no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Is Barack Obama Suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

April 16th, 2010

Months ago, my friend Brad noticed that whenever Obama gives an address he speaks in a condescending manner. His body language is that of someone who is looking down on the audience, and his verbal language accommodates this. Brad noted that he makes frequent use of the command, “Look:” which just isn’t how mature adults converse with, or address one another. Sure, it’s a weird personality trait to behave like that, but I’ve grown to expect a certain level of disdain from the political class toward the rest of us.

Then, a few days ago I read an op-ed which suggests Obama is beginning to display signs of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote it off as partisan ass-hattery because a few cherry-picked examples, spun in the worst possible light in the context of an op-ed that cites “Newt Gingrich” as an authoritative source probably isn’t the best way to evaluate someone’s mental health.

But the more I think about it, the more merit it seems to have. For example, it lists a number of specific cases and explains how the bizarre behavior might be signs of a personality disorder:

In March of last year Obama was on “60 Minutes” with Steve Kroft. Throughout the interview as Kroft questioned about the economic downturn and people losing their life savings, Obama just kept laughing. A one point CBS’s Kroft stopped him and asked, “Are you punch drunk?” How will the American people react to seeing their president laugh off their predicament? Obama’s inappropriate laughter clearly demonstrated he has lost touch with the pain that people are feeling.

An author on the subject, Sam Vaknin also suggests that

[A] narcissist always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a narcissist is by trying to delve deeper. The narcissist is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean.

This is interesting, because Obama doesn’t fare well under close scrutiny. Some of the most grandiose claims on his resume may be false: Obama was never a “Professor of Law” at University of Chicago—he was an ‘instructor’ or adjunct, below the level of an Associate Professor. He also has the dubious honor to have been the only “Editor” of the Harvard Law Review to never have been published while in school, which kind of suggests the position was an “honorary” one, without any merit whatsoever.

Then I read this morning that Obama had the audacity to jest that the Tea Party protesters should be thankful that he has “cut taxes”. The Dallas News reports:

[Obama is] amused by the Tea Party tax protests that took place around Tax Day and that contrary to claims of demonstrators, he has cut taxes.

“You would think they’d be saying thank you…” he said at a fundraiser in Miami.

Does he mean the tax “cut” that wasn’t really a “cut”? Whereby they temporarily reduced the amount of withohlding from our paychecks, but did not make any downward adjustment to the schedules determining what we would be liable to owe at the end of the year? For many people accustomed to receiving “refunds” (I use this term loosely, since it’s not really a “refund”) they’re discovering for the very first time what it’s like to “owe” taxes at the end of the year. Hopefully they’re pissed off about it, too.

Even if you take his word for it, the average American got something like $8/month, at the very same time that banks were receiving a Trillion dollars worth of corporate welfare…

Even though he was speaking to supporters, at a fundraiser, I think this is flagrant statement; it’s not like the rest of us were never going to hear about it. But that sort of arrogant, cavalier attitude is one hallmark of a person suffering from NPD.

Now, don’t get all butthurt over this. I’m not a doctor, and even with all of the powers of Google at my command, I’m not qualified to evaluate anyone’s mental health. But according to Teh Wikipedia list of characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Obama exhibits all of them:

  • Is inter-personally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Check, check, check and check. Sooner or later all this stuff starts to add up, and the probability of it all being a series of extraordinary coincidences drops to zero.

Then again, these traits are strong in anyone who is successful in politics. I mean, the first two especially, basically define how politics works, and what politicians do. Kip, Esquire used to say that “all politicians, by definition, are moral defectives.” Perhaps severe narcissistic personality disorder is that defect.

It’s one explanation.

What Happened to FSK’s Guide to Reality?

March 30th, 2010

Via Gilligan’s Corner:

So this morning I sat down with my coffee and went to a regular blog I read:

This is what I saw:


WTF? FSK would have told his regular readers if his URL was going to change (i.e. self-hosting). Did Google – who owns – remove it?

Interestingly enough, FSK’s most recent post is this:

Monday, March 29, 2010

The best model for an Internet-based business is donations from fans, or tickets to live performances. People should support artists who release their work for free on the Internet, with no copyright restrictions. Intellectual property laws cause more problems than they solve. In a really free market, there’s no such thing as “intellectual property”. Only a State violence monopoly can prevent people from copying songs and ideas.

Viacom is suing Google and YouTube for copyright infringement. As I’ve said before, “intellectual property” is not property.

If I steal your car, you may say “WTF? Where’s my car?” My theft directly injured you. For intellectual property, that’s not true. If I copy your song or movie, you may still use the original.

