talks about how a the UK was becoming wealthy enough to have the kids go to school all the way up until they were 18 and how they could have a truly “liberal education” (look up that term in Dr. Wiki and it will show what liberal education meant back then). Now our kids (and myself) have the opportunity but I would say we definitely do not get a liberal education by the time we complete high school. I wonder if some kids got an education at all.

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