Sunday, December 31, 2006

Presidential psychopath? Here's a test

Many in the blogosphere and a few in the mainstream media have noted that, based on his public statements and actions, there seems to be something slightly peculiar about President Bush's behavior.

Some have even speculated that President Bush may have psychopathic tendencies.

One way to judge for yourself is to use the below standard evaluation form used by psychiatrists and see how your insight into the President's public behavior squares with the "psychopath" hypothesis. (You might have to wait a couple of seconds for the form to load.)

Note that you must check off all items before the evaluation can be made.

Added comment: Poll now closed and final results posted below.

In contemporary research and clinical practice, Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), below, is the psycho-diagnostic tool most commonly used to assess Psychopathy.

This version of PCL-R excludes items that cannot be determined from what is in the public record regarding President Bush. Those items are preselected as "Doesn't Apply" and their omission is factored into the final score. (Please note that the interactive poll functions are disabled.)


Behavioral Trait Doesn't Apply Applies Somewhat Fully Applies
Glibness/superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
Callous/lack of empathy
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral controls
Promiscuous sexual behavior (N/A)
Early behavioral problems
Lack of realistic, long-term goals
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Many short-term marital relationships (N/A)
Juvenile delinquency (N/A)
Revocation of conditional release (N/A)
Criminal versatility

FINAL RESULTS: Out of 6,595 evaluations submitted, the average score is 32.3850. Discarding both high (40) and low (1) scores produces 5,540 submissions with an average of 31.0404.

4,499 respondents out of 6,595 (68 percent) rated President Bush's public behavior as consistent with that of a psychopath by submitting evaluations with scores over 30.

A score higher than 30 supports a diagnosis of psychopathy (25 in some studies -- 5,566 [84 percent] placed Bush in this category).

US by state breakdown - all scores - (4,460 scores by identifiable state):

State Count Avg. Score
AK 17 31
AL 29 32
AR 15 35
AZ 68 32
CA 827 32
CO 141 31
CT 53 33
DC 41 30
DE 8 36
FL 140 32
GA 138 30
HI 25 34
IA 45 31
ID 13 32
IL 204 32
IN 44 31
KS 29 31
KY 18 29
LA 26 32
MA 230 31
MD 97 31
ME 17 35
MI 114 32
MN 81 30
MO 74 33

State Count Avg. Score
MS 9 35
MT 10 28
NC 100 31
ND 6 26
NE 20 35
NH 15 36
NJ 126 32
NM 18 29
NV 18 31
NY 336 32
OH 115 31
OK 25 28
OR 142 33
PA 124 32
RI 16 36
SC 27 30
SD 3 29
TN 39 34
TX 274 31
UT 26 32
VA 129 31
VT 12 33
WA 264 32
WI 95 32
WV 5 28
WY 12 27

Outside US by country breakdown - all countries with >3 submissions - (1,313 scores by identifiable country):

Country Count Avg. Score
Argentina 4 34
Australia 161 31
Austria 10 34
Belgium 17 33
Brazil 7 33
Canada 330 32
Chile 5 33
China 4 34
Czech Republic 6 28
Denmark 26 28
Finland 22 27
France 30 33
Germany 74 30
India 9 32
Ireland 22 33
Israel 5 27

Country Count Avg. Score
Italy 20 34
Japan 27 30
Luxembourg 4 34
Malaysia 4 35
Netherlands 41 34
New Zealand 36 31
Norway 19 33
Portugal 10 30
Singapore 9 29
South Africa 10 34
Spain 17 29
Sweden 17 31
Switzerland 20 31
Taiwan 6 29
Thailand 5 27
United Kingdom 330 31
Uruguay 6 32

Forensic studies of prison populations have reported average scores of around 22 on PCL-R; "normal" control populations show an average score of around 5.

Scores were adjusted for uncounted items.

Note this reflects only submitted evaluations and doesn't represent a truly random sample. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Kidnapping 101

Watched the Sunday talk shows today, not all of them and not from start to finish. Who could stand that?

The consensus among the mixed bag of retired generals, the usual POV pundits, and partisan political hacks is that, "we're just going to have to surge our troops and embed more of them in the Iraqi Army and police so we can train 'em up," and "surrender is not an option."

Is anyone else's BS detector flashing Code Red?

At the same time our nation's bestest and brightest were nattering away, yet another group of Iraqis "dressed in Iraqi Army commando battle dress" kidnapped an undetermined number of Red Crescent workers from their offices in Baghdad.

The Red Crescent is the arm of the International Red Cross that operates in the Middle East. Currently, it is the only international non-governmental aid agency with the courage to stick it out in Iraq. That may not last much longer.

Stupid Question 1: What is the evidence that people dressed in Iraqi Army battle gear aren't actually Iraqi Army troops?

Stupid Question 2: If we accelerate the training of Iraqi Army and police and do a good job of it, what are the odds one of the important lessons they'll learn is how to be better kidnappers?

I leave it to the gentle readers to answer these questions for themselves. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl


An exact match Google search for the name "Paul Van Riper" produces about 18,600 hits.

Van Riper is a retired Marine Corps general officer who became famous for demonstrating to the Department of Defense in July 2002 exactly what would happen, and how it would happen, when and if the U.S. invaded Iraq. See Tom Engelhardt's blog for one account, or do the Google thing.

Briefly, Lt. Gen. Van Riper was cast in the role of enemy commander (read "Iraqi insurgent commander" here) in the most costly Pentagon war game in its history, the $250,000,000 "Millennium Challenge 02" exercise.

Lt. Gen. Van Riper won. He won bigtime. He won using exactly the strategies and tactics used by the Iraqi resistance from the beginning of our Iraqi adventure through today. At least he won until the Pentagon stopped the exercise, turned the clock back, and decreed that he could no longer use those devilish tactics.

To his credit, General Van Riper stepped down in protest as "enemy commander".

So, to sum it up, not only did the Bush Administration suppress, distort and fake intelligence, ignore advice from foreign policy and military experts, they also refused to believe their own quarter-billion dollar demonstration of exactly how and why Operation Iraqi Freedom would fail.

Go figure. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The name is Rosbaud, Paul Rosbaud

World War II's greatest allied spy died in 1963, yet nearly 62 years after the end of the war, while acknowledging we may have lost that war without Paul Rosbaud, British and American intelligence services still refuse to release details of his contributions, citing interests of national security.

Rosbaud's family is currently suing Britain's MI6 for release of files chronicling his wartime exploits.

A brief summary about what is publicly known of his career is available here. Ever faithful to his sense of honor, he destroyed his personal papers shortly before his death.

In the US the upper limit on classification of secret information is 25 years. Release of information regarding intelligence sources and methods may be delayed longer, but that is discretionary, and by no means prohibited.

Makes one curious about what could possibly still be sensitive about events that occurred more than half a century ago involving those long dead. Rosbaud was also deeply involved in spiriting Jewish refugees out of the Third Reich throughout the war. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl


Former NSA director William Odom debunks what he calls 6 myths that underly the current debate about the Bush administration's "new way forward", as well as the ISG report, past and present policy on Iraq.

For an online copy of his commentary, “Six Brutal Truths about Iraq”, click here.

I don't mean to blow my own horn, but Gen. Odom's objections, originally published on December 11, pretty much parallel the objections I outlined on November 20th, except I pointed out 7 assumptions instead of 6 and was vastly more snarky. This may be a result of the inherent advantage in being a former NCO rather than a former General. [Snark]

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Friday, December 15, 2006

Darned old technicalities

National Public Radio's Scott Horsley reported on Thursday, December 14, 2006 that a firm awarded a contract to build part of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico has agreed to pay nearly $5 million in fines because up to a third of their work force were illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Read the full story here.

Wonder if we need to reframe this problem so we can start getting a handle on it. The people we're referring to as "illegal immigrants", "illegal aliens", or "law breakers" aren't the evil types those terms conjure up. Look at their record of hard work and sacrifice after they arrive. If we need a more accurate description, how about "economic refugee".

For a variety of reasons, including a tradition of official corruption in Mexico introduced by Spain when Mexico was its colony, and our own one-sided exploitation of the NAFTA agreement with Mexico, the Mexican economy stinks. It's not able to provide jobs for its people at any wage, let alone a living wage. Mexico is perilously close to being a failed state.

Normally, most countries don't accord refugee status to those fleeing economic hardship. But the situation in Mexico is so severe that it may be time to reevaluate that policy. The severity should be obvious to anyone who can count.

I'm guessing ignoring it won't make it go away. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Win-win, win-win

According to a March 11, 1998 online chat with Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy it cost, at that time, "about $2 billion" a year to run both houses of congress.

That sum had grown to about $3.5 billion by 2004, or an average of about $673,000 per Senator and Representative, according to a July 21, 2004 Heritage Foundation report.

You see where the trend is going.

The question is, could this activity be accomplished more economically and more efficiently? I would submit, absolutely!

$673K per body sounds a little high to me and, in keeping with the Congress's admirable drive to make each of us more COMPETITIVE by putting ALL of us into the GLOBAL ECONOMY without fear or favor, this seems the ideal candidate for outsourcing. Leading by example, all that.

Preferably, outsourcing will be to multiple call centers overseas where, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, the "Senators" and "Representatives" will speak only obscure languages entirely unknown to people who live in this country.

Since the only people who talk to Senators and Representatives are lobbyists who are forcing totally legal bribes on them so they will provide huge, totally legal Federal payouts to the lobbyists' clients, this could generate even greater savings over the course of a year.

Assuming a cost of $2.25 per hour for each "Senator" and "Representative", and given that their services will be required for about 100 days per year at 6 hours per day, this yields an annual cost of $702,000. Savings per year: $3,499,298,000 or 99.99 percent, nearly the entire current cost! Dare we call this "chump change"?

Note to self: have call center employees continuously crunch potato chips and pralines while on line and don't hire anyone who can count above 10, thereby letting even huger budget cuts ensue. (Charge employees for all snacks)

It is with sensible economies like this that we will very, very shortly be able to pay off the national debt, save Social Security, provide universal health care, and gift everyone with 2 Cadillac Escalades per year plus a trip to Las Vegas.

And, if we are smart enough to hire young Arab speakers and rotate them through the call centers on a weekly basis, we will automatically soak up the al-Queda labor pool, thus winning the war on terror .

Win-win, win-win. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deep in the heart of Texas

Everyone knows everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star State of Texas, including the belly laughs. Right?

As a former long-time Texas resident (Houston, Kingsville, Beaumont, and Friendswood, the funniest cities in the Nation) of the once biggest state in the Union, I have to admit I'm severely prejudiced.

For the disbelievers, I offer into evidence on the charge of excessive inducement of hee-haws, Exhibit A, the 2007 Texas Monthly Bum Steer Awards.

Case closed. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Screaming meemies

In 1976 evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined a term he used to describe what he saw as shorthand for a "...unit of cultural information". The term was meme. According to Dawkins,

Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.

Memes are supposed to be kind of like genes, only with an 'm' instead of a 'g' and act kind of like cultural building blocks, like genes act like the building blocks of pineapples and people. I'm not sure where the 'm' came from. I'd prefer 'b' or 'w', instead of the alphabetically neutral 'm'.

Making it 'm', however, did make it fit in neatly with an obscure alleged academic discipline named "memetics," popularized by Richard Brodie and Aaron Lynch, who at the time claimed never to have heard of Richard Dawkins. Talk about great minds. Memes are now big deals in memetics.

Mr. Brodie is a former Microsoft executive turned motivational speaker and professional poker player. Mr. Lynch worked on the Fermi lab PDP-11 project before moving into popular writing. The PDP-11 was an early, primitive computer.

Mr. Dawkins is most recently famous for his feature length film which documents him traveling to various countries where he seeks out religious believers, then explains to them how stupid they are.

You can see the difficulties beginning to rear their ugly little heads.

But, let's keep it real, OK? And simple. When you think about it, meme is so all-encompassing, it can be applied to anything, including itself: "The meem meem." You can't do that for the gene meme. Think about that for a second. Makes my head hurt.

Today, people arguing about something they don't know anything about, yet who want to demonstrate they've attended college or read an article in the Atlantic Monthly and therefore know best about everything in the known universe, frequently use the term meme trying to do just that.

For the rest of us, this is fortunate. It lets us know immediately the speaker using the word meme is an idiot we can safely ignore.

You can save a lot of time and aggravation knowing obscure little memes like this. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still crazy after all these years

Christopher Swann at is reporting that noted Medal of Freedom winner and recently anointed World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is at it again.

Wolfowitz, reportedly one of the Pentagon whiz kids responsible for recruiting political hacks for the secret Puzzle Palace group that ginned up fake intelligence to justify invading Iraq, is now chasing away professional staff at the World Bank and replacing them with -- guest what -- political hacks.

Read the whackily predictable story here. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

This time of year

This time of year, nearly all cultures celebrate a holy day.

In America, we celebrate by shouting at each other about whether to call the season "Christmas" or "The Holidays", usually on cable TV and in internet blogs.

If we were Festivus celebrants, this would be known as the traditional "Airing of Grievances".

At Seattle, Washington's Sea-Tac airport, for example, they're having an Airing of Grievances regarding a local Rabbi's crusade to remove Christmas trees traditionally displayed over airport entrances.

The Port of Seattle, which runs Sea-Tac, took down the trees after the Rabbi, Reagan-like, figuratively thundered, "Mr. Port of Seattle! Take. Down. These. Trees!" The Rabbi had also engaged the services of a very persistent local attorney. Down came the trees.

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" These are the words of Rodney Glenn King uttered during a May 1, 1992 TV interview at the height of the L.A. riots sparked by Mr. King's near fatal beating at the hands of Los Angeles Police Department's Officer Laurence Powell, Sergeant Stacey Koon, and two others captured on video by bystander George Holliday.

Although uttered at a different time of year under entirely different circumstances, they are words that have resonated in our national psyche since, and their spirit of reconciliation does seem appropriate to the season.

Why do we have holy days in so many cultures at this time of year? Probably has something to do with the occurrence of the Winter solstice at this time, the shortest day of the year. Since the shortest day of the year is followed by increasingly longer and generally warmer days, most cultures associated this date with the birth or rebirth of their favorite diety or religious proposition.

At least, that's my own completely unoriginal theory.

The exact date of the Winter solstice shifts around a little from year to year due to something called the precession of the equinoxes, so religions that don't get the date exactly right deserve a little slack.

This year the Winter solstice is December 22. Merry Festivus!
Breaking news - trees back Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Monday, December 11, 2006

Here Toto, here boy

The New York Times reported on December 10 that Iraqi leaders were almost without exception trashing the Iraqi Study Group report even more directly than President Bush. And not in a good way.

Based on their behavior, I've come to think of our national leaders, from the White House to the Capitol building, as denizens of the Beltway Green Zone, with the President and Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike completely divorced from reality. This would now include members of the prestigious Iraq Study Group.

If you think about it, this makes sense. These are people who live in an artificial cocoon of wealth, servants, and assistants who know better than to let unpleasant truths obtrude.

The idea that the United States has any remaining control in Iraq, beyond the ability to shoot people at will, is a fantasy that borders on insanity. Yet it is a fantasy shared by all within the borders of the Zone.

The Republicans proved too craven to do anything about our mad President, now the Democrats are proving too cowardly. One needed a brain, the other needs a heart. Toto, where are we now? Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Serenity now!

According to a December 9, 2006 Los Angeles Times story...(portions redacted)

The conflict in [REDACTED] has entered a dangerous phase, and the next three to six months could prove crucial in determining whether the United States [REDACTED] can suppress a revitalized enemy - or will be dragged into another drawn-out and costly fight with an Islamic insurgency, according to senior military and security officials and diplomats.
"I think we are approaching a tipping point, perhaps early in the new year,"
said a Western diplomat in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Question: What region of the world are we talking about, here?

Click here for the answer. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Traffic cops needed

I wonder if anyone else sees the irony of the Bush administration granting themselves immunity from war crimes charges in one breath, then in the next, making it possible for themselves to be arrested without charge and imprisoned indefinitely since even they DON'T HAVE FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS!

This was done in the same bill, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, signed by President Bush on October 17th, 2006.

In keeping with their tradition of efficiency and competence, there is a possibility that President Bush's team may have accidentally allowed him to veto the Act before he actually signed it. This would require resolution by the Supremes, who have yet to be asked to hem and haw on the issue.

But, this might work out OK, just the same. Forget about the "immunity", that's routinely stripped away by war crimes tribunals, anyway (example, Pinochet).

Let them build their new $37 million, two-courtroom, war crimes prison cum courthouse ("cum" is Latin for "with", so no flaming, OK?) down in sunny Gitmo. I think we all know who might be strolling through the side entrance sporting black hoods and leg chains come February 1, 2009.

I like the idea of the two courtrooms. Detainee Bush and his ex-staff being run through one while Detainee Cheney and his ex-staff are being run through the other. Stereophonic justice.

Some streets are always two-way. That's why we need traffic cops. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Our thing

A stunning 80 percent of Americans believe our government's fight against corruption ranges from "Not effective" to "Does not fight but actually encourages it", according to the just released Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer for 2006.

More survey results:

  • 52% said corruption affects their personal and family life to a moderate or large extent

  • 87% believe corruption affects the business community to a moderate or large extent

  • 90% believe corruption affects our political system to a moderate or large extent

  • 47% saw political parties as "Extremely corrupt"

Of course, we Americans are notoriously optimistic.

A copy of the full report in PDF format is available here. For the geeky, report statistics are available as spreadsheets in a zip file!!! The surveys were conducted worldwide for Transparency International by The Gallup Organization. Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl

Friday, December 1, 2006

Balancing act

Partial transcript, Tucker Hurlsome Show, January 10, 2007...

TUCKER: My guests are Daily Standard writer, Peter Snark, and Washington Times columnist, Kevin Smoothly. Kevin wrote that rambling, psychotic piece two days ago that has the White House hopping mad, "10 Reasons I Hate The Decider," and Peter followed up yesterday with his calm, well-reasoned New York Times OpEd rebuttal, "11 Reasons To Burn Kevin Smoothly's Hair Off and How To Do It". Kevin, when did you become a Liberal in wolf's clothing?

KEVIN: Tucker, I haven't read Peter's piece yet, but...

TUCKER: Hold on Kevin. Let's give Peter a chance.

PETER: (pointing) Lookit, Tucker, the dweeb doesn't even wear a bow tie. How can he call himself a conservative columnist? He makes me literally sick. He couldn't carry the Decider's scum bags' scum bags.

KEVIN: This is so lame. You're both wearing the same suit and the same bow tie.

TUCKER: Hold on Kevin, we're running short on time. Five seconds. Why are you still in the closet? Go.


PETER: I'll tell you why, Tucker. He's literally a closet Liberal.

KEVIN: You guys are clones.

PETER: You are literally wrong. I've got the lighter fluid, he's got the match. (squirts Kevin's hair)

TUCKER: Sic semper traitorus! (throws lit match)

KEVIN: Yi! Yi! Yi!

PETER: Burn, baby, burn! Digg Stumble Upon Toolbar propeller Furl