“Intellectual property” creates problems for any user-generated content website. The site owner can be responsible for what the users do. “A business owner is responsible for what customers do!” is an example of corrupt State law.

YouTube’s original management noticed what videos were most popular. Many of these clips were copyrighted. However, they did not take down those videos. They decided to wait until they got a DMCA takedown notice. They did comply with takedown notices. They did not remove popular videos that turned out to be copyrighted. Is that illegal?

For example, clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were placed on YouTube. It isn’t clear that actually injured Viacom. The free advertising might have been a net benefit.

Due to the way copyright law works, Viacom’s lawyers have to act like jerkwads. If they don’t aggressively crack down on copies, they may lose their copyright claim.

Another problem is that there’s no clearcut legal standard for “fair use”. Am I allowed to use a 5 second clip in my own video? What about 30 seconds? 3 minutes? 10 minutes?

Another problem is that a show can’t intentionally allow sharing. For example, Stephen Colbert probably benefited from having his videos shared on YouTube. Videos shared on YouTube increased his personal reputation. Working for Viacom, he has no choice but to follow their corporate policy.

Another problem is statutory damages instead of compensatory damages. With intellectual property, there is no obligation to show actual loss of income. Instead, damages are according to an arbitrary punishment scale. Google/YouTube might be forced to pay $1B, even if Viacom suffered no actual losses. It is possible that Viacom profited overall, due to free publicity from YouTube.

Another example of statutory law is non-crimes like possession of marijuana, tax evasion, or operating a business without a license. In order to be a crime, an action must injure someone else. For statutory crime, there’s an arbitrary punishment scale unrelated to actual losses.

A pro-State troll says “Without intellectual property, how will artists get paid?” A more accurate statement is “Without intellectual property, how will all the State middlemen get paid?” When a mainstream media corporation publishes something, they demand you sign over copyright. Most of the money paid goes to the middlemen, and not the content creator.

Sometimes, via intellectual property, an artist loses the right to perform/publish a work they created. If you publish a book and it’s out-of-print, the publisher might not be under any obligation to republish it; you can’t publish excerpts without their permission.

Intellectual property law and State restriction of the market creates theft opportunities. The middlemen earn economic rent, at the expense of people who do the real work.

It’s the usual pro-State troll argument. “Without government, who will build the roads?” Similarly, “Without intellectual property, who will pay the artist?” More generally, “Without violence, how can X earn a living?”

Without intellectual property, people will pay directly to support artists they like. They won’t have to pay tribute to a middleman.

Viacom executives and Stephen Colbert earn huge salaries due to their State-backed monopoly. I would have a hard time getting the mainstream media cartel to broadcast and promote my work, even if I could get a larger Internet-based audience.

The State information monopoly creates an artificial shortage of “talented well-known artists”. The Internet is leveling the playing field somewhat. It’s still really hard to bootstrap an Internet-based business.

Even though I probably could make a better show than most mainstream media performers, the State restricts my opportunities. I’m going to try self-publishing on the Internet soon.

Did Google not like it?  I have sent email to FSK to ask what happened.  Hopefully, we’ll have an answer soon.

How Real is the Threat of Terrorism?

September 29th, 2009

According to the DHS, the threat level is “High” or “Orange”.  In dozens of domestic and international flights since, I have never seen a security level of “Yellow”.  “Orange” is the new “Normal”.  It has been this way, occasionally higher, for more than eight years.

How real is this threat?

Some people cling to the notion that liberty must be sacrificed to obtain security. They claim, for example, that the government must be doing an awesome job protecting us, because there have been no domestic terror attacks since September 11, 2001. But we have no idea really how many plans they’ve successfully thwarted, so we have no frame of reference by which to calculate the government’s success rate.

If the government was constantly thwarting plans to terrorize the country, we’d know by their constant and shameless self-promotion. So I surmise that, except for a small number of higher-profile cases, this front has been relatively quiet.

If the domestic terror threat were real, there would be death and destruction to prove it. There are literally thousands of extremely soft (extremely vulnerable) targets like movie theaters, shopping malls, etc. There is practically nothing that can be done to secure most of these “soft” targets, and yet there have been no attacks whatsoever! Consider: at any of these targets, an attack need not be coordinated, or even very-well planned in advance, and it would be very easy to cause a tremendous amount of death and destruction, at negligible expense and with negligible training, so long as the perpetrators were prepared to martyr themselves.

The threat is not real.

I have no way of really proving this other than inference, but based on the observation that there have been exactly zero successful domestic terror attacks in the last eight years, I submit that there simply aren’t that many radical terrorists, and that the threat is mere propaganda used to instill a sense of fear and obedience into the general public.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